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FOR MAY, 1819.

Art. I. 1. A Letter to the Right Honourable Robert Peel, M.P. for the University of Oxford, on the pernicious Effects of a Variable Standard of Value, especially as it regards the Condition of the Lower Orders, and the Poor Laws. By One of his Constituents. Second Edition. 8vo. pp. 104, Oxford. 1819.

2 A Second Letter to the Right Honourable Robert Peel, M.P. on the Causes of the Increase of Pauperism, and on the Poor Laws. By One of his Constituents. pp. 111. Oxford.

3. A Reply to the Author of a Letter to the Right Honourable Robert Peel. M.P. 8vo. pp. 63. London. 1819.

HE effectual advertisement given to this "Letter," by Mr.

'Tierney's reference to it in the House of Commons, has already obtained for it a very extensive circulation, and the high encomium passed upon it by that distinguished Senator, might seem to preclude the necessity of our pronouncing any opinion upon its merits. It is not for that purpose that we have selected it as the subject of the present Article, but we are glad of every opportunity of directing the attention of our readers to those great subjects of national interest, of all secular subjects transcendently the most important, which come under the head of Political Economy. It is, we think, a happy circumstance, that topics of this nature begin to be no longer confined to a few solitary thinkers, but among plain practical men, there is an unusual effort excited, to acquire a correct knowledge of those general facts which make up what are termed the principles of the science. The taxes, the tithes, and the poor's rates, keep continually fresh in the minds of the community, the speculations which either promise the mitigation of the burden, or offer at least to solve the perplexing problem of existing evils. The history of philosophy, in almost all the departments of human knowledge, has been

VOL. XI. N. S.

2 M

this. An accidental train of thought, or patient habits of abstract investigation, shall first have elicited some of the more comprehensive and profound principles which are destined to serve as the axiomata of the future science. Of the value of these, as furnishing the key to the phenomena to which they are applicable, the first discoverers were probably unconscious; or they contented themselves under the neglect and prejudice with which they probably had to contend from their contemporaries, with the assurance that others would enter into their labours, who would appreciate their importance. These scattered truths long after supplied a stimulus to the mind of some chance-reader to pursue the subject, or at least to lay them together and find their results; as from the measurements and soundings of many a patient navigator, there is formed at last the chart. There are very few standard treatises of science, the authors of which can boast of having done more than arrange the discoveries and the remarks of their predecessors, cautiously separating opinion and mere theory from deductions resting upon fact. Such writers come to be regarded as authorities, in a sense analogous to that in which the declarative sentence of a judge is assumed to be law. Applied to the mere opinions of any writer, how respectable soever, the term becomes unmeaning. The general principles thus admitted, are so much standard truth introduced into the fluctuating currency of opinion. But the application of abstract truth, under the novel exigencies of occasion, to the multiplicity of detail included in the executive part of the business of life, requires something more than the knowledge of theory. To trace existing effects up to past causes, is one thing; to foresee all the possible consequences of causes once set in operation, is another. If, however, it is seldom safe to act purely upon general principles, it can never be safe to act in violation of them. Truth neglected will infallibly avenge itself, and a crisis will arrive, at which an indolent disregard of principles as the standard to which practice should have a constant reference, will entail its just punishment. Then fear, and selfinterest, and the spirit of party, will prompt an anxious recurrence to the dry and recondite elements of scientific truth: these will be employed in the first instance to furnish out the indictment against the authors of measures with which they are at variance, and abstractions as they are, will be contended for with intense and indefinite interest. The opposite party will, in their turn, assail with doubts and sophistry, the hitherto undisputed axioms which form the vantage ground of the enemy. Much harmless paper is expended; reviews and pamphlets for some time keep alive the discussion; but at length it is inevitable that public opinion will settle down, after

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