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two elements of all government-force and authority, the latter depending on the “goods of the mind,” and the choice of those who obey it, the former operating by the “goods of fortune ” (Oceana, p. 39).
It is the influence of the goods of fortune that Harrington represents in a new light. It is, no doubt, nothing new to say that wisdom, like courage, comes rather of necessity than inclination, and to point to the effect of circumstances on character (Oceana, 183). But the political empire (he says), or at least the domestic empire, as distinguished from rule over foreign dependencies, is founded on dominion or proprietorship. "Men are hung upon riches of necessity, and by the teeth ; forasmuch as he who wants bread is his servant that will feed him. If a man thus feeds a whole people, they are under his empire.' He who owns the land is master of the people ; and the nature of a government is determined by the distribution of its landed property. “Dominion ” in money and moveables has great influence, and in the case of Genoa and Holland, may even overbalance the influence of property in land; but it is less stable (" lightly come, lightly go"), and in every large country, as distinguished from a mere city, land must dominate. Accordingly, one of the two “fundamental laws” of Oceana, stating what a man may call his own, is to be an Agrarian restriction, forbidding of man to hold property in land above what will yield £2,000 a year; and the other fundamental law (giving protection to the property so held) prescribes a government, or “ empire.” Peace is not possible (he considers) without government, nor a lasting government without the proper balance of property in land. the balance of this property, such as was made under Henry VII. in England, may throw political power into new hands, and produce revolution. But, where there is the proper balance, it is no man's interest to overthrow the government, and, where there is the proper (popular) constitution, there is no element of decay in the government itself (Oceana, p. 192). "The people never die, nor, as a political body, are subject to any other
i Oceana (Wks., 1737, p. 39).
2 Oceana (Wks., 1737, p. 52).
corruption than that which derives from their government”—a notion which might be well illustrated by a well-known poem of Lowell : 1
“The deacon's art Had made it so like in every part,
That there wasn't a chance for one to start.” The “balance," moreover, is only in land. Harrington would not limit property in money, nor forbid usury. Usury, he says, was forbidden to the Jews, because fatal to small proprietors. But England is the best of all commonwealths, a commonwealth of husbandmen.
Harrington thinks that population increases slowly ; even in his ideal State, in 41 years it only increases by a third (Oceana, p. 223). He would encourage it by giving exemption from taxes to a man who has ten children living, partial exemption (from half the amount) to the man who has five ; and if he has been married three years, or be above twenty-five years of age, and has no child or children lawfully begotten, he shall pay double taxes. He would institute a Council of Trade (described after Bacon as the “vena porta” of the nation), to arrive at an “understanding of those trades and mysteries that feed the veins of this commonwealth, and a true distinction of them from those that suck or exhaust the same,” and to “acquaint the Senate with the conveniences and inconveniences to the end that encouragement may be applied to the one, and remedy to the other.”5 In these matters he writes in the spirit of the Mercantile Theory. On the other hand, he is before his time in advocating a free, national, and compulsory education.
1 Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, ch. xi.
? So Pufendorf, De jure nat., bk. V. ch. vii. Harrington thought that a good cure for the ills of Ireland would be to colonize it with Jews (Oceana, Introd.).
3 Bright's Hist. of Engl., p. 793, puts the country population at end of seventeenth century as four millions, the town as one and a half. In 1891 the numbers were twenty in the town to eight in the rural districts (Prel. Abstr. Census). Hume says against Melun, that half the inhabitants of France, England, and most of Europe live in cities (Essay on Commerce, ed. 1768, vol. i. p. 288).
4 Oceana (Millar), p. 97. 5 IV., pp. 123, 127, 128. 6 Ib., pp. 172-174, cf. 171, 177.
Oceana is important to us chiefly for the new principle that the economical element in a State will determine its government. Harrington, bound by the old prejudice in favour of agriculture, and not fully learning by the examples of Holland, Genoa, and Venice, confined his dictum to property in land. But the extension of it to property in general was too logical and obvious to escape the notice even of contemporary critics. He opposes this extension, contending that, “ though all riches have wings, those in land are most hooded and tied to the perch." The measure of truth that lies in such propositions will be discussed when their later statements come before us. It will be enough at present to remark that it was not by accident, or by his own mere reflection, that Harrington was led to give this importance to the economical factor in the State. Changes in political power, caused by changes in the distribution of wealth, were a feature of the epoch ; and Harrington's political philosophy was (perhaps unconsciously) influenced by contemporary events quite as much as by Plato and Aristotle. He was able, indeed, even to remain outside of the great parties of the Commonwealth and Restoration, making, like Dante, a party by himself. His book was palateable neither to the Protector nor to the restored Charles. But, noble as it is in thought and language, it did not influence either economics or political philosophy so much as the writings of Locke, who is identified with a party, and who is ever in touch with the rough facts of his own time.?
1 Prerogative of Popular Government (Iks., 1737), pp. 243 seq.
? For a good estimate of Harrington's political influence, see T. W Dwight in Pol. Sci. Quart., ed. 1887, pp. I seq.
LOCKE (1632–1704). Locke brings us perceptibly nearer to our own day by his conceptions of industry and society as well as by his general philosophy, on which the philosophy of the 18th century was founded. His conception of wealth may be gathered from his view of happiness-happiness depending on pleasure and pain as “the hinges on which our passions turn." Man is placed in the world to procure “the happiness which this world is capable of, which is nothing else but plenty of all sorts of those things which can, with most ease, pleasure and variety, preserve him longest in it.”? Pleasure and pain are “simple ideas "; that is to say, they are an immediate datum of experience. “Good” means what increases pleasure or diminishes pain ; evil, what does the opposite. But pain rather than pleasure is described as the real cause of desire and therewith of action.
Without “ uneasiness" in the absence of a good thing there would be no “ desire" for it, and there would be no work or effort to obtain it. Perfect contentment would be fatal to industry and action. God has given us the uneasiness of hunger and thirst and other “natural desires,” returning at their seasons, in order to “move and determine our wills for the preservation of ourselves and continuation of our species." Bare contemplation of these as abstractly good and desirable would not have been enough. The object of desire is happiness, and happiness means “the utmost pleasure we are capable of"; but even things that are known to be assuredly the causes of happiness do not move the will unless they seem to the individual man to be part of his own happiness. Locke's language implies that he adopts an objective standard of what is really good as opposed to what seems so to the particular individual ; but he takes no pains to be consistent. Elsewhere in the same chapter of the Essay (8 58) he says that a man's judgment of his present good is always right, and then proceeds to impress on his readers that the government of our passions is within our power, and “the eternal law and nature of things must not be altered to comply with a inan's ill-ordered choice.” Men must school their palates and change disagreeable into agreeable things, that the true good which is remote may not escape them, “ The remoter absent good " can compete with immediate good if the uneasiness of hunger and thirst and of the many other daily and vulgar wants has been allayed, and the mind has given itself fixedly to the contemplation of the greater object. The obstacle to this contemplation is the perpetual recurrence of the lower wants. Locke speaks of human desires as, in a bad sense, irrepressible and innumerable in temporal matters (S 46), but he does not seem to regard the desire of wealth as indefinitely expansive. The desire of “riches” is set down as a “fantastical uneasiness” alongside of the desire for honour and power, and “a thousand other irregular desires which custom has made natural to us." The desire to have more than we need alters the intrinsic value of things. When man has “all that this world can afford, he is still unsatisfied, uneasy, and far from happiness.'
1 Essay on the Human Understanding (1690), II. xx., $ 3. 2 Journal quoted in King's Life of Locke, p. 86. 3 Essay, II. xxi., $ 46.
A passage of Locke's journal printed by Lord King in his Life of Locke, p. 84 seq. (sub dato Feb. 8th, 1677) gives us an idea of the way in which his thoughts worked on economical subjects, especially those afterwards handled in the early chapters of the Wealth of Nations. Amongst other things he describes “our stock of riches ” as meaning "things useful for the conveniences of our life"; and his economical pamphlets show that he kept hold of the distinction between money and wealth. Even when he rather awkwardly speaks of wealth as
1 Essay, II. XXI., $ 45.
2 Essay, II. XXI., $ 45. 3 Civil Govt., Wks. (1740), II. 183. 4 Journal in Life, page 87. 5 Only in parts reproduced in Essay, IV. XII.