페이지 이미지
PDF

w

its junction with the recipient, and gradually heated nearly to the melting-point of the iron by a powerful bellows. The first products that were given out were, as usual, water, empyreumatic oil, and yellow vapour, all of which were allowed to escape with every appearance of moisture, before the second so of the recipient was luted on. The bent tube of glass, y which the latter is o elongated, was dipped under a cup of water. After the fire had been kept up for two hours, there was so rapid an evolution of gas, as to carry out with it a great o of the distilled matter, and portions of potassium came up from time to time, and burned on the surface of the water in the cup. The heat was continued for two hours longer with great intensity, and was then discontinued, though the evolution of gas was still very vigorous, for fear of the barrel (which was not defended by lute) giving way. The apparatus was examined as soon as it was cold. The recipient contained nothing but a few fragments of the matter projected by the torrent of gas. Just at the upper extremity of the barrel was deposited an alloy of potassium and lead, which, when thrown on mercury covered with a little water, burned as strongly as pure potassium. The barrel was sawn asunder at about three inches from the end, and shewed in this point and near it, a considerable quantity (7 or 8 grammes) of potassium, nearly pure, that had condensed in that spot, .# lay in plates above the alloy. When removed, it was melted in rectified petroleum to purify it, but a violent action took place, a large part of the potassium was destroyed, and only a few beautiful silver-white globules were preserved. This result may perhaps lead to a method of do. a considerable quantity of potassium, through the medium of alloys with the more fusible of the fixed metals. The latter, as M. Vauquelin has observed, facilitate extremely the reduction of potash by charcoal, uniting in the process with as much as a fifth part of the alkaline metal, or even more. In certain situations the alloy of bismuth and potassium offers an excellent test of the complete desiccation of gas. All that is required is, to pass up a small fragment of the alloy to the gas confined over mercury, when the least moisture will of: it turn round.

[The following article is translated from the Revue Encyclopedique for July, 1823, published at Paris. The article is not without meritas a speculation upon the subject of public economy, and contains some suggestions well worthy of attention; but we give it to our readers rather as a specimen of the present mode of thinking in France upon subjects that are at all times interesting, than as containing many new thoughts, or being remarkable for the profoundness and extent of the writer's views.]

ART, X-An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. By ADAM Smith. Translated by the late Marquis Garnier. Second edition, with additional JNotes and Observations. Paris, 1822. Sir vols. 8vo.

ls political economy a moral science, or a science of mere calculation?” The writers of antiquity, and almost all the modern, who preceded the school of Quesnay, treated it as a moral science. According to them, it is a knowledge of the principles upon which social order and prosperity depend, that of the resources of society, and the means of employin those resources for the advantage of the state, at home ...i abroad. Among the ancients, Aristotle, Xenophon, and Plato, wrote in this sense; and Fenelon, Montesquieu, and J. J. Rousseau, among ourselves. Quesnay and his school were the first who supposed they had discovered the foundation of political economy in material objects, and who reduced this science to one of mere calculation. According to their . lations, all political economy is nothing but a knowledge of what they denominate net product, and of its effects. Land, they say, yields to its proprietor a surplus over and above the expenses of cultivation and the profits of the tenant. It is this rent that constitutes the public riches, and to augment which should be the care of the government. The whole system of economy rests upon this assumed fact. Enlightened men of unquestionable talent, Turgot, Dupont de Nemours, the abbe Morellet, have all, in a greater or less degree, maintained this doctrine. The translator of Smith, whose work we announce, belongs to this celebrated school of French economists. The part of this book written by him, every where proves how much he has adhered to the notions of this

"It is a political science, involving many questions of a moral kind, and many of mere calculation of disbursements and receipts.

[ocr errors]

school, even when he thought himself departing from them. It has been the object of this school to inquire into the origin and nature of riches, and they have occupied themselves especially, respecting the preservation and increase of riches, upon which they suppose the whole social economy to depend. Among the ancients, also, Aristotle, that scientific genius, so skilful in distinguishing and classing the subjects of human knowledge, had conceived, as an object worthy of particular attention, an inquiry into the sources of wealth and the causes of its progress. This he made a science, which he called the chrematistic science, or chrysology (the science of riches); but, in his view, it was only a branch of the public economy; a collection of facts and observations calculated to throw light upon the admirable economy of human societies. The ancient philosopher or the modern thinkers; which have the more just notions upon this subject”

* The writer cannot intend to be understood that Smith or the other economists of his school, supposed that the political institutions, religion, morals, and manners of a people, are not of the greatest importance. They understood political economy to be a science relating to the production, distribution, and consumption of wealth. The writer admits that these are proper subjects of a distinct science, for which he borrows the name of chrysology from Aristotle. But whether this science is designated by one or the other of these names, is of very little importance, and since it has been known under the name of political economy for so long a time, and has been introduced into all the treatises and speculations of authors and politicians, under this name, it is certainly convenient to continue the use of the expression in the same sense. But though we should continue to call the science of national wealth, political economy, it may still be a question how far this subject is con: nected with political and religious institutions, morals, and manners; and we agree with the writer of the above article, that Smith, Say, Malthus, Ricardo, and the other writers upon this subject, who are now the most read and most frequently cited, have, in this respect, taken limited views. The political and religious institutions, the customs, habits, morals, manners, and opinions of a people, not only constitute their national character, and determine their prosperity, happiness, and power, but produce these effects partly by their influence on the productive faculties of the nation. As far as the have this influence, they are strictly subjects belonging to the science of political economy, in the present acceptation of the expression. The modes of industry and the degree of national wealth, again, have a great influence upon the institutions, morals, manners, and happiness of a people, and to the extent of this influence, these last are subjects properly coming within the science of public economy. The desideratum, in this science, is, to point out and demonstrate these influences, as Adam Smith has explained and elucidated the processes of production. It is not enough that a writer treats of economy and politics in the same book, like Aristotle, Stewart, and a hundred others. A work is still wanting that shall more systematically and scientifically trace the connexion of different modes of production and consumption, and different degrees of national wealth, with the well-being and lasting happiness of the great body of a community. That this connexion

-*

At the same time with the French economists, an English writer occupied himself in examining to the bottom the foundations of political economy. A man of a capacious and inquisitive mind, and extensive knowledge, James Stewart, held in too little estimation hitherto in France, and even in his own country, has more profoundly comprehended, than had been done before, and perhaps, than has been done since, all the importance and #. of his subject. He has with eat perspicacity seized the whole subject, its diverse parts, their relations to each other, and to the whole. He saw, in the production of riches, only the means of furnishing subsistence, and promoting the o welfare and prosperity of a nation. But he perceived, at the same time, the great influence which the climate, the nature and situation of the soil, and religious, political, and civil institutions, necessarily exercise over the production and progress of wealth. Wishing to determine to what degree and in what manner each of the elements of social order acted upon human industry, and again felt its reaction, he was the first to point out the vast variety of results which distinguish the industry of the ancients from i. of the moderns, in assigning, for the cause of this wide difference, the fundamental opposition between the domestie state of ancient’societies, in which labour was essentially the task of slaves, and that of our societies, which depend upon the labour of freemen. This was diffusing new light upon the study of history and of political economy. This reformer, convinced that the advancement of industry has for its object the social order, and, of consequence, the subsistence, and then the welfare and comfort of a people taken en masse, could not fail to encounter the problem which has for its object the easy subsistence of a population always increasing. Accordingly none of the difficulties, which have since suggested to Mr Malthus the idea of his gloomy paradox concerning the necessity of misery, had escaped the sagacity of his predecessor. But when he attempted to an: the causes of the outward, physical prosperity of states; the means whereby wealth is created, increased, and distributed; he wandered, and became confused. While Stewart was losing himself in an inextricable labyrinth, one of his countrymen, more fortunate, had found Ariadne's clue. Adam Smith, confining himself to the study of the series of operations and combinations which concur to the production, the increase, and the distribution of wealth, brought to this inquiry all the resources of a subtle and penetrating mind, and all the force and perseverance of a genius eminent for its powers of analyzing. He soon succeeded in detecting all the springs of this ingenious mechanism; he explained the multiplied relations and connexions of the complicated processes, by means of which the so various operations of industry contribute to form the wealth of individuals; the aggregate of which constitutes the public wealth. To this subtle and profound inquirer belongs the glory of having created the chrysology of Aristotle, since he was the first to discover and explain the laws which industry naturally follows, in all its branches, to arrive at its cnd. He has done for this science, what Newton, his countryman, had before done for astronomy. Kepler had marked out, or rather pointed out, the route to Newton: Quesnay and those of his school, opened the route which Smith has explored. Turgot had made many of the same discoveries which have immortalized Smith, as Leibnitz invented the differential calculus that had been already invented by Newton. The short, but very substantial tract, of Turgot, concerning the Formation and Distribution of Riches, and the precious fragment he has left, wpon the o of Values, had been written before the publication of Smith's work. The abbe Morellet, and Genovesi, had also published, before the Scotch philosopher, the one his excellent treatise upon Industry and Commerce, but at that time under the humble title of A Prospectus for a Commercial Encyclopedia, the other, his book upon Civil Economy. But it appears beyond doubt that Smith had taught his chrysological doctrine at Edinburgh for twenty years, when he . to reveal it to the public. It may be added, also, that the Wealth of Nations is the first work in which this doctrine was expounded in detail, and in a complete manner. Although this

and influence exist, no economist or politician is ignorant, but that they have been as yet but imperfectly explained, is sufficiently shewn by the loose, crude, and conflicting notions daily thrown out by the most accomplished statesmen and the most profound thinkers. Perhaps these relations are too complicated ever to be fully disentangled, and the consequences too remote, and too much blended together, to be ever distinctly traced to their causes. If the question is proposed, whether any particular nation is likely, without the intervention of any extraordinary and unforseen events, to be, in the aggregate, more wealthy, ten years hence, than it is at present, many persons will be able to give an answer founded upon reasons that may be pretty satisfactory to others; but if the question be proposed, whether the probable increase or diminution of the national wealth, will render the condition of the great mass of the community more or less desirable, very few will be able to give an answer that shall be satisfactory even to themselves. In this respect we are always rushing forward to a scene enveloped in darkness, and the writer who shall do something towards dispelling the cloud, will have a better title than Smith, to the gratitude of mankind.

« 이전계속 »