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sively dear. Equally familiar is the truth to untutored minds that if a man wishes to have a thing he must pay for the making of it. There is little else in the economical discussions of supply and demand but expansions and applications of these very obvious and instinctively observed facts. To call them scientific principles is nothing but inflated language.
In all these instances the true nature of Political Economy stands out clear. It is the application of common sense to familiar processes. It explains their nature and manner of working. It analyses and thinks out practices which are universal, except when thwarted by artificial theory. The information which it acquires by observation and analysis, it puts together in a systematic form. Its teaching is contained in a body of methodical knowledge, which presents to the inquirer the chief facts and the real essence of these natural processes; he is made to understand them, each singly for itself, and all of them together as a connected whole. The production and distribution of wealth are operations of the widest range, and are made up of many and often complicated parts, but they are capable of being grouped and viewed as a united whole. But there is no strict science in all this, no deduction, step by step, from a few first principles, nor any construction of economical laws by induction. I can find no true economical law in Political Economy, unless such truths as that a man must labour if he means to keep himself alive, or that he must prepare beforehand seed and tools if he desires to obtain a supply of corn, are to be invested with the dignified title of scientific laws. What are called economic laws by most writers are mere . . • <v!fvi acting against .vv^j They incessantly . ..y^ %^sch they are well ,ow '.is the production of . x ;\>»s. *re quoted as the dicta .... us) have decided, and the s their own common sense
...sl i,h<? practice of the courses of .\ v>4 avoided, the more effectually >.u> perform its all-important service . a'.mkind, i .ijchurned, by Political Economy are 4 -.ni.i processes which have always been . the world; and when Political Economy .' .1 them, the hearer is rightly apt to exclaim, v n,mi: Knew that before. It is an excellent test il ., imumical teaching that it should land the in tin: perception that it is made up of familiar ,,,,, I,,,. A right understanding of them is worth all ii, ii ,i iciiUfic treatises have ever constructed.
I hi j description of Political Economy is virtually the urn: H; that given by Mr M'Culloch. "The object of political economists is to point out the means by which the industry of men may be rendered most productive of all those necessary comforts and enjoyments which constitute wealth, to ascertain the circumstances most f^wrable for its accumulation, the proportions in which vided among the different classes of the comand the mode in which it may be most eously consumed." Upon this Mr Wordsworth rpe asks—" Is this description a fair one? If so, Political Economy is, after all, not a science but an art. It is defined by its end, and consists not of laws but of rules. It falls into one category together with navigation, ethics, legislation, engineering, etc., as opposed to astronomy, morality, jurisprudence, mechanics, etc., which, unconcerned with practice, merely investigate the uniform relations between phenomena." Yet after so admirable an explanation of the nature of Political Economy Mr Donisthorpe still believes it to be a science which he denominates Plutology.
But splendid generalisations are claimed as the gift which Adam Smith bestowed on Political Economy. This brings us to inductive science and its methods. It commences with analysis, it examines a certain number of instances or cases, it discovers properties or characteristics existing in them, and infers the existence of these properties in all substances of the same kind. Then it abstracts these properties and sums them up in a generalisation which is termed a law. The truths so generalised are real discoveries of scientific processes. But which is the truth which Political Economy has announced by means of abstraction and generalisation? Assuredly not that all men will always do so and so—for they do not Unquestionably Political Economy employs analysis. It sees what is contained in particular actions, but if these actions were habitually performed before the analysis, and for the very reasons indicated by the analysis, what discovery has been made? No generalisation has been constructed. The reasons for the conduct pursued are simply enumerated, one by one. The great service which the analysis renders is to draw more marked
attention to the reason which common sense discerns for doing a thing in a particular way. The resolution to persist in it is strengthened, the insidious attacks of a new and false principle are repelled with more conscious determination and ease.
But in truth it is needless to say more. The authority who advanced the claim with so much emphasis that Political Economy is a science, enriched with splendid generalisations by Adam Smith, himself refutes it. Mr Lowe sums up his review of Adam Smith and of his economical writings with the declaration, that "he has enabled us to condense the whole of wealth and poverty into something like four words." He apprehends that "the result of his investigations amounts to this, that the causes of wealth are two, work and thrift; and the causes of poverty are two, idleness and waste; and that these will be found, the longer you reason out from those simple propositions, all that is necessary to be known, and perhaps all that can be known with regard to the production and accumulation of wealth." Here is an end of science for Political Economy. All that Political Economy knows and ever will know is a truth which must have dawned on the minds of Adam and Eve soon after they left Paradise, which the human race has brought down with them through the ages, and which the French people have practised for centuries, and practise now with unexampled vigour and clear-sighted consistency, without having probably read a single line of Political Economy.
Political Economy, then, is not a science in the strict sense of the term. The question now recurs upon us, What is Political Economy? and the difficulty of giving a precise answer to it remains as great as ever. All are agreed that it is concerned with wealth. Mr Mill's declaration "that the popular idea of wealth—that every one knows what is meant by being rich—is a sufficient explanation of wealth," is worthless for a basis of a science, but may be accepted for the general purposes which discussions in Political Economy are intended to subserve. The acquiescence in such a vague description of wealth is fatal to Adam Smith's phrase—an inquiry into the nature of wealth. No book on Political Economy devotes many pages to such an inquiry. The remainder of his expression, an inquiry into the causes of wealth, is too limited. Archbishop Whately was as dissatisfied as so many others with the title given to Political Economy, and proposed to call it Catallactics, or the science of exchange. But the word exchange means exchange of wealth, and thus the vague and unsatisfactory term wealth is not got rid of. Moreover there are many legitimate discussions in Political Economy which cannot without violence be brought under exchange. On the whole, therefore, we must be content with the usual phrase, the production and distribution of wealth, though it may be permitted to suggest that the full title should be an "Inquiry into some general processes in the production and distribution of wealth."
This is not scientific, but neither is Political Economy. The preceding remarks warn us not to wander away from common life in pursuit of the chimera of a scientific structure. This hopeless ambition has led to the great public misfortune of the decay of authority into which Political Economy has fallen. The existence of