« PreviousContinue »
social and economical administrator, as well as an expounder of wide and vigorous economic views. His instinct into truth was quick, his penetration into motives unerring, and his quick sympathies, added to his sagacity, enabled him to trace the probable future of human action both in masses and in detail ; well aware too, as he was, that no mere formulas of the intellect could
span those various impulses, which, springing from deep social causes, so greatly modify the path of man.
At the age of twenty-two, Mr. Jones was sent to Cambridge, where the robustness of his intellect, his truly natural character, his joyousness and wit, endeared him to his distinguished contemporaries by the banks of Cam; in those old days when Herschel, Peacock, Jacob, Babbage, Ryan, and, we at least may add not the least famous, Whewell, were among the stars which sparkled along ber firmament. His health being deemed too weak for the bar, Mr. Jones entered the church, and, as a curate on the wolds of Kent, his practical sagacity and usefulness soon demanded a wider sphere. Taking a great interest in the agricultural welfare of his parishioners, his mind soon emerged into political economy; and, before the year 1833, his name had become celebrated for his work on the “Distribution of Wealth," and his treatise on “Rent." In the year 1833 he became Professor of Political Economy at King's College, London ; and subsequently he received an additional appointment. The Professorship of Political Economy at Haileybury was added to his duties. His rare legislative skill soon afterwards manifested in the large share which he took in the construction of the Tithe Commutation Act, introduced by Lord John Russell in the year 1836, and in surmounting the difficulties which this great masterpiece of successful compromise encountered in its progress. For this good work he received the wellmerited reward of a tithe commissionership at the instance of the Archbishop of Canterbury. In the duties of administering this great experimental act--which he turned into a practical reality; in his professorships at King's College and at Haileybury, in which he succeeded to the chair of Malthus; and, towards the close of his
career, as a charity commissioner—this highly meritorious servant of the state passed his laborious life, which terminated on January 20th, 1855.
The present work has been edited by Dr. Whewell. We rather regret the absence of dates to several of the essays, especially on so quick-growing a subject as political economy; some repetition there is, too; but the main desideratum of the work is, a large reference to fixed principles in political economy; a science requiring throughout its structure the constant presence of definitions and axioms, which may act as party walls, preventing common confusion in the extreme admixture of its concrete details.
These details may be likened to the condition of a large crowd of men requiring in a limited space barriers to prevent overpressure. The principles of political economy have a constant tendency to press upon and overlap each other; the consequence is, that reasoners must constantly recur to those most fundamental. Thus differing from the gradations of geometry, where each floor, so to speak, is so aptly placed upon the last—that the first principles once established, we can neglect the ladders by which we mounted On the other hand, in political economy, in the entanglement of social conditions, we are often compelled to reduce our first principles to the simplest form, in order to observe their normal tendencies when in conflict with other principles ; and if, as Mr. Buckle (Civilisation, vol. i.) asserts, the science is so much indebted to Hutcheson, who deduced its leading conceptions from the phenomena of selfishness, it is that the stimulus of this instinct is required in complicated cases to show us the direction of our rights, at the same time that it healthfully checks the vagueness of speculation.
In Lecture I, pp. 1–20, Mr. Jones gives us a vivid anticipation of a view lately extended by Mr. Buckle, upon the relative bearing of natural and moral agents upon the production of wealth ; and shows us that where the luxuriant bounty of nature is left to its full effect, the agencies of man are oft n stifled, and his labour paralyzed. The author first referred to, while he connects the efficiency of labour with the influence of climate, sees VOL. VII. NO. XIV.
in the bounty of the soil the operation of one part of external nature on another ; while he traces the efficiency of labour to the operation of external nature, not on itself, but on man. And when Mr. Buckle shows that fertility, or the operation of one part of nature upon another, being less complicated, and less liable to disturbance, comes earliest into play, he has clearly gone far to solve the politico-economical problem of the gradual advance of nations: In the
agency of climate, coming later into play, from its connection with the increase of man's personal resources, there is a constant tendency to supplant civilisations which were based mainly on fertility of soil.
With the subject of labour Mr. Jones always shows an intimate acquaintance. In his remarks on this subject, the Professor fails to note that the division of labour is but a case and application of the higher law-the combination of labour ; for the more we break down each process of industry into parts, the more closely must we play into the hands of those who are associated with us in a common end.
In Lecture III., p. 34, Professor Jones opens on the subject of capital; the vagueness which attends the theory of this word is evidently felt by him. But, in his lucid explanation of its Protean applications, he forces upon us the doubt, whether the term is not more useful regarded simply as "savings," and exposed to no further definition. However we refine upon the idea, it is clear that capital, whatever it is, must depend for its increase partly upon savings from future revenue, partly on its own replacement with profit, sooner or later.
How far rents can be said, as such, to contribute to capital, as cause and effect, or in any other than a recurring cycle (in which the use of capital on land adds to our apparent rent by mixing the pure rent with profits), is perhaps questionable ; for rent does not seem to be an independent addition to the national wealth over and above the revenues which the owner derives from that appropriate natural agent the soil, and which he obtains in full after deduction of the labour and risk of cultivation undergone by the farmer (see p. 41); so that, in other words, the same
improvements might be effected by a landlord farming his own land (thus receiving no rent), and capitalizing his profits in order to improve his land.
In Lecture V., p. 63, the Professor lays great stress on the division of capital into that which is “sustaining” and that which is "auxiliary.” There
may be a question whether such a distinction may not cripple the generality of our views, both sorts of capital being in some sort savings :—the first being employed to sustain labour, and being saved for that express purpose ; and the other being so natural to men, that no human society has ever been wholly without it. Provisionally used, and not too intently regarded, such distinctions facilitate the register of our observaticns; nor does the Professor, in his practical remarks on the subject, seem at all encumbered by it. It is well established, that if what people consume is always exactly equal to what they possess, there will be no residue; and therefore, no capital being accumulated, all must be employed in gaining food or starve. An overplus can only arise when the produce exceeds the consumption, and its increase eventually becomes a fund supporting all who do not win their own sustenance; and now an intellectual class is possible, because leisure is possible, and men can attend to subjects for which the pressure of their daily wants would have left them no time.” 1
In Lecture VI., p. 74, Professor Jones grasps with great force the condition of the labourer, and shews, what is most important, how the distribution of the surplus, and the condition of its possessors, determine the occupations and efficiency of the nonagricultural artisan class; yet at p. 79, in a discussion on rents and wages, equally cursory and obscure, he foregoes the opportunity of connecting his rich store of social facts with the science of political economy.
The question of population is treated by the Professor with great amplitude and delicacy of thought; and the conclusion is brought home to us with enormous force, that the capacity of mere animal increase cannot terrify the philosopher who weighs in
? Vide a learned chapter hereon in Buckle's “ History of Civilisation," vol. i.
the scale not merely the material framework, but the intellect and emotions of men.
Holding to the law that man will ever marry when he has obtained a sufficiency of necessaries, he sees that the term “necessaries” is one of an import which fluctuates with his social elevation ; raise its level, and the term then becomes connected with all that dignifies the intellect and the heart-with all that refines our appreciation of the blessings of time and immortality.
The characteristic of Mr. Jones's mind was comprehensiveness rather than depth. The subjects with which he dealt had a tendency to grow large in his hands. But his eye was telescopic rather than microscopic; the microscopic eye which could see the essence, the moving principle, of the fact close beneath him, was wanting. He could take a large sweep of particulars; if he failed, it was in detecting the true character of each unit. His mind was inductive rather than deductive, though saved from the mere empiricism of details by the business-like habit of his mind, and that largeness of observation by which errors of inspection are avoided.
There is no occasion to amplify the domain of induction. On all sides the questions of life present themselves in the concrete form of facts, requiring some preliminary hypothesis before induction can be used. But facts unsorted or ranged together on account of mere similitude, are only empirical uniforinities and coexistences; and this undue elevation of the inductive method in its application to subjects requiring another method, is connected with that error as to merely coexistent facts, which has been commented on by the learned writer on civilization we have already referred to.
When speaking of Lord Bacon, he says, “Yet, in reference to the study of coexistences, all his caution, all his knowledge, and all his thought in (applying the method of induction to them) were useless. His weapons, notwithstanding their power, could make no impression on that stubborn and refractory topic.” Now the theory of rent, as being one of the most general of any in political economy, is well calculated to illustrate this view of