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tion. They suffer no injury by the fact that their rights are limited by those of others.
This justification of personal Property is exposed to the same criticisms as the doctrine of Locke ; and a like remark applies to the Physiocratic justification of property in land. " In employing his person and his moveable wealth on the labour and outlay necessary to cultivation, man acquires property in the soil on which he has laboured. To deprive him of that soil would be to rob him of his labour and the wealth he has laid out on the cultivation ; it would be to violate his property in his own person and moveables. · In acquiring property in the land, he acquires property in the fruits produced by it, and this was the object of all his expenditure, and the object for which he seeks to gain that property in land. Unless he had this property in the fruits of the soil, no one would spend wealth or labour on the land ; there would be no landlords; and the soil would remain waste, to great detriment of population, present and future.”ı Become landowner, he may associate with him another who voluntarily and by free contract may continue the cultivation for him, on terms freely arranged between them. Thus we have farmers as well as landlords.?
We have here a more explicit declaration than in Locke or Hume of the political reason for allowing the appropriation of land ; the land should be allowed to become property not only because men have worked on it, but in order that they may have the motive to go on working upon it.
This tacitly implies that, if they do not work upon it, their title is pro tanto insecure, and the State would not be bound to treat them as absolute masters of their land. But the existence of proprietorship without work is certainly tolerated by the Physiocrats. The absentee landlord and his neglect of his duties are indeed criticised by them, as by all enlightened Frenchmen of the time ; and we must not forget that it was Dupont de Nemours himself who in 1789 proposed the confiscation of the estates of the Church. But in the previous generation the time had not come for economical discussions to touch the deepest foundations of property. The communism of men like Morelly' was an isolated opinion. There was more need in the beginning of the second half of that century for the assertion of liberty in the sense of the removal of obstacles. It was better that the outward instruments and material aids to the progress of the poorer classes should be made ready before than after the change of the old social order. Free trade in the sense of freedom of contract and movement was a necessary step. If the material wealth had been placed in the hands of the poor at that time, they could not have used it so effectively as the capitalists (especially in England after the Peace of Paris) were able to do.
1 Dupont, Origine et Progrès. Daire, 344.
2 One opponent of the Physiocrats, De Graslin, gained a prize given by the Political Economy Society of St. Petersburg, 1767, for an essay, in which he advocated nationalization of the land.
3 So Condillac, Commerce et gouvernement, 1776, ch. xii. p. 94.
The practical services of the Physiocrats were not small. They gave an impulse to scientific agriculture both in and out of France; they helped Turgot to abolish the corvée; they helped the removal of restrictions on the corn trade within the kingdom of France ; they prepared their nation for the commercial treaty with England in 1786.” They exerted an influence on American finance. Their theories drew the attention of the Empress Catherine ; and the Margrave of Baden tried to carry them out in his dominions.
Their services to economic science can hardly be overestimated ; and their political philosophy had a greater influence than has always been recognised. Their doctrine of natural rights, though interpreted by themselves in a way that rendered it safe to existing institutions, was (like Locke's theory of property and view of the social contract) easily convertible into a revolutionary doctrine.
1 Code de la Nature, 1755. So Mably, Doutes proposés aux économistes (The Hague), 1768.
2 Vergennes entrusted Dupont with the negotiations, and the treaty was on the French side his work. See Schelle's Dupont, p. 231 seq.
3 See Prof. Dunbar, Quarterly Journ. of Economics, July, 1889(p. 437). 4 See Playfair's Preface and Notes to his edition of Ad. Sm. W. of N. (1805), esp. vol. i. Pref. v., vii., xvi., and vol. iii. 495, 505, 513, 517, 518. We get from him the entirely false impression that the Physiocrats were directly responsible for the Assignats, and for almost
The “right of man to the things proper to his enjoyment” was (as Schelle remarks) not easily distinguished from the “right to live," to which the Abbé Raynal appealed, or the “right to labour” invoked by other popular leaders at a later date. The Physiocrats so far granted the correctness of this interpretation that they claimed the intervention of the State in education and in relief of the poor. Their system was not one of laissezfaire in the sense in which the phrase is sometimes employed, or they could never have been accused of tending to make government too paternal and despotic. But they believed that the course of trade was best left to organize itself, and, too optimistically, considered that self-interest and justice were in most cases identical. It must be allowed too that the political government which they described was one too exclusively dominated by reference to material wealth ; their study of the relations of economics to politics had led them to make the econcmical element in a nation the governing element; and on the other hand their political philosophy had introduced into economical discussion a body of philosophical principles, from which they reasoned deductively without sufficiently clear distinction between economical and philosophical elements. But systematic study of economical subjects begins with them. We shall find their principles entering as a factor into all later developments of economical doctrine.
NOTE. Quesnay's view, that the moral law of nature coincides with the physical, was probably a tradition from Stoicism. It seems hardly necessary to trace it (with Hasbach) to Richard Cumberland, or (with Dr. Stephan Bauer) to Malebranche, though both theories are plausibly supported. The best English account of Malebranche is given by Dr. Martineau (Types of Ethical Theory (1885), I. 151-233.
every bad feature of the Revolution. “When they were committing and instigating others to commit the most atrocious actions, it was all done under the pretence of advancing the happiness of mankind !”
ADAM SMITH (1723-90). THE fame of ADAM SMITH in his own lifetime rested as much on his Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) as on his Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), but the influence of the latter book in after times has been beyond comparison the greater. The author cannot indeed claim to have created economical study in England. His friend Hume, following up Locke and Petty and many pamphleteers, had done good preparatory work; and Hutcheson's lectures at Glasgow, to say nothing of his Moral Philosophy (1747) had probably an influence on Adam Smith's ways of thinking There had been considerable public interest in economical subjects, towards the middle of the century, whether through Hutcheson and Hume, or through French influences. Foulis and other Scotch publishers had reprinted the tracts and treatises of Gee (1750), Law (1750), Mun (1755), and others, as well as More's Utopia (1743). Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws had been translated for them (1750). Original treatises were fewer; but Sir James Steuart
, Jacobite and Mercantilist, had written in 1767 an Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy, being an Essay on the Science of Domestic Policy in Free Nations, in which he had covered the ground of political economy in the modern sense. Complaint has sometimes been made that Adam Smith borrowed from Steuart without acknowledgment.”
1 See especially bk. II. ch. xii. : “Of the Values of Goods and of Coins,” pp. 209 seq.
2 General Steuart, who gives a biography of his father in the sixth vol. of the collected works of the latter (Cadell, 1805, pp. 388 seq.) com pares the two authors very impartially, and makes no such complaint. The question is fully discussed in Prof. Hasbach's Untersuchungen über 4dam Smith (1891).
It was, however, to the philosophers of his native country rather than the economists that Adam Smith was indebted ; and Steuart, though he wrote a little on philosophy, was hardly a philosopher. Adam Ferguson, himself an eminent writer on political philosophy, says that the author of the Moral Sentiments was the man from whom was expected “a theory of national economy equal to what has ever appeared on any subject of science whatever.”1
Adam Smith was professor of Logic in Glasgow, 1751, and from 1752 to 1763 professor of Moral Philosophy there. The biography (by Dugald Stewart) prefixed to the posthumous edition of his Essays on Philosophical Subjects (1790), along with some passages in the Moral Sentiments, shows us his programme of work, and also his view of the relation of Philosophy to Political Economy. From the concluding words of the Moral Sentiments ? it appears that he considered Ethics and Jurisprudence to be the only two “useful ” parts of Moral Philosophy, excluding casuistry as a useless relic of the middle ages. He had no special liking for “ Logic, or the science of the general principles of good and bad reasoning” (Wealth of Nations, V. 1. 345, 2); and is said during his professorship (1751) to have devoted himself chiefly to Rhetoric, then as now included in the proper work of the Logic chair in Glasgow. He had previously lectured on literary criticism at Edinburgh in 1748–50; and readers of the Moral Sentiments will believe him to have done full justice to his subject.* There is no doubt, however, about his contributions to “Moral Philosophy," which he understood, with the Greeks, as an inquiry into the “happiness and perfection of a man,
1 History of Civil Society, 4th ed. 1773, p. 242 (not in ist ed. 1767). Ferguson's Moral Philosophy (1769), written for his Edinburgh students, includes a chapter on “public economy,” partly borrowed from Harris.
? ist ed. p. 546. Cf. Wealth of Nations, V. I. 346 (MacCulloch's edition).
3 His lectures on Logic were destroyed before his death. Essays, page xvi.
See his Essays (1790), on the Imitative Arts and Italian Verses, for a taste of his quality as a critic; also on the State of Literature in Europe, in the old Edin. Review, 1755, No. ii.