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assurance—upon reproducing the requisite proof—that the refusal of offered wages will transfer the business to foreign competitors, or drive away capital to more profitable investment in another region. They can argue out with the men the policy counselled by their Union leaders, and determine together with them where it is sound and where it is unsound. Perseverance in this good work might place society on a new and more solid basis.
But the clergy need to be cautioned against a temptation which would beset their path in the performance of this high service. They must take care not to be led astray by philanthropy. Charity and philanthropy are amongst the noblest virtues; let meet honour be rendered them heartily in their proper spheres. But philanthropy is not, and cannot be the basis of industrial life on earth; for, if made supreme arbiter of the relations of trade, philanthropy would speedily mean a command to employers to maintain labourers out of their own property. In this respect Political Economy is often thought to be cruel, especially by the clergy; there seems to be a harshness in its teaching which is revolting to the feeling of humanity. But Political Economy does not invent new laws of human nature. It interprets only laws which exist. If the interpretation is mistaken then let Political Economy be refuted and rebuked; but if it is true to inexorable facts, no remonstrances on the ground of humanity can be of any avail. Philanthropy cannot avert an Indian famine, or a failure of cotton, or foreign competition; nor can it persuade the owners of property to support hosts of labourers upon charity, or to go on with a business which brings nothing but loss.
What a field for the healing influence of Christian ministers does Mr Skey lay open in his address to the Church Congress at Croydon: "He did not deny the right of the working men to combine for their mutual benefit and protection, but trade unionism, as it was, and as it might be, were two very different things. He would mention one instance. In May 1874, there was a strike amongst Warwickshire colliers—his men among them. He did all in his power to prevent the strike. He called upon his men to meet him and discuss the matter, and convened them by advertisement; but the bellman was sent round to order the men not to attend, and the Union succeeded in keeping every man away. The strike followed and caused the utmost suffering and deprivation among the men and their families." Here was the very opportunity, the call for the mediation and remonstrance of a thoroughly neutral and impartial friend against conduct so irrational and so disastrous to the interests of the very men who practised it.
As Mr Denny well remarks: "The searching inquisition into the costs of production ultimately, in masses or individually, sweeps away the unsuitable producer, manufacturer, or workman. We may fume as we please, and rail against the inflexible action of this kind of power, we are merely beating the air, and beating it uselessly. We may cry out against the barrenness and hardness of Political Economy, we shall cry in vain. We shall awake to find ourselves under the influence of law, and law as irresistible in the long run as the law of physical nature. Indeed Political Economy is valuable only as a recognition of this." The law of human nature cannot be talked away. Philanthropy was no excuse for a poor law which discouraged human beings from relying on their ownselves for protection, and lowered their self-respect and their manliness by placing at the bottom of their minds the feeling that there was always the poor rate to fall back upon. The career here open to ministers of religion is, in the first place, to master firmly for themselves the unalterable laws which God has imposed on human life; and then, secondly, to teach the working classes clearly to apprehend and recognise these unchangeable truths. They will thus train them so to guide their conduct as to guard against dangers which are imbedded in the constitution of the universe. An intelligent conformity to the laws of nature is a source, not of wrong to particular classes, but of happiness to all. The Christian ministers are capable of performing invaluable services in this region; and this is a call which, in the words of a great preacher, should make them cry: "Woe is me, for I have seen the God of hosts." They can help to develope and sustain friendly feeling between employer and labourer, and under the fluctuations of trade so to bring them together in kindly counsel, as to convince both sides that justice in the actual state of the business has been attained by both parties. To perform this great work is a mission of the greatest value to the moral and material welfare of society, and worthy of the high calling of the Christian clergyman.
THE circumstances of the world around us—in Germany, in France, in the United States, in Canada, in most of the British Colonies, countries full of men of high intelligence and ability—constitute a strong call for the re-stating and re-arguing of the principles of Free Trade. This is a startling, indeed it may be said, a humiliating fact. Free Trade is the one subject in Political Economy which is susceptible of complete demonstration. The exposition of the argument is one of the chief triumphs of Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations ;" it is the most pre-eminent glory which distinguishes his immortal work. Intellectual writers of all countries have enforced and illustrated this cardinal truth with an ability which has never been surpassed. The contest passed long ago from the world of ideas to the world of facts. Free Trade has been the battle-field of the fiercest political strife. Every impulse which interest or passion could generate has been brought to bear on its discussion. The most distinguished statesmen of our time have taken the most active part in the struggle. The highest and most enduring political reputations have been won in this arena. Mighty interests, strong in wealth and power, have fought against Free Trade with the peculiar
* This chapter is largely indebted to an article in the "Contemporary Review" of the year 1870.
energy which belongs to free countries. Every position has been defended to the utmost; every possible resistance offered to the acknowledgment of the new truth; every statement has been sifted by keen opponents; every argument tested to the utmost; and then, after a war of many years, victory crowned the struggle in England amidst almost universal acknowledgment of the truth of the principle.
Yet now, in the latter part of the nineteenth century, whilst so many of the champions who were engaged in this fierce discussion still survive to bear witness to the crushing defeat which error sustained, we are again summoned, not by the brilliant fallacies of some clear thinker, but by the renewed vigour and progress of protection in the practical world, to re-argue the first principles of Free Trade. One is tempted to feel something of that mortification which a mathematician would experience if he were compelled to demonstrate anew the principles of the multiplication table. However, the evil is too serious and the duty to guard the welfare of the greatest of practical truths too urgent, to allow us to linger over our feelings. Protection seems to be indestructible—a weed that no intellectual or social culture can root up—a principle that is a part of human nature itself. The selfishness of individual interests is a force that ever wars on the public good, and can be kept under only by incessant exposure. It compels the truth to be ever re-asserted. This is our task now; and if it imposes on us the necessity of repeating ancient arguments, let us realise the feeling that the work we are engaged in is not on that account the less fresh or the less important.