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VOL. v.-NO. 9. rected their attention to the more certain method of obtaining But even after the increased knowledge of mankind had di
5, from above,
ART. II. - The Elements of Political Economy, in two parts. By
DANIEL RAYMOND, Counsellor at Law. Second Edition. 8vo. 2 Vols. Baltimore, 1823.
The large number of discoveries in the Sciences, and of their useful application to the Arts, which have had their origin in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, should perhaps reconcile our minds to the existence of many absurdities, and cause us to bear with patience at least, the novelties which are daily ushered into the world. There are some errors, however, which have an important bearing on the welfare of society; and in po science do erroneous notions exercise a more baleful influence, than in that of Political Economy. In our own country, particularly, where the sovereignty resides in the people, it is of the utmost importance that correct opinions on this science should be widely diffused; and we deem it our duty, pro viribus, to be aiding in this great object. We feel it to be more imperiously binding upon us at present, because in a subject, like that before us, where unremitted thought is absolutely necessary to carry out its various bearings, words may pass for things, and thus very gross fallacies may be imposed on those, whose habits and employments do not afford leisure for their accurate investigation:-and because the work, of which the title is given above, has reached a second edition. This latter circumstance gives us pleasure, inasmuch as it shows that a taste for subjects, certainly not the best adapted to attract the generality of readers, has prevailed extensively throughout the community; but at the same time it increases our obligation to perform the task of examining the opinions of the author. We do not expect that we will be able to offer much that is new on the science: we hope that our remarks may be recommended to our readers rather by their justness than their novelty.
The rapid progress of Political Economy during the last half century, presents to all who have at heart the well being of the human race, the most cheering prospects. This science may be regarded as, in a peculiar manner, the offspring of the age:“potius temporis partus quam ingenii.” Until men had ceased to look on plunder as the only source of gain, it was impossible that there should be that enjoyment of quiet, and security of property, necessary for the cultivation of Political Economy.But even after the increased knowledge of mankind had directed their attention to the more certain method of obtaining VOL. V.-N0. 9.
the necessaries and comforts of life by industry, for many ages the improper interference of the public authorities in the private concerns of individuals, greatly retarded the march of national wealth, and thus defeated their own purposes. The Economists in France, and, especially Dr. Smith, in Britain, about the middle of the eighteenth century, reduced the science of the wealth of nations to a system, and showed very clearly that the proper course for governments to pursue, is, to protect the rights of all their citizens, and give exclusive privileges to none :-to preserve inviolate the natural right of every man to follow that employment which he may deem most profitable, provided that he does not interfere with the rightful claims of others, and that his occupation be not incompatible with the laws of justice. Thus individual interests are identified with those of the state. « Le monde alons va de lui meme."
It would have been unreasonable to expect, that opinions which had prevailed so long, and had been incorporated with the policy of governments, should fall at once before even the clearest reason. Hence writers on Political Economy were distinguished into two classes, each marked by the practical conclusions which were drawn from their speculative inquiries, and this distinction still exists. The school of Adam Smith has adopted the broad and liberal principles of the Economists; and to that meddling spirit of rulers which has so often led them to make regulations for the industry of the governed, they reply, laissez faire et laissez passer : “ for as the public interest consists in the union of all individual interests, individual interest will guide each man more surely to the public interest than any government can do.” The mercantilists, or partisans of the commercial, or restrictive system, hold that the interference of government is useful and necessary : since by this means the capital and industry of the community may be directed into those channels which will prove most beneficial to society. They maintain the position therefore, that the most advantageous employment to the individual, may not be so, as to the nation at large, even in those departments of industry by which neither the laws of nature, nor private rights, are violated.
Mr. Raymond appears to be a disciple of the latter school, so far as it is possible to class him with former writers. He does not, however, receive the principles of any party; and the chief marks of resemblance to the mercantilists, are his maintaining the identity of money and wealth ;* and the propriety of legisla
* Vol. 1, p. 299. Vol. 2, p. 97. The apparent contradictions of Vol. 1, p. 267 and 310, respect the obnoxious word “accumulation" only.
tive interposition in the disposal of private property. * In other respects, if we make one remarkable exception, which shall be taken notice of hereafter, his work contains few positions, and perhaps no connected argument on any subject, in common with those of his predecessors. We find occasionally propositions laid down, which have been proven by Smith and other writers; but Mr. Raymond, scorning all assistance, attempts to establish their truth by arguments, which as is not at all surprising, had never before been used. So far as Mr. Raymond's “Elements” may circulate, we believe their tendency will be to unsettle the minds of many who are students in this branch of knowledge; and to spread a vagueness and obscurity over the science. From his reasonings, and from his remarks respecting the labours of others, many will take up the opinion that there is no certainty in Political Economy; that it consists of a mass of conflicting theories, and dogmatical assertions, or illogical deductions from principles not fully established, or entirely without foundation; and, therefore, that a person of discernment will perceive at once, that “the same temper of mind, which in old times spent itself on scholastic questions, and in a later age, in commentaries upon the scriptures, has in these days taken the direction of metaphysical, or statistical philosophy.”+ Now nothing can be more pernicious than all this, nor farther removed from the truth. Of all the sciences, if those are excepted which respect the relations of magnitude, we know of none upon the evidence of which the mind rests with more confidence, nor of which the conclusions are more certain.
The influence which language exercises on our thoughts, is so great, that those engaged in scientific inquiries have generally felt the necessity of first laying down precise and accurate definitions of the principal ternis about to be used. Indeed, of such importance is this preparatory step, that the author, who, on any subject, has been most exact in this respect, will usually be 'found to treat his theme most clearly and most profoundly. We cannot be certain that we have grasped the ideas, which may have been flitting across the mind like the shadows of clouds over the undulating fields of summer, until we have experienced our ability to communicate them to others. We think in sentences, and therefore when the transient and vanishing impressions, made upon the mind by the first view of any subject, have been ripened into the vigorous decisions of the understanding, and our conceptions have become strong and distinct, we will
* Vol. 1, p. 123, 159. Vol. 2, p. 228, 247. + London Quarterly Review, No. 29, p. 235.