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clearly the particular department in which De Quincey is distinguished. This, of course, is the abstract portion. The fundamental laws of the science, or rather the one fundamental law on which it is all built, furnished his mind with occupation. This one fundamental law is the law of value. It determines what is, viewed abstractly, the grand cause which fixes the relative value of articles, - how much of any one will exchange for so much of any other. Once this is found, you know whence all deviations depart, you know how each modifying element will act, you have, so to speak, formed your theory of the seasons, although you cannot tell what showers may fall, what winds may blow, what ripening weeks of sunshine may usher in the harvest. "He," says De Quincey, "who is fully master of the subject of value, is already a good political economist." We agree with him, and think that political economy first and forever became an established science, when the theory of value was perfected. The honor of having published the demonstration belongs to David Ricardo; but De Quincey, as has so often happened, found himself anticipated with the public. He had arrived at the same results; but little remained for him to do, save to silence a few objectors who long continued to oppose Ricardo. This he did in the "Templars' Dialogues," in a manner so clear and conclusive, that assent may be said to have become synonymous with comprehension. It is difficult to convey any idea of these papers to one who has not read them. To quote any passage were an improvement upon the brick sample of the house, for it would be to offer a stone as sample of an arch; to abridge is out of the question, for they are models of terseness. Considered as pieces of reasoning, they are truly masterly. There is an artistic perfection about them. The beauty of precision, of clear

ness, of absolute performance of the thing required, is the only beauty admissible. Accordingly, there is not an illustration which is not there simply because it speaks more clearly than words; there are no flourishes of rhetoric; all is quiet, orderly, conclusive, like the British line advancing to the charge, and with the same result. It is true that, even in them, De Quincey could not be dull, and so there is the slightest infusion of humor, which adds a raciness to the whole, and is thus promotive of the general effect. Mr. M'Culloch, a man not given to enthusiasm, says of these papers, that they "are unequalled, perhaps, for brevity, pungency, and force.”

De Quincey's introduction to political economy was characteristic, and illustrates remarkably the nature of his powers. He took to it as an amusement, when debility had caused the cessation of severer studies. About the year 1811, he became acquainted with a great many books and pamphlets on the subject; but it seems that what had employed the concentrated, protracted, and healthful energies of men for about a couple of centuries, could not for a moment bide the scrutiny of his languishing eye. Thus politely and composedly does he indicate his general impression of what books, pamphlets, speeches, and other compositions bearing on political economy had come in his way :"I saw that these were generally the very dregs and rinsings of the human intellect; and that any man of sound head, and practised in wielding logic with a scholastic adroitness, might take up the whole academy of modern economists, and throttle them between heaven and earth with his finger and thumb, or bray their fungus heads to powder with a lady's fan." Such sudden and amazing proficiency, we presume, scientific professors would not extremely desire. However, this surprising pupil was soon to meet the mas

ter:-"At length," he proceeds, "in 1819, a friend in Edinburgh sent me down Mr. Ricardo's book; and, recurring to my own prophetic anticipation of the advent of some legislator for this science, I said, before I had finished the first chapter, "Thou art the man!' Wonder and curiosity were emotions that had long been dead in me. Yet I wondered once more: I wondered at myself, that I could once again be stimulated to the effort of reading; and, much more, I wondered at the book. Had this profound book been really written in England during the nineteenth century? * * * * Could it be that an Englishman, and he not in academic bowers, but oppressed by mercantile and senatorial* cares, had accomplished what all the universities of Europe, and a century of thought, had failed to advance even by one hair's breadth? All other writers had been crushed and overlaid by the enormous weight of facts and documents; Mr. Ricardo had deduced à priori, from the understanding itself, laws which first gave a ray of light into the unwieldy chaos of materials, and had constructed what had been but a collection of tentative discussions into a science of regular proportions, now first standing on an eternal basis."

Are our readers acquainted with the "Principles of Political Economy and Taxation," by David Ricardo? If not, they will hardly appreciate De Quincey's enthusiasm, or understand what it implies. Butler and Edwards are by no means drawing-room authors, yet the perusal of their works seems to us to approach the nature of an intellectual recreation, compared with that of this book of Ricardo's. We consider it that volume which, of all we know, requires the highest tension and effort of intellect. It has a thousand

*"Senatorial:" this is a mistake. Ricardo entered the House of Commons in 1819; his work was published in 1817.

times been charged with obscurity, and a filmy subtlety of speculation; yet its difficulty consists principally in that it is the production of a mind so exceedingly clear, that it could completely master and fully embrace a subject, by seeing its great leading points of illumination, without tracing the path from the one to the other. Thus the reader is, as it were, carried from eminence to eminence by the writer, without being shown the way he travels; and having reached each, not by the usual step by step method, he is moved to question the reality of his progress, and to object to the extraordinary new method of instruction, in which he must ever and anon commit himself to the strong arm or wing of the preceptor, to be carried to a higher station. He feels that too large a demand is made on his faith; he wishes to walk a little by sight. Ricardo coolly sets him down, with the assurance that his progress has been real, and that now he stands on a higher platform than he ever occupied before; but with the declaration, that he must find some other to explain pedagogically the mode of advancement, since there are further heights to which his guide must forthwith ascend. Now, De Quincey had the supreme satisfaction of going side by side with Ricardo in his aërial voyagings; he knew well whither he was going, and the absolute certainty that it was onwards; he could look down, with a satisfied, half-sneering smile, upon the strugglers below, who jogged honestly but slowly along, proclaiming their distrust in all aërial carriages. In those "Templars' Dialogues" he seems to sit in the chariot with Ricardo, laughing at Malthus and other disbelievers, and calling to them to look up, and see that all their difficulty of apprehension lies in the fact, that the one path is through the air, straight as an arrow's flight, while the other is along the ground, amid sand heaps and tangled jungles. De

Quincey himself has admirably described the nature of Ricardo's obscurity, by saying that, if it can be fairly alleged against him at all, it can arise only from "too keen a perception of the truth, which may have seduced him at times into too elliptic a development of his opinions, and made him impatient of the tardy and continuous steps which are best adapted to the purposes of the teacher. For," he adds, "the fact is, that the laborers of the Mine (as I am accustomed to call them), or those who dig up the metal of truth, are seldom fitted to be also laborers of the Mint, - that is, to work up the metal for current use." "Seed corn," says Goethe, "should not be ground." Such were the difficulty and the obscurity of Ricardo. Now, we certainly should found no claim to an extraordinary analytic faculty on the mere power to comprehend any author; but the fact of keen enjoyment, of free, exulting pleasure being derived from the perusal of a book, is always conclusive proof of an affinity with the powers it exhibits; and the instant recognition with which De Quincey welcomed Ricardo's discoveries, as well as the perfect comprehension, nay, light and graceful, and absolutely commanding mastery, with which he ever after used and expounded them, may be regarded, even independently of his own words, as sufficient evidence that he himself had trodden the same high path, that the same laws unfolded themselves, almost contemporaneously, to the analytic intellects of De Quincey and Ricardo. We claim not for the former any honor which the succession of the years denied him; but when the question is not of the honor of a discovery, but the possession of a faculty, our argument is irresistible. We think, therefore, that in the mere power of analysis, leaving all else out of account, an equality may be vindicated for De Quincey with the great legislator in political economy,


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