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Title: Unto This Last and Other Essays on Political Economy
Author: Ruskin, John, 1819-1900
Language: English
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  THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF ART                                     7

    LECTURE I.                                                    11
      1. Discovery                                                23
      2. Application                                              28

    LECTURE II.                                                   46
      3. Accumulation                                             46
      4. Distribution                                             65

    ADDENDA                                                       86
      Note 1.--"Fatherly Authority"                               86
        "  2.--"Right to Public Support"                          90
        "  3.--"Trial Schools"                                    95
        "  4.--"Public Favour"                                   101
        "  5.--"Invention of new wants"                          102
        "  6.--"Economy of Literature"                           104
        "  7.--"Pilots of the State"                             106
        "  8.--"Silk and Purple"                                 107


  UNTO THIS LAST                                                 117

        I.--The Roots of Honour                                  127
       II.--The Veins of Wealth                                  143
      III.--"Qui Judicatis Terram"                               156
       IV.--Ad Valorem                                           173



      Section 1. Wealth                                          214
         "    2. Money                                           219
         "    3. Riches                                          222


    OF DESIRE                                                    252


    [A] These Essays were afterwards revised and amplified, and
        published with others under the title "Munera Pulveris."



The greater part of the following treatise remains in the exact form
in which it was read at Manchester; but the more familiar passages of
it, which were trusted to extempore delivery, have been since written
with greater explicitness and fullness than I could give them in
speaking; and a considerable number of notes are added, to explain the
points which could not be sufficiently considered in the time I had at
my disposal in the lecture-room.

Some apology may be thought due to the reader, for an endeavour to
engage his attention on a subject of which no profound study seems
compatible with the work in which I am usually employed. But profound
study is not, in this case, necessary either to writer or reader,
while accurate study, up to a certain point, is necessary for us all.
Political economy means, in plain English, nothing more than
"citizens' economy"; and its first principles ought, therefore, to be
understood by all who mean to take the responsibility of citizens, as
those of household economy by all who take the responsibility of
householders. Nor are its first principles in the least obscure: they
are, many of them, disagreeable in their practical requirements, and
people in general pretend that they cannot understand, because they
are unwilling to obey them; or, rather, by habitual disobedience,
destroy their capacity of understanding them. But there is not one of
the really great principles of the science which is either obscure or
disputable--which might not be taught to a youth as soon as he can be
trusted with an annual allowance, or to a young lady as soon as she is
of age to be taken into counsel by the housekeeper.

I might, with more appearance of justice, be blamed for thinking it
necessary to enforce what everybody is supposed to know. But this
fault will hardly be found with me, while the commercial events
recorded daily in our journals, and still more the explanations
attempted to be given of them, show that a large number of our
so-called merchants are as ignorant of the nature of money as they are
reckless, unjust, and unfortunate in its employment.

The statements of economical principle given in the text, though I
know that most, if not all, of them are accepted by existing
authorities on the science, are not supported by references, because I
have never read any author on political economy, except Adam Smith,
twenty years ago.[1] Whenever I have taken up any modern book upon
this subject, I have usually found it encumbered with inquiries into
accidental or minor commercial results, for the pursuit of which an
ordinary reader could have no leisure, and, by the complication of
which, it seemed to me, the authors themselves had been not
unfrequently prevented from seeing to the root of the business.

    [1] 1857.

Finally, if the reader should feel inclined to blame me for too
sanguine a statement of future possibilities in political practice,
let him consider how absurd it would have appeared in the days of
Edward I. if the present state of social economy had been then
predicted as necessary, or even described as possible. And I believe
the advance from the days of Edward I. to our own, great as it is
confessedly, consists, not so much in what we have actually
accomplished, as in what we are now enabled to conceive.


Among the various characteristics of the age in which we live, as
compared with other ages of this not yet _very_ experienced world, one
of the most notable appears to me to be the just and wholesome
contempt in which we hold poverty. I repeat, the _just_ and
_wholesome_ contempt; though I see that some of my hearers look
surprised at the expression. I assure them, I use it in sincerity; and
I should not have ventured to ask you to listen to me this evening,
unless I had entertained a profound respect for wealth--true wealth,
that is to say; for, of course, we ought to respect neither wealth nor
anything else that is false of its kind: and the distinction between
real and false wealth is one of the points on which I shall have a few
words presently to say to you. But true wealth I hold, as I said, in
great honour; and sympathize, for the most part, with that
extraordinary feeling of the present age which publicly pays this
honour to riches. I cannot, however, help noticing how extraordinary
it is, and how this epoch of ours differs from all bygone epochs in
having no philosophical nor religious worshippers of the ragged
godship of poverty. In the classical ages, not only there were people
who voluntarily lived in tubs, and who used gravely to maintain the
superiority of tub-life to town-life, but the Greeks and Latins seem
to have looked on these eccentric, and I do not scruple to say, absurd
people, with as much respect as we do upon large capitalists and
landed proprietors; so that really, in those days, no one could be
described as purse proud, but only as empty-purse proud. And no less
distinct than the honour which those curious Greek people pay to their
conceited poor, is the disrespectful manner in which they speak of
the rich; so that one cannot listen long either to them, or to the
Roman writers who imitated them, without finding oneself entangled in
all sorts of plausible absurdities; hard upon being convinced of the
uselessness of collecting that heavy yellow substance which we call
gold, and led generally to doubt all the most established maxims of
political economy. Nor are matters much better in the middle ages. For
the Greeks and Romans contented themselves with mocking at rich
people, and constructing merry dialogues between Charon and Diogenes
or Menippus, in which the ferryman and the cynic rejoiced together as
they saw kings and rich men coming down to the shore of Acheron, in
lamenting and lamentable crowds, casting their crowns into the dark
waters, and searching, sometimes in vain, for the last coin out of all
their treasures that could ever be of use to them. But these Pagan
views of the matter were indulgent, compared with those which were
held in the middle ages, when wealth seems to have been looked upon by
the best men not only as contemptible, but as criminal. The purse
round the neck is, then, one of the principal signs of condemnation in
the pictured Inferno; and the Spirit of Poverty is reverenced with
subjection of heart, and faithfulness of affection, like that of a
loyal knight for his lady, or a loyal subject for his queen. And
truly, it requires some boldness to quit ourselves of these feelings,
and to confess their partiality or their error, which, nevertheless,
we are certainly bound to do. For wealth is simply one of the greatest
powers which can be entrusted to human hands: a power, not indeed to
be envied, because it seldom makes us happy; but still less to be
abdicated or despised; while, in these days, and in this country, it
has become a power all the more notable, in that the possessions of a
rich man are not represented, as they used to be, by wedges of gold or
coffers of jewels, but by masses of men variously employed, over whose
bodies and minds the wealth, according to its direction, exercises
harmful or helpful influence, and becomes, in that alternative, Mammon
either of Unrighteousness or of Righteousness.

Now, it seemed to me that since, in the name you have given to this
great gathering of British pictures, you recognise them as
Treasures--that is, I suppose, as part and parcel of the real wealth
of the country--you might not be uninterested in tracing certain
commercial questions connected with this particular form of wealth.
Most persons express themselves as surprised at its quantity; not
having known before to what an extent good art had been accumulated in
England: and it will, therefore, I should think, be held a worthy
subject of consideration, what are the political interests involved in
such accumulations; what kind of labour they represent, and how this
labour may in general be applied and economized, so as to produce the
richest results.

Now, you must have patience with me, if in approaching the specialty
of this subject, I dwell a little on certain points of general
political science already known or established: for though thus, as I
believe, established, some which I shall have occasion to rest
arguments on are not yet by any means universally accepted; and
therefore, though I will not lose time in any detailed defence of
them, it is necessary that I should distinctly tell you in what form I
receive, and wish to argue from them; and this the more, because there
may perhaps be a part of my audience who have not interested
themselves in political economy, as it bears on ordinary fields of
labour, but may yet wish to hear in what way its principles can be
applied to Art. I shall, therefore, take leave to trespass on your
patience with a few elementary statements in the outset, and with, the
expression of some general principles, here and there, in the course
of our particular inquiry.

To begin, then, with one of these necessary truisms: all economy,
whether of states, households, or individuals, may be defined to be
the art of managing labour. The world is so regulated by the laws of
Providence, that a man's labour, well applied, is always amply
sufficient to provide him during his life with all things needful to
him, and not only with those, but with many pleasant objects of
luxury; and yet farther, to procure him large intervals of healthful
rest and serviceable leisure. And a nation's labour, well applied, is
in like manner, amply sufficient to provide its whole population with
good food and comfortable habitation; and not with those only, but
with good education besides, and objects of luxury, art treasures,
such as these you have around you now. But by those same laws of
Nature and Providence, if the labour of the nation or of the
individual be misapplied, and much more if it be insufficient,--if the
nation or man be indolent and unwise,--suffering and want result,
exactly in proportion to the indolence and improvidence,--to the
refusal of labour, or to the misapplication of it. Wherever you see
want, or misery, or degradation, in this world about you, there, be
sure, either industry has been wanting, or industry has been in error.
It is not accident, it is not Heaven-commanded calamity, it is not the
original and inevitable evil of man's nature, which fill your streets
with lamentation, and your graves with prey. It is only that, when
there should have been providence, there has been waste; when there
should have been labour, there has been lasciviousness; and,
wilfulness, when there should have been subordination.[2]

    [2] Proverbs xiii. 23: "Much food is in the tillage of the poor:
        but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment."

Now, we have warped the word "economy" in our English: language into a
meaning which it has no business whatever to bear. In our use of it,
it constantly signifies merely sparing or saving; economy of money
means saving money--economy of time, sparing time, and so on. But that
is a wholly barbarous use of the word--barbarous in a double sense,
for it is not English, and it is bad Greek; barbarous in a treble
sense, for it is not English, it is bad Greek, and it is worse sense.
Economy no more means saving money than it means spending money. It
means, the administration of a house; its stewardship; spending or
saving, that is, whether money or time, or anything else, to the best
possible advantage. In the simplest and clearest definition of it,
economy, whether public or private, means the wise management of
labour; and it means this mainly in three senses: namely, first,
_applying_ your labour rationally; secondly, _preserving_ its produce
carefully; lastly, _distributing_ its produce seasonably.

I say first, applying your labour rationally; that is, so as to obtain
the most precious things you can, and the most lasting things, by it:
not growing oats in land where you can grow wheat, nor putting fine
embroidery on a stuff that will not wear. Secondly, preserving its
produce carefully; that is to say, laying up your wheat wisely in
storehouses for the time of famine, and keeping your embroidery
watchfully from the moth: and lastly, distributing its produce
seasonably; that is to say, being able to carry your corn at once to
the place where the people are hungry, and your embroideries to the
places where they are gay, so fulfilling in all ways the Wise Man's
description, whether of the queenly housewife or queenly nation. "She
riseth while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a
portion to her maidens. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry, her
clothing is silk and purple. Strength and honour are in her clothing,
and she shall rejoice in time to come."

Now, you will observe that in this description of the perfect
economist, or mistress of a household, there is a studied expression
of the balanced division of her care between the two great objects of
utility and splendour; in her right hand, food and flax, for life and
clothing; in her left hand, the purple and the needlework, for honour
and for beauty. All perfect housewifery or national economy is known
by these two divisions; wherever either is wanting, the economy is
imperfect. If the motive of pomp prevails, and the care of the
national economist is directed only to the accumulation of gold, and
of pictures, and of silk and marble, you know at once that the time
must soon come when all these treasures shall be scattered and blasted
in national ruin. If, on the contrary, the element of utility
prevails, and the nation disdains to occupy itself in any wise with
the arts of beauty or delight, not only a certain quantity of its
energy calculated for exercise in those arts alone must be entirely
wasted, which is bad economy, but also the passions connected with the
utilities of property become morbidly strong, and a mean lust of
accumulation merely for the sake of accumulation, or even of labour
merely for the sake of labour, will banish at last the serenity and
the morality of life, as completely, and perhaps more ignobly, than
even the lavishness of pride and the lightness of pleasure. And
similarly, and much more visibly, in private and household economy,
you may judge always of its perfectness by its fair balance between
the use and the pleasure of its possessions. You will see the wise
cottager's garden trimly divided between its well-set vegetables, and
its fragrant flowers; you will see the good housewife taking pride in
her pretty table-cloth, and her glittering shelves, no less than in
her well-dressed dish, and her full storeroom; the care in her
countenance will alternate with gaiety, and though you will reverence
her in her seriousness, you will know her best by her smile.

Now, as you will have anticipated, I am going to address you, on this
and our succeeding evening, chiefly on the subject of that economy
which relates rather to the garden than the farm-yard. I shall ask you
to consider with me the kind of laws by which we shall best distribute
the beds of our national garden, and raise in it the sweetest
succession of trees pleasant to the sight, and (in no forbidden sense)
to be desired to make us wise. But, before proceeding to open this
specialty of our subject, let me pause for a few moments to plead with
you for the acceptance of that principle of government or authority
which must be at the root of all economy, whether for use or for
pleasure. I said, a few minutes ago, that a nation's labour, well
applied, was amply sufficient to provide its whole population with
good food, comfortable clothing, and pleasant luxury. But the good,
instant, and constant application is everything. We must not, when our
strong hands are thrown out of work, look wildly about for want of
something to do with them. If ever we feel that want, it is a sign
that all our household is out of order. Fancy a farmer's wife, to whom
one or two of her servants should come at twelve o'clock at noon,
crying that they had got nothing to do; that they did not know what to
do next: and fancy still farther, the said farmer's wife looking
hopelessly about her rooms and yard, they being all the while
considerably in disorder, not knowing where to set the spare
hand-maidens to work, and at last complaining bitterly that she had
been obliged to give them their dinner for nothing. That's the type of
the kind of political economy we practise too often in England. Would
you not at once assert of such a mistress that she knew nothing of her
duties? and would you not be certain, if the household were rightly
managed, the mistress would be only too glad at any moment to have the
help of any number of spare hands; that she would know in an instant
what to set them to;--in an instant what part of to-morrow's work
might be most serviceably forwarded, what part of next month's work
most wisely provided for, or what new task of some profitable kind
undertaken? and when the evening came, and she dismissed her servants
to their recreation or their rest, or gathered them to the reading
round the work-table, under the eaves in the sunset, would you not be
sure to find that none of them had been overtasked by her, just
because none had been left idle; that everything had been accomplished
because all had been employed; that the kindness of the mistress had
aided her presence of mind, and the slight labour had been entrusted
to the weak, and the formidable to the strong; and that as none had
been dishonoured by inactivity so none had been broken by toil?

Now, the precise counterpart of such a household would be seen in a
nation in which political economy was rightly understood. You complain
of the difficulty of finding work for your men. Depend upon it, the
real difficulty rather is to find men for your work. The serious
question for you is not how many you have to feed, but how much you
have to do; it is our inactivity, not our hunger, that ruins us: let
us never fear that our servants should have a good appetite--our
wealth is in their strength, not in their starvation. Look around this
island of yours, and see what you have to do in it. The sea roars
against your harbourless cliffs--you have to build the breakwater, and
dig the port of refuge; the unclean pestilence ravins in your
streets--you have to bring the full stream from the hills, and to send
the free winds through the thoroughfare; the famine blanches your lips
and eats away your flesh--you have to dig the moor and dry the marsh,
to bid the morass give forth instead of engulphing, and to wring the
honey and oil out of the rock. These things, and thousands such, we
have to do, and shall have to do constantly, on this great farm of
ours; for do not suppose that it is anything else than that. Precisely
the same laws of economy which apply to the cultivation of a farm or
an estate apply to the cultivation of a province or of an island.
Whatever rebuke you would address to the improvident master of an
ill-managed patrimony, precisely that rebuke we should address to
ourselves, so far as we leave our population in idleness and our
country in disorder. What would you say to the lord of an estate who
complained to you of his poverty and disabilities, and, when you
pointed out to him that his land was half of it overrun with weeds,
and that his fences were all in ruin, and that his cattle-sheds were
roofless, and his labourers lying under the hedges faint for want of
food, he answered to you that it would ruin him to weed his land or to
roof his sheds--that those were too costly operations for him to
undertake, and that he knew not how to feed his labourers nor pay
them? Would you not instantly answer, that instead of ruining him to
weed his fields, it would save him; that his inactivity was his
destruction, and that to set his labourers to work was to feed them?
Now, you may add acre to acre, and estate to estate, as far as you
like, but you will never reach a compass of ground which shall escape
from the authority of these simple laws. The principles which are
right in the administration of a few fields, are right also in the
administration of a great country from horizon to horizon: idleness
does not cease to be ruinous because it is extensive, nor labour to be
productive because it is universal.

Nay, but you reply, there is one vast difference between the nation's
economy and the private man's: the farmer has full authority over his
labourers; he can direct them to do what is needed to be done, whether
they like it or not; and he can turn them away if they refuse to work,
or impede others in their working, or are disobedient, or quarrelsome.
There _is_ this great difference; it is precisely this difference on
which I wish to fix your attention, for it is precisely this
difference which you have to do away with. We know the necessity of
authority in farm, or in fleet, or in army; but we commonly refuse to
admit it in the body of the nation. Let us consider this point a

In the various awkward and unfortunate efforts which the French have
made at the development of a social system, they have at least stated
one true principle, that of fraternity or brotherhood. Do not be
alarmed; they got all wrong in their experiments, because they quite
forgot that this fact of fraternity implied another fact quite as
important--that of paternity or fatherhood. That is to say, if they
were to regard the nation as one family, the condition of unity in
that family consisted no less in their having a head, or a father,
than in their being faithful and affectionate members, or brothers.
But we must not forget this, for we have long confessed it with our
lips, though we refuse to confess it in our lives. For half an hour
every Sunday we expect a man in a black gown, supposed to be telling
us truth, to address us as brethren, though we should be shocked at
the notion of any brotherhood existing among us out of church. And we
can hardly read a few sentences on any political subject without
running a chance of crossing the phrase "paternal government," though
we should be utterly horror-struck at the idea of governments claiming
anything like a father's authority over us. Now, I believe those two
formal phrases are in both instances perfectly binding and accurate,
and that the image of the farm and its servants which I have hitherto
used, as expressing a wholesome national organization, fails only of
doing so, not because it is too domestic, but because it is not
domestic enough; because the real type of a well-organized nation must
be presented, not by a farm cultivated by servants who wrought for
hire, and might be turned away if they refused to labour, but by a
farm in which the master was a father, and in which all the servants
were sons; which implied, therefore, in all its regulations, not
merely the order of expediency, but the bonds of affection and
responsibilities of relationship; and in which all acts and services
were not only to be sweetened by brotherly concord, but to be enforced
by fatherly authority.[3]

    [3] See note 1st, in Addenda [p. 86].

Observe, I do not mean in the least that we ought to place such an
authority in the hands of any one person, or of any class or body of
persons. But I do mean to say that as an individual who conducts
himself wisely must make laws for himself which at some time or other
may appear irksome or injurious, but which, precisely at the time they
appear most irksome, it is most necessary he should obey, so a nation
which means to conduct itself wisely, must establish authority over
itself, vested either in kings, councils, or laws, which it must
resolve to obey, even at times when the law or authority appears
irksome to the body of the people, or injurious to certain masses of
it. And this kind of national law has hitherto been only judicial;
contented, that is, with an endeavour to prevent and punish violence
and crime: but, as we advance in our social knowledge; we shall
endeavour to make our government paternal as well as judicial; that
is, to establish such laws and authorities as may at once direct us in
our occupations, protect us against our follies, and visit us in our
distresses: a government which shall repress dishonesty, as now it
punishes theft; which shall show how the discipline of the masses may
be brought to aid the toils of peace, as discipline of the masses has
hitherto knit the sinews of battle; a government which shall have its
soldiers of the ploughshare as well as its soldiers of the sword, and
which shall distribute more proudly its golden crosses of
industry--golden as the glow of the harvest, than now it grants its
bronze crosses of honour--bronzed with the crimson of blood.

I have not, of course, time to insist on the nature or details of
government of this kind; only I wish to plead for your several and
future consideration of this one truth, that the notion of Discipline
and Interference lies at the very root of all human progress or power;
that the "Let alone" principle is, in all things which man has to do
with, the principle of death; that it is ruin to him, certain and
total, if he lets his land alone--if he lets his fellow-men alone--if
he lets his own soul alone. That his whole life, on the contrary,
must, if it is healthy life, be continually one of ploughing and
pruning, rebuking and helping, governing and punishing; and that
therefore it is only in the concession of some great principle of
restraint and interference in national action that he can ever hope to
find the secret of protection against national degradation. I believe
that the masses have a right to claim education from their government;
but only so far as they acknowledge the duty of yielding obedience to
their government. I believe they have a right to claim employment from
their governours; but only so far as they yield to the governour the
direction and discipline of their labour; and it is only so far as
they grant to the men whom they may set over them the father's
authority to check the childishnesses of national fancy, and direct
the waywardnesses of national energy, that they have a right to ask
that none of their distresses should be unrelieved, none of their
weaknesses unwatched; and that no grief, nor nakedness, nor peril
should exist for them, against which the father's hand was not
outstretched, or the father's shield uplifted.[4]

    [4] Compare Wordsworth's Essay on the Poor-Law Amendment Bill.
        I quote one important passage:--"But, if it be not safe to
        touch the abstract question of man's right in a social state
        to help himself even in the last extremity, may we not still
        contend for the duty of a Christian government, standing _in
        loco parentis_ towards all its subjects, to make such
        effectual provision that no one shall be in danger of
        perishing either through the neglect or harshness of its
        legislation? Or, waiving this, is it not indisputable that
        the claim of the State to the allegiance, involves the
        protection of the subject? And, as all rights in one party
        impose a correlative duty upon another, it follows that the
        right of the State to require the services of its members,
        even to the jeoparding of their lives in the common defence,
        establishes a right in the people (not to be gainsaid by
        utilitarians and economists) to public support when, from
        any cause, they may be unable to support themselves."--(See
        note 2nd in Addenda [p. 90]).

Now, I have pressed this upon you at more length than is needful or
proportioned to our present purposes of inquiry, because I would not
for the first time speak to you on this subject of political economy
without clearly stating what I believe to be its first grand
principle. But its bearing on the matter in hand is chiefly to prevent
you from at once too violently dissenting from me when what I may
state to you as advisable economy in art appears to imply too much
restraint or interference with the freedom of the patron or artist. We
are a little apt, though, on the whole a prudent nation, to act too
immediately on our impulses, even in matters merely commercial; much
more in those involving continual appeals to our fancies. How far,
therefore, the proposed systems or restraints may be advisable, it is
for you to judge; only I pray you not to be offended with them merely
because they _are_ systems and restraints. Do you at all recollect
that interesting passage of Carlyle, in which he compares, in this
country and at this day, the understood and commercial value of man
and horse; and in which he wonders that the horse, with its inferior
brains and its awkward hoofiness, instead of handiness, should be
always worth so many tens or scores of pounds in the market, while the
man, so far from always commanding his price in the market, would
often be thought to confer a service on the community by simply
killing himself out of their way? Well, Carlyle does not answer his
own question, because he supposes we shall at once see the answer. The
value of the horse consists simply in the fact of your being able to
put a bridle on him. The value of the man consists precisely in the
same thing. If you can bridle him, or which is better, if he can
bridle himself, he will be a valuable creature directly. Otherwise, in
a commercial point of view, his value is either nothing, or accidental
only. Only, of course, the proper bridle of man is not a leathern one:
what kind of texture it is rightly made of, we find from that command,
"Be ye not as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding,
whose mouths must be held in with bit and bridle." You are not to be
without the reins, indeed, but they are to be of another kind; "I will
guide thee with mine Eye." So the bridle of man is to be the Eye of
God; and if he rejects that guidance, then the next best for him is
the horse's and the mule's, which have no understanding; and if he
rejects that, and takes the bit fairly in his teeth, then there is
nothing left for him than the blood that comes out of the city, up to
the horsebridles.

Quitting, however, at last these general and serious laws of
government--or rather bringing them down to our own business in
hand--we have to consider three points of discipline in that
particular branch of human labour which is concerned, not with
procuring of food, but the expression of emotion; we have to consider
respecting art: first, how to apply our labour to it; then, how to
accumulate or preserve the results of labour; and then, how to
distribute them. But since in art the labour which we have to employ
is the labour of a particular class of men--men who have special
genius for the business, we have not only to consider how to apply the
labour, but first of all, how to produce the labourer; and thus the
question in this particular case becomes fourfold: first, how to get
your man of genius; then, how to employ your man of genius; then, how
to accumulate and preserve his work in the greatest quantity; and
lastly, how to distribute his work to the best national advantage. Let
us take up these questions in succession.

I. DISCOVERY.--How are we to get our men of genius: that is to say, by
what means may we produce among us, at any given time, the greatest
quantity of effective art-intellect? A wide question, you say,
involving an account of all the best means of art education. Yes, but
I do not mean to go into the consideration of those; I want only to
state the few principles which lie at the foundation of the matter. Of
these, the first is that you have always to find your artist, not to
make him; you can't manufacture him, any more than you can manufacture
gold. You can find him, and refine him: you dig him out as he lies
nugget-fashion in the mountain-stream; you bring him home; and you
make him into current coin, or household plate, but not one grain of
him can you originally produce. A certain quantity of art-intellect is
born annually in every nation, greater or less according to the nature
and cultivation of the nation or race of men; but a perfectly fixed
quantity annually, not increaseable by one grain. You may lose it, or
you may gather it; you may let it lie loose in the ravine, and buried
in the sands, or you may make kings' thrones of it, and overlay temple
gates with it, as you choose: but the best you can do with it is
always merely sifting, melting, hammering, purifying--never creating.
And there is another thing notable about this artistical gold; not
only is it limited in quantity, but in use. You need not make thrones
or golden gates with it unless you like, but assuredly you can't do
anything else with it. You can't make knives of it, nor armour, nor
railroads. The gold won't cut you, and it won't carry you; put it to a
mechanical use, and you destroy it at once. It is quite true that in
the greatest artists, their proper artistical faculty is united with
every other; and you may make use of the other faculties, and let the
artistical one lie dormant. For aught I know, there may be two or
three Leonardo da Vincis employed at this moment in your harbours and
railroads: but you are not employing their Leonardesque or golden
faculty there, you are only oppressing and destroying it. And the
artistical gift in average men is not joined with others; your born
painter, if you don't make a painter of him, won't be a first-rate
merchant, or lawyer; at all events, whatever he turns out, his own
special gift is unemployed by you; and in no wise helps him in that
other business. So here you have a certain quantity of a particular
sort of intelligence, produced for you annually by providential laws,
which you can only make use of by setting it to its own proper work,
and which any attempt to use otherwise involves the dead loss of so
much human energy. Well, then, supposing we wish to employ it, how is
it to be best discovered and refined? It is easily enough discovered.
To wish to employ it is to discover it. All that you need is, a school
of trial[5] in every important town, in which those idle farmers' lads
whom their masters never can keep out of mischief, and those stupid
tailors' 'prentices who are always stitching the sleeves in wrong way
upwards, may have a try at this other trade; only this school of trial
must not be entirely regulated by formal laws of art education, but
must ultimately be the workshop of a good master painter, who will try
the lads with one kind of art and another, till he finds out what they
are fit for. Next, after your trial school, you want your easy and
secure employment, which is the matter of chief importance. For, even
on the present system, the boys who have really intense art capacity,
generally make painters of themselves; but then, the best half of
their early energy is lost in the battle of life. Before a good
painter can get employment, his mind has always been embittered, and
his genius distorted. A common mind usually stoops, in plastic chill,
to whatever is asked of it, and scrapes or daubs its way complacently
into public favour.[6] But your great men quarrel with you, and you
revenge yourselves by starving them for the first half of their lives.
Precisely in the degree in which any painter possesses original
genius, is at present the increase of moral certainty that during his
early years he will have a hard battle to fight; and that just at the
time when his conceptions ought to be full and happy, his temper
gentle, and his hopes enthusiastic--just at that most critical period,
his heart is full of anxieties and household cares; he is chilled by
disappointments, and vexed by injustice; he becomes obstinate in his
errors, no less than in his virtues, and the arrows of his aims are
blunted, as the reeds of his trust are broken.

    [5] See note 3rd, in Addenda [p. 95].

    [6] See note 4th, in Addenda [p. 101].

What we mainly want, therefore, is a means of sufficient and
unagitated employment: not holding out great prizes for which young
painters are to scramble; but furnishing all with adequate support,
and opportunity to display such power as they possess without
rejection or mortification. I need not say that the best field of
labour of this kind would be presented by the constant progress of
public works involving various decoration; and we will presently
examine what kind of public works may thus, advantageously for the
nation, be in constant progress. But a more important matter even than
this of steady employment, is the kind of criticism with which you,
the public, receive the works of the young men submitted to you. You
may do much harm by indiscreet praise and by indiscreet blame; but
remember, the chief harm is always done by blame. It stands to reason
that a young man's work cannot be perfect. It _must_ be more or less
ignorant; it must be more or less feeble; it is likely that it may be
more or less experimental, and if experimental, here and there
mistaken. If, therefore, you allow yourself to launch out into sudden
barking at the first faults you see, the probability is that you are
abusing the youth for some defect naturally and inevitably belonging
to that stage of his progress; and that you might just as rationally
find fault with a child for not being as prudent as a privy
councillor, or with a kitten for not being as grave as a cat. But
there is one fault which you may be quite sure is unnecessary, and
therefore a real and blameable fault: that is haste, involving
negligence. Whenever you see that a young man's work is either bold or
slovenly, then you may attack it firmly; sure of being right. If his
work is bold, it is insolent; repress his insolence: if it is
slovenly, it is indolent; spur his indolence. So long as he works in
that dashing or impetuous way, the best hope for him is in your
contempt: and it is only by the fact of his seeming not to seek your
approbation that you may conjecture he deserves it.

But if he does deserve it, be sure that you give it him, else you not
only run a chance of driving him from the right road by want of
encouragement, but you deprive yourselves of the happiest privilege
you will ever have of rewarding his labour. For it is only the young
who can receive much reward from men's praise: the old, when they are
great, get too far beyond and above you to care what you think of
them. You may urge them then with sympathy, and surround them then
with acclamation; but they will doubt your pleasure, and despise your
praise. You might have cheered them in their race through the asphodel
meadows of their youth; you might have brought the proud, bright
scarlet into their faces, if you had but cried once to them "Well
done," as they dashed up to the first goal of their early ambition.
But now, their pleasure is in memory, and their ambition is in heaven.
They can be kind to you, but you never more can be kind to them. You
may be fed with the fruit and fullness of their old age, but you were
as the nipping blight to them in their blossoming, and your praise is
only as the warm winds of autumn to the dying branches.

There is one thought still, the saddest of all, bearing on this
withholding of early help. It is possible, in some noble natures, that
the warmth and the affections of childhood may remain unchilled,
though unanswered; and that the old man's heart may still be capable
of gladness, when the long-withheld sympathy is given at last. But in
these noble natures it nearly always happens, that the chief motive of
earthly ambition has not been to give delight to themselves, but to
their parents. Every noble youth looks back, as to the chiefest joy
which this world's honour ever gave him, to the moment when first he
saw his father's eyes flash with pride, and his mother turn away her
head lest he should take her tears for tears of sorrow. Even the
lover's joy, when some worthiness of his is acknowledged before his
mistress, is not so great as that, for it is not so pure--the desire
to exalt himself in her eyes mixes with that of giving her delight;
but he does not need to exalt himself in his parents' eyes: it is
with the pure hope of giving them pleasure that he comes to tell them
what he has done, or what has been said of him; and therefore he has a
purer pleasure of his own. And this purest and best of rewards you
keep from him if you can: you feed him in his tender youth with ashes
and dishonour; and then you come to him, obsequious, but too late,
with your sharp laurel crown, the dew all dried from off its leaves;
and you thrust it into his languid hand, and he looks at you
wistfully. What shall he do with it? What can he do, but go and lay it
on his mother's grave?

Thus, then, you see that you have to provide for your young men:
first, the searching or discovering school; then the calm employment;
then the justice of praise: one thing more you have to do for them in
preparing them for full service--namely, to make, in the noble sense
of the word, gentlemen of them; that is to say, to take care that
their minds receive such training, that in all they paint they shall
see and feel the noblest things. I am sorry to say, that of all parts
of an artist's education this is the most neglected among us; and that
even where the natural taste and feeling of the youth have been pure
and true, where there was the right stuff in him to make a gentleman
of, you may too frequently discern some jarring rents in his mind, and
elements of degradation in his treatment of subject, owing to want of
gentle training, and of the liberal influence of literature. This is
quite visible in our greatest artists, even in men like Turner and
Gainsborough; while in the common grade of our second-rate painters
the evil attains a pitch which is far too sadly manifest to need my
dwelling upon it. Now, no branch of art economy is more important than
that of making the intellect at your disposal pure as well as
powerful; so that it may always gather for you the sweetest and
fairest things. The same quantity of labour from the same man's hand,
will, according as you have trained him, produce a lovely and useful
work, or a base and hurtful one, and depend upon it, whatever value it
may possess, by reason of the painter's skill, its chief and final
value, to any nation, depends upon its being able to exalt and refine,
as well as to please; and that the picture which most truly deserves
the name of an art-treasure, is that which has been painted by a good

You cannot but see how far this would lead, if I were to enlarge upon
it. I must take it up as a separate subject some other time: only
noticing at present that no money could be better spent by a nation
than in providing a liberal and disciplined education for its
painters, as they advance into the critical period of their youth; and
that also, a large part of their power during life depends upon the
kind of subjects which you, the public, ask them for, and therefore
the kind of thoughts with which you require them to be habitually
familiar. I shall have more to say on this head when we come to
consider what employment they should have in public buildings.

There are many other points of nearly as much importance as these, to
be explained with reference to the development of genius; but I should
have to ask you to come and hear six lectures instead of two if I were
to go into their detail. For instance, I have not spoken of the way in
which you ought to look for those artificers in various manual trades,
who, without possessing the order of genius which you would desire to
devote to higher purposes, yet possess wit, and humour, and sense of
colour, and fancy for form--all commercially valuable as quantities of
intellect, and all more or less expressible in the lower arts of
ironwork, pottery, decorative sculpture, and such like. But these
details, interesting as they are, I must commend to your own
consideration, or leave for some future inquiry. I want just now only
to set the bearings of the entire subject broadly before you, with
enough of detailed illustration to make it intelligible; and therefore
I must quit the first head of it here, and pass to the second, namely,
how best to employ the genius we discover. A certain quantity of able
hands and heads being placed at our disposal, what shall we most
advisably set them upon?

II. APPLICATION.--There are three main points the economist has to
attend to in this.

First, To set his men to various work.

Secondly, To easy work.

Thirdly, To lasting work.

I shall briefly touch on the first two, for I want to arrest your
attention on the last.

I say first, to various work. Supposing you have two men of equal
power as landscape painters--and both of them have an hour at your
disposal. You would not set them both to paint the same piece of
landscape. You would, of course, rather have two subjects than a
repetition of one.

Well, supposing them sculptors, will not the same rule hold? You
naturally conclude at once that it will; but you will have hard work
to convince your modern architects of that. They will put twenty men
to work, to carve twenty capitals; and all shall be the same. If I
could show you the architects' yards in England just now, all open at
once, perhaps you might see a thousand clever men, all employed in
carving the same design. Of the degradation and deathfulness to the
art-intellect of the country involved in such a habit, I have more or
less been led to speak before now; but I have not hitherto marked its
definite tendency to increase the price of _work_, as such. When men
are employed continually in carving the same ornaments, they get into
a monotonous and methodical habit of labour--precisely correspondent
to that in which they would break stones, or paint house-walls. Of
course, what they do so constantly, they do easily; and if you excite
them temporarily by an increase of wages, you may get much work done
by them in a little time. But, unless so stimulated, men condemned to
a monotonous exertion, work--and always, by the laws of human nature,
_must_ work--only at a tranquil rate, not producing by any means a
maximum result in a given time. But if you allow them to vary their
designs, and thus interest their heads and hearts in what they are
doing, you will find them become eager, first, to get their ideas
expressed, and then to finish the expression of them; and the moral
energy thus brought to bear on the matter quickens, and therefore
cheapens, the production in a most important degree. Sir Thomas Deane,
the architect of the new Museum at Oxford, told me, as I passed
through Oxford on my way here, that he found that, owing to this
cause alone, capitals of various design could be executed cheaper than
capitals of similar design (the amount of hand labour in each being
the same) by about 30 per cent.

Well, that is the first way, then, in which you will employ your
intellect well; and the simple observance of this plain rule of
political economy will effect a noble revolution in your architecture,
such as you cannot at present so much as conceive. Then the second way
in which we are to guard against waste is by setting our men to the
easiest, and therefore the quickest, work which will answer the
purpose. Marble, for instance, lasts quite as long as granite, and is
much softer to work; therefore, when you get hold of a good sculptor,
give him marble to carve--not granite. That, you say, is obvious
enough. Yes; but it is not so obvious how much of your workmen's time
you waste annually in making them cut glass, after it has got hard,
when you ought to make them mould it while it is soft. It is not so
obvious how much expense you waste in cutting diamonds and rubies,
which are the hardest things you can find, into shapes that mean
nothing, when the same men might be cutting sandstone and freestone
into shapes that meant something. It is not so obvious how much of the
artists' time in Italy you waste, by forcing them to make wretched
little pictures for you out of crumbs of stone glued together at
enormous cost, when the tenth of the time would make good and noble
pictures for you out of water-colour. I could go on giving you almost
numberless instances of this great commercial mistake; but I should
only weary and confuse you. I therefore commend also this head of our
subject to your own meditation, and proceed to the last I named--the
last I shall task your patience with to-night. You know we are now
considering how to apply our genius; and we were to do it as
economists, in three ways:--

  To _various_ work;
  To _easy_ work;
  To _lasting_ work.

This lasting of the work, then, is our final question.

Many of you may, perhaps, remember that Michael Angelo was once
commanded by Pietro di Medici to mould a statue out of snow, and that
he obeyed the command.[7] I am glad, and we have all reason to be
glad, that such a fancy ever came into the mind of the unworthy
prince, and for this cause: that Pietro di Medici then gave, at the
period of one great epoch of consummate power in the arts, the
perfect, accurate; and intensest possible type of the greatest error
which nations and princes can commit, respecting the power of genius
entrusted to their guidance. You had there, observe, the strongest
genius in the most perfect obedience; capable of iron independence,
yet wholly submissive to the patron's will; at once the most highly
accomplished and the most original, capable of doing as much as man
could do, in any direction that man could ask. And its governour, and
guide, and patron sets it to build a statue in snow--to put itself
into the service of annihilation--to make a cloud of itself, and pass
away from the earth.

    [7] See the noble passage on this tradition in "Casa Guidi

Now this, so precisely and completely done by Pietro di Medici, is
what we are all doing, exactly in the degree in which we direct the
genius under our patronage to work in more or less perishable
materials. So far as we induce painters to work in fading colours, or
architects to build with imperfect structure, or in any other way
consult only immediate ease and cheapness in the production of what we
want, to the exclusion of provident thought as to its permanence and
serviceableness in after ages; so far we are forcing our Michael
Angelos to carve in snow. The first duty of the economist in art is,
to see that no intellect shall thus glitter merely in the manner of
hoar-frost; but that it shall be well vitrified, like a painted
window, and shall be set so between shafts of stone and bands of iron,
that it shall bear the sunshine upon it, and send the sunshine through
it, from generation to generation.

I can conceive, however, some political economist to interrupt me
here, and say, "If you make your art wear too well, you will soon have
too much of it; you will throw your artists quite out of work. Better
allow for a little wholesome evanescence--beneficent destruction: let
each age provide art for itself, or we shall soon have so many good
pictures that we shall not know what to do with them."

Remember, my dear hearers, who are thus thinking, that political
economy, like every other subject, cannot be dealt with effectively if
we try to solve two questions at a time instead of one. It is one
question, how to get plenty of a thing; and another, whether plenty of
it will be good for us. Consider these two matters separately; never
confuse yourself by interweaving one with the other. It is one
question, how to treat your fields so as to get a good harvest;
another, whether you wish to have a good harvest, or would rather like
to keep up the price of corn. It is one question, how to graft your
trees so as to grow most apples; and quite another, whether having
such a heap of apples in the store-room will not make them all rot.

Now, therefore, that we are talking only about grafting and growing,
pray do not vex yourselves with thinking what you are to do with the
pippins. It may be desirable for us to have much art, or little--we
will examine that by and by; but just now, let us keep to the simple
consideration how to get plenty of good art if we want it. Perhaps it
might be just as well that a man of moderate income should be able to
possess a good picture, as that any work of real merit should cost
£500 or £1,000; at all events, it is certainly one of the branches of
political economy to ascertain how, if we like, we can get things in
quantities--plenty of corn, plenty of wine, plenty of gold, or plenty
of pictures.

It has just been said, that the first great secret is to produce work
that will last. Now, the conditions of work lasting are twofold: it
must not only be in materials that will last, but it must be itself of
a quality that will last--it must be good enough to bear the test of
time. If it is not good, we shall tire of it quickly, and throw it
aside--we shall have no pleasure in the accumulation of it. So that
the first question of a good art-economist respecting any work is,
Will it lose its flavour by keeping? It may be very amusing now, and
look much like a work of genius. But what will be its value a hundred
years hence?

You cannot always ascertain this. You may get what you fancy to be
work of the best quality, and yet find to your astonishment that it
won't keep. But of one thing you may be sure, that art which is
produced hastily will also perish hastily; and that what is cheapest
to you now, is likely to be dearest in the end.

I am sorry to say, the great tendency of this age is to expend its
genius in perishable art of this kind, as if it were a triumph to burn
its thoughts away in bonfires. There is a vast quantity of intellect
and of labour consumed annually in our cheap illustrated publications;
you triumph in them; and you think it is so grand a thing to get so
many woodcuts for a penny. Why, woodcuts, penny and all, are as much
lost to you as if you had invested your money in gossamer. More lost,
for the gossamer could only tickle your face, and glitter in your
eyes; it could not catch your feet and trip you up: but the bad art
can, and does; for you can't like good woodcuts as long as you look at
the bad ones. If we were at this moment to come across a Titian
woodcut, or a Durer woodcut, we should not like it--those of us at
least who are accustomed to the cheap work of the day. We don't like,
and can't like, _that_ long; but when we are tired of one bad cheap
thing, we throw it aside and buy another bad cheap thing; and so keep
looking at bad things all our lives. Now, the very men who do all that
quick bad work for us are capable of doing perfect work. Only, perfect
work can't be hurried, and therefore it can't be cheap beyond a
certain point. But suppose you pay twelve times as much as you do now,
and you have one woodcut for a shilling instead of twelve; and the one
woodcut for a shilling is as good as art can be, so that you will
never tire of looking at it; and is struck on good paper with good
ink, so that you will never wear it out by handling it; while you are
sick of your penny-each cuts by the end of the week, and have torn
them mostly in half too. Isn't your shilling's worth the best bargain?

It is not, however, only in getting prints or woodcuts of the best
kind that you will practise economy. There is a certain quality about
an original drawing which you cannot get in a woodcut, and the best
part of the genius of many men is only expressible in original work,
whether with pen and ink--pencil or colours. This is not always the
case; but in general, the best men are those who can only express
themselves on paper or canvass; and you will, therefore, in the long
run, get most for your money by buying original work; proceeding on
the principle already laid down, that the best is likely to be the
cheapest in the end. Of course, original work cannot be produced under
a certain cost. If you want a man to make you a drawing which takes
him six days, you must, at all events, keep him for six days in bread
and water, fire and lodging; that is the lowest price at which he can
do it for you, but that is not very dear: and the best bargain which
can possibly be made honestly in art--the very ideal of a cheap
purchase to the purchaser--is the original work of a great man fed for
as many days as are necessary on bread and water, or perhaps we may
say with as many onions as will keep him in good humour. That is the
way by which you will always get most for your money; no mechanical
multiplication or ingenuity of commercial arrangements will ever get
you a better penny's worth of art than that.

Without, however, pushing our calculations quite to this
prison-discipline extreme, we may lay it down as a rule in
art-economy, that original work is, on the whole, cheapest and best
worth having. But precisely in proportion to the value of it as a
production, becomes the importance of having it executed in permanent
materials. And here we come to note the second main error of the day,
that we not only ask our workmen for bad art, but we make them put it
into bad substance. We have, for example, put a great quantity of
genius, within the last twenty years, into water-colour drawing, and
we have done this with the most reckless disregard whether either the
colours or the paper will stand. In most instances, neither will. By
accident, it may happen that the colours in a given drawing have been
of good quality, and its paper uninjured by chemical processes. But
you take not the least care to ensure these being so; I have myself
seen the most destructive changes take place in water-colour drawings
within twenty years after they were painted; and from all I can gather
respecting the recklessness of modern paper manufacture, my belief is,
that though you may still handle an Albert Durer engraving, two
hundred years old, fearlessly, not one-half of that time will have
passed over your modern water-colours, before most of them will be
reduced to mere white or brown rags; and your descendants, twitching
them contemptuously into fragments between finger and thumb, will
mutter against you, half in scorn and half in anger, "Those wretched
nineteenth-century people! they kept vapouring and fuming about the
world, doing what they called business, and they couldn't make a sheet
of paper that wasn't rotten." And note that this is no unimportant
portion of your art economy at this time. Your water-colour painters
are becoming every day capable of expressing greater and better
things; and their material is especially adapted to the turn of your
best artists' minds. The value which you could accumulate in work of
this kind would soon become a most important item in the national
art-wealth, if only you would take the little pains necessary to
secure its permanence. I am inclined to think, myself, that
water-colour ought not to be used on paper at all, but only on vellum,
and then, if properly taken care of, the drawing would be almost
imperishable. Still, paper is a much more convenient material for
rapid work; and it is an infinite absurdity not to secure the goodness
of its quality, when we could do so without the slightest trouble.
Among the many favours which I am going to ask from our paternal
government, when we get it, will be that it will supply its little
boys with good paper. You have nothing to do but to let the government
establish a paper manufactory, under the superintendence of any of our
leading chemists, who should be answerable for the safety and
completeness of all the processes of the manufacture. The government
stamp on the corner of your sheet of drawing-paper, made in the
perfect way, should cost you a shilling, which would add something to
the revenue; and when you bought a water-colour drawing for fifty or a
hundred guineas, you would have merely to look in the corner for your
stamp, and pay your extra shilling for the security that your hundred
guineas were given really for a drawing, and not for a coloured rag.
There need be no monopoly or restriction in the matter; let the paper
manufacturers compete with the government, and if people liked to save
their shilling, and take their chance, let them; only, the artist and
purchaser might then be sure of good material, if they liked, and now
they cannot be.

I should like also to have a government colour manufactory; though
that is not so necessary, as the quality of colour is more within the
artist's power of testing, and I have no doubt that any painter may
get permanent colour from the respectable manufacturers, if he
chooses. I will not attempt to follow the subject out at all as it
respects architecture, and our methods of modern building; respecting
which I have had occasion to speak before now.

But I cannot pass without some brief notice our habit--continually, as
it seems to me, gaining strength--of putting a large quantity of
thought and work, annually, into things which are either in their
nature necessarily perishable, as dress; or else into compliances with
the fashion of the day, in things not necessarily perishable, as
plate. I am afraid almost the first idea of a young rich couple
setting up house in London, is, that they must have new plate. Their
father's plate may be very handsome, but the fashion is changed. They
will have a new service from the leading manufacturer, and the old
plate, except a few apostle spoons, and a cup which Charles the Second
drank a health in to their pretty ancestress, is sent to be melted
down, and made up with new flourishes and fresh lustre. Now, so long
as this is the case--so long, observe, as fashion has influence on the
manufacture of plate--so long _you cannot have a goldsmith's art in
this country_. Do you suppose any workman worthy the name will put his
brains into a cup or an urn, which he knows is to go to the melting
pot in half a score years? He will not; you don't ask or expect it of
him. You ask of him nothing but a little quick handicraft--a clever
twist of a handle here, and a foot there, a convolvulus from the
newest school of design, a pheasant from Landseer's game cards; a
couple of sentimental figures for supporters, in the style of the
signs of insurance offices, then a clever touch with the burnisher,
and there's your epergne, the admiration of all the footmen at the
wedding-breakfast, and the torment of some unfortunate youth who
cannot see the pretty girl opposite to him, through its tyrannous

But you don't suppose that _that's_ goldsmith's work? Goldsmith's work
is made to last, and made with the man's whole heart and soul in it;
true goldsmith's work, when it exists, is generally the means of
education of the greatest painters and sculptors of the day. Francia
was a goldsmith; Francia was not his own name, but that of his master
the jeweller; and he signed his pictures almost always, "Francia, the
goldsmith," for love of his master; Ghirlandajo was a goldsmith, and
was the master of Michael Angelo; Verrocchio was a goldsmith, and was
the master of Leonardo da Vinci. Ghiberti was a goldsmith, and beat
out the bronze gates which Michael Angelo said might serve for gates
of Paradise.[8] But if ever you want work like theirs again, you must
keep it, though it should have the misfortune to become old fashioned.
You must not break it up, nor melt it any more. There is no economy in
that; you could not easily waste intellect more grievously. Nature may
melt her goldsmith's work at every sunset if she chooses; and beat it
out into chased bars again at every sunrise; but you must not. The way
to have a truly noble service of plate, is to keep adding to it, not
melting it. At every marriage, and at every birth, get a new piece of
gold or silver if you will, but with noble workmanship on it, done for
all time, and put it among your treasures; that is one of the chief
things which gold was made for, and made incorruptible for. When we
know a little more of political economy, we shall find that none but
partially savage nations need, imperatively, gold for their
currency;[9] but gold has been given us, among other things, that we
might put beautiful work into its imperishable splendour, and that the
artists who have the most wilful fancies may have a material which
will drag out, and beat out, as their dreams require, and will hold
itself together with fantastic tenacity, whatever rare and delicate
service they set it upon.

    [8] Several reasons may account for the fact that goldsmith's
        work is so wholesome for young artists; first, that it gives
        great firmness of hand to deal for some time with a solid
        substance; again, that it induces caution and steadiness--a
        boy trusted with chalk and paper suffers an immediate
        temptation to scrawl upon it and play with it, but he dares
        not scrawl on gold, and he cannot play with it; and, lastly,
        that it gives great delicacy and precision of touch to work
        upon minute forms, and to aim at producing richness and
        finish of design correspondent to the preciousness of the

    [9] See note in Addenda on the nature of property [p. 107].

So here is one branch of decorative art in which rich people may
indulge themselves unselfishly; if they ask for good art in it, they
may be sure in buying gold and silver plate that they are enforcing
useful education on young artists. But there is another branch of
decorative art in which I am sorry to say we cannot, at least under
existing circumstances, indulge ourselves, with the hope of doing good
to anybody, I mean the great and subtle art of dress.

And here I must interrupt the pursuit of our subject for a moment or
two, in order to state one of the principles of political economy,
which, though it is, I believe, now sufficiently understood and
asserted by the leading masters of the science, is not yet, I grieve
to say, acted upon by the plurality of those who have the management
of riches. Whenever we spend money, we of course set people to work:
that is the meaning of spending money; we may, indeed, lose it without
employing anybody; but, whenever we spend it, we set a number of
people to work, greater or less, of course, according to the rate of
wages, but, in the long run, proportioned to the sum we spend. Well,
your shallow people, because they see that however they spend money
they are always employing somebody, and, therefore, doing some good,
think and say to themselves, that it is all one _how_ they spend
it--that all their apparently selfish luxury is, in reality,
unselfish, and is doing just as much good as if they gave all their
money away, or perhaps more good; and I have heard foolish people even
declare it as a principle of political economy, that whoever invented
a new want[10] conferred a good on the community. I have not words
strong enough--at least I could not, without shocking you, use the
words which would be strong enough--to express my estimate of the
absurdity and the mischievousness of this popular fallacy. So, putting
a great restraint upon myself, and using no hard words, I will simply
try to state the nature of it, and the extent of its influence.

   [10] See note 5th, in Addenda [p. 102].

Granted, that whenever we spend money for whatever purpose, we set
people to work; and, passing by, for the moment, the question whether
the work we set them to is all equally healthy and good for them, we
will assume that whenever we spend a guinea we provide an equal number
of people with healthy maintenance for a given time. But, by the way
in which we spend it, we entirely direct the labour of those people
during that given time. We become their masters or mistresses, and we
compel them to produce, within a certain period, a certain article.
Now, that article may be a useful and lasting one, or it may be a
useless and perishable one--it may be one useful to the whole
community, or useful only to ourselves. And our selfishness and folly,
or our virtue and prudence, are shown, not by our spending money, but
by our spending it for the wrong or the right thing; and we are wise
and kind, not in maintaining a certain number of people for a given
period, but only in requiring them to produce, during that period, the
kind of things which shall be useful to society, instead of those
which are only useful to ourselves.

Thus, for instance: if you are a young lady, and employ a certain
number of sempstresses for a given time, in making a given number of
simple and serviceable dresses, suppose, seven; of which you can wear
one yourself for half the winter, and give six away to poor girls who
have none, you are spending your money unselfishly. But if you employ
the same number of sempstresses for the same number of days, in
making four, or five, or six beautiful flounces for your own
ball-dress--flounces which will clothe no one but yourself, and which
you will yourself be unable to wear at more than one ball--you are
employing your money selfishly. You have maintained, indeed, in each
case, the same number of people; but in the one case you have directed
their labour to the service of the community; in the other case you
have consumed it wholly upon yourself. I don't say you are never to do
so; I don't say you ought not sometimes to think of yourselves only,
and to make yourselves as pretty as you can; only do not confuse
coquettishness with benevolence, nor cheat yourselves into thinking
that all the finery you can wear is so much put into the hungry mouths
of those beneath you: it is not so; it is what you yourselves, whether
you will or no, must sometimes instinctively feel it to be--it is what
those who stand shivering in the streets, forming a line to watch you
as you step out of your carriages, _know_ it to be; those fine dresses
do not mean that so much has been put into their mouths, but that so
much has been taken out of their mouths. The real politico-economical
signification of every one of those beautiful toilettes, is just this;
that you have had a certain number of people put for a certain
number of days wholly under your authority, by the sternest of
slave-masters--hunger and cold; and you have said to them, "I will
feed you, indeed, and clothe you, and give you fuel for so many days;
but during those days you shall work for me only: your little brothers
need clothes, but you shall make none for them: your sick friend needs
clothes, but you shall make none for her: you yourself will soon need
another, and a warmer dress; but you shall make none for yourself. You
shall make nothing but lace and roses for me; for this fortnight to
come, you shall work at the patterns and petals, and then I will crush
and consume them away in an hour." You will perhaps answer--"It may
not be particularly benevolent to do this, and we won't call it so;
but at any rate we do no wrong in taking their labour when we pay them
their wages: if we pay for their work we have a right to it." No;--a
thousand times no. The labour which you have paid for, does indeed
become, by the act of purchase, your own labour: you have bought the
hands and the time of those workers; they are, by right and justice,
your own hands, your own time. But, have you a right to spend your own
time, to work with your own hands, only for your own advantage?--much
more, when, by purchase, you have invested your own person with the
strength of others; and added to your own life, a part of the life of
others? You may, indeed, to a certain extent, use their labour for
your delight: remember, I am making no general assertions against
splendour of dress, or pomp of accessories of life; on the contrary,
there are many reasons for thinking that we do not at present attach
enough importance to beautiful dress, as one of the means of
influencing general taste and character. But I _do_ say, that you must
weigh the value of what you ask these workers to produce for you in
its own distinct balance; that on its own worthiness or desirableness
rests the question of your kindness, and not merely on the fact of
your having employed people in producing it: and I say farther, that
as long as there are cold and nakedness in the land around you, so
long there can be no question at all but that splendour of dress is a
crime. In due time, when we have nothing better to set people to work
at, it may be right to let them make lace and cut jewels; but, as long
as there are any who have no blankets for their beds, and no rags for
their bodies, so long it is blanket-making and tailoring we must set
people to work at--not lace.

And it would be strange, if at any great assembly which, while it
dazzled the young and the thoughtless, beguiled the gentler hearts
that beat beneath the embroidery, with a placid sensation of luxurious
benevolence--as if by all that they wore in waywardness of beauty,
comfort had been first given to the distressed, and aid to the
indigent; it would be strange, I say, if, for a moment, the spirits of
Truth and of Terror, which walk invisibly among the masques of the
earth, would lift the dimness from our erring thoughts, and show us
how--inasmuch as the sums exhausted for that magnificence would have
given back the failing breath to many an unsheltered outcast on moor
and street--they who wear it have literally entered into partnership
with Death; and dressed themselves in his spoils. Yes, if the veil
could be lifted not only from your thoughts, but from your human
sight, you would see--the angels do see--on those gay white dresses of
yours, strange dark spots, and crimson patterns that you knew not
of--spots of the inextinguishable red that all the seas cannot wash
away; yes, and among the pleasant flowers that crown your fair heads,
and glow on your wreathed hair, you would see that one weed was always
twisted which no one thought of--the grass that grows on graves.

It was not, however, this last, this clearest and most appalling view
of our subject, that I intended to ask you to take this evening; only
it is impossible to set any part of the matter in its true light,
until we go to the root of it. But the point which it is our special
business to consider is, not whether costliness of dress is contrary
to charity; but whether it is not contrary to mere worldly wisdom:
whether, even supposing we knew that splendour of dress did not cost
suffering or hunger, we might not put the splendour better in other
things than dress. And, supposing our mode of dress were really
graceful or beautiful, this might be a very doubtful question; for I
believe true nobleness of dress to be an important means of education,
as it certainly is a necessity to any nation which wishes to possess
living art, concerned with portraiture of human nature. No good
historical painting ever yet existed, or ever can exist, where the
dresses of the people of the time are not beautiful: and had it not
been for the lovely and fantastic dressing of the 13th to the 16th
centuries, neither French, nor Florentine, nor Venetian art could have
risen to anything like the rank it reached. Still, even then, the best
dressing was never the costliest; and its effect depended much more on
its beautiful and, in early times, modest, arrangement, and on the
simple and lovely masses of its colour, than on gorgeousness of clasp
or embroidery. Whether we can ever return to any of those more perfect
types of form, is questionable; but there can be no question, that all
the money we spend on the forms of dress at present worn, is, so far
as any good purpose is concerned, wholly lost. Mind, in saying this, I
reckon among good purposes, the purpose which young ladies are said
sometimes to entertain--of being married; but they would be married
quite as soon (and probably to wiser and better husbands) by dressing
quietly, as by dressing brilliantly: and I believe it would only be
needed to lay fairly and largely before them the real good which might
be effected by the sums they spend in toilettes, to make them trust at
once only to their bright eyes and braided hair for all the mischief
they have a mind to. I wish we could, for once, get the statistics of
a London season. There was much complaining talk in Parliament last
week, of the vast sum the nation has given for the best Paul Veronese
in Venice--£14,000: I wonder what the nation meanwhile has given for
its ball-dresses! Suppose we could see the London milliners' bills,
simply for unnecessary breadths of slip and flounce, from April to
July; I wonder whether £14,000 would cover _them_. But the breadths of
slip and flounce are by this time as much lost and vanished as last
year's snow; only they have done less good: but the Paul Veronese will
last for centuries, if we take care of it; and yet we grumble at the
price given for the painting, while no one grumbles at the price of

Time does not permit me to go into any farther illustration of the
various modes in which we build our statue out of snow, and waste our
labour on things that vanish. I must leave you to follow out the
subject for yourselves, as I said I should, and proceed, in our next
lecture, to examine the two other branches of our subject, namely, how
to accumulate our art, and how to distribute it. But, in closing, as
we have been much on the topic of good government, both of ourselves
and others, let me just give you one more illustration of what it
means, from that old art of which, next evening, I shall try to
convince you that the value, both moral and mercantile, is greater
than we usually suppose.

One of the frescoes by Ambrozio Lorenzetti, in the town-hall of Siena,
represents, by means of symbolical figures, the principles of Good
Civic Government and of Good Government in general. The figure
representing this noble Civic Government is enthroned, and surrounded
by figures representing the Virtues, variously supporting or
administering its authority. Now, observe what work is given
to each of these virtues. Three winged ones--Faith, Hope, and
Charity--surround the head of the figure, not in mere compliance with
the common and heraldic laws of precedence among Virtues, such as we
moderns observe habitually, but with peculiar purpose on the part of
the painter. Faith, as thus represented, ruling the thoughts of the
Good Governour, does not mean merely religious faith, understood in
those times to be necessary to all persons--governed no less than
governours--but it means the faith which enables work to be carried
out steadily, in spite of adverse appearances and expediencies; the
faith in great principles, by which a civic ruler looks past all the
immediate checks and shadows that would daunt a common man, knowing
that what is rightly done will have a right issue, and holding his way
in spite of pullings at his cloak and whisperings in his ear,
enduring, as having in him a faith which is evidence of things unseen.
And Hope, in like manner, is here not the heavenward hope which ought
to animate the hearts of all men; but she attends upon Good
Government, to show that all such government is _expectant_ as well
as _conservative_; that if it ceases to be hopeful of better things,
it ceases to be a wise guardian of present things: that it ought
never, as long as the world lasts, to be wholly content with any
existing state of institution or possession, but to be hopeful still
of more wisdom and power; not clutching at it restlessly or hastily,
but feeling that its real life consists in steady ascent from high to
higher: conservative, indeed, and jealously conservative of old
things, but conservative of them as pillars, not as pinnacles--as
aids, but not as idols; and hopeful chiefly, and active, in times of
national trial or distress, according to those first and notable words
describing the queenly nation. "She riseth, _while it is yet night_."
And again, the winged Charity which is attendant on Good Government
has, in this fresco, a peculiar office. Can you guess what? If you
consider the character of contest which so often takes place among
kings for their crowns, and the selfish and tyrannous means they
commonly take to aggrandize or secure their power, you will, perhaps,
be surprised to hear that the office of Charity is to crown the King.
And yet, if you think of it a little, you will see the beauty of the
thought which sets her in this function: since in the first place, all
the authority of a good governor should be desired by him only for the
good of his people, so that it is only Love that makes him accept or
guard his crown: in the second place, his chief greatness consists in
the exercise of this love, and he is truly to be revered only so far
as his acts and thoughts are those of kindness; so that Love is the
light of his crown, as well as the giver of it: lastly, because his
strength depends on the affections of his people, and it is only their
love which can securely crown him, and for ever. So that Love is the
strength of his crown as well as the light of it.

Then, surrounding the King, or in various obedience to him, appear the
dependent virtues, as Fortitude, Temperance, Truth, and other
attendant spirits, of all which I cannot now give account, wishing you
only to notice the one to whom are entrusted the guidance and
administration of the public revenues. Can you guess which it is
likely to be? Charity, you would have thought, should have something
to do with the business; but not so, for she is too hot to attend
carefully to it. Prudence, perhaps, you think of in the next place.
No, she is too timid, and loses opportunities in making up her mind.
Can it be Liberality then? No: Liberality is entrusted with some small
sums; but she is a bad accountant, and is allowed no important place
in the exchequer. But the treasures are given in charge to a virtue of
which we hear too little in modern times, as distinct from others;
Magnanimity: largeness of heart: not softness or weakness of heart,
mind you--but capacity of heart--the great _measuring_ virtue, which
weighs in heavenly balances all that may be given, and all that may be
gained; and sees how to do noblest things in noblest ways: which of
two goods comprehends and therefore chooses the greatest: which of two
personal sacrifices dares and accepts the largest: which, out of the
avenues of beneficence, treads always that which opens farthest into
the blue fields of futurity: that character, in fine, which, in those
words taken by us at first for the description of a Queen among the
nations, looks less to the present power than to the distant promise;
"Strength and honour are in her clothing--and she shall rejoice IN


The heads of our subject which remain for our consideration this
evening are, you will remember, the accumulation and the distribution
of works of art. Our complete inquiry fell into four divisions--first,
how to get our genius; then, how to apply our genius; then, how to
accumulate its results; and lastly, how to distribute them. We
considered, last evening, how to discover and apply it;--we have
to-night to examine the modes of its preservation and distribution.

III. ACCUMULATION.--And now, in the outset, it will be well to face
that objection which we put aside a little while ago; namely, that
perhaps it is not well to have a great deal of good art; and that it
should not be made too cheap.

"Nay," I can imagine some of the more generous among you, exclaiming,
"we will not trouble you to disprove that objection; of course it is a
selfish and base one: good art, as well as other good things, ought to
be made as cheap as possible, and put as far as we can within the
reach of everybody."

Pardon me, I am not prepared to admit that. I rather side with the
selfish objectors, and believe that art ought not to be made cheap,
beyond a certain point; for the amount of pleasure that you can
receive from any great work, depends wholly on the quantity of
attention and energy of mind you can bring to bear upon it. Now, that
attention and energy depend much more on the freshness of the thing
than you would at all suppose; unless you very carefully studied the
movements of your own minds. If you see things of the same kind and of
equal value very frequently, your reverence for them is infallibly
diminished, your powers of attention get gradually wearied, and your
interest and enthusiasm worn out; and you cannot in that state bring
to any given work the energy necessary to enjoy it. If, indeed, the
question were only between enjoying a great many pictures each a
little, or one picture very much, the sum of enjoyment being in each
case the same, you might rationally desire to possess rather the
larger quantity, than the small; both because one work of art always
in some sort illustrates another, and because quantity diminishes the
chances of destruction. But the question is not a merely arithmetical
one of this kind. Your fragments of broken admirations will not, when
they are put together, make up one whole admiration; two and two, in
this case, do not make four, nor anything like four. Your good
picture, or book, or work of art of any kind, is always in some degree
fenced and closed about with difficulty. You may think of it as of a
kind of cocoa-nut, with very often rather an unseemly shell, but good
milk and kernel inside. Now, if you possess twenty cocoa-nuts, and
being thirsty, go impatiently from one to the other, giving only a
single scratch with the point of your knife to the shell of each, you
will get no milk from all the twenty. But if you leave nineteen of
them alone, and give twenty cuts to the shell of one, you will get
through it, and at the milk of it. And the tendency of the human mind
is always to get tired before it has made its twenty cuts; and to try
another nut; and moreover, even if it has perseverance enough to crack
its nuts, it is sure to try to eat too many, and so choke itself.
Hence, it is wisely appointed for us that few of the things we desire
can be had without considerable labour, and at considerable intervals
of time. We cannot generally get our dinner without working for it,
and that gives us appetite for it; we cannot get our holiday without
waiting for it, and that gives us zest for it; and we ought not to get
our picture without paying for it, and that gives us a mind to look at
it. Nay, I will even go so far as to say, that we ought not to get
books too cheaply. No book, I believe, is ever worth half so much to
its reader as one that has been coveted for a year at a bookstall, and
bought out of saved half-pence; and perhaps a day or two's fasting.
That's the way to get at the cream of a book. And I should say more on
this matter, and protest as energetically as I could against the
plague of cheap literature, with which we are just now afflicted, but
that I fear your calling me to order, as being unpractical, because I
don't quite see my way at present to making everybody fast for their
books. But one may see that a thing is desirable and possible, even
though one may not at once know the best way to it--and in my island
of Barataria, when I get it well into order, I assure you no book
shall be sold for less than a pound sterling; if it can be published
cheaper than that, the surplus shall all go into my treasury, and save
my subjects taxation in other directions; only people really poor, who
cannot pay the pound, shall be supplied with the books they want for
nothing, in a certain limited quantity. I haven't made up my mind
about the number yet, and there are several other points in the system
yet unsettled; when they are all determined, if you will allow me, I
will come and give you another lecture, on the political economy of

   [11] See note 6th, in Addenda [p. 104].

Meantime, returning to our immediate subject, I say to my generous
hearers, who want to shower Titians and Turners upon us, like falling
leaves, "Pictures ought not to be too cheap;" but in much stronger
tone I would say to those who want to keep up the prices of pictorial
property, that pictures ought not to be too dear, that is to say, not
as dear as they are. For, as matters at present stand, it is wholly
impossible for any man in the ordinary circumstances of English life
to possess himself of a piece of great art. A modern drawing of
average merit, or a first-class engraving, may perhaps, not without
some self-reproach, be purchased out of his savings by a man of narrow
income; but a satisfactory example of first-rate art--masterhands'
work--is wholly out of his reach. And we are so accustomed to look
upon this as the natural course and necessity of things, that we never
set ourselves in any wise to diminish the evil; and yet it is an evil
perfectly capable of diminution. It is an evil precisely similar in
kind to that which existed in the middle ages, respecting good books,
and which everybody then, I suppose, thought as natural as we do now
our small supply of good pictures. You could not then study the work
of a great historian, or great poet, any more than you can now study
that of a great painter, but at heavy cost. If you wanted a book, you
had to get it written out for you, or to write it out for yourself.
But printing came, and the poor man may read his Dante and his Homer;
and Dante and Homer are none the worse for that. But it is only in
literature that private persons of moderate fortune can possess and
study greatness: they can study at home no greatness in art; and the
object of that accumulation which we are at present aiming at, as our
third object in political economy, is to bring great art in some
degree within the reach of the multitude; and, both in larger and more
numerous galleries than we now possess, and by distribution, according
to his wealth and wish, in each man's home, to render the influence of
art somewhat correspondent in extent to that of literature. Here,
then, is the subtle balance which your economist has to strike: to
accumulate so much art as to be able to give the whole nation a supply
of it, according to its need, and yet to regulate its distribution so
that there shall be no glut of it, nor contempt.

A difficult balance, indeed, for us to hold, if it were left merely to
our skill to poise; but the just point between poverty and profusion
has been fixed for us accurately by the wise laws of Providence. If
you carefully watch for all the genius you can detect, apply it to
good service, and then reverently preserve what it produces, you will
never have too little art; and if, on the other hand, you never force
an artist to work hurriedly, for daily bread, nor imperfectly, because
you would rather have showy works than complete ones, you will never
have too much. Do not force the multiplication of art, and you will
not have it too cheap; do not wantonly destroy it, and you will not
have it too dear.

"But who wantonly destroys it?" you will ask. Why, we all do. Perhaps
you thought, when I came to this part of our subject, corresponding to
that set forth in our housewife's economy by the "keeping her
embroidery from the moth," that I was going to tell you only how to
take better care of pictures, how to clean them, and varnish them, and
where to put them away safely when you went out of town. Ah, not at
all. The utmost I have to ask of you is, that you will not pull them
to pieces, and trample them under your feet. "What!" you will say,
"when do we do such things? Haven't we built a perfectly beautiful
gallery for all the pictures we have to take care of?" Yes, you have,
for the pictures which are definitely sent to Manchester to be taken
care of. But there are quantities of pictures out of Manchester which
it is your business, and mine too, to take care of no less than of
these, and which we are at this moment employing ourselves in pulling
to pieces by deputy. I will tell you what they are, and where they
are, in a minute; only first let me state one more of those main
principles of political economy on which the matter hinges.

I must begin a little apparently wide of the mark, and ask you to
reflect if there is any way in which we waste money more in England,
than in building fine tombs? Our respect for the dead, when they are
_just_ dead, is something wonderful, and the way we show it more
wonderful still. We show it with black feathers and black horses; we
show it with black dresses and bright heraldries; we show it with
costly obelisks and sculptures of sorrow, which spoil half of our most
beautiful cathedrals. We show it with frightful gratings and vaults,
and lids of dismal stone, in the midst of the quiet grass; and last,
and not least, we show it by permitting ourselves to tell any number
of lies we think amiable or credible, in the epitaph. This feeling is
common to the poor as well as the rich, and we all know how many a
poor family will nearly ruin themselves, to testify their respect for
some member of it in his coffin, whom they never much cared for when
he was out of it; and how often it happens that a poor old woman will
starve herself to death, in order that she may be respectably buried.

Now, this being one of the most complete and special ways of wasting
money;--no money being less productive of good, or of any percentage
whatever, than that which we shake away from the ends of undertakers'
plumes--it is of course the duty of all good economists, and kind
persons, to prove and proclaim continually, to the poor as well as the
rich, that respect for the dead is not really shown by laying great
stones on them to tell us where they are laid; but by remembering
where they are laid, without a stone to help us; trusting them to the
sacred grass and saddened flowers; and still more, that respect and
love are shown to them, not by great monuments to them which we build
with _our_ hands, but by letting the monuments stand, which they built
with _their own_. And this is the point now in question.

Observe, there are two great reciprocal duties concerning industry,
constantly to be exchanged between the living and the dead. We, as we
live and work, are to be always thinking of those who are to come
after us; that what we do may be serviceable, as far as we can make it
so, to them as well as to us. Then, when we die, it is the duty of
those who come after us to accept this work of ours with thanks and
remembrance, not thrusting it aside or tearing it down the moment they
think they have no use for it. And each generation will only be happy
or powerful to the pitch that it ought to be, in fulfilling these two
duties to the Past and the Future. Its own work will never be rightly
done, even for itself--never good, or noble, or pleasurable to its own
eyes--if it does not prepare it also for the eyes of generations yet
to come. And its own possessions will never be enough for it, and its
own wisdom never enough for it, unless it avails itself gratefully and
tenderly of the treasures and the wisdom bequeathed to it by its

For, be assured, that all the best things and treasures of this world
are not to be produced by each generation for itself; but we are all
intended, not to carve our work in snow that will melt, but each and
all of us to be continually rolling a great white gathering snowball,
higher and higher--larger and larger--along the Alps of human power.
Thus the science of nations is to be accumulative from father to son:
each learning a little more and a little more; each receiving all that
was known, and adding its own gain: the history and poetry of nations
are to be accumulative; each generation treasuring the history and the
songs of its ancestors, adding its own history and its own songs: and
the art of nations is to be accumulative, just as science and history
are; the work of living men not superseding, but building itself upon
the work of the past. Nearly every great and intellectual race of the
world has produced, at every period of its career, an art with some
peculiar and precious character about it, wholly unattainable by any
other race, and at any other time; and the intention of Providence
concerning that art, is evidently that it should all grow together
into one mighty temple; the rough stones and the smooth all finding
their place, and rising, day by day, in richer and higher pinnacles to

Now, just fancy what a position the world, considered as one great
workroom--one great factory in the form of a globe--would have been in
by this time, if it had in the least understood this duty, or been
capable of it. Fancy what we should have had around us now, if,
instead of quarrelling and fighting over their work, the nations had
aided each other in their work, or if even in their conquests, instead
of effacing the memorials of those they succeeded and subdued, they
had guarded the spoils of their victories. Fancy what Europe would be
now, if the delicate statues and temples of the Greeks,--if the broad
roads and massy walls of the Romans,--if the noble and pathetic
architecture of the middle ages, had not been ground to dust by mere
human rage. You talk of the scythe of Time, and the tooth of Time: I
tell you, Time is scytheless and toothless; it is we who gnaw like the
worm--we who smite like the scythe. It is ourselves who
abolish--ourselves who consume: we are the mildew, and the flame, and
the soul of man is to its own work as the moth, that frets when it
cannot fly, and as the hidden flame that blasts where it cannot
illumine. All these lost treasures of human intellect have been wholly
destroyed by human industry of destruction; the marble would have
stood its two thousand years as well in the polished statue as in the
Parian cliff; but we men have ground it to powder, and mixed it with
our own ashes. The walls and the ways would have stood--it is we who
have left not one stone upon another, and restored its pathlessness to
the desert; the great cathedrals of old religion would have stood--it
is we who have dashed down the carved work with axes and hammers, and
bid the mountain-grass bloom upon the pavement, and the sea-winds
chaunt in the galleries.

You will perhaps think all this was somehow necessary for the
development of the human race. I cannot stay now to dispute that,
though I would willingly; but do you think it is _still_ necessary for
that development? Do you think that in this nineteenth century it is
still necessary for the European nations to turn all the places where
their principal art-treasures are into battle-fields? For that is what
they are doing even while I speak; the great firm of the world is
managing its business at this moment, just as it has done in past
time. Imagine what would be the thriving circumstances of a
manufacturer of some delicate produce--suppose glass, or china--in
whose workshop and exhibition rooms all the workmen and clerks began
fighting at least once a day, first blowing off the steam, and
breaking all the machinery they could reach; and then making
fortresses of all the cupboards, and attacking and defending the
show-tables, the victorious party finally throwing everything they
could get hold of out of the window, by way of showing their triumph,
and the poor manufacturer picking up and putting away at last a cup
here and a handle there. A fine prosperous business that would be,
would it not? and yet that is precisely the way the great
manufacturing firm of the world carries on its business.

It has so arranged its political squabbles for the last six or seven
hundred years, that not one of them could be fought out but in the
midst of its most precious art; and it so arranges them to this day.
For example, if I were asked to lay my finger, in a map of the world,
on the spot of the world's surface which contained at this moment the
most singular concentration of art-teaching and art-treasure, I should
lay it on the name of the town of Verona. Other cities, indeed,
contain more works of carriageable art, but none contain so much of
the glorious local art, and of the springs and sources of art, which
can by no means be made subjects of package or porterage, nor, I
grieve to say, of salvage. Verona possesses, in the first place, not
the largest, but the most perfect and intelligible Roman amphitheatre
that exists, still unbroken in circle of step, and strong in
succession of vault and arch: it contains minor Roman monuments,
gateways, theatres, baths, wrecks of temples, which give the streets
of its suburbs a character of antiquity unexampled elsewhere, except
in Rome itself. But it contains, in the next place, what Rome does not
contain--perfect examples of the great twelfth-century Lombardic
architecture, which was the root of all the mediæval art of Italy,
without which no Giottos, no Angelicos, no Raphaels would have been
possible: it contains that architecture, not in rude forms, but in the
most perfect and loveliest types it ever attained--contains those, not
in ruins, nor in altered and hardly decipherable fragments, but in
churches perfect from porch to apse, with all their carving fresh,
their pillars firm, their joints unloosened. Besides these, it
includes examples of the great thirteenth- and fourteenth-century
Gothic of Italy, not merely perfect, but elsewhere unrivalled. At
Rome, the Roman--at Pisa, the Lombard, architecture may be seen in
greater or in equal nobleness; but not at Rome, nor Pisa, nor
Florence, nor in any city of the world, is there a great mediæval
Gothic like the Gothic of Verona. Elsewhere, it is either less pure in
type or less lovely in completion: only at Verona may you see it in
the simplicity of its youthful power, and the tenderness of its
accomplished beauty. And Verona possesses, in the last place, the
loveliest Renaissance architecture of Italy, not disturbed by pride,
nor defiled by luxury, but rising in fair fulfilment of domestic
service, serenity of effortless grace, and modesty of home seclusion;
its richest work given to the windows that open on the narrowest
streets and most silent gardens. All this she possesses, in the midst
of natural scenery such as assuredly exists nowhere else in the
habitable globe--a wild Alpine river foaming at her feet, from whose
shore the rocks rise in a great crescent, dark with cypress, and misty
with olive: illimitably, from before her southern gates, the tufted
plains of Italy sweep and fade in golden light; around her, north and
west, the Alps crowd in crested troops, and the winds of Benacus bear
to her the coolness of their snows.

And this is the city--such, and possessing such things as these--at
whose gates the decisive battles of Italy are fought continually:
three days her towers trembled with the echo of the cannon of Arcola;
heaped pebbles of the Mincio divide her fields to this hour with lines
of broken rampart, whence the tide of war rolled back to Novara; and
now on that crescent of her eastern cliffs, whence the full moon used
to rise through the bars of the cypresses in her burning summer
twilights, touching with soft increase of silver light the rosy
marbles of her balconies--along the ridge of that encompassing rock,
other circles are increasing now, white and pale; walled towers of
cruel strength, sable-spotted with cannon-courses. I tell you, I have
seen, when the thunderclouds came down on those Italian hills, and all
their crags were dipped in the dark, terrible purple, as if the
winepress of the wrath of God had stained their mountain-raiment--I
have seen the hail fall in Italy till the forest branches stood
stripped and bare as if blasted by the locust; but the white hail
never fell from those clouds of heaven as the black hail will fall
from the clouds of hell, if ever one breath of Italian life stirs
again in the streets of Verona.

Sad as you will feel this to be, I do not say that you can directly
prevent it; you cannot drive the Austrians out of Italy, nor prevent
them from building forts where they choose. But I do say,[12] that you,
and I, and all of us, ought to be both acting and feeling with a full
knowledge and understanding of these things, and that, without trying
to excite revolutions or weaken governments, we may give our own
thoughts and help, so as in a measure to prevent needless destruction.
We should do this, if we only realized the thing thoroughly. You drive
out day by day through your own pretty suburbs, and you think only of
making, with what money you have to spare, your gateways handsomer,
and your carriage-drives wider--and your drawing-rooms more splendid,
having a vague notion that you are all the while patronizing and
advancing art, and you make no effort to conceal the fact, that within
a few hours' journey of you, there are gateways and drawing-rooms
which might just as well be yours as these, all built already;
gateways built by the greatest masters of sculpture that ever struck
marble; drawing-rooms, painted by Titian and Veronese; and you won't
accept, nor save these as they are, but you will rather fetch the
house-painter from over the way, and let Titian and Veronese house the
rats. "Yes," of course, you answer; "we want nice houses here, not
houses in Verona. What should we do with houses in Verona?" And I
answer, do precisely what you do with the most expensive part of your
possessions here: take pride in them--only a noble pride. You know
well, when you examine your own hearts, that the greater part of the
sums you spend on possessions are spent for pride. Why are your
carriages nicely painted and finished outside? You don't see the
outsides as you sit in them--the outsides are for other people to see.
Why are your exteriors of houses so well finished, your furniture so
polished and costly, but for other people to see? You are just as
comfortable yourselves, writing on your old friend of a desk, with the
white cloudings in his leather, and using the light of a window which
is nothing but a hole in the brick wall. And all that is desirable to
be done in this matter, is merely to take pride in preserving great
art, instead of in producing mean art; pride in the possession of
precious and enduring things, a little way off, instead of slight and
perishing things near at hand. You know, in old English times, our
kings liked to have lordships and dukedoms abroad, and why should not
you merchant princes like to have lordships and estates abroad?
Believe me, rightly understood, it would be a prouder, and in the full
sense of our English word, more "respectable" thing to be lord of a
palace at Verona, or of a cloister full of frescos at Florence, than
to have a file of servants dressed in the finest liveries that ever
tailor stitched, as long as would reach from here to Bolton:--yes, and
a prouder thing to send people to travel in Italy, who would have to
say every now and then, of some fair piece of art, "Ah! this was
_kept_ here for us by the good people of Manchester," than to bring
them travelling all the way here, exclaiming of your various art
treasures, "These were _brought_ here for us, (not altogether without
harm) by the good people of Manchester." "Ah!" but you say, "the Art
Treasures Exhibition will pay; but Veronese palaces won't." Pardon me.
They _would_ pay, less directly, but far more richly. Do you suppose
it is in the long run good for Manchester, or good for England, that
the Continent should be in the state it is? Do you think the perpetual
fear of revolution, or the perpetual repression of thought and energy
that clouds and encumbers the nations of Europe, is eventually
profitable for _us_? Were we any the better of the course of affairs
in '48; or has the stabling of the dragoon horses in the great houses
of Italy, any distinct effect in the promotion of the cotton-trade?
Not so. But every stake that you could hold in the stability of the
Continent, and every effort that you could make to give example of
English habits and principles on the Continent, and every kind deed
that you could do in relieving distress and preventing despair on the
Continent, would have tenfold reaction on the prosperity of England,
and open and urge, in a thousand unforeseen directions, the sluices of
commerce and the springs of industry.

   [12] The reader can hardly but remember Mrs. Browning's beautiful
        appeal for Italy, made on the occasion of the first great
        Exhibition of Art in England:--

          "O Magi of the east and of the west,
          Your incense, gold, and myrrh are excellent!--
          What gifts for Christ, then, bring ye with the rest?
          Your hands have worked well. Is your courage spent
          In handwork only? Have you nothing best,
          Which generous souls may perfect and present,
          And He shall thank the givers for? no light
          Of teaching, liberal nations, for the poor,
          Who sit in darkness when it is not night?
          No cure for wicked children? Christ,--no cure,
          No help for women, sobbing out of sight
          Because men made the laws? no brothel-lure
          Burnt out by popular lightnings? Hast thou found
          No remedy, my England, for such woes?
          No outlet, Austria, for the scourged and bound,
          No call back for the exiled? no repose,
          Russia, for knouted Poles worked underground,
          And gentle ladies bleached among the snows?
          No mercy for the slave, America?
          No hope for Rome, free France, chivalric France?
          Alas, great nations have great shames, I say.
          No pity, O world, no tender utterance
          Of benediction, and prayers stretched this way
          For poor Italia, baffled by mischance?
          O gracious nations, give some ear to me!
          You all go to your Fair, and I am one
          Who at the roadside of humanity
          Beseech your alms,--God's justice to be done.
          So, prosper!"

I could press, if I chose, both these motives upon you, of pride and
self-interest, with more force, but these are not motives which ought
to be urged upon you at all. The only motive that I ought to put
before you is simply that it would be right to do this; that the
holding of property abroad, and the personal efforts of Englishmen to
redeem the condition of foreign nations, are among the most direct
pieces of duty which our wealth renders incumbent upon us. I do
not--and in all truth and deliberateness I say this--I do not know
anything more ludicrous among the self-deceptions of well-meaning
people than their notion of patriotism, as requiring them to limit
their efforts to the good of their own country;--the notion that
charity is a geographical virtue, and that what it is holy and
righteous to do for people on one bank of a river, it is quite
improper and unnatural to do for people on the other. It will be a
wonderful thing, some day or other, for the Christian world to
remember, that it went on thinking for two thousand years that
neighbours were neighbours at Jerusalem, but not at Jericho; a
wonderful thing for us English to reflect, in after-years, how long it
was before we could shake hands with anybody across that shallow salt
wash, which the very chalk-dust of its two shores whitens from
Folkestone to Ambleteuse.

Nor ought the motive of gratitude, as well as that of mercy, to be
without its influence on you, who have been the first to ask to see,
and the first to show to us, the treasures which this poor lost Italy
has given to England. Remember all these things that delight you here
were hers--hers either in fact or in teaching; hers, in fact, are all
the most powerful and most touching paintings of old time that now
glow upon your walls; hers in teaching are all the best and greatest
of descendant souls--your Reynolds and your Gainsborough never could
have painted but for Venice; and the energies which have given the
only true life to your existing art were first stirred by voices of
the dead, that haunted the Sacred Field of Pisa.

Well, all these motives for some definite course of action on our part
towards foreign countries rest upon very serious facts; too serious,
perhaps you will think, to be interfered with; for we are all of us in
the habit of leaving great things alone, as if Providence would mind
them, and attending ourselves only to little things which we know,
practically, Providence doesn't mind unless we do. We are ready enough
to give care to the growing of pines and lettuces, knowing that they
don't grow Providentially sweet or large unless we look after them;
but we don't give any care to the good of Italy or Germany, because we
think that they will grow Providentially happy without any of our

Let us leave the great things, then, and think of little things; not
of the destruction of whole provinces in war, which it may not be any
business of ours to prevent; but of the destruction of poor little
pictures in peace, from which it surely would not be much out of our
way to save them. You know I said, just now, we were all of us engaged
in pulling pictures to pieces by deputy, and you did not believe me.
Consider, then, this similitude of ourselves. Suppose you saw (as I
doubt not you often do see) a prudent and kind young lady sitting at
work, in the corner of a quiet room, knitting comforters for her
cousins, and that just outside, in the hall, you saw a cat and her
kittens at play among the family pictures; amusing themselves
especially with the best Vandykes, by getting on the tops of the
frames, and then scrambling down the canvasses by their claws; and on
someone's informing the young lady of these proceedings of the cat and
kittens, suppose she answered that it wasn't her cat, but her
sister's, and the pictures weren't hers, but her uncle's, and she
couldn't leave her work, for she had to make so many pairs of
comforters before dinner. Would you not say that the prudent and kind
young lady was, on the whole, answerable for the additional touches of
claw on the Vandykes? Now, that is precisely what we prudent and kind
English are doing, only on a larger scale. Here we sit in Manchester,
hard at work, very properly, making comforters for our cousins all
over the world. Just outside there in the hall--that beautiful marble
hall of Italy--the cats and kittens and monkeys are at play among the
pictures: I assure you, in the course of the fifteen years in which I
have been working in those places in which the most precious remnants
of European art exist, a sensation, whether I would or no, was
gradually made distinct and deep in my mind, that I was living and
working in the midst of a den of monkeys;--sometimes amiable and
affectionate monkeys, with all manner of winning ways and kind
intentions;--more frequently selfish and malicious monkeys, but,
whatever their disposition, squabbling continually about nuts, and the
best places on the barren sticks of trees; and that all this monkeys'
den was filled, by mischance, with precious pictures, and the witty
and wilful beasts were always wrapping themselves up and going to
sleep in pictures, or tearing holes in them to grin through; or
tasting them and spitting them out again, or twisting them up into
ropes and making swings of them; and that sometimes only, by watching
one's opportunity, and bearing a scratch or a bite, one could rescue
the corner of a Tintoret, or Paul Veronese, and push it through the
bars into a place of safety. Literally, I assure you, this was, and
this is, the fixed impression on my mind of the state of matters in
Italy. And see how. The professors of art in Italy, having long
followed a method of study peculiar to themselves, have at last
arrived at a form of art peculiar to themselves; very different from
that which was arrived at by Correggio and Titian. Naturally, the
professors like their own form the best; and, as the old pictures are
generally not so startling to the eye as the modern ones, the dukes
and counts who possess them, and who like to see their galleries look
new and fine (and are persuaded also that a celebrated chef-d'oeuvre
ought always to catch the eye at a quarter of a mile off), believe the
professors who tell them their sober pictures are quite faded, and
good for nothing, and should all be brought bright again; and,
accordingly, give the sober pictures to the professors, to be put
right by rules of art. Then, the professors repaint the old pictures
in all the principal places, leaving perhaps only a bit of background
to set off their own work. And thus the professors come to be
generally figured in my mind, as the monkeys who tear holes in the
pictures, to grin through. Then the picture-dealers, who live by the
pictures, cannot sell them to the English in their old and pure state;
all the good work must be covered with new paint, and varnished so as
to look like one of the professorial pictures in the great gallery,
before it is saleable. And thus the dealers come to be imaged, in my
mind, as the monkeys who make ropes of the pictures, to swing by.
Then, every now and then, in some old stable or wine-cellar, or
timber-shed, behind some forgotten vats or faggots, somebody finds a
fresco of Perugino's or Giotto's, but doesn't think much of it, and
has no idea of having people coming into his cellar, or being obliged
to move his faggots; and so he whitewashes the fresco, and puts the
faggots back again; and these kind of persons, therefore, come
generally to be imaged in my mind, as the monkeys who taste the
pictures, and spit them out, not finding them nice. While, finally,
the squabbling for nuts and apples (called in Italy "bella
libertà") goes on all day long.

Now, all this might soon be put an end to, if we English, who are so
fond of travelling in the body, would also travel a little in soul. We
think it a great triumph to get our packages and our persons carried
at a fast pace, but we never take the slightest trouble to put any
pace into our perceptions; we stay usually at home in thought, or if
we ever mentally see the world, it is at the old stage-coach or waggon
rate. Do but consider what an odd sight it would be, if it were only
quite clear to you how things are really going on--how, here in
England, we are making enormous and expensive efforts to produce new
art of all kinds, knowing and confessing all the while that the
greater part of it is bad, but struggling still to produce new
patterns of wall-papers, and new shapes of tea-pots, and new pictures,
and statues, and architecture; and pluming and cackling if ever a
tea-pot or a picture has the least good in it;--all the while taking
no thought whatever of the best possible pictures, and statues, and
wall-patterns already in existence, which require nothing but to be
taken common care of, and kept from damp and dust: but we let the
walls fall that Giotto patterned, and the canvasses rot that Tintoret
painted, and the architecture be dashed to pieces that St. Louis
built, while we are furnishing our drawing-rooms with prize
upholstery, and writing accounts of our handsome warehouses to the
country papers. Don't think I use my words vaguely or generally: I
speak of literal facts. Giotto's frescos at Assisi are perishing at
this moment for want of decent care; Tintoret's pictures in San
Sebastian at Venice, are at this instant rotting piecemeal into grey
rags; St. Louis's Chapel, at Carcassonne, is at this moment lying in
shattered fragments in the market-place. And here we are all cawing
and crowing, poor little half-fledged daws as we are, about the pretty
sticks and wool in our own nests. There's hardly a day passes, when I
am at home, but I get a letter from some well-meaning country
clergyman, deeply anxious about the state of his parish church, and
breaking his heart to get money together that he may hold up some
wretched remnant of Tudor tracery, with one niche in the corner and no
statue--when all the while the mightiest piles of religious
architecture and sculpture that ever the world saw are being blasted
and withered away, without one glance of pity or regret. The country
clergyman does not care for _them_--he has a sea-sick imagination that
cannot cross Channel. What is it to him, if the angels of Assisi fade
from its vaults, or the queens and kings of Chartres fall from their
pedestals? They are not in his parish.

"What!" you will say, "are we not to produce any new art, nor take
care of our parish churches?" No, certainly not, until you have taken
proper care of the art you have got already, and of the best churches
out of the parish. Your first and proper standing is not as
churchwardens and parish overseers in an English county, but as
members of the great Christian community of Europe. And as members of
that community (in which alone, observe, pure and precious ancient art
exists, for there is none in America, none in Asia, none in Africa),
you conduct yourselves precisely as a manufacturer would, who attended
to his looms, but left his warehouse without a roof. The rain floods
your warehouse, the rats frolic in it, the spiders spin in it, the
choughs build in it, the wall-plague frets and festers in it, and
still you keep weave, weave, weaving at your wretched webs, and
thinking you are growing rich, while more is gnawed out of your
warehouse in an hour than you can weave in a twelvemonth.

Even this similitude is not absurd enough to set us rightly forth. The
weaver would, or might, at least, hope that his new woof was as stout
as the old ones, and that, therefore, in spite of rain and ravage, he
would have something to wrap himself in when he needed it. But _our_
webs rot as we spin. The very fact that we despise the great art of
the past shows that we cannot produce great art now. If we could do
it, we should love it when we saw it done--if we really cared for it,
we should recognise it and keep it; but we don't care for it. It is
not art that we want; it is amusement, gratification of pride, present
gain--anything in the world but art: let it rot, we shall always have
enough to talk about and hang over our sideboards.

You will (I hope) finally ask me what is the outcome of all this,
practicable, to-morrow morning by us who are sitting here? These are
the main practical outcomes of it: In the first place, don't grumble
when you hear of a new picture being bought by Government at a large
price. There are many pictures in Europe now in danger of destruction
which are, in the true sense of the word, priceless; the proper price
is simply that which it is necessary to give to get and to save them.
If you can get them for fifty pounds, do; if not for less than a
hundred, do; if not for less than five thousand, do; if not for less
than twenty thousand, do; never mind being imposed upon: there is
nothing disgraceful in being imposed upon; the only disgrace is in
imposing; and you can't in general get anything much worth having, in
the way of Continental art, but it must be with the help or connivance
of numbers of people who, indeed, ought to have nothing to do with the
matter, but who practically have, and always will have, everything to
do with it; and if you don't choose to submit to be cheated by them
out of a ducat here and a zecchin there, you will be cheated by them
out of your picture; and whether you are most imposed upon in losing
that, or the zecchins, I think I may leave you to judge; though I know
there are many political economists, who would rather leave a bag of
gold on a garret-table, than give a porter sixpence extra to carry it

That, then, is the first practical outcome of the matter. Never
grumble, but be glad when you hear of a new picture being bought at a
large price. In the long run, the dearest pictures are always the best
bargains; and, I repeat (for else you might think I said it in mere
hurry of talk, and not deliberately), there are some pictures which
are without price. You should stand, nationally, at the edge of Dover
cliffs--Shakespeare's--and wave blank cheques in the eyes of the
nations on the other side of the sea, freely offered, for such and
such canvasses of theirs.

Then the next practical outcome of it is: Never buy a copy of a
picture, under any circumstances whatever. All copies are bad; because
no painter who is worth a straw ever _will_ copy. He will make a study
of a picture he likes, for his own use, in his own way; but he won't
and can't copy; whenever you buy a copy, you buy so much
misunderstanding of the original, and encourage a dull person in
following a business he is not fit for, besides increasing ultimately
chances of mistake and imposture, and farthering, as directly as
money _can_ farther, the cause of ignorance in all directions. You
may, in fact, consider yourself as having purchased a certain quantity
of mistakes; and, according to your power, being engaged in
disseminating them.

I do not mean, however, that copies should never be made. A certain
number of dull persons should always be employed by a Government in
making the most accurate copies possible of all good pictures; these
copies, though artistically valueless, would be historically and
documentarily valuable, in the event of the destruction of the
original picture. The studies also made by great artists for their own
use, should be sought after with the greatest eagerness; they are
often to be bought cheap; and in connection with the mechanical
copies, would become very precious: tracings from frescos and other
large works are also of great value; for though a tracing is liable to
just as many mistakes as a copy, the mistakes in a tracing are of one
kind only, which may be allowed for, but the mistakes of a common
copyist are of all conceivable kinds: finally, engravings, in so far
as they convey certain facts about the pictures, without pretending
adequately to represent or give an idea of the pictures, are often
serviceable and valuable. I can't, of course, enter into details in
these matters just now; only this main piece of advice I can safely
give you--never to buy copies of pictures (for your private
possession) which pretend to give a _facsimile_ that shall be in any
wise representative of, or equal to, the original. Whenever you do so,
you are only lowering your taste, and wasting your money. And if you
are generous and wise, you will be ready rather to subscribe as much
as you would have given for a copy of a great picture, towards its
purchase, or the purchase of some other like it, by the nation. There
ought to be a great National Society instituted for the purchase of
pictures; presenting them to the various galleries in our great
cities, and watching there over their safety: but in the meantime, you
can always act safely and beneficially by merely allowing your artist
friends to buy pictures for you, when they see good ones. Never buy
for yourselves, nor go to the foreign dealers; but let any painter
whom you know be entrusted, when he finds a neglected old picture in
an old house, to try if he cannot get it for you; then, if you like
it, keep it; if not, send it to the hammer, and you will find that you
do not lose money on pictures so purchased.

And the third and chief practical outcome of the matter is this
general one: Wherever you go, whatever you do, act more for
_preservation_ and less for _production_. I assure you, the world is,
generally speaking, in calamitous disorder, and just because you have
managed to thrust some of the lumber aside, and get an available
corner for yourselves, you think you should do nothing but sit
spinning in it all day long--while, as householders and economists,
your first thought and effort should be, to set things more square all
about you. Try to set the ground floors in order, and get the
rottenness out of your granaries. _Then_ sit and spin, but not till

IV. DISTRIBUTION.--And now, lastly, we come to the fourth great head
of our inquiry, the question of the wise distribution of the art we
have gathered and preserved. It must be evident to us, at a moment's
thought, that the way in which works of art are on the whole most
useful to the nation to which they belong, must be by their collection
in public galleries, supposing those galleries properly managed. But
there is one disadvantage attached necessarily to gallery exhibition,
namely, the extent of mischief which may be done by one foolish
curator. As long as the pictures which form the national wealth are
disposed in private collections, the chance is always that the people
who buy them will be just the people who are fond of them; and that
the sense of exchangeable value in the commodity they possess, will
induce them, even if they do not esteem it themselves, to take such
care of it as will preserve its value undiminished. At all events, so
long as works of art are scattered through the nation, no universal
destruction of them is possible; a certain average only are lost by
accidents from time to time. But when they are once collected in a
large public gallery, if the appointment of curator becomes in any way
a matter of formality, or the post is so lucrative as to be disputed
by place-hunters, let but one foolish or careless person get
possession of it, and perhaps you may have all your fine pictures
repainted, and the national property destroyed, in a month. That is
actually the case at this moment, in several great foreign galleries.
They are the places of execution of pictures: over their doors you
only want the Dantesque inscription, "Lasciate ogni speranza, voi che

Supposing, however, this danger properly guarded against, as it would
be always by a nation which either knew the value, or understood the
meaning, of painting,[13] arrangement in a public gallery is the
safest, as well as the most serviceable, method of exhibiting
pictures; and it is the only mode in which their historical value can
be brought out, and their historical meaning made clear. But great
good is also to be done by encouraging the private possession of
pictures; partly as a means of study (much more being always
discovered in any work of art by a person who has it perpetually near
him than by one who only sees it from time to time), and also as a
means of refining the habits and touching the hearts of the masses of
the nation in their domestic life.

   [13] It would be a great point gained towards the preservation
        of pictures if it were made a rule that at every operation
        they underwent, the exact spots in which they have been
        re-painted should be recorded in writing.

For these last purposes the most serviceable art is the living art of
the time; the particular tastes of the people will be best met, and
their particular ignorances best corrected, by painters labouring in
the midst of them, more or less guided to the knowledge of what is
wanted by the degree of sympathy with which their work is received. So
then, generally, it should be the object of government, and of all
patrons of art, to collect, as far as may be, the works of dead
masters in public galleries, arranging them so as to illustrate the
history of nations, and the progress and influence of their arts; and
to encourage the private possession of the works of _living_ masters.
And the first and best way in which to encourage such private
possession is, of course, to keep down the prices of them as far as
you can.

I hope there are not a great many painters in the room; if there are,
I entreat their patience for the next quarter of an hour: if they will
bear with me for so long, I hope they will not, finally, be offended
by what I am going to say.

I repeat, trusting to their indulgence in the interim, that the first
object of our national economy, as respects the distribution of modern
art, should be steadily and rationally to limit its prices, since by
doing so, you will produce two effects; you will make the painters
produce more pictures, two or three instead of one, if they wish to
make money; and you will, by bringing good pictures within the reach
of people of moderate income, excite the general interest of the
nation in them, increase a thousandfold the demand for the commodity,
and therefore its wholesome and natural production.

I know how many objections must arise in your minds at this moment to
what I say; but you must be aware that it is not possible for me in an
hour to explain all the moral and commercial bearings of such a
principle as this. Only, believe me, I do not speak lightly; I think I
have considered all the objections which could be rationally brought
forward, though I have time at present only to glance at the main one,
namely, the idea that the high prices paid for modern pictures are
either honourable, or serviceable, to the painter. So far from this
being so, I believe one of the principal obstacles to the progress of
modern art to be the high prices given for good modern pictures. For
observe, first, the action of this high remuneration on the artist's
mind. If he "gets on," as it is called, catches the eye of the public,
and especially of the public of the upper classes, there is hardly any
limit to the fortune he may acquire; so that, in his early years, his
mind is naturally led to dwell on this worldly and wealthy eminence as
the main thing to be reached by his art; if he finds that he is not
gradually rising towards it, he thinks there is something wrong in his
work; or, if he is too proud to think that, still the bribe of wealth
and honour warps him from his honest labour into efforts to attract
attention; and he gradually loses both his power of mind and his
rectitude of purpose. This, according to the degree of avarice or
ambition which exists in any painter's mind, is the necessary
influence upon him of the hope of great wealth and reputation. But the
harm is still greater, in so far as the possibility of attaining
fortune of this kind tempts people continually to become painters who
have no real gift for the work; and on whom these motives of mere
worldly interest have exclusive influence;--men who torment and abuse
the patient workers, eclipse or thrust aside all delicate and good
pictures by their own gaudy and coarse ones, corrupt the taste of the
public, and do the greatest amount of mischief to the schools of art
in their day which it is possible for their capacities to effect; and
it is quite wonderful how much mischief may be done even by small
capacity. If you could by any means succeed in keeping the prices of
pictures down, you would throw all these disturbers out of the way at

You may perhaps think that this severe treatment would do more harm
than good, by withdrawing the wholesome element of emulation, and
giving no stimulus to exertion; but I am sorry to say that artists
will always be sufficiently jealous of one another, whether you pay
them large or low prices; and as for stimulus to exertion, believe me,
no good work in this world was ever done for money, nor while the
slightest thought of money affected the painter's mind. Whatever idea
of pecuniary value enters into his thoughts as he works, will, in
proportion to the distinctness of its presence, shorten his power. A
real painter will work for you exquisitely, if you give him, as I told
you a little while ago, bread and water and salt; and a bad painter
will work badly and hastily, though you give him a palace to live in,
and a princedom to live upon. Turner got, in his earlier years,
half-a-crown a day and his supper (not bad pay, neither); and he
learned to paint upon that. And I believe that there is no chance of
art's truly flourishing in any country, until you make it a simple and
plain business, providing its masters with an easy competence, but
rarely with anything more. And I say this, not because I despise the
great painter, but because I honour him; and I should no more think of
adding to his respectability or happiness by giving him riches, than,
if Shakespeare or Milton were alive, I should think we added to
_their_ respectability, or were likely to get better work from them,
by making them millionaires.

But, observe, it is not only the painter himself whom you injure, by
giving him too high prices; you injure all the inferior painters of
the day. If they are modest, they will be discouraged and depressed by
the feeling that their doings are worth so little, comparatively, in
your eyes;--if proud, all their worst passions will be aroused, and
the insult or opprobrium which they will try to cast on their
successful rival will not only afflict and wound him, but at last sour
and harden him: he cannot pass through such a trial without grievous

That, then, is the effect you produce on the painter of mark, and on
the inferior ones of his own standing. But you do worse than this; you
deprive yourselves, by what you give for the fashionable picture, of
the power of helping the younger men who are coming forward. Be it
admitted, for argument's sake if you are not convinced by what I have
said, that you do no harm to the great man by paying him well; yet
certainly you do him no special good. His reputation is established,
and his fortune made; he does not care whether you buy or not: he
thinks he is rather doing you a favour than otherwise by letting you
have one of his pictures at all. All the good you do him is to help
him to buy a new pair of carriage horses; whereas, with that same sum
which thus you cast away, you might have relieved the hearts and
preserved the health of twenty young painters; and if among those
twenty, you but chanced on one in whom a true latent power had been
hindered by his poverty, just consider what a far-branching,
far-embracing good you have wrought with that lucky expenditure of
yours. I say, "Consider it" in vain; you cannot consider it, for you
cannot conceive the sickness of heart with which a young painter of
deep feeling toils through his first obscurity;--his sense of the
strong voice within him, which you will not hear;--his vain, fond,
wondering witness to the things you will not see;--his far away
perception of things that he could accomplish if he had but peace, and
time, all unapproachable and vanishing from him, because no one will
leave him peace or grant him time: all his friends falling back from
him; those whom he would most reverently obey rebuking and paralysing
him; and last and worst of all, those who believe in him the most
faithfully suffering by him the most bitterly;--the wife's eyes, in
their sweet ambition, shining brighter as the cheek wastes away; and
the little lips at his side parched and pale, which one day, he knows,
though he may never see it, will quiver so proudly when they name his
name, calling him "our father." You deprive yourselves, by your large
expenditure for pictures of mark, of the power of relieving and
redeeming _this_ distress; you injure the painter whom you pay so
largely;--and what, after all, have you done for yourselves, or got
for yourselves? It does not in the least follow that the hurried work
of a fashionable painter will contain more for your money than the
quiet work of some unknown man. In all probability, you will find, if
you rashly purchase what is popular at a high price, that you have got
one picture you don't care for, for a sum which would have bought
twenty you would have delighted in. For remember always that the price
of a picture by a living artist, never represents, never _can_
represent, the quantity of labour or value in it. Its price
represents, for the most part, the degree of desire which the rich
people of the country have to possess it. Once get the wealthy classes
to imagine that the possession of pictures by a given artist adds to
their "gentility," and there is no price which his work may not
immediately reach, and for years maintain; and in buying at that
price, you are not getting value for your money, but merely disputing
for victory in a contest of ostentation. And it is hardly possible to
spend your money in a worse or more wasteful way; for though you may
not be doing it for ostentation yourself, you are, by your
pertinacity, nourishing the ostentation of others; you meet them in
their game of wealth, and continue it for them; if they had not found
an opposite player, the game would have been done; for a proud man can
find no enjoyment in possessing himself of what nobody disputes with
him. So that by every farthing you give for a picture beyond its fair
price--that is to say, the price which will pay the painter for his
time--you are not only cheating yourself and buying vanity, but you
are stimulating the vanity of others; paying literally, for the
cultivation of pride. You may consider every pound that you spend
above the just price of a work of art, as an investment in a cargo of
mental quick-lime or guano, which, being laid on the fields of human
nature, is to grow a harvest of pride. You are in fact ploughing and
harrowing, in a most valuable part of your land, in order to reap the
whirlwind; you are setting your hand stoutly to Job's agriculture,
"Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley."

Well, but you will say, there is one advantage in high prices, which
more than counterbalances all this mischief, namely, that by great
reward we both urge and enable a painter to produce rather one perfect
picture than many inferior ones: and one perfect picture (so you tell
us, and we believe it) is worth a great number of inferior ones.

It is so; but you cannot get it by paying for it. A great work is only
done when the painter gets into the humour for it, likes his subject,
and determines to paint it as well as he can, whether he is paid for
it or not; but bad work, and generally the worst sort of bad work, is
done when he is trying to produce a showy picture, or one that shall
appear to have as much labour in it as shall be worth a high

   [14] When this lecture was delivered, I gave here some data for
        approximate estimates of the average value of good modern
        pictures of different classes; but the subject is too
        complicated to be adequately treated in writing, without
        introducing more detail than the reader will have patience
        for. But I may state, roughly, that prices above a hundred
        guineas are in general extravagant for water-colours, and
        above five hundred for oils. An artist almost always does
        wrong who puts more work than these prices will remunerate
        him for into any single canvass--his talent would be better
        employed in painting two pictures than one so elaborate. The
        water-colour painters also are getting into the habit of
        making their drawings too large, and in a measure attaching
        their price rather to breadth and extent of touch than to
        thoughtful labour. Of course marked exceptions occur here
        and there, as in the case of John Lewis, whose drawings are
        wrought with unfailing precision throughout, whatever their
        scale. Hardly any price can be remunerative for such work.

There is however, another point, and a still more important one,
bearing on this matter of purchase, than the keeping down of prices to
a rational standard. And that is, that you pay your prices into the
hands of living men, and do not pour them into coffins.

For observe that, as we arrange our payment of pictures at present, no
artist's work is worth half its proper value while he is alive. The
moment he dies, his pictures, if they are good, reach double their
former value; but, that rise of price represents simply a profit made
by the intelligent dealer or purchaser on his past purchases. So that
the real facts of the matter are, that the British public, spending a
certain sum annually in art, determines that, of every thousand it
pays, only five hundred shall go to the painter, or shall be at all
concerned in the production of art; and that the other five hundred
shall be paid merely as a testimonial to the intelligent dealer, who
knew what to buy. Now, testimonials are very pretty and proper things,
within due limits; but testimonial to the amount of a hundred per
cent. on the total expenditure is not good political economy. Do not
therefore, in general, unless you see it to be necessary for its
preservation, buy the picture of a dead artist. If you fear that it
may be exposed to contempt or neglect, buy it; its price will then,
probably, not be high: if you want to put it into a public gallery,
buy it; you are sure, then, that you do not spend your money
selfishly: or, if you loved the man's work while he was alive, and
bought it then, buy it also now, if you can see no living work equal
to it. But if you did not buy it while the man was living, never buy
it after he is dead: you are then doing no good to him, and you are
doing some shame to yourself. Look around you for pictures that you
really like, and in buying which you can help some genius yet
unperished--that is the best atonement you can make to the one you
have neglected--and give to the living and struggling painter at once
wages, and testimonial.

So far, then, of the motives which should induce us to keep down the
prices of modern art, and thus render it, as a private possession,
attainable by greater numbers of people than at present. But we should
strive to render it accessible to them in other ways also--chiefly by
the permanent decoration of public buildings; and it is in this field
that I think we may look for the profitable means of providing that
constant employment for young painters of which we were speaking last

The first and most important kind of public buildings which we are
always sure to want, are schools: and I would ask you to consider very
carefully, whether we may not wisely introduce some great changes in
the way of school decoration. Hitherto, as far as I know, it has
either been so difficult to give all the education we wanted to our
lads, that we have been obliged to do it, if at all, with cheap
furniture in bare walls; or else we have considered that cheap
furniture and bare walls are a proper part of the means of education;
and supposed that boys learned best when they sat on hard forms, and
had nothing but blank plaster about and above them whereupon to employ
their spare attention; also, that it was as well they should be
accustomed to rough and ugly conditions of things, partly by way of
preparing them for the hardships of life, and partly that there might
be the least possible damage done to floors and forms, in the event of
their becoming, during the master's absence, the fields or instruments
of battle. All this is so far well and necessary, as it relates to the
training of country lads, and the first training of boys in general.
But there certainly comes a period in the life of a well educated
youth, in which one of the principal elements of his education is, or
ought to be, to give him refinement of habits; and not only to teach
him the strong exercises of which his frame is capable, but also to
increase his bodily sensibility and refinement, and show him such
small matters as the way of handling things properly, and treating
them considerately. Not only so, but I believe the notion of fixing
the attention by keeping the room empty, is a wholly mistaken one: I
think it is just in the emptiest room that the mind wanders most; for
it gets restless, like a bird, for want of a perch, and casts about
for any possible means of getting out and away. And even if it be
fixed, by an effort, on the business in hand, that business becomes
itself repulsive, more than it need be, by the vileness of its
associations; and many a study appears dull or painful to a boy when
it is pursued on a blotted deal desk, under a wall with nothing on it
but scratches and pegs, which would have been pursued pleasantly
enough in a curtained corner of his father's library, or at the
lattice window of his cottage. Nay, my own belief is, that the best
study of all is the most beautiful; and that a quiet glade of forest,
or the nook of a lake shore, are worth all the schoolrooms in
Christendom, when once you are past the multiplication table; but be
that as it may, there is no question at all but that a time ought to
come in the life of a well trained youth, when he can sit at a writing
table without wanting to throw the inkstand at his neighbour; and when
also he will feel more capable of certain efforts of mind with
beautiful and refined forms about him than with ugly ones. When that
time comes, he ought to be advanced into the decorated schools; and
this advance ought to be one of the important and honourable epochs of
his life.

I have not time, however, to insist on the mere serviceableness to our
youth of refined architectural decoration, as such; for I want you to
consider the probable influence of the particular kind of decoration
which I wish you to get for them, namely, historical painting. You
know we have hitherto been in the habit of conveying all our
historical knowledge, such as it is, by the ear only, never by the
eye; all our notions of things being ostensibly derived from verbal
description, not from sight. Now, I have no doubt that, as we grow
gradually wiser--and we are doing so every day--we shall discover at
last that the eye is a nobler organ than the ear; and that through the
eye we must, in reality, obtain, or put into form, nearly all the
useful information we are to have about this world. Even as the matter
stands, you will find that the knowledge which a boy is supposed to
receive from verbal description is only available to him so far as in
any underhand way he gets a sight of the thing you are talking about.
I remember well that, for many years of my life, the only notion I had
of the look of a Greek knight was complicated between recollection of
a small engraving in my pocket Pope's Homer, and reverent study of the
Horse Guards. And though I believe that most boys collect their ideas
from more varied sources, and arrange them more carefully than I did;
still, whatever sources they seek must always be ocular: if they are
clever boys, they will go and look at the Greek vases and sculptures
in the British Museum, and at the weapons in our armouries--they will
see what real armour is like in lustre, and what Greek armour was like
in form, and so put a fairly true image together, but still not, in
ordinary cases, a very living or interesting one. Now, the use of your
decorative painting would be, in myriads of ways, to animate their
history for them, and to put the living aspect of past things before
their eyes as faithfully as intelligent invention can; so that the
master shall have nothing to do but once to point to the schoolroom
walls, and for ever afterwards the meaning of any word would be fixed
in a boy's mind in the best possible way. Is it a question of
classical dress--what a tunic was like, or a chlamys, or a peplus? At
this day, you have to point to some vile woodcut, in the middle of a
dictionary page, representing the thing hung upon a stick, but then,
you would point to a hundred figures, wearing the actual dress, in its
fiery colours, in all actions of various stateliness or strength; you
would understand at once how it fell round the people's limbs as they
stood, how it drifted from their shoulders as they went, how it veiled
their faces as they wept, how it covered their heads in the day of
battle. _Now_, if you want to see what a weapon is like, you refer, in
like manner, to a numbered page, in which there are spear-heads in
rows, and sword-hilts in symmetrical groups; and gradually the boy
gets a dim mathematical notion how one scymitar is hooked to the right
and another to the left, and one javelin has a knob to it and another
none: while one glance at your good picture would show him,--and the
first rainy afternoon in the schoolroom would for ever fix in his
mind,--the look of the sword and spear as they fell or flew; and how
they pierced, or bent, or shattered--how men wielded them, and how men
died by them. But far more than all this, is it a question not of
clothes or weapons, but of men? how can we sufficiently estimate the
effect on the mind of a noble youth, at the time when the world opens
to him, of having faithful and touching representations put before him
of the acts and presences of great men--how many a resolution, which
would alter and exalt the whole course of his after-life, might be
formed, when in some dreamy twilight he met, through his own tears,
the fixed eyes of those shadows of the great dead, unescapable and
calm, piercing to his soul; or fancied that their lips moved in dread
reproof or soundless exhortation. And if but for one out of many this
were true--if yet, in a few, you could be sure that such influence had
indeed changed their thoughts and destinies, and turned the eager and
reckless youth, who would have cast away his energies on the
race-horse or the gambling-table, to that noble life-race, that holy
life-hazard, which should win all glory to himself and all good to his
country--would not that, to some purpose, be "political economy of

And observe, there could be no monotony, no exhaustibleness, in the
scenes required to be thus pourtrayed. Even if there were, and you
wanted for every school in the kingdom, one death of Leonidas; one
battle of Marathon; one death of Cleobis and Bito; there need not
therefore be more monotony in your art than there was in the
repetition of a given cycle of subjects by the religious painters of
Italy. But we ought not to admit a cycle at all. For though we had as
many great schools as we have great cities (one day I hope we _shall_
have), centuries of painting would not exhaust, in all the number of
them, the noble and pathetic subjects which might be chosen from the
history of even one noble nation. But, besides this, you will not, in
a little while, limit your youths' studies to so narrow fields as you
do now. There will come a time--I am sure of it--when it will be found
that the same practical results, both in mental discipline, and in
political philosophy, are to be attained by the accurate study of
mediæval and modern as of ancient history; and that the facts of
mediæval and modern history are, on the whole, the most important
to us. And among these noble groups of constellated schools which I
foresee arising in our England, I foresee also that there will be
divided fields of thought; and that while each will give its scholars
a great general idea of the world's history, such as all men should
possess--each will also take upon itself, as its own special duty, the
closer study of the course of events in some given place or time. It
will review the rest of history, but it will exhaust its own special
field of it; and found its moral and political teaching on the most
perfect possible analysis of the results of human conduct in one
place, and at one epoch. And then, the galleries of that school will
be painted with the historical scenes belonging to the age which it
has chosen for its special study.

So far, then, of art as you may apply it to that great series of
public buildings which you devote to the education of youth. The next
large class of public buildings in which we should introduce it, is
one which I think a few years more of national progress will render
more serviceable to us than they have been lately. I mean, buildings
for the meetings of guilds of trades.

And here, for the last time, I must again interrupt the course of our
chief inquiry, in order to state one other principle of political
economy, which is perfectly simple and indisputable; but which,
nevertheless, we continually get into commercial embarrassments for
want of understanding; and not only so, but suffer much hindrance in
our commercial discoveries, because many of our business men do not
practically admit it.

Supposing half a dozen or a dozen men were cast ashore from a wreck on
an uninhabited island and left to their own resources, one of course,
according to his capacity, would be set to one business and one to
another; the strongest to dig and to cut wood, and to build huts for
the rest: the most dexterous to make shoes out of bark and coats out
of skins; the best educated to look for iron or lead in the rocks, and
to plan the channels for the irrigation of the fields. But though
their labours were thus naturally severed, that small group of
shipwrecked men would understand well enough that the speediest
progress was to be made by helping each other,--not by opposing each
other; and they would know that this help could only be properly given
so long as they were frank and open in their relations, and the
difficulties which each lay under properly explained to the rest. So
that any appearance of secresy or separateness in the actions of any
of them would instantly, and justly, be looked upon with suspicion by
the rest, as the sign of some selfish or foolish proceeding on the
part of the individual. If, for instance, the scientific man were
found to have gone out at night, unknown to the rest, to alter the
sluices, the others would think, and in all probability rightly think,
that he wanted to get the best supply of water to his own field; and
if the shoemaker refused to show them where the bark grew which he
made the sandals of, they would naturally think, and in all
probability rightly think, that he didn't want them to see how much
there was of it, and that he meant to ask from them more corn and
potatoes in exchange for his sandals than the trouble of making them
deserved. And thus, although each man would have a portion of time to
himself in which he was allowed to do what he chose without let or
inquiry,--so long as he was working in that particular business which
he had undertaken for the common benefit, any secresy on his part
would be immediately supposed to mean mischief; and would require to
be accounted for, or put an end to: and this all the more because,
whatever the work might be, certainly there would be difficulties
about it which, when once they were well explained, might be more or
less done away with by the help of the rest; so that assuredly every
one of them would advance with his labour not only more happily, but
more profitably and quickly, by having no secrets, and by frankly
bestowing, and frankly receiving, such help as lay in his way to get
or to give.

And, just as the best and richest result of wealth and happiness to
the whole of them, would follow on their perseverance in such a system
of frank communication and of helpful labour;--so precisely the worst
and poorest result would be obtained by a system of secresy and of
enmity; and each man's happiness and wealth would assuredly be
diminished in proportion to the degree in which jealousy and
concealment became their social and economical principles. It would
not, in the long run, bring good, but only evil, to the man of
science, if, instead of telling openly where he had found good iron,
he carefully concealed every new bed of it, that he might ask, in
exchange for the rare ploughshare, more corn from the farmer, or in
exchange for the rude needle, more labour from the sempstress: and it
would not ultimately bring good, but only evil, to the farmers, if
they sought to burn each other's cornstacks, that they might raise the
value of their grain, or if the sempstresses tried to break each
other's needles, that each might get all the stitching to herself.

Now, these laws of human action are precisely as authoritative in
their application to the conduct of a million of men, as to that of
six or twelve. All enmity, jealousy, opposition, and secresy are
wholly, and in all circumstances, destructive in their nature--not
productive; and all kindness, fellowship, and communicativeness are
invariably productive in their operation,--not destructive; and the
evil principles of opposition and exclusiveness are not rendered less
fatal, but more fatal, by their acceptance among large masses of men;
more fatal, I say, exactly in proportion as their influence is more
secret. For though the opposition does always its own simple,
necessary, direct quantity of harm, and withdraws always its own
simple, necessary, measurable quantity of wealth from the sum
possessed by the community, yet, in proportion to the size of the
community, it does another and more refined mischief than this, by
concealing its own fatality under aspects of mercantile complication
and expediency, and giving rise to multitudes of false theories based
on a mean belief in narrow and immediate appearances of good done here
and there by things which have the universal and everlasting nature of
evil. So that the time and powers of the nation are wasted, not only
in wretched struggling against each other, but in vain complaints, and
groundless discouragements, and empty investigations, and useless
experiments in laws, and elections, and inventions; with hope always
to pull wisdom through some new-shaped slit in a ballot-box, and to
drag prosperity down out of the clouds along some new knot of electric
wire; while all the while Wisdom stands calling at the corners of the
streets, and the blessing of heaven waits ready to rain down upon us,
deeper than the rivers and broader than the dew, if only we will obey
the first plain principles of humanity, and the first plain precepts
of the skies; "Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassion,
every man to his brother; and let none of you imagine evil against his
brother in your heart."[15]

   [15] It would be well if, instead of preaching continually about
        the doctrine of faith and good works, our clergymen would
        simply explain to their people a little what good works
        mean. There is not a chapter in all the Book we profess to
        believe, more specially and directly written for England,
        than the second of Habakkuk, and I never in all my life
        heard one of its practical texts preached from. I suppose
        the clergymen are all afraid, and know that their flocks,
        while they will sit quite politely to hear syllogisms out of
        the epistle to the Romans, would get restive directly if
        they ever pressed a practical text home to them. But we
        should have no mercantile catastrophes, and no distressful
        pauperism, if we only read often, and took to heart, those
        plain words:--"Yea, also, because he is a proud man, neither
        keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and
        cannot be satisfied,--Shall not all these take up a parable
        against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say,
        'Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his: and to
        him that _ladeth himself with thick clay_.'" (What a
        glorious history, in one metaphor, of the life of a man
        greedy of fortune.) "Woe to him that coveteth an evil
        covetousness that he may set his nest on high. Woe to him
        that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by
        iniquity. Behold, is it not of the Lord of Hosts that the
        people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall
        weary themselves for very vanity."

        The Americans, who have been sending out ships with sham
        bolt-heads on their timbers, and only half their bolts, may
        meditate on that "buildeth a town with blood."

Therefore, I believe most firmly, that as the laws of national
prosperity get familiar to us, we shall more and more cast our toil
into social and communicative systems; and that one of the first means
of our doing so, will be the re-establishing guilds of every important
trade in a vital, not formal, condition;--that there will be a great
council or government house for the members of every trade, built in
whatever town of the kingdom occupies itself principally in such
trade, with minor council halls in other cities; and to each
council-hall, officers attached, whose first business may be to
examine into the circumstances of every operative, in that trade, who
chooses to report himself to them when out of work, and to set him to
work, if he is indeed able and willing, at a fixed rate of wages,
determined at regular periods in the council-meetings; and whose next
duty may be to bring reports before the council of all improvements
made in the business, and means of its extension: not allowing private
patents of any kind, but making all improvements available to every
member of the guild, only allotting, after successful trial of them, a
certain reward to the inventors.

For these, and many other such purposes, such halls will be again, I
trust, fully established, and then, in the paintings and decorations
of them, especial effort ought to be made to express the worthiness
and honourableness of the trade for whose members they are founded.
For I believe one of the worst symptoms of modern society to be, its
notion of great inferiority, and ungentlemanliness, as necessarily
belonging to the character of a tradesman. I believe tradesmen may be,
ought to be--often are, more gentlemen than idle and useless people:
and I believe that art may do noble work by recording in the hall of
each trade, the services which men belonging to that trade have done
for their country, both preserving the portraits, and recording the
important incidents in the lives, of those who have made great
advances in commerce and civilization. I cannot follow out this
subject, it branches too far, and in too many directions; besides, I
have no doubt you will at once see and accept the truth of the main
principle, and be able to think it out for yourselves. I would fain
also have said something of what might be done, in the same manner,
for almshouses and hospitals, and for what, as I shall try to explain
in notes to this lecture, we may hope to see, some day, established
with a different meaning in their name than that they now
bear--workhouses; but I have detained you too long already, and cannot
permit myself to trespass further on your patience except only to
recapitulate, in closing, the simple principles respecting wealth
which we have gathered during the course of our inquiry; principles
which are nothing more than the literal and practical acceptance of
the saying, which is in all good men's mouths; namely, that they are
stewards or ministers of whatever talents are entrusted to them. Only,
is it not a strange thing, that while we more or less accept the
meaning of that saying, so long as it is considered metaphorical, we
never accept its meaning in its own terms? You know the lesson is
given us under the form of a story about money. Money was given to the
servants to make use of: the unprofitable servant dug in the earth,
and hid his Lord's money. Well, we, in our poetical and spiritual
application of this, say, that of course money doesn't mean money, it
means wit, it means intellect, it means influence in high quarters, it
means everything in the world except itself. And do not you see what a
pretty and pleasant come-off there is for most of us, in this
spiritual application? Of course, if we had wit, we would use it for
the good of our fellow-creatures. But we haven't wit. Of course, if we
had influence with the bishops, we would use it for the good of the
Church; but we haven't any influence with the bishops. Of course, if
we had political power, we would use it for the good of the nation;
but we have no political power; we have no talents entrusted to _us_
of any sort or kind. It is true we have a little money, but the
parable can't possibly mean anything so vulgar as money; our money's
our own.

I believe, if you think seriously of this matter, you will feel that
the first and most literal application is just as necessary a one as
any other--that the story does very specially mean what it says--plain
money; and that the reason we don't at once believe it does so, is a
sort of tacit idea that while thought, wit, and intellect, and all
power of birth and position, are indeed _given_ to us, and, therefore,
to be laid out for the Giver,--our wealth has not been given to us;
but we have worked for it, and have a right to spend it as we choose.
I think you will find that is the real substance of our understanding
in this matter. Beauty, we say, is given by God--it is a talent;
strength is given by God--it is a talent; position is given by God--it
is a talent; but money is proper wages for our day's work--it is not a
talent, it is a due. We may justly spend it on ourselves, if we have
worked for it.

And there would be some shadow of excuse for this, were it not that
the very power of making the money is itself only one of the
applications of that intellect or strength which we confess to be
talents. Why is one man richer than another? Because he is more
industrious, more persevering, and more sagacious. Well, who made him
more persevering or more sagacious than others? That power of
endurance, that quickness of apprehension, that calmness of judgment,
which enable him to seize the opportunities that others lose, and
persist in the lines of conduct in which others fail--are these not
talents?--are they not, in the present state of the world, among the
most distinguished and influential of mental gifts? And is it not
wonderful, that while we should be utterly ashamed to use a
superiority of body, in order to thrust our weaker companions aside
from some place of advantage, we unhesitatingly use our superiorities
of mind to thrust them back from whatever good that strength of mind
can attain? You would be indignant if you saw a strong man walk into a
theatre or a lecture-room, and, calmly choosing the best place, take
his feeble neighbour by the shoulder, and turn him out of it into the
back seats, or the street. You would be equally indignant if you saw a
stout fellow thrust himself up to a table where some hungry children
were being fed, and reach his arm over their heads and take their
bread from them. But you are not the least indignant if, when a man
has stoutness of thought and swiftness of capacity, and, instead of
being long-armed only, has the much greater gift of being
long-headed--you think it perfectly just that he should use his
intellect to take the bread out of the mouths of all the other men in
the town who are of the same trade with him; or use his breadth and
sweep of sight to gather some branch of the commerce of the country
into one great cobweb, of which he is himself to be the central
spider, making every thread vibrate with the points of his claws, and
commanding every avenue with the facets of his eyes. You see no
injustice in this.

But there is injustice; and, let us trust, one of which honourable men
will at no very distant period disdain to be guilty. In some degree,
however, it is indeed not unjust; in some degree it is necessary and
intended. It is assuredly just that idleness should be surpassed by
energy; that the widest influence should be possessed by those who are
best able to wield it; and that a wise man, at the end of his career,
should be better off than a fool. But for that reason, is the fool to
be wretched, utterly crushed down, and left in all the suffering which
his conduct and capacity naturally inflict?--Not so. What do you
suppose fools were made for? That you might tread upon them, and
starve them, and get the better of them in every possible way? By no
means. They were made that wise people might take care of them. That
is the true and plain fact concerning the relations of every strong
and wise man to the world about him. He has his strength given him,
not that he may crush the weak, but that he may support and guide
them. In his own household he is to be the guide and the support of
his children; out of his household he is still to be the father, that
is, the guide and support of the weak and the poor; not merely of the
meritoriously weak and the innocently poor, but of the guiltily and
punishably poor; of the men who ought to have known better--of the
poor who ought to be ashamed of themselves. It is nothing to give
pension and cottage to the widow who has lost her son; it is nothing
to give food and medicine to the workman who has broken his arm, or
the decrepit woman wasting in sickness. But it is something to use
your time and strength to war with the waywardness and thoughtlessness
of mankind; to keep the erring workman in your service till you have
made him an unerring one; and to direct your fellow-merchant to the
opportunity which his dullness would have lost. This is much; but it
is yet more, when you have fully achieved the superiority which is due
to you, and acquired the wealth which is the fitting reward of your
sagacity, if you solemnly accept the responsibility of it, as it is
the helm and guide of labour far and near. For you who have it in your
hands, are in reality the pilots of the power and effort of the
State.[16] It is entrusted to you as an authority to be used for good
or evil, just as completely as kingly authority was ever given to a
prince, or military command to a captain. And, according to the
quantity of it that you have in your hands you are the arbiters of the
will and work of England; and the whole issue, whether the work of the
State shall suffice for the State or not, depends upon you. You may
stretch out your sceptre over the heads of the English labourers, and
say to them, as they stoop to its waving, "Subdue this obstacle that
has baffled our fathers, put away this plague that consumes our
children; water these dry places, plough these desert ones, carry this
food to those who are in hunger; carry this light to those who are in
darkness; carry this life to those who are in death;" or on the other
side you may say to her labourers: "Here am I; this power is in my
hand; come, build a mound here for me to be throned upon, high and
wide; come, make crowns for my head, that men may see them shine from
far away; come, weave tapestries for my feet, that I may tread softly
on the silk and purple;[17] come, dance before me, that I may be gay;
and sing sweetly to me, that I may slumber; so shall I live in joy,
and die in honour." And better than such an honourable death, it were
that the day had perished wherein we were born, and the night in which
it was said there is a child conceived.

   [16] See note 7th, in Addenda [p. 106].

   [17] See note 8th, in Addenda [p. 107].

I trust, that in a little while, there will be few of our rich men
who, through carelessness or covetousness, thus forfeit the glorious
office which is intended for their hands. I said, just now, that
wealth ill used was as the net of the spider, entangling and
destroying: but wealth well used, is as the net of the sacred fisher
who gathers souls of men out of the deep. A time will come--I do not
think even now it is far from us--when this golden net of the world's
wealth will be spread abroad as the flaming meshes of morning cloud
are over the sky; bearing with them the joy of light and the dew of
the morning, as well as the summons to honourable and peaceful toil.
What less can we hope from your wealth than this, rich men of
England, when once you feel fully how, by the strength of your
possessions--not, observe, by the exhaustion, but by the
administration of them and the power--you can direct the
acts,--command the energies,--inform the ignorance,--prolong the
existence, of the whole human race; and how, even of worldly wisdom,
which man employs faithfully, it is true, not only that her ways are
pleasantness, but that her paths are peace; and that, for all the
children of men, as well as for those to whom she is given, Length of
days are in her right hand, as in her left hand Riches and Honour?


Note, p. 19.--"_Fatherly authority._"

This statement could not, of course, be heard without displeasure by a
certain class of politicians; and in one of the notices of these
lectures given in the Manchester journals at the time, endeavour was
made to get quit of it by referring to the Divine authority, as the
only Paternal power with respect to which men were truly styled
"brethren." Of course it is so, and, equally of course, all human
government is nothing else than the executive expression of this
Divine authority. The moment government ceases to be the practical
enforcement of Divine law, it is tyranny; and the meaning which I
attach to the words, "paternal government," is, in more extended
terms, simply this--"The executive fulfilment, by formal human
methods, of the will of the Father of mankind respecting His
children." I could not give such a definition of Government as this in
a popular lecture; and even in written form, it will necessarily
suggest many objections, of which I must notice and answer the most

Only, in order to avoid the recurrence of such tiresome phrases as "it
may be answered in the second place," and "it will be objected in the
third place," etc., I will ask the reader's leave to arrange the
discussion in the form of simple dialogue, letting _O._ stand for
objector, and _R._ for response.

_O._--You define your paternal government to be the executive
fulfilment, by formal human methods, of the Divine will. But,
assuredly, that will cannot stand in need of aid or expression from
human laws. It cannot fail of its fulfilment.

_R._--In the final sense it cannot; and in that sense, men who are
committing murder and stealing are fulfilling the will of God as much
as the best and kindest people in the world. But in the limited and
present sense, the only sense with which _we_ have anything to do,
God's will concerning man is fulfilled by some men, and thwarted by
others. And those men who either persuade or enforce the doing of it,
stand towards those who are rebellious against it exactly in the
position of faithful children in a family, who, when the father is out
of sight, either compel or persuade the rest to do as their father
would have them, were he present; and in so far as they are expressing
and maintaining, for the time, the paternal authority, they exercise,
in the exact sense in which I mean the phrase to be understood,
paternal government over the rest.

_O._--But, if Providence has left a liberty to man in many things in
order to prove him, why should human law abridge that liberty, and
take upon itself to compel what the great Lawgiver does not compel?

_R._--It is confessed, in the enactment of any law whatsoever, that
human lawgivers have a right to do this. For, if you have no right to
abridge any of the liberty which Providence has left to man, you have
no right to punish any one for committing murder or robbery. You ought
to leave them to the punishment of God and Nature. But if you think
yourself under obligation to punish, as far as human laws can, the
violation of the will of God by those great sins, you are certainly
under the same obligation to punish, with proportionately less
punishment, the violation of His will in less sins.

_O._--No; you must not attempt to punish less sins by law, because you
cannot properly define nor ascertain them. Everybody can determine
whether murder has been committed or not, but you cannot determine how
far people have been unjust or cruel in minor matters, and therefore
cannot make or execute laws concerning minor matters.

_R._--If I propose to you to punish faults which cannot be defined, or
to execute laws which cannot be made equitable, reject the laws I
propose. But do not generally object to the principle of law.

_O._--Yes; I generally object to the principle of law as applied to
minor things; because, if you could succeed (which you cannot) in
regulating the entire conduct of men by law in little things as well
as great, you would take away from human life all its probationary
character, and render many virtues and pleasures impossible. You would
reduce virtue to the movement of a machine, instead of the act of a

_R._--You have just said, parenthetically, and I fully and willingly
admit it, that it is impossible to regulate all minor matters by law.
Is it not probable, therefore, that the degree in which it is
_possible_ to regulate them by it, is also the degree in which it is
_right_ to regulate them by it? Or what other means of judgment will
you employ, to separate the things which ought to be formally
regulated from the things which ought not. You admit that great sins
should be legally repressed; but you say that small sins should not be
legally repressed. How do you distinguish between great and small
sins; and how do you intend to determine, or do you in practice of
daily life determine, on what occasions you should compel people to do
right, and on what occasions you should leave them the option of doing

_O._--I think you cannot make any accurate or logical distinction in
such matters; but that common sense and instinct have, in all
civilized nations, indicated certain crimes of great social
harmfulness, such as murder, theft, adultery, slander, and such like,
which it is proper to repress legally; and that common sense and
instinct indicate also the kind of crimes which it is proper for laws
to let alone, such as miserliness, ill-natured speaking, and many of
those commercial dishonesties which I have a notion you want your
paternal government to interfere with.

_R._--Pray do not alarm yourself about what my paternal government is
likely to interfere with, but keep to the matter in hand. You say that
"common sense and instinct" have, in all civilized nations,
distinguished between the sins that ought to be legally dealt with and
that ought not. Do you mean that the laws of all civilized nations are

_O._--No; certainly not.

_R._--Or that they are perfect at least in their discrimination of
what crimes they should deal with, and what crimes they should let

_O._--No; not exactly.

_R._--What _do_ you mean, then?

_O._--I mean that the general tendency is right in the laws of
civilized nations; and that, in due course of time, natural sense and
instinct point out the matters they should be brought to bear upon.
And each question of legislation must be made a separate subject of
inquiry as it presents itself: you cannot fix any general principles
about what should be dealt with legally, and what should not.

_R._--Supposing it to be so, do you think there are any points in
which our English legislation is capable of amendment, as it bears on
commercial and economical matters, in this present time?

_O._--Of course I do.

_R._--Well, then, let us discuss these together quietly; and if the
points that I want amended seem to you incapable of amendment, or not
in need of amendment, say so: but don't object, at starting, to the
mere proposition of applying law to things which have not had law
applied to them before. You have admitted the fitness of my
expression, "paternal government:" it only has been, and remains, a
question between us, how far such government should extend. Perhaps
you would like it only to regulate, among the children, the length of
their lessons; and perhaps I should like it also to regulate the
hardness of their cricket-balls: but cannot you wait quietly till you
know what I want it to do, before quarrelling with the thing itself?

_O._--No; I cannot wait quietly: in fact I don't see any use in
beginning such a discussion at all, because I am quite sure from the
first, that you want to meddle with things that you have no business
with, and to interfere with healthy liberty of action in all sorts of
ways; and I know that you can't propose any laws that would be of real

   [18] If the reader is displeased with me for putting this foolish
        speech into his mouth, I entreat his pardon; but he may be
        assured that it is a speech which would be made by many
        people, and the substance of which would be tacitly felt by
        many more, at this point of the discussion. I have really
        tried, up to this point, to make the objector as intelligent
        a person as it is possible for an author to imagine anybody
        to be, who differs with him.

_R._--If you indeed know that, you would be wrong to hear me any
farther. But if you are only in painful doubt about me, which makes
you unwilling to run the risk of wasting your time, I will tell you
beforehand what I really do think about this same liberty of action,
namely, that whenever we can make a perfectly equitable law about any
matter, or even a law securing, on the whole, more just conduct than
unjust, we ought to make that law; and that there will yet, on these
conditions, always remain a number of matters respecting which
legalism and formalism are impossible; enough, and more than enough,
to exercise all human powers of individual judgment, and afford all
kinds of scope to individual character. I think this; but of course it
can only be proved by separate examination of the possibilities of
formal restraint in each given field of action; and these two lectures
are nothing more than a sketch of such a detailed examination in one
field, namely, that of art. You will find, however, one or two other
remarks on such possibilities in the next note.

Note 2nd, p. 21.--"_Right to public support._"

It did not appear to me desirable, in the course of the spoken
lecture, to enter into details or offer suggestions on the questions
of the regulation of labour and distribution of relief, as it would
have been impossible to do so without touching in many disputed or
disputable points, not easily handled before a general audience. But I
must now supply what is wanting to make my general statement clear.

I believe, in the first place, that no Christian nation has any
business to see one of its members in distress without helping him,
though, perhaps, at the same time punishing him: help, of course--in
nine cases out of ten--meaning guidance, much more than gift, and,
therefore, interference with liberty. When a peasant mother sees one
of her careless children fall into a ditch, her first proceeding is to
pull him out; her second, to box his ears; her third, ordinarily, to
lead him carefully a little way by the hand, or send him home for the
rest of the day. The child usually cries, and very often would clearly
prefer remaining in the ditch; and if he understood any of the terms
of politics, would certainly express resentment at the interference
with his individual liberty: but the mother has done her duty.
Whereas the usual call of the mother nation to any of her children,
under such circumstances, has lately been nothing more than the
foxhunter's,--"Stay still there; I shall clear you." And if we always
_could_ clear them, their requests to be left in muddy independence
might be sometimes allowed by kind people, or their cries for help
disdained by unkind ones. But we can't clear them. The whole nation
is, in fact, bound together, as men are by ropes on a glacier--if one
falls, the rest must either lift him or drag him along with them[19]
as dead weight, not without much increase of danger to themselves. And
the law of right being manifestly in this, as, whether manifestly or
not, it is always, the law of prudence, the only question is, how this
wholesome help and interference are to be administered.

   [19] It is very curious to watch the efforts of two shopkeepers
        to ruin each other, neither having the least idea that his
        ruined neighbour must eventually be supported at his own
        expense, with an increase of poor rates; and that the
        contest between them is not in reality which shall get
        everything for himself, but which shall first take upon
        himself and his customers the gratuitous maintenance of the
        other's family.

The first interference should be in education. In order that men may
be able to support themselves when they are grown, their strength must
be properly developed while they are young; and the state should
always see to this--not allowing their health to be broken by too
early labour, nor their powers to be wasted for want of knowledge.
Some questions connected with this matter are noticed farther on under
the head "Trial Schools:" one point I must notice here, that I believe
all youths of whatever rank, ought to learn some manual trade
thoroughly; for it is quite wonderful how much a man's views of life
are cleared by the attainment of the capacity of doing any one thing
well with his hands and arms. For a long time, what right life there
was in the upper classes of Europe depended in no small degree on the
necessity which each man was under of being able to fence; at this
day, the most useful things which boys learn at public schools, are, I
believe, riding, rowing, and cricketing. But it would be far better
that members of Parliament should be able to plough straight, and make
a horseshoe, than only to feather oars neatly or point their toes
prettily in stirrups. Then, in literary and scientific teaching, the
great point of economy is to give the discipline of it through
knowledge which will immediately bear on practical life. Our literary
work has long been economically useless to us because too much
concerned with dead languages; and our scientific work will yet, for
some time, be a good deal lost, because scientific men are too fond or
too vain of their systems, and waste the student's time in
endeavouring to give him large views, and make him perceive
interesting connections of facts; when there is not one student, no,
nor one man, in a thousand, who can feel the beauty of a system, or
even take it clearly into his head; but nearly all men can understand,
and most will be interested in, the facts which bear on daily life.
Botanists have discovered some wonderful connection between nettles
and figs, which a cowboy who will never see a ripe fig in his life
need not be at all troubled about; but it will be interesting to him
to know what effect nettles have on hay, and what taste they will give
to porridge; and it will give him nearly a new life if he can be got
but once, in a spring time, to look well at the beautiful circlet of
the white nettle blossom, and work out with his schoolmaster the
curves of its petals, and the way it is set on its central mast. So,
the principle of chemical equivalents, beautiful as it is, matters far
less to a peasant boy, and even to most sons of gentlemen, than their
knowing how to find whether the water is wholesome in the back-kitchen
cistern, or whether the seven-acre field wants sand or chalk.

Having, then, directed the studies of our youth so as to make them
practically serviceable men at the time of their entrance into life,
that entrance should always be ready for them in cases where their
private circumstances present no opening. There ought to be government
establishments for every trade, in which all youths who desired it
should be received as apprentices on their leaving school; and men
thrown out of work received at all times. At these government
manufactories the discipline should be strict, and the wages steady,
not varying at all in proportion to the demand for the article, but
only in proportion to the price of food; the commodities produced
being laid up in store to meet sudden demands, and sudden fluctuations
in prices prevented:--that gradual and necessary fluctuation only
being allowed which is properly consequent on larger or more limited
supply of raw material and other natural causes. When there was a
visible tendency to produce a glut of any commodity, that tendency
should be checked by directing the youth at the government schools
into other trades; and the yearly surplus of commodities should be the
principal means of government provision for the poor. That provision
should be large, and not disgraceful to them. At present there are
very strange notions in the public mind respecting the receiving of
alms: most people are willing to take them in the form of a pension
from government, but unwilling to take them in the form of a pension
from their parishes. There may be some reason for this singular
prejudice, in the fact of the government pension being usually given
as a definite acknowledgment of some service done to the country;--but
the parish pension is, or ought to be, given precisely on the same
terms. A labourer serves his country with his spade, just as a man in
the middle ranks of life serves it with his sword, pen, or lancet: if
the service is less, and therefore the wages during health less, then
the reward, when health is broken, may be less, but not, therefore,
less honourable; and it ought to be quite as natural and
straightforward a matter for a labourer to take his pension from his
parish, because he has deserved well of his parish, as for a man in
higher rank to take his pension from his country, because he has
deserved well of his country. If there be any disgrace in coming to
the parish, because it may imply improvidence in early life, much more
is there disgrace in coming to the government: since improvidence is
far less justifiable in a highly educated than in an imperfectly
educated man; and far less justifiable in a high rank, where
extravagance must have been luxury, than in a low rank, where it may
only have been comfort. So that the real fact of the matter is, that
people will take alms delightedly, consisting of a carriage and
footmen, because those do not look like alms to the people in the
street; but they will not take alms consisting only of bread and water
and coals, because everybody would understand what those meant. Mind,
I do not want any one to refuse the carriage who ought to have it; but
neither do I want them to refuse the coals. I should indeed be sorry
if any change in our views on these subjects involved the least
lessening of self-dependence in the English mind: but the common
shrinking of men from the acceptance of public charity is not
self-dependence, but mere base and selfish pride. It is not that they
are unwilling to live at their neighbours' expense, but that they are
unwilling to confess they do: it is not dependence they wish to avoid,
but gratitude. They will take places in which they know there is
nothing to be done--they will borrow money they know they cannot
repay--they will carry on a losing business with other people's
capital--they will cheat the public in their shops, or sponge on their
friends at their houses; but to say plainly they are poor men, who
need the nation's help, and go into an almshouse--this they loftily
repudiate, and virtuously prefer being thieves to being paupers.

I trust that these deceptive efforts of dishonest men to appear
independent, and the agonizing efforts of unfortunate men to remain
independent, may both be in some degree checked by a better
administration and understanding of laws respecting the poor. But the
ordinances for relief and the ordinances for labour must go together;
otherwise distress caused by misfortune will always be confounded, as
it is now, with distress caused by idleness, unthrift, and fraud. It
is only when the state watches and guides the middle life of men, that
it can, without disgrace to them, protect their old age, acknowledging
in that protection that they have done their duty, or at least some
portion of their duty, in better days.

I know well how strange, fanciful, or impracticable these suggestions
will appear to most of the business men of this day; men who conceive
the proper state of the world to be simply that of a vast and
disorganized mob, scrambling each for what he can get, trampling down
its children and old men in the mire, and doing what work it finds
_must_ be done with any irregular squad of labourers it can bribe or
inveigle together, and afterwards scatter to starvation. A great deal
may, indeed, be done in this way by a nation strong-elbowed and
strong-hearted as we are--not easily frightened by pushing, nor
discouraged by falls. But it is still not the right way of doing
things for people who call themselves Christians. Every so named soul
of man claims from every other such soul, protection and education in
childhood--help or punishment in middle life--reward or relief, if
needed, in old age; all of these should be completely and unstintingly
given; and they can only be given by the organization of such a system
as I have described.

Note 3rd, p. 24.--"_Trial Schools._"

It may be seriously questioned by the reader how much of painting
talent we really lose on our present system,[20] and how much we
should gain by the proposed trial schools. For it might be thought,
that as matters stand at present, we have more painters than we ought
to have, having so many bad ones, and that all youths who had true
painters' genius forced their way out of obscurity.

   [20] It will be observed that, in the lecture, it is _assumed_
        that works of art are national treasures; and that it is
        desirable to withdraw all the hands capable of painting or
        carving from other employments, in order that they may
        produce this kind of wealth. I do not, in assuming this,
        mean that works of art add to the monetary resources of a
        nation, or form part of its wealth, in the vulgar sense. The
        result of the sale of a picture in the country itself is
        merely that a certain sum of money is transferred from the
        hands of B. the purchaser, to those of A. the producer; the
        sum ultimately to be distributed remaining the same, only A.
        ultimately spending it instead of B., while the labour of A.
        has been in the meantime withdrawn from productive channels;
        he has painted a picture which nobody can live upon, or live
        in, when he might have grown corn or built houses; when the
        sale therefore is effected in the country itself, it does
        not add to, but diminishes, the monetary resources of the
        country, except only so far as it may appear probable, on
        other grounds, that A. is likely to spend the sum he
        receives for his picture more rationally and usefully than
        B. would have spent it. If, indeed, the picture, or other
        work of art, be sold in foreign countries, either the money
        or the useful products of the foreign country being imported
        in exchange for it, such sale adds to the monetary resources
        of the selling, and diminishes those of the purchasing
        nation. But sound political economy, strange as it may at
        first appear to say so, has nothing whatever to do with
        separations between national interests. Political economy
        means the management of the affairs of _citizens_; and it
        either regards exclusively the administration of the affairs
        of one nation, or the administration of the affairs of the
        world considered as one nation. So when a transaction
        between individuals which enriches A., impoverishes B. in
        precisely the same degree, the sound economist considers it
        an unproductive transaction between the individuals; and if
        a trade between two nations which enriches one, impoverishes
        the other in the same degree, the sound eoonomist considers
        it an unproductive trade between the nations. It is not a
        general question of political economy, but only a particular
        question of local expediency, whether an article in itself
        valueless, may bear a value of exchange in transactions with
        some other nation. The economist considers only the actual
        value of the thing done or produced; and if he sees a
        quantity of labour spent, for instance, by the Swiss, in
        producing woodwork for sale to the English, he at once sets
        the commercial impoverishment of the English purchaser
        against the commercial enrichment of the Swiss seller; and
        considers the whole transaction productive only so far as
        the woodwork itself is a real addition to the wealth of the
        world. For the arrangement of the laws of a nation so as to
        procure the greatest advantages to itself, and leave the
        smallest advantages to other nations, is not a part of the
        science of political economy, but merely a broad application
        of the science of fraud. Considered thus in the abstract,
        pictures are not an _addition_ to the monetary wealth of the
        world, except in the amount of pleasure or instruction to be
        got out of them day by day: but there is a certain
        protective effect on wealth exercised by works of high art
        which must always be included in the estimate of their
        value. Generally speaking, persons who decorate their houses
        with pictures, will not spend so much money in papers,
        carpets, curtains, or other expensive and perishable
        luxuries as they would otherwise. Works of good art, like
        books, exercise a conservative effect on the rooms they are
        kept in; and the wall of the library or picture gallery
        remains undisturbed, when those of other rooms are
        re-papered or re-panelled. Of course, this effect is still
        more definite when the picture is on the walls themselves,
        either on canvass stretched into fixed shapes on their
        panels, or in fresco; involving, of course, the preservation
        of the building from all unnecessary and capricious
        alteration. And generally speaking, the occupation of a
        large number of hands in painting or sculpture in any nation
        may be considered as tending to check the disposition to
        indulge in perishable luxury. I do not, however, in my
        assumption that works of art are treasures, take much into
        consideration this collateral monetary result. I consider
        them treasures, merely as permanent means of pleasure and
        instruction; and having at other times tried to show the
        several ways in which they can please and teach, assume here
        that they are thus useful; and that it is desirable to make
        as many painters as we can.

This is not so. It is difficult to analyse the characters of mind
which cause youths to mistake their vocation, and to endeavour to
become artists, when they have no true artist's gift. But the fact is,
that multitudes of young men do this, and that by far the greater
number of living artists are men who have mistaken their vocation. The
peculiar circumstances of modern life, which exhibit art in almost
every form to the sight of the youths in our great cities, have a
natural tendency to fill their imaginations with borrowed ideas, and
their minds with imperfect science; the mere dislike of mechanical
employments, either felt to be irksome, or believed to be degrading,
urges numbers of young men to become painters, in the same temper in
which they would enlist or go to sea; others, the sons of engravers or
artists, taught the business of the art by their parents, and having
no gift for it themselves, follow it as the means of livelihood, in an
ignoble patience; or, if ambitious, seek to attract regard, or
distance rivalry, by fantastic, meretricious, or unprecedented
applications of their mechanical skill; while finally, many men
earnest in feeling, and conscientious in principle, mistake their
desire to be useful for a love of art, and their quickness of emotion
for its capacity, and pass their lives in painting moral and
instructive pictures, which might almost justify us in thinking nobody
could be a painter but a rogue. On the other hand, I believe that much
of the best artistical intellect is daily lost in other avocations.
Generally, the temper which would make an admirable artist is humble
and observant, capable of taking much interest in little things, and
of entertaining itself pleasantly in the dullest circumstances.
Suppose, added to these characters, a steady conscientiousness which
seeks to do its duty wherever it may be placed, and the power, denied
to few artistical minds, of ingenious invention in almost any
practical department of human skill, and it can hardly be doubted that
the very humility and conscientiousness which would have perfected the
painter, have in many instances prevented his becoming one; and that
in the quiet life of our steady craftsmen--sagacious manufacturers and
uncomplaining clerks--there may frequently be concealed more genius
than ever is raised to the direction of our public works, or to be the
mark of our public praises.

It is indeed probable, that intense disposition for art will conquer
the most formidable obstacles, if the surrounding circumstances are
such as at all to present the idea of such conquest, to the mind; but
we have no ground for concluding that Giotto would ever have been more
than a shepherd, if Cimabue had not by chance found him drawing; or
that among the shepherds of the Apennines there were no other Giottos,
undiscovered by Cimabue. We are too much in the habit of considering
happy accidents as what are called "special Providences;" and thinking
that when any great work needs to be done, the man who is to do it
will certainly be pointed out by Providence, be he shepherd or
sea-boy; and prepared for his work by all kinds of minor providences,
in the best possible way. Whereas all the analogies of God's
operations in other matters prove the contrary of this; we find that
"of thousand seeds, He often brings but one to bear," often not one;
and the one seed which He appoints to bear is allowed to bear crude or
perfect fruit according to the dealings of the husbandman with it. And
there cannot be a doubt in the mind of any person accustomed to take
broad and logical views of the world's history, that its events are
ruled by Providence in precisely the same manner as its harvests; that
the seeds of good and evil are broadcast among men, just as the seeds
of thistles and fruits are; and that according to the force of our
industry, and wisdom of our husbandry, the ground will bring forth to
us figs or thistles. So that when it seems needed that a certain work
should be done for the world, and no man is there to do it, we have no
right to say that God did not wish it to be done, and therefore sent
no man able to do it. The probability (if I wrote my own convictions,
I should say certainty) is, that He sent many men, hundreds of men,
able to do it; and that we have rejected them, or crushed them; by our
previous folly of conduct or of institution, we have rendered it
impossible to distinguish, or impossible to reach them; and when the
need for them comes, and we suffer for the want of them, it is not
that God refuses to send us deliverers, and specially appoints all our
consequent sufferings; but that He has sent, and we have refused, the
deliverers; and the pain is then wrought out by His eternal law, as
surely as famine is wrought out by eternal law for a nation which
will neither plough nor sow. No less are we in error in supposing, as
we so frequently do, that if a man be found, he is sure to be in all
respects fitted for the work to be done, as the key is to the lock;
and that every accident which happened in the forging him, only
adapted him more truly to the wards. It is pitiful to hear historians
beguiling themselves and their readers, by tracing in the early
history of great men, the minor circumstances which fitted them for
the work they did, without ever taking notice of the other
circumstances which as assuredly unfitted them for it; so concluding
that miraculous interposition prepared them in all points for
everything and that they did all that could have been desired or hoped
for from them: whereas the certainty of the matter is that, throughout
their lives, they were thwarted and corrupted by some things as
certainly as they were helped and disciplined by others; and that, in
the kindliest and most reverent view which can justly be taken of
them, they were but poor mistaken creatures, struggling with a world
more profoundly mistaken than they;--assuredly sinned against, or
sinning in thousands of ways, and bringing out at last a maimed
result--not what they might or ought to have done, but all that could
be done against the world's resistance, and in spite of their own
sorrowful falsehood to themselves.

And this being so, it is the practical duty of a wise nation,
first to withdraw, as far as may be, its youth from destructive
influences;--then to try its material as far as possible, and to lose
the use of none that is good. I do not mean by "withdrawing from
destructive influences" the keeping of youths out of trials; but the
keeping them out of the way of things purely and absolutely
mischievous. I do not mean that we should shade our green corn in all
heat, and shelter it in all frost, but only that we should dyke out
the inundation from it, and drive the fowls away from it. Let your
youth labour and suffer; but do not let it starve, nor steal, nor

It is not, of course, in my power here to enter into details of
schemes of education; and it will be long before the results of
experiments now in progress will give data for the solution of the
most difficult questions connected with the subject, of which the
principal one is the mode in which the chance of advancement in life
is to be extended to all, and yet made compatible with contentment in
the pursuit of lower avocations by those whose abilities do not
qualify them for the higher. But the general principle of trial
schools lies at the root of the matter--of schools, that is to say, in
which the knowledge offered and discipline enforced shall be all a
part of a great assay of the human soul, and in which the one shall be
increased, the other directed, as the tried heart and brain will best
bear, and no otherwise. One thing, however, I must say, that in this
trial I believe all emulation to be a false motive, and all giving of
prizes a false means. All that you can depend upon in a boy, as
significative of true power, likely to issue in good fruit, is his
will to work for the work's sake, not his desire to surpass his
schoolfellows; and the aim of the teaching you give him ought to be,
to prove to him and strengthen in him his own separate gift, not to
puff him into swollen rivalry with those who are everlastingly greater
than he: still less ought you to hang favours and ribands about the
neck of the creature who is the greatest, to make the rest envy him.
Try to make them love him and follow him, not struggle with him.

There must, of course, be examination to ascertain and attest both
progress and relative capacity; but our aim should be to make the
students rather look upon it as a means of ascertaining their own true
positions and powers in the world, than as an arena in which to carry
away a present victory. I have not, perhaps, in the course of the
lecture, insisted enough on the nature of relative capacity and
individual character, as the roots of all real _value_ in Art. We are
too much in the habit, in these days, of acting as if Art worth a
price in the market were a commodity which people could be generally
taught to produce, and as if the _education_ of the artist, not his
_capacity_, gave the sterling value to his work. No impression can
possibly be more absurd or false. Whatever people can teach each other
to do, they will estimate, and ought to estimate, only as common
industry; nothing will ever fetch a high price but precisely that
which cannot be taught, and which nobody can do but the man from whom
it is purchased. No state of society, nor stage of knowledge, ever
does away with the natural pre-eminence of one man over another; and
it is that pre-eminence, and that only, which will give work high
value in the market, or which ought to do so. It is a bad sign of the
judgment, and bad omen for the progress, of a nation, if it supposes
itself to possess many artists of equal merit. Noble art is nothing
less than the expression of a great soul; and great souls are not
common things. If ever we confound their work with that of others, it
is not through liberality, but through blindness.

Note 4th, p. 24.--"_Public favour._"

There is great difficulty in making any short or general statement of
the difference between great and ignoble minds in their behaviour to
the "public." It is by no means _universally_ the case that a mean
mind, as stated in the text, will bend itself to what you ask of it:
on the contrary, there is one kind of mind, the meanest of all, which
perpetually complains of the public, contemplates and proclaims itself
as a "genius," refuses all wholesome discipline or humble office, and
ends in miserable and revengeful ruin; also, the greatest minds are
marked by nothing more distinctly than an inconceivable humility, and
acceptance of work or instruction in any form, and from any quarter.
They will learn from everybody, and do anything that anybody asks of
them, so long as it involves only toil, or what other men would think
degradation. But the point of quarrel, nevertheless, assuredly rises
some day between the public and them, respecting some matter, not of
humiliation, but of Fact. Your great man always at last comes to see
something the public don't see. This something he will assuredly
persist in asserting, whether with tongue or pencil, to be as _he_
sees it, not as _they_ see it; and all the world in a heap on the
other side will not get him to say otherwise. Then, if the world
objects to the saying, he may happen to get stoned or burnt for it,
but that does not in the least matter to him; if the world has no
particular objection to the saying, he may get leave to mutter it to
himself till he dies, and be merely taken for an idiot; that also
does not matter to him--mutter it he will, according to what he
perceives to be fact, and not at all according to the roaring of the
walls of Red sea on the right hand or left of him. Hence the quarrel,
sure at some time or other to be started between the public and him;
while your mean man, though he will spit and scratch spiritedly at the
public, while it does not attend to him, will bow to it for its clap
in any direction, and say anything when he has got its ear, which he
thinks will bring him another clap; and thus, as stated in the text,
he and it go on smoothly together.

There are, however, times when the obstinacy of the mean man looks
very like the obstinacy of the great one; but if you look closely into
the matter, you will always see that the obstinacy of the first is in
the pronunciation of "I;" and of the second, in the pronunciation of

Note 5th, p. 38.--"_Invention of new wants._"

It would have been impossible for political economists long to have
endured the error spoken of in the text,[21] had they not been
confused by an idea, in part well founded, that the energies and
refinements, as well as the riches of civilized life arose from
imaginary wants. It is quite true, that the savage who knows no needs
but those of food, shelter, and sleep, and after he has snared his
venison and patched the rents of his hut, passes the rest of his time
in animal repose, is in a lower state than the man who labours
incessantly that he may procure for himself the luxuries of
civilization; and true also, that the difference between one and
another nation in progressive power depends in great part on vain
desires; but these idle motives are merely to be considered as giving
exercise to the national body and mind; they are not sources of
wealth, except so far as they give the habits of industry and
acquisitiveness. If a boy is clumsy and lazy, we shall do good if we
can persuade him to carve cherrystones and fly kites; and this use of
his fingers and limbs may eventually be the cause of his becoming a
wealthy and happy man; but we must not therefore argue that
cherrystones are valuable property, or that kite-flying is a
profitable mode of passing time. In like manner, a nation always
wastes its time and labour _directly_, when it invents a new want of a
frivolous kind, and yet the invention of such a want may be the sign
of a healthy activity, and the labour undergone to satisfy the new
want may lead, _indirectly_, to useful discoveries or to noble arts;
so that a nation is not to be discouraged in its fancies when it is
either too weak or foolish to be moved to exertion by anything but
fancies, or has attended to its serious business first. If a nation
will not forge iron, but likes distilling lavender, by all means give
it lavender to distil; only do not let its economists suppose that
lavender is as profitable to it as oats, or that it helps poor people
to live, any more than the schoolboy's kite provides him his dinner.
Luxuries, whether national or personal, must be paid for by labour
withdrawn from useful things; and no nation has a right to indulge in
them until all its poor are comfortably housed and fed.

   [21] I have given the political economists too much credit in
        saying this. Actually, while these sheets are passing
        through the press, the blunt, broad, unmitigated fallacy is
        enunciated, formally and precisely, by the Common Councilmen
        of New York, in their report on the present commercial
        crisis. Here is their collective opinion, published in the
        _Times_ of November 23rd, 1857:--"Another erroneous idea is
        that luxurious living, extravagant dressing, splendid
        turn-outs and fine houses, are the cause of distress to a
        nation. No more erroneous impression could exist. Every
        extravagance that the man of 100,000 or 1,000,000 dollars
        indulges in adds to the means, the support, the wealth of
        ten or a hundred who had little or nothing else but their
        labour, their intellect, or their taste. If a man of
        1,000,000 dollars spends principal and interest in ten
        years, and finds himself beggared at the end of that time,
        he has actually made a hundred who have catered to his
        extravagance, employers or employed, so much richer by the
        division of his wealth. He may be ruined, but the nation is
        better off and richer, for one hundred minds and hands, with
        10,000 dollars apiece, are far more productive than one with
        the whole."

        Yes, gentlemen of the Common Council! but what has been
        doing in the time of the transfer? The spending of the
        fortune has taken a certain number of years (suppose ten),
        and during that time 1,000,000 dollars' worth of work has
        been done by the people, who have been paid that sum for it.
        Where is the product of that work? By your own statement,
        wholly consumed; for the man for whom it has been done is
        now a beggar. You have given, therefore, as a nation,
        1,000,000 dollars' worth of work, and ten years of time, and
        you have produced, as ultimate result, one beggar! Excellent
        economy, gentlemen! and sure to conduce, in due sequence, to
        the production of _more_ than one beggar. Perhaps the matter
        may be made clearer to you, however, by a more familiar
        instance. If a schoolboy goes out in the morning with five
        shillings in his pocket, and comes home at night penniless,
        having spent his all in tarts; principal and interest are
        gone, and fruiterer and baker are enriched. So far so good.
        But suppose the schoolboy, instead, has bought a book and a
        knife; principal and interest are gone, and bookseller and
        cutler are enriched. But the schoolboy is enriched also, and
        may help his schoolfellows next day with knife and book,
        instead of lying in bed and incurring a debt to the doctor.

The enervating influence of luxury, and its tendencies to increase
vice, are points which I keep entirely out of consideration in the
present essay; but, so far as they bear on any question discussed,
they merely furnish additional evidence on the side which I have
taken. Thus, in the present case, I assume that the luxuries of
civilized life are in possession harmless, and in acquirement,
serviceable as a motive for exertion; and even on these favourable
terms, we arrive at the conclusion that the nation ought not to
indulge in them except under severe limitations. Much less ought it to
indulge in them if the temptation consequent on their possession, or
fatality incident to their manufacture, more than counterbalances the
good done by the effort to obtain them.

Note 6th, p. 48.--"_Economy of Literature._"

I have been much impressed lately by one of the results of the
quantity of our books; namely, the stern impossibility of getting
anything understood, that required patience to understand. I observe
always, in the case of my own writings, that if ever I state anything
which has cost me any trouble to ascertain, and which, therefore, will
probably require a minute or two of reflection from the reader before
it can be accepted,--that statement will not only be misunderstood,
but in all probability taken to mean something very nearly the reverse
of what it does mean. Now, whatever faults there may be in my modes of
expression, I know that the words I use will always be found, by
Johnson's dictionary, to bear, first of all, the sense I use them in;
and that the sentences, whether awkwardly turned or not, will, by the
ordinary rules of grammar, bear no other interpretation than that I
mean them to bear; so that the misunderstanding of them must result,
ultimately, from the mere fact that their matter sometimes requires a
little patience. And I see the same kind of misinterpretation put on
the words of other writers, whenever they require the same kind of

I was at first a little despondent about this; but, on the whole, I
believe it will have a good effect upon our literature for some time
to come; and then, perhaps, the public may recover its patience again.
For certainly it is excellent discipline for an author to feel that he
must say all he has to say in the fewest possible words, or his reader
is sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words, or his
reader will certainly misunderstand them. Generally, also, a downright
fact may be told in a plain way; and we want downright facts at
present more than any thing else. And though I often hear moral people
complaining of the bad effects of want of thought, for my part, it
seems to me that one of the worst diseases to which the human creature
is liable is its disease of thinking. If it would only just _look_[22]
at a thing instead of thinking what it must be like, or _do_ a thing,
instead of thinking it cannot be done, we should all get on far

  [22] There can be no question, however, of the mischievous
       tendency of the hurry of the present day, in the way people
       undertake this very _looking_. I gave three years' close and
       incessant labour to the examination of the chronology of the
       architecture of Venice; two long winters being wholly spent
       in the drawing of details on the spot: and yet I see
       constantly that architects who pass three or four days in a
       gondola going up and down the Grand Canal, think that their
       first impressions are just as likely to be true as my
       patiently wrought conclusions. Mr. Street, for instance,
       glances hastily at the façade of the Ducal Palace--so hastily
       that he does not even see what its pattern is, and misses the
       alternation of red and black in the centres of its
       squares--and yet he instantly ventures on an opinion on the
       chronology of its capitals, which is one of the most
       complicated and difficult subjects in the whole range of
       Gothic archæology. It may, nevertheless, be ascertained with
       very fair probability of correctness by any person who will
       give a month's hard work to it, but it can be ascertained no

Note 7th, p. 84.--"_Pilots of the State._"

While, however, undoubtedly, these responsibilities attach to every
person possessed of wealth, it is necessary both to avoid any
stringency of statement respecting the benevolent modes of spending
money, and to admit and approve so much liberty of spending it for
selfish pleasures as may distinctly make wealth a personal _reward_
for toil, and secure in the minds of all men the right of property.
For although, without doubt, the purest pleasures it can procure are
not selfish, it is only as a means of personal gratification that it
will be desired by a large majority of workers; and it would be no
less false ethics than false policy to check their energy by any forms
of public opinion which bore hardly against the wanton expenditure of
honestly got wealth. It would be hard if a man who had passed the
greater part of his life at the desk or counter could not at last
innocently gratify a caprice; and all the best and most sacred ends of
almsgiving would be at once disappointed, if the idea of a moral claim
took the place of affectionate gratitude in the mind of the receiver.

Some distinction is made by us naturally in this respect between
earned and inherited wealth; that which is inherited appearing to
involve the most definite responsibilities, especially when consisting
in revenues derived from the soil. The form of taxation which
constitutes rental of lands places annually a certain portion of the
national wealth in the hands of the nobles, or other proprietors of
the soil, under conditions peculiarly calculated to induce them to
give their best care to its efficient administration. The want of
instruction in even the simplest principles of commerce and economy,
which hitherto has disgraced our schools and universities, has indeed
been the cause of ruin or total inutility of life to multitudes of our
men of estate; but this deficiency in our public education cannot
exist much longer, and it appears to be highly advantageous for the
State that a certain number of persons distinguished by race should be
permitted to set examples of wise expenditure, whether in the
advancement of science, or in patronage of art and literature; only
they must see to it that they take their right standing more firmly
than they have done hitherto, for the position of a rich man in
relation to those around him is, in our present real life, and is also
contemplated generally by political economists as being, precisely the
reverse of what it ought to be. A rich man ought to be continually
examining how he may spend his money for the advantage of others: at
present, others are continually plotting how they may beguile him into
spending it apparently for his own. The aspect which he presents to
the eyes of the world is generally that of a person holding a bag of
money with a staunch grasp, and resolved to part with none of it
unless he is forced, and all the people about him are plotting how
they may force him; that is to say, how they may persuade him that he
wants this thing or that; or how they may produce things that he will
covet and buy. One man tries to persuade him that he wants perfumes;
another that he wants jewellery; another that he wants sugarplums;
another that he wants roses at Christmas. Anybody who can invent a new
want for him is supposed to be a benefactor to society: and thus the
energies of the poorer people about him are continually directed to
the production of covetable, instead of serviceable things; and the
rich man has the general aspect of a fool, plotted against by all the
world. Whereas the real aspect which he ought to have is that of a
person wiser than others, entrusted with the management of a larger
quantity of capital, which he administers for the profit of all,
directing each man to the labour which is most healthy for him, and
most serviceable for the community.

Note 8th, p. 84.--"_Silk and Purple._"

In various places throughout these lectures I have had to allude to
the distinction between productive and unproductive labour, and
between true and false wealth. I shall here endeavour, as clearly as I
can, to explain the distinction I mean.

Property may be divided generally into two kinds; that which produces
life, and that which produces the objects of life. That which produces
or maintains life consists of food, in so far as it is nourishing; of
furniture and clothing, in so far as they are protective or
cherishing; of fuel; and of all land, instruments, or materials,
necessary to produce food, houses, clothes and fuel. It is specially
and rightly called useful property.

The property which produces the objects of life consists of all that
gives pleasure or suggests and preserves thought: of food, furniture,
and land, in so far as they are pleasing to the appetite or the eye,
of luxurious dress; and all other kinds of luxuries; of books,
pictures, and architecture. But the modes of connection of certain
minor forms of property with human labour render it desirable to
arrange them under more than these two heads. Property may therefore
be conveniently considered as of five kinds.

1st. Property necessary to life, but not producible by labour, and
therefore belonging of right, in a due measure, to every human being
as soon as he is born, and morally unalienable. As, for instance, his
proper share of the atmosphere, without which he cannot breathe, and
of water, which he needs to quench his thirst. As much land as he
needs to feed from is also inalienable; but in well regulated
communities this quantity of land may often be represented by other
possessions, or its need supplied by wages and privileges.

2. Property necessary to life, but only producible by labour, and of
which the possession is morally connected with labour, so that no
person capable of doing the work necessary for its production has a
right to it until he has done that work:--"he that will not work,
neither should he eat." It consists of simple food, clothing, and
habitation, with their seeds and materials, or instruments and
machinery, and animals used for necessary draught or locomotion, etc.
It is to be observed of this kind of property, that its increase
cannot usually be carried beyond a certain point, because it depends
not on labour only, but on things of which the supply is limited by
nature. The possible accumulation of corn depends on the quantity of
corn-growing land possessed or commercially accessible; and that of
steel, similarly, on the accessible quantity of coal and ironstone. It
follows from this natural limitation of supply that the accumulation
of property of this kind in large masses at one point, or in one
person's hands, commonly involves, more or less, the scarcity of it at
another point and in other persons' hands; so that the accidents or
energies which may enable one man to procure a great deal of it, may,
and in all likelihood will partially prevent other men procuring a
sufficiency of it, however willing they may be to work for it;
therefore, the modes of its accumulation and distribution need to be
in some degree regulated by law and by national treaties, in order to
secure justice to all men.

Another point requiring notice respecting this sort of property is,
that no work can be wasted in producing it, provided only the kind of
it produced be preservable and distributable, since for every grain of
such commodities we produce we are rendering so much more life
possible on earth.[23] But though we are sure, thus, that we are
employing people well, we cannot be sure we might not have employed
them _better_; for it is possible to direct labour to the production
of life, until little or none is left for that of the objects of life,
and thus to increase population at the expense of civilization,
learning, and morality: on the other hand, it is just as possible--and
the error is one to which the world is, on the whole, more liable--to
direct labour to the objects of life till too little is left for life,
and thus to increase luxury or learning at the expense of population.
Right political economy holds its aim poised justly between the two
extremes, desiring neither to crowd its dominions with a race of
savages, nor to found courts and colleges in the midst of a desert.

   [23] This point has sometimes been disputed; for instance,
        opening Mill's "Political Economy" the other day, I chanced
        on a passage in which he says that a man who makes a coat,
        if the person who wears the coat does nothing useful while
        he wears it, has done no more good to society than the man
        who has only raised a pineapple. But this is a fallacy
        induced by endeavour after too much subtlety. None of us
        have a right to say that the life of a man is of no use to
        _him_, though it may be of no use to _us_; and the man who
        made the coat, and thereby prolonged another man's life, has
        done a gracious and useful work, whatever may come of the
        life so prolonged. We may say to the wearer of the coat,
        "You who are wearing coats, and doing nothing in them, are
        at present wasting your own life and other people's;" but we
        have no right to say that his existence, however wasted, is
        wasted _away_. It may be just dragging itself on, in its
        thin golden line, with nothing dependent upon it, to the
        point where it is to strengthen into good chain cable, and
        have thousands of other lives dependent on it. Meantime, the
        simple fact respecting the coat-maker is, that he has given
        so much life to the creature, the results of which he cannot
        calculate; they may be--in all probability will be--infinite
        results in some way. But the raiser of pines, who has only
        given a pleasant taste in the mouth to some one, may see
        with tolerable clearness to the end of the taste in the
        mouth, and of all conceivable results therefrom.

3. The third kind of property is that which conduces to bodily
pleasures and conveniences, without directly tending to sustain life;
perhaps sometimes indirectly tending to destroy it. All dainty (as
distinguished from nourishing) food, and means of producing it; all
scents not needed for health; substances valued only for their
appearance and rarity (as gold and jewels); flowers of difficult
culture; animals used for delight (as horses for racing), and such
like, form property of this class; to which the term "luxury, or
luxuries," ought exclusively to belong.

Respecting which we have to note first, that all such property is of
doubtful advantage even to its possessor. Furniture tempting to
indolence, sweet odours, and luscious food, are more or less injurious
to health: while jewels, liveries, and other such common belongings of
wealthy people, certainly convey no pleasure to their owners
proportionate to their cost.

Farther, such property, for the most part, perishes in the using.
Jewels form a great exception--but rich food, fine dresses, horses and
carriages, are consumed by the owner's use. It ought much oftener to
be brought to the notice of rich men what sums of interest of money
they are paying towards the close of their lives, for luxuries
consumed in the middle of them. It would be very interesting, for
instance, to know the exact sum which the money spent in London for
ices, at its desserts and balls, during the last twenty years, had it
been saved and put out at compound interest, would at this moment have
furnished for useful purposes.

Also, in most cases, the enjoyment of such property is wholly selfish,
and limited to its possessor. Splendid dress and equipage, however,
when so arranged as to produce real beauty of effect, may often be
rather a generous than a selfish channel of expenditure. They will,
however, necessarily in such case involve some of the arts of design;
and therefore take their place in a higher category than that of
luxuries merely.

4. The fourth kind of property is that which bestows intellectual or
emotional pleasure, consisting of land set apart for purposes of
delight more than for agriculture, of books, works of art, and objects
of natural history.

It is, of course, impossible to fix an accurate limit between property
of the last class and of this class, since things which are a mere
luxury to one person are a means of intellectual occupation to
another. Flowers in a London ball-room are a luxury; in a botanical
garden, a delight of the intellect; and in their native fields, both;
while the most noble works of art are continually made material of
vulgar luxury or of criminal pride; but, when rightly used, property
of this fourth class is the only kind which deserves the name of
_real_ property; it is the only kind which a man can truly be said to
"possess." What a man eats, or drinks, or wears, so long as it is only
what is needful for life, can no more be thought of as his possession
than the air he breathes. The air is as needful to him as the food;
but we do not talk of a man's wealth of air; and what food or clothing
a man possesses more than he himself requires, must be for others to
use (and, to him, therefore, not a real property in itself, but only a
means of obtaining some real property in exchange for it). Whereas the
things that give intellectual or emotional enjoyment may be
accumulated and do not perish in using; but continually supply new
pleasures and new powers of giving pleasures to others. And these,
therefore, are the only things which can rightly be thought of as
giving "wealth" or "well being." Food conduces only to "being," but
these to "_well_ being." And there is not any broader general
distinction between lower and higher orders of men than rests on their
possession of this real property. The human race may be properly
divided by zoologists into "men who have gardens, libraries, or works
of art; and who have none;" and the former class will include all
noble persons, except only a few who make the world their garden or
museum; while the people who have not, or, which is the same thing, do
not care for gardens or libraries, but care for nothing but money or
luxuries, will include none but ignoble persons: only it is necessary
to understand that I mean by the term "garden" as much the
Carthusian's plot of ground fifteen feet square between his monastery
buttresses, as I do the grounds of Chatsworth or Kew; and I mean by
the term "art" as much the old sailor's print of the Arethusa bearing
up to engage the Belle Poule, as I do Raphael's "Disputa," and even
rather more; for when abundant, beautiful possessions of this kind are
almost always associated with vulgar luxury, and become then anything
but indicative of noble character in their possessors. The ideal of
human life is a union of Spartan simplicity of manners with Athenian
sensibility and imagination, but in actual results, we are continually
mistaking ignorance for simplicity, and sensuality for refinement.

5. The fifth kind of property is representative property, consisting
of documents or money, or rather documents only, for money itself is
only a transferable document, current among societies of men, giving
claim, at sight, to some definite benefit or advantage, most commonly
to a certain share of real property existing in those societies. The
money is only genuine when the property it gives claim to is real, or
the advantages it gives claim to certain; otherwise, it is false
money, and may be considered as much "forged" when issued by a
government, or a bank, as when by an individual. Thus, if a dozen of
men, cast ashore on a desert island, pick up a number of stones, put a
red spot on each stone, and pass a law that every stone marked with a
red spot shall give claim to a peck of wheat;--so long as no wheat
exists, or can exist, on the island, the stones are not money. But the
moment as much wheat exists as shall render it possible for the
society always to give a peck for every spotted stone, the spotted
stones would become money, and might be exchanged by their possessors
for whatever other commodities they chose, to the value of the peck of
wheat which the stones represented. If more stones were issued than
the quantity of wheat could answer the demand of, the value of the
stone coinage would be depreciated, in proportion to its increase
above the quantity needed to answer it.

Again, supposing a certain number of the men so cast ashore were set
aside by lot, or any other convention, to do the rougher labour
necessary for the whole society, they themselves being maintained by
the daily allotment of a certain quantity of food, clothing, etc.
Then, if it were agreed that the stones spotted with red should be
signs of a Government order for the labour of these men; and that any
person presenting a spotted stone at the office of the labourers,
should be entitled to a man's work for a week or a day, the red stones
would be money; and might--probably would--immediately pass current in
the island for as much food, or clothing, or iron, or any other
article as a man's work for the period secured by the stone was worth.
But if the Government issued so many spotted stones that it was
impossible for the body of men they employed to comply with the
orders; as, suppose, if they only employed twelve men, and issued
eighteen spotted stones daily, ordering a day's work each, then the
six extra stones would be forged or false money; and the effect of
this forgery would be the depreciation of the value of the whole
coinage by one-third, that being the period of shortcoming which
would, on the average, necessarily ensue in the execution of each
order. Much occasional work may be done in a state or society, by help
of an issue of false money (or false promises) by way of stimulants;
and the fruit of this work, if it comes into the promiser's hands, may
sometimes enable the false promises at last to be fulfilled: hence the
frequent issue of false money by governments and banks, and the not
unfrequent escapes from the natural and proper consequences of such
false issues, so as to cause a confused conception in most people's
minds of what money really is. I am not sure whether some quantity of
such false issue may not really be permissible in a nation, accurately
proportioned to the minimum average produce of the labour it excites;
but all such procedures are more or less unsound; and the notion of
unlimited issue of currency is simply one of the absurdest and most
monstrous that ever came into disjointed human wits.

The use of objects of real or supposed value for currency, as gold,
jewellery, etc., is barbarous; and it always expresses either the
measure of the distrust in the society of its own government, or the
proportion of distrustful or barbarous nations with whom it has to
deal. A metal not easily corroded or imitated, is a desirable medium
of currency for the sake of cleanliness and convenience, but were it
possible to prevent forgery, the more worthless the metal itself, the
better. The use of worthless media, unrestrained by the use of
valuable media, has always hitherto involved, and is therefore
supposed to involve necessarily, unlimited, or at least improperly
extended, issue; but we might as well suppose that a man must
necessarily issue unlimited promises because his words cost nothing.
Intercourse with foreign nations must, indeed, for ages yet to come,
at the world's present rate of progress, be carried on by valuable
currencies; but such transactions are nothing more than forms of
barter. The gold used at present as a currency is not, in point of
fact, currency at all, but the real property[24] which the currency
gives claim to, stamped to measure its quantity, and mingling with the
real currency occasionally by barter.

   [24] Or rather, equivalent, to such real property, because
        everybody has been accustomed to look upon it as valuable:
        and therefore everybody is willing to give labour or goods
        for it. But real property does ultimately consist only in
        things that nourish body or mind; gold would be useless to
        us if we could not get mutton or books for it. Ultimately
        all commercial mistakes and embarrassments result from
        people expecting to get goods without working for them, or
        wasting them after they have got them. A nation which
        labours, and takes care of the fruits of labour, would be
        rich and happy; though there were no gold in the universe. A
        nation which is idle, and wastes the produce of what work it
        does, would be poor and miserable, though all its mountains
        were of gold, and had glens filled with diamonds instead of

The evils necessarily resulting from the use of baseless currencies
have been terribly illustrated while these sheets have been passing
through the press; I have not had time to examine the various
conditions of dishonest or absurd trading which have led to the late
"panic" in America and England; this only I know, that no merchant
deserving the name ought to be more liable to "panic" than a soldier
should; for his name should never be on more paper than he can at any
instant meet the call of, happen what will. I do not say this without
feeling at the same time how difficult it is to mark, in existing
commerce, the just limits between the spirit of enterprise and of
speculation. Something of the same temper which makes the English
soldier do always all that is possible, and attempt more than is
possible, joins its influence with that of mere avarice in tempting
the English merchant into risks which he cannot justify, and efforts
which he cannot sustain; and the same passion for adventure which our
travellers gratify every summer on perilous snow wreaths, and
cloud-encompassed precipices, surrounds with a romantic fascination
the glittering of a hollow investment, and gilds the clouds that curl
round gulfs of ruin. Nay, a higher and a more serious feeling
frequently mingles in the motley temptation; and men apply themselves
to the task of growing rich, as to a labour of providential
appointment, from which they cannot pause without culpability, nor
retire without dishonour. Our large trading cities bear to me very
nearly the aspect of monastic establishments in which the roar of the
mill-wheel and the crane takes the place of other devotional music;
and in which the worship of Mammon or Moloch is conducted with a
tender reverence and an exact propriety; the merchant rising to his
Mammon matins with the self-denial of an anchorite, and expiating the
frivolities into which he may be beguiled, in the course of the day by
late attendance at Mammon vespers. But, with every allowance that can
be made for these conscientious and romantic persons, the fact remains
the same, that by far the greater number of the transactions which
lead to these times of commercial embarrassment may be ranged simply
under two great heads,--gambling and stealing; and both of these in
their most culpable form, namely, gambling with money which is not
ours, and stealing from those who trust us. I have sometimes thought a
day might come, when the nation would perceive that a well-educated
man who steals a hundred thousand pounds, involving the entire means
of subsistence of a hundred families, deserves, on the whole, as
severe a punishment as an ill-educated man who steals a purse from a
pocket, or a mug from a pantry. But without hoping for this excess of
clearsightedness, we may at least labour for a system of greater
honesty and kindness in the minor commerce of our daily life; since
the great dishonesty of the great buyers and sellers is nothing more
than the natural growth and outcome from the little dishonesty of the
little buyers and sellers. Every person who tries to buy an article
for less than its proper value, or who tries to sell it at more than
its proper value--every consumer who keeps a tradesman waiting for his
money, and every tradesman who bribes a consumer to extravagance by
credit, is helping forward, according to his own measure of power, a
system of baseless and dishonourable commerce, and forcing his country
down into poverty and shame. And people of moderate means and average
powers of mind would do far more real good by merely carrying out
stern principles of justice and honesty in common matters of trade,
than by the most ingenious schemes of extended philanthropy, or
vociferous declarations of theological doctrine. There are three
weighty matters of the law--justice, mercy, and truth; and of these
the Teacher puts truth last, because that cannot be known but by a
course of acts of justice and love. But men put, in all their efforts,
truth first, because they mean by it their own opinions; and thus,
while the world has many people who would suffer martyrdom in the
cause of what they call truth, it has few who will suffer even a
little inconvenience, in that of justice and mercy.






The four following essays were published eighteen months ago in the
_Cornhill Magazine_, and were reprobated in a violent manner, as far
as I could hear, by most of the readers they met with.

Not a whit the less, I believe them to be the best, that is to say,
the truest, rightest-worded, and most serviceable things I have ever
written; and the last of them, having had especial pains spent on it,
is probably the best I shall ever write.

"This," the reader may reply, "it might be, yet not therefore well
written." Which, in no mock humility, admitting, I yet rest satisfied
with the work, though with nothing else that I have done; and
purposing shortly to follow out the subjects opened in these papers,
as I may find leisure, I wish the introductory statements to be within
the reach of any one who may care to refer to them. So I republish the
essays as they appeared. One word only is changed, correcting the
estimate of a weight; and no word is added.

Although, however, I find nothing to modify in these papers, it is a
matter of regret to me that the most startling of all the statements
in them--that respecting the necessity of the organization of labour,
with fixed wages,--should have found its way into the first essay; it
being quite one of the least important, though by no means the least
certain, of the positions to be defended. The real gist of these
papers, their central meaning and aim, is to give, as I believe for
the first time in plain English--it has often been incidentally given
in good Greek by Plato and Xenophon, and good Latin by Cicero and
Horace,--a logical definition of WEALTH: such definition being
absolutely needed for a basis of economical science. The most reputed
essay on that subject which has appeared in modern times, after
opening with the statement that "writers on political economy
profess to teach, or to investigate,[25] the nature of wealth," thus
follows up the declaration of its thesis--"Every one has a notion,
sufficiently correct for common purposes, of what is meant by
wealth." ... "It is no part of the design of this treatise to aim
at metaphysical nicety of definition."[26]

   [25] Which? for where investigation is necessary, teaching is

   [26] "Principles of Political Economy." By J. S. Mill.
        Preliminary remarks, p. 2.

Metaphysical nicety, we assuredly do not need; but physical nicety,
and logical accuracy, with respect to a physical subject, we as
assuredly do.

Suppose the subject of inquiry, instead of being House-law
(_Oikonomia_), had been Star-law (_Astronomia_), and that, ignoring
distinction between stars fixed and wandering, as here between wealth
radiant and wealth reflective, the writer had begun thus: "Every one
has a notion, sufficiently correct for common purposes, of what is
meant by stars. Metaphysical nicety in the definition of a star is not
the object of this treatise;"--the essay so opened might yet have been
far more true in its final statements, and a thousand-fold more
serviceable to the navigator, than any treatise on wealth, which
founds its conclusions on the popular conception of wealth, can ever
become to the economist.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was, therefore, the first object of these following papers to give
an accurate and stable definition of wealth. Their second object was
to show that the acquisition of wealth was finally possible only under
certain moral conditions of society, of which quite the first was a
belief in the existence and even, for practical purposes, in the
attainability of honesty.

Without venturing to pronounce--since on such a matter human judgment
is by no means conclusive--what is, or is not, the noblest of God's
works, we may yet admit so much of Pope's assertion as that an honest
man is among His best works presently visible, and, as things stand, a
somewhat rare one; but not an incredible or miraculous work; still
less an abnormal one. Honesty is not a disturbing force, which
deranges the orbits of economy; but a consistent and commanding force,
by obedience to which--and by no other obedience--those orbits can
continue clear of chaos.

It is true, I have sometimes heard Pope condemned for the lowness,
instead of the height, of his standard:--"Honesty is indeed a
respectable virtue; but how much higher may men attain! Shall nothing
more be asked of us than that we be honest?"

For the present, good friends, nothing. It seems that in our
aspirations to be more than that, we have to some extent lost sight of
the propriety of being so much as that. What else we may have lost
faith in, there shall be here no question; but assuredly we have lost
faith in common honesty, and in the working power of it. And this
faith, with the facts on which it may rest, it is quite our first
business to recover and keep: not only believing, but even by
experience assuring ourselves, that there are yet in the world men who
can be restrained from fraud otherwise than by the fear of losing
employment;[27] nay that it is even accurately in proportion to the
number of such men in any State, that the said State does or can
prolong its existence.

   [27] "The effectual discipline which is exercised over a workman
        is not that of his corporation, but of his customers. It is
        the fear of losing their employment which restrains his
        frauds, and corrects his negligence" (_Wealth of Nations_,
        Book I. chap. 10).

To these two points, then, the following essays are mainly directed.
The subject of the organization of labour is only casually touched
upon; because, if we once can get a sufficient quantity of honesty in
our captains, the organization of labour is easy, and will develop
itself without quarrel or difficulty; but if we cannot get honesty in
our captains, the organization of labour is for evermore impossible.

The several conditions of its possibility I purpose to examine at
length in the sequel. Yet, lest the reader should be alarmed by the
hints thrown out during the following investigation of first
principles, as if they were leading him into unexpectedly dangerous
ground, I will, for his better assurance, state at once the worst of
the political creed at which I wish him to arrive.

1. First,--that there should be training schools for youth
established, at Government cost,[28] and under Government discipline,
over the whole country; that every child born in the country should,
at the parent's wish, be permitted (and, in certain cases, be under
penalty required) to pass through them; and that, in these schools,
the child should (with other minor pieces of knowledge hereafter to be
considered) imperatively be taught, with the best skill of teaching
that the country could produce, the following three things:--

  (_a_) the laws of health, and the exercises enjoined by them;
  (_b_) habits of gentleness and justice; and
  (_c_) the calling by which he is to live.

   [28] It will probably be inquired by near-sighted persons, out of
        what funds such schools could be supported. The expedient
        modes of direct provision for them I will examine hereafter;
        indirectly, they would be far more than self-supporting. The
        economy in crime alone (quite one of the most costly
        articles of luxury in the modern European market), which
        such schools would induce, would suffice to support them ten
        times over. Their economy of labour would be pure gain, and
        that too large to be presently calculable.

2. Secondly,--that, in connection with these training schools, there
should be established, also entirely under Government regulation,
manufactories and workshops, for the production and sale of every
necessary of life, and for the exercise of every useful art. And that,
interfering no whit with private enterprise, nor setting any
restraints or tax on private trade, but leaving both to do their best,
and beat the Government if they could,--there should, at these
Government manufactories and shops, be authoritatively good and
exemplary work done, and pure and true substance sold; so that a man
could be sure, if he chose to pay the Government price, that he got
for his money bread that was bread, ale that was ale, and work that
was work.

3. Thirdly,--that any man, or woman, or boy, or girl, out of
employment, should be at once received at the nearest Government
school, and set to such work as it appeared, on trial, they were fit
for, at a fixed rate of wages determinable every year:--that, being
found incapable of work through ignorance, they should be taught, or
being found incapable of work through sickness, should be tended; but
that being found objecting to work, they should be set, under
compulsion of the strictest nature, to the more painful and degrading
forms of necessary toil, especially to that in mines and other places
of danger (such danger being, however, diminished to the utmost by
careful regulation and discipline) and the due wages of such work be
retained--cost of compulsion first abstracted--to be at the workman's
command, so soon as he has come to sounder mind respecting the laws of

4. Lastly,--that for the old and destitute, comfort and home should be
provided; which provision, when misfortune had been by the working of
such a system sifted from guilt, would be honourable instead of
disgraceful to the receiver. For (I repeat this passage out of my
_Political Economy of Art_, to which the reader is referred for
farther detail[29]) "a labourer serves his country with his spade,
just as a man in the middle ranks of life serves it with sword, pen,
or lancet: if the service is less, and, therefore the wages during
health less, then the reward, when health is broken, may be less, but
not, therefore, less honourable; and it ought to be quite as natural
and straightforward a matter for a labourer to take his pension from
his parish, because he has deserved well of his parish, as for a man
in higher rank to take his pension from his country, because he has
deserved well of his country."

   [29] "The Political Economy of Art:" Addenda, p. 93.

To which statement, I will only add, for conclusion, respecting the
discipline and pay of life and death, that, for both high and low,
Livy's last words touching Valerius Publicola, "_de publico est
elatus_,"[30] ought not to be a dishonourable close of epitaph.

   [30] "P. Valerius, omnium consensu princeps belli pacisque
        artibus, anno post moritur; gloriâ ingenti, copiis
        familiaribus adeo exiguis, ut funeri sumtus deesset: de
        publico est elatus. Luxêre matronæ ut Brutum."--Lib. II.
        c. xvi.

These things, then, I believe, and am about, as I find power, to
explain and illustrate in their various bearings; following out also
what belongs to them of collateral inquiry. Here I state them only in
brief, to prevent the reader casting about in alarm for my ultimate
meaning; yet requesting him, for the present to remember, that in a
science dealing with so subtle elements as those of human nature, it
is only possible to answer for the final truth of principles, not for
the direct success of plans: and that in the best of these last, what
can be immediately accomplished is always questionable, and what can
be finally accomplished, inconceivable.

  _Denmark Hill, 10th May, 1862._



Among the delusions which at different periods have possessed
themselves of the minds of large masses of the human race, perhaps
the most curious--certainly the least creditable--is the modern
_soi-disant_ science of political economy, based on the idea that an
advantageous code of social action may be determined irrespectively of
the influence of social affection.

Of course, as in the instances of alchemy, astrology, witchcraft, and
other such popular creeds, political economy has a plausible idea at
the root of it. "The social affections," says the economist, "are
accidental and disturbing elements in human nature; but avarice and
the desire of progress are constant elements. Let us eliminate the
inconstants, and, considering the human being merely as a covetous
machine, examine by what laws of labour, purchase, and sale, the
greatest accumulative result in wealth is obtainable. Those laws once
determined, it will be for each individual afterwards to introduce as
much of the disturbing affectionate element as he chooses, and to
determine for himself the result on the new conditions supposed."

This would be a perfectly logical and successful method of analysis,
if the accidentals afterwards to be introduced were of the same nature
as the powers first examined. Supposing a body in motion to be
influenced by constant and inconstant forces, it is usually the
simplest way of examining its course to trace it first under the
persistent conditions, and afterwards introduce the causes of
variation. But the disturbing elements in the social problem are not
of the same nature as the constant ones; they alter the essence of
the creature under examination the moment they are added; they
operate, not mathematically, but chemically, introducing conditions
which render all our previous knowledge unavailable. We made learned
experiments upon pure nitrogen, and have convinced ourselves that it
is a very manageable gas: but behold! the thing which we have
practically to deal with is its chloride; and this, the moment we
touch it on our established principles, sends us and our apparatus
through the ceiling.

Observe, I neither impugn nor doubt the conclusions of the science, if
its terms are accepted. I am simply uninterested in them, as I should
be in those of a science of gymnastics which assumed that men had no
skeletons. It might be shown, on that supposition, that it would be
advantageous to roll the students up into pellets, flatten them into
cakes, or stretch them into cables; and that when these results were
effected, the re-insertion of the skeleton would be attended with
various inconveniences to their constitution. The reasoning might be
admirable, the conclusions true, and the science deficient only in
applicability. Modern political economy stands on a precisely similar
basis. Assuming, not that the human being has no skeleton, but that it
is all skeleton, it founds an ossifiant theory of progress on this
negation of a soul; and having shown the utmost that may be made of
bones, and constructed a number of interesting geometrical figures
with death's-heads and humeri, successfully proves the inconvenience
of the reappearance of a soul among these corpuscular structures. I do
not deny the truth of this theory: I simply deny its applicability to
the present phase of the world.

This inapplicability has been curiously manifested during the
embarrassment caused by the late strikes of our workmen. Here occurs
one of the simplest cases, in a pertinent and positive form, of the
first vital problem which political economy has to deal with (the
relation between employer and employed); and at a severe crisis, when
lives in multitudes, and wealth in masses, are at stake, the political
economists are helpless--practically mute; no demonstrable solution of
the difficulty can be given by them, such as may convince or calm the
opposing parties. Obstinately the masters take one view of the
matter; obstinately the operatives another; and no political science
can set them at one.

It would be strange if it could, it being not by "science" of any kind
that men were ever intended to be set at one. Disputant after
disputant vainly strives to show that the interests of the masters
are, or are not, antagonistic to those of the men: none of the
pleaders ever seeming to remember that it does not absolutely or
always follow that the persons must be antagonistic because their
interests are. If there is only a crust of bread in the house, and
mother and children are starving, their interests are not the same. If
the mother eats it, the children want it; if the children eat it, the
mother must go hungry to her work. Yet it does not necessarily follow
that there will be "antagonism" between them, that they will fight for
the crust, and that the mother, being strongest, will get it, and eat
it. Neither, in any other case, whatever the relations of the persons
may be, can it be assumed for certain that, because their interests
are diverse, they must necessarily regard each other with hostility,
and use violence or cunning to obtain the advantage.

Even if this were so, and it were as just as it is convenient to
consider men as actuated by no other moral influences than those which
affect rats or swine, the logical conditions of the question are still
indeterminable. It can never be shown generally either that the
interests of master and labourer are alike, or that they are opposed;
for, according to circumstances, they may be either. It is, indeed,
always the interest of both that the work should be rightly done, and
a just price obtained for it; but, in the division of profits, the
gain of the one may or may not be the loss of the other. It is not the
master's interest to pay wages so low as to leave the men sickly and
depressed, nor the workman's interest to be paid high wages if the
smallness of the master's profit hinders him from enlarging his
business, or conducting it in a safe and liberal way. A stoker ought
not to desire high pay if the company is too poor to keep the
engine-wheels in repair.

And the varieties of circumstance which influence these reciprocal
interests are so endless, that all endeavour to deduce rules of action
from balance of expediency is in vain. And it is meant to be in vain.
For no human actions ever were intended by the Maker of men to be
guided by balances of expediency, but by balances of justice. He has
therefore rendered all endeavours to determine expediency futile for
evermore. No man ever knew or can know, what will be the ultimate
result to himself, or to others, of any given line of conduct. But
every man may know, and most of us do know, what is a just and unjust
act. And all of us may know also, that the consequences of justice
will be ultimately the best possible, both to others and ourselves,
though we can neither say what _is_ best, or how it is likely to come
to pass.

I have said balances of justice, meaning, in the term justice, to
include affection,--such affection as one man _owes_ to another. All
right relations between master and operative, and all their best
interests, ultimately depend on these.

We shall find the best and simplest illustration of the relations of
master and operative in the position of domestic servants.

We will suppose that the master of a household desires only to get as
much work out of his servants as he can, at the rate of wages he
gives. He never allows them to be idle; feeds them as poorly and
lodges them as ill as they will endure, and in all things pushes his
requirements to the exact point beyond which he cannot go without
forcing the servant to leave him. In doing this, there is no violation
on his part of what is commonly called "justice." He agrees with the
domestic for his whole time and service, and takes them;--the limits
of hardship in treatment being fixed by the practice of other masters
in his neighbourhood; that is to say, by the current rate of wages for
domestic labour. If the servant can get a better place, he is free to
take one, and the master can only tell what is the real market value
of his labour, by requiring as much as he will give.

This is the politico-economical view of the case, according to the
doctors of that science; who assert that by this procedure the
greatest average of work will be obtained from the servant, and
therefore, the greatest benefit to the community, and through the
community, by reversion, to the servant himself.

That, however, is not so. It would be so if the servant were an
engine of which the motive power was steam, magnetism, gravitation, or
any other agent of calculable force. But he being, on the contrary, an
engine whose motive power is a Soul, the force of this very peculiar
agent, as an unknown quantity, enters into all the political
economist's equations, without his knowledge, and falsifies every one
of their results. The largest quantity of work will not be done by
this curious engine for pay, or under pressure, or by help of any kind
of fuel which may be supplied by the chaldron. It will be done only
when the motive force, that is to say, the will or spirit of the
creature, is brought to its greatest strength by its own proper fuel;
namely, by the affections.

It may indeed happen, and does happen often, that if the master is a
man of sense and energy, a large quantity of material work may be done
under mechanical pressure, enforced by strong will and guided by wise
method; also it may happen, and does happen often, that if the master
is indolent and weak (however good-natured), a very small quantity of
work, and that bad, may be produced by the servant's undirected
strength, and contemptuous gratitude. But the universal law of the
matter is that, assuming any given quantity of energy and sense in
master and servant, the greatest material result obtainable by them
will be, not through antagonism to each other, but through affection
for each other; and that if the master, instead of endeavouring to get
as much work as possible from the servant, seeks rather to render his
appointed and necessary work beneficial to him, and to forward his
interests in all just and wholesome ways, the real amount of work
ultimately done, or of good rendered, by the person so cared for, will
indeed be the greatest possible.

Observe, I say, "of good rendered," for a servant's work is not
necessarily or always the best thing he can give his master. But good
of all kinds, whether in material service, in protective watchfulness
of his master's interest and credit, or in joyful readiness to seize
unexpected and irregular occasions of help.

Nor is this one whit less generally true because indulgence will be
frequently abused, and kindness met with ingratitude. For the servant
who, gently treated, is ungrateful, treated ungently, will be
revengeful; and the man who is dishonest to a liberal master will be
injurious to an unjust one.

In any case, and with any person, this unselfish treatment will
produce the most effective return. Observe, I am here considering the
affections wholly as a motive power; not at all as things in
themselves desirable or noble, or in any other way abstractedly good.
I look at them simply as an anomalous force, rendering every one of
the ordinary political economist's calculations nugatory; while, even
if he desired to introduce this new element into his estimates, he has
no power of dealing with it; for the affections only become a true
motive power when they ignore every other motive and condition of
political economy. Treat the servant kindly, with the idea of turning
his gratitude to account, and you will get, as you deserve, no
gratitude, nor any value for your kindness; but treat him kindly
without any economical purpose, and all economical purposes will be
answered; in this, as in all other matters, whosoever will save his
life shall lose it, whoso loses it shall find it.[31]

   [31] The difference between the two modes of treatment, and
        between their effective material results, may be seen very
        accurately by a comparison of the relations of Esther and
        Charlie in _Bleak House_, with those of Miss Brass and the
        Marchioness in _Master Humphrey's Clock_.

        The essential value and truth of Dickens's writings have
        been unwisely lost sight of by many thoughtful persons,
        merely because he presents his truth with some colour of
        caricature. Unwisely, because Dickens's caricature, though
        often gross, is never mistaken. Allowing for his manner of
        telling them, the things he tells us are always true. I wish
        that he could think it right to limit his brilliant
        exaggeration to works written only for public amusement; and
        when he takes up a subject of high national importance, such
        as that which he handled in _Hard Times_, that he would use
        severer and more accurate analysis. The usefulness of that
        work (to my mind, in several respects, the greatest he has
        written) is with many persons seriously diminished because
        Mr. Bounderby is a dramatic monster, instead of a
        characteristic example of a worldly master; and Stephen
        Blackpool a dramatic perfection, instead of a characteristic
        example of an honest workman. But let us not lose the use of
        Dickens's wit and insight, because he chooses to speak in a
        circle of stage fire. He is entirely right in his main drift
        and purpose in every book he has written; and all of them,
        but especially _Hard Times_, should be studied with close
        and earnest care by persons interested in social questions.
        They will find much that is partial, and, because partial,
        apparently unjust; but if they examine all the evidence on
        the other side, which Dickens seems to overlook, it will
        appear, after all their trouble, that his view was the
        finally right one, grossly and sharply told.

The next clearest and simplest example of relation between master and
operative is that which exists between the commander of a regiment and
his men.

Supposing the officer only desires to apply the rules of discipline so
as, with least trouble to himself, to make the regiment most
effective, he will not be able, by any rules, or administration of
rules, on this selfish principle, to develop the full strength of his
subordinates. If a man of sense and firmness, he may, as in the former
instance, produce a better result than would be obtained by the
irregular kindness of a weak officer; but let the sense and firmness
be the same in both cases, and assuredly the officer who has the most
direct personal relations with his men, the most care for their
interests, and the most value for their lives, will develop their
effective strength, through their affection for his own person, and
trust in his character, to a degree wholly unattainable by other
means. The law applies still more stringently as the numbers concerned
are larger; a charge may often be successful, though the men dislike
their officers; a battle has rarely been won, unless they loved their

Passing from these simple examples to the more complicated relations
existing between a manufacturer and his workmen, we are met first by
certain curious difficulties, resulting, apparently, from a harder and
colder state of moral elements. It is easy to imagine an enthusiastic
affection existing among soldiers for the colonel, not so easy to
imagine an enthusiastic affection among cotton-spinners for the
proprietor of the mill. A body of men associated for purposes of
robbery (as a Highland clan in ancient times) shall be animated by
perfect affection, and every member of it be ready to lay down his
life for the life of his chief. But a band of men associated for
purposes of legal production and accumulation is usually animated, it
appears, by no such emotions, and none of them are in anywise willing
to give his life for the life of his chief. Not only are we met by
this apparent anomaly, in moral matters, but by others connected with
it, in administration of system. For a servant or a soldier is
engaged at a definite rate of wages, for a definite period; but a
workman at a rate of wages variable according to the demand for
labour, and with the risk of being at any time thrown out of his
situation by chances of trade. Now, as, under these contingencies, no
action of the affections can take place, but only an explosive action
of _dis_affections, two points offer themselves for consideration in
the matter.

The first--How far the rate of wages may be so regulated as not to
vary with the demand for labour.

The second--How far it is possible that bodies of workmen may be
engaged and maintained at such fixed rate of wages (whatever the state
of trade may be), without enlarging or diminishing their number, so as
to give them permanent interest in the establishment with which they
are connected, like that of the domestic servants in an old family, or
an _esprit de corps_, like that of the soldiers in a crack regiment.

The first question is, I say, how far it may be possible to fix the
rate of wages irrespectively of the demand for labour.

Perhaps one of the most curious facts in the history of human error is
the denial by the common political economist of the possibility of
thus regulating wages; while, for all the important, and much of the
unimportant, labour on the earth, wages are already so regulated.

We do not sell our prime-ministership by Dutch auction; nor, on
the decease of a bishop, whatever may be the general advantages of
simony, do we (yet) offer his diocese to the clergyman who will
take the episcopacy at the lowest contract. We (with exquisite
sagacity of political economy!) do indeed sell commissions, but not,
openly, generalships: sick, we do not inquire for a physician who
takes less than a guinea; litigious, we never think of reducing
six-and-eightpence to four-and-sixpence; caught in a shower, we do not
canvass the cabmen, to find one who values his driving at less than a
sixpence a mile.

It is true that in all these cases there is, and in every conceivable
case there must be, ultimate reference to the presumed difficulty of
the work, or number of candidates for the office. If it were thought
that the labour necessary to make a good physician would be gone
through by a sufficient number of students with the prospect of only
half-guinea fees, public consent would soon withdraw the unnecessary
half-guinea. In this ultimate sense, the price of labour is indeed
always regulated by the demand for it; but so far as the practical and
immediate administration of the matter is regarded, the best labour
always has been, and is, as _all_ labour ought to be, paid by an
invariable standard.

"What!" the reader, perhaps, answers amazedly: "pay good and bad
workmen alike?"

Certainly. The difference between one prelate's sermons and his
successor's,--or between one physician's opinion and another's,--is
far greater, as respects the qualities of mind involved, and far more
important in result to you personally, than the difference between
good and bad laying of bricks (though that is greater than most people
suppose). Yet you pay with equal fee, contentedly, the good and bad
workmen upon your soul, and the good and bad workmen upon your body;
much more may you pay, contentedly, with equal fees, the good and bad
workmen upon your house.

"Nay, but I choose my physician and (?) my clergyman, thus indicating
my sense of the quality of their work." By all means, also, choose
your bricklayer; that is the proper reward of the good workman, to be
"chosen." The natural and right system respecting all labour is, that
it should be paid at a fixed rate, but the good workman employed, and
the bad workmen unemployed. The false, unnatural, and destructive
system is, when the bad workman is allowed to offer his work at
half-price, and either take the place of the good, or force him by his
competition to work for an inadequate sum.

This equality of wages, then, being the first object towards which we
have to discover the directest available road; the second is, as above
stated, that of maintaining constant numbers of workmen in employment,
whatever may be the accidental demand for the article they produce.

I believe the sudden and extensive inequalities of demand which
necessarily arise in the mercantile operations of an active nation,
constitute the only essential difficulty which has to be overcome in a
just organization of labour. The subject opens into too many branches
to admit of being investigated in a paper of this kind; but the
following general facts bearing on it may be noted.

The wages which enable any workman to live are necessarily higher, if
his work is liable to intermission, than if it is assured and
continuous; and however severe the struggle for work may become, the
general law will always hold, that men must get more daily pay if, on
the average, they can only calculate on work three days a week, than
they would require if they were sure of work six days a week.
Supposing that a man cannot live on less than a shilling a day, his
seven shillings he must get, either for three days' violent work, or
six days' deliberate work. The tendency of all modern mercantile
operations is to throw both wages and trade into the form of a
lottery, and to make the workman's pay depend on intermittent
exertion, and the principal's profit on dexterously used chance.

In what partial degree, I repeat, this may be necessary, in
consequence of the activities of modern trade, I do not here
investigate; contenting myself with the fact, that in its fatallest
aspects it is assuredly unnecessary, and results merely from love of
gambling on the part of the masters, and from ignorance and sensuality
in the men. The masters cannot bear to let any opportunity of gain
escape them, and frantically rush at every gap and breach in the walls
of Fortune, raging to be rich, and affronting, with impatient
covetousness, every risk of ruin; while the men prefer three days of
violent labour, and three days of drunkenness, to six days of moderate
work and wise rest. There is no way in which a principal, who really
desires to help his workmen, may do it more effectually than by
checking these disorderly habits both in himself and them; keeping his
own business operations on a scale which will enable him to pursue
them securely, not yielding to temptations of precarious gain; and, at
the same time, leading his workmen into regular habits of labour and
life, either by inducing them rather to take low wages in the form of
a fixed salary, than high wages, subject to the chance of their being
thrown out of work; or, if this be impossible, by discouraging the
system of violent exertion for nominally high day wages, and leading
the men to take lower pay for more regular labour.

In effecting any radical changes of this kind, doubtless there would
be great inconvenience and loss incurred by all the originators of
movement. That which can be done with perfect convenience and without
loss, is not always the thing that most needs to be done, or which we
are most imperatively required to do.

I have already alluded to the difference hitherto existing between
regiments of men associated for purposes of violence, and for
purposes of manufacture; in that the former appear capable of
self-sacrifice--the latter, not; which singular fact is the real
reason of the general lowness of estimate in which the profession of
commerce is held, as compared with that of arms. Philosophically, it
does not, at first sight, appear reasonable (many writers have
endeavoured to prove it unreasonable) that a peaceable and rational
person, whose trade is buying and selling, should be held in less
honour than an unpeaceable and often irrational person, whose trade is
slaying. Nevertheless, the consent of mankind has always, in spite of
the philosophers, given precedence to the soldier.

And this is right.

For the soldier's trade, verily and essentially, is not slaying, but
being slain. This, without well knowing its own meaning, the world
honours it for. A bravo's trade is slaying; but the world has never
respected bravos more than merchants: the reason it honours the
soldier is, because he holds his life at the service of the State.
Reckless he may be--fond of pleasure or of adventure--all kinds of
bye-motives and mean impulses may have determined the choice of his
profession, and may affect (to all appearance exclusively) his daily
conduct in it; but our estimate of him is based on this ultimate
fact--of which we are well assured--that, put him in a fortress
breach, with all the pleasures of the world behind him, and only
death and his duty in front of him, he will keep his face to the
front; and he knows that this choice may be put to him at any moment,
and has beforehand taken his part--virtually takes such part
continually--does, in reality, die daily.

Not less is the respect we pay to the lawyer and physician, founded
ultimately on their self-sacrifice. Whatever the learning or acuteness
of a great lawyer, our chief respect for him depends on our belief
that, set in a judge's seat, he will strive to judge justly, come of
it what may. Could we suppose that he would take bribes, and use his
acuteness and legal knowledge to give plausibility to iniquitous
decisions, no degree of intellect would win for him our respect.
Nothing will win it, short of our tacit conviction, that in all
important acts of his life justice is first with him; his own
interest, second.

In the case of a physician, the ground of the honour we render him is
clearer still. Whatever his science, we should shrink from him in
horror if we found him regard his patients merely as subjects to
experiment upon; much more, if we found that, receiving bribes from
persons interested in their deaths, he was using his best skill to
give poison in the mask of medicine.

Finally, the principle holds with utmost clearness as it respects
clergymen. No goodness of disposition will excuse want of science in a
physician, or of shrewdness in an advocate; but a clergyman, even
though his power of intellect be small, is respected on the presumed
ground of his unselfishness and serviceableness.

Now there can be no question but that the tact, foresight, decision,
and other mental powers, required for the successful management of a
large mercantile concern, if not such as could be compared with those
of a great lawyer, general, or divine, would at least match the
general conditions of mind required in the subordinate officers of a
ship, or of a regiment, or in the curate of a country parish. If,
therefore, all the efficient members of the so-called liberal
professions are still, somehow, in public estimate of honour,
preferred before the head of a commercial firm, the reason must lie
deeper than in the measurement of their several powers of mind.

And the essential reason for such preference will be found to lie in
the fact that the merchant is presumed to act always selfishly. His
work may be very necessary to the community; but the motive of it is
understood to be wholly personal. The merchant's first object in all
his dealings must be (the public believe) to get as much for himself,
and leave as little to his neighbour (or customer) as possible.
Enforcing this upon him, by political statute, as the necessary
principle of his action; recommending it to him on all occasions, and
themselves reciprocally adopting it; proclaiming vociferously, for law
of the universe, that a buyer's function is to cheapen, and a seller's
to cheat,--the public, nevertheless, involuntarily condemn the man of
commerce for his compliance with their own statement, and stamp him
for ever as belonging to an inferior grade of human personality.

This they will find, eventually, they must give up doing. They must
not cease to condemn selfishness; but they will have to discover a
kind of commerce which is not exclusively selfish. Or, rather, they
will have to discover that there never was, or can be, any other kind
of commerce; that this which they have called commerce was not
commerce at all, but cozening; and that a true merchant differs as
much from a merchant according to laws of modern political economy, as
the hero of the _Excursion_ from Autolycus. They will find that
commerce is an occupation which gentlemen will every day see more need
to engage in, rather than in the businesses of talking to men, or
slaying them; that, in true commerce, as in true preaching, or true
fighting, it is necessary to admit the idea of occasional voluntary
loss; that sixpences have to be lost, as well as lives, under a sense
of duty; that the market may have its martyrdoms as well as the
pulpit; and trade its heroisms, as well as war.

May have--in the final issue, must have--and only has not had yet,
because men of heroic temper have always been misguided in their youth
into other fields, not recognizing what is in our days, perhaps, the
most important of all fields; so that, while many a zealous person
loses his life in trying to teach the form of a gospel, very few will
lose a hundred pounds in showing the practice of one.

The fact is, that people never have had clearly explained to them the
true functions of a merchant with respect to other people. I should
like the reader to be very clear about this.

Five great intellectual professions, relating to daily necessities
of life, have hitherto existed--three exist necessarily, in every
civilized nation:

  The Soldier's profession is to _defend_ it.

  The Pastor's, to _teach_ it.

  The Physician's, to _keep it in health_.

  The Lawyer's, to _enforce justice_ in it.

  The Merchant's, _to provide_ for it.

  And the duty of all these men is, on due occasion, to _die_ for it.

"On due occasion," namely:--

  The Soldier, rather than leave his post in battle.

  The Physician, rather than leave his post in plague.

  The Pastor, rather than teach Falsehood.

  The Lawyer, rather than countenance Injustice.

  The Merchant--What is _his_ "due occasion" of death? It is the main
  question for the merchant, as for all of us. For, truly, the man who
  does not know when to die, does not know how to live.

Observe, the merchant's function (or manufacturer's, for in the broad
sense in which it is here used the word must be understood to include
both) is to provide for the nation. It is no more his function to get
profit for himself out of that provision than it is a clergyman's
function to get his stipend. The stipend is a due and necessary
adjunct, but not the object, of his life, if he be a true clergyman,
any more than his fee (or _honorarium_) is the object of life to a
true physician. Neither is his fee the object of life to a true
merchant. All three, if true men, have a work to be done irrespective
of fee--to be done even at any cost, or for quite the contrary of fee;
the pastor's function being to teach, the physician's to heal, and the
merchant's, as I have said, to provide. That is to say, he has to
understand to their very root the qualities of the thing he deals in,
and the means of obtaining or producing it; and he has to apply all
his sagacity and energy to the producing or obtaining it in perfect
state, and distributing it at the cheapest possible price where it is
most needed.

And because the production or obtaining of any commodity involves
necessarily the agency of many lives and hands, the merchant becomes
in the course of his business the master and governor of large masses
of men in a more direct, though less confessed way, than a military
officer or pastor; so that on him falls, in great part, the
responsibility for the kind of life they lead: and it becomes his
duty, not only to be always considering how to produce what he sells
in the purest and cheapest forms, but how to make the various
employments involved in the production, or transference of it, most
beneficial to the men employed.

And as into these two functions, requiring for their right exercise
the highest intelligence, as well as patience, kindness, and tact, the
merchant is bound to put all his energy, so for their just discharge
he is bound, as soldier or physician is bound, to give up, if need be,
his life, in such way as it may be demanded of him. Two main points he
has in his providing function to maintain: first, his engagements
(faithfulness to engagements being the real root of all possibilities
in commerce); and, secondly, the perfectness and purity of the thing
provided; so that, rather than fail in any engagement, or consent to
any deterioration, adulteration, or unjust and exorbitant price of
that which he provides, he is bound to meet fearlessly any form of
distress, poverty, or labour, which may, through maintenance of these
points, come upon him.

Again: in his office as governor of the men employed by him, the
merchant or manufacturer is invested with a distinctly paternal
authority and responsibility. In most cases, a youth entering a
commercial establishment is withdrawn altogether from home influence;
his master must become his father, else he has, for practical and
constant help, no father at hand: in all cases the master's authority,
together with the general tone and atmosphere of his business, and the
character of the men with whom the youth is compelled in the course of
it to associate, have more immediate and pressing weight than the home
influence, and will usually neutralize it either for good or evil; so
that the only means which the master has of doing justice to the men
employed by him is to ask himself sternly whether he is dealing with
such subordinate as he would with his own son, if compelled by
circumstances to take such a position.

Supposing the captain of a frigate saw it right, or were by any chance
obliged, to place his own son in the position of a common sailor; as
he would then treat his son, he is bound always to treat every one of
the men under him. So, also; supposing the master of a manufactory
saw it right, or were by any chance obliged, to place his own son in
the position of an ordinary workman; as he would then treat his son,
he is bound always to treat every one of his men. This is the only
effective true, or practical RULE which can be given on this point of
political economy.

And as the captain of a ship is bound to be the last man to leave his
ship in case of wreck, and to share his last crust with the sailors in
case of famine, so the manufacturer, in any commercial crisis or
distress, is bound to take the suffering of it with his men, and even
to take more of it for himself than he allows his men to feel; as a
father would in a famine, shipwreck, or battle, sacrifice himself for
his son.

All which sounds very strange: the only real strangeness in the matter
being, nevertheless, that it should so sound. For all this is true,
and that not partially nor theoretically, but everlastingly and
practically: all other doctrine than this respecting matters political
being false in premises, absurd in deduction, and impossible in
practice, consistently with any progressive state of national life;
all the life which we now possess as a nation showing itself in the
resolute denial and scorn, by a few strong minds and faithful hearts,
of the economic principles taught to our multitudes, which principles,
so far as accepted, lead straight to national destruction. Respecting
the modes and forms of destruction to which they lead, and, on the
other hand, respecting the farther practical working of true polity,
I hope to reason further in a following paper.



The answer which would be made by any ordinary political economist to
the statements contained in the preceding paper, is in few words as

"It is indeed true that certain advantages of a general nature may be
obtained by the development of social affections. But political
economists never professed, nor profess, to take advantages of a
general nature into consideration. Our science is simply the science
of getting rich. So far from being a fallacious or visionary one, it
is found by experience to be practically effective. Persons who follow
its precepts do actually become rich, and persons who disobey them
become poor. Every capitalist of Europe has acquired his fortune by
following the known laws of our science, and increases his capital
daily by an adherence to them. It is vain to bring forward tricks of
logic, against the force of accomplished facts. Every man of business
knows by experience how money is made, and how it is lost."

Pardon me. Men of business do indeed know how they themselves made
their money, or how, on occasion, they lost it. Playing a
long-practised game, they are familiar with the chances of its cards,
and can rightly explain their losses and gains. But they neither know
who keeps the bank of the gambling-house, nor what other games may be
played with the same cards, nor what other losses and gains, far away
among the dark streets, are essentially, though invisibly, dependent
on theirs in the lighted rooms. They have learned a few, and only a
few, of the laws of mercantile economy; but not one of those of
political economy.

Primarily, which is very notable and curious, I observe that men of
business rarely know the meaning of the word "rich." At least if they
know, they do not in their reasonings allow for the fact that it is a
relative word, implying its opposite "poor" as positively as the word
"north" implies its opposite "south." Men nearly always speak and
write as if riches were absolute, and it were possible, by following
certain scientific precepts, for everybody to be rich. Whereas riches
are a power like that of electricity, acting only through inequalities
or negations of itself. The force of the guinea you have in your
pocket depends wholly on the default of a guinea in your neighbour's
pocket. If he did not want it, it would be of no use to you; the
degree of power it possesses depends accurately upon the need or
desire he has for it,--and the art of making yourself rich, in the
ordinary mercantile economist's sense, is therefore equally and
necessarily the art of keeping your neighbour poor.

I would not contend in this matter (and rarely in any matter), for the
acceptance of terms. But I wish the reader clearly and deeply to
understand the difference between the two economies, to which the
terms "Political" and "Mercantile" might not unadvisably be attached.

Political economy (the economy of a State, or of citizens) consists
simply in the production, preservation, and distribution, at fittest
time and place, of useful or pleasurable things. The farmer who cuts
his hay at the right time; the shipwright who drives his bolts well
home in sound wood; the builder who lays good bricks in well-tempered
mortar; the housewife who takes care of her furniture in the parlour,
and guards against all waste in her kitchen; and the singer who
rightly disciplines, and never overstrains her voice: are all
political economists in the true and final sense; adding continually
to the riches and well-being of the nation to which they belong.

But mercantile economy, the economy of "merces" or of "pay," signifies
the accumulation, in the hands of individuals, of legal, or moral
claim upon, or power over, the labour of others; every such claim
implying precisely as much poverty or debt on one side, as it implies
riches or right on the other.

It does not, therefore, necessarily involve an addition to the actual
property, or well-being, of the State in which it exists. But since
this commercial wealth, or power over labour, is nearly always
convertible at once into real property, while real property is not
always convertible at once into power over labour, the idea of riches
among active men in civilized nations, generally refers to commercial
wealth; and in estimating their possessions, they rather calculate the
value of their horses and fields by the number of guineas they could
get for them, than the value of their guineas by the number of horses
and fields they could buy with them.

There is, however, another reason for this habit of mind; namely, that
an accumulation of real property is of little use to its owner,
unless, together with it, he has commercial power over labour. Thus,
suppose any person to be put in possession of a large estate of
fruitful land, with rich beds of gold in its gravel, countless herds
of cattle in its pastures; houses, and gardens, and storehouses full
of useful stores; but suppose, after all, that he could get no
servants? In order that he may be able to have servants, some one in
his neighbourhood must be poor, and in want of his gold--or his corn.
Assume that no one is in want of either, and that no servants are to
be had. He must, therefore, bake his own bread, make his own clothes,
plough his own ground, and shepherd his own flocks. His gold will be
as useful to him as any other yellow pebbles on his estate. His stores
must rot, for he cannot consume them. He can eat no more than another
man could eat, and wear no more than another man could wear. He must
lead a life of severe and common labour to procure even ordinary
comforts; he will be ultimately unable to keep either houses in
repair, or fields in cultivation; and forced to content himself with a
poor man's portion of cottage and garden, in the midst of a desert of
waste land, trampled by wild cattle, and encumbered by ruins of
palaces, which he will hardly mock at himself by calling "his own."

The most covetous of mankind would, with small exultation, I presume,
accept riches of this kind on these terms. What is really desired,
under the name of riches, is, essentially, power over men; in its
simplest sense, the power of obtaining for our own advantage the
labour of servant, tradesman, and artist; in wider sense, authority
of directing large masses of the nation to various ends (good,
trivial, or hurtful, according to the mind of the rich person). And
this power of wealth of course is greater or less in direct proportion
to the poverty of the men over whom it is exercised, and in inverse
proportion to the number of persons who are as rich as ourselves, and
who are ready to give the same price for an article of which the
supply is limited. If the musician is poor, he will sing for small
pay, as long as there is only one person who can pay him; but if there
be two or three, he will sing for the one who offers him most. And
thus the power of the riches of the patron (always imperfect and
doubtful, as we shall see presently, even when most authoritative)
depends first on the poverty of the artist, and then on the limitation
of the number of equally wealthy persons, who also wants seats at the
concert. So that, as above stated, the art of becoming "rich," in the
common sense, is not absolutely nor finally the art of accumulating
much money for ourselves, but also of contriving that our neighbours
shall have less. In accurate terms, it is "the art of establishing the
maximum inequality in our own favour."

Now the establishment of such inequality cannot be shown in the
abstract to be either advantageous or disadvantageous to the body of
the nation. The rash and absurd assumption that such inequalities are
necessarily advantageous, lies at the root of most of the popular
fallacies on the subject of political economy. For the eternal and
inevitable law in this matter is, that the beneficialness of the
inequality depends, first, on the methods by which it was
accomplished, and, secondly, on the purposes to which it is applied.
Inequalities of wealth, unjustly established, have assuredly injured
the nation in which they exist during their establishment; and,
unjustly directed, injure it yet more during their existence. But
inequalities of wealth justly established, benefit the nation in the
course of their establishment; and, nobly used, aid it yet more by
their existence. That is to say, among every active and well-governed
people, the various strength of individuals, tested by full exertion
and specially applied to various need, issues in unequal, but
harmonious results, receiving reward or authority according to its
class and service;[32] while, in the inactive or ill-governed nation,
the gradations of decay and the victories of treason work out also
their own rugged system of subjection and success; and substitute, for
the melodious inequalities of concurrent power, the iniquitous
dominances and depressions of guilt and misfortune.

   [32] I have been naturally asked several times, with respect
        to the sentence in the first of these papers, "the bad
        workmen unemployed," "But what are you to do with your bad
        unemployed workmen?" Well, it seems to me the question might
        have occurred to you before. Your housemaid's place is
        vacant--you give twenty pounds a year--two girls come for
        it, one neatly dressed, the other dirtily; one with good
        recommendations, the other with none. You do not, under
        these circumstances, usually ask the dirty one if she will
        come for fifteen pounds, or twelve; and, on her consenting,
        take her instead of the well-recommended one. Still less do
        you try to beat both down by making them bid against each
        other, till you can hire both, one at twelve pounds a year,
        and the other at eight. You simply take the one fittest for
        the place, and send away the other, not perhaps concerning
        yourself quite as much as you should with the question which
        you now impatiently put to me, "What is to become of her?"
        For all that I advise you to do, is to deal with workmen as
        with servants; and verily the question is of weight: "Your
        bad workman, idler, and rogue--what are you to do with him?"

        We will consider of this presently: remember that the
        administration of a complete system of national commerce and
        industry cannot be explained in full detail within the space
        of twelve pages. Meantime, consider whether, there being
        confessedly some difficulty in dealing with rogues and
        idlers, it may not be advisable to produce as few of them as
        possible. If you examine into the history of rogues, you
        will find they are as truly manufactured articles as
        anything else, and it is just because our present system of
        political economy gives so large a stimulus to that
        manufacture that you may know it to be a false one. We had
        better seek for a system which will develop honest men, than
        for one which will deal cunningly with vagabonds. Let us
        reform our schools, and we shall find little reform needed
        in our prisons.

Thus the circulation of wealth in a nation resembles that of the blood
in the natural body. There is one quickness of the current which comes
of cheerful emotion or wholesome exercise; and another which comes of
shame or of fever. There is a flush of the body which is full of
warmth and life; and another which will pass into putrefaction.

The analogy will hold, down even to minute particulars. For as
diseased local determination of the blood involves depression of the
general health of the system, all morbid local action of riches will
be found ultimately to involve a weakening of the resources of the
body politic.

The mode in which this is produced may be at once understood by
examining one or two instances of the development of wealth in the
simplest possible circumstances.

Suppose two sailors cast away on an uninhabited coast, and obliged to
maintain themselves there by their own labour for a series of years.

If they both kept their health, and worked steadily, and in amity with
each other, they might build themselves a convenient house, and in
time come to possess a certain quantity of cultivated land, together
with various stores laid up for future use. All these things would be
real riches or property; and, supposing the men both to have worked
equally hard, they would each have right to equal share or use of it.
Their political economy would consist merely in careful preservation
and just division of these possessions. Perhaps, however, after some
time one or other might be dissatisfied with the results of their
common farming; and they might in consequence agree to divide the land
they had brought under the spade into equal shares, so that each might
thenceforward work in his own field and live by it. Suppose that after
this arrangement had been made, one of them were to fall ill, and be
unable to work on his land at a critical time--say of sowing or

He would naturally ask the other to sow or reap for him.

Then his companion might say, with perfect justice, "I will do this
additional work for you; but if I do it, you must promise to do as
much for me at another time. I will count how many hours I spend on
your ground, and you shall give me a written promise to work for the
same number of hours on mine, whenever I need your help, and you are
able to give it."

Suppose the disabled man's sickness to continue, and that under
various circumstances, for several years, requiring the help of the
other, he on each occasion gave a written pledge to work, as soon as
he was able, at his companion's orders, for the same number of hours
which the other had given up to him. What will the positions of the
two men be when the invalid is able to resume work?

Considered as a "Polis," or state, they will be poorer than they would
have been otherwise: poorer by the withdrawal of what the sick man's
labour would have produced in the interval. His friend may perhaps
have toiled with an energy quickened by the enlarged need, but in the
end his own land and property must have suffered by the withdrawal of
so much of his time and thought from them; and the united property of
the two men will be certainly less than it would have been if both had
remained in health and activity.

But the relations in which they stand to each other are also widely
altered. The sick man has not only pledged his labour for some years,
but will probably have exhausted his own share of the accumulated
stores, and will be in consequence for some time dependent on the
other for food, which he can only "pay" or reward him for by yet more
deeply pledging his own labour.

Supposing the written promises to be held entirely valid (among
civilized nations their validity is secured by legal measures[33]),
the person who had hitherto worked for both might now, if he chose,
rest altogether, and pass his time in idleness, not only forcing his
companion to redeem all the engagements he had already entered into,
but exacting from him pledges for further labour, to an arbitrary
amount, for what food he had to advance to him.

   [33] The disputes which exist respecting the real nature of money
        arise more from the disputants examining its functions on
        different sides, than from any real dissent in their
        opinions. All money, properly so called, is an
        acknowledgment of debt; but as such, it may either be
        considered to represent the labour and property of the
        creditor, or the idleness and penury of the debtor. The
        intricacy of the question has been much increased by the
        (hitherto necessary) use of marketable commodities, such as
        gold, silver, salt, shells, etc., to give intrinsic value or
        security to currency; but the final and best definition of
        money is that it is a documentary promise ratified and
        guaranteed by the nation to give or find a certain quantity
        of labour on demand. A man's labour for a day is a better
        standard of value than a measure of any produce, because no
        produce ever maintains a consistent rate of productibility.

There might not, from first to last, be the least illegality (in the
ordinary sense of the word) in the arrangement; but if a stranger
arrived on the coast at this advanced epoch of their political
economy, he would find one man commercially Rich; the other
commercially Poor. He would see, perhaps with no small surprise, one
passing his days in idleness; the other labouring for both, and living
sparely, in the hope of recovering his independence, at some distant

This is, of course, an example of one only out of many ways in which
inequality of possession may be established between different persons,
giving rise to the Mercantile forms of Riches and Poverty. In the
instance before us, one of the men might from the first have
deliberately chosen to be idle, and to put his life in pawn for
present ease; or he might have mismanaged his land, and been compelled
to have recourse to his neighbour for food and help, pledging his
future labour for it. But what I want the reader to note especially is
the fact, common to a large number of typical cases of this kind, that
the establishment of the mercantile wealth which consists in a claim
upon labour, signifies a political diminution of the real wealth which
consists in substantial possessions.

Take another example, more consistent with the ordinary course of
affairs of trade. Suppose that three men, instead of two, formed the
little isolated republic, and found themselves obliged to separate in
order to farm different pieces of land at some distance from each
other along the coast; each estate furnishing a distinct kind of
produce, and each more or less in need of the material raised on the
other. Suppose that the third man, in order to save the time of all
three, undertakes simply to superintend the transference of
commodities from one farm to the other; on condition of receiving some
sufficiently remunerative share of every parcel of goods conveyed, or
of some other parcel received in exchange for it.

If this carrier or messenger always brings to each estate, from the
other, what is chiefly wanted, at the right time, the operations of
the two farmers will go on prosperously, and the largest possible
result in produce, or wealth, will be attained by the little
community. But suppose no intercourse between the landowners is
possible, except through the travelling agent; and that, after a time,
this agent, watching the course of each man's agriculture, keeps back
the articles with which he has been entrusted until there comes a
period of extreme necessity for them, on one side or other, and then
exacts in exchange for them all that the distressed farmer can spare
of other kinds of produce; it is easy to see that by ingeniously
watching his opportunities, he might possess himself regularly of the
greater part of the superfluous produce of the two estates, and at
last, in some year of severest trial or scarcity, purchase both for
himself, and maintain the former proprietors thenceforward as his
labourers or servants.

This would be a case of commercial wealth acquired on the exactest
principles of modern political economy. But more distinctly even than
in the former instance, it is manifest in this that the wealth of the
State, or of the three men considered as a society, is collectively
less than it would have been had the merchant been content with juster
profit. The operations of the two agriculturists have been cramped to
the utmost; and the continual limitations of the supply of things they
wanted at critical times, together with the failure of courage
consequent on the prolongation of a struggle for mere existence,
without any sense of permanent gain, must have seriously diminished
the effective results of their labour; and the stores finally
accumulated in the merchant's hands will not in anywise be of
equivalent value to those which, had his dealings been honest, would
have filled at once the granaries of the farmers and his own.

The whole question, therefore, respecting not only the advantage, but
even the quantity, of national wealth, resolves itself finally into
one of abstract justice. It is impossible to conclude, of any given
mass of acquired wealth, merely by the fact of its existence, whether
it signifies good or evil to the nation in the midst of which it
exists. Its real value depends on the moral sign attached to it, just
as sternly as that of a mathematical quantity depends on the
algebraical sign attached to it. Any given accumulation of commercial
wealth may be indicative, on the one hand, of faithful industries,
progressive energies, and productive ingenuities; or, on the other, it
may be indicative of mortal luxury, merciless tyranny, ruinous
chicane. Some treasures are heavy with human tears, as an ill-stored
harvest with untimely rain; and some gold is brighter in sunshine than
it is in substance.

And these are not, observe, merely moral or pathetic attributes of
riches, which the seeker of riches may, if he chooses, despise; they
are, literally and sternly, material attributes of riches,
depreciating or exalting, incalculably, the monetary signification of
the sum in question. One mass of money is the outcome of action which
has created,--another, of action which has annihilated,--ten times as
much in the gathering of it; such and such strong hands have been
paralysed, as if they had been numbed by nightshade: so many strong
men's courage broken, so many productive operations hindered; this and
the other false direction given to labour, and lying image of
prosperity set up, on Dura plains dug into seven-times-heated
furnaces. That which seems to be wealth may in verity be only the
gilded index of far-reaching ruin; a wrecker's handful of coin gleaned
from the beach to which he has beguiled an argosy; a camp-follower's
bundle of rags unwrapped from the breasts of goodly soldiers dead; the
purchase-pieces of potter's fields, wherein shall be buried together
the citizen and the stranger.

And therefore, the idea that directions can be given for the gaining
of wealth, irrespectively of the consideration of its moral sources,
or that any general and technical law of purchase and gain can be set
down for national practice, is perhaps the most insolently futile of
all that ever beguiled men through their vices. So far as I know,
there is not in history record of anything so disgraceful to the human
intellect as the modern idea that the commercial text, "Buy in the
cheapest market and sell in the dearest," represents, or under any
circumstances could represent, an available principle of national
economy. Buy in the cheapest market?--yes; but what made your market
cheap? Charcoal may be cheap among your roof timbers after a fire, and
bricks may be cheap in your streets after an earthquake; but fire and
earthquake may not therefore be national benefits. Sell in the
dearest?--yes, truly; but what made your market dear? You sold your
bread well to-day; was it to a dying man who gave his last coin for
it, and will never need bread more, or to a rich man who to-morrow
will buy your farm over your head; or to a soldier on his way to
pillage the bank in which you have put your fortune?

None of these things you can know. One thing only you can know,
namely, whether this dealing of yours is a just and faithful one,
which is all you need concern yourself about respecting it; sure thus
to have done your own part in bringing about ultimately in the world a
state of things which will not issue in pillage or in death. And thus
every question concerning these things merges itself ultimately in the
great question of justice, which, the ground being thus far cleared
for it, I will enter upon in the next paper, leaving only, in this,
three final points for the reader's consideration.

It has been shown that the chief value and virtue of money consists in
its having power over human beings; that, without this power, large
material possessions are useless, and, to any person possessing such
power, comparatively unnecessary. But power over human beings is
attainable by other means than by money. As I said a few pages back,
the money power is always imperfect and doubtful; there are many
things which cannot be reached with it, others which cannot be
retained by it. Many joys may be given to men which cannot be bought
for gold, and many fidelities found in them which cannot be rewarded
with it.

Trite enough,--the reader thinks. Yes: but it is not so trite,--I wish
it were,--that in this moral power, quite inscrutable and immeasurable
though it be, there is a monetary value just as real as that
represented by more ponderous currencies. A man's hand may be full of
invisible gold, and the wave of it, or the grasp, shall do more than
another's with a shower of bullion. This invisible gold, also, does
not necessarily diminish in spending. Political economists will do
well some day to take heed of it, though they cannot take measure.

But farther. Since the essence of wealth consists in its authority
over men, if the apparent or nominal wealth fail in this power, it
fails in essence; in fact, ceases to be wealth at all. It does not
appear lately in England, that our authority over men is absolute. The
servants show some disposition to rush riotously upstairs, under an
impression that their wages are not regularly paid. We should augur
ill of any gentleman's property to whom this happened every other day
in his drawing-room.

So also, the power of our wealth seems limited as respects the comfort
of the servants, no less than their quietude. The persons in the
kitchen appear to be ill-dressed, squalid, half-starved. One cannot
help imagining that the riches of the establishment must be of a very
theoretical and documentary character.

Finally. Since the essence of wealth consists in power over men, will
it not follow that the nobler and the more in number the persons are
over whom it has power, the greater the wealth? Perhaps it may even
appear after some consideration, that the persons themselves _are_ the
wealth--that these pieces of gold with which we are in the habit of
guiding them, are, in fact, nothing more than a kind of Byzantine
harness or trappings, very glittering and beautiful in barbaric sight,
wherewith we bridle the creatures; but that if these same living
creatures could be guided without the fretting and jingling of the
byzants in their mouths and ears, they might themselves be more
valuable than their bridles. In fact, it may be discovered that the
true veins of wealth are purple--and not in Rock, but in
Flesh--perhaps even that the final outcome and consummation of all
wealth is in the producing as many as possible full-breathed,
bright-eyed, and happy-hearted human creatures. Our modern wealth, I
think, has rather a tendency the other way;--most political economists
appearing to consider multitudes of human creatures not conducive to
wealth, or at best conducive to it only by remaining in a dim-eyed and
narrow-chested state of being.

Nevertheless, it is open, I repeat, to serious question, which I leave
to the reader's pondering, whether, among national manufactures, that
of Souls of a good quality may not at last turn out a quite leadingly
lucrative one? Nay, in some faraway and yet undreamt-of hour, I can
even imagine that England may cast all thoughts of possessive wealth
back to the barbaric nations among whom they first arose; and that,
while the sands of the Indus and adamant of Golconda may yet stiffen
the housings of the charger, and flash from the turban of the slave,
she, as a Christian mother, may at last attain to the virtues and the
treasures of a Heathen one, and be able to lead forth her Sons,

  "These are MY Jewels."



Some centuries before the Christian era, a Jew merchant, largely
engaged in business on the Gold Coast, and reported to have made one
of the largest fortunes of his time (held also in repute for much
practical sagacity), left among his ledgers some general maxims
concerning wealth, which have been preserved, strangely enough, even
to our own days. They were held in considerable respect by the most
active traders of the middle ages, especially by the Venetians, who
even went so far in their admiration as to place a statue of the old
Jew on the angle of one of their principal public buildings. Of late
years these writings have fallen into disrepute, being opposed in
every particular to the spirit of modern commerce. Nevertheless, I
shall reproduce a passage or two from them here, partly because they
may interest the reader by their novelty; and chiefly because they
will show him that it is possible for a very practical and acquisitive
tradesman to hold, through a not unsuccessful career, that principle
of distinction between well-gotten and ill-gotten wealth, which,
partially insisted on in my last paper, it must be our work more
completely to examine in this.

He says, for instance, in one place: "The getting of treasures by a
lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death:"
adding in another, with the same meaning (he has a curious way of
doubling his sayings): "Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but
justice delivers from death." Both these passages are notable for
their assertion of death as the only real issue and sum of attainment
by any unjust scheme of wealth. If we read, instead of "lying
tongue," "lying label, title, pretence, or advertisement," we shall
more clearly perceive the bearing of the words on modern business. The
seeking of death is a grand expression of the true course of men's
toil in such business. We usually speak as if death pursued us, and we
fled from him; but that is only so in rare instances. Ordinarily, he
masks himself--makes himself beautiful--all-glorious; not like the
King's daughter, all-glorious within, but outwardly: his clothing of
wrought gold. We pursue him frantically all our days, he flying or
hiding from us. Our crowning success at three-score and ten is utterly
and perfectly to seize, and hold him in his eternal integrity---robes,
ashes, and sting.

Again: the merchant says, "He that oppresseth the poor to increase his
riches, shall surely come to want." And again, more strongly: "Rob not
the poor because he is poor; neither oppress the afflicted in the
place of business. For God shall spoil the soul of those that spoiled

This "robbing the poor because he is poor" is especially the
mercantile form of theft, consisting in taking advantage of a man's
necessities in order to obtain his labour or property at a reduced
price. The ordinary highwayman's opposite form of robbery--of the
rich, because he is rich--does not appear to occur so often to the old
merchant's mind; probably because, being less profitable and more
dangerous than the robbery of the poor, it is rarely practised by
persons of discretion.

But the two most remarkable passages in their deep general
significance are the following:--

"The rich and the poor have met. God is their maker."

"The rich and the poor have met. God is their light."

They "have met:" more literally, have stood in each other's way,
(_obviaverunt_). That is to say, as long as the world lasts, the
action and counteraction of wealth and poverty, the meeting, face to
face, of rich and poor, is just as appointed and necessary a law of
that world as the flow of stream to sea, or the interchange of power
among the electric clouds:--"God is their maker." But, also, this
action may be either gentle and just, or convulsive and destructive:
it may be by rage of devouring flood, or by lapse of serviceable
wave;--in blackness of thunderstroke, or continual force of vital
fire, soft, and shapeable into love-syllables from far away. And
which of these it shall be depends on both rich and poor knowing that
God is their light; that in the mystery of human life, there is no
other light than this by which they can see each other's faces, and
live;--light, which is called in another of the books among which the
merchant's maxims have been preserved, the "sun of justice,"[34] of
which it is promised that it shall rise at last with "healing"
(health-giving or helping, making whole or setting at one) in its
wings. For truly this healing is only possible by means of justice; no
love, no faith, no hope will do it; men will be unwisely fond--vainly
faithful, unless primarily they are just; and the mistake of the best
men through generation after generation, has been that great one of
thinking to help the poor by almsgiving, and by preaching of patience
or of hope, and by every other means, emollient or consolatory, except
the one thing which God orders for them, justice. But this justice,
with its accompanying holiness or helpfulness, being even by the best
men denied in its trial time, is by the mass of men hated wherever it
appears: so that, when the choice was one day fairly put to them, they
denied the Helpful One and the Just;[35] and desired a murderer,
sedition-raiser, and robber, to be granted to them;--the murderer
instead of the Lord of Life, the sedition-raiser instead of the Prince
of Peace, and the robber instead of the Just Judge of all the world.

   [34] More accurately, Sun of Justness; but, instead of the harsh
        word "Justness," the old English "Righteousness" being
        commonly employed, has, by getting confused with
        "godliness," or attracting about it various vague and broken
        meanings, prevented most persons from receiving the force of
        the passages in which it occurs. The word "righteousness"
        properly refers to the justice of rule, or right, as
        distinguished from "equity," which refers to the justice of
        balance. More broadly, Righteousness is King's justice; and
        Equity, Judge's justice; the King guiding or ruling all, the
        Judge dividing or discerning between opposites (therefore,
        the double question, "Man, who made me a ruler--[Greek:
        dikastês]--or a divider--[Greek: meristês]--over you?")
        Thus, with respect to the Justice of Choice (selection, the
        feebler and passive justice), we have from lego,--lex,
        legal, loi, and loyal; and with respect to the Justice of
        Rule (direction, the stronger and active justice), we have
        from rego,--rex, regal, roi, and royal.

   [35] In another place written with the same meaning, "Just, and
        having salvation."

I have just spoken of the flowing of streams to the sea as a partial
image of the action of wealth. In one respect it is not a partial, but
a perfect image. The popular economist thinks himself wise in having
discovered that wealth, or the forms of property in general, must go
where they are required; that where demand is, supply must follow. He
farther declares that this course of demand and supply cannot be
forbidden by human laws. Precisely in the same sense, and with the
same certainty, the waters of the world go where they are required.
Where the land falls, the water flows. The course neither of clouds
nor rivers can be forbidden by human will. But the disposition and
administration of them can be altered by human forethought. Whether
the stream shall be a curse or a blessing, depends upon man's labour,
and administrating intelligence. For centuries after centuries, great
districts of the world, rich in soil, and favoured in climate, have
lain desert under the rage of their own rivers; not only desert, but
plague-struck. The stream which, rightly directed, would have flowed
in soft irrigation from field to field--would have purified the air,
given food to man and beast, and carried their burdens for them on its
bosom--now overwhelms the plain, and poisons the wind; its breath
pestilence, and its work famine. In like manner this wealth "goes
where it is required." No human laws can withstand its flow. They can
only guide it: but this, the leading trench and limiting mound can do
so thoroughly, that it shall become water of life--the riches of the
hand of wisdom;[36] or, on the contrary, by leaving it to its own
lawless flow, they may make it, what it has been too often, the last
and deadliest of national plagues: water of Marah--the water which
feeds the roots of all evil.

   [36] "Length of days in her right hand; in her left, riches
        and honour."

The necessity of these laws of distribution or restraint is curiously
overlooked in the ordinary political economist's definition of his own
"science." He calls it, shortly, the "science of getting rich." But
there are many sciences, as well as many arts, of getting rich.
Poisoning people of large estates was one employed largely in the
middle ages; adulteration of food of people of small estates is one
employed largely now. The ancient and honourable Highland method of
black mail; the more modern and less honourable system of obtaining
goods on credit, and the other variously improved methods of
appropriation--which, in major and minor scales of industry, down to
the most artistic pocket-picking, we owe to recent genius,--all come
under the general head of sciences, or arts, of getting rich.

So that it is clear the popular economist, in calling his science the
science _par excellence_ of getting rich, must attach some peculiar
ideas of limitation to its character. I hope I do not misrepresent
him, by assuming that he means _his_ science to be the science of
"getting rich by legal or just means." In this definition, is the word
"just," or "legal," finally to stand? For it is possible among certain
nations, or under certain rulers, or by help of certain advocates,
that proceedings may be legal which are by no means just. If,
therefore, we leave at last only the word "just" in that place of our
definition, the insertion of this solitary and small word will make a
notable difference in the grammar of our science. For then it will
follow that, in order to grow rich scientifically we must grow rich
justly; and, therefore, know what is just; so that our economy will no
longer depend merely on prudence, but on jurisprudence--and that of
divine, not human law. Which prudence is indeed of no mean order,
holding itself, as it were, high in the air of heaven, and gazing for
ever on the light of the sun of justice; hence the souls which have
excelled in it are represented by Dante as stars forming in heaven for
ever the figure of the eye of an eagle: they having been in life the
discerners of light from darkness; or to the whole human race, as the
light of the body, which is the eye; while those souls which form the
wings of the bird (giving power and dominion to justice, "healing in
its wings") trace also in light the inscription in heaven: "DILIGITE
JUSTITIAM QUI JUDICATIS TERRAM." "Ye who judge the earth, give" (not,
observe, merely love, but) "diligent love to justice:" the love which
seeks diligently, that is to say, choosingly, and by preference to all
things else. Which judging or doing judgment in the earth is,
according to their capacity and position, required not of judges
only, nor of rulers only, but of all men:[37] a truth sorrowfully lost
sight of even by those who are ready enough to apply to themselves
passages in which Christian men are spoken of as called to be "saints"
(_i.e._, to helpful or healing functions); and "chosen to be kings"
(_i.e._, to knowing or directing functions); the true meaning of these
titles having been long lost through the pretences of unhelpful and
unable persons to saintly and kingly character; also through the once
popular idea that both the sanctity and royalty are to consist in
wearing long robes and high crowns, instead of in mercy and judgment;
whereas all true sanctity is saving power, as all true royalty is
ruling power; and injustice is part and parcel of the denial of such
power, which "makes men as the creeping things, as the fishes of the
sea, that have no ruler over them."[38]

   [37] I hear that several of our lawyers have been greatly
        amused by the statement in the first of these papers that a
        lawyer's function was to do justice. I did not intend it for
        a jest; nevertheless it will be seen that in the above
        passage neither the determination nor doing of justice are
        contemplated as functions wholly peculiar to the lawyer.
        Possibly, the more our standing armies, whether of soldiers,
        pastors, or legislators (the generic term "pastor" including
        all teachers, and the generic term "lawyer" including makers
        as well as interpreters of law), can be superseded by the
        force of national heroism, wisdom, and honesty, the better
        it may be for the nation.

   [38] It being the privilege of the fishes, as it is of rats and
        wolves, to live by the laws of demand and supply; but the
        distinction of humanity, to live by those of right.

Absolute justice is indeed no more attainable than absolute truth; but
the righteous man is distinguished from the unrighteous by his desire
and hope of justice, as the true man from the false by his desire and
hope of truth. And though absolute justice be unattainable, as much
justice as we need for all practical use is attainable by all those
who make it their aim.

We have to examine, then, in the subject before us, what are the laws
of justice respecting payment of labour--no small part, these, of the
foundations of all jurisprudence.

I reduced, in my last paper, the idea of money payment to its simplest
or radical terms. In those terms its nature, and the conditions of
justice respecting it, can be best ascertained.

Money payment, as there stated, consists radically in a promise to
some person working for us, that for the time and labour he spends in
our service to-day we will give or procure equivalent time and labour
in his service at any future time when he may demand it.[39]

   [39] It might appear at first that the market price of labour
        expressed such an exchange: but this is a fallacy, for the
        market price is the momentary price of the kind of labour
        required, but the just price is its equivalent of the
        productive labour of mankind. This difference will be
        analysed in its place. It must be noted also that I speak
        here only of the exchangeable value of labour, not of that
        of commodities. The exchangeable value of a commodity is
        that of the labour required to produce it, multiplied
        into the force of the demand for it. If the value of the
        labour = _x_ and the force of demand = _y_, the exchangeable
        value of the commodity is _xy_, in which if either _x_ = 0,
        or _y_ = 0, _xy_ = 0.

If we promise to give him less labour than he has given us, we
under-pay him. If we promise to give him more labour than he has given
us, we over-pay him. In practice, according to the laws of demand and
supply, when two men are ready to do the work, and only one man wants
to have it done, the two men under-bid each other for it; and the one
who gets it to do, is under-paid. But when two men want the work done,
and there is only one man ready to do it, the two men who want it done
over-bid each other, and the workman is over-paid.

I will examine these two points of injustice in succession, but first
I wish the reader to clearly understand the central principle lying
between the two, of right or just payment.

When we ask a service of any man, he may either give it us freely, or
demand payment for it. Respecting free gift of service, there is no
question at present, that being a matter of affection--not of traffic.
But if he demand payment for it, and we wish to treat him with
absolute equity, it is evident that this equity can only consist in
giving time for time, strength for strength, and skill for skill. If a
man works an hour for us, and we only promise to work half an hour for
him in return, we obtain an unjust advantage. If, on the contrary, we
promise to work an hour and a half for him in return, he has an unjust
advantage. The justice consists in absolute exchange; or, if there be
any respect to the stations of the parties, it will not be in favour
of the employer: there is certainly no equitable reason in a man's
being poor, that if he give me a pound of bread to-day, I should
return him less than a pound of bread to-morrow; or any equitable
reason in a man's being uneducated, that if he uses a certain quantity
of skill and knowledge in my service, I should use a less quantity of
skill and knowledge in his. Perhaps, ultimately, it may appear
desirable, or, to say the least, gracious, that I should give in
return somewhat more than I received. But at present, we are concerned
on the law of justice only, which is that of perfect and accurate
exchange;--one circumstance only interfering with the simplicity of
this radical idea of just payment--that inasmuch as labour (rightly
directed) is fruitful just as seed is, the fruit (or "interest" as it
is called) of the labour first given, or "advanced," ought to be taken
into account, and balanced by an additional quantity of labour in the
subsequent repayment. Supposing the repayment to take place at the end
of a year, or of any other given time, this calculation could be
approximately made; but as money (that is to say, cash) payment
involves no reference to time (it being optional with the person paid
to spend what he receives at once or after any number of years), we
can only assume, generally, that some slight advantage must in equity
be allowed to the person who advances the labour, so that the typical
form of bargain will be: If you give me an hour to-day, I will give
you an hour and five minutes on demand. If you give me a pound of
bread to-day, I will give you seventeen ounces on demand, and so on.
All that is necessary for the reader to note is, that the amount
returned is at least in equity not to be _less_ than the amount given.

The abstract idea, then, of just or due wages, as respects the
labourer, is that they will consist in a sum of money which will at
any time procure for him at least as much labour as he has given,
rather more than less. And this equity or justice of payment is,
observe, wholly independent of any reference to the number of men who
are willing to do the work. I want a horseshoe for my horse. Twenty
smiths, or twenty thousand smiths, may be ready to forge it; their
number does not in one atom's weight affect the question of the
equitable payment of the one who _does_ forge it. It costs him a
quarter of an hour of his life, and so much skill and strength of arm
to make that horseshoe for me. Then at some future time I am bound in
equity to give a quarter of an hour, and some minutes more, of my life
(or of some other person's at my disposal), and also as much strength
of arm and skill, and a little more, in making or doing what the smith
may have need of.

Such being the abstract theory of just remunerative payment, its
application is practically modified by the fact that the order for
labour, given in payment, is general, while the labour received is
special. The current coin or document is practically an order on the
nation for so much work of any kind; and this universal applicability
to immediate need renders it so much more valuable than special labour
can be, that an order for a less quantity of this general toil will
always be accepted as a just equivalent for a greater quantity of
special toil. Any given craftsman will always be willing to give an
hour of his own work in order to receive command over half an hour, or
even much less, of national work. This source of uncertainty, together
with the difficulty of determining the monetary value of skill,[40]
renders the ascertainment (even approximate) of the proper wages of
any given labour in terms of currency, matter of considerable
complexity. But they do not affect the principle of exchange. The
worth of the work may not be easily known; but it _has_ a worth, just
as fixed and real as the specific gravity of a substance, though such
specific gravity may not be easily ascertainable when the substance is
united with many others. Nor is there so much difficulty or chance in
determining it as in determining the ordinary maxima and minima of
vulgar political economy. There are few bargains in which the buyer
can ascertain with anything like precision that the seller would have
taken no less;--or the seller acquire more than a comfortable faith
that the purchaser would have given no more. This impossibility of
precise knowledge prevents neither from striving to attain the desired
point of greatest vexation and injury to the other, nor from accepting
it for a scientific principle that he is to buy for the least and sell
for the most possible, though what the real least or most may be he
cannot tell. In like manner, a just person lays it down for a
scientific principle that he is to pay a just price, and, without
being able precisely to ascertain the limits of such a price, will
nevertheless strive to attain the closest possible approximation to
them. A practically serviceable approximation he _can_ obtain. It is
easier to determine scientifically what a man ought to have for his
work, than what his necessities will compel him to take for it. His
necessities can only be ascertained by empirical, but his due by
analytical, investigation. In the one case, you try your answer to the
sum like a puzzled schoolboy--till you find one that fits; in the
other, you bring out your result within certain limits, by process of

   [40] Under the term "skill" I mean to include the united force of
        experience, intellect, and passion in their operation on
        manual labour: and under the term "passion," to include the
        entire range and agency of the moral feelings; from the
        simple patience and gentleness of mind which will give
        continuity and fineness to the touch, or enable one person
        to work without fatigue, and with good effect, twice as long
        as another, up to the qualities of character which render
        science possible--(the retardation of science by envy is one
        of the most tremendous losses in the economy of the present
        century)--and to the incommunicable emotion and imagination
        which are the first and mightiest sources of all value in

        It is highly singular that political economists should not
        yet have perceived, if not the moral, at least the
        passionate element, to be an inextricable quantity in every
        calculation. I cannot conceive, for instance, how it was
        possible that Mr. Mill should have followed the true clue so
        far as to write,--"No limit can be set to the
        importance--even in a purely productive and material point
        of view--of mere thought," without seeing that it was
        logically necessary to add also, "and of mere feeling." And
        this the more, because in his first definition of labour he
        includes in the idea of it "all feelings of a disagreeable
        kind connected with the employment of one's thoughts in a
        particular occupation." True; but why not also, "feelings of
        an agreeable kind?" It can hardly be supposed that the
        feelings which retard labour are more essentially a part of
        the labour than those which accelerate it. The first are
        paid for as pain, the second as power. The workman is merely
        indemnified for the first; but the second both produce a
        part of the exchangeable value of the work, and materially
        increase its actual quantity.

        "Fritz is with us. _He_ is worth fifty thousand men." Truly,
        a large addition to the material force;--consisting,
        however, be it observed, not more in operations carried on
        in Fritz's head, than in operations carried on in his
        armies' heart. "No limit can be set to the importance of
        _mere_ thought." Perhaps not! Nay, suppose some day it
        should turn out that "mere" thought was in itself a
        recommendable object of production, and that all Material
        production was only a step towards this more precious
        Immaterial one?

Supposing, then, the just wages of any quantity of given labour to
have been ascertained, let us examine the first results of just and
unjust payment, when in favour of the purchaser or employer; _i.e._,
when two men are ready to do the work, and only one wants to have it

The unjust purchaser forces the two to bid against each other till he
has reduced their demand to its lowest terms. Let us assume that the
lowest bidder offers to do the work at half its just price.

The purchaser employs him, and does not employ the other. The first or
_apparent_ result, is, therefore, that one of the two men is left out
of employ, or to starvation, just as definitely as by the just
procedure of giving fair price to the best workman. The various
writers who endeavoured to invalidate the positions of my first paper
never saw this, and assumed that the unjust hirer employed _both_. He
employs both no more than the just hirer. The only difference (in the
outset) is that the just man pays sufficiently, the unjust man
insufficiently, for the labour of the single person employed.

I say, in "the outset;" for this first or apparent difference is not
the actual difference. By the unjust procedure, half the proper price
of the work is left in the hands of the employer. This enables him to
hire another man at the same unjust rate on some other kind of work;
and the final result is that he has two men working for him at
half-price, and two are out of employ.

By the just procedure, the whole price of the first piece of work goes
into the hands of the man who does it. No surplus being left in the
employer's hands, _he_ cannot hire another man for another piece of
labour. But by precisely so much as his power is diminished, the hired
workman's power is increased; that is to say, by the additional half
of the price he has received; which additional half _he_ has the power
of using to employ another man in _his_ service. I will suppose, for
the moment, the least favourable, though quite probable, case--that,
though justly treated himself, he yet will act unjustly to his
subordinate; and hire at half-price, if he can. The final result will
then be, that one man works for the employer, at just price; one for
the workman, at half-price; and two, as in the first case, are still
out of employ. These two, as I said before, are out of employ in
_both_ cases. The difference between the just and unjust procedure
does not lie in the number of men hired, but in the price paid to
them, and the _persons by whom_ it is paid. The essential difference,
that which I want the reader to see clearly, is, that in the unjust
case, two men work for one, the first hirer. In the just case, one man
works for the first hirer, one for the person hired, and so on, down
or up through the various grades of service; the influence being
carried forward by justice, and arrested by injustice. The universal
and constant action of justice in this matter is therefore to diminish
the power of wealth, in the hands of one individual, over masses of
men, and to distribute it through a chain of men. The actual power
exerted by the wealth is the same in both cases; but by injustice it
is put all into one man's hands, so that he directs at once and with
equal force the labour of a circle of men about him; by the just
procedure, he is permitted to touch the nearest only, through whom,
with diminished force, modified by new minds, the energy of the wealth
passes on to others, and so till it exhausts itself.

The immediate operation of justice in this respect is, therefore, to
diminish the power of wealth, first in acquisition of luxury, and,
secondly, in exercise of moral influence. The employer cannot
concentrate so multitudinous labour on his own interests, nor can he
subdue so multitudinous mind to his own will. But the secondary
operation of justice is not less important. The insufficient payment
of the group of men working for one, places each under a maximum of
difficulty in rising above his position. The tendency of the system is
to check advancement. But the sufficient or just payment, distributed
through a descending series of offices or grades of labour,[41] gives
each subordinated person fair and sufficient means of rising in the
social scale, if he chooses to use them; and thus not only diminishes
the immediate power of wealth, but removes the worst disabilities of

   [41] I am sorry to lose time by answering, however curtly, the
        equivocations of the writers who sought to obscure the
        instances given of regulated labour in the first of these
        papers, by confusing kinds, ranks, and quantities of labour
        with its qualities. I never said that a colonel should have
        the same pay as a private, nor a bishop the same pay as a
        curate. Neither did I say that more work ought to be paid as
        less work (so that the curate of a parish of two thousand
        souls should have no more than the curate of a parish of
        five hundred). But I said that, so far as you employ it at
        all, bad work should be paid no less than good work; as a
        bad clergyman yet takes his tithes, a bad physician takes
        his fee, and a bad lawyer his costs. And this, as will be
        farther shown in the conclusion, I said, and say, partly
        because the best work never was, nor ever will be, done for
        money at all; but chiefly because, the moment people know
        they have to pay the bad and good alike, they will try to
        discern the one from the other, and not use the bad. A
        sagacious writer in the _Scotsman_ asks me if I should like
        any common scribbler to be paid by Messrs. Smith, Elder and
        Co. [the original publishers of this work] as their good
        authors are. I should, if they employed him--but would
        seriously recommend them, for the scribbler's sake, as well
        as their own, _not_ to employ him. The quantity of its money
        which the country at present invests in scribbling is not,
        in the outcome of it, economically spent; and even the
        highly ingenious person to whom this question occurred,
        might perhaps have been more beneficially employed than in
        printing it.

It is on this vital problem that the entire destiny of the labourer is
ultimately dependent. Many minor interests may sometimes appear to
interfere with it, but all branch from it. For instance, considerable
agitation is often caused in the minds of the lower classes when they
discover the share which they nominally, and to all appearance,
actually, pay out of their wages in taxation (I believe thirty-five or
forty per cent.). This sounds very grievous; but in reality the
labourer does not pay it, but his employer. If the workman had not to
pay it, his wages would be less by just that sum: competition would
still reduce them to the lowest rate at which life was possible.
Similarly the lower orders agitated for the repeal of the corn
laws,[42] thinking they would be better off if bread were cheaper;
never perceiving that as soon as bread was permanently cheaper, wages
would permanently fall in precisely that proportion. The corn laws
were rightly repealed; not, however, because they directly oppressed
the poor, but because they indirectly oppressed them in causing a
large quantity of their labour to be consumed unproductively. So also
unnecessary taxation oppresses them, through destruction of capital,
but the destiny of the poor depends primarily always on this one
question of dueness of wages. Their distress (irrespectively of that
caused by sloth, minor error, or crime) arises on the grand scale from
the two reacting forces of competition and oppression. There is not
yet, nor will yet for ages be, any real over-population in the world;
but a local over-population, or, more accurately, a degree of
population locally unmanageable under existing circumstances for want
of forethought and sufficient machinery, necessarily shows itself by
pressure of competition; and the taking advantage of this competition
by the purchaser to obtain their labour unjustly cheap, consummates at
once their suffering and his own; for in this (as I believe in every
other kind of slavery) the oppressor suffers at last more than the
oppressed, and those magnificent lines of Pope, even in all their
force, fall short of the truth--

  "Yet, to be just to these poor men of pelf,
  Damned to the mines, an equal fate betides
  The slave that digs it, and the slave that hides."

   [42] I have to acknowledge an interesting communication on the
        subject of free trade from Paisley (for a short letter from
        "A Well-wisher" at ----, my thanks are yet more due). But
        the Scottish writer will, I fear, be disagreeably surprised
        to hear, that I am, and always have been, an utterly
        fearless and unscrupulous free trader. Seven years ago,
        speaking of the various signs of infancy in the European
        mind (_Stones of Venice_, vol. iii. p. 168), I wrote: "The
        first principles of commerce were acknowledged by the
        English parliament only a few months ago, in its free trade
        measures, and are still so little understood by the million,
        that _no nation dares to abolish its custom-houses_."

        It will be observed that I do not admit even the idea of
        reciprocity. Let other nations, if they like, keep their
        ports shut; every wise nation will throw its own open. It is
        not the opening them, but a sudden, inconsiderate, and
        blunderingly experimental manner of opening them, which does
        harm. If you have been protecting a manufacture for a long
        series of years, you must not take the protection off in a
        moment, so as to throw every one of its operatives at once
        out of employ, any more than you must take all its wrappings
        off a feeble child at once in cold weather, though the
        cumber of them may have been radically injuring its health.
        Little by little, you must restore it to freedom and to air.

        Most people's minds are in curious confusion on the subject
        of free trade, because they suppose it to imply enlarged
        competition. On the contrary, free trade puts an end to all
        competition. "Protection" (among various other mischievous
        functions) endeavours to enable one country to compete with
        another in the production of an article at a disadvantage.
        When trade is entirely free, no country can be competed with
        in the articles for the production of which it is naturally
        calculated; nor can it compete with any other, in the
        production of articles for which it is not naturally
        calculated. Tuscany, for instance, cannot compete with
        England in steel, nor England with Tuscany in oil. They must
        exchange their steel and oil. Which exchange should be as
        frank and free as honesty and the sea-winds can make it.
        Competition, indeed, arises at first, and sharply, in order
        to prove which is strongest in any given manufacture
        possible to both: this point once ascertained, competition
        is at an end.

The collateral and reversionary operations of justice in this matter I
shall examine hereafter (it being needful first to define the nature
of value); proceeding then to consider within what practical terms a
juster system may be established; and ultimately the vexed question of
the destinies of the unemployed workmen.[43] Lest, however, the reader
should be alarmed at some of the issues to which our investigations
seem to be tending, as if in their bearing against the power of wealth
they had something in common with those of socialism, I wish him to
know, in accurate terms, one or two of the main points which I have in

   [43] I should be glad if the reader would first clear the ground
        for himself so far as to determine whether the difficulty
        lies in getting the work or getting the pay for it. Does he
        consider occupation itself to be an expensive luxury,
        difficult of attainment, of which too little is to be found
        in the world? or is it rather that, while in the enjoyment
        even of the most athletic delight, men must nevertheless be
        maintained, and this maintenance is not always forthcoming?
        We must be clear on this head before going farther, as most
        people are loosely in the habit of talking of the difficulty
        of "finding employment." Is it employment that we want to
        find, or support during employment? Is it idleness we wish
        to put an end to, or hunger? We have to take up both
        questions in succession, only not both at the same time. No
        doubt that work _is_ a luxury, and a very great one. It is,
        indeed, at once a luxury and a necessity; no man can retain
        either health of mind or body without it. So profoundly do I
        feel this, that, as will be seen in the sequel, one of the
        principal objects I would recommend to benevolent and
        practical persons, is to induce rich people to seek for a
        larger quantity of this luxury than they at present possess.
        Nevertheless, it appears by experience that even this
        healthiest of pleasures may be indulged in to excess, and
        that human beings are just as liable to surfeit of labour as
        to surfeit of meat; so that, as on the one hand, it may be
        charitable to provide, for some people, lighter dinner, and
        more work,--for others, it may be equally expedient to
        provide lighter work, and more dinner.

Whether socialism has made more progress among the army and navy
(where payment is made on my principles), or among the manufacturing
operatives (who are paid on my opponents' principles), I leave it to
those opponents to ascertain and declare. Whatever their conclusions
may be, I think it necessary to answer for myself only this: that if
there be any one point insisted on throughout my works more frequently
than another, that one point is the impossibility of Equality. My
continual aim has been to show the eternal superiority of some men to
others, sometimes even of one man to all others; and to show also the
advisability of appointing such persons or person to guide, to lead,
or on occasion even to compel and subdue, their inferiors, according
to their own better knowledge and wiser will. My principles of
Political Economy were all involved in a single phrase spoken three
years ago at Manchester: "Soldiers of the Ploughshare as well as
Soldiers of the Sword:" and they were all summed in a single sentence
in the last volume of _Modern Painters_--"Government and co-operation
are in all things the Laws of Life; Anarchy and competition the Laws
of Death."

And with respect to the mode in which these general principles affect
the secure possession of property, so far am I from invalidating such
security, that the whole gist of these papers will be found ultimately
to aim at an extension in its range; and whereas it has long been
known and declared that the poor have no right to the property of the
rich, I wish it also to be known and declared that the rich have no
right to the property of the poor.

But that the working of the system which I have undertaken to develop
would in many ways shorten the apparent and direct, though not the
unseen and collateral, power, both of wealth, as the Lady of Pleasure,
and of capital, as the Lord of Toil, I do not deny: on the contrary, I
affirm it in all joyfulness; knowing that the attraction of riches is
already too strong, as their authority is already too weighty, for the
reason of mankind. I said in my last paper that nothing in history had
ever been so disgraceful to human intellect as the acceptance among us
of the common doctrines of political economy as a science. I have many
grounds for saying this, but one of the chief may be given in few
words. I know no previous instance in history of a nation's
establishing a systematic disobedience to the first principles of its
professed religion. The writings which we (verbally) esteem as divine,
not only denounce the love of money as the source of all evil, and as
an idolatry abhorred of the Deity, but declare mammon service to be
the accurate and irreconcileable opposite of God's service; and,
whenever they speak of riches absolute, and poverty absolute, declare
woe to the rich, and blessing to the poor. Whereupon we forthwith
investigate a science of becoming rich, as the shortest road to
national prosperity.

  "Tai Cristian dannerà l'Etiòpe,
  Quando si partiranno i due collegi,



In the last paper we saw that just payment of labour consisted in a
sum of money which would approximately obtain equivalent labour at a
future time: we have now to examine the means of obtaining such
equivalence. Which question involves the definition of Value, Wealth,
Price, and Produce.

None of these terms are yet defined so as to be understood by the
public. But the last, Produce, which one might have thought the
clearest of all, is, in use, the most ambiguous; and the examination
of the kind of ambiguity attendant on its present employment will best
open the way to our work.

In his Chapter on Capital,[44] Mr. J. S. Mill instances, as a
capitalist, a hardware manufacturer, who, having intended to spend a
certain portion of the proceeds of his business in buying plate and
jewels, changes his mind, and "pays it as wages to additional
workpeople." The effect is stated by Mr. Mill to be that "more food is
appropriated to the consumption of productive labourers."

   [44] Book I. chap. iv. s. 1. To save space, my future references
        to Mr. Mill's work will be by numerals only, as in this
        instance, I. iv. 1. Ed. in 2 vols. 8vo, Parker, 1848.

Now I do not ask, though, had I written this paragraph, it would
surely have been asked of me, What is to become of the silversmiths?
If they are truly unproductive persons, we will acquiesce in their
extinction. And though in another part of the same passage, the
hardware merchant is supposed also to dispense with a number of
servants, whose "food is thus set free for productive purposes," I do
not inquire what will be the effect, painful or otherwise, upon the
servants, of this emancipation of their food. But I very seriously
inquire why ironware is produce, and silverware is not? That the
merchant consumes the one, and sells the other, certainly does not
constitute the difference, unless it can be shown (which, indeed, I
perceive it to be becoming daily more and more the aim of tradesmen to
show) that commodities are made to be sold, and not to be consumed.
The merchant is an agent of conveyance to the consumer in one case,
and is himself the consumer in the other:[45] but the labourers are in
either case equally productive, since they have produced goods to the
same value, if the hardware and the plate are both goods.

   [45] If Mr. Mill had wished to show the difference in result
        between consumption and sale, he should have represented the
        hardware merchant as consuming his own goods instead of
        selling them; similarly, the silver merchant as consuming
        his own goods instead of selling them. Had he done this, he
        would have made his position clearer, though less tenable;
        and perhaps this was the position he really intended to
        take, tacitly involving his theory, elsewhere stated, and
        shown in the sequel of this paper to be false, that demand
        for commodities is not demand for labour. But by the most
        diligent scrutiny of the paragraph now under examination, I
        cannot determine whether it is a fallacy pure and simple, or
        the half of one fallacy supported by the whole of a greater
        one; so that I treat it here on the kinder assumption that
        it is one fallacy only.

And what distinction separates them? It is indeed possible that in the
"comparative estimate of the moralist," with which Mr. Mill says
political economy has nothing to do (III. i. 2), a steel fork might
appear a more substantial production than a silver one: we may grant
also that knives, no less than forks, are good produce; and scythes
and ploughshares serviceable articles. But, how of bayonets? Supposing
the hardware merchant to effect large sales of _these_, by help of the
"setting free" of the food of his servants and his silversmith,--is
he still employing productive labourers, or, in Mr. Mill's words,
labourers who increase "the stock of permanent means of enjoyment"
(I. iii. 4)? Or if, instead of bayonets, he supply bombs, will not the
absolute and final "enjoyment" of even these energetically productive
articles (each of which costs ten pounds[46]) be dependent on a proper
choice of time and place for their _enfantement_; choice, that is to
say, depending on those philosophical considerations with which
political economy has nothing to do?[47]

   [46] I take Mr. [afterwards Sir A.] Helps' estimate in his essay
        on War.

   [47] Also when the wrought silver vases of Spain were dashed to
        fragments by our custom-house officers, because bullion
        might be imported free of duty, but not brains, was the axe
        that broke them productive?--the artist who wrought them
        unproductive? Or again. If the woodman's axe is productive,
        is the executioner's? as also, if the hemp of a cable be
        productive, does not the productiveness of hemp in a halter
        depend on its moral more than on its material application?

I should have regretted the need of pointing out inconsistency in any
portion of Mr. Mill's work, had not the value of his work proceeded
from its inconsistencies. He deserves honour among economists by
inadvertently disclaiming the principles which he states, and tacitly
introducing the moral considerations with which he declares his
science has no connection. Many of his chapters, are, therefore, true
and valuable; and the only conclusions of his which I have to dispute
are those which follow from his premises.

Thus, the idea which lies at the root of the passage we have just been
examining, namely, that labour applied to produce luxuries will not
support so many persons as labour applied to produce useful articles,
is entirely true; but the instance given fails--and in four directions
of failure at once--because Mr. Mill has not defined the real meaning
of usefulness. The definition which he has given--"capacity to satisfy
a desire, or serve a purpose" (III. i. 2)--applies equally to the iron
and silver; while the true definition,--which he has not given, but
which nevertheless underlies the false verbal definition in his mind,
and comes out once or twice by accident (as in the words "any support
to life or strength" in I. i. 5)--applies to some articles of iron,
but not to others, and to some articles of silver, but not to others.
It applies to ploughs, but not to bayonets; and to forks, but not to

   [48] Filigree: that is to say, generally, ornament dependent
        on complexity, not on art.

The eliciting of the true definition will give us the reply to our
first question, "What is value?" respecting which, however, we must
first hear the popular statements.

"The word 'value,' when used without adjunct, always means, in
political economy, value in exchange" (Mill, III. i. 3). So that,
if two ships cannot exchange their rudders, their rudders are, in
politico-economic language, of no value to either.

But "the subject of political economy is wealth."--(Preliminary
remarks, page 1.)

And wealth "consists of all useful and agreeable objects which possess
exchangeable value."--(Preliminary remarks, page 10.)

It appears then, according to Mr. Mill, that usefulness and
agreeableness underlie the exchange value, and must be ascertained to
exist in the thing, before we can esteem it an object of wealth.

Now, the economical usefulness of a thing depends not merely on its
own nature, but on the number of people who can and will use it. A
horse is useless, and therefore unsaleable, if no one can ride,--a
sword if no one can strike, and meat, if no one can eat. Thus every
material utility depends on its relative human capacity.

Similarly: The agreeableness of a thing depends not merely on its own
likeableness, but on the number of people who can be got to like it.
The relative agreeableness, and therefore saleableness, of "a pot of
the smallest ale," and of "Adonis painted by a running brook," depends
virtually on the opinion of Demos, in the shape of Christopher Sly.
That is to say, the agreeableness of a thing depends on its relative
human disposition.[49] Therefore, political economy, being a science
of wealth, must be a science respecting human capacities and
dispositions. But moral considerations have nothing to do with
political economy (III. i. 2). Therefore, moral considerations have
nothing to do with human capacities and dispositions.

   [49] These statements sound crude in their brevity; but will
        be found of the utmost importance when they are developed.
        Thus, in the above instance, economists have never perceived
        that disposition to buy is a wholly _moral_ element in
        demand: that is to say, when you give a man half-a-crown, it
        depends on his disposition whether he is rich or poor with
        it--whether he will buy disease, ruin, and hatred, or buy
        health, advancement, and domestic love. And thus the
        agreeableness or exchange value of every offered commodity
        depends on production, not merely of the commodity, but of
        buyers of it; therefore on the education of buyers, and on
        all the moral elements by which their disposition to buy
        this, or that, is formed. I will illustrate and expand into
        final consequences every one of these definitions in its
        place: at present they can only be given with extremest
        brevity; for in order to put the subject at once in a
        connected form before the reader, I have thrown into one,
        the opening definitions of four chapters; namely, of that on
        Value ("Ad Valorem"); on Price ("Thirty Pieces"); on
        Production ("Demeter"); and on Economy ("The Law of the

I do not wholly like the look of this conclusion from Mr. Mill's
statements:--let us try Mr. Ricardo's.

"Utility is not the measure of exchangeable value, though it is
absolutely essential to it."--(Chap. 1. sect. i.) Essential to what
degree, Mr. Ricardo? There may be greater and less degrees of utility.
Meat, for instance, may be so good as to be fit for any one to eat, or
so bad as to be fit for no one to eat. What is the exact degree of
goodness which is "essential" to its exchangeable value, but not "the
measure" of it? How good must the meat be, in order to possess any
exchangeable value; and how bad must it be--(I wish this were a
settled question in London markets)--in order to possess none?

There appears to be some hitch, I think, in the working even of Mr.
Ricardo's principles; but let him take his own example. "Suppose that
in the early stages of society the bows and arrows of the hunter were
of equal value with the implements of the fisherman. Under such
circumstances the value of the deer, the produce of the hunter's day's
labour, would be _exactly_" (italics mine) "equal to the value of the
fish, the product of the fisherman's day's labour. The comparative
value of the fish and game would be _entirely_ regulated by the
quantity of labour realized in each." (Ricardo, chap. iii. On Value.)

Indeed! Therefore, if the fisherman catches one sprat, and the
huntsman one deer, one sprat will be equal in value to one deer; but
if the fisherman catches no sprat, and the huntsman two deer, no sprat
will be equal in value to two deer?

Nay; but--Mr. Ricardo's supporters may say--he means, on an
average;--if the average product of a day's work of fisher and hunter
be one fish and one deer, the one fish will always be equal in value
to the one deer.

Might I inquire the species of fish. Whale? or whitebait?[50]

   [50] Perhaps it may be said, in farther support of Mr. Ricardo,
        that he meant, "when the utility is constant or given, the
        price varies as the quantity of labour." If he meant this,
        he should have said it; but, had he meant it, he could have
        hardly missed the necessary result, that utility would be
        one measure of price (which he expressly denies it to be);
        and that, to prove saleableness, he had to prove a given
        quantity of utility, as well as a given quantity of labour:
        to wit, in his own instance, that the deer and fish would
        each feed the same number of men, for the same number of
        days, with equal pleasure to their palates. The fact is, he
        did not know what he meant himself. The general idea which
        he had derived from commercial experience, without being
        able to analyse it, was, that when the demand is constant,
        the price varies as the quantity of labour required for
        production; or,--using the formula I gave in last
        paper--when _y_ is constant, _xy_ varies as _x_. But demand
        never is, nor can be, ultimately constant, if _x_ varies
        distinctly; for, as price rises, consumers fall away; and as
        soon as there is a monopoly (and all scarcity is a form of
        monopoly; so that every commodity is affected occasionally
        by some colour of monopoly), _y_ becomes the most
        influential condition of the price. Thus the price of a
        painting depends less on its merit than on the interest
        taken in it by the public; the price of singing less on the
        labour of the singer than the number of persons who desire
        to hear him; and the price of gold less on the scarcity
        which affects it in common with cerium or iridium, than on
        the sun-light colour and unalterable purity by which it
        attracts the admiration and answers the trust of mankind.

        It must be kept in mind, however, that I use the word
        "demand" in a somewhat different sense from economists
        usually. They mean by it "the quantity of a thing sold." I
        mean by it "the force of the buyer's capable intention to
        buy." In good English, a person's "demand" signifies, not
        what he gets, but what he asks for.

        Economists also do not notice that objects are not valued by
        absolute bulk or weight, but by such bulk and weight as is
        necessary to bring them into use. They say, for instance,
        that water bears no price in the market. It is true that a
        cupful does not, but a lake does; just as a handful of dust
        does not, but an acre does. And were it possible to make
        even the possession of the cupful or handful permanent
        (_i.e._, to find a place for them), the earth and sea would
        be bought up by handfuls and cupfuls.

It would be waste of time to pursue these fallacies farther; we will
seek for a true definition.

Much store has been set for centuries upon the use of our English
classical education. It were to be wished that our well-educated
merchants recalled to mind always this much of their Latin
schooling,--that the nominative of _valorem_ (a word already
sufficiently familiar to them) is _valor_; a word which, therefore,
ought to be familiar to them. _Valor_, from _valere_, to be well, or
strong ([Greek: hugiainô]);--strong, _in_ life (if a man), or valiant;
strong, _for_ life (if a thing), or valuable. To be "valuable,"
therefore, is to "avail towards life." A truly valuable or availing
thing is that which leads to life with its whole strength. In
proportion as it does not lead to life, or as its strength is broken,
it is less valuable; in proportion as it leads away from life, it is
unvaluable or malignant.

The value of a thing, therefore, is independent of opinion, and of
quantity. Think what you will of it, gain how much you may of it, the
value of the thing itself is neither greater nor less. For ever it
avails, or avails not; no estimate can raise, no disdain depress, the
power which it holds from the Maker of things and of men.

The real science of political economy, which has yet to be
distinguished from the bastard science, as medicine from witchcraft,
and astronomy from astrology, is that which teaches nations to desire
and labour for the things that lead to life; and which teaches them to
scorn and destroy the things that lead to destruction. And if, in a
state of infancy, they suppose indifferent things, such as
excrescences of shellfish, and pieces of blue and red stone, to be
valuable, and spend large measure of the labour which ought to be
employed for the extension and ennobling of life, in diving or digging
for them, and cutting them into various shapes,--or if, in the same
state of infancy, they imagine precious and beneficent things, such as
air, light, and cleanliness, to be valueless,--or if, finally, they
imagine the conditions of their own existence, by which alone they can
truly possess or use anything, such, for instance, as peace, trust,
and love, to be prudently exchangeable, when the market offers, for
gold, iron, or excrescences of shells--the great and only science of
Political Economy teaches them, in all these cases, what is vanity,
and what substance; and how the service of Death, the Lord of Waste,
and of eternal emptiness, differs from the service of Wisdom, the Lady
of Saving, and of eternal fulness; she who has said, "I will cause
those that love me to inherit SUBSTANCE; and I will FILL their

The "Lady of Saving," in a profounder sense than that of the savings'
bank, though that is a good one: Madonna della Salute,--Lady of
Health--which, though commonly spoken of as if separate from wealth,
is indeed a part of wealth. This word, "wealth," it will be
remembered, is the next we have to define.

"To be wealthy," says Mr. Mill, is "to have a large stock of useful

I accept this definition. Only let us perfectly understand it. My
opponents often lament my not giving them enough logic: I fear I must
at present use a little more than they will like; but this business of
Political Economy is no light one, and we must allow no loose terms in

We have, therefore, to ascertain in the above definition, first, what
is the meaning of "having," or the nature of Possession. Then, what is
the meaning of "useful," or the nature of Utility.

And first of possession. At the crossing of the transepts of Milan
Cathedral has lain, for three hundred years, the embalmed body of St.
Carlo Borromeo. It holds a golden crosier, and has a cross of emeralds
on its breast. Admitting the crosier and emeralds to be useful
articles, is the body to be considered as "having" them? Do they, in
the politico-economical sense of property, belong to it? If not, and
if we may, therefore, conclude generally that a dead body cannot
possess property, what degree and period of animation in the body will
render possession possible?

As thus: lately in a wreck of a Californian ship, one of the
passengers fastened a belt about him with two hundred pounds of gold
in it, with which he was found afterwards at the bottom. Now, as he
was sinking--had he the gold? or had the gold him?[51]

   [51] Compare George Herbert, _The Church Porch_, Stanza 28.

And if, instead of sinking him in the sea by its weight, the gold had
struck him on the forehead, and thereby caused incurable
disease--suppose palsy or insanity,--would the gold in that case have
been more a "possession" than in the first? Without pressing the
inquiry up through instances of gradually increasing vital power over
the gold (which I will, however, give, if they are asked for), I
presume the reader will see that possession, or "having," is not an
absolute, but a gradated, power; and consists not only in the quantity
or nature of the thing possessed, but also (and in a greater degree)
in its suitableness to the person possessing it, and in his vital
power to use it.

And our definition of Wealth, expanded, becomes: "The possession of
useful articles, _which we can use_." This is a very serious change.
For wealth, instead of depending merely on a "have," is thus seen to
depend on a "can." Gladiator's death, on a "habet"; but soldier's
victory, and state's salvation, on a "quo plurimum posset." (Liv. VII.
6.) And what we reasoned of only as accumulation of material, is seen
to demand also accumulation of capacity.

So much for our verb. Next for our adjective. What is the meaning of

The inquiry is closely connected with the last. For what is capable of
use in the hands of some persons, is capable, in the hands of others,
of the opposite of use, called commonly, "from-use," or "ab-use." And
it depends on the person, much more than on the article, whether its
usefulness or ab-usefulness will be the quality developed in it. Thus,
wine, which the Greeks, in their Bacchus, made, rightly, the type of
all passion, and which, when used, "cheereth god and man" (that is to
say, strengthens both the divine life, or reasoning power, and the
earthly, or carnal power, of man); yet, when abused, becomes
"Dionusos," hurtful especially to the divine part of man, or reason.
And again, the body itself, being equally liable to use and to abuse,
and, when rightly disciplined, serviceable to the State, both for war
and labour;--but when not disciplined, or abused, valueless to the
State, and capable only of continuing the private or single existence
of the individual (and that but feebly)--the Greeks called such a body
an "idiotic" or "private" body, from their word signifying a person
employed in no way directly useful to the State: whence, finally, our
"idiot," meaning a person entirely occupied with his own concerns.

Hence, it follows, that if a thing is to be useful, it must be not
only of an availing nature, but in availing hands. Or, in accurate
terms, usefulness is value in the hands of the valiant; so that this
science of wealth being, as we have just seen, when regarded as the
science of Accumulation, accumulative of capacity as well as of
material,--when regarded as the science of Distribution, is
distribution not absolute, but discriminate; not of every thing to
every man, but of the right thing to the right man. A difficult
science, dependent on more than arithmetic.

and in considering it as a power existing in a nation, the two
elements, the value of the thing, and the valour of its possessor,
must be estimated together. Whence it appears that many of the persons
commonly considered wealthy, are in reality no more wealthy than the
locks of their own strong boxes are; they being inherently and
eternally incapable of wealth; and operating for the nation, in an
economical point of view, either as pools of dead water, and eddies in
a stream (which, so long as the stream flows, are useless, or serve
only to drown people, but may become of importance in a state of
stagnation, should the stream dry); or else, as dams in a river, of
which the ultimate service depends not on the dam, but the miller; or
else, as mere accidental stays and impediments, acting, not as wealth,
but (for we ought to have a correspondent term) as "illth," causing
various devastation and trouble around them in all directions; or
lastly, act not at all, but are merely animated conditions of delay
(no use being possible of anything they have until they are dead), in
which last condition they are nevertheless often useful _as_ delays,
and "impedimenta," if a nation is apt to move too fast.

This being so, the difficulty of the true science of Political Economy
lies not merely in the need of developing manly character to deal with
material value, but in the fact, that while the manly character and
material value only form wealth by their conjunction, they have
nevertheless a mutually destructive operation on each other. For the
manly character is apt to ignore, or even cast away, the material
value:--whence that of Pope:--

  "Sure, of qualities demanding praise
  More go to ruin fortunes, than to raise."

And on the other hand, the material value is apt to undermine the
manly character; so that it must be our work, in the issue, to examine
what evidence there is of the effect of wealth on the minds of its
possessors; also, what kind of person it is who usually sets himself
to obtain wealth, and succeeds in doing so; and whether the world owes
more gratitude to rich or to poor men, either for their moral
influence upon it, or for chief goods, discoveries, and practical
advancements. I may, however, anticipate future conclusions so far as
to state that in a community regulated only by laws of demand and
supply, but protected from open violence, the persons who become rich
are, generally speaking, industrious, resolute, proud, covetous,
prompt, methodical, sensible, unimaginative, insensitive, and
ignorant. The persons who remain poor are the entirely foolish, the
entirely wise,[52] the idle, the reckless, the humble, the thoughtful,
the dull, the imaginative, the sensitive, the well-informed, the
improvident, the irregularly and impulsively wicked, the clumsy knave,
the open thief, and the entirely merciful, just, and godly person.

   [52] "[Greek: ho Zeus dêpou penetai.]"--_Arist. Plut._ 582. It
        would but weaken the grand words to lean on the preceding
        ones:--"[Greek: hoti tou Ploutou parecho beltionas andras,
        kai ten gnomen, kai ten idean.]"

Thus far then of wealth. Next, we have to ascertain the nature of
PRICE; that is to say, of exchange value, and its expression by

Note first, of exchange, there can be no _profit_ in it. It is only in
labour there can be profit--that is to say a "making in advance," or
"making in favour of" (from proficio). In exchange, there is only
advantage, _i.e._, a bringing of vantage or power to the exchanging
persons. Thus, one man, by sowing and reaping, turns one measure of
corn into two measures. That is Profit. Another by digging and
forging, turns one spade into two spades. That is Profit. But the man
who has two measures of corn wants sometimes to dig; and the man who
has two spades wants sometimes to eat:--They exchange the gained grain
for the gained tool; and both are the better for the exchange; but
though there is much advantage in the transaction, there is no profit.
Nothing is constructed or produced. Only that which had been before
constructed is given to the person by whom it can be used. If labour
is necessary to effect the exchange, that labour is in reality
involved in the production, and, like all other labour, bears profit.
Whatever number of men are concerned in the manufacture, or in the
conveyance, have share in the profit; but neither the manufacture nor
the conveyance are the exchange, and in the exchange itself there is
no profit.

There may, however, be acquisition, which is a very different thing.
If, in the exchange, one man is able to give what cost him little
labour for what has cost the other much, he "acquires" a certain
quantity of the produce of the other's labour. And precisely what he
acquires, the other loses. In mercantile language, the person who thus
acquires is commonly said to have "made a profit;" and I believe that
many of our merchants are seriously under the impression that it is
possible for everybody, somehow, to make a profit in this manner.
Whereas, by the unfortunate constitution of the world we live in, the
laws both of matter and motion have quite rigorously forbidden
universal acquisition of this kind. Profit, or material gain, is
attainable only by construction or by discovery; not by exchange.
Whenever material gain follows exchange, for every _plus_ there is a
precisely equal _minus_.

Unhappily for the progress of the science of Political Economy, the
plus quantities, or--if I may be allowed to coin an awkward
plural--the pluses, make a very positive and venerable appearance in
the world, so that every one is eager to learn the science which
produces results so magnificent; whereas the minuses have, on the
other hand, a tendency to retire into back streets, and other places
of shade,--or even to get themselves wholly and finally put out of
sight in graves: which renders the algebra of this science peculiar,
and difficultly legible; a large number of its negative signs being
written by the account-keeper in a kind of red ink, which starvation
thins, and makes strangely pale, or even quite invisible ink, for the

The science of Exchange, or, as I hear it has been proposed to call
it, of "Catallactics," considered as one of gain, is, therefore,
simply nugatory; but considered as one of acquisition, it is a very
curious science, differing in its data and basis from every other
science known. Thus:--If I can exchange a needle with a savage for a
diamond, my power of doing so depends either on the savage's ignorance
of social arrangements in Europe, or on his want of power to take
advantage of them, by selling the diamond to any one else for more
needles. If, farther, I make the bargain as completely advantageous to
myself as possible, by giving to the savage a needle with no eye in it
(reaching, thus, a sufficiently satisfactory type of the perfect
operation of catallactic science), the advantage to me in the entire
transaction depends wholly upon the ignorance, powerlessness, or
heedlessness of the person dealt with. Do away with these, and
catallactic advantage becomes impossible. So far, therefore as the
science of exchange relates to the advantage of one of the exchanging
persons only, it is founded on the ignorance or incapacity of the
opposite person. Where these vanish, it also vanishes. It is therefore
a science founded on nescience, and an art founded on artlessness. But
all other sciences and arts, except this, have for their object the
doing away with their opposite nescience and artlessness. _This_
science, alone of sciences, must, by all available means, promulgate
and prolong its opposite nescience; otherwise the science itself is
impossible. It is, therefore, peculiarly and alone, the science of
darkness; probably a bastard science--not by any means a _divina
scientia_, but one begotten of another father, that father who,
advising his children to turn stones into bread, is himself employed
in turning bread into stones, and who, if you ask a fish of him (fish
not being producible on his estate), can but give you a serpent.

The general law, then, respecting just or economical exchange, is
simply this:--There must be advantage on both sides (or if only
advantage on one, at least no disadvantage on the other) to the
persons exchanging; and just payment for his time, intelligence, and
labour, to any intermediate person effecting the transaction (commonly
called a merchant): and whatever advantage there is on either side,
and whatever pay is given to the intermediate person, should be
thoroughly known to all concerned. All attempt at concealment implies
some practice of the opposite, or undivine science, founded on
nescience. Whence another saying of the Jew merchant's--"As a nail
between the stone joints, so doth sin stick fast between buying and
selling." Which peculiar riveting of stone and timber, in men's
dealing with each other, is again set forth in the house which was to
be destroyed--timber and stones together--when Zechariah's roll (more
probably "curved sword") flew over it: "the curse that goeth forth
over all the earth upon every one that stealeth and holdeth himself
guiltless," instantly followed by the vision of the Great
Measure;--the measure "of the injustice of them in all the earth"
([Greek: autê hê adikia autôn en pasê tê gê]), with the weight of
lead for its lid, and the woman, the spirit of wickedness, within
it;--that is to say, Wickedness hidden by Dulness, and formalized,
outwardly, into ponderously established cruelty. "It shall be set upon
its own base in the land on Babel."[53]

   [53] Zech. v. 11. See note on the passage, at pp. 191-2.

I have hitherto carefully restricted myself, in speaking of exchange,
to the use of the term "advantage;" but that term includes two ideas:
the advantage, namely, of getting what we _need_, and that of getting
what we _wish for_. Three-fourths of the demands existing in the world
are romantic; founded on visions, idealisms, hopes, and affections;
and the regulation of the purse is, in its essence, regulation of the
imagination and the heart. Hence, the right discussion of the nature
of price is a very high metaphysical and psychical problem; sometimes
to be solved only in a passionate manner, as by David in his counting
the price of the water of the well by the gate of Bethlehem; but its
first conditions are the following:--The price of anything is the
quantity of labour given by the person desiring it, in order to obtain
possession of it. This price depends on four variable quantities. _A_.
The quantity of wish the purchaser has for the thing; opposed to
[Greek: a], the quantity of wish the seller has to keep it. _B_. The
quantity of labour the purchaser can afford, to obtain the thing;
opposed to [Greek: b], the quantity of labour the seller can afford, to
keep it. These quantities are operative only in excess; _i.e._, the
quantity of wish (_A_) means the quantity of wish for this thing, above
wish for other things; and the quantity of work (_B_) means the quantity
which can be spared to get this thing from the quantity needed to get
other things.

Phenomena of price, therefore, are intensely complex, curious, and
interesting--too complex, however, to be examined yet; every one of
them, when traced far enough, showing itself at last as a part of the
bargain of the Poor of the Flock (or "flock of slaughter"), "If ye
think good, give ME my price, and if not, forbear"--Zech. xi. 12; but
as the price of everything is to be calculated finally in labour, it
is necessary to define the nature of that standard.

Labour is the contest of the life of man with an opposite:--the term
"life" including his intellect, soul, and physical power, contending
with question, difficulty, trial, or material force.

Labour is of a higher or lower order, as it includes more or fewer of
the elements of life: and labour of good quality, in any kind,
includes always as much intellect and feeling as will fully and
harmoniously regulate the physical force.

In speaking of the value and price of labour, it is necessary always
to understand labour of a given rank and quality, as we should speak
of gold or silver of a given standard. Bad (that is, heartless,
inexperienced, or senseless) labour cannot be valued; it is like gold
of uncertain alloy, or flawed iron.[54]

   [54] Labour which is entirely good of its kind, that is to say,
        effective, or efficient, the Greeks called "weighable,"
        or [Greek: axios], translated usually "worthy," and
        because thus substantial and true, they called its price
        [Greek: timê], the "honourable estimate" of it (honorarium):
        this word being founded on their conception of true labour
        as a divine thing, to be honoured with the kind of honour
        given to the gods; whereas the price of false labour, or of
        that which led away from life, was to be, not honour, but
        vengeance; for which they reserved another word, attributing
        the exaction of such price to a peculiar goddess called
        Tisiphone, the "requiter (or quittance-taker) of death;"
        a person versed in the highest branches of arithmetic, and
        punctual in her habits; with whom accounts current have been
        opened also in modern days.

The quality and kind of labour being given, its value, like that of
all other valuable things, is invariable. But the quantity of it which
must be given for other things is variable: and in estimating this
variation, the price of other things must always be counted by the
quantity of labour; not the price of labour by the quantity of other

Thus, if we want to plant an apple sapling in rocky ground, it may
take two hours' work; in soft ground, perhaps only half an hour. Grant
the soil equally good for the tree in each case. Then the value of the
sapling planted by two hours' work is nowise greater than that of the
sapling planted in half an hour. One will bear no more fruit than the
other. Also, one half-hour of work is as valuable as another
half-hour; nevertheless the one sapling has cost four such pieces of
work, the other only one. Now the proper statement of this fact is,
not that the labour on the hard ground is cheaper than on the soft;
but that the tree is dearer. The exchange value may, or may not,
afterwards depend on this fact. If other people have plenty of soft
ground to plant in, they will take no cognizance of our two hours'
labour, in the price they will offer for the plant on the rock. And
if, through want of sufficient botanical science, we have planted an
upas-tree instead of an apple, the exchange value will be a negative
quantity; still less proportionate to the labour expended.

What is commonly called cheapness of labour, signifies, therefore, in
reality, that many obstacles have to be overcome by it; so that much
labour is required to produce a small result. But this should never be
spoken of as cheapness of labour, but as dearness of the object
wrought for. It would be just as rational to say that walking was
cheap, because we had ten miles to walk home to our dinner, as that
labour was cheap, because we had to work ten hours to earn it.

The last word which we have to define is "Production."

I have hitherto spoken of all labour as profitable; because it is
impossible to consider under one head the quality or value of labour,
and its aim. But labour of the best quality may be various in aim. It
may be either constructive ("gathering," from con and struo), as
agriculture; nugatory, as jewel-cutting; or destructive ("scattering,"
from de and struo), as war. It is not, however, always easy to prove
labour, apparently nugatory, to be actually so;[55] generally, the
formula holds good, "he that gathereth not, scattereth;" thus, the
jeweller's art is probably very harmful in its ministering to a clumsy
and inelegant pride. So that, finally, I believe nearly all labour may
be shortly divided into positive and negative labour: positive, that
which produces life; negative, that which produces death; the most
directly negative labour being murder, and the most directly positive,
the bearing and rearing of children: so that in the precise degree in
which murder is hateful, on the negative side of idleness, in that
exact degree child-rearing is admirable, on the positive side of
idleness. For which reason, and because of the honour that there is in
rearing[56] children, while the wife is said to be as the vine (for
cheering), the children are as the olive-branch, for praise; nor for
praise only, but for peace (because large families can only be reared
in times of peace): though since, in their spreading and voyaging in
various directions, they distribute strength, they are, to the home
strength, as arrows in the hand of the giant--striking here and there,
far away.

   [55] The most accurately nugatory labour is, perhaps, that of
        which not enough is given to answer a purpose effectually,
        and which, therefore, has all to be done over again. Also,
        labour which fails of effect through non-cooperation. The
        curé of a little village near Bellinzona, to whom I had
        expressed wonder that the peasants allowed the Ticino to
        flood their fields, told me that they would not join to
        build an effectual embankment high up the valley, because
        everybody said "that would help his neighbours as much as
        himself." So every proprietor built a bit of low embankment
        about his own field; and the Ticino, as soon as it had a
        mind, swept away and swallowed all up together.

   [56] Observe, I say, "rearing," not "begetting." The praise is
        in the seventh season, not in [Greek: sporêtos], nor in
        [Greek: phytalia], but in [Greek: opôra]. It is strange
        that men always praise enthusiastically any person who,
        by a momentary exertion, saves a life; but praise very
        hesitatingly a person who, by exertion and self-denial
        prolonged through years, creates one. We give the crown "ob
        civem servatum,"--why not "ob civem natum"? Born, I mean, to
        the full, in soul as well as body. England has oak enough, I
        think, for both chaplets.

Labour being thus various in its result, the prosperity of any nation
is in exact proportion to the quantity of labour which it spends in
obtaining and employing means of life. Observe,--I say, obtaining and
employing; that is to say, not merely wisely producing, but wisely
distributing and consuming. Economists usually speak as if there were
no good in consumption absolute.[57] So far from this being so,
consumption absolute is the end, crown, and perfection of production;
and wise consumption is a far more difficult art than wise production.
Twenty people can gain money for one who can use it; and the vital
question, for individual and for nation, is, never "how much do they
make?" but "to what purpose do they spend?"

   [57] When Mr. Mill speaks of productive consumption, he only
        means consumption which results in increase of capital, or
        material wealth. See I. iii. 4, and I. iii. 5.

The reader may, perhaps, have been surprised at the slight reference
I have hitherto made to "capital," and its functions. It is here the
place to define them.

Capital signifies "head, or source, or root material"--it is material
by which some derivative or secondary good is produced. It is only
capital proper (caput vivum, not caput mortuum) when it is thus
producing something different from itself. It is a root, which does
not enter into vital function till it produces something else than a
root; namely, fruit. That fruit will in time again produce roots; and
so all living capital issues in reproduction of capital; but capital
which produces nothing but capital is only root producing root; bulb
issuing in bulb, never in tulip; seed issuing in seed, never in bread.
The Political Economy of Europe has hitherto devoted itself wholly to
the multiplication, or (less even) the aggregation, of bulbs. It never
saw, nor conceived such a thing as a tulip. Nay, boiled bulbs they
might have been--glass bulbs--Prince Rupert's drops, consummated in
powder (well, if it were glass-powder and not gunpowder), for any end
or meaning the economists had in defining the laws of aggregation. We
will try and get a clearer notion of them.

The best and simplest general type of capital is a well-made
ploughshare. Now, if that ploughshare did nothing but beget other
ploughshares, in a polypous manner,--however the great cluster of
polypous plough might glitter in the sun, it would have lost its
function of capital. It becomes true capital only by another kind of
splendour,--when it is seen "splendescere sulco," to grow bright in
the furrow; rather with diminution of its substance, than addition, by
the noble friction. And the true home question, to every capitalist
and to every nation, is not, "how many ploughs have you?" but, "where
are your furrows?" not--"how quickly will this capital reproduce
itself?"--but, "what will it do during reproduction?" What substance
will it furnish, good for life? what work construct, protective of
life? if none, its own reproduction is useless--if worse than none
(for capital may destroy life as well as support it), its own
reproduction is worse than useless; it is merely an advance from
Tisiphone, on mortgage--not a profit by any means.

Not a profit, as the ancients truly saw, and showed in the type of
Ixion;--for capital is the head, or fountain head, of wealth--the
"well-head" of wealth, as the clouds are the well-heads of rain: but
when clouds are without water, and only beget clouds, they issue in
wrath at last, instead of rain, and in lightning instead of harvest;
whence Ixion is said first to have invited his guests to a banquet,
and then made them fall into a pit filled with fire; which is the type
of the temptation of riches issuing in imprisoned torment,--torment in
a pit (as also Demas' silver mine), after which, to show the rage of
riches passing from lust of pleasure to lust of power, yet power not
truly understood, Ixion is said to have desired Juno, and instead,
embracing a cloud (or phantasm), to have begotten the Centaurs; the
power of mere wealth being, in itself, as the embrace of a
shadow,--comfortless (so also "Ephraim feedeth on wind and followeth
after the east wind"; or "that which is not"--Prov. xxiii. 5; and
again Dante's Geryon, the type of avaricious fraud, as he flies,
gathers the _air_ up with retractile claws,--"l'aer a se
raccolse"[58]), but in its offspring, a mingling of the brutal with
the human nature: human in sagacity--using both intellect and arrow;
but brutal in its body and hoof, for consuming, and trampling down.
For which sin Ixion is at last bound upon a wheel--fiery and toothed,
and rolling perpetually in the air;--the type of human labour when
selfish and fruitless (kept far into the middle ages in their wheel of
fortune); the wheel which has in it no breath or spirit, but is
whirled by chance only; whereas of all true work the Ezekiel vision is
true, that the Spirit of the living creature is in the wheels, and
where the angels go, the wheels go by them; but move no otherwise.

   [58] So also in the vision of the women bearing the ephah, before
        quoted, "the wind was in their wings," not wings "of a
        stork," as in our version; but "_milvi_," of a kite, in the
        Vulgate, or perhaps more accurately still in the Septuagint,
        "hoopoe," a bird connected typically with the power of
        riches by many traditions, of which that of its petition for
        a crest of gold is perhaps the most interesting. The "Birds"
        of Aristophanes, in which its part is principal, is full of
        them; note especially the "fortification of the air with
        baked bricks, like Babylon," l. 550; and, again, compare the
        Plutus of Dante, who (to show the influence of riches in
        destroying the reason) is the only one of the powers of the
        Inferno who cannot speak intelligibly; and also the
        cowardliest; he is not merely quelled or restrained, but
        literally "collapses" at a word; the sudden and helpless
        operation of mercantile panic being all told in the brief
        metaphor, "as the sails, swollen with the wind, fall, when
        the mast breaks."

This being the real nature of capital, it follows that there are two
kinds of true production, always going on in an active State; one of
seed, and one of food; or production for the Ground, and for the
Mouth; both of which are by covetous persons thought to be production
only for the granary; whereas the function of the granary is but
intermediate and conservative, fulfilled in distribution; else it ends
in nothing but mildew, and nourishment of rats and worms. And since
production for the Ground is only useful with future hope of harvest,
all _essential_ production is for the Mouth; and is finally measured
by the mouth; hence, as I said above, consumption is the crown of
production; and the wealth of a nation is only to be estimated by what
it consumes.

The want of any clear sight of this fact is the capital error, issuing
in rich interest and revenue of error among the political economists.
Their minds are continually set on money-gain, not on mouth-gain; and
they fall into every sort of net and snare, dazzled by the
coin-glitter as birds by the fowler's glass; or rather (for there is
not much else like birds in them) they are like children trying to
jump on the heads of their own shadows; the money-gain being only the
shadow of the true gain, which is humanity.

The final object of political economy, therefore, is to get good
method of consumption, and great quantity of consumption: in other
words, to use everything, and to use it nobly; whether it be
substance, service, or service perfecting substance. The most curious
error in Mr. Mill's entire work (provided for him originally by
Ricardo) is his endeavour to distinguish between direct and indirect
service, and consequent assertion that a demand for commodities is not
demand for labour (I. v. 9, _et seq._). He distinguishes between
labourers employed to lay out pleasure grounds, and to manufacture
velvet; declaring that it makes material difference to the labouring
classes in which of these two ways a capitalist spends his money;
because the employment of the gardeners is a demand for labour, but
the purchase of velvet is not.[59] Error colossal as well as strange.
It will, indeed, make a difference to the labourer whether we bid him
swing his scythe in the spring winds, or drive the loom in
pestilential air; but, so far as his pocket is concerned, it makes to
him absolutely no difference whether we order him to make green
velvet, with seed and a scythe, or red velvet, with silk and scissors.
Neither does it anywise concern him whether, when the velvet is made,
we consume it by walking on it, or wearing it, so long as our
consumption of it is wholly selfish. But if our consumption is to be
in any wise unselfish, not only our mode of consuming the articles we
require interests him, but also the _kind_ of article we require with
a view to consumption. As thus (returning for a moment to Mr. Mill's
great hardware theory[60]): it matters, so far as the labourer's
immediate profit is concerned, not an iron filing whether I employ him
in growing a peach, or forging a bombshell; but my probable mode of
consumption of those articles matters seriously. Admit that it is to
be in both cases "unselfish," and the difference, to him, is final,
whether when his child is ill, I walk into his cottage and give it the
peach, or drop the shell down his chimney, and blow his roof off.

   [59] The value of raw material, which has, indeed, to be deducted
        from the price of the labour, is not contemplated in the
        passages referred to, Mr. Mill having fallen into the
        mistake solely by pursuing the collateral results of the
        payment of wages to middlemen. He says:--"The consumer does
        not, with his own funds, pay the weaver for his day's work."
        Pardon me; the consumer of the velvet pays the weaver with
        his own funds as much as he pays the gardener. He pays,
        probably, an intermediate ship-owner, velvet merchant, and
        shopman; pays carriage money, shop rent, damage money, time
        money, and care money; all these are above and beside the
        velvet price (just as the wages of a head gardener would be
        above the grass price); but the velvet is as much produced
        by the consumer's capital, though he does not pay for it
        till six months after production, as the grass is produced
        by his capital, though he does not pay the man who mowed and
        rolled it on Monday, till Saturday afternoon. I do not know
        if Mr. Mill's conclusion--"the capital cannot be dispensed
        with, the purchasers can"--has yet been reduced to practice
        in the City on any large scale.

   [60] Which, observe, is the precise opposite of the one
        under examination. The hardware theory required us to
        discharge our gardeners and engage manufacturers; the velvet
        theory requires us to discharge our manufacturers and engage

The worst of it, for the peasant, is, that the capitalist's
consumption of the peach is apt to be selfish, and of the shell,
distributive;[61] but, in all cases, this is the broad and general
fact, that on due catallactic commercial principles, _somebody's_ roof
must go off in fulfilment of the bomb's destiny. You may grow for
your neighbour, at your liking, grapes or grapeshot; he will also,
catallactically, grow grapes or grapeshot for you, and you will each
reap what you have sown.

   [61] It is one very awful form of the operation of wealth in
        Europe that it is entirely capitalists' wealth which
        supports unjust wars. Just wars do not need so much money to
        support them; for most of the men who wage such, wage them
        gratis; but for an unjust war, men's bodies and souls have
        both to be bought; and the best tools of war for them
        besides; which makes such war costly to the maximum; not to
        speak of the cost of base fear, and angry suspicion, between
        nations which have not grace nor honesty enough in all their
        multitudes to buy an hour's peace of mind with: as, at
        present, France and England, purchasing of each other ten
        millions sterling worth of consternation annually (a
        remarkably light crop, half thorns and half aspen
        leaves,--sown, reaped, and granaried by "the science" of the
        modern political economist, teaching covetousness instead of
        truth). And all unjust war being supportable, if not by
        pillage of the enemy, only by loans from capitalists, these
        loans are repaid by subsequent taxation of the people, who
        appear to have no will in the matter, the capitalists' will
        being the primary root of the war; but its real root is the
        covetousness of the whole nation, rendering it incapable of
        faith, frankness, or justice, and bringing about, therefore,
        in due time, his own separate loss and punishment to each

It is, therefore, the manner and issue of consumption which are the
real tests of production. Production does not consist in things
laboriously made, but in things serviceably consumable; and the
question for the nation is not how much labour it employs, but how
much life it produces. For as consumption is the end and aim of
production, so life is the end and aim of consumption.

I left this question to the reader's thought two months ago, choosing
rather that he should work it out for himself than have it sharply
stated to him. But now, the ground being sufficiently broken (and the
details into which the several questions, here opened, must lead us,
being too complex for discussion in the pages of a periodical, so that
I must pursue them elsewhere), I desire, in closing the series of
introductory papers, to leave this one great fact clearly stated.
THERE IS NO WEALTH BUT LIFE. Life, including all its powers of love,
of joy, and of admiration. That country is the richest which nourishes
the greatest number of noble and happy human beings; that man is
richest who, having perfected the functions of his own life to the
utmost, has also the widest helpful influence, both personal and by
means of his possessions, over the lives of others.

A strange political economy; the only one, nevertheless, that ever was
or can be: all political economy founded on self-interest[62] being
but the fulfilment of that which once brought schism into the Policy
of angels, and ruin into the Economy of Heaven.

   [62] "In all reasoning about prices, the proviso must be
        understood, 'supposing all parties to take care of their
        own interest.'"--Mill, III. i. 5.

"The greatest number of human beings noble and happy." But is the
nobleness consistent with the number? Yes, not only consistent with
it, but essential to it. The maximum of life can only be reached by
the maximum of virtue. In this respect the law of human population
differs wholly from that of animal life. The multiplication of animals
is checked only by want of food, and by the hostility of races; the
population of the gnat is restrained by the hunger of the swallow, and
that of the swallow by the scarcity of gnats. Man, considered as an
animal, is indeed limited by the same laws: hunger, or plague, or war,
are the necessary and only restraints upon his increase,--effectual
restraints hitherto,--his principal study having been how most swiftly
to destroy himself, or ravage his dwelling-places, and his highest
skill directed to give range to the famine, seed to the plague, and
sway to the sword. But, considered as other than an animal, his
increase is not limited by these laws. It is limited only by the
limits of his courage and his love. Both of these _have_ their bounds;
and ought to have: his race has its bounds also; but these have not
yet been reached, nor will be reached for ages.

In all the ranges of human thought I know none so melancholy as the
speculations of political economists on the population question. It is
proposed to better the condition of the labourer by giving him higher
wages. "Nay," says the economist, "if you raise his wages, he will
either drag people down to the same point of misery at which you found
him, or drink your wages away." He will. I know it. Who gave him this
will? Suppose it were your own son of whom you spoke, declaring to me
that you dared not take him into your firm, nor even give him his just
labourer's wages, because if you did, he would die of drunkenness, and
leave half a score of children to the parish. "Who gave your son these
dispositions?"--I should inquire. Has he them by inheritance or by
education? By one or other they _must_ come; and as in him, so also in
the poor. Either these poor are of a race essentially different from
ours, and unredeemable (which, however often implied, I have heard
none yet openly say), or else by such care as we have ourselves
received, we may make them continent and sober as ourselves--wise and
dispassionate as we are--models arduous of imitation. "But," it is
answered, "they cannot receive education." Why not? That is precisely
the point at issue. Charitable persons suppose the worst fault of the
rich is to refuse the people meat; and the people cry for their meat,
kept back by fraud, to the Lord of Multitudes.[63] Alas! it is not
meat of which the refusal is cruelest, or to which the claim is
validest. The life is more than the meat. The rich not only refuse
food to the poor; they refuse wisdom; they refuse virtue; they refuse
salvation. Ye sheep without shepherd, it is not the pasture that has
been shut from you, but the presence. Meat! perhaps your right to that
may be pleadable; but other rights have to be pleaded first. Claim
your crumbs from the table, if you will; but claim them as children,
not as dogs; claim your right to be fed, but claim more loudly your
right to be holy, perfect, and pure.

   [63] James v. 4. Observe, in these statements I am not taking
        up, nor countenancing one whit, the common socialist idea of
        division of property; division of property is its
        destruction; and with it the destruction of all hope, all
        industry, and all justice: it is simply chaos--a chaos
        towards which the believers in modern political economy are
        fast tending, and from which I am striving to save them. The
        rich man does not keep back meat from the poor by retaining
        his riches; but by basely using them. Riches are a form of
        strength; and a strong man does not injure others by keeping
        his strength, but by using it injuriously. The socialist,
        seeing a strong man oppress a weak one, cries out--"Break
        the strong man's arms"; but I say, "Teach him to use them to
        better purpose." The fortitude and intelligence which
        acquire riches are intended, by the Giver of both, not to
        scatter, nor to give away, but to employ those riches in the
        service of mankind; in other words, in the redemption of the
        erring and aid of the weak--that is to say, there is first
        to be the work to gain money; then the Sabbath of use for
        it--the Sabbath, whose law is, not to lose life, but to
        save. It is continually the fault or the folly of the poor
        that they are poor, as it is usually a child's fault if it
        falls into a pond, and a cripple's weakness that slips at a
        crossing; nevertheless, most passers-by would pull the child
        out, or help up the cripple. Put it at the worst, that all
        the poor of the world are but disobedient children, or
        careless cripples, and that all rich people are wise and
        strong, and you will see at once that neither is the
        socialist right in desiring to make everybody poor,
        powerless, and foolish as he is himself, nor the rich man
        right in leaving the children in the mire.

Strange words to be used of working people: "What! holy; without any
long robes nor anointing oils; these rough-jacketed, rough-worded
persons set to nameless and dishonoured service? Perfect!--these, with
dim eyes and cramped limbs, and slowly wakening minds? Pure!--these,
with sensual desire and grovelling thought; foul of body, and coarse
of soul?" It may be so; nevertheless, such as they are, they are the
holiest, perfectest, purest persons the earth can at present show.
They may be what you have said; but if so, they yet are holier than
we, who have left them thus.

But what can be done for them? Who can clothe--who teach--who restrain
their multitudes? What end can there be for them at last, but to
consume one another?

I hope for another end, though not, indeed, from any of the three
remedies for over-population commonly suggested by economists.

These three are, in brief--Colonization; Bringing in of waste lands;
or Discouragement of Marriage.

The first and second of these expedients merely evade or delay the
question. It will, indeed, be long before the world has been all
colonized, and its deserts all brought under cultivation. But the
radical question is not how much habitable land is in the world, but
how many human beings ought to be maintained on a given space of
habitable land.

Observe, I say, _ought_ to be, not how many _can_ be. Ricardo, with
his usual inaccuracy, defines what he calls the "natural rate of
wages" as "that which will maintain the labourer." Maintain him! yes;
but how?--the question was instantly thus asked of me by a working
girl, to whom I read the passage. I will amplify her question for her.
"Maintain him, how?" As, first, to what length of life? Out of a given
number of fed persons how many are to be old--how many young; that is
to say, will you arrange their maintenance so as to kill them
early--say at thirty or thirty-five on the average, including deaths
of weakly or ill-fed children?--or so as to enable them to live out a
natural life? You will feed a greater number, in the first case,[64]
by rapidity of succession; probably a happier number in the second:
which does Mr. Ricardo mean to be their natural state, and to which
state belongs the natural rate of wages?

   [64] The quantity of life is the same in both cases; but it
        is differently allotted.

Again: A piece of land which will only support ten idle, ignorant, and
improvident persons, will support thirty or forty intelligent and
industrious ones. Which of these is their natural state, and to which
of them belongs the natural rate of wages?

Again: If a piece of land support forty persons in industrious
ignorance; and if, tired of this ignorance, they set apart ten of
their number to study the properties of cones, and the sizes of stars;
the labour of these ten, being withdrawn from the ground, must either
tend to the increase of food in some transitional manner, or the
persons set apart for sidereal and conic purposes must starve, or some
one else starve instead of them. What is, therefore, the natural rate
of wages of the scientific persons, and how does this rate relate to,
or measure, their reverted or transitional productiveness?

Again: If the ground maintains, at first, forty labourers in a
peaceable and pious state of mind, but they become in a few years so
quarrelsome and impious that they have to set apart five, to meditate
upon and settle their disputes; ten, armed to the teeth with costly
instruments, to enforce the decisions; and five to remind everybody in
an eloquent manner of the existence of a God;--what will be the result
upon the general power of production, and what is the "natural rate of
wages" of the meditative, muscular, and oracular labourers?

Leaving these questions to be discussed, or waived, at their pleasure,
by Mr. Ricardo's followers, I proceed to state the main facts bearing
on that probable future of the labouring classes which has been
partially glanced at by Mr. Mill. That chapter and the preceding one
differ from the common writing of political economists in admitting
some value in the aspect of nature, and expressing regret at the
probability of the destruction of natural scenery. But we may spare
our anxieties, on this head. Men can neither drink steam, nor eat
stone. The maximum of population on a given space of land implies also
the relative maximum of edible vegetable, whether for men or cattle;
it implies a maximum of pure air; and of pure water. Therefore: a
maximum of wood, to transmute the air, and of sloping ground,
protected by herbage from the extreme heat of the sun, to feed the
streams. All England may, if it so chooses, become one manufacturing
town; and Englishmen, sacrificing themselves to the good of general
humanity, may live diminished lives in the midst of noise, of
darkness, and of deadly exhalation. But the world cannot become a
factory, nor a mine. No amount of ingenuity will ever make iron
digestible by the million, nor substitute hydrogen for wine. Neither
the avarice nor the rage of men will ever feed them, and however the
apple of Sodom and the grape of Gomorrah may spread their table for a
time with dainties of ashes, and nectar of asps,--so long as men live
by bread, the far away valleys must laugh as they are covered with the
gold of God, and the shouts of His happy multitudes ring round the
winepress and the well.

Nor need our more sentimental economists fear the too wide spread of
the formalities of a mechanical agriculture. The presence of a wise
population implies the search for felicity as well as for food; nor
can any population reach its maximum but through that wisdom which
"rejoices" in the habitable parts of the earth. The desert has its
appointed place and work; the eternal engine, whose beam is the
earth's axle, whose beat is its year, and whose breath is its ocean,
will still divide imperiously to their desert kingdoms, bound with
unfurrowable rock, and swept by unarrested sand, their powers of frost
and fire: but the zones and lands between, habitable, will be
loveliest in habitation. The desire of the heart is also the light of
the eyes. No scene is continually and untiringly loved, but one rich
by joyful human labour; smooth in field; fair in garden; full in
orchard; trim, sweet, and frequent in homestead; ringing with voices
of vivid existence. No air is sweet that is silent; it is only sweet
when full of low currents of under sound--triplets of birds, and
murmur and chirp of insects, and deep-toned words of men, and wayward
trebles of childhood. As the art of life is learned, it will be found
at last that all lovely things are also necessary:--the wild flower by
the wayside, as well as the tended corn; and the wild birds and
creatures of the forest, as well as the tended cattle; because man
doth not live by bread only, but also by the desert manna; by every
wondrous word and unknowable work of God. Happy, in that he knew them
not, nor did his fathers know; and that round about him reaches yet
into the infinite, the amazement of his existence.

Note, finally, that all effectual advancement towards this true
felicity of the human race must be by individual, not public effort.
Certain general measures may aid, certain revised laws guide, such
advancement; but the measure and law which have first to be determined
are those of each man's home. We continually hear it recommended by
sagacious people to complaining neighbours (usually less well placed
in the world than themselves), that they should "remain content in the
station in which Providence has placed them." There are perhaps some
circumstances of life in which Providence has no intention that people
_should_ be content. Nevertheless, the maxim is on the whole a good
one; but it is peculiarly for home use. That your neighbour should, or
should not, remain content with _his_ position, is not your business;
but it is very much your business to remain content with your own.
What is chiefly needed in England at the present day is to show the
quantity of pleasure that may be obtained by a consistent,
well-administered competence, modest, confessed, and laborious. We
need examples of people who, leaving Heaven to decide whether they are
to rise in the world, decide for themselves that they will be happy in
it, and have resolved to seek--not greater wealth, but simpler
pleasure; not higher fortune, but deeper felicity; making the first of
possessions, self-possession; and honouring themselves in the harmless
pride and calm pursuits of peace.

Of which lowly peace it is written that "justice and peace have
kissed each other;" and that the fruit of justice is "sown in
peace of them that make peace"; not "peace-makers" in the common
understanding--reconcilers of quarrels; (though that function also
follows on the greater one;) but peace-Creators; Givers of Calm. Which
you cannot give, unless you first gain; nor is this gain one which
will follow assuredly on any course of business, commonly so called.
No form of gain is less probable, business being (as is shown in
the language of all nations--[Greek: pôlein] from [Greek: pelô],
[Greek: prasis] from [Greek: peraô], venire, vendre, and venal, from
venio, etc.) essentially restless--and probably contentious;--having a
raven-like mind to the motion to and fro, as to the carrion food;
whereas the olive-feeding and bearing birds look for rest for their
feet: thus it is said of Wisdom that she "hath builded her house, and
hewn out her seven pillars;" and even when, though apt to wait long at
the doorposts, she has to leave her house and go abroad, her paths are
peace also.

For us, at all events, her work must begin at the entry of the doors:
all true economy is "Law of the house." Strive to make that law
strict, simple, generous: waste nothing, and grudge nothing. Care in
nowise to make more of money, but care to make much of it; remembering
always the great, palpable, inevitable fact--the rule and root of all
economy--that what one person has, another cannot have; and that every
atom of substance, of whatever kind, used or consumed, is so much
human life spent; which, if it issue in the saving present life, or
gaining more, is well spent, but if not, is either so much life
prevented, or so much slain. In all buying, consider, first, what
condition of existence you cause in the producers of what you buy;
secondly, whether the sum you have paid is just to the producer, and
in due proportion lodged in his hands;[65] thirdly, to how much clear
use, for food, knowledge, or joy, this that you have bought can be
put; and fourthly, to whom and in what way it can be most speedily and
serviceably distributed: in all dealings whatsoever insisting on
entire openness and stern fulfilment; and in all doings, on perfection
and loveliness of accomplishment; especially on fineness and purity of
all marketable commodity: watching at the same time for all ways of
gaining, or teaching, powers of simple pleasure; and of showing "hoson
en asphodelph geg honeiar"--the sum of enjoyment depending not on the
quantity of things tasted, but on the vivacity and patience of taste.

   [65] The proper offices of middlemen, namely, overseers (or
        authoritative workmen), conveyancers (merchants, sailors,
        retail dealers, etc.), and order-takers (persons employed to
        receive directions from the consumer), must, of course, be
        examined before I can enter farther into the question of
        just payment of the first producer. But I have not spoken
        of them in these introductory papers, because the evils
        attendant on the abuse of such intermediate functions result
        not from any alleged principle of modern political economy,
        but from private carelessness or iniquity.

And if, on due and honest thought over these things, it seems that the
kind of existence to which men are now summoned by every plea of pity
and claim of right, may, for some time at least, not be a luxurious
one:--consider whether, even, supposing it guiltless, luxury would be
desired by any of us, if we saw clearly at our sides the suffering
which accompanies it in the world. Luxury is indeed possible in the
future--innocent and exquisite: luxury for all, and by the help of
all; but luxury at present can only be enjoyed by the ignorant; the
cruelest man living could not sit at his feast, unless he sat
blindfold. Raise the veil boldly; face the light; and if, as yet, the
light of the eye can only be through tears, and the light of the body
through sackcloth, go thou forth weeping, bearing precious seed, until
the time come, and the kingdom, when Christ's gift of bread, and
bequest of peace shall be Unto this last as unto thee; and when, for
earth's severed multitudes of the wicked and the weary, there shall be
holier reconciliation than that of the narrow home, and calm economy,
where the Wicked cease--not from trouble, but from troubling--and the
Weary are at rest.





As domestic economy regulates the acts and habits of a household,
political economy regulates those of a society or State, with
reference to its maintenance.

Political economy is neither an art nor a science,[66] but a system of
conduct and legislature, founded on the sciences, directing the arts,
and impossible, except under certain conditions of moral culture.

By the "maintenance" of a State is to be understood the support of its
population in healthy and happy life; and the increase of their
numbers, so far as that increase is consistent with their happiness.
It is not the object of political economy to increase the numbers of a
nation at the cost of common health or comfort; nor to increase
indefinitely the comfort of individuals, by sacrifice of surrounding
lives, or possibilities of life.

   [66] The science which in modern days had been called Political
        Economy is in reality nothing more than the investigation of
        the phenomena of commercial operations. It has no connexion
        with political economy, as understood and treated of by the
        great thinkers of past ages; and as long as it is allowed
        to pass under the same name, every word written by those
        thinkers--and chiefly the words of Plato, Xenophon, Cicero,
        and Bacon--must be either misunderstood or misapplied. The
        reader must not, therefore, be surprised at the care and
        insistence with which I have retained the literal and earliest
        sense of all important terms used in these papers; for a word
        is usually well made at the time it is first wanted; its
        youngest meaning has in it the full strength of its youth;
        subsequent senses are commonly warped or weakened; and as a
        misused word always is liable to involve an obscured thought,
        and all careful thinkers, either on this or any other subject,
        are sure to have used their words accurately, the first
        condition, in order to be able to avail ourselves of their
        sayings at all, is a firm definition of terms.

The assumption which lies at the root of nearly all erroneous
reasoning on political economy--namely, that its object is to
accumulate money or exchangeable property--may be shown in few words
to be without foundation. For no economist would admit national
economy to be legitimate which proposed to itself only the building of
a pyramid of gold. He would declare the gold to be wasted, were it to
remain in the monumental form, and would say it ought to be employed.
But to what end? Either it must be used only to gain more gold, and
build a larger pyramid, or to some purpose other than the gaining of
gold. And this other purpose, however at first apprehended, will be
found to resolve itself finally into the service of man--that is to
say, the extension, defence, or comfort of his life. The golden
pyramid may perhaps be providently built, perhaps improvidently; but,
at all events, the wisdom or folly of the accumulation can only be
determined by our having first clearly stated the aim of all economy,
namely, the extension of life.

If the accumulation of money, or of exchangeable property, were a
certain means of extending existence, it would be useless, in
discussing economical questions, to fix our attention upon the more
distant object--life--instead of the immediate one--money. But it is
not so. Money may sometimes be accumulated at the cost of life, or by
limitations of it; that is to say, either by hastening the deaths of
men, or preventing their births. It is therefore necessary to keep
clearly in view the ultimate object of economy, and to determine the
expediency of minor operations with reference to that ulterior end. It
has been just stated that the object of political economy is the
continuance not only of life, but of healthy and happy life. But all
true happiness is both a consequence and cause of life; it is a sign
of its vigour, and means of its continuance. All true suffering is in
like manner a consequence and cause of death. I shall therefore, in
future, use the word "Life" singly: but let it be understood to
include in its signification the happiness and power of the entire
human nature, body and soul.

That human nature, as its Creator made it, and maintains it wherever
His laws are observed, is entirely harmonious. No physical error can
be more profound, no moral error more dangerous than that involved in
the monkish doctrine of the opposition of body to soul. No soul can be
perfect in an imperfect body; no body perfect without perfect soul.
Every right action and true thought sets the seal of its beauty on
person and face; every wrong action and foul thought its seal of
distortion; and the various aspects of humanity might be read as
plainly as a printed history, were it not that the impressions are so
complex that it must always in some cases--and, in the present state
of our knowledge, in all cases--be impossible to decipher them
completely. Nevertheless, the face of a consistently just, and of a
consistently unjust person, may always be rightly discerned at a
glance; and if the qualities are continued by descent through a
generation or two, there arises a complete distinction of race. Both
moral and physical qualities are communicated by descent, far more
than they can be developed by education (though both may be destroyed
for want of education), and there is as yet no ascertained limit to
the nobleness of person and mind which the human creature may attain,
by persevering observance of the laws of God respecting its birth and
training. We must therefore yet farther define the aim of political
economy to be "the multiplication of human life at the highest
standard." It might at first seem questionable whether we should
endeavour to maintain a small number of persons of the highest type of
beauty and intelligence, or a larger number of an inferior class. But
I shall be able to show in the sequel, that the way to maintain the
largest number is first to aim at the highest standard. Determine the
noblest type of man, and aim simply at maintaining the largest
possible number of persons of that class, and it will be found that
the largest possible number of every healthy subordinate class must
necessarily be produced also.

The perfect type of manhood, as just stated, involves the perfections
(whatever we may hereafter determine these to be) of his body,
affections, and intelligence. The material things, therefore,
which it is the object of political economy to produce and use
(or accumulate for use), are things which serve either to sustain
and comfort the body, or exercise rightly the affections and form the
intelligence.[67] Whatever truly serves either of these purposes is
"useful" to man, wholesome, healthful, helpful, or holy. By seeking
such things, man prolongs and increases his life upon the earth.

   [67] It may be observed, in anticipation of some of our future
        results, that while some conditions of the affections are
        aimed at by the economist as final, others are necessary to
        him as his own instruments: as he obtains them in greater or
        less degree his own farther work becomes more or less
        possible. Such, for instance, are the fortifying virtues,
        which the wisest men of all time have, with more or less
        distinctness, arranged under the general heads of Prudence,
        or Discretion (the spirit which discerns and adopts
        rightly); Justice (the spirit which rules and divides
        rightly); Fortitude (the spirit which persists and endures
        rightly); and Temperance (the spirit which stops and refuses
        rightly); or in shorter terms still, the virtues which teach
        how to consist, assist, persist, and desist. These outermost
        virtues are not only the means of protecting and prolonging
        life itself, but they are the chief guards or sources of the
        material means of life, and are the visible governing powers
        and princes of economy. Thus (reserving detailed statements
        for the sequel) precisely according to the number of just
        men in a nation, is their power of avoiding either intestine
        or foreign war. All disputes may be peaceably settled, if a
        sufficient number of persons have been trained to submit to
        the principles of justice. The necessity for war is in
        direct ratio to the number of unjust persons who are
        incapable of determining a quarrel but by violence. Whether
        the injustice take the form of the desire of dominion, or of
        refusal to submit to it, or of lust of territory, or lust of
        money, or of mere irregular passion and wanton will, the
        result is economically the same;--loss of the quantity of
        power and life consumed in repressing the injustice, as well
        as of that requiring to be repressed, added to the material
        and moral destruction caused by the fact of war. The early
        civil wars of England, and the existing war in America, are
        curious examples--these under monarchical, this under
        republican institutions--of the results of the want of
        education of large masses of nations in principles of
        justice. This latter war, especially, may perhaps at least
        serve for some visible, or if that be impossible (for the
        Greeks told us that Plutus was blind, as Dante that he was
        speechless), some feelable proof that true political economy
        is an ethical, and by no means a commercial business. The
        Americans imagined themselves to know somewhat of
        money-making; bowed low before their Dollar, expecting
        Divine help from it; more than potent--even omnipotent. Yet
        all the while this apparently tangible, was indeed an
        imaginary Deity;--and had they shown the substance of him to
        any true economist, or even true mineralogist, they would
        have been told, long years ago,--"Alas, gentlemen, this that
        you are gaining is not gold,--not a particle of it. It is
        yellow, and glittering, and like enough to the real
        metal,--but see--it is brittle, cat-gold, 'iron firestone.'
        Out of this, heap it as high as you will, you will get so
        much steel and brimstone--nothing else; and in a year or
        two, when (had you known a little of right economy) you
        might have had quiet roof-trees over your heads, and a fair
        account at your banker's, you shall instead have to sleep
        a-field, under red tapestries, costliest, yet comfortless;
        and at your banker's find deficit at compound interest." But
        the mere dread or distrust resulting from the want of inner
        virtues of Faith and Charity among nations, is often no less
        costly than war itself. The fear which France and England
        have of each other costs each nation about fifteen millions
        sterling annually, besides various paralyses of commerce;
        that sum being spent in the manufacture of means of
        destruction instead of means of production. There is no more
        reason in the nature of things that France and England
        should be hostile to each other than that England and
        Scotland should be, or Lancashire and Yorkshire; and the
        reciprocal terrors of the opposite sides of the English
        Channel are neither more necessary, more economical, nor
        more virtuous than the old riding and reiving on opposite
        flanks of the Cheviots, or than England's own weaving for
        herself of crowns of thorn from the stems of her Red and
        White Roses.

On the other hand, whatever does not serve either of these
purposes,--much more whatever counteracts them,--is in like manner
useless to man, unwholesome, unhelpful, or unholy; and by seeking such
things man shortens and diminishes his life upon the earth. And
neither with respect to things useful or useless can man's estimate of
them alter their nature. Certain substances being good for his food,
and others noxious to him, what he thinks or wishes respecting them
can neither change their nature, nor prevent their power. If he eats
corn, he will live; if nightshade, he will die. If he produce or make
good and beautiful things, they will "recreate" him (note the
solemnity and weight of the word); if bad and ugly things, they will
"corrupt" or break in pieces--that is, in the exact degree of their
power, kill him. For every hour of labour, however enthusiastic or
well intended, which he spends for that which is not bread, so much
possibility of life is lost to him. His fancies, likings, beliefs,
however brilliant, eager, or obstinate, are of no avail if they are
set on a false object. Of all that he has laboured for, the eternal
law of heaven and earth measures out to him for reward, to the utmost
atom, that part which he ought to have laboured for, and withdraws
from him (or enforces on him, it may be) inexorably that part which he
ought not to have laboured for. The dust and chaff are all, to the
last speck, winnowed away, and on his summer threshing-floor stands
his heap of corn; little or much, not according to his labour, but to
his discretion. No "commercial arrangements," no painting of surfaces
nor alloying of substances, will avail him a pennyweight. Nature asks
of him calmly and inevitably, What have you found, or formed--the
right thing or the wrong? By the right thing you shall live; by the
wrong you shall die.

To thoughtless persons it seems otherwise. The world looks to them as
if they could cozen it out of some ways and means of life. But they
cannot cozen IT; they can only cozen their neighbours. The world is
not to be cheated of a grain; not so much as a breath of its air can
be drawn surreptitiously. For every piece of wise work done, so much
life is granted; for every piece of foolish work, nothing; for every
piece of wicked work, so much death. This is as sure as the courses of
day and night. But when the means of life are once produced, men, by
their various struggles and industries of accumulation or exchange,
may variously gather, waste, restrain, or distribute them;
necessitating, in proportion to the waste or restraint, accurately so
much more death. The rate and range of additional death is measured by
the rate and range of waste, and is inevitable;--the only question
(determined mostly by fraud in peace, and force in war) is, Who is to
die, and how?

Such being the everlasting law of human existence, the essential work
of the political economist is to determine what are in reality useful
and life-giving things, and by what degrees and kinds of labour they
are attainable and distributable. This investigation divides itself
under three great heads--first, of Wealth; secondly, of Money; and
thirdly, of Riches.

These terms are often used as synonymous, but they signify entirely
different things. "Wealth," consists of things in themselves valuable;
"Money," of documentary claims to the possession of such things; and
"Riches" is a relative term, expressing the magnitude of the
possessions of one person or society as compared with those of other
persons or societies.

The study of Wealth is a province of natural science:--it deals with
the essential properties of things.

The study of Money is a province of commercial science:--it deals with
conditions of engagement and exchange.

The study of Riches is a province of moral science:--it deals with the
due relations of men to each other in regard of material possessions;
and with the just laws of their association for purposes of labour.

I shall in this paper shortly sketch out the range of subjects which
will come before us as we follow these three branches of inquiry.


Wealth, it has been said, consists of things essentially valuable. We
now, therefore, need a definition of "value."

Value signifies the strength or "availing" of anything towards the
sustaining of life, and is always twofold; that is to say, primarily,
INTRINSIC, and, secondarily, EFFECTUAL.

The reader must, by anticipation, be warned against confusing value
with cost, or with price. Value is the life-giving power of anything;
cost, the quantity of labour required to produce it; price, the
quantity of labour which its possessor will take in exchange for it.
Cost and price are commercial conditions, to be studied under the head
of Money.

Intrinsic value is the absolute power of anything to support life. A
sheaf of wheat of given quality and weight has in it a measurable
power of sustaining the substance of the body; a cubic foot of pure
air, a fixed power of sustaining its warmth; and a cluster of flowers
of given beauty, a fixed power of enlivening or animating the senses
and heart.

It does not in the least affect the intrinsic value of the wheat, the
air, or the flowers, that men refuse or despise them. Used or not,
their own power is in them, and that particular power is in nothing

But in order that this value of theirs may become effectual, a certain
state is necessary in the recipient of it. The digesting, the
breathing, and perceiving functions must be perfect in the human
creature before the food, air, or flowers can become their full value
to it. The production of effectual value, therefore, always involves
two needs; first, the production of a thing essentially useful; then
the production of the capacity to use it. Where the intrinsic value
and acceptant capacity come together there is EFFECTUAL value, or
wealth. Where there is either no intrinsic value, or no acceptant
capacity, there is no effectual value; that is to say, no wealth. A
horse is no wealth to us if we cannot ride, nor a picture if we cannot
see, nor can any noble thing be wealth, except to a noble person. As
the aptness of the user increases, the effectual value of the thing
used increases; and in its entirety can co-exist only with perfect
skill of use, or harmony of nature. The effectual value of a given
quantity of any commodity existing in the world at any moment is
therefore a mathematical function of the capacity existing in the
human race to enjoy it. Let its intrinsic value be represented by _x_,
and the recipient faculty by _y_; its effectual value is _x y_, in
which the sum varies as either co-efficient varies, is increased by
either's increase,[68] and cancelled by either's absence.

   [68] With this somewhat strange and ungeometrical limitation,
        however, which, here expressed for the moment in the
        briefest terms, we must afterwards trace in detail--that _x
        y_ may be indefinitely increased by the increase of _y_
        only; but not by the increase of _x_, unless _y_ increases
        also in a fixed proportion.

Valuable material things may be conveniently referred to five heads:--

1. Land, with an associated air, water, and organisms.

2. Houses, furniture, and instruments.

3. Stored or prepared food and medicine, and articles of bodily
luxury, including clothing.

4. Books.

5. Works of art.

We shall enter into separate inquiry as to the conditions of value
under each of these heads. The following sketch of the entire subject
may be useful for future reference:--

1. Land. Its value is twofold--

  A. As producing food and mechanical power.
  B. As an object of sight and thought, producing intellectual power.

A. Its value, as a means of producing food and mechanical power,
varies with its form (as mountain or plain), with its substance (in
soil or mineral contents), and with its climate. All these conditions
of intrinsic value, in order to give effectual value, must be known
and complied with by the men who have to deal with it; but at any
given time, or place, the intrinsic value is fixed; such and such a
piece of land, with its associated lakes and seas, rightly treated
in surface and substance, can produce precisely so much food
and power, and no more. Its surface treatment (agriculture) and
substance treatment (practical geology and chemistry), are the
first roots of economical science. By surface treatment, however, I
mean more than agriculture as commonly understood; I mean land
and sea culture;--dominion over both the fixed and the flowing
fields;--perfect acquaintance with the laws of climate, and of
vegetable and animal growth in the given tracts of earth or ocean, and
of their relations regulating especially the production of those
articles of food which, being in each particular spot producible in
the highest perfection, will bring the best price in commercial

B. The second element of value in land is its beauty, united with such
conditions of space and form as are necessary for exercise, or
pleasant to the eye, associated with vital organism.

Land of the highest value in these respects is that lying in temperate
climates, and boldly varied in form; removed from unhealthy or
dangerous influences (as of miasm or volcano); and capable of
sustaining a rich fauna and flora. Such land, carefully tended by the
hand of man, so far as to remove from it unsightlinesses and evidences
of decay; guarded from violence, and inhabited, under man's
affectionate protection, by every kind of living creature that can
occupy it in peace, forms the most precious "property" that human
beings can possess.

The determination of the degree in which these two elements of value
can be united in land, or in which either element must, or should, in
particular cases, be sacrificed to the other, forms the most important
branch of economical inquiry respecting preferences of things.

2. Buildings, furniture, and instruments.

The value of buildings consists--A, in permanent strength, with
convenience of form, of size, and of position; so as to render
employment peaceful, social intercourse easy, temperature and air
healthy. The advisable or possible magnitude of cities and mode of
their distribution in squares, streets, courts, etc., the relative
value of sites of land, and the modes of structure which are
healthiest and most permanent, have to be studied under this head.

B. The value of buildings consists, secondarily, in historical
association and architectural beauty, of which we have to examine the
influence on manners and life.

The value of instruments consists--

A. In their power of shortening labour, or otherwise accomplishing (as
ships) what human strength unaided could not. The kinds of work which
are severally best accomplished by hand or by machine;--the effect of
machinery in gathering and multiplying population, and its influence
on the minds and bodies of such population; together with the
conceivable uses of machinery on a colossal scale in accomplishing
mighty and useful works, hitherto unthought of, such as the deepening
of large river channels;--changing the surface of mountainous
districts;--irrigating tracts of desert in the torrid zone;--breaking
up, and thus rendering capable of quicker fusion edges of ice in the
northern and southern Arctic seas, etc., so rendering parts of the
earth habitable which hitherto have not been so, are to be studied
under this head.

B. The value of instruments is, secondarily, in their aid to abstract
sciences. The degree in which the multiplication of such instruments
should be encouraged, so as to make them, if large, easy of access to
numbers (as costly telescopes), or so cheap as that they might, in a
serviceable form, become a common part of the furniture of households,
is to be considered under this head.

3. Food, medicine, and articles of luxury. Under this head we shall
have to examine the possible methods of obtaining pure and nourishing
food in such security and equality of supply as to avoid both waste
and famine; then the economy of medicine and just range of sanitary
law; finally, the economy of luxury, partly an aesthetic and partly an
ethical question.

4. Books. The value of these consists--

A. In their power of preserving and communicating the knowledge of

B. In their power of exciting vital or noble emotion and intellectual
action. They have also their corresponding negative powers of
disguising and effacing the memory of facts, and killing the noble
emotions, or exciting base ones. Under these two heads we have to
consider the economical and educational value, positive and negative,
of literature;--the means of producing and educating good authors, and
the means and advisability of rendering good books generally
accessible, and directing the reader's choice to them.

5. Works of art. The value of these is of the same nature as that of
books, but the laws of their production and possible modes of
distribution are very different, and require separate examination.


Under this head, we shall have to examine the laws of currency and
exchange; of which I will note here the first principles.

Money has been inaccurately spoken of as merely a means of
circulation. It is, on the contrary, an expression of right. It is not
wealth, being the sign[69] of the relative quantities of it, to which,
at a given time, persons or societies are entitled.

   [69] Always, and necessarily, an imperfect sign; but capable
        of approximate accuracy if rightly ordered.

If all the money in the world, notes and gold, were destroyed in an
instant, it would leave the world neither richer nor poorer than it
was. But it would leave the individual inhabitants of it in different

Money is, therefore, correspondent in its nature to the title-deed of
an estate. Though the deed be burned, the estate still exists, but the
right to it has become disputable.

The worth of money remains unchanged, as long as the proportion of the
quantity of existing money to the quantity of existing wealth, or
available labour which it professes to represent, remains unchanged.

If the wealth increases, but not the money, the worth of the money
increases; if the money increases, but not the wealth, the worth of
the money diminishes.

Money, therefore, cannot be arbitrarily multiplied, any more than
title-deeds can. So long as the existing wealth or available labour is
not fully represented by the currency, the currency may be increased
without diminution of the assigned worth of its pieces. But when the
existing wealth, or available labour, is once fully represented, every
piece of money thrown into circulation diminishes the worth of every
other existing piece, in the proportion it bears to the number of
them, provided the new piece be received with equal credit; if not,
the depreciation of worth takes place exclusively in the new piece,
according to the inferiority of its credit.

When, however, new money, composed of some substance of supposed
intrinsic value (as of gold), is brought into the market, or when new
notes are issued which are supposed to be deserving of credit, the
desire to obtain money will, under certain circumstances, stimulate
industry; an additional quantity of wealth is immediately produced,
and if this be in proportion to the new claims advanced, the value of
the existing currency is undepreciated. If the stimulus given be so
great as to produce more goods than are proportioned to the additional
coinage, the worth of the existing currency will be raised.

Arbitrary control and issues of currency affect the production of
wealth, by acting on the hopes and fears of men; and are, under
certain circumstances, wise. But the issue of additional currency to
meet the exigencies of immediate expense, is merely one of the
disguised forms of borrowing or taxing.

It is, however, in the present low state of economical knowledge,
often possible for Governments to venture on an issue of currency,
when they could not venture on an additional loan or tax, because the
real operation of such issue is not understood by the people, and the
pressure of it is irregularly distributed, and with an unperceived
gradation. Finally, the use of substances of intrinsic value as the
materials of a currency, is a barbarism;--a remnant of the conditions
of barter, which alone can render commerce possible among savage
nations. It is, however, still necessary, partly as a mechanical check
on arbitrary issues; partly as a means of exchanges with foreign
nations. In proportion to the extension of civilization, and increase
of trustworthiness in Governments, it will cease. So long as it
exists, the phenomena of the cost and price of the articles used for
currency, are mingled with those of currency itself, in an almost
inextricable manner; and the worth of money in the market is affected
by multitudinous accidental circumstances, which have been traced,
with more or less success, by writers on commercial operations; but
with these variations the true political economist has no more to do
than an engineer fortifying a harbour of refuge against Atlantic tide,
has to concern himself with the cries or quarrels of children who dig
pools with their fingers for its ebbing currents among the sand.


According to the various industry, capacity, good fortune, and desires
of men, they obtain greater or smaller share of, and claim upon, the
wealth of the world.

The inequalities between these shares, always in some degree just and
necessary, may be either restrained by law (or circumstance) within
certain limits; or may increase indefinitely.

Where no moral or legal restraint is put upon the exercise of the will
and intellect of the stronger, shrewder, or more covetous men, these
differences become ultimately enormous. But as soon as they become so
distinct in their extremes as that, on one side, there shall be
manifest redundance of possession, and on the other manifest pressure
of need,--the terms "riches" and "poverty" are used to express the
opposite states; being contrary only in the manner of the terms
"warmth" and "cold"; which neither of them imply an actual degree, but
only a relation to other degrees, of temperature.

Respecting riches, the economist has to inquire, first, into the
advisable modes of their collection; secondly, into the advisable
modes of their administration. Respecting the collection of national
riches, he has to inquire, first, whether he is justified in calling
the nation rich; if the quantity of money it possesses relatively to
that possessed by other nations be large, irrespectively of the manner
of its distribution. Or does the mode of distribution in any wise
affect the nature of the riches? Thus, if the king alone be
rich--suppose Croesus or Mausolus--are the Lydians and Carians
therefore a rich nation? Or if one or two slave-masters be rich, and
the nation be otherwise composed of slaves, is it to be called a rich
nation? For if not, and the ideas of a certain mode of distribution
or operation in the riches, and of a certain degree of freedom in the
people, enter into our idea of riches as attributed to a people, we
shall have to define the degree of fluency or circulative character
which is essential to their vitality; and the degree of independence
of action required in their possessors. Questions which look as if
they would take time in answering. And farther. Since there are two
modes in which the inequality, which is indeed the condition and
constituent of riches, may be established--namely, by increase of
possession on the one side, and by decrease of it on the other--we
have to inquire, with respect to any given state of riches, precisely
in what manner the correlative poverty was produced; that is to say,
whether by being surpassed only, or being depressed, what are the
advantages, or the contrary, conceivable in the depression. For
instance, it being one of the commonest advantages of being rich to
entertain a number of servants, we have to inquire, on the one side,
what economical process produced the poverty of the persons who serve
him; and what advantage each (on his own side) derives from the

These being the main questions touching the collection of riches, the
next, or last, part of the inquiry is into their administration.

They have in the main three great economical powers which require
separate examination: namely, the powers of selection, direction, and

A. Their power of SELECTION relates to things of which the supply is
limited (as the supply of best things is always). When it becomes
matter of question to whom such things are to belong, the richest
person has necessarily the first choice, unless some arbitrary mode of
distribution be otherwise determined upon. The business of the
economist is to show how this choice may be a Wise one.

B. Their power of DIRECTION arises out of the necessary relation of
rich men to poor, which ultimately, in one way or another, involves
the direction of, or authority over, the labour of the poor; and this
nearly as much over their mental as their bodily labour. The business
of the economist is to show how this direction may be a Just one.

C. Their power of PROVISION or "preparatory sight" (for pro-accumulation
is by no means necessarily pro-vision), is dependent upon their
redundance; which may of course by active persons be made available
in preparation for future work or future profit; in which function
riches have generally received the name of capital; that is to say, of
head- or source-material. The business of the economist is to show how
this provision may be a Distant one.

The examination of these three functions of riches will embrace every
final problem of political economy;--and, above, or before all, this
curious and vital problem,--whether, since the wholesome action of
riches in these three functions will depend (it appears) on the
Wisdom, Justice, and Far-sightedness of the holders; and it is by no
means to be assumed that persons primarily rich, must therefore be
just and wise,--it may not be ultimately possible so, or somewhat so,
to arrange matters, as that persons primarily just and wise, should
therefore be rich.

Such being the general plan of the inquiry before us, I shall not
limit myself to any consecutive following of it, having hardly any
good hope of being able to complete so laborious a work as it must
prove to me; but from time to time, as I have leisure, shall endeavour
to carry forward this part or that, as may be immediately possible;
indicating always with accuracy the place which the particular essay
will or should take in the completed system.



The last paper having consisted of little more than definition of
terms, I purpose, in this, to expand and illustrate the given
definitions, so as to avoid confusion in their use when we enter into
the detail of our subject.

The view which has been taken of the nature of wealth, namely, that it
consists in an intrinsic value developed by a vital power, is directly
opposed to two nearly universal conceptions of wealth. In the
assertion that value is primarily intrinsic, it opposes the idea that
anything which is an object of desire to numbers, and is limited in
quantity, may be called, or virtually become, wealth. And in the
assertion that value is secondarily dependent upon power in the
possessor, it opposes the idea that wealth consists of things
exchangeable at rated prices. Before going farther, we will make these
two positions clearer.

First. All wealth is intrinsic, and is not constituted by the judgment
of men. This is easily seen in the case of things affecting the body;
we know that no force of fantasy will make stones nourishing, or
poison innocent; but it is less apparent in things affecting the mind.
We are easily--perhaps willingly--misled by the appearance of
beneficial results obtained by industries addressed wholly to the
gratification of fanciful desire; and apt to suppose that whatever is
widely coveted, dearly bought, and pleasurable in possession, must be
included in our definition of wealth. It is the more difficult to quit
ourselves of this error because many things which are true wealth in
moderate use, yet become false wealth in immoderate; and many things
are mixed of good and evil,--as, mostly, books and works of art,--out
of which one person will get the good, and another the evil; so that
it seems as if there were no fixed good or evil in the things
themselves, but only in the view taken, and use made of them. But that
is not so. The evil and good are fixed in essence and in proportion.
They are separable by instinct and judgment, but not interchangeable;
and in things in which evil depends upon excess, the point of excess,
though indefinable, is fixed; and the power of the thing is on the
hither side for good, and on the farther side for evil. And in all
cases this power is inherent, not dependent on opinion or choice. Our
thoughts of things neither make, nor mar their eternal force;
nor--which is the most serious point for future consideration--can
they prevent the effect of it upon ourselves.

Therefore, the object of special analysis of wealth into which we have
presently to enter will be not so much to enumerate what is
serviceable, as to distinguish what is destructive; and to show that
it is inevitably destructive; that to receive pleasure from an evil
thing is not to escape from, or alter the evil of it, but to be
altered by it; that is, to suffer from it to the utmost, having our
own nature, in that degree, made evil also. And it will be shown
farther that, through whatever length of time or subtleties of
connexion the harm is accomplished (being also less or more according
to the fineness and worth of the humanity on which it is wrought),
still, nothing but harm ever comes of a bad thing.

So that, finally, wealth is not the accidental object of a morbid
desire, but the constant object of a legitimate one.[70] By the fury
of ignorance, and fitfulness of caprice, large interests may be
continually attached to things unserviceable or hurtful; if their
nature could be altered by our passions, the science of Political
Economy would be but as the weighing of clouds, and the portioning out
of shadows. But of ignorance there is no science; and of caprice no
law. Their disturbing forces interfere with the operations of economy,
but have nothing in common with them; the calm arbiter of national
destiny regards only essential power for good in all it accumulates,
and alike disdains the wanderings of imagination and the thirsts of

   [70] Few passages of the Book which at least some part of the
        nations at present most advanced in civilization accept as
        an expression of final truth, have been more distorted than
        those bearing on Idolatry. For the idolatry there denounced
        is neither sculpture, nor veneration of sculpture. It is
        simply the substitution of an "Eidolon," phantasm, or
        imagination of Good, for that which is real and enduring;
        from the Highest Living Good, which gives life, to the
        lowest material good which ministers to it. The Creator, and
        the things created, which He is said to have "seen good" in
        creating, are in this their eternal goodness always called
        Helpful or Holy: and the sweep and range of idolatry extend
        to the rejection of all or any of these, "calling evil good,
        or good evil,--putting bitter for sweet, and sweet for
        bitter," so betraying the first of all Loyalties, to the
        fixed Law of life, and with resolute opposite loyalty
        serving our own imagination of good, which is the law, not
        of the dwelling, but of the Grave (otherwise called the law
        of error; or "mark missing," which we translate law of
        "Sin"), these "two masters," between whose services we have
        to choose, being otherwise distinguished as God and
        "Mammon," which Mammon, though we narrowly take it as the
        power of money only, is in truth the great evil spirit of
        false and fond desire, or "Covetousness, which is Idolatry."
        So that Iconoclasm--image or likeness-breaking--is easy; but
        an idol cannot be broken--it must be forsaken, and this is
        not so easy, either in resolution or persuasion. For men may
        readily be convinced of the weakness of an image, but not of
        the emptiness of a phantasm.

Secondly. The assertion that wealth is not only intrinsic, but
dependent, in order to become effectual, on a given degree of vital
power in its possessor, is opposed to another popular view of
wealth;--namely, that though it may always be constituted by caprice,
it is, when so constituted, a substantial thing, of which given
quantities may be counted as existing here, or there, and exchangeable
at rated prices.

In this view there are three errors. The first and chief is the
overlooking the fact that all exchangeableness of commodity, or
effective demand for it, depends on the sum of capacity for its use
existing, here or elsewhere. The book we cannot read, or picture we
take no delight in, may indeed be called part of our wealth, in so far
as we have power of exchanging either for something we like better.
But our power of effecting such exchange, and yet more, of effecting
it to advantage, depends absolutely on the number of accessible
persons who can understand the book, or enjoy the painting, and who
will dispute the possession of them. Thus the actual worth of either,
even to us, depends no less on their essential goodness than on the
capacity consisting somewhere for the perception of it; and it is vain
in any completed system of production to think of obtaining one
without the other. So that, though the great political economist knows
that co-existence of capacity for use with temporary possession cannot
be always secured, the final fact, on which he bases all action and
administration, is that, in the whole nation, or group of nations, he
has to deal with, for every grain of intrinsic value produced he must
with exactest chemistry produce its twin grain of governing capacity,
or in the degrees of his failure he has no wealth. Nature's challenge
to us is in earnest, as the Assyrian's mock, "I will give you two
thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them."
Bavieca's paces are brave, if the Cid backs him; but woe to us, if we
take the dust of capacity, wearing the armour of it, for capacity
itself, for so all procession, however goodly in the show of it, is to
the tomb.

The second error in this popular view of wealth is that, in estimating
property which we cannot use as wealth, because it is exchangeable, we
in reality confuse wealth with money. The land we have no skill to
cultivate, the book which is sealed to us, or dress which is
superfluous, may indeed be exchangeable, but as such are nothing more
than a cumbrous form of bank-note, of doubtful and slow
convertibility. As long as we retain possession of them, we merely
keep our bank-notes in the shape of gravel or clay, of book leaves, or
of embroidered tissue. Circumstances may perhaps render such forms the
safest, or a certain complacency may attach to the exhibition of
them;--into both these advantages we shall inquire afterwards; I wish
the reader only to observe here, that exchangeable property which we
cannot use is, to us personally, merely one of the forms of money, not
of wealth.

The third error in the popular view is the confusion of guardianship
with possession; the real state of men of property being, too commonly
that of curators, not possessors of wealth. For a man's power of Use,
Administration, Ostentation, Destruction, or Bequest; and possession
is in use only, which for each man is sternly limited; so that such
things, and so much of them, are well for him, or Wealth; and more of
them, or any other things, are ill for him, or Illth. Plunged to the
lips in Orinoco, he shall drink to his thirst measure,--more, at his
peril; with a thousand oxen on his lands, he shall eat to his hunger
measure,--more, at his peril. He cannot live in two houses at once; a
few bales of silk or wool will suffice for the fabric of all the
clothes he can ever wear, and a few books will probably hold all the
furniture good for his brain.[71] Beyond these, in the best of us but
narrow, capacities, we have but the power of administering, or if for
harm, mal-administering, wealth (that is to say, distributing,
lending, or increasing it);--of exhibiting it (as in magnificence of
retinue or furniture), of destroying, or, finally, of bequeathing it.
And with multitudes of rich men, administration degenerates into
curatorship; they merely hold their property in charge, as Trustees,
for the benefit of some person or persons to whom it is to be
delivered upon their death; and the position, explained in clear
terms, would hardly seem a covetable one. What would be the probable
decision of a youth on his entrance into life, to whom the career
hoped for him was proposed in terms such as these: "You must work
unremittingly, and with your utmost intelligence, during all your
available years; you will thus accumulate wealth to a large amount;
but you must touch none of it, beyond what is needful for your
support. Whatever sums you may gain beyond those required for your
decent and moderate maintenance shall be properly taken care of, and
on your death-bed you shall have the power of determining to whom they
shall belong, or to what purposes be applied?"

   [71] I reserve, until the completion and collection of these
        papers, any support by the authority of other writers of the
        statements made in them; were, indeed, such authorities
        wisely sought for and shown, there would be no occasion for
        my writing at all. Even in the scattered passages referring
        to this subject in three books of Carlyle's:--"Sartor
        Resartus"; "Past and Present"; and the "Latter-Day
        Pamphlets"; all has been said that needs to be said, and far
        better than I shall ever say it again. But the habit of the
        public mind at the present is to require everything to be
        uttered diffusely, loudly, and seven times over, before it
        will listen; and it has exclaimed against these papers of
        mine, as if they contained things daring and new, when there
        is not one assertion in them of which the truth has not been
        for ages known to the wisest, and proclaimed by the most
        eloquent of men. It will be a far greater pleasure to me
        hereafter, to collect their words than add to mine; Horace's
        clear rendering of the substance of the preceding passages
        in the text may be found room for at once:--

          Si quis emat citharas, emptas comportet in unum,
          Nec studio citharae, nec Musae deditus ulli;
          Si scalpra et formas, non sutor; nautica vela,
          Aversus mercaturis: delirus et amens
          Undique dicatur merito. Quî discrepat istis,
          Qui nummos aurumque recondit, nescius uti
          Compositis, metuensque velut contingere sacrum?

        With which it is perhaps desirable also to give Xenophon's
        statement, it being clearer than any English one can be,
        owing to the power of the general Greek term for wealth,
        "useable things":--

        [Greek: Tauta ara onta, tô men epistamenô chrêsthai
        autôn hekastois chrêmata esti, tô de mê epistamenô,
        ou chrêmata; hôsper ge auloi tô men epistamenô axiôs
        logou aulein chrêmata eisi, tô de mê epistamenô ouden
        mallon ê achrêstoi lithoi, ei mê apsdidoito ge autous.
        * * * Mê pôloumenoi men gar ou chrêmata eisin hoi auloi;
        (ouden gar chrêsimoi eisi) pôloumenoi de chrêmata;
        Pros tauta d' ho Sôkratês eipen, ên epistêtai ge pôlein.
        Ei de pôloin hau pros touton hos mê epistêtai chrêsthai,
        oude pôloumenoi eisi chrêmata.]

The labour of life, under such conditions, would probably be neither
zealous nor cheerful; yet the only difference between this position
and that of the ordinary capitalist is the power which the latter
delights in supposing himself to possess, and which is attributed to
him by others, of spending his money at any moment. This pleasure,
taken in the imagination of power to part with that which we have no
intention of parting with, is one of the most curious though commonest
forms of Eidolon, or Phantasm of Wealth. But the political economist
has nothing to do with this idealism, and looks only to the practical
issue of it,--namely, that the holder of wealth, in such temper,
may be regarded simply as a mechanical means of collection;
or as a money-chest with a slit in it,[72] set in the public
thoroughfare;--chest of which only Death has the key, and probably
Chance the distribution of contents. In his function of lender (which,
however, is one of administration, not use, as far as he is himself
concerned), the capitalist takes, indeed, a more interesting aspect;
but even in that function, his relations with the state are apt to
degenerate into a mechanism for the convenient contraction of debt;--a
function the more mischievous, because a nation invariably appeases
its conscience with respect to an unjustifiable expense by meeting it
with borrowed funds,--expresses its repentance of a foolish piece of
business by letting its tradesmen wait for their money,--and always
leaves its descendants to pay for the work which will be of the least
service to them.[73]

   [72] The orifice being not merely of a receptant, but of a
        suctional character. Among the types of human virtue and
        vice presented grotesquely by the lower animals, perhaps
        none is more curiously definite that that of avarice in the
        Cephalopod, a creature which has a purse for a body; a
        hawk's beak for a mouth; suckers for feet and hands; and
        whose house is its own skeleton.

   [73] It would be well if a somewhat dogged conviction could
        be enforced on nations as on individuals, that, with few
        exceptions, what they cannot at present pay for, they should
        not at present have.

Quit of these three sources of misconception, the reader will have
little farther difficulty in apprehending the real nature of Effectual
value. He may, however, at first not without surprise, perceive the
consequences involved in the acceptance of our definition. For if the
actual existence of wealth be dependent on the power of its possessor,
it follows that the sum of wealth held by the nation, instead of being
constant or calculable, varies hourly, nay, momentarily, with the
number and character of its holders; and that in changing hands, it
changes in quantity. And farther, since the worth of the currency is
proportioned to the sum of material wealth which it represents, if the
sum of the wealth changes, the worth of the currency changes. And thus
both the sum of the property, and power of the currency, of the State,
vary momentarily, as the character and number of the holders. And not
only so, but a different rate and manner of variation is caused by the
character of the holders of different kinds of wealth. The transitions
of value caused by the character of the holders of land differ in mode
from those caused by character in holders of works of art; and these
again from those caused by character in holders of machinery or other
working capital. But we cannot examine these special phenomena of any
kind of wealth until we have a clear idea of the way in which true
currency expresses them; and of the resulting modes in which the cost
and price of any article are related to its value. To obtain this we
must approach the subject in its first elements.

Let us suppose a national store of wealth, real or imaginary (that is
to say, composed of material things either useful, or believed to be
so), presided over by a Government,[74] and that every workman, having
produced any article involving labour in its production, and for which
he has no immediate use, brings it to add to this store, receiving,
from the Government, in exchange an order either for the return of the
thing itself, or of its equivalent in other things,[75] such as he may
choose out of the store at any time when he needs them. Now, supposing
that the labourer speedily uses this general order, or, in common
language, "spends the money," he has neither changed the circumstances
of the nation nor his own, except in so far as he may have produced
useful and consumed useless articles, or vice versa. But if he does
not use, or uses in part only, the order he receives, and lays aside
some portion of it; and thus every day bringing his contribution to
the national store, lays by some percentage of the order received in
exchange for it, he increases the national wealth daily by as much as
he does not use of the received order, and to the same amount
accumulates a monetary claim on the Government. It is of course always
in his power, as it is his legal right, to bring forward this
accumulation of claim, and at once to consume, to destroy, or
distribute, the sum of his wealth. Supposing he never does so, but
dies, leaving his claim to others, he has enriched the State during
his life by the quantity of wealth over which that claim extends, or
has, in other words, rendered so much additional life possible in the
State, of which additional life he bequeaths the immediate possibility
to those whom he invests with his claim, he would distribute this
possibility of life among the nation at large.

   [74] The reader is to include here in the idea of "Government,"
        any branch of the Executive, or even any body of private
        persons, entrusted with the practical management of public
        interests unconnected directly with their own personal ones.
        In theoretical discussions of legislative interference
        with political economy, it is usually and of course
        unnecessarily, assumed that Government must be always of
        that form and force in which we have been accustomed to see
        it;--that its abuses can never be less, nor its wisdom
        greater, nor its powers more numerous. But, practically, the
        custom in most civilized countries is, for every man to
        deprecate the interference of Government as long as things
        tell for his personal advantage, and to call for it when
        they cease to do so. The request of the Manchester
        Economists to be supplied with cotton by the Government (the
        system of supply and demand having, for the time, fallen
        sorrowfully short of the expectations of scientific persons
        from it), is an interesting case in point. It were to be
        wished that less wide and bitter suffering (suffering, too,
        of the innocent) had been needed to force the nation, or
        some part of it, to ask itself why a body of men, already
        confessedly capable of managing matters both military and
        divine, should not be permitted, or even requested at need
        to provide in some wise for sustenance as well as for
        defence, and secure, if it might be (and it might, I think,
        even the rather be), purity of bodily ailment, as well as of
        religious conviction? Why, having made many roads for the
        passage of armies, they may not make a few for the
        conveyance of food; and after organizing, with applause,
        various schemes of spiritual instruction for the Public,
        organize, moreover, some methods of bodily nourishment for
        them? Or is the soul so much less trustworthy in its
        instincts than the stomach, that legislation is necessary
        for the one, but inconvenient to the other?

        There is a strange fallacy running at this time through all
        talk about free trade. It is continually assumed that every
        kind of Government interference takes away liberty of trade.
        Whereas liberty is lost only when interference hinders, not
        when it helps. You do not take away a man's freedom by
        showing him his road--nor by making it smoother for him (not
        that it is always desirable to do so, but it may be); nor
        even by fencing it for him, if there is an open ditch at the
        side of it. The real mode in which protection interferes
        with liberty, and the real evil of it, is not in its
        "protecting" one person, but in its hindering another; a
        form of interference which invariably does most mischief to
        the person it is intended to serve, which the Northern
        Americans are about discomfortably to discover, unless they
        think better of it. There is also a ludicrous confusion in
        many persons' minds between protection and encouragement;
        they differ materially. "Protection" is saying to
        the commercial schoolboy, "Nobody shall hit you."
        "Encouragement," is saying to him, "That's the way to

   [75] The question of equivalence (namely, how much wine a man
        is to receive in return for so much corn, or how much coal
        in return for so much iron) is a quite separate one, which
        we will examine presently. For the time let it be assumed
        that this equivalence has been determined, and that the
        Government order in exchange for a fixed weight of any
        article (called, suppose, _a_), is either for the return of
        that weight of the article itself, or of another fixed
        weight of the article _b_, or another of the article _c_,
        and so on.

We hitherto consider the Government itself as simply a conservative
power, taking charge of the wealth entrusted to it.

But a Government may be far other than a conservative power. It may be
on the one hand constructive, on the other destructive.

If a constructive, or improving power, using all the wealth entrusted
to it to the best advantage, the nation is enriched in root and branch
at once, and the Government is enabled for every order presented, to
return a quantity of wealth greater than the order was written for,
according to the fructification obtained in the interim.[76]

   [76] The reader must be warned in advance that the conditions
        here supposed have nothing to do with the "interest" of
        money commonly so called.

This ability may be either concealed, in which case the currency does
not completely represent the wealth of the country, or it may be
manifested by the continual payment of the excess of value on each
order, in which case there is (irrespectively, observe, of collateral
results afterwards to be examined) a perpetual rise in the worth of
the currency, that is to say, a fall in the price of all articles
represented by it.

But if the Government be destructive, or a consuming power, it becomes
unable to return the value received on the presentation of the order.

This inability may either (A), be concealed by meeting demands to the
full, until it issue in bankruptcy, or in some form of national
debt;--or (B), it may be concealed during oscillatory movements
between destructiveness and productiveness, which result on the whole
in stability;--or (C), it may be manifested by the consistent return
of less than value received on each presented order, in which case
there is a consistent fall in the worth of the currency, or rise in
the price of the things represented by it.

Now, if for this conception of a central Government, we substitute
that of another body of persons occupied in industrial pursuits, of
whom each adds in his private capacity to the common store: so that
the store itself, instead of remaining a public property of
ascertainable quantity, for the guardianship of which a body of public
men are responsible, becomes disseminated private property, each man
giving in exchange for any article received from another, a general
order for its equivalent in whatever other article the claimant may
desire (such general order being payable by any member of the society
in whose possession the demanded article may be found), we at once
obtain an approximation to the actual condition of a civilized
mercantile community from which approximation we might easily proceed
into still completer analysis. I purpose, however, to arrive at every
result by the gradual expansion of the simpler conception; but I wish
the reader to observe, in the meantime, that both the social
conditions thus supposed (and I will by anticipation say also all
possible social conditions) agree in two great points; namely, in the
primal importance of the supposed national store or stock, and in its
destructibility or improvability by the holders of it.

I. Observe that in both conditions, that of central
Government-holding, and diffused private-holding, the quantity of
stock is of the same national moment. In the one case, indeed, its
amount may be known by examination of the persons to whom it is
confided; in the other it cannot be known but by exposing the private
affairs of every individual. But, known or unknown, its significance
is the same under each condition. The riches of the nation consist in
the abundance, and their wealth depends on the nature of this store.

II. In the second place, both conditions (and all other possible ones)
agree in the destructibility or improvability of the store by its
holders. Whether in private hands, or under Government charge, the
national store may be daily consumed, or daily enlarged, by its
possessors; and while the currency remains apparently unaltered, the
property it represents may diminish or increase.

The first question, then, which we have to put under our simple
conception of central Government, namely, "What store has it?" is one
of equal importance, whatever may be the constitution of the State;
while the second question--namely, "Who are the holders of the
store?"--involves the discussion of the constitution of the State

The first inquiry resolves itself into three heads:

  1. What is the nature of the store?
  2. What is its quantity in relation to the population?
  3. What is its quantity in relation to the currency?

The second inquiry, into two:

  1. Who are the Holders of the store, and in what proportions?
  2. Who are the Claimants of the store (that is to say, the holders
     of the currency), and in what proportions?

We will examine the range of the first three questions in the present
paper; of the two following, in the sequel.

Question First. What is the nature of the store? Has the nation
hitherto worked for and gathered the right thing or the wrong? On that
issue rest the possibilities of its life.

For example, let us imagine a society, of no great extent, occupied in
procuring and laying up store of corn, wine, wool, silk, and other
such preservable materials of food and clothing; and that it has a
currency representing them. Imagine farther, that on days of
festivity, the society, discovering itself to derive satisfaction from
pyrotechnics, gradually turns its attention more and more to the
manufacture of gunpowder; so that an increasing number of labourers,
giving what time they can spare to this branch of industry, bring
increasing quantities of combustibles into the store, and use the
general orders received in exchange to obtain such wine, wool, or corn
as they may have need of. The currency remains the same, and
represents precisely the same amount of material in the store, and of
labour spent in producing it. But the corn and wine gradually vanish,
and in their place, as gradually, appear sulphur and saltpetre; till
at last, the labourers who have consumed corn and supplied nitre,
presenting on a festal morning some of their currency to obtain
materials for the feast, discover that no amount of currency will
command anything Festive, except Fire. The supply of rockets is
unlimited, but that of food limited in a quite final manner; and the
whole currency in the hands of the society represents an infinite
power of detonation, but none of existence.

The statement, caricatured as it may seem, is only exaggerated in
assuming the persistence of the folly to extremity, unchecked, as in
reality it would be, by the gradual rise in price of food. But it
falls short of the actual facts of human life in expression of the
depth and intensity of the folly itself. For a great part (the reader
would not believe how great until he saw the statistics in detail) of
the most earnest and ingenious industry of the world is spent in
producing munitions of war; gathering that is to say the materials,
not of festive, but of consuming fire; filling its stores with all
power of the instruments of pain, and all affluence of the ministries
of death. It was no true Trionfo della Morte which men have seen and
feared (sometimes scarcely feared) so long;--wherein he brought them
rest from their labours. We see and share another and higher form of
his triumph now. Task-master instead of Releaser, he rules the dust of
the arena no less than of the tomb; and, content once in the grave
whither man went, to make his works cease and his devices to
vanish,--now, in the busy city and on the serviceable sea, makes his
work to increase, and his devices to multiply.

To this doubled loss, or negative power of labour, spent in producing
means of destruction, we have to add in our estimate of the
consequences of human folly, whatever more insidious waste of toil
there is in the production of unnecessary luxury. Such and such an
occupation (it is said) supports so many labourers, because so many
obtain wages in following it; but it is never considered that unless
there be a supporting power in the product of the occupation, the
wages given to one man are merely withdrawn from another. We cannot
say of any trade that it maintains such and such a number of persons,
unless we know how and where the money, now spent in the purchase of
its produce, would have been spent, if that produce had not been
manufactured. The purchasing funds truly support a number of people in
making This; but (probably) leave unsupported an equal number who are
making, or could have made That. The manufacturers of small watches
thrive in Geneva;--it is well;--but where would the money spent on
small watches have gone, had there been no small watches to buy?

If the so frequently uttered aphorism of mercantile economy--"labour
is limited by capital"--were true, this question would be a definite
one. But it is untrue; and that widely. Out of a given quantity of
wages, more or less labour is to be had, according to the quantity of
will with which we can inspire the workman; and the true limit of
labour is only in the limit of this moral stimulus of the will, and
the bodily power. In an ultimate, but entirely practical sense, labour
is limited by capital, as it is by matter--that is to say, where there
is no material, there can be no work--but in the practical sense,
labour is limited only by the great original capital[77] of Head,
Heart, and Hand. Even in the most artificial relations of commerce, it
is to capital as fire to fuel: out of so much fuel you shall have so
much fire--not in proportion to the mass of combustibles, but to the
force of wind that fans and water that quenches; and the appliance of
both. And labour is furthered, as conflagration is, not so much by
added fuel, as by admitted air.

   [77] The aphorism, being hurried English for "labour is limited
        by want of capital," involves also awkward English in its
        denial, which cannot be helped.

For which reasons, I had to insert, above, the qualifying "probably";
for it can never be said positively that the purchase money, or wages
fund of any trade is withdrawn from some other trade. The object
itself may be the stimulus of the production of the money which buys
it; that is to say, the work by which the purchaser obtained the means
of buying it would not have been done by him, unless he had wanted
that particular thing. And the production of any article not
intrinsically (nor in the process of manufacture) injurious, is
useful, if the desire of it causes productive labour in other

In the national store, therefore, the presence of things intrinsically
valueless does not imply an entirely correlative absence of things
valuable. We cannot be certain that all the labour spent on vanity has
been diverted from reality, and that for every bad thing produced, a
precious thing has been lost. In great measure, the vain things
represent the results of roused indolence; they have been carved, as
toys, in extra time; and, if they had not been made, nothing else
would have been made. Even to munitions of war this principle applies;
they partly represent the work of men who, if they had not made
spears, would never have made pruning-hooks, and who are incapable of
any activities but those of contest.

Thus, then, finally, the nature of the store has to be considered
under two main lights, the one, that of its immediate and actual
utility; the other, that of the past national character which it
signifies by its production, and future character which it must
develop by its uses. And the issue of this investigation will be to
show us that Economy does not depend merely on principles of "demand
and supply," but primarily on what is demanded, and what is supplied.

Question Second. What is the quantity of the store in relation to the
population? It follows from what has been already stated that the
accurate form in which this question has to be put is--"What quantity
of each article composing the store exists in proportion to the real
need for it by the population?" But we shall for the time assume, in
order to keep all our terms at the simplest, that the store is wholly
composed of useful articles, and accurately proportioned to the
several needs of them.

Now it does not follow, because the store is large in proportion to
the number of people, that the people must be in comfort, nor because
it is small, that they must be in distress. An active and economical
race always produces more than it requires, and lives (if it is
permitted to do so) in competence on the produce of its daily labour.
The quantity of its store, great or small, is therefore in many
respects indifferent to it, and cannot be inferred by its aspect.
Similarly an inactive and wasteful population, which cannot live by
its daily labour, but is dependent, partly or wholly, on consumption
of its store, may be (by various difficulties hereafter to be
examined, in realization of getting at such store) retained in a state
of abject distress, though its possessions may be immense. But the
results always involved in the magnitude of store are, the commercial
power of the nation, its security, and its mental character. Its
commercial power, in that according to the quantity of its store, may
be the extent of its dealings; its security, in that according to the
quantity of its store are its means of sudden exertion or sustained
endurance; and its character, in that certain conditions of
civilization cannot be attained without permanent and continually
accumulating store, of great intrinsic value, and of peculiar nature.

Now, seeing that these three advantages arise from largeness of store
in proportion to population, the question arises immediately, "Given
the store--is the nation enriched by diminution of its numbers? Are a
successful national speculation and a pestilence, economically the
same thing?"

This is in part a sophistical question; such as it would be to ask
whether a man was richer when struck by disease which must limit his
life within a predicable period than he was when in health. He is
enabled to enlarge his current expenses, and has for all purposes a
larger sum at his immediate disposal (for, given the fortune, the
shorter the life the larger the annuity); yet no man considers himself
richer because he is condemned by his physician. The logical reply is
that, since Wealth is by definition only the means of life, a nation
cannot be enriched by its own mortality. Or in shorter words, the life
is more than the meat; and existence itself more wealth than the means
of existence. Whence, of two nations who have equal store, the more
numerous is to be considered the richer, provided the type of the
inhabitant be as high (for, though the relative bulk of their store be
less, its relative efficiency, or the amount of effectual wealth,
must be greater). But if the type of the population be deteriorated by
increase of its numbers, we have evidence of poverty in its worst
influence; and then, to determine whether the nation in its total may
still be justifiably esteemed rich, we must set or weigh the number of
the poor against that of the rich.

To effect which piece of scalework, it is of course necessary to
determine, first, who are poor and who are rich; nor this only, but
also how poor and how rich they are! Which will prove a curious
thermometrical investigation; for we shall have to do for gold and for
silver what we have done for quicksilver--determine, namely, their
freezing-point, their zero, their temperate and fever-heat points;
finally, their vaporescent point, at which riches, sometimes
explosively, as lately in America, "make to themselves wings";--and
correspondently the number of degrees below zero at which poverty,
ceasing to brace with any wholesome cold, burns to the bone.

For the performance of these operations, in the strictest sense
scientific, we will first look to the existing so-called "science" of
Political Economy; we will ask it to define for us the comparatively
and superlatively rich, and the comparatively and superlatively poor;
and on its own terms--if any terms it can pronounce--examine, in our
prosperous England, how many rich and how many poor people there are;
and whether the quantity and intensity of the poverty is indeed so
overbalanced by the quantity and intensity of wealth, that we may
permit ourselves a luxurious blindness to it, and call ourselves,
complacently, a rich country. And if we find no clear definition in
the existing science, we will endeavour for ourselves to fix the true
degrees of the Plutonic scale, and to apply them.

Question Third. What is the quantity of the store in relation to the
Currency? We have seen that the real worth of the currency, so far as
dependent on its relation to the magnitude of the store, may vary
within certain limits, without affecting its worth in exchange. The
diminution or increase of the represented wealth may be unperceived,
and the currency may be taken either for more or less than it is
truly worth. Usually, it is taken for more; and its power in exchange,
or credit-power, is thus increased (or retained) up to a given strain
upon its relation to existing wealth. This credit-power is of chief
importance in the thoughts, because most sharply present to the
experience, of a mercantile community; but the conditions of its
stability[78] and all other relations of the currency to the material
store are entirely simple in principle, if not in action. Far other
than simple are the relations of the currency to that "available
labour" which by our definition (p. 219) it also represents. For this
relation is involved not only with that of the magnitude of the store
to the number, but with that of the magnitude of the store to the
mind, of the population. Its proportion to their number, and the
resulting worth of currency, are calculable; but its proportion to
their will for labour is not. The worth of the piece of money which
claims a given quantity of the store, is, in exchange, less or greater
according to the facility of obtaining the same quantity of the same
thing without having recourse to the store. In other words, it depends
on the immediate Cost and Price of the thing. We must now, therefore,
complete the definition of these terms.

   [78] These are nearly all briefly represented by the image used
        for the force of money by Dante, of mast and sail,--

          "Quali dal vento be gonfiate vele
          Caggiono avvolte, poi chè l'alber fiacca
          Tal cadde a terra la fiera crudele."

        The image may be followed out, like all of Dante's, into as
        close detail as the reader chooses. Thus the stress of the
        sail must be proportioned to the strength of mast, and it is
        only in unforeseen danger that a skilful seaman ever carries
        all the canvas his spars will bear: states of mercantile
        languor are like the flap of the sail in a calm,--of
        mercantile precaution, like taking in reefs; and the
        mercantile ruin is instant on the breaking of the mast.

All cost and price are counted in Labour. We must know first,
therefore, what is to be counted as Labour.

I have already defined labour to be the Contest of the life of man
with an opposite.[79] Literally, it is the quantity of "Lapse," loss,
or failure of human life caused by any effort. It is usually confused
with effort itself, or the application of power (opera); but there is
much effort which is merely a mode of recreation, or of pleasure. The
most beautiful actions of the human body and the highest results of
the human intelligence, are conditions, or achievements, of quite
unlaborious, nay, of recreative, effort. But labour is the suffering
in effort. It is the negative quantity, or quantity of de-feat which
has to be counted against every Feat, and of de-fect which has to be
counted against every Fact, or Deed of men. In brief, it is "that
quantity of our toils which we die in."

   [79] That is to say, its only price is its return. Compare
        "Unto This Last," p. 162 and what follows.

We might, therefore, à priori, conjecture (as we shall ultimately
find) that it cannot be bought, nor sold. Everything else is bought
and sold for Labour, but labour itself cannot be bought nor sold for
anything, being priceless.[80] The idea that it is a commodity to be
bought or sold, is the alpha and omega of Politico-Economic fallacy.

   [80] The object of Political Economy is not to buy, nor to sell
        labour,--but to spare it. Every attempt to buy or sell it
        is, in the outcome, ineffectual;--so far as successful, it
        is not sale, but Betrayal; and the purchase money is a part
        of that typical thirty pieces which bought, first the
        greatest of labours, and afterwards the burial field of the
        Stranger; for this purchase-money, being in its very
        smallness or vileness the exactly measured opposite of
        "vilis annona amicorum," makes all men strangers to each

This being the nature of labour, the "Cost" of anything is the
quantity of labour necessary to obtain it;--the quantity for which, or
at which, it "stands" (constat). It is literally the "Constancy" of
the thing;--you shall win it--move it--come at it--for no less than

Cost is measured and measurable only in "labor," not in "opera."[81]
It does not matter how much power a thing needs to produce it; it
matters only how much distress. Generally the more power it requires,
the less the distress; so that the noblest works of man cost less than
the meanest.

   [81] Cicero's distinction, "sordidi quæstus, quorum operæ, non
        quorum artes emuntur," admirable in principle, is inaccurate
        in expression, because Cicero did not practically know how
        much operative dexterity is necessary in all the higher
        arts; but the cost of this dexterity is incalculable. Be
        it great or small, the "cost" of the mere authority and
        perfectness of touch in a hammerstroke of Donatello's, or a
        pencil touch of Correggio's, is inestimable by any ordinary
        arithmetic. (The best masters themselves usually estimate it
        at sums varying from two to three or four shillings a day,
        with wine or soup extra.)

True labour, or spending of life, is either of the body, in fatigue
or pain, of the temper or heart (as in perseverance of search for
things,--patience in waiting for them,--fortitude or degradation in
suffering for them, and the like), or of the intellect. All these
kinds of labour are supposed to be included in the general term, and
the quantity of labour is then expressed by the time it lasts. So that
a unit of labour is "an hour's work" or a day's work, as we may

   [82] Only observe, as some labour is more destructive of life
        than other labour, the hour or day of the more destructive
        toil is supposed to include proportionate rest. Though men
        do not, or cannot, usually take such rest, except in death.

Cost, like value, is both intrinsic and effectual. Intrinsic cost is
that of getting the thing in the right way; effectual cost is that of
getting the thing in the way we set about it. But intrinsic cannot be
made a subject of analytical investigation, being only partially
discoverable, and that by long experience. Effectual cost is all that
the political economist can deal with; that is to say, the cost of the
thing under existing circumstances and by known processes.

Cost (irrespectively of any question of demand or supply) varies with
the quantity of the thing wanted, and with the number of persons who
work for it. It is easy to get a little of some things, but difficult
to get much; it is impossible to get some things with few hands, but
easy to get them with many.

The cost and value of things, however difficult to determine
accurately, are thus both dependent on ascertainable physical

   [83] There is, therefore, observe, no such thing as cheapness
        (in the common use of that term), without some error or
        injustice. A thing is said to be cheap, not because it is
        common, but because it is supposed to be sold under its
        worth. Everything has its proper and true worth at any given
        time, in relation to everything else; and at that worth
        should be bought and sold. If sold under it, it is cheap to
        the buyer by exactly so much as the seller loses, and no
        more. Putrid meat, at twopence a pound, is not "cheaper"
        than wholesome meat at sevenpence a pound; it is probably
        much dearer; but if, by watching your opportunity, you can
        get the wholesome meat for sixpence a pound, it is cheaper
        to you by a penny, which you have gained, and the seller has
        lost. The present rage for cheapness is either, therefore,
        simply and literally, a rage for badness of all commodities,
        or it is an attempt to find persons whose necessities will
        force them to let you have more than you should for your
        money. It is quite easy to produce such persons, and in
        large numbers; for the more distress there is in a nation,
        the more cheapness of this sort you can obtain, and your
        boasted cheapness is thus merely a measure of the extent of
        your national distress.

        There is, indeed, a condition of apparent cheapness, which
        we confuse, in practice and in reasoning, with the other;
        namely, the real reduction in cost of articles by right
        application of labour. But in this case the article is only
        cheap with reference to its former price, the so-called
        cheapness is only our expression for the sensation of
        contrast between its former and existing prices. So soon as
        the new methods of producing the article are established, it
        ceases to be esteemed either cheap or dear, at the new
        price, as at the old one, and is felt to be cheap only when
        accident enables it to be purchased beneath this new value.
        And it is to no advantage to produce the article more
        easily, except as it enables you to multiply your
        population. Cheapness of this kind is merely the discovery
        that more men can be maintained on the same ground; and the
        question, how many you will maintain in proportion to your
        means, remains exactly in the same terms that it did before.

        A form of immediate cheapness results, however, in many
        cases, without distress, from the labour of a population
        where food is redundant, or where the labour by which the
        food is produced leaves much idle time on their hands, which
        may be applied to the production of "cheap" articles.

        All such phenomena indicate to the political economist
        places where the labour is unbalanced. In the first case,
        the just balance is to be effected by taking labourers from
        the spot where the pressure exists, and sending them to that
        where food is redundant. In the second, the cheapness is a
        local accident, advantageous to the local purchaser,
        disadvantageous to the local producer. It is one of the
        first duties of commerce to extend the market and thus give
        the local producer his full advantage.

        Cheapness caused by natural accidents of harvest, weather,
        etc., is always counterbalanced, in due time, by natural
        scarcity similarly caused. It is the part of wise
        Government, and healthy commerce, so to provide in times and
        places of plenty for times and places of dearth, as that
        there shall never be waste, nor famine.

        Cheapness caused by gluts of the market is merely a disease
        of clumsy and wanton commerce.

But their price is dependent on the human will.

Such and such a thing is demonstrably good for so much. And it may
demonstrably be bad for so much.

But it remains questionable, and in all manner of ways questionable,
whether I choose to give so much.[84]

   [84] Price has already been defined (pp. 214, 215) to be the
        quantity of labour which the possessor of a thing is willing
        to take for it. It is best to consider the price to be that
        fixed by the possessor, because the possessor has absolute
        power of refusing sale, while the purchaser has no absolute
        power of compelling it; but the effectual or market price is
        that at which their estimates coincide.

This choice is always a relative one. It is a choice to give a price
for this, rather than for that;--a resolution to have the thing, if
getting it does not involve the loss of a better thing. Price depends,
therefore, not only on the cost of the commodity itself, but on its
relation to the cost of every other attainable thing.

Farther. The power of choice is also a relative one. It depends not
merely on our own estimate of the thing, but on everybody else's
estimate; therefore on the number and force of the will of the
concurrent buyers, and on the existing quantity of the thing in
proportion to that number and force.

Hence the price of anything depends on four variables.[85]

  1. Its cost.
  2. Its attainable quantity at that cost.
  3. The number and power of the persons who want it.
  4. The estimate they have formed of its desirableness.

(Its value only affects its price so far as it is contemplated in this
estimate; perhaps, therefore, not at all.)

   [85] The two first of these variables are included in the _x_,
        and the two last in the _y_, of the formula given at p. 162
        of "Unto This Last," and the four are the radical conditions
        which regulate the price of things on first production; in
        their price in exchange, the third and fourth of these
        divide each into two others, forming the Four which are
        stated at p. 186 of "Unto This Last."

Now, in order to show the manner in which price is expressed in terms
of a currency, we must assume these four quantities to be known, and
the "estimate of desirableness," commonly called the Demand, to be
certain. We will take the number of persons at the lowest. Let A and B
be two labourers who "demand," that is to say, have resolved to labour
for, two articles, _a_ and _b_. Their demand for these articles (if
the reader likes better, he may say their need) is to be absolute,
existence depending on the getting these two things. Suppose, for
instance, that they are bread and fuel in a cold country, and let _a_
represent the least quantity of bread, and _b_ the least quantity of
fuel, which will support a man's life for a day. Let _a_ be producible
by an hour's labour but _b_ only by two hours' labour; then the cost
of _a_ is one hour, and of _b_ two (cost, by our definition, being
expressible in terms of time). If, therefore, each man worked both for
his corn and fuel, each would have to work three hours a day. But they
divide the labour for its greater ease.[86] Then if A works three
hours, he produces 3_a_, which is one _a_ more than both the men want.
And if B works three hours, he produces only 1-1/2_b_, or half of _b_
less than both want. But if A works three hours and B six, A has 3_a_,
and B has 3_b_, a maintenance in the right proportion for both for a
day and a half; so that each might take a half a day's rest. But as B
has worked double time, the whole of this day's rest belongs in equity
to him. Therefore, the just exchange should be, A, giving two _a_ for
one _b_, has one _a_ and one _b_;--maintenance for a day. B, giving
one _b_ for two _a_, has two _a_ and two _b_;--maintenance for two

   [86] This "greater ease" ought to be allowed for by a diminution
        in the times of the divided work; but as the proportion of
        times would remain the same, I do not introduce this
        unnecessary complexity into the calculation.

But B cannot rest on the second day, or A would be left without the
article which B produces. Nor is there any means of making the
exchange just, unless a third labourer is called in. Then one workman,
A, produces _a_, and two, B and C, produce _b_;--A, working three
hours, has three _a_;--B, three hours, 1-1/2_b_;--C, three hours,
1-1/2_b_. B and C each give half of _b_ for _a_, and all have their
equal daily maintenance for equal daily work.

To carry the example a single step farther, let three articles, _a_,
_b_, and _c_, be needed.

Let _a_ need one hour's work, _b_ two, and _c_ four; then the day's
work must be seven hours, and one man in a day's work can make 7_a_,
or 3-1/2_b_, or 1-3/4_c_. Therefore one A works for _a_, producing
7_a_; two B's work for _b_, producing 7_b_; four C's work for _c_,
producing 7_c_.

A has six _a_ to spare, and gives two _a_ for one _b_, and four _a_
for one _c_. Each B has 2-1/2_b_ to spare, and gives 1/2_b_ for one
_a_, and two _b_ for one _c_. Each C has 3/4 of _c_ to spare, and
gives 1/2_c_ for one _b_, and 1/4 of _c_ for one _a_. And all have
their day's maintenance.

Generally, therefore, it follows that, if the demand is constant,[87]
the relative prices of things are as their costs, or as the quantities
of labour involved in production.

   [87] Compare "Unto This Last," p. 177, et seq.

Then, in order to express their prices in terms of a currency, we
have only to put the currency into the form of orders for a certain
quantity of any given article (with us it is in the form of orders for
gold), and all quantities of other articles are priced by the relation
they bear to the article which the currency claims.

But the worth of the currency itself is not in the slightest degree
founded more on the worth of the article for which the gold is
exchangeable. It is just as accurate to say, "So many pounds are worth
an acre of land," as "An acre of land is worth so many pounds." The
worth of gold, of land, of houses, and of food, and of all other
things, depends at any moment on the existing quantities and relative
demands for all and each; and a change in the worth of, or demand for,
any one, involves an instantaneously correspondent change in the
worth, and demand for, all the rest--a change as inevitable and as
accurately balanced (though often in its process as untraceable) as
the change in volume of the outflowing river from some vast lake,
caused by change in the volume of the inflowing streams, though no eye
can trace, no instrument detect motion either on its surface, or in
the depth.

Thus, then, the real working power or worth of the currency is founded
on the entire sum of the relative estimates formed by the population
of its possessions; a change in this estimate in any direction (and
therefore every change in the national character), instantly alters
the value of money, in its second great function of commanding labour.
But we must always carefully and sternly distinguish between this
worth of currency, dependent on the conceived or appreciated value of
what it represents, and the worth of it, dependent on the existence of
what it represents. A currency is true or false, in proportion to the
security with which it gives claim to the possession of land, house,
horse, or picture; but a currency is strong or weak, worth much or
worth little, in proportion to the degree of estimate in which the
nation holds the house, horse, or picture which is claimed. Thus the
power of the English currency has been, till of late, largely based on
the national estimate of horses and of wine: so that a man might
always give any price to furnish choicely his stable, or his cellar,
and receive public approval therefor: but if he gave the same sum to
furnish his library, he was called mad, or a Bibliomaniac. And
although he might lose his fortune by his horses, and his health or
life by his cellar, and rarely lost either by his books, he was yet
never called a Hippomaniac nor an Oinomaniac; but only Bibliomaniac,
because the current worth of money was understood to be legitimately
founded on cattle and wine, but not on literature. The prices lately
given at sales for pictures and MSS. indicate some tendency to change
in the national character in this respect, so that the worth of the
currency may even come in time to rest, in an acknowledged manner,
somewhat on the state and keeping of the Bedford missal, as well as on
the health of Caractacus or Blink Bonny; and old pictures be
considered property, no less than old port. They might have been so
before now, but it is more difficult to choose the one than the other.

Now, observe, all these sources of variation in the power of the
currency exist wholly irrespective of the influences of vice,
indolence, and improvidence. We have hitherto supposed, throughout the
analysis, every professing labourer to labour honestly, heartily, and
in harmony with his fellows. We have now to bring farther into the
calculation the effects of relative industry, honour, and forethought,
and thus to follow out the bearings of our second inquiry: Who are the
holders of the Store and Currency, and in what proportions?

This, however, we must reserve for our next paper,--noticing here
only that, however distinct the several branches of the subject are,
radically, they are so interwoven in their issues that we cannot
rightly treat any one, till we have taken cognisance of all. Thus the
quantity of the currency in proportion to number of population is
materially influenced by the number of the holders in proportion to
the non-holders; and this again by the number of holders of goods. For
as, by definition, the currency is a claim to goods which are not
possessed, its quantity indicates the number of claimants in
proportion to the number of holders; and the force and complexity of
claim. For if the claims be not complex, currency as a means of
exchange may be very small in quantity. A sells some corn to B,
receiving a promise from B to pay in cattle, which A then hands over
to C, to get some wine. C in due time claims the cattle from B; and B
takes back his promise. These exchanges have, or might have been, all
effected with a single coin or promise; and the proportion of the
currency to the store would in such circumstances indicate only the
circulating vitality of it--that is to say, the quantity and
convenient divisibility of that part of the store which the habits of
the nation keep in circulation. If a cattle-breeder is content to
live with his household chiefly on meat and milk, and does not want
rich furniture, or jewels, or books,--if a wine- and corn-grower
maintains himself and his men chiefly on grapes and bread;--if the
wives and daughters of families weave and spin the clothing of the
household, and the nation, as a whole, remains content with the
produce of its own soil and the work of its own hands, it has little
occasion for circulating media. It pledges and promises little and
seldom; exchanges only so far as exchange is necessary for life. The
store belongs to the people in whose hands it is found, and money is
little needed either as an expression of right, or practical means of
division and exchange.

But in proportion as the habits of the nation become complex and
fantastic (and they may be both, without therefore being civilized),
its circulating medium must increase in proportion to its store. If
everyone wants a little of everything,--if food must be of many kinds,
and dress of many fashions,--if multitudes live by work which,
ministering to fancy, has its pay measured by fancy, so that large
prices will be given by one person for what is valueless to
another,--if there are great inequalities of knowledge, causing great
inequalities of estimate,--and finally, and worst of all, if the
currency itself, from its largeness, and the power which the
possession of it implies, becomes the sole object of desire with large
numbers of the nation, so that the holding of it is disputed among
them as the main object of life:--in each and all these cases, the
currency enlarges in proportion to the store, and, as a means of
exchange and division, as a bond of right, and as an expression of
passion, plays a more and more important part in the nation's
dealings, character, and life.

Against which part, when, as a bond of Right, it becomes too
conspicuous and too burdensome, the popular voice is apt to be raised
in a violent and irrational manner, leading to revolution instead of
remedy. Whereas all possibility of Economy depends on the clear
assertion and maintenance of this bond of right, however burdensome.
The first necessity of all economical government is to secure the
unquestioned and unquestionable working of the great law of
Property--that a man who works for a thing shall be allowed to get it,
keep it, and consume it, in peace; and that he who does not eat his
cake to-day, shall be seen, without grudging, to have his cake
to-morrow. This, I say, is the first point to be secured by social
law; without this, no political advance, nay, no political existence,
is in any sort possible. Whatever evil, luxury, iniquity, may seem to
result from it, this is nevertheless the first of all Equities; and to
the enforcement of this, by law and by police-truncheon, the nation
must always primarily set its mind--that the cupboard door may have a
firm lock to it, and no man's dinner be carried off by the mob, on its
way home from the baker's. Which, thus fearlessly asserting, we shall
endeavour in the next paper to consider how far it may be practicable
for the mob itself, also, in due breadth of dish, to have dinners to
carry home.



It will be seen by reference to the last paper that our present task
is to examine the relation of holders of store to holders of currency;
and of both to those who hold neither. In order to do this, we must
determine on which side we are to place substances such as gold,
commonly known as bases of currency. By aid of previous definitions
the reader will now be able to understand closer statements than have
yet been possible.

The currency of any country consists of every document acknowledging
debt which is transferable in the country.

This transferableness depends upon its intelligibility and credit. Its
intelligibility depends chiefly on the difficulty of forging anything
like it;--its credit much on national character, but ultimately always
on the existence of substantial means of meeting its demand.

As the degrees of transferableness are variable (some documents
passing only in certain places, and others passing, if at all, for
less than their inscribed value), both the mass and, so to speak,
fluidity, of the currency, are variable. True or perfect currency
flows freely, like a pure stream; it becomes sluggish or stagnant in
proportion to the quantity of less transferable matter which mixes
with it, adding to its bulk, but diminishing its purity. Substances of
intrinsic value, such as gold, mingle also with the currency, and
increase, while they modify, its power; these are carried by it as
stones are carried by a torrent, sometimes momentarily impeding,
sometimes concentrating its force, but not affecting its purity.
These substances of intrinsic value may be also stamped or signed so
as to become acknowledgments of debt, and then become, so far as they
operate independently of their intrinsic value, part of the real

Deferring consideration of minor forms of currency, consisting of
documents bearing private signature, we will examine the principle of
legally authorized or national currency.

This, in its perfect condition, is a form of public acknowledgment of
debt, so regulated and divided that any person presenting a commodity
of tried worth in the public market, shall, if he please, receive in
exchange for it a document giving him claim for the return of its
equivalent, (1) in any place, (2) at any time, and (3) in any kind.

When currency is quite healthy and vital, the persons entrusted with
its management are always able to give on demand either--

A. The assigning document for the assigned quantity of goods. Or,

B. The assigned quantity of goods for the assigning document.

If they cannot give document for goods, the national exchange is at

If they cannot give goods for document, the national credit is at

The nature and power of the document are therefore to be examined
under the three relations which it bears to Place, Time, and Kind.

1. It gives claim to the return of equivalent wealth in any Place. Its
use in this function is to save carriage, so that parting with a
bushel of corn in London, we may receive an order for a bushel of corn
for the Antipodes, or elsewhere. To be perfect in this use, the
substance of currency must be to the maximum portable, credible, and
intelligible. Its non-acceptance or discredit results always from some
form of ignorance or dishonour: so far as such interruptions rise out
of differences in denomination, there is no ground for their
continuance among civilized nations. It may be convenient in one
country to use chiefly copper for coinage, in another silver, and in
another gold,--reckoning accordingly in centimes, francs, or sequins;
but that a French franc should be different in weight from an English
shilling, and an Austrian zwanziger vary in weight and alloy from
both, is wanton loss of commercial power.

2. It gives claim to the return of equivalent wealth at any Time. In
this second use, currency is the exponent of accumulation: it renders
the laying up of store at the command of individuals unlimitedly
possible;--whereas, but for its intervention, all gathering would be
confined within certain limits by the bulk of poverty, or by its
decay, or the difficulty of its guardianship. "I will pull down my
barns and build greater" cannot be a daily saying; and all material
investment is enlargement of care. The national currency transfers the
guardianship of the store to many; and preserves to the original
producer the right of re-entering on its possession at any future

3. It gives claim (practical, though not legal) to the return of
equivalent wealth in any Kind. It is a transferable right, not merely
to this or that, but to anything; and its power in this function is
proportioned to the range of choice. If you give a child an apple or a
toy, you give him a determinate pleasure, but if you give him a penny,
an indeterminate one, proportioned to the range of selection offered
by the shops in the village. The power of the world's currency is
similarly in proportion to the openness of the world's fair, and
commonly enhanced by the brilliancy of external aspect, rather than
solidity of its wares.

We have said that the currency consists of orders for equivalent
goods. If equivalent, their quality must be guaranteed. The kinds of
goods chosen for specific claim must, therefore, be capable of test,
while, also, that a store may be kept in hand to meet the call of the
currency, smallness of bulk, with great relative value, is desirable;
and indestructibility, over at least a certain period, essential.

Such indestructibility and facility of being tested are united in
gold; its intrinsic value is great, and its imaginary value is
greater; so that, partly through indolence, partly through necessity
and want of organization, most nations have agreed to take gold for
the only basis of their currencies;--with this grave disadvantage,
that its portability enabling the metal to become an active part of
the medium of exchange, the stream of the currency itself becomes
opaque with gold--half currency and half commodity, in unison of
functions which partly neutralize, partly enhance each other's force.

They partly neutralize, since in so far as the gold is commodity, it
is bad currency, because liable to sale; and in so far as it is
currency, it is bad commodity, because its exchange value interferes
with its practical use. Especially its employment in the higher
branches of the arts becomes unsafe on account of its liability to be
melted down for exchange.

Again. They partly enhance, since in so far as the gold has
acknowledged intrinsic value, it is good currency, because everywhere
acceptable; and in so far as it has legal exchangeable value, its
worth as a commodity is increased. We want no gold in the form of dust
or crystal; but we seek for it coined because in that form it will pay
baker and butcher. And this worth in exchange not only absorbs a large
quantity in that use,[88] but greatly increases the effect on the
imagination of the quantity used in the arts. Thus, in brief, the
force of the functions is increased, but their precision blunted, by
their unison.

   [88] The waste of labour in obtaining the gold, though it cannot
        be estimated by help of any existing data, may be understood
        in its bearing on entire economy by supposing it limited to
        transactions between two persons. If two farmers in
        Australia have been exchanging corn and cattle with each
        other for years, keeping their accounts of reciprocal debt
        in any simple way, the sum of the possessions of either
        would not be diminished, though the part of it which was
        lent or borrowed were only reckoned by marks on a stone, or
        notches on a tree; and the one counted himself accordingly,
        so many scratches, or so many notches, better than the
        other. But it would soon be seriously diminished if,
        discovering gold in their fields, each resolved only to
        accept golden counters for a reckoning; and accordingly,
        whenever he wanted a sack of corn or a cow, was obliged to
        go and wash sand for a week before he could get the means of
        giving a receipt for them.

These inconveniences, however, attach to gold as a basis of currency
on account of its portability and preciousness. But a far greater
inconvenience attaches to it as the only legal basis of currency.
Imagine gold to be only attainable in masses weighing several pounds
each, and its value, like that of a malachite or marble, proportioned
to its largeness of bulk;--it could not then get itself confused with
the currency in daily use, but it might still remain as its basis; and
this second inconvenience would still affect it, namely, that its
significance as an expression of debt, varies, as that of every other
article would, with the popular estimate of its desirableness, and
with the quantity offered in the market. My power of obtaining other
goods for gold depends always on the strength of public passion for
gold, and on the limitation of its quantity, so that when either of
two things happen--that the world esteems gold less, or finds it more
easily,--my right of claim is in that degree effaced; and it has been
even gravely maintained that a discovery of a mountain of gold would
cancel the National Debt; in other words, that men may be paid for
what costs much in what costs nothing. Now, if it is true that there
is little chance of sudden convulsion in this respect, the world will
not rapidly increase in wisdom so as to despise gold, and perhaps may
even desire it more eagerly the more easily it is obtained;
nevertheless the right of debt ought not to rest on a basis of
imagination; nor should the frame of a national currency vibrate with
every miser's panic and every merchant's imprudence.

There are two methods of avoiding this insecurity, which would have
been fallen upon long ago if, instead of calculating the conditions of
the supply of gold, men had only considered how the world might live
and manage its affairs without gold at all.[89] One is to base the
currency on substances of truer intrinsic value; the other, to base it
on several substances instead of one. If I can only claim gold, the
discovery of a continent of cornfields need not trouble me. If,
however, I wish to exchange my bread for other things, a good harvest
will for the time limit my power in this respect; but if I can claim
either bread, iron, or silk at pleasure, the standard of value has
three feet instead of one, and will be proportionally firm. Thus,
ultimately the steadiness of currency depends upon the breadth of its
base; but the difficulty of organization increasing with this breadth,
the discovery of the condition at once safest and most convenient[90]
can only be by long analysis which must for the present be deferred.
Gold or silver[91] may always be retained in limited use, as a luxury
of coinage and questionless standard, of one weight and alloy among
nations, varying only in the die. The purity of coinage when metallic,
is closely indicative of the honesty of the system of revenue, and
even of the general dignity of the State.[92]

   [89] It is difficult to estimate the curious futility of
        discussions such as that which lately occupied a section of
        the British Association, on the absorption of gold, while no
        one can produce even the simplest of the data necessary for
        the inquiry. To take the first occurring one,--What means
        have we of ascertaining the weight of gold employed this
        year in the toilettes of the women of Europe (not to
        speak of Asia); and, supposing it known, what means of
        conjecturing the weight by which, next year, their fancies,
        and the changes of style among their jewellers, will
        diminish or increase it?

   [90] See, in Pope's epistle to Lord Bathurst, his sketch of the
        difficulties and uses of a currency literally "pecuniary"--

          "His Grace will game--to White's a bull he led," etc.

   [91] Perhaps both; perhaps silver only. It may be found
        expedient ultimately to leave gold free for use in the arts.
        As a means of reckoning, the standard might be, and in some
        cases has already been, entirely ideal.--See Mill's
        "Political Economy," book iii., chap. 7, at beginning.

   [92] The purity of the drachma and sequin were not without
        significance of the state of intellect, art, and policy,
        both in Athens and Venice;--a fact first impressed upon
        me ten years ago, when, in daguerreotypes of Venetian
        architecture, I found no purchasable gold pure enough
        to gild them with, but that of the old Venetian sequin.

Whatever the article or articles may be which the national currency
promises to pay, a premium on that article indicates bankruptcy of the
Government in that proportion, the division of the assets being
restrained only by the remaining confidence of the holders of notes in
the return of prosperity to the firm. Incontrovertible currencies,
those of forced acceptance, or of unlimited issue, are merely various
modes of disguising taxation, and delaying its pressure, until it is
too late to interfere with its causes. To do away with the possibility
of such disguise would have been among the first results of a true
economical science, had any such existed; but there have been too many
motives for the concealment, so long as it could by any artifices be
maintained, to permit hitherto even the founding of such a science.

And, indeed, it is only through evil conduct, wilfully persisted in,
that there is any embarrassment either in the theory or the working of
currency. No exchequer is ever embarrassed, nor is any financial
question difficult of solution, when people keep their practice
honest, and their heads cool. But when Governments lose all office of
pilotage, protection, scrutiny, and witness; and live only in
magnificence of proclaimed larceny, effulgent mendacity, and polished
mendicity; or when the people choosing Speculation (the S usual
redundant in the spelling) instead of Toil, pursue no dishonesty with
chastisement, that each may with impunity take his dishonest turn; and
enlarge their lust of wealth through ignorance of its use, making
their harlot of the dust, and setting Earth, the Mother, at the mercy
of Earth, the Destroyer, so that she has to seek in hell the children
she left playing in the meadows,--there are no tricks of financial
terminology that will save them; all signature and mintage do but
magnify the ruin they retard; and even the riches that remain,
stagnant or current, change only from the slime of Avernus to the sand
of Phlegethon;--quicksand at the embouchure;--land fluently
recommended by recent auctioneers as "eligible for building leases."

Finally, then, the power of true currency is fourfold.

1. Credit power. Its worth in exchange, dependent on public opinion of
the stability and honesty of the issuer.

2. Real worth. Supposing the gold, or whatever else the currency
expressly promises, to be required from the issuer, for all his notes;
and that the call cannot be met in full. Then the actual worth of the
document (whatever its credit power) would be, and its actual worth at
any moment is to be defined as being, what the division of the assets
of the issuer, and his subsequent will work, would produce for it.

3. The exchange power of its base. Granting that we can get five
pounds in gold for our note, it remains a question how much of other
things we can get for five pounds in gold. The more of other things
exist, and the less gold, the greater this power.

4. The power over labour, exercised by the given quantity of the base,
or of the things to be got for it. The question in this case is, how
much work, and (question of questions) whose work, is to be had for
the food which five pounds will buy. This depends on the number of the
population; on their gifts, and on their dispositions, with which,
down to their slightest humours and up to their strongest impulses,
the power of the currency varies; and in this last of its ranges,--the
range of passion, price, or praise (converso in pretium Deo), is at
once least, and greatest.

Such being the main conditions of national currency, we proceed to
examine those of the total currency, under the broad definition,
"transferable acknowledgment of debt";[93] among the many forms of
which there are in effect only two, distinctly opposed; namely, the
acknowledgments of debts which will be paid, and of debts which will
not. Documents, whether in whole or part, of bad debt, being to those
of good debt as bad money to bullion, we put for the present these
forms of imposture aside (as in analysing a metal we should wash it
clear of dross), and then range, in their exact quantities, the true
currency of the country on one side, and the store or property of the
country on the other. We place gold, and all such substances, on the
side of documents, as far as they operate by signature;--on the side
of store as far as they operate by value. Then the currency represents
the quantity of debt in the country, and the store the quantity of its
possession. The ownership of all the property is divided between the
holders of currency and holders of store, and whatever the claiming
value of the currency is at any moment, that value is to be deducted
from the riches of the store-holders, the deduction being practically
made in the payment of rent for houses and lands, of interest on
stock, and in other ways to be hereafter examined.

   [93] Under which term, observe, we include all documents of debt
        which, being honest, might be transferable, though they
        practically are not transferred; while we exclude all
        documents which are in reality worthless, though in fact
        transferred temporarily as bad money is. The document of
        honest debt, not transferred, is merely to paper currency as
        gold withdrawn from circulation is to that of bullion. Much
        confusion has crept into the reasoning on this subject from
        the idea that withdrawal from circulation is a definable
        state, whereas it is a gradated state, and indefinable. The
        sovereign in my pocket is withdrawn from circulation as long
        as I choose to keep it there. It is no otherwise withdrawn
        if I bury it, nor even if I choose to make it, and others,
        into a golden cup, and drink out of them; since a rise in
        the price of the wine, or of other things, may at any time
        cause me to melt the cup and throw it back into currency;
        and the bullion operates on the prices of the things in the
        market as directly, though not as forcibly, while it is in
        the form of a cup, as it does in the form of a sovereign. No
        calculation can be founded on my humour in any ease. If I
        like to handle rouleaus, and therefore keep a quantity of
        gold, to play with, in the form of jointed basaltic columns,
        it is all one in its effect on the market as if I kept it in
        the form of twisted filigree, or steadily amicus lamnæ, beat
        the narrow gold pieces into broad ones, and dined off them.
        The probability is greater that I break the rouleau than
        that I melt the plate; but the increased probability is not
        calculable. Thus, documents are only withdrawn from the
        currency when cancelled, and bullion when it is so
        effectually lost as that the probability of finding it is no
        greater than that of finding new gold in the mine.

At present I wish only to note the broad relations of the two great
classes--the currency-holders and store-holders.[94] Of course they
are partly united, most monied men having possessions of land or other
goods; but they are separate in their nature and functions. The
currency-holders as a class regulate the demand for labour, and the
store-holders the laws of it; the currency-holders determine what
shall be produced, and the store-holders the conditions of its
production. Farther, as true currency represents by definition debts
which will be paid, it represents either the debtor's wealth, or his
ability and willingness; that is to say, either wealth existing in his
hands transferred to him by the creditor, or wealth which, as he is at
some time surely to return it, he is either increasing, or, if
diminishing, has the will and strength to reproduce. A sound currency,
therefore, as by its increase it represents enlarging debt, represents
also enlarging means; but in this curious way, that a certain quantity
of it marks the deficiency of the wealth of the country from what it
would have been if that currency had not existed.[95] In this respect
it is like the detritus of a mountain; assume that it lies at a fixed
angle, and the more the detritus, the larger must be the mountain; but
it would have been larger still, had there been none.

   [94] They are (up to the amount of the currency) simply creditors
        and debtors--the commercial types of the two great sects of
        humanity which those words describe; for debt and credit are
        of course merely the mercantile forms of the words "duty"
        and "creed," which give the central ideas: only it is more
        accurate to say "faith" than "creed," because creed has been
        applied carelessly to mere forms of words. Duty properly
        signifies whatever in substance or act one person owes to
        another, and faith the other's trust in his rendering it.
        The French "devoir" and "foi" are fuller and clearer words
        than ours; for, faith being the passive of fact, foi comes
        straight through fides from fio; and the French keep the
        group of words formed from the infinitive--fieri, "se fier,"
        "se défier," "défiance," and the grand following "défi." Our
        English "affiance," "defiance," "confidence," "diffidence,"
        retain accurate meanings; but our "faithful" has become
        obscure, from being used for "faithworthy," as well as "full
        of faith." "His name that sat on him was called Faithful and

        Trust is the passive of true saying, as faith is the passive
        of due doing; and the right learning of these etymologies,
        which are in the strictest sense only to be learned "by
        heart," is of considerably more importance to the youth of a
        nation than its reading and ciphering.

   [95] For example, suppose an active peasant, having got his
        ground into good order and built himself a comfortable
        house, finding still time on his hands, sees one of his
        neighbours little able to work, and ill lodged, and offers
        to build him also a house, and to put his land in order, on
        condition of receiving for a given period rent for the
        building and tithe of the fruits. The offer is accepted, and
        a document given promissory of rent and tithe. This note is
        money. It can only be good money if the man who has incurred
        the debt so far recovers his strength as to be able to take
        advantage of the help he has received, and meet the demand
        of the note; if he lets his house fall to ruin, and his
        field to waste, his promissory note will soon be valueless:
        but the existence of the note at all is a consequence of his
        not having worked so stoutly as the other. Let him gain as
        much as to be able to pay back the entire debt; the note is
        cancelled and we have two rich store-holders and no

Finally, though, as above stated, every man possessing money has
usually also some property beyond what is necessary for his immediate
wants, and men possessing property usually also hold currency beyond
what is necessary for their immediate exchanges, it mainly determines
the class to which they belong, whether in their eyes the money is an
adjunct of the property, or the property of the money. In the first
case, the holder's pleasure is in his possessions, and in his money
subordinately, as the means of bettering or adding to them. In the
second, his pleasure is in his money, and in his possessions only as
representing it. In the first case, the money is as an atmosphere
surrounding the wealth, rising from it and raining back upon it; but
in the second, it is a deluge, with the wealth floating, and for the
most part perishing in it. The shortest distinction between the men is
that the one wishes always to buy and the other to sell.

Such being the great relations of the classes, their several
characters are of the highest importance to the nation; for on the
character of the store-holders depends the preservation, display, and
serviceableness of its wealth;--on that of the currency-holders its
nature, and in great part its distribution; and on both its

The store-holders are either constructive, or neutral, or destructive;
and in subsequent papers we shall, with respect to every kind of
wealth, examine the relative power of the store-holder for its
improvement or destruction; and we shall then find it to be of
incomparably greater importance to the nation in whose hands the thing
is put, than how much of it is got; and that the character of the
holders may be conjectured by the quality of the store, for such and
such a thing; nor only asks for it, but if to be bettered, betters it:
so that possession and possessor reciprocally act on each other
through the entire sum of national possession. The base nation asking
for base things sinks daily to deeper vileness of nature and of use;
while the noble nation, asking for noble things, rises daily into
diviner eminence in both; the tendency to degradation being surely
marked by [Greek: ataxia], carelessness as to the hands in which
things are put, competition for the acquisition of them,
disorderliness in accumulation, inaccuracy in reckoning, and bluntness
in conception as to the entire nature of possession.

Now, the currency-holders always increase in number and influence in
proportion to the bluntness of nature and clumsiness of the
store-holders; for the less use people can make of things the more
they tire of them, and want to change them for something else, and
all frequency of change increases the quantity and power of currency;
while the large currency-holder himself is essentially a person who
never has been able to make up his mind as to what he will have, and
proceeds, therefore, in vague collection and aggregation, with more
and more infuriate passion, urged by complacency in progress, and
pride in conquest.

While, however, there is this obscurity in the nature of possession of
currency, there is a charm in the absoluteness of it, which is to some
people very enticing. In the enjoyment of real property others must
partly share. The groom has some enjoyment of the stud, and the
gardener of the garden; but the money is, or seems shut up; it is
wholly enviable. No one else can have part in any complacencies
arising from it.

The power of arithmetical comparison is also a great thing to
unimaginative people. They know always they are so much better than
they were, in money; so much better than others, in money; wit cannot
be so compared, nor character. My neighbour cannot be convinced I am
wiser than he is, but he can that I am worth so much more; and the
universality of the conviction is no less flattering than its
clearness. Only a few can understand, none measure, superiorities in
other things; but everybody can understand money, and count it.

Now, these various temptations to accumulation would be politically
harmless, if what was vainly accumulated had any fair chance of being
wisely spent. For as accumulation cannot go on for ever, but must some
day end in its reverse--if this reverse were indeed a beneficial
distribution and use, as irrigation from reservoir, the fever of
gathering, though perilous to the gatherer, might be serviceable to
the community. But it constantly happens (so constantly, that it may
be stated as a political law having few exceptions), that what is
unreasonably gathered is also unreasonably spent by the persons into
whose hands it finally falls. Very frequently it is spent in war, or
else in stupefying luxury, twice hurtful, both in being indulged by
the rich and witnessed by the poor. So that the _mal tener_ and _mal
dare_ are as correlative as complementary colours; and the circulation
of wealth, which ought to be soft, steady, strong, far-sweeping, and
full of warmth, like the Gulf Stream, being narrowed into an eddy, and
concentrated on a point, changes into the alternate suction and
surrender of Charybdis. Which is, indeed, I doubt not, the true
meaning of that marvellous fable, "infinite," as Bacon said of it,
"in matter of meditation."[96]

   [96] It is a strange habit of wise humanity to speak in enigmas
        only, so that the highest truths and usefullest laws must be
        hunted for through whole picture-galleries of dreams, which
        to the vulgar seem dreams only. Thus Homer, the Greek
        tragedians, Plato, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Goethe,
        have hidden all that is chiefly serviceable in their work,
        and in all the various literature they absorbed and
        re-embodied, under types which have rendered it quite
        useless to the multitude. What is worse, the two primal
        declarers of moral discovery, Homer and Plato, are partly at
        issue; for Plato's logical power quenched his imagination,
        and he became incapable of understanding the purely
        imaginative element either in poetry or painting; he
        therefore somewhat overrates the pure discipline of
        passionate art in song and music, and misses that of
        meditative art. There is, however, a deeper reason for his
        distrust of Homer. His love of justice, and reverently
        religious nature made him dread as death, every form of
        fallacy; but chiefly, fallacy respecting the world to come
        (his own myths being only symbolic exponents of a rational
        hope). We shall perhaps now every day discover more clearly
        how right Plato was in this, and feel ourselves more and
        more wonderstruck that men such as Homer and Dante (and, in
        an inferior sphere, Milton), not to speak of the great
        sculptors and painters of every age, have permitted
        themselves, though full of all nobleness and wisdom, to coin
        idle imaginations of the mysteries of eternity, and mould
        the faiths of the families of the earth by the courses of
        their own vague and visionary arts: while the indisputable
        truths respecting human life and duty, respecting which they
        all have but one voice, lie hidden behind these veils of
        phantasy, unsought and often unsuspected. I will gather
        carefully, out of Dante and Homer, what of this kind bears
        on our subject, in its due place; the first broad intention
        of their symbols may be sketched at once. The rewards of a
        worthy use of riches, subordinate to other ends, are shown
        by Dante in the fifth and sixth orbs of Paradise; for the
        punishment of their unworthy use, three places are assigned;
        one for the avaricious and prodigal whose souls are lost
        ("Hell": Canto 7); one for the avaricious and prodigal whose
        souls are capable of purification ("Purgatory": Canto 19);
        and one for the usurers, of whom none can be redeemed
        ("Hell": Canto 17). The first group, the largest in all hell
        (gente piu che altrove troppa), meet in contrary currents,
        as the waves of Charybdis, casting weights at each other
        from opposite sides. This weariness of contention is the
        chief element of their torture; so marked by the beautiful
        lines, beginning, Or puoi, figliuol, etc. (but the usurers,
        who made their money inactively, sit on the sand, equally
        without rest, however, "Di qua, di la soccorrien," etc.).
        For it is not avarice but contention for riches, leading to
        this double misuse of them, which, in Dante's sight, is the
        unredeemable sin. The place of its punishment is guarded by
        Plutus, "the great enemy," and "la fièra crudele," a spirit
        quite different from the Greek Plutus, who, though old and
        blind, is not cruel, and is curable, so as to become
        far-sighted ([Greek: hou typhlos all' oxy blepôn]--Plato's
        epithets in first book of the Laws). Still more does this
        Dantesque type differ from the resplendent Plutus of Goethe
        in the second part of "Faust," who is the personified power
        of wealth for good or evil; not the passion for wealth; and
        again from the Plutus of Spenser, who is the passion of mere
        aggregation. Dante's Plutus is specially and definitely the
        spirit of Contention and Competition, or Evil Commerce; and
        because, as I showed in my last paper, this kind of commerce
        "makes all men strangers," his speech is unintelligible, and
        no single soul of all those ruined by him has recognizable

          (La sconescente vita--
          Ad ogni conoscenza or li fa bruni).

        On the other hand, the redeemable sins of avarice and
        prodigality are, in Dante's sight, those which are without
        deliberate or calculated operation. The lust, or lavishness,
        of riches can be purged, so long as there has been no
        servile consistency of dispute and competition for them. The
        sin is spoken of as that of degradation by the love of
        earth; it is purified by deeper humiliation--the souls crawl
        on their bellies; their chant, "my soul cleaveth unto the
        dust." But the spirits here condemned are all recognizable,
        and even the worst examples of the thirst for gold, which
        they are compelled to tell the histories of during the
        night, are of men swept by the passion of avarice into
        violent crime, but not sold to its steady work. The precept
        given to each of these spirits for its deliverance is--Turn
        thine eyes to the lucre (lure) which the Eternal King rolls
        with the mighty wheels: otherwise, the wheels of the
        "Greater Fortune," of which the constellation is ascending
        when Dante's dream begins. Compare George Herbert,--

                                "Lift up thy head;
          Take stars for money; stars, not to be told
          By any art, yet to be purchased."

        And Plato's notable sentence in the third book of
        "Polity":--"Tell them they have divine gold and silver in
        their souls for ever; that they need no money stamped of
        men--neither may they otherwise than impiously mingle the
        gathering of the divine with the mortal treasure, for
        through that which the law of the multitude has coined,
        endless crimes have been done and suffered; but in theirs is
        neither pollution nor sorrow." At the entrance of this place
        of punishment an evil spirit is seen by Dante, quite other
        than the "Gran Nemico." The great enemy is obeyed knowingly
        and willingly; but this spirit--feminine--and called a
        Siren--is the "Deceitfulness of riches," [Greek: apatê
        ploutou] of the gospels, winning obedience by guile. This is
        the Idol of Riches, made doubly phantasmal by Dante's seeing
        her in a dream. She is lovely to look upon, and enchants by
        her sweet singing, but her womb is loathsome. Now, Dante
        does not call her one of the Sirens carelessly, any more
        than he speaks of Charybdis carelessly, and though he had
        only got at the meaning of the Homeric fable through
        Virgil's obscure tradition of it, the clue he has given us
        is quite enough. Bacon's interpretation, "the Sirens, or
        pleasures," which has become universal since his time, is
        opposed alike to Plato's meaning and Homer's. The Sirens are
        not pleasures, but Desires: in the Odyssey they are the
        phantoms of vain desire; but in Plato's vision of Destiny,
        phantoms of constant Desire; singing each a different note
        on the circles of the distaff of Necessity, but forming one
        harmony, to which the three great Fates put words. Dante,
        however, adopted the Homeric conception of them, which was
        that they were demons of the Imagination, not carnal (desire
        of the eyes; not lust of the flesh); therefore said to be
        daughters of the Muses. Yet not of the muses, heavenly or
        historical, but of the muse of pleasure; and they are at
        first winged, because even vain hope excites and helps when
        first formed; but afterwards, contending for the possession
        of the imagination with the muses themselves, they are
        deprived of their wings, and thus we are to distinguish the
        Siren power from the Power of Circe, who is no daughter of
        the muses, but of the strong elements, Sun and Sea; her
        power is that of frank and full vital pleasure, which, if
        governed and watched, nourishes men; but, unwatched, and
        having no "moly," bitterness or delay mixed with it, turns
        men into beasts, but does not slay them, leaves them, on the
        contrary, power of revival. She is herself indeed an
        Enchantress;--pure Animal life; transforming--or
        degrading--but always wonderful (she puts the stores on
        board the ship invisibly, and is gone again, like a ghost);
        even the wild beasts rejoice and are softened around her
        cave; to men, she gives no rich feast, nothing but pure and
        right nourishment,--Pramnian wine, cheese and flour; that is
        corn, milk, and wine, the three great sustainers of life--it
        is their own fault if these make swine of them; and swine
        are chosen merely as the type of consumption; as Plato's
        [Greek: huôn polis] in the second book of the "Polity," and
        perhaps chosen by Homer with a deeper knowledge of the
        likeness of nourishment, and internal form of body. "Et quel
        est, s'il vous plaît, cet audacieux animal qui se permet
        d'être bâti au dedans comme une jolie petite fille?"

        "Hélas! chère enfant, j'ai honte de le nommer, et il ne
        foudra pas m'en vouloir. C'est ... c'est le cochon. Ce n'est
        pas précisément flatteur pour vous; mais nous en sommes tous
        là, et si cela vous contrarie par trop, il faut aller vous
        plaindre au bon Dieu qui a voulu que les choses fussent
        arrangées ainsï: seulement le cochon, qui ne pense qu' à
        manger, a l'estomac bien plus vaste que nous, et c'est
        toujours une consolation." ("Histoire d'une Bouchée de
        Pain," Lettre ix.) But the deadly Sirens are all things
        opposed to the Circean power. They promise pleasure, but
        never give it. They nourish in no wise; but slay by slow
        death. And whereas they corrupt the heart and the head,
        instead of merely betraying the senses, there is no recovery
        from their power; they do not tear nor snatch, like Scylla,
        but the men who have listened to them are poisoned, and
        waste away. Note that the Sirens' field is covered, not
        merely with the bones, but with the skins of those who have
        been consumed there. They address themselves, in the part of
        the song which Homer gives, not to the passions of Ulysses,
        but to his vanity, and the only man who ever came within
        hearing of them, and escaped untempted, was Orpheus, who
        silenced the vain imaginations by singing the praises of the

        It is, then, one of these Sirens whom Dante takes as the
        phantasm or deceitfulness of riches; but note further, that
        she says it was her song that deceived Ulysses. Look back to
        Dante's account of Ulysses' death, and we find it was not
        the love of money, but pride of knowledge, that betrayed
        him; whence we get the clue to Dante's complete meaning:
        that the souls whose love of wealth is pardonable have been
        first deceived into pursuit of it by a dream of its higher
        uses, or by ambition. His Siren is therefore the Philotimé
        of Spenser, daughter of Mammon--

          "Whom all that folk with such contention
          Do flock about, my deare, my daughter is--
          Honour and dignitie from her alone
          Derived are."

        By comparing Spenser's entire account of this Philotimé with
        Dante's of the Wealth-Siren, we shall get at the full
        meaning of both poets; but that of Homer lies hidden much
        more deeply. For his Sirens are indefinite, and they are
        desires of any evil thing; power of wealth is not specially
        indicated by him, until, escaping the harmonious danger of
        imagination, Ulysses has to choose between two practical
        ways of life, indicated by the two rocks of Scylla and
        Charybdis. The monsters that haunt them are quite distinct
        from the rocks themselves, which, having many other
        subordinate significations, are in the main Labour and
        Idleness, or getting and spending; each with its attendant
        monster, or betraying demon. The rock of gaining has its
        summit in the clouds, invisible and not to be climbed; that
        of spending is low, but marked by the cursed fig-tree, which
        has leaves but no fruit. We know the type elsewhere; and
        there is a curious lateral allusion to it by Dante when
        Jacopo di Sant' Andrea, who had ruined himself by profusion
        and committed suicide, scatters the leaves of the bush of
        Lotto degli Agli, endeavouring to hide himself among them.
        We shall hereafter examine the type completely; here I will
        only give an approximate rendering of Homer's words, which
        have been obscured more by translation than even by

        "They are overhanging rocks. The great waves of blue water
        break round them; and the blessed Gods call them the

        "By one of them no winged thing can pass--not even the wild
        doves that bring ambrosia to their father Jove--but the
        smooth rock seizes its sacrifice of them." (Not even
        ambrosia to be had without Labour. The word is peculiar--as
        a part of anything offered for sacrifice; especially used of
        heave-offering.) "It reaches the wide heaven with its top,
        and a dark-blue cloud rests on it, and never passes; neither
        does the clear sky hold it in summer nor in harvest. Nor can
        any man climb it--not if he had twenty feet and hands, for
        it is smooth as though it were hewn.

        "And in the midst of it is a cave which is turned the way of
        hell. And therein dwells Scylla, whining for prey: her cry,
        indeed, is no louder than that of a newly-born whelp: but
        she herself is an awful thing--nor can any creature see her
        face and be glad; no, though it were a god that rose against
        her. For she has twelve feet, all fore-feet, and six necks,
        and terrible heads on them; and each has three rows of
        teeth, full of black death.

        "But the opposite rock is lower than this, though but a
        bow-shot distant; and upon it there is a great fig-tree,
        full of leaves; and under it the terrible Charybdis sucks it
        down, and thrice casts it up again; be not thou there when
        she sucks down, for Neptune himself could not save thee."

        The reader will find the meaning of these types gradually
        elicited as we proceed.

This disease of desire having especial relation to the great art of
Exchange, or Commerce, we must, in order to complete our code of first
principles, shortly state the nature and limits of that art.

As the currency conveys right of choice out of many things in exchange
for one, so Commerce is the agency by which the power of choice is
obtained; and countries producing only timber can obtain for their
timber silk and gold; or, naturally producing only jewels and
frankincense, can obtain for them cattle and corn. In this function
commerce is of more importance to a country in proportion to the
limitations of its products and the restlessness of its
fancy;--generally of greater importance towards Northern latitudes.

Commerce is necessary, however, not only to exchange local products,
but local skill. Labour requiring the agency of fire can only be given
abundantly in cold countries; labour requiring suppleness of body and
sensitiveness of touch only in warm ones; labour involving accurate
vivacity of thought only in temperate ones; while peculiar imaginative
actions are produced by extremes of heat and cold, and of light and
darkness. The production of great art is limited to climates warm
enough to admit of repose in the open air, and cool enough to render
such repose delightful. Minor variations in modes of skill distinguish
every locality. The labour which at any place is easiest, is in that
place cheapest; and it becomes often desirable that products raised in
one country should be wrought in another. Hence have arisen
discussions on "International values," which will be one day
remembered as highly curious exercises of the human mind. For it will
be discovered, in due course of tide and time, that international
value is regulated just as inter-provincial or inter-parishional value
is. Coals and hops are exchanged between Northumberland and Kent on
absolutely the same principles as iron and wine between Lancashire and
Spain. The greater breadth of an arm of the sea increases the cost,
but does not modify the principle of exchange; and a bargain written
in two languages will have no other economical results than a bargain
written in one. The distances of nations are measured not by seas, but
by ignorances; and their divisions determined, not by dialects, but by

Of course, a system of international values may always be constructed
if we assume a relation of moral law to physical geography; as, for
instance, that it is right to cheat across a river, though not across
a road; or across a lake, though not across a river; or over a
mountain, though not across a lake, etc.:--again, a system of such
values may be constructed by assuming similar relations of taxation to
physical geography; as, for instance, that an article should be taxed
in crossing a river, but not in crossing a road; or in being carried
over a mountain, but not over a ferry, etc.: such positions are indeed
not easily maintained when once put in logical form; but one law of
international value is maintainable in any form; namely, that the
farther your neighbour lives from you, and the less he understands
you, the more you are bound to be true in your dealings with him;
because your power over him is greater in proportion to his ignorance,
and his remedy more difficult in proportion to his distance.

I have just said the breadth of sea increases the cost of exchange.
Exchange or commerce, as such, is always costly; the sum of the value
of the goods being diminished by the cost of their conveyance, and by
the maintenance of the persons employed in it. So that it is only when
there is advantage to both producers (in getting the one thing for the
other), greater than the loss in conveyance, that the exchange is
expedient. And it is only justly conducted when the porters kept by
the producers (commonly called merchants) look only for pay, and not
for profit. For in just commerce there are but three parties--the two
persons or societies exchanging and the agent or agents of exchange:
the value of the things to be exchanged is known by both the
exchangers, and each receives equivalent value, neither gaining nor
losing (for whatever one gains the other loses). The intermediate
agent is paid an equal and known percentage by both, partly for labour
in conveyance, partly for care, knowledge, and risk; every attempt at
concealment of the amount of the pay indicates either effort on the
part of the agent to obtain exorbitant percentage, or effort on the
part of the exchangers to refuse him a just one. But for the most part
it is the first, namely, the effort on the part of the merchant to
obtain larger profit (so called) by buying cheap and selling dear.
Some part, indeed, of this larger gain is deserved, and might be
openly demanded, because it is the reward of the merchant's knowledge,
and foresight of probable necessity; but the greater part of such gain
is unjust; and unjust in this most fatal way, that it depends first on
keeping the exchangers ignorant of the exchange value of the articles,
and secondly, on taking advantage of the buyer's need and the seller's
poverty. It is, therefore, one of the essential, and quite the most
fatal, forms of usury; for usury means merely taking an exorbitant sum
for the use of anything, and it is no matter whether the exorbitance
is on loan or exchange, in rent or in price--the essence of the usury
being that it is obtained by advantage of opportunity or necessity,
and not as due reward for labour. All the great thinkers, therefore,
have held it to be unnatural and impious, in so far as it feeds on
the distress of others, or their folly.[97] Nevertheless attempts to
repress it by law (in other words, to regulate prices by law so far as
their variations depend on iniquity, and not on nature) must for ever
be ineffective; though Plato, Bacon, and the First Napoleon--all three
of them men who knew somewhat more of humanity than the "British
merchant" usually does--tried their hands at it, and have left some
(probably) good moderative forms of law, which we will examine in
their place. But the only final check upon it must be radical
purifying of the national character, for being, as Bacon calls it,
"concessum propter duritiem cordis," it is to be done away with by
touching the heart only; not, however, without medicinal law--as in
the case of the other permission, "propter duritiem." But in this,
more than in anything (though much in all, and though in this he would
not himself allow of their application, for his own laws against usury
are sharp enough), Plato's words are true in the fourth book of the
"Polity," that neither drugs, nor charms, nor burnings, will touch a
deep-lying political sore, any more than a deep bodily one; but only
right and utter change of constitution; and that "they do but lose
their labour who think that by any tricks of law they can get the
better of these mischiefs of intercourse, and see not that they hew at
a Hydra."

   [97] Hence Dante's companionship of Cahors, Inf., canto xi.,
        supported by the view taken of the matter throughout the
        middle ages, in common with the Greeks.

And indeed this Hydra seems so unslayable, and sin sticks so fast
between the joinings of the stones of buying and selling, that "to
trade" in things, or literally "cross-give" them, has warped itself,
by the instinct of nations, into their worst word for fraud; for,
because in trade there cannot but be trust, and it seems also that
there cannot but also be injury in answer to it, what is merely fraud
between enemies becomes treachery among friends: and "trader,"
"traditor," and "traitor" are but the same word. For which simplicity
of language there is more reason than at first appears; for as in true
commerce there is no "profit," so in true commerce there is no "sale."
The idea of sale is that of an interchange between enemies
respectively endeavouring to get the better of one another; but
commerce is an exchange between friends; and there is no desire but
that it should be just, any more than there would be between members
of the same family. The moment there is a bargain over the pottage,
the family relation is dissolved;--typically "the days of mourning for
my father are at hand." Whereupon follows the resolve "then will I
slay my brother."

This inhumanity of mercenary commerce is the more notable because it
is a fulfilment of the law that the corruption of the best is the
worst. For as, taking the body natural for symbol of the body politic,
the governing and forming powers may be likened to the brain and the
labouring to the limbs, the mercantile, presiding over circulation and
communication of things in changed utilities is symbolized by the
heart; which, if it harden, all is lost. And this is the ultimate
lesson which the leader of English intellect meant for us (a lesson,
indeed, not all his own, but part of the old wisdom of humanity), in
the tale of the "Merchant of Venice"; in which the true and incorrupt
merchant,--kind and free, beyond every other Shakespearian conception
of men,--is opposed to the corrupted merchant, or usurer; the lesson
being deepened by the expression of the strange hatred which the
corrupted merchant bears to the pure one, mixed with intense scorn--

"This is the fool that lent out money gratis; look to him, jailor,"
(as to lunatic no less than criminal); the enmity, observe, having its
symbolism literally carried out by being aimed straight at the heart,
and finally foiled by a literal appeal to the great moral law that
flesh and blood cannot be weighed, enforced by "Portia" ("Portion"),
the type of divine Fortune,[98] found, not in gold, nor in silver, but
in lead, that is to say, in endurance and patience, not in splendour;
and finally taught by her lips also, declaring, instead of the law and
quality of "merces," the greater law and quality of mercy, which is
not strained, but drops as the rain, blessing him that gives and him
that takes. And observe that this "mercy" is not the mean
"Misericordia," but the mighty "Gratia," answered by Gratitude
(observe Shylock's leaning on the, to him detestable, word gratis, and
compare the relation of Grace to Equity given in the second chapter of
the second book of the "Memorabilia"); that is to say, it is the
gracious or loving, instead of the strained, or competing manner, of
doing things, answered, not only with "merces" or pay, but with
"merci," or thanks. And this is indeed the meaning of the great
benediction, "Grace, mercy, and peace," for there can be no peace
without grace (not even by help of rifled cannon),[99] nor even
without triplicity of graciousness, for the Greeks, who began with but
one Grace, had to open their scheme into three before they had done.

   [98] Shakespeare would certainly never have chosen this name had
        he been forced to retain the Roman spelling. Like Perdita,
        "lost lady," or "Cordelia," "heart-lady," Portia is
        "fortune-lady." The two great relative groups of words,
        Fortune, fero, and fors--Portio, porto, and pars (with the
        lateral branch, op-portune, im-portune, opportunity, etc.),
        are of deep and intrinsic significance; their various senses
        of bringing, abstracting, and sustaining, being all
        centralized by the wheel (which bears and moves at once), or
        still better, the ball (spera) of Fortune,--"Volve sua
        spera, e beata si gode:" the motive power of this wheel
        distinguishing its goddess from the fixed majesty of
        Necessitas with her iron nails; or [Greek: anankê], with
        her pillar of fire and iridescent orbits, fixed at the
        centre. Portus and porta, and gate in its connexion with
        gain, form another interesting branch group; and Mors, the
        concentration of delaying, is always to be remembered with
        Fors, the concentration of bringing and bearing, passing on
        into Fortis and Fortitude.

   [99] Out of whose mouths, indeed, no peace was ever promulgated,
        but only equipoise of panic, highly tremulous on the edge in
        changes in the wind.

With the usual tendency of long-repeated thought to take the surface
for the deep, we have conceived their goddesses as if they only gave
loveliness to gesture; whereas their true function is to give
graciousness to deed, the other loveliness arising naturally out of
that. In which function Charis becomes Charitas[100] and has a name and
praise even greater than that of Faith or truth, for these may be
maintained sullenly and proudly; but Charis[101] is in her countenance
always gladdening (Aglaia), and in her service instant and humble; and
the true wife of Vulcan, or Labour. And it is not until her sincerity
of function is lost, and her mere beauty contemplated, instead of her
patience, that she is born again of the foam flake, and becomes
Aphrodité; then only capable of joining herself to War and to the
enmities of men, instead of to Labour and their services. Therefore
the fable of Mars and Venus is, chosen by Homer, picturing himself as
Demodocus, to sing at the games in the Court of Alcinous. Phæacia is
the Homeric island of Atlantis; an image of noble and wise government,
concealed, how slightly! merely by the change of a short vowel for a
long one in the name of its queen; yet misunderstood by all later
writers, even by Horace in his "pinguis, Phæaxque," etc. That fable
expresses the perpetual error of men, thinking that grace and dignity
can only be reached by the soldier, and never by the artizan; so that
commerce and the useful arts have had the honour and beauty taken
away, and only the Fraud[102] and Pain left to them, with the lucre.
Which is, indeed, one great reason of the continual blundering about
the offices of government with respect to commerce. The higher classes
are ashamed to deal with it; and though ready enough to fight for (or
occasionally against) the people,--to preach to them,--or judge them,
will not break bread for them; the refined upper servant who has
willingly looked after the burnishing of the armoury and ordering of
the library, not liking to set foot into the larder.

   [100] The reader must not think that any care can be misspent
        in tracing the connexion and power of the words which we
        have to use in the sequel. Not only does all soundness of
        reasoning depend on the work thus done in the outset, but
        we may sometimes gain more by insistence on the expression
        of a truth, than by much wordless thinking about it; for
        to strive to express it clearly is often to detect it
        thoroughly; and education, even as regards thought, nearly
        sums itself in making men economise their words, and
        understand them. Nor is it possible to estimate the harm
        that has been done, in matters of higher speculation and
        conduct, by loose verbiage, though we may guess at it by
        observing the dislike which people show to having anything
        about their religion said to them in simple words, because
        then they understand it. Thus congregations meet weekly to
        invoke the influence of a Spirit of Life and Truth; yet if
        any part of that character were intelligibly expressed to
        them by the formulas of the service, they would be offended.
        Suppose, for instance, in the closing benediction, the
        clergyman were to give its vital significance to the word
        "Holy," and were to say, "the Fellowship of the Helpful and
        Honest Ghost be with you, and remain with you always," what
        would be the horror of many, first, at the irreverence of so
        intelligible an expression, and, secondly, at the
        discomfortable entry of the suspicion that (while throughout
        the commercial dealings of the week they had denied the
        propriety of Help, and possibility of Honesty) the Person
        whose company they had been asking to be blessed with could
        have no fellowship with knaves.

  [101] As Charis becomes Charitas [see next page], the word "Cher,"
        or "Dear," passes from Shylock's sense of it (to buy cheap
        and sell dear) into Antonio's sense of it: emphasized with
        the final i in tender "Cheri," and hushed to English
        calmness in our noble "Cherish."

  [102] While I have traced the finer and higher laws of this matter
        for those whom they concern, I have also to note the
        material law--vulgarly expressed in the proverb, "Honesty is
        the best policy." That proverb is indeed wholly inapplicable
        to matters of private interest. It is not true that honesty,
        as far as material gain is concerned, profits individuals. A
        clever and cruel knave will, in a mixed society, always be
        richer than an honest person can be. But Honesty is the best
        "policy," if policy means practice of State. For fraud gains
        nothing in a State. It only enables the knaves in it to live
        at the expense of honest people; while there is for every
        act of fraud, however small, a loss of wealth to the
        community. Whatever the fraudulent person gains, some other
        person loses, as fraud produces nothing; and there is,
        besides, the loss of the time and thought spent in
        accomplishing the fraud; and of the strength otherwise
        obtainable by mutual help (not to speak of the fevers of
        anxiety and jealousy in the blood, which are a heavy
        physical loss, as I will show in due time). Practically,
        when the nation is deeply corrupt, cheat answers to cheat,
        every one is in turn imposed upon, and there is to the body
        politic the dead loss of ingenuity, together with the
        incalculable mischief of the injury to each defrauded
        person, producing collateral effect unexpectedly. My
        neighbour sells me bad meat: I sell him in return flawed
        iron. We neither of us get one atom of pecuniary advantage
        on the whole transaction, but we both suffer unexpected
        inconvenience;--my men get scurvy, and his cattle-truck runs
        off the rails.

Farther still. As Charis becomes Charitas on the one side, she
becomes--better still--Chara, Joy, on the other; or rather this is her
very mother's milk and the beauty of her childhood; for God brings no
enduring Love, nor any other good, out of pain, nor out of contention;
but out of joy and harmony.[103] And in this sense, human and divine,
music and gladness, and the measures of both, come into her name; and
Cher becomes full-vowelled Cheer, and Cheerful; and Chara,
companioned, opens into Choir and Choral.

  [103] "[Greek: ta men houn alla zôa ouk echein aisthêsin tôn
        en tais kinêsesi taxeôn oude ataxiôn, hoi dê rhuthmos
        onoma kai harmonia hêmin de ous eipomen tous theous]
        [Apollo, the Muses, and Bacchus--the grave Bacchus, that
        is---ruling the choir of age; or Bacchus restraining;
        'sæva _tene_, cum Berecyntio cornu, tympana,' etc.]
        [Greek: sunchoreutas dedosthai, toutous einai kai tous
        dedôkotas tên enruthmon te kai henarmonion aisthêsin
        meth' êdonês ... chorous te ônomakenai para tês charas
        emphyton unoma.]"--"Laws," book ii.

And lastly. As Grace passes into Freedom of action, Charis becomes
Eleutheria, or liberality; a form of liberty quite curiously and
intensely different from the thing usually understood by "Liberty"
in modern language; indeed, much more like what some people would
call slavery; for a Greek always understood, primarily, by liberty,
deliverance from the law of his own passions (or from what the
Christian writers call bondage of corruption), and this a complete
liberty: not having to resist the passion, but making it fawn upon,
and follow him--(this may be again partly the meaning of the fawning
beasts about the Circean cave; so, again, George Herbert--

  Correct thy passion's spite;
  Then may the beasts draw thee to happy light)--

not being merely safe from the Siren, but also unbound from the mast.
And it is only in such generosity that any man becomes capable of so
governing others as to take true part in any system of national
economy. Nor is there any other eternal distinction between the upper
and lower classes than this form of liberty, Eleutheria, or benignity,
in the one, and its opposite of slavery, Douleia, or malignity, in the
other; the separation of these two orders of men, and the firm
government of the lower by the higher, being the first conditions of
possible wealth and economy in any state,--the Gods giving it no
greater gift than the power to discern its freemen, and "malignum
spernere vulgus."

The examination of this form of Charis must, therefore, lead us into
the discussion of the principles of government in general, and
especially of that of the poor by the rich, discovering how the
Graciousness joined with the Greatness, or Love with Majestas, is the
true Dei Gratia, or Divine Right, of every form and manner of King;
_i.e._, specifically, of the thrones, dominations, princedoms,
virtues, and powers of the earth;--of the thrones, stable, or
"ruling," literally right-doing powers ("rex eris, recte si facies:")
of the dominations, lordly, edifying, dominant, and harmonious powers;
chiefly domestic, over the "built thing," domus, or house; and
inherently twofold, Dominus and Domina; Lord and Lady: of the
Princedoms, pre-eminent, incipient, creative, and demonstrative
powers; thus poetic and mercantile, in the "princeps carmen deduxisse"
and the merchant-prince: of the Virtues or Courages; militant,
guiding, or Ducal powers; and finally of the Strengths and Forces
pure; magistral powers, of the more over the less, and the forceful
and free over the weak and servile elements of life.

Subject enough for the next paper involving "economical" principles of
some importance, of which, for theme, here is a sentence, which I do
not care to translate, for it would sound harsh in English, though,
truly, it is one of the tenderest ever uttered by man; which may be
meditated over, or rather through, in the meanwhile, by any one who
will take the pains:--

    [Greek: Arh oun, hôsper hippos tô anepistêmoni men encheirounti
    de chrêsthai zêmia estin, houtô kai adelphos hotan tis autô mê
    epistamenos encheirê chrêsthai, zêmia esti?]



It remains, in order to complete the series of our definitions, that
we examine the general conditions of government, and fix the sense in
which we are to use, in future, the terms applied to them.

The government of a state consists in its customs, laws, and councils,
and their enforcements.


As one person primarily differs from another by fineness of nature,
and secondarily, by fineness of training, so also, a polite nation
differs from a savage one, first by the refinement of its nature, and
secondly by the delicacy of its customs.

In the completeness, or accomplishment of custom, which is the
nation's self-government, there are three stages--first, fineness in
method of doing or of being;--called the manner or moral of acts:
secondly, firmness in holding such method after adoption, so that
it shall become a habit in the character: _i.e._, a constant "having"
or "behaving"; and, lastly, practice, or ethical power in performance
and endurance, which is the skill following on habit, and the ease
reached by frequency of right doing.

The sensibility of the nation is indicated by the fineness of its
customs; its courage, patience, and temperance by its persistence in

By sensibility I mean its natural perception of beauty, fitness, and
rightness; or of what is lovely, decent, and just: faculties
dependent much on race, and the primal signs of fine breeding in man;
but cultivable also by education, and necessary perishing without it.
True education has, indeed, no other function than the development of
these faculties, and of the relative will. It has been the great error
of modern intelligence to mistake science for education. You do not
educate a man by telling him what he knew not, but by making him what
he was not.

And making him what he will remain for ever: for no wash of weeds will
bring back the faded purple. And in that dyeing there are two
processes--first, the cleansing and wringing out, which is the baptism
with water; and then the infusing of the blue and scarlet colours,
gentleness and justice, which is the baptism with fire.

The customs and manners of a sensitive and highly-trained race are
always vital: that is to say, they are orderly manifestations of
intense life (like the habitual action of the fingers of a musician).
The customs and manners of a vile and rude race, on the contrary,
are conditions of decay: they are not, properly speaking, habits,
but incrustations; not restraints, or forms, of life; but
gangrenes;--noisome, and the beginnings of death. And generally, so
far as custom attaches itself to indolence instead of action, and to
prejudice instead of perception, it takes this deadly character, so
that thus

  "Custom hangs upon us with a weight
  Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life."

This power and depth are, however, just what give value to custom,
when it works with life, instead of against it.

The high ethical training, of a nation being threefold, of body,
heart, and practice (compare the statement in the preface to "Unto
This Last"), involves exquisiteness in all its perceptions of
circumstance,--all its occupations of thought. It implies perfect
Grace, Pitifulness, and Peace; it is irreconcilably inconsistent with
filthy or mechanical employments,--with the desire of money,--and with
mental states of anxiety, jealousy, and indifference to pain. The
present insensibility of the upper classes of Europe to the aspects of
suffering, uncleanness, and crime, binds them not only into one
responsibility with the sin, but into one dishonour with the foulness,
which rot at their thresholds. The crimes daily recorded in the police
courts of London and Paris (and much more those which are unrecorded)
are a disgrace to the whole body politic;[104] they are, as in the
body natural, stains of disease on a face of delicate skin, making the
delicacy itself frightful. Similarly, the filth and poverty permitted
or ignored in the midst of us are as dishonourable to the whole social
body, as in the body natural it is to wash the face, but leave the
hands and feet foul. Christ's way is the only true one: begin at the
feet; the face will take care of itself. Yet, since necessarily, in
the frame of a nation, nothing but the head can be of gold, and the
feet, for the work they have to do, must be part of iron, part of
clay;--foul or mechanical work is always reduced by a noble race to
the minimum in quantity; and, even then, performed and endured, not
without sense of degradation, as a fine temper is wounded by the sight
of the lower offices of the body. The highest conditions of human
society reached hitherto, have cast such work to slaves;--supposing
slavery of a politically defined kind to be done away with, mechanical
and foul employment must in all highly-organized states take the
aspect either of punishment or probation. All criminals should at once
be set to the most dangerous and painful forms of it, especially to
work in mines and at furnaces,[105] so as to relieve the innocent
population as far as possible: of merely rough (not mechanical) manual
labour, especially agricultural, a large portion should be done by the
upper classes;--bodily health, and sufficient contrast and repose for
the mental functions, being unattainable without it; what necessarily
inferior labour remains to be done, as especially in manufactures,
should, and always will, when the relations of society are reverent
and harmonious, fall to the lot of those who, for the time, are fit
for nothing better. For as, whatever the perfectness of the
educational system, there must remain infinite differences between the
natures and capacities of men; and these differing natures are
generally rangeable under the two qualities of lordly (or tending
towards rule, construction, and harmony) and servile (or tending
towards misrule, destruction, and discord); and, since the lordly part
is only in a state of profitableness while ruling, and the servile
only in a state of redeemableness while serving, the whole health of
the state depends on the manifest separation of these two elements of
its mind: for, if the servile part be not separated and rendered
visible in service, it mixes with and corrupts the entire body of the
state; and if the lordly part be not distinguished, and set to rule,
it is crushed and lost, being turned to no account, so that the rarest
qualities of the nation are all given to it in vain.[106] The
effecting of which distinction is the first object, as we shall see
presently, of national councils.

  [104] "The ordinary brute, who flourishes in the very centre
        of ornate life, tells us of unknown depths on the verge of
        which we totter, being bound to thank our stars every day we
        live that there is not a general outbreak and a revolt from
        the yoke of civilization."--_Times_ leader, Dec. 25th, 1862.
        Admitting that our stars are to be thanked for our safety,
        whom are we to thank for the danger?

  [105] Our politicians, even the best of them, regard only the
        distress caused by the failure of mechanical labour. The
        degradation caused by its excess is a far more serious
        subject of thought, and of future fear. I shall examine this
        part of our subject at length hereafter. There can hardly be
        any doubt, at present, cast on the truth of the above
        passages, as all the great thinkers are unanimous on the
        matter. Plato's words are terrific in their scorn and pity
        whenever he touches on the mechanical arts. He calls the men
        employed in them not even human,--but partially and
        diminutively human, "[Greek: anthrôpiskoi]," and opposes
        such work to noble occupations, not merely as prison is
        opposed to freedom, but as a convict's dishonoured prison is
        to the temple (escape from them being like that of a
        criminal to the sanctuary), and the destruction caused by
        them being of soul no less than body.--Rep., vi. 9. Compare
        "Laws," v. 11. Xenophon dwells on the evil of occupations at
        the furnace (root of [Greek: banausos]), and especially their
        "[Greek: ascholia], want of leisure"--Econ. i. 4. (Modern
        England, with all its pride of education, has lost that
        first sense of the word "school," and till it recover that
        it will find no other rightly.) His word for the harm to the
        soul is to "break" it, as we say of the heart.--Econ. i. 6.
        And herein also is the root of the scorn, otherwise
        apparently most strange and cruel, with which Homer, Dante,
        and Shakespeare always speak of the populace; for it is
        entirely true that in great states the lower orders are low
        by nature as well as by task, being precisely that part of
        the commonwealth which has been thrust down for its
        coarseness or unworthiness (by coarseness I mean especially
        insensibility and irreverence; the "profane" of Horace); and
        when this ceases to be so, and the corruption and the
        profanity are in the higher instead of the lower orders,
        there arises, first, helpless confusion; then, if the lower
        classes deserve power, ensues swift revolution, and they get
        it: but if neither the populace nor their rulers deserve it,
        there follows mere darkness and dissolution, till, out of
        the putrid elements, some new capacity of order rises, like
        grass on a grave; if not, there is no more hope, nor shadow
        of turning, for that nation. Atropos has her way with it.

        So that the law of national health is like that of a great
        lake or sea, in perfect but slow circulation, letting the
        dregs fall continually to the lowest place, and the clear
        water rise; yet so as that there shall be no neglect of the
        lower orders, but perfect supervision and sympathy, so that
        if one member suffer, all members shall suffer with it.

  [106] "[Greek: oligês, kai allôs gignomenês.]" The bitter
        sentence never was so true as at this day.


These are the definitions and bonds of custom, or, of what the nation
desires should become custom.

Law is either archic[107] (of direction), meristic (of division), or
critic (of judgment). Archic law is that of appointment and precept:
it defines what is and is not to be done. Meristic law is that of
balance and distribution: it defines what is and is not to be
possessed. Critic law is that of discernment and award: it defines
what is and is not to be suffered.

  [107] Thetic, or Thesmic, would perhaps be a better term than
        Archic; but liable to be confused with some which we shall
        want relating to Theoria. The administrators of the three
        great divisions of law are severally Archons, Merists, and
        Dicasts. The Archons are the true princes, or beginners of
        things; or leaders (as of an orchestra); the Merists are
        properly the Domini, or Lords (law-words) of houses and
        nations; the Dicasts properly the judges, and that with
        Olympian justice, which reaches to heaven and hell. The
        violation of archic law is [Greek: hamartia] (error)
        [Greek: ponêria] (failure), [Greek: plêmmeleia] (discord).
        The violation of meristic law is [Greek: anomia] (iniquity).
        The violation of critic law is [Greek: adikia] (injury).
        Iniquity is central generic term; for all law is _fatal_; it
        is the division to men of their fate; as the fold of their
        pasture, it is [Greek: nomos]; as the assigning of their
        portion, [Greek: moira].

If we choose to class the laws of precept and distribution under the
general head of "statutes," all law is simply either of statute or
judgment; that is, first, the establishment of ordinance, and,
secondly, the assignment of the reward or penalty due to its
observance or violation.

To some extent these two forms of law must be associated, and, with
every ordinance, the penalty of disobedience to it be also determined.
But since the degrees and guilt of disobedience vary, the
determination of due reward and punishment must be modified by
discernment of special fact, which is peculiarly the office of the
judge, as distinguished from that of the lawgiver and lawsustainer, or
king; not but that the two offices are always theoretically and, in
early stages, or limited numbers, of society, are often practically,
united in the same person or persons.

Also, it is necessary to keep clearly in view the distinction between
these two kinds of law, because the possible range of law is wider in
proportion to their separation. There are many points of conduct
respecting which the nation may wisely express its will by a written
precept or resolve; yet not enforce it by penalty; and the expedient
degree of penalty is always quite a separate consideration from the
expedience of the statute, for the statute may often be better
enforced by mercy than severity, and is also easier in bearing, and
less likely to be abrogated. Farther, laws of precept have reference
especially to youth, and concern themselves with training; but laws of
judgment to manhood, and concern themselves with remedy and reward.
There is a highly curious feeling in the English mind against
educational law; we think no man's liberty should be interfered with
till he has done irrevocable wrong; whereas it is then just too late
for the only gracious and kingly interference, which is to hinder him
from doing it. Make your educational laws strict, and your criminal
ones may be gentle; but, leave youth its liberty, and you will have to
dig dungeons for age. And it is good for a man that he wear the yoke
in his youth; for the yoke of youth, if you know how to hold it, may
be of silken thread; and there is sweet chime of silver bells at that
bridle rein; but, for the captivity of age, you must forge the iron
fetter, and cast the passing bell.

Since no law can be in a final or true sense established, but by right
(all unjust laws involving the ultimate necessity of their own
abrogation), the law-sustaining power in so far as it is Royal, or
"right doing";--in so far, that is, as it rules, not mis-rules, and
orders, not dis-orders, the things submitted to it. Throned on this
rock of justice, the kingly power becomes established and
establishing, "[Greek: theios]," or divine, and, therefore, it is
literally true that no ruler can err, so long as he is a ruler, or
[Greek: archôn oudeis hamartanei tote hotan archôn ê] (perverted by
careless thought, which has cost the world somewhat, into "the king
can do no wrong"). Which is a divine right of kings indeed, and quite
unassailable, so long as the terms of it are "God and my Right," and
not "Satan and my Wrong," which is apt, in some coinages, to appear on
the reverse of the die, under a good lens.

Meristic law, or that of tenure of property, first determines what
every individual possesses by right, and secures it to him; and what
he possesses by wrong, and deprives him of it. But it has a far higher
provisory function: it determines what every man should possess, and
puts it within his reach on due conditions; and what he should not
possess, and puts this out of his reach conclusively.

Every article of human wealth has certain conditions attached to its
merited possession, which, when they are unobserved, possession
becomes rapine. The object of meristic law is not only to secure every
man his rightful share (the share, that is, which he has worked for,
produced, or received by gift from a rightful owner), but to enforce
the due conditions of possession, as far as law may conveniently
reach; for instance, that land shall not be wantonly allowed to run to
waste, that streams shall not be poisoned by the persons through whose
properties they pass, nor air be rendered unwholesome beyond given
limits. Laws of this kind exist already in rudimentary degree, but
needing large development; the just laws respecting the possession of
works of art have not hitherto been so much as conceived, and the
daily loss of national wealth, and of its use, in this respect, is
quite incalculable.[108] While, finally, in certain conditions of a
nation's progress, laws limiting accumulation of property may be found

  [108] These laws need revision quite as much respecting property
        in national as in private hands. For instance: the public
        are under a vague impression, that because they have paid
        for the contents of the British Museum, every one has an
        equal right to see and to handle them. But the public have
        similarly paid for the contents of Woolwich Arsenal; yet do
        not expect free access to it, or handling of its contents.
        The British Museum is neither a free circulating library,
        nor a free school; it is a place for the safe preservation,
        and exhibition on due occasion, of unique books, unique
        objects of natural history, and unique works of art; its
        books can no more be used by everybody than its coins can be
        handled, or its statues cast. Free libraries there ought to
        be in every quarter of London, with large and complete
        reading-rooms attached; so also free educational
        institutions should be open in every quarter of London, all
        day long and till late at night, well lighted, well
        catalogued, and rich in contents both of art and natural
        history. But neither the British Museum nor National Gallery
        are schools; they are treasuries; and both should be
        severely restricted in access and in use. Unless some order
        is taken, and that soon, in the MSS. department of the
        Museum (Sir Frederic Madden was complaining of this to me
        only the other day), the best MSS. in the collection will be
        destroyed, irretrievably, by the careless and continual
        handling to which they are now subjected.

Critic law determines questions of injury, and assigns due rewards and
punishments to conduct.[109]

  [109] Two curious economical questions arise laterally with
        respect to this branch of law, namely, the cost of crime and
        the cost of judgment. The cost of crime is endured by
        nations ignorantly, not being clearly stated in their
        budgets; the cost of judgment patiently (provided only it
        can be had pure for the money), because the science, or
        perhaps we ought rather to say the art, of law, is felt to
        found a noble profession, and discipline; so that civilized
        nations are usually glad that a number of persons should be
        supported by funds devoted to disputation and analysis. But
        it has not yet been calculated what the practical value
        might have been, in other directions, of the intelligence
        now occupied in deciding, through courses of years, what
        might have been decided as justly, had the date of judgment
        been fixed, in as many hours. Imagine one half of the funds
        which any great nation devotes to dispute by law, applied to
        the determination of physical questions in medicine,
        agriculture, and theoretic science; and calculate the
        probable results within the next ten years.

        I say nothing yet, of the more deadly, more lamentable loss,
        involved in the use of purchased instead of personal
        justice,--[Greek: epaktô par' allôn--aporia' oikeiôn].

Therefore, in order to true analysis of it, we must understand the
real meaning of this word "injury."

We commonly understand by it any kind of harm done by one man to
another; but we do not define the idea of harm; sometimes we limit it
to the harm which the sufferer is conscious of, whereas much the worst
injuries are those he is unconscious of; and, at other times, we limit
the idea to violence, or restraint, whereas much the worse forms of
injury are to be accomplished by carelessness, and the withdrawal of

"Injury" is, then, simply the refusal, or violation of any man's right
or claim upon his fellows: which claim, much talked of in modern
times, under the term "right," is mainly resolvable into two branches:
a man's claim not to be hindered from doing what he should; and his
claim to be hindered from doing what he should not; these two forms of
hindrance being intensified by reward, or help and fortune, or Fors on
one side, and punishment, impediment, and even final arrest, or Mors,
on the other.

Now, in order to a man's obtaining these two rights, it is clearly
needful that the worth of him should be approximately known; as well
as the want of worth, which has, unhappily, been usually the principal
subject of study for critic law, careful hitherto only to mark degrees
of de-merit, instead of merit;--assigning, indeed, to the deficiencies
(not always, alas! even to these) just fine, diminution, or (with the
broad vowels) damnation; but to the efficiencies, on the other side,
which are by much the more interesting, as well as the only profitable
part of its subject, assigning in any clear way neither measurement
nor aid.

Now, it is in this higher and perfect function of critic law, enabling
as well as disabling, that it becomes truly kingly or basilican,
instead of Draconic (what Providence gave the great, old, wrathful
legislator his name?); that is, it becomes the law of man and of life,
instead of the law of the worm and of death--both of these laws being
set in everlasting poise one against another, and the enforcement of
both being the eternal function of the lawgiver, and true claim of
every living soul: such claim being indeed as straight and earnest to
be mercifully hindered, and even, if need be, abolished, when longer
existence means only deeper destruction, as to be mercifully helped
and recreated when longer existence and new creation mean nobler life.
So that what we vulgarly term reward and punishment will be found to
resolve themselves mainly into help and hindrance, and these again
will issue naturally from true recognition of deserving, and the just
reverence and just wrath which follow instinctively on such

I say "follow," but in reality they are the recognition. Reverence is
but the perceiving of the thing in its entire truth: truth reverted is
truth revered (vereor and veritas having clearly the same root), so
that Goethe is for once, and for a wonder, wrong in that part of the
noble scheme of education in "Wilhelm Meister," in which he says that
reverence is not innate, and must be taught. Reverence is as
instinctive as anger;--both of them instant on true vision: it is
sight and understanding that we have to teach, and these are
reverence. Make a man perceive worth, and in its reflection he sees
his own relative unworth, and worships thereupon inevitably, not with
stiff courtesy, but rejoicingly, passionately, and, best of all,
restfully: for the inner capacity of awe and love is infinite in man;
and when his eyes are once opened to the sight of beauty and honour,
it is with him as with a lover, who, falling at his mistress's feet,
would cast himself through the earth, if it might be, to fall lower,
and find a deeper and humbler place. And the common insolences and
petulances of the people, and their talk of equality, are not
irreverence in them in the least, but mere blindness, stupefaction,
and fog in the brains,[110] which pass away in the degree that they
are raised and purified: the first sign of which raising is, that they
gain some power of discerning, and some patience in submitting to
their true counsellors and governors; the modes of such discernment
forming the real "constitution" of the state, and not the titles or
offices of the discerned person; for it is no matter, save in degree
of mischief, to what office a man is appointed, if he cannot fulfil
it. And this brings us to the third division of our subject.

  [110] Compare Chaucer's "villany" (clownishness).

          "Full foul and chorlishe seemed she,
          And eke villanous for to be,
          And little coulde of norture
          To worship any creature."


This is the determination, by living authority, of the national
conduct to be observed under existing circumstances; and the
modification or enlargement, abrogation or enforcement, of the code of
national law according to present needs or purposes. This government
is necessarily always by Council, for though the authority of it may
be vested in one person, that person cannot form any opinion on a
matter of public interest but by (voluntarily or involuntarily)
submitting himself to the influence of others.

This government is always twofold--visible and invisible.

The visible government is that which nominally carries on the national
business; determines its foreign relations, raises taxes, levies
soldiers, fights battles, or directs that they be fought, and
otherwise becomes the exponent of the national fortune. The invisible
government is that exercised by all energetic and intelligent men,
each in his sphere, regulating the inner will and secret ways of the
people, essentially forming its character, and preparing its fate.
Visible governments are the toys of some nations, the diseases of
others, the harness of some, the burdens of the more, the necessity of
all. Sometimes their career is quite distinct from that of the people,
and to write it, as the national history, is as if one should number
the accidents which befall a man's weapons and wardrobe, and call the
list his biography. Nevertheless a truly noble and wise nation
necessarily has a noble and wise visible government, for its wisdom
issues in that conclusively. "Not out of the oak, nor out of the rock,
but out of the temper of man, is his polity:" where the temper
inclines, it inclines as Samson by his pillar, and draws all down with

Visible governments are, in their agencies, capable of three pure
forms, and of no more than three.

They are either monarchies, where the authority is vested in one
person; oligarchies, when it is vested in a minority; or democracies,
when vested in a majority.

But these three forms are not only, in practice, variously limited and
combined, but capable of infinite difference in character and use,
receiving specific names according to their variations; which names,
being nowise agreed upon, nor consistently used, either in thought or
writing, no man can at present tell, in speaking of any kind of
government, whether he is understood, nor in hearing whether he
understands. Thus we usually call a just government by one person a
monarchy, and an unjust or cruel one, a tyranny; this might be
reasonable if it had reference to the divinity of true government; but
to limit the term "oligarchy" to government by a few rich people, and
to call government by a few wise or noble people "aristocracies," is
evidently absurd, unless it were proved that rich people never could
be wise, or noble people rich; and farther absurd because there are
other distinctions in character, as well as riches or wisdom (greater
purity of race, or strength of purpose, for instance), which may give
the power of government to the few. So that if we had to give names to
every group or kind of minority, we should have verbiage enough. But
there is one right name--"oligarchy."

So also the terms "republic" and "democracy" are confused, especially
in modern use; and both of them are liable to every sort of
misconception. A republic means, properly, a polity in which the
state, with its all, is at every man's service, and every man, with
his all, at the state's service (people are apt to lose sight of the
last condition); but its government may nevertheless be oligarchic
(consular, or decemviral, for instance), or monarchic (dictatorial).
But a democracy means a state in which the government rests directly
with the majority of the citizens. And both these conditions have been
judged only by such accidents and aspects of them as each of us has
had experience of; and sometimes both have been confused with anarchy,
as it is the fashion at present to talk of the "failure of republican
institutions in America," when there has never yet been in America any
such thing as an institution; neither any such thing as a res-publica,
but only a multitudinous res-privata; every man for himself. It is not
republicanism which fails now in America; it is your model science of
political economy, brought to its perfect practice. There you may see
competition, and the "law of demand and supply" (especially in paper),
in beautiful and unhindered operation.[111] Lust of wealth, and trust
in it; vulgar faith in magnitude and multitude, instead of nobleness;
besides that faith natural to backwoodsmen,--"lucum ligna,"--perpetual
self-contemplation, issuing in passionate vanity: total ignorance of
the finer and higher arts, and of all that they teach and bestow;[112]
and the discontent of energetic minds unoccupied, frantic with hope of
uncomprehended change, and progress they know not whither;[113] these
are the things that they have "failed" with in America; and yet not
altogether failed--it is not collapse, but collision; the greatest
railroad accident on record, with fire caught from the furnace, and
Catiline's quenching "non aquá, sed ruinâ." But I see not, in any of
our talk of them, justice enough done to their erratic strength of
purpose, nor any estimate taken of the strength of endurance of
domestic sorrow in what their women and children suppose a righteous
cause. And out of that endurance and suffering, its own fruit will be
born with time; and Carlyle's prophecy of them (June, 1850), as it has
now come true in the first clause, will in the last.

    America too will find that caucuses, division-lists,
    stump-oratory and speeches to Buncombe will _not_ carry men
    to the immortal gods; that the Washington Congress, and
    constitutional battle of Kilkenny cats is, there as here,
    naught for such objects; quite incompetent for such; and, in
    fine, that said sublime constitutional arrangement will
    require to be (with terrible throes, and travail such as few
    expect yet) remodelled, abridged, extended, suppressed; torn
    asunder, put together again;--not without heroic labour, and
    effort quite other than that of the Stump-Orator and the
    Revival Preacher, one day!

  [111] "Supply-and-demand,--alas! For what noble work was there
        ever any audible 'demand' in that poor sense?" ("Past and
        Present"). Nay, the demand is not loud even for ignoble
        work. See "Average earnings of Betty Taylor," in _Times_, of
        4th February, of this year [1863]: "Worked from Monday
        morning at 8 a.m., to Friday night at 5.30 p.m., for 1_s._
        5-1/2_d._"--Laissez faire.

  [112] See Bacon's note in the "Advancement of Learning," on
        "didicisse fideliter artes" (but indeed the accent had need
        be upon "fideliter"). "It taketh away vain admiration of
        anything, which is the root of all weakness: for all things
        are admired either because they are new, or because they are
        great," etc.

  [113] Ames, by report of Waldo Emerson, expressed the popular
        security wisely, saying, "that a monarchy is a merchantman,
        which sails well, but will sometimes strike on a rock, and
        go to the bottom; whilst a republic is a raft, which would
        never sink, but then your feet are always in the water."
        Yes, and when the four winds (your only pilots) steer
        competitively from the four corners, [Greek: hôs d' hot'
        opôrinos Boreês phoreêsin akanthas], perhaps the wiser
        mariner may wish for keel and wheel again.

Understand, then, once for all, that no form of government, provided
it be a government at all, is, as such, either to be condemned or
praised, or contested for in anywise but by fools. But all forms of
government are good just so far as they attain this one vital
necessity of policy--that the wise and kind, few or many, shall govern
the unwise and unkind; and they are evil so far as they miss of this
or reverse it. Nor does the form in any case signify one whit, but its
firmness and adaptation to the need; for if there be many foolish
persons in a state, and few wise, then it is good that the few govern;
and if there be many wise and few foolish, then it is good that many
govern; and if many be wise, yet one wiser, then it is good that one
should govern; and so on. Thus, we may have "the ants' republic, and
the realm of bees," both good in their kind; one for groping, and the
other for building; and nobler still, for flying, the Ducal monarchy
of those

  "Intelligent of seasons, that set forth
  The aery caravan, high over seas."

Nor need we want examples, among the inferior creatures, of
dissoluteness, as well as resoluteness in, government. I once saw
democracy finely illustrated by the beetles of North Switzerland, who,
by universal suffrage, and elytric acclamation, one May twilight,
carried it that they would fly over the Lake of Zug; and flew short,
to the great disfigurement of the Lake of Zug--[Greek: Kantharou
limên]--over some leagues square, and to the close of the Cockchafer
democracy for that year. The old fable of the frogs and the stork
finely touches one form of tyranny; but truth will touch it more
nearly than fable, for tyranny is not complete when it is only over
the idle, but when it is over the laborious and the blind. This
description of pelicans and climbing perch which I find quoted in one
of our popular natural histories, out of Sir Emerson Tennent's
"Ceylon," comes as near as may be to the true image of the thing:--

     Heavy rains came on, and as we stood on the high ground, we
     observed a pelican on the margin of the shallow pool gorging
     himself; our people went towards him, and raised a cry of
     "Fish! fish!" We hurried down, and found numbers of fish
     struggling upward through the grass, in the rills formed by
     the trickling of the rain. There was scarcely water to cover
     them, but nevertheless they made rapid progress up the bank,
     on which our followers collected about two baskets of them.
     They were forcing their way up the knoll, and had they not
     been interrupted, first by the pelican, and afterwards by
     ourselves, they would in a few minutes have gained the
     highest point, and descended on the other side into a pool
     which formed another portion of the tank. In going this
     distance, however, they must have used muscular exertion
     enough to have taken them half a mile on level ground; for
     at these places all the cattle and wild animals of the
     neighbourhood had latterly come to drink, so that the
     surface was everywhere indented with footmarks, in addition
     to the cracks in the surrounding baked mud, into which the
     fish tumbled in their progress. In those holes which were
     deep, and the sides perpendicular, they remained to die, and
     were carried off by kites and crows.

But whether governments be bad or good, one general disadvantage seems
to attach to them in modern times--that they are all costly. This,
however, is not essentially the fault of the governments. If nations
choose to play at war, they will always find their governments willing
to lead the game, and soon coming under that term of Aristophanes,
"[Greek: kapêloi aspidôn]," shield-sellers. And when ([Greek: pêm'
epipêmati]) the shields take the form of iron ships, with apparatus
"for defence against liquid fire"--as I see by latest accounts they
are now arranging the decks in English dockyards,--they become costly
biers enough for the grey convoy of chief-mourner waves, wreathed with
funereal foam, to bear back the dead upon; the massy shoulders of
those corpse-bearers being intended for quite other work, and to bear
the living, if we would let them.

Nor have we the least right to complain of our governments being
expensive so long as we set the government to do precisely the work
which brings no return. If our present doctrines of political economy
be just, let us trust them to the utmost; take that war business out
of the government's hands, and test therein the principles of supply
and demand. Let our future sieges of Sebastopol be done by
contract--no capture, no pay--(I am prepared to admit that things
might go better so); and let us sell the commands of our prospective
battles, with our vicarages, to the lowest bidder; so may we have
cheap victories and divinity. On the other hand, if we have so much
suspicion of our science that we dare not trust it on military or
spiritual business, it would be but reasonable to try whether some
authoritative handling may not prosper in matters utilitarian. If we
were to set our governments to do useful things instead of
mischievous, possibly even the apparatus might in time come to be less
costly! The machine, applied to the building of the house, might
perhaps pay, when it seems not to pay, applied to pulling it down. If
we made in our dockyards ships to carry timber and coals, instead of
cannon, and with provision for brightening of domestic solid culinary
fire, instead of for the averting of hostile liquid fire, it might
have some effect on the taxes? Or if the iron bottoms were to bring us
home nothing better than ivory and peacocks, instead of martial glory,
we might at least have gayer suppers, and doors of the right material
for dreams after them. Or suppose that we tried the experiment on land
instead of water carriage; already the government, not unapproved,
carries letters and parcels for us; larger packages may in time
follow:--parcels;--even general merchandise? Why not, at last,
ourselves? Had the money spent in local mistakes and vain private
litigation, on the railroads of England, been laid out, instead, under
proper government restraint, on really useful railroad work, and had
no absurd expense been incurred in ornamenting stations, we might
already have had,--what ultimately will be found we must
have,--quadruple rails, two for passengers, and two for traffic, on
every great line; and we might have been carried in swift safety, and
watched and warded by well-paid pointsmen, for half the present fares.
"[Greek: hô Dêmidion, horas ta lagô' ha soi pherô]?" Suppose it should
turn out, finally, that a true government set to true work, instead of
being a costly engine, was a paying one? that your government, rightly
organized, instead of itself subsisting by an income tax, would
produce its subjects some subsistence in the shape of an income
dividend!--police and judges duly paid besides, only with less work
than the state at present provides for them.

A true government set to true work!--Not easily imagined, still less
obtained, but not beyond human hope or ingenuity. Only you will have
to alter your election systems somewhat, first. Not by universal
suffrage, nor by votes purchasable with beer, is such government to be
had. That is to say, not by universal equal suffrage. Every man
upwards of twenty, who had been convicted of no legal crime, should
have his say in this matter; but afterwards a louder voice, as he
grows older, and approves himself wiser. If he has one vote at twenty,
he should have two at thirty, four at forty, and ten at fifty. For
every one vote which he has with an income of a hundred a year, he
should have ten with an income of a thousand (provided you first see
to it that wealth is, as nature intended it to be, the reward of
sagacity and industry,--not of good luck in a scramble or a lottery.)
For every one vote which he had as subordinate in any business, he
should have two when he became a master; and every office and
authority nationally bestowed, inferring trustworthiness and
intellect, should have its known proportional number of votes attached
to it. But into the detail and working of a true system in these
matters we cannot now enter; we are concerned as yet with definitions
only, and statements of first principles, which will be established
now sufficiently for our purposes when we have examined the nature of
that form of government last on the list in the previous paper,--the
purely "Magistral," exciting at present its full share of public
notice, under its ambiguous title of "slavery."

I have not, however, been able to ascertain in definite terms, from
the declaimers against slavery, what they understand by it. If they
mean only the imprisonment or compulsion being in many cases highly
expedient, slavery, so defined, would be no evil in itself, but only
in its abuse; that is, when men are slaves, who should not be, or
masters, who should not be, or under conditions which should not be.
It is not, for instance, a necessary condition of slavery, nor a
desirable one, that parents should be separated from children, or
husbands from wives; but the institution of war, against which people
declaim with less violence, effects such separations--not unfrequently
in a higher permanent manner. To press a sailor, seize a white youth
by conscription for a soldier, or carry off a black one for a
labourer, may all be right, or all wrong, according to needs and
circumstances. It is wrong to scourge a man unnecessarily. So it is to
shoot him. Both must be done on occasion; and it is better and kinder
to flog a man to his work, than to leave him idle till he robs, and
flog him afterwards. The essential thing for all creatures is to be
made to do right; how they are made to do it--by pleasant promises, or
hard necessities, pathetic oratory, or the whip, is comparatively
immaterial. To be deceived is perhaps as incompatible with human
dignity as to be whipped, and I suspect the last instrument to be not
the worst, for the help of many individuals. The Jewish nation throve
under it, in the hand of a monarch reputed not unwise; it is only the
change of whip for scorpion which is expedient, and yet that change is
as likely to come to pass on the side of licence as of law; for the
true scorpion whips are those of the nation's pleasant vices, which
are to it as St. John's locusts--crown on the head, ravin in the
mouth, and sting in the tail. If it will not bear the rule of Athena
and her brother, who shepherd without smiting ([Greek: ou plêgê
nemontes]), Athena at last calls no more in the corners of the
streets; and then follows the rule of Tisiphone, who smites without

If, however, slavery, instead of absolute compulsion, is meant the
purchase, by money, of the right of compulsion, such purchase is
necessarily made whenever a portion of any territory is transferred,
for money, from one monarch to another: which has happened frequently
enough in history, without its being supposed that the inhabitants of
the districts so transferred became their slaves. In this, as in the
former case, the dispute seems about the fashion of the thing rather
than the fact of it. There are two rocks in mid-sea, on each of which,
neglected equally by instructive and commercial powers, a handful of
inhabitants live as they may. Two merchants bid for the two
properties, but not in the same terms. One bids for the people, buys
them, and sets them to work, under pain of scourge; the other bids for
the rock, buys it, and throws the inhabitants into the sea. The former
is the American, the latter the English method, of slavery; much is to
be said for, and something against, both, which I hope to say in due
time and place.

If, however, slavery mean not merely the purchase of the right of
compulsion, but the purchase of the body and soul of the creature
itself for money, it is not, I think, among the black races that
purchases of this kind are most extensively made, or that separate
souls of a fine make fetch the highest price. This branch of the
inquiry we shall have occasion also to follow out at some length; for
in the worst instance of the "[Greek: Biôn prasis]" we are apt to get
only Pyrrhon's answer--[Greek: ti phês?--epriamên se? Adêlon].

The fact is that slavery is not a political institution at all, but an
inherent, natural, and eternal inheritance of a large portion of the
human race--to whom the more you give of their own will, the more
slaves they will make themselves. In common parlance, we idly confuse
captivity with slavery, and are always thinking of the difference
between pine-trunks and cowslip bells, or between carrying wood and
clothes-stealing, instead of noting the far more serious differences
between Ariel and Caliban, and the means by which practically that
difference may be brought about.[114]

  [114] The passage of Plato, referred to in note p. 280, in its
        context, respecting the slave who, well dressed and washed,
        aspires to the hand of his master's daughter, corresponds
        curiously to the attack of Caliban on Prospero's cell, and
        there is an undercurrent of meaning throughout, in the
        "Tempest" as well as in the "Merchant of Venice"; referring
        in this case to government, as in that to commerce. Miranda
        ("the wonderful," so addressed first by Ferdinand, "Oh, you
        wonder!") corresponds to Homer's Arete: Ariel and Caliban
        are respectively the spirits of freedom and mechanical
        labour. Prospero ("for hope"), a true governor, opposed to
        Sycorax, the mother of slavery, her name, "Swine-raven,"
        indicating at once brutality and deathfulness; hence the
        line--"As wicked dew as e'er my mother brushed, with raven's
        feather,"--etc. For all dreams of Shakespeare, as those of
        true and strong men must be, are "[Greek: phantasmata theia,
        kai skiai tôn ontôn]," phantasms of God, and shadows of
        things that are. We hardly tell our children, willingly, a
        fable with no purport in it; yet we think God sends His best
        messengers only to say fairy tales to us, all fondness and
        emptiness. The "Tempest" is just like a grotesque in a rich
        missal, "clasped where paynims pray." Ariel is the spirit of
        true liberty, in early stages of human society oppressed by
        ignorance and wild tyranny; venting groans as fast as
        mill-wheels strike; in shipwreck of states, fearful; so that
        "all but mariners plunge in the brine, and quit the vessel,
        then all afire with me," yet having in itself the will and
        sweetness of truest peace, whence that is especially called
        "Ariel's" song, "Come unto these yellow sands"--(fenceless,
        and countless--changing with the sweep of the sea--"vaga
        arena." Compare Horace's opposition of the sea-sand to the
        dust of the grave: "numero carentis"--"exigui;" and again
        compare "animo rotundum percurrisse" with "put a girdle
        round the earth")--"and then take hands: court'sied when you
        have, and kiss'd,--the wild waves whist:" (mind it is
        "courtesia," not "curtsey") and read "quiet" for "whist" if
        you want the full sense. Then may you indeed foot it featly,
        and sweet spirits bear the burden for you--with watch in the
        night, and call in early morning. The power of liberty in
        elemental transformation follows--"Full fathom five thy
        father lies, of his bones are coral made." Then, giving rest
        after labour, it "fetches dew from the still-vex'd
        Bermoothes, and, with a charm joined to their suffered
        labour, leaves men asleep." Snatching away the feast of the
        cruel, it seems to them as a harpy, followed by the utterly
        vile, who cannot see it in any shape, but to whom it is the
        picture of nobody, it still gives shrill harmony to their
        false and mocking catch, "Thought is free," but leads them
        into briars and foul places, and at last hollas the hounds
        upon them. Minister of fate against the great criminal, it
        joins itself with the "incensed seas and shores"--the sword
        that layeth at it cannot hold, and may, "with bemocked-at
        stabs as soon kill the still-closing waters, as diminish one
        dowle that's in my plume." As the guide and aid of true
        love, it is always called by Prospero "fine" (the French
        "fine"--not the English), or "delicate"--another long note
        would be needed to explain all the meaning in this word.
        Lastly, its work done, and war, it resolves itself to the
        elements. The intense significance of the last song, "Where
        the bee sucks," I will examine in its due place. The types
        of slavery in Caliban are more palpable, and need not be
        dwelt on now: though I will notice them also, severally, in
        their proper places;--the heart of his slavery is in his
        worship: "That's a brave god, and bears celestial liquor."
        But, in illustration of the sense in which the Latin
        "benignus" and "malignus," are to be coupled with Eleutheria
        and Douleia, not that Caliban's torment is always the
        physical reflection of his own nature--"cramps" and
        "side-stitches that shall pen thy breath up"--"thou shalt be
        pinched as thick as honeycomb:" the whole nature of slavery
        being one cramp and cretinous contraction. Fancy this of
        Ariel! You may fetter him, but yet set no mark on him; you
        may put him to hard work and far journey, but you cannot
        give him a cramp.

        Of Shakespeare's names I will afterwards speak at more
        length: they are curiously--often barbarously--mixed out of
        various traditions and languages. Three of the clearest in
        meaning have been already noticed. Desdemona, "[Greek:
        dysdaimonia]," "miserable fortune," is also plain enough.
        Othello is, I believe, "the careful"; all the calamity of
        the tragedy arising from the single flaw and error in his
        magnificently collected strength. Ophelia,
        "serviceableness," the true lost wife of Hamlet, is marked
        as having a Greek name by that last word of her, where her
        gentle preciousness is opposed to the uselessness of the
        churlish clergy--"A ministering angel shall my sister be
        when thou liest howling." Hamlet is, I believe, connected in
        some way with "homely," the entire event of the tragedy
        turning on betrayal of home duty. Hermione ([Greek: herma]),
        "pillar-like" ([Greek: hê eidos eche chrysês Aphroditês]).
        Titania ([Greek: titênê]), "the queen;" Benedict and
        Beatrice, "blessed and blessing;" Valentine and Proteus,
        enduring (or strong) (valens) and changeful. Iago and
        Iachimo have evidently the same root--probably the Spanish
        Iago, Jacob, "the supplanter." Leonatus, and other such
        names are interpreted, or played with, in the plays
        themselves. For the interpretation of Sycorax, and reference
        to her raven's feather, I am indebted to Mr. John R. Wise.

I should dwell, even in these prefatory papers, at somewhat more
length on this matter, had not all I would say, been said (already in
vain) by Carlyle, in the first of the "Latter-Day Pamphlets," which I
commend to the reader's gravest reading: together with that as much
neglected, and still more immediately needed, on model prisons, and
with the great chapter on "Permanence" (fifth of the last section of
"Past and Present"), which sums, what is known, and foreshadows,--or
rather fore-lights, all that is to be learned, of National Discipline.
I have only here farther to examine the nature of one world-wide and
everlasting form of slavery, wholesome in use, deadly in abuse--the
service of the rich by the poor.

As in all previous discussions of our subject, we must study this
relation in its simplest elements in order to reach its first
principles. The simplest state of it is, then, this:[115] a wise and
provident person works much, consumes little, and lays by store; an
improvident person works little, consumes all the produce, and lays by
no store. Accident interrupts the daily work, or renders it less
productive; the idle person must then starve, or be supported by the
provident one,--who, having him thus at his mercy, may either refuse
to maintain him altogether, or, which will evidently be more to his
own interest, say to him, "I will maintain you, indeed, but you shall
now work hard, instead of indolently, and instead of being allowed to
lay by what you save, as you might have done, had you remained
independent, I will take all the surplus. You would not lay it up
yourself; it is wholly your own fault that has thrown you into my
power, and I will force you to work, or starve; yet you shall have no
profit, only your daily bread." This mode of treatment has now become
so universal that it is supposed the only natural--nay, the only
possible one; and the market wages are calmly defined by economists as
"the sum which will maintain the labourer."

  [115] In the present general examination I concede so much to
        ordinary economists as to ignore all innocent poverty. I
        assume poverty to be always criminal; the conceivable
        exceptions we will examine afterwards.

The power of the provident person to do this is only checked by the
correlative power of some neighbour of similarly frugal habits, who
says to the labourer--"I will give you a little more than my provident
friend:--come and work for me." The power of the provident over the
improvident depends thus primarily on their relative numbers;
secondarily, on the modes of agreement of the adverse parties with
each other. The level of wages is a variable function of the number of
provident and idle persons in the world, of the enmity between them as
classes, and of the agreement between those of the same class. It
depends, from beginning to end, on moral conditions.

Supposing the rich to be entirely selfish, it is always for their
interest that the poor should be as numerous as they can employ and
restrain. For, granting the entire population no larger than the
ground can easily maintain,--that the classes are stringently
divided,--and that there is sense or strength of hand enough with the
rich to secure obedience; then, if nine-tenths of a nation are poor,
the remaining tenth have the service of nine persons each;[116] but,
if eight-tenths are poor, only of four each; if seven-tenths are poor,
of two and a third each; but, practically if the rich strive always to
obtain more power over the poor, instead of to raise them,--and if, on
the other hand, the poor become continually more vicious and numerous,
through neglect and oppression--though the range of the power of the
rich increases, its tenure becomes less secure; until, at last, the
measure of iniquity being full, revolution, civil war, or the
subjection of the state to a healthier or stronger one, closes the
moral corruption and industrial disease.

  [116] I say nothing yet of the quality of the servants, which,
        nevertheless, is the gist of the business. Will you have
        Paul Veronese to paint your ceiling, or the plumber from
        over the way? Both will work for the same money; Paul, if
        anything, a little cheaper of the two, if you keep him in
        good humour; only you have to discern him first, which will
        need eyes.

It is rare, however, that things come to this extremity. Kind persons
among the rich, and wise among the poor, modify the connexion of the
classes: the efforts made to raise and relieve on the one side, and
the success and honest toil on the other, bind and blend the orders of
society into the confused tissue of half-felt obligation,
sullenly-rendered obedience, and variously-directed, or mis-directed,
toil, which form the warp of daily life. But this great law rules all
the wild design of the weaving; that success (while society is guided
by laws of competition) signifies always so much victory over your
neighbour as to obtain the direction of his work, and to take the
profits of it. This is the real source of all great riches. No man can
become largely rich by his personal toil.[117] The work of his own
hands, wisely directed, will indeed always maintain himself and his
family, and make fitting provision for his age. But it is only by the
discovery of some method of taxing the labour of others that he can
become opulent. Every increase of his capital enables him to extend
this taxation more widely; that is, to invest larger funds in the
maintenance of his labourers--to direct, accordingly, vaster and yet
vaster masses of labour; and to appropriate its profits. There is much
confusion of idea on the subject of this appropriation. It is, of
course, the interest of the employer to disguise it from the persons
employed; and for his own comfort and complacency he often desires no
less to disguise it from himself. And it is matter of much doubt with
me, how far the foolish arguments used habitually on this subject are
indeed the honest expressions of foolish convictions,--or rather (as I
am sometimes forced to conclude from the irritation with which they
are advanced) are resolutely dishonest, wilful sophisms, arranged so
as to mask to the last moment the real state of economy, and future
duties of men. By taking a simple example, and working it thoroughly
out, the subject may be rescued from all but determined misconception.

  [117] By his heart he may; but only when its produce, or the
        sight or hearing of it, becomes a subject of dispute, so as
        to enable the artist to tax the labour of multitudes highly,
        in exchange for his own.

Let us imagine a society of peasants, living on a river-shore, exposed
to destructive inundation at somewhat extended intervals; and that
each peasant possesses of this good, but imperilled ground, more than
he needs to cultivate for immediate subsistence. We will assume
farther (and with too great probability of justice) that the greater
part of them indolently keep in tillage just as much land as supplies
them with daily food;--that they leave their children idle and
untaught; and take no precautions against the rise of the stream. But
one of them (we will say only one, for the sake of greater clearness)
cultivates carefully all the ground of his estate; makes his children
work hard and healthily; uses his spare time and theirs in building a
rampart against the river; and at the end of some years has in his
storehouses large reserves of food and clothing, and in his stables a
well-tended breed of cattle.

The torrent rises at last--sweeps away the harvests and many of the
cottages of the careless peasantry, and leaves them destitute. They
naturally come for help to the provident one, whose fields are
unwasted and whose granaries are full. He has the right to refuse it
them; no one disputes his right. But he will probably not refuse it;
it is not his interest to do so, even were he entirely selfish and
cruel. The only question with him will be on what terms his aid is to
be granted.

Clearly not on terms of mere charity. To maintain his neighbours in
idleness would be his ruin and theirs. He will require work from them
in exchange for their maintenance; and whether in kindness or cruelty,
all the work they can give. Not now the three or four hours they were
wont to spend on their own land, but the eight or ten hours they ought
to have spent. But how will he apply this labour? The men are now his
slaves--nothing less. On pain of starvation, he can force them to work
in the manner and to the end he chooses. And it is by his wisdom in
this choice that the worthiness of his mastership is proved, or its
unworthiness. Evidently he must first set them to bank out the water
in some temporary way, and to get their ground cleansed and resown;
else, in any case, their continued maintenance will be impossible.
That done, and while he has still to feed them, suppose he makes them
raise a secure rampart for their own ground against all future flood,
and rebuild their houses in safer places, with the best material they
can find; being allowed time out of their working hours to fetch such
material from a distance. And for the food and clothing advanced, he
takes security in land that as much shall be returned at a convenient

At the end of a few years, we may conceive this security redeemed, and
the debt paid. The prudent peasant has sustained no loss; but is no
richer than he was, and has had all his trouble for nothing. But he
has enriched his neighbours materially; bettered their houses, secured
their land, and rendered them, in worldly matters, equal to himself.
In all true and final sense, he has been throughout their lord and

We will next trace his probable line of conduct, presuming his object
to be exclusively the increase of his own fortune. After roughly
recovering and cleansing the ground, he allows the ruined peasantry
only to build huts upon it, such as he thinks protective enough from
the weather to keep them in working health. The rest of their time he
occupies first in pulling down and rebuilding on a magnificent scale
his own house, and in adding large dependencies to it. This done, he
follows the example of the first great Hebrew financier, and in
exchange for his continued supply of corn, buys as much of his
neighbours! land, as he thinks he can superintend the management of;
and makes the former owners securely embank and protect the ceded
portion. By this arrangement he leaves to a certain number of the
peasantry only as much ground as will just maintain them in their
existing numbers: as the population increases, he takes the extra
hands, who cannot be maintained on the narrow estates, for his own
servants; employs some to cultivate the ground he has bought, giving
them of its produce merely enough for subsistence; with the surplus,
which, under his energetic and careful superintendence, will be large,
he supports a train of servants for state, and a body of workmen, whom
he educates in ornamental arts. He now can splendidly decorate his
house, lay out its grounds magnificently, and richly supply his table,
and that of his household and retinue. And thus, without any abuse of
right, we should find established all the phenomena of poverty and
riches, which (it is supposed necessarily) accompany modern
civilization. In one part of the district, we should have unhealthy
land, miserable dwellings and half-starved poor; in another, a
well-ordered estate, well-fed servants, and refined conditions of
highly-educated and luxurious life.

I have put the two cases in simplicity, and to some extremity. But
though in more complex and qualified operation, all the relations of
society are but the expansion of these two typical sequences of
conduct and result. I do not say, observe, that the first procedure is
entirely right; still less, that the second is wholly wrong. Servants
and artists, and splendour of habitation and retinue, have all their
use, propriety and office. I only wish the reader to understand
clearly what they cost; that the condition of having them is the
subjection to you of a certain number of imprudent or unfortunate
persons (or, it may be, more fortunate than their master), over whose
destinies you exercise a boundless control. "Riches" mean eternally
and essentially this; and may heaven send at last a time when those
words of our best-reputed economist shall be true, and we shall indeed
"all know what it is to be rich;" that is to be slave-master over
farthest earth, and over all ways and thoughts of men. Every operative
you employ is your true servant: distant or near, subject to your
immediate orders, or ministering to your widely-communicated
caprice--for the pay he stipulates, or the price he tempts,--all are
alike under this great dominion of the gold. The milliner who makes
the dress is as much a servant (more so, in that she uses more
intelligence in the service) as the maid who puts it on; the carpenter
who smoothes the door, as the footman who opens it; the tradesmen who
supply the table, as the labourers and sailors who supply the
tradesmen. Why speak of these lower services? Painters and singers
(whether of note or rhyme), jesters and story-tellers, moralists,
historians, priests--so far as these, in any degree, paint, or sing,
or tell their tale, or charm their charm, or "perform" their rite, for
pay, in so far they are all slaves; abject utterly, if the service be
for pay only; abject less and less in proportion to the degrees of
love and wisdom which enter into their duty, or can enter into it,
according as their function is to do the bidding and the work of a
man;--or to amuse, tempt, and deceive a child.

There may be thus, and, to a certain extent, there always is, a
government of the rich by the poor, as of the poor by the rich; but
the latter is the prevailing and necessary one, and it consists,
observe, of two distinct functions,--the collection of the profits of
labour from those who would have misused them, and the administration
of those profits for the service either of the same person in future,
or of others; or, as is more frequently the case in modern times, for
the service of the collector himself.

The examination of these various modes of collection and use of riches
will form the third branch of our future inquiries; but the key to the
whole subject lies in the clear understanding of the difference
between selfish and unselfish expenditure. It is not easy, by any
course of reasoning, to enforce this on the generally unwilling
hearer; yet the definition of unselfish expenditure is brief and
simple. It is expenditure which if you are a capitalist, does not pay
you, but pays somebody else; and if you are a consumer, does not
please you, but pleases somebody else. Take one special instance, in
further illustration of the general type given above. I did not invent
that type, but spoke of a real river, and of real peasantry, the
languid and sickly race which inhabits, or haunts--for they are often
more like spectres than living men--the thorny desolation on the banks
of the Arve. Some years ago, a society formed at Geneva offered to
embank the river, for the ground which would have been recovered by
the operation; but the offer was refused by the (then Sardinian)
government. The capitalists saw that this expenditure would have
"paid," if the ground saved from the river was to be theirs. But if
when the offer that had this aspect of profit was refused, they had
nevertheless persisted in the plan and, merely taking security for the
return of their outlay, lent the funds for the work, and thus saved a
whole race of human souls from perishing in a pestiferous fen (as, I
presume, some among them would, at personal risk, have dragged any one
drowning creature out of the current of the stream, and not expected
payment therefor), such expenditure would have precisely corresponded
to the use of his power made, in the first instance, by our supposed
richest peasant--it would have been the king's, of grace, instead of
the usurer's, for gain.

"Impossible, absurd, Utopian!" exclaim nine-tenths of the few readers
whom these words may find. No, good reader, this is not Utopian: but I
will tell you what would have seemed, if we had not seen it, Utopian
on the side of evil instead of good: that ever men should have come to
value their money so much more than their lives, that if you call upon
them to become soldiers, and take chance of bullet, for their pride's
sake, they will do it gaily, without thinking twice; but if you ask
them for their country's sake to spend a hundred pounds without
security of getting back a hundred-and-five[118] they will laugh in
your face.

  [118] I have not hitherto touched on the subject of interest of
        money; it is too complex; and must be reserved for its
        proper place in the body of the work. (I should be glad if a
        writer, who sent me some valuable notes on this subject, and
        asked me to return a letter which I still keep at his
        service, would send me his address.) The definition of
        interest (apart from compensation for risk) is, "the
        exponent of the comfort of accomplished labour, separated
        from its power;" the power being what is lent: and the
        French economists who have maintained the entire illegality
        of interest are wrong; yet by no means so curiously or
        wildly wrong as the English and French ones opposed to them,
        whose opinions have been collected by Dr. Whewell at page 41
        of his Lectures; it never seeming to occur to the mind of
        the compiler any more than to the writers whom he quotes,
        that it is quite possible, and even (according to Jewish
        proverb) prudent, for men to hoard, as ants and mice do, for
        use, not usury; and lay by something for winter nights, in
        the expectation of rather sharing than lending the
        scrapings. My Savoyard squirrels would pass a pleasant time
        of it under the snow-laden pine-branches, if they always
        declined to economize because no one would pay them interest
        on nuts.

Not but that also this game of life-giving-and-taking is, in the end,
somewhat more costly than other forms of play might be. Rifle practice
is, indeed, a not unhealthy pastime, and a feather on the top of the
head is a pleasing appendage; but while learning the stops and
fingering of the sweet instrument, does no one ever calculate the cost
of an overture? What melody does Tityrus meditate on his tenderly
spiral pipe? The leaden seed of it, broad cast, true conical "Dents de
Lion" seed--needing leas allowance for the wind than is usual with
that kind of herb--what crop are you likely to have of it? Suppose,
instead of this volunteer marching and countermarching, you were to do
a little volunteer ploughing and counterploughing? It is more
difficult to do it straight: the dust of the earth, so disturbed, is
more grateful than for merely rhythmic footsteps. Golden cups, also,
given for good ploughing would be more suitable in colour (ruby glass,
for the wine which "giveth his colour" on the ground, as well as in
the cup, might be fitter for the rifle prize in the ladies' hands);
or, conceive a little volunteer exercise with the spade, other than
such as is needed for moat and breastwork, or even for the burial of
the fruit of the leaden avena-seed, subject to the shrill Lemures'

"Wer hat das Haus so schlecht gebaut?"

If you were to embank Lincolnshire now,--more stoutly against the sea?
or strip the peat of Solway, or plant Plinlimmon moors with
larch--then, in due hour of year, some amateur reaping and threshing?

"Nay, we reap and thresh by steam in these advanced days."

I know it, my wise and economical friends. The stout arms God gave
you to win your bread by, you would fain shoot your neighbours--and
God's sweet singers--with;[119] then you invoke the friends to your
farm-service, and--

  "When young and old come forth to play
  On a sulphurous holiday,
  Tell how the darling goblin sweat
  (His feast of cinders duly set),
  And belching night, where breathed the morn.
  His shadowy flail hath threshed the corn
  That ten day-labourers could not end."

But we will press the example closer. On a green knoll above that
plain of the Arve, between Cluses and Bonneville, there was, in the
year 1860, a cottage, inhabited by a well-doing family--man and wife,
three children, and the grandmother. I call it a cottage but, in
truth, it was a large chimney on the ground, wide at the bottom (so
that the family might live round the fire), with one broken window in
it, and an unclosing door. The family, I say, was "well-doing," at
least, it was hopeful and cheerful; the wife healthy, the children,
for Savoyards, pretty and active, but the husband threatened with
decline, from exposure under the cliffs of the Mont Vergi by day, and
to draughts between every plank of his chimney in the frosty nights.
"Why could he not plaster the chinks?" asks the practical reader. For
the same reason that your child cannot wash its face and hands till
you have washed them many a day for it, and will not wash them when it
can, till you force it.

  [119] Compare Chaucer's feeling respecting birds (from Canace's
        falcon, to the nightingale, singing "Domine labia "--to the
        Lord of Love) with the usual modern British sentiments on
        this subject. Or even Cowley's:--

          "What prince's choir of music can excel
          That which within this shade does dwell.
          To which we nothing pay, or give,
          They, like all other poets, live
          Without reward, or thanks for their obliging pains!
          'Tis well if they became not prey."

        Yes; it is better than well; particularly since the seed
        sown by the wayside has been protected by the peculiar
        appropriation of part of the church rates in our country
        parishes. See the remonstrance from a "Country Parson," in
        the _Times_ of June 4th (or 5th; the letter is dated June
        3rd, 1862):--"I have heard at a vestry meeting a good deal
        of higgling over a few shillings' outlay in cleaning the
        church; but I have never heard any dissatisfaction expressed
        on account of the part of the rate which is invested in
        fifty or 100 dozens of birds' heads."

I passed this cottage often in my walks, had its window and door
mended, sometimes mended also a little the meal of sour bread and
broth, and generally got kind greeting and smile from the face of
young or old; which greeting, this year, narrowed itself into the
half-recognizing stare of the elder child and the old woman's tears;
for the father and mother were both dead,--one of sickness, the other
of sorrow. It happened that I passed not alone, but with a companion,
a practised English joiner, who, while these people were dying of
cold, had been employed from six in the morning to six of the evening
for two months, in fitting the panels without nails, of a single door
in a large house in London. Three days of his work taken, at the right
time, from the oak panels, and applied to the larch timbers, would
have saved these Savoyards' lives. He would have been maintained
equally (I suppose him equally paid for his work by the owner of the
greater house, only the work not consumed selfishly on his own walls;)
and the two peasants, and eventually, probably their children, saved.

There are, therefore, let me finally enforce and leave with the reader
this broad conclusion,--three things to be considered in employing any
poor person. It is not enough to give him employment. You must employ
him first to produce useful things; secondly, of the several (suppose
equally useful) things he can equally well produce, you must set him
to make that which will cause him to lead the healthiest life; lastly,
of the things produced, it remains a question of wisdom and conscience
how much you are to take yourself, and how much to leave to others. A
large quantity, remember, unless you destroy it, must always be so
left at one time or another; the only questions you have to decide
are, not what you will give, and what you will keep, but when, and
how, and to whom, you will give. The natural law of human life is, of
course, that in youth a man shall labour and lay by store for his old
age, and when age comes, should use what he has laid by, gradually
slackening his toil, and allowing himself more frank use of his store,
taking care always to leave himself as much as will surely suffice for
him beyond any possible length of life. What he has gained, or by
tranquil and unanxious toil, continues to gain, more than is enough
for his own need, he ought so to administer, while he yet lives, as to
see the good of it again beginning in other hands; for thus he has
himself the greatest sum of pleasure from it, and faithfully uses his
sagacity in its control. Whereas most men, it appears, dislike the
sight of their fortunes going out into service again, and say to
themselves,--"I can indeed nowise prevent this money from falling at
last into the hands of others, nor hinder the good of it, such as it
is, from becoming theirs, not mine; but at least let a merciful death
save me from being a witness of their satisfaction; and may God so far
be gracious to me as to let no good come of any of this money of mine
before my eyes." Supposing this feeling unconquerable, the safest way
of rationally indulging it would be for the capitalist at once to
spend all his fortune on himself, which might actually, in many cases,
be quite the rightest as well as the pleasantest thing to do, if he
had just tastes and worthy passions. But, whether for himself only, or
through the hands and for the sake of others also, the law of wise
life is, that the maker of the money should also be the spender of it,
and spend it, approximately, all, before he dies; so that his true
ambition as an economist should be, to die, not as rich, but as poor,
as possible, calculating the ebb tide of possession in true and calm
proportion to the ebb tide of life. Which law, checking the wing of
accumulative desire in the mid-volley,[120] and leading to peace of
possession and fulness of fruition in old age, is also wholesome in
that by the freedom of gift, together with present help and counsel,
it at once endears and dignifies age in the sight of youth, which then
no longer strips the bodies of the dead, but receives the grace of the
living. Its chief use would (or will be, for men are indeed capable of
attaining to this much use for their reason), that some temperance and
measure will be put to the acquisitiveness of commerce.[121] For as
things stand, a man holds it his duty to be temperate in his food, and
of his body, but for no duty to be temperate in his riches, and of his
mind. He sees that he ought not to waste his youth and his flesh for
luxury; but he will waste his age, and his soul, for money, and think
it no wrong, nor the delirium tremens of the intellect any evil. But
the law of life is, that a man should fix the sum he desires to make
annually, as the food he desires to eat daily; and stay when he has
reached the limit, refusing increase of business, and leaving it to
others, so obtaining due freedom of time for better thoughts. How the
gluttony of business is punished, a bill of health for the principals
of the richest city houses, issued annually, would show in a
sufficiently impressive manner.

  [120] [Greek: kai penian hêgoumenous heinai mê to tên ousian
        elattô poiein, alla to tên aplêstian pleiô.]--"Laws," v. 8.

        Read the context and compare. "He who spends for all that is
        noble, and gains by nothing but what is just, will hardly be
        notably wealthy, or distressfully poor."--"Laws," v. 42.

  [121] The fury of modern trade arises chiefly out of the
        possibility of making sudden fortune by largeness of
        transaction, and accident of discovery or contrivance.
        I have no doubt that the final interest of every nation
        is to check the action of these commercial lotteries. But
        speculation absolute, unconnected with commercial effort, is
        an unmitigated evil in a state, and the root of countless
        evils beside.

I know, of course, that these statements will be received by the
modern merchant, as an active Border rider of the sixteenth century
would have heard of its being proper for men of the Marches to get
their living by the spade instead of the spur. But my business is only
to state veracities and necessities; I neither look for the acceptance
of the one, nor promise anything for the nearness of the other. Near
or distant, the day will assuredly come when the merchants of a state
shall be its true "ministers of exchange," its porters, in the double
sense of carriers and gate-keepers, bringing all lands into frank and
faithful communication, and knowing for their master of guild, Hermes
the herald, instead of Mercury the gain-guarder.

And now, finally, for immediate rule to whom it concerns.

The distress of any population means that they need food, houseroom,
clothes, and fuel. You can never, therefore, be wrong in employing any
labourer to produce food, houseroom, clothes, or fuel: but you are
always wrong if you employ him to produce nothing (for then some other
labourer must be worked double time to feed him); and you are
generally wrong, at present, if you employ him (unless he can do
nothing else) to produce works of art, or luxuries; because modern art
is mostly on a false basis, and modern luxury is criminally great.[122]

  [122] It is especially necessary that the reader should keep his
        mind fixed on the methods of consumption and destruction, as
        the true sources of national poverty. Men are apt to watch
        rather the exchanges in a state than its damages; but the
        exchanges are only of importance so far as they bring about
        these last. A large number of the purchases made by the
        richer classes are mere forms of interchange of unused
        property, wholly without effect on national prosperity. It
        matters nothing to the state, whether if a china pipkin be
        rated as worth a hundred pounds, A has the pipkin, and B the
        pounds, or A the pounds and B the pipkin. But if the pipkin
        is pretty, and A or B breaks it, there is national loss; not
        otherwise. So again, when the loss has really taken place,
        no shifting of the shoulders that bear it will do away with
        the fact of it. There is an intensely ludicrous notion in
        the public mind respecting the abolishment of debt by
        denying it. When a debt is denied, the lender loses instead
        of the borrower, that is all; the loss is precisely,
        accurately, everlastingly the same. The Americans borrow
        money to spend in blowing up their own houses. They deny
        their debt; by one third already, gold being at fifty
        premium; and will probably deny it wholly. That merely means
        that the holders of the notes are to be the losers instead
        of the issuers. The quantity of loss is precisely equal, and
        irrevocable; it is the quantity of human industry spent in
        explosion, plus the quantity of goods exploded. Honour only
        decides who shall pay the sum lost, not whether it is to be
        paid or not. Paid it must be and to the uttermost farthing.

The way to produce more food is mainly to bring in fresh ground, and
increase facilities of carriage;--to break rock, exchange earth, drain
the moist, and water the dry, to mend roads, and build harbours of
refuge. Taxation thus spent will annihilate taxation, but spent in
war, it annihilates revenue.

The way to produce houseroom is to apply your force first to the
humbler dwellings. When your bricklayers are out of employ, do not
build splendid new streets, but better the old ones: send your
paviours and slaters to the poorest villages, and see that your poor
are healthily lodged before you try your hand on stately architecture.
You will find its stateliness rise better under the trowel afterwards;
and we do not yet build so well as that we need hasten to display our
skill to future ages. Had the labour which has decorated the Houses of
Parliament filled, instead, rents in walls and roofs throughout the
county of Middlesex; and our deputies met to talk within massive walls
that would have needed no stucco for five hundred years,--the
decoration might have been better afterwards, and the talk now. And
touching even our highly conscientious church building, it may be well
to remember that in the best days of church plans, their masons called
themselves "logeurs du bon Dieu;" and that since, according to the
most trusted reports, God spends a good deal of His time in cottages
as well as in churches, He might perhaps like to be a little better
lodged there also.

The way to get more clothes is,--not necessarily, to get more cotton.
There were words written twenty years ago which would have saved many
of us some shivering had they been minded in time. Shall we read them?

"The Continental people, it would seem, are 'importing our machinery,
beginning to spin cotton and manufacture for themselves, to cut us out
of this market and then out of that!' Sad news indeed; but
irremediable;--by no means. The saddest news is, that we should find
our National Existence, as I sometimes hear it said, depend on selling
manufactured cotton at a farthing an ell cheaper than any other
People. A most narrow stand for a great Nation to base itself on! A
stand which, with all the Corn-Law Abrogations conceivable, I do not
think will be capable of enduring.

"My friends, suppose we quitted that stand; suppose we came honestly
down from it and said: 'This is our minimum cotton-prices. We care
not, for the present, to make cotton any cheaper. Do you, if it seem
so blessed to you, make cotton cheaper. Fill your lungs with
cotton-fuzz, your hearts with copperas-fumes, with rage and mutiny;
become ye the general gnomes of Europe, slaves of the lamp!' I admire
a Nation which fancies it will die if it do not undersell all other
Nations, to the end of the world. Brothers, we will cease to
_under_sell them; we will be content to _equal_-sell them; to be happy
selling equally with them! I do not see the use of underselling them.
Cotton-cloth is already two-pence a yard or lower; and yet bare backs
were never more numerous among us. Let inventive men cease to spend
their existence incessantly contriving how cotton can be made cheaper;
and try to invent, a little, how cotton at its present cheapness could
be somewhat justlier divided among us. Let inventive men consider,
Whether the Secret of this Universe, and of Man's Life there, does,
after all, as we rashly fancy it, consist in making money?... With a
Hell which means--'Failing to make money,' I do not think there is any
Heaven possible that would suit one well; nor so much as an Earth that
can be habitable long! In brief, all this Mammon-Gospel of
Supply-and-demand, Competition, Laissez-faire, and Devil take the
hindmost" (foremost, is it not, rather, Mr. Carlyle?) "begins to be
one of the shabbiest Gospels ever preached." (In the matter of
clothes, decidedly.) The way to produce more fuel is first to make
your coal mines safer, by sinking more shafts; then set all your
convicts to work in them, and if, as is to be hoped, you succeed in
diminishing the supply of that sort of labourer, consider what means
there may be, first of growing forest where its growth will improve
climate; then of splintering the forests which now make continents of
fruitful land pathless and poisonous, into faggots for fire;--so
gaining at once dominion sunwards and icewards. Your steam power has
been given you (you will find eventually) for work such as that; and
not for excursion trains, to give the labourer a moment's breath, at
the peril of his breath for ever, from amidst the cities which you
have crushed into masses of corruption. When you know how to build
cities, and how to rule them, you will be able to breathe in their
streets, and the "excursion" will be the afternoon's walk or game in
the fields round them. Long ago, Claudian's peasant of Verona knew,
and we must yet learn, in his fashion, the difference between via and
vita. But nothing of this work will pay.

No; no more than it pays to dust your rooms or wash your doorsteps. It
will pay; not at first in currency, but in that which is the end and
the source of currency,--in life (and in currency richly afterwards).
It will pay in that which is more than life,--in "God's first
creature, which was light," whose true price has not yet been
reckoned in any currency, and yet into the image of which all wealth,
one way or other, must be cast. For your riches must either as the
lightning, which,

            "begot but in a cloud,
  Though shining bright, and speaking loud,
  Whilst it begins, concludes its violent race,
  And, where it gilds, it wounds the place;"

or else as the lightning of the sacred sign, which shines from one
part of the heaven to the other. There is no other choice; you must
either take dust for deity, spectre for possession, fettered dream for
life, and for epitaph, this reversed verse of the great Hebrew hymn of
economy (Psalm cxii.):--"He hath gathered together, he hath stripped
the poor, his iniquity remaineth for ever." Or else, having the sun
for justice to shine on you, and the sincere substance of good in your
possession, and the pure law and liberty of life within you, leave men
to write this better legend over your grave: "He hath dispersed
abroad. He hath given to the poor. His righteousness remaineth for

       *       *       *       *       *

     The present paper completes the definitions necessary for
     future service. The next in order will be the first chapter
     of the body of the work.

     These introductory essays are as yet in imperfect form; I
     suffer them to appear, though they were not intended for
     immediate publication, for the sake of such chance service
     as may be found in them.

     [Here the author indicated certain corrections, which have
     been carried out in this edition. He then went on to say
     that the note on Charis (p. 274) required a word or two in
     further illustration, as follows:--]

     The derivation of words is like that of rivers: there is one
     real source, usually small, unlikely, and difficult to find,
     far up among the hills; then, as the word flows on and comes
     into service, it takes in the force of other words from
     other sources, and becomes itself quite another word--even
     more than one word, after the junction--a word as it were of
     many waters, sometimes both sweet and bitter. Thus the whole
     force of our English "charity" depends on the guttural in
     "Charis" getting confused with the "c" of the Latin "carus;"
     thenceforward throughout the middle ages, the two ideas
     ran on together, and both got confused with St. Paul's
     [Greek: agapê], which expresses a different idea in all
     sorts of ways; our "charity," having not only brought in the
     entirely foreign sense of almsgiving, but lost the essential
     sense of contentment, and lost much more in getting too far
     away from the "charis," of the final Gospel benedictions.
     For truly it is fine Christianity we have come to, which
     professing to expect the perpetual grace of its Founder,
     has not itself grace enough to save it from overreaching
     its friends in sixpenny bargains; and which, supplicating
     evening and morning the forgiveness of its own debts, goes
     forth in the daytime to take its fellow-servants by the
     throat, saying--not "Pay me that thou owest," but "Pay me
     that thou owest me not."

     Not but that we sometimes wear Ophelia's rue with a
     difference, and call it, "Herb o' grace o' Sundays," taking
     consolation out of the offertory with--"Look, what he layeth
     out, it shall be paid him again." Comfortable words, indeed,
     and good to set against the old royalty of Largesse--

        "Whose moste joie was, I wis,
        When that she gave, and said, 'Have this.'"

     Again: the first root of the word faith being far away
     in----(compare my note on this force of it in "Modern
     Painters," vol. v., p. 255), the Latins, as proved by
     Cicero's derivation of the word, got their "facio," also
     involved in the idea; and so the word, and the world with
     it, gradually lose themselves in an arachnoid web of
     disputation concerning faith and works, no one ever taking
     the pains to limit the meaning of the term: which in
     earliest Scriptural use is as nearly as possible our English
     "obedience." Then the Latin "fides," a quite different word,
     alternately active and passive in different uses, runs into
     "foi;" "facere," through "ficare," into "fier," at the end
     of words; and "fidere," into "fier" absolute; and out of
     this endless reticulation of thought and word rise still
     more finely reticulated theories concerning salvation by
     faith--the things which the populace expected to be saved
     from, being indeed carved for them in a very graphic manner
     in their cathedral porches, but the things they were
     expected to believe being carved for them not so clearly.

     Lastly I debated with myself whether to make the note on
     Homer longer by examining the typical meaning of the
     shipwreck of Ulysses, and his escape from Charybdis by help
     of her fig-tree; but as I should have had to go on to the
     lovely myth of Leucothea's veil, and did not care to spoil
     this by a hurried account of it, I left it for future
     examination; and three days after the paper was published,
     observed that the reviewers, with their usual useful
     ingenuity, were endeavouring to throw the whole subject back
     into confusion by dwelling on the single (as they imagined)
     oversight. I omitted also a note on the sense of the word
     [Greek: lygron], with respect to the pharmacy of Circe, and
     herb-fields of Helen (compare its use in Odyssey, xvii. 473,
     etc.), which would further have illustrated the nature of
     the Circean power. But, not to be led too far into the
     subtleness of these myths, respecting them all I have but
     this to say: Even in very simple parables, it is not always
     easy to attach indisputable meaning to every part of them. I
     recollect some years ago, throwing an assembly of learned
     persons who had met to delight themselves with
     interpretations of the parable of the prodigal son
     (interpretations which had up to that moment gone very
     smoothly) into high indignation, by inadvertently asking who
     the prodigal son was, and what was to be learned by his
     example. The leading divine of the company (still one of our
     great popular preachers) at last explained to me that the
     unprodigal son was a lay figure, put in for dramatic effect,
     to make the story prettier, and that no note was to be taken
     of him. Without, however, admitting that Homer put in the
     last escape of Ulysses merely to make his story prettier,
     this is nevertheless true of all Greek myths, that they have
     many opposite lights and shades: they are as changeful as
     opal and, like opal, usually have one colour by reflected,
     and another by transmitted, light. But they are true jewels
     for all that, and full of noble enchantment for those who
     can use them; for those who cannot, I am content to repeat
     the words I wrote four years ago, in the appendix to the
     "Two Paths"--

     "The entire purpose of a great thinker may be difficult to
     fathom, and we may be over and over again more or less
     mistaken in guessing at his meaning; but the real, profound,
     nay, quite bottomless and unredeemable mistake, is the
     fool's thought, that he had no meaning."


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

1. Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

2. Footnotes have been renumbered and moved from the middle of the
paragraph to the closest paragraph break.

3. The original text includes Greek characters. For this text version
these letters have been replaced with transliterations. For example,
[Greek: b] represents greek letter beta.

4. Certain words use an oe ligature in the original.

5. Mixed fractions are indicated with a hyphen and forward slash. For
example, 3-1/2 indicates three and a half.

6. Obvious misprints and punctuation errors have been silently corrected
in this text version.

7. Other than the changes listed above, printer's inconsistencies in
hyphenation and ligature usage have been retained.

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