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this treatise: not that we should have had the smallest hesitation in doing so, had we been satisfied that such change was required; but we have seen nothing to lead us to any such conclusion. In some instances we have varied the exposition a little, and have occasionally introduced new illustrations, and modified some of the less important inferences; but the leading doctrines developed in the last two editions continue unaltered in this.
A very complete and elaborate index is now added to the work.
London, January 1849.
PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION.
The first edition of this work, which appeared in 1825, was principally a reprint of the article on Political Economy in the Supplement to the “ Encyclopædia Britannica,” edited by the late Mr Macvey Napier. That article was necessarily, from the limited space within which it had to be compressed, confined to a statement of the fundamental principles of the science, prefaced by a short sketch of its history, and admitted of but few illustrations of the practical working of different systems and measures. If this were a defect in the original essay, it was but slightly amended on its first republication in a separate volume. But, on further reflection, we were led to believe that the work would gain in utility and interest, and that the distinguishing doctrines of the science would, at the same time, be better understood, if more attention were paid to practical considerations, and it were shown how the interests of society were affected, as well by the neglect as by the application of its theories. Hence the second edition of the work. published in 1830, has much more of a practical character than the first; and while we endeavoured to simplify the theoretical investigations, and to set the general principles and conclusions in a clearer point of view, we added a chapter on the Interference of Government, and greatly extended those portions which treat of the application of the science, or of the influence which its principles, if acted upon, would most likely exert over some of the more important departments of national economy.
Other engagements, while they prevented the publication of a new edition of this work, which has been long out of print, afforded time for additional observation and consideration; and these have fårther strengthened the conviction, that the principle on which we proceeded in drawing up the edition of 1830 is, on the whole, the best. In this edition,..: consequently, a still greater extension has been given to the practical parts, or to inquiries respecting the real or probable influence of different systems of economical legislation, over the wealth and wellbeing of society. The work, indeed, is no longer to be regarded as a mere attempt to trace and exhibit the principles of Political Economy; but also as an attempt, however imperfect, to exhibit their more important applications.
We are aware that, in adopting this course, it may be said that we have stepped beyond the proper limits of the science, and encroached on ground belonging to the legislator and politician. But the truth is, that Political Economy and Politics are so very closely allied, and run into and mix with each
other in so many ways, that they cannot always be separately considered. Mr Senior,' the ablest and most distinguished defender of what may be called the restricted system of Political Economy, says “that wealth, and not happiness," is the subject with which the economist has to deal. But, supposing this to be the case, the latter, in explaining the circumstances most favourable for the production of wealth and its accumulation, is not to content himself with showing the influence of the security of property, the division and combination of employments, and the freedom of industry over its production. If he stopped at this point, he would have done little more than announce a few barren generalities, of no real utility. It is not enough to point out the general rule or principle to be appealed to on any given occasion; the really useful and important part is to show how the objections that may be made to the application of such rule or principle may be repelled, to point out its limitations, and to estimate its practical operation and real influence. Every one admits, for example, that security of property, at least to some extent, is indispensable to the production of wealth ; but security is not to be confined to the mere freedom to dispose at pleasure of property during one's own life. It is further necessary that individuals should be permitted to exert some degree of authority over the disposal of property in the event of their death; and this being admitted, it follows that all the knotty questious respecting con
? See his able “ Essay on Political Economy" in the “ Encyclopædia Metropolitana.”
ditions in wills, the influence of primogeniture and entails, compared with the system of equal partition, and so forth, come legitimately within the scope of the inquiries belonging to this science; the economist being bound to show the bearing of each system that may be proposed over the production and distribution of wealth.
It would be easy to give innumerable examples of the way in which this science necessarily involves discussions and inquiries extending beyond what may, at first sight, be supposed to be its natural limits. It may, for example, be laid down as a general rule, that the more individuals are thrown on their own resources, and the less they are taught to rely on extrinsic and adventitious assistance, the more industrious and economical will they become, and the greater, consequently, will be the amount of public wealth. But even in mechanics, the engineer must allow for the friction and resistance of matter; and it is still more necessary that the economist should make a corresponding allowance, seeing that he has to deal not only with natural powers, but with human beings enjoying political privileges, and imbued with the strongest feelings, passions, and prejudices. Although, therefore, the general principle as to self-reliance be as stated above, the economist or the politician who should propose carrying it out to its full extent in all cases and at all hazards, would be fitter for bedlam than for the closet or the cabinet. When any great number of work-people are thrown out of employment, they must be provided for by extraneous assistance in one way or other; so that the