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plexity become inappreciable to the majority. It is thus with most social phenomena. If we remember that for these two thousand years and more, mankind have been making regulations for commerce, which have all along been strangling some trades, and killing others with kindness; and that though the proofs of this have been constantly before their eyes, they have only just discovered that they have been uniformly doing mischief;—if we remember that even now only a small portion of them see this; we are taught that perpetually-repeated and everaccumulating experiences will fail to teach, until there exist the mental conditions required for the assimilation of them. Nay, when they are assimilated, it is very imperfectly. The truth they teach is only half understood, even by those supposed to understand it best. For example, Sir Robert Peel, in one of his last speeches, after describing the immensely-increased consumption consequent on free trade, goes on to say:
“If, then, you can only continue that consumption—if, by your legislation, under the favour of Providence, you can maintain the demand for labour and make your trade and manufactures prosperous, you are not only increasing the sum of human happiness, but are giving the agriculturists of this country the best chance of that increased demand which must contribute to their welfare.”—Times, Feb. 22, 1850.
Thus the prosperity really due to the abandonment of all legislation, is ascribed to a particular kind of legislation. “You can maintain the demand," he says; "you can make trade and manufactures prosperous ;" whereas, the facts he quotes prove that they can do this only by doing nothing. The essential truth of the matter-that law had been doing immense harm, and that this prosperity resulted not from law, but from the absence of law-is missed; and his faith in legislation in general, which
BLIND WORSHIP OF GOVERNMENT.
should, by this experience, have been greatly shaken seemingly remains as strong as ever. Here, again, is the House of Lords, apparently not yet believing in the relationship of supply and demand, adopting within these few weeks, the standing order
“That before the first reading of any bill for making any work in the construction of which compulsory power is sought to take thirty houses or more inhabited by the labouring classes in any one parish or place, the promoters be required to deposit in the office of the clerk of the parliaments a statement of the number, description, and situation of the said houses, the number (so far as they can be estimated) of persons to be displaced, and whether any and what provision is made in the bill for remedying the inconvenience likely to arise from such displacements.”
If, then, in the comparatively simple relationships of trade, the teachings of experience remain for so many ages unperceived, and are so imperfectly apprehended when they are perceived, it is scarcely to be hoped that where all social phenomena-moral, intellectual, and physicalare involved, any due appreciation of the truths displayed will presently take place. The facts cannot yet get recognized as facts. As the alchemist attributed his successive disappointments to some disproportion in the ingredients, some impurity, or some too great temperature, and never to the futility of his process, or the impossibility of his aim; so, every failure cited to prove the impotence of State-regulations the law-worshipper explains away as being caused by this trifling oversight, or that little mistake: all which oversights and mistakes he assures you will in future be avoided. Eluding the facts as he does after this fashion, volley after volley of them produce no effect. Indeed, this faith in governments is in a certain sense organic; and can diminish only by being outgrown. A subtle form of fetishism, it is as natural to the present phase of human evolution as its grosser prototype was to an earlier phase. From the time when rulers were thought demi-gods, there has been a gradual decline in men’s estimates of their power. This decline is still in progress, and has still far to go. Doubtless, every increment of evidence furthers it in some degree, though not to the degree that at first appears. Only in so far as it modifies character does it produce a permanent effect. For while the mental type remains the same, the removal of a special error is inevitably followed by the growth of other errors of the same genus. All superstitions die hard; and we fear that this belief in government-omnipotence will form no exception.
THE MORALS OF TRADE.
E are not about to repeat, under the above title,
the often-told tale of adulterations : albeit, were our object to deal with this familiar topic, there are not wanting fresh materials. It is rather the less-observed and less-known dishonesties of trade, to which we would here draw attention. The same lack of conscientiousness which shows itself in the mixing of starch with cocoa, in the dilution of butter with lard, in the colouring of confectionary with chromate of lead and arsenite of copper, must of course come out in more concealed forms; and these are nearly, if not quite, as numerous and as mischievous.
It is not true, as many suppose, that only the lower classes of the commercial world are guilty of fraudulent dealings: those above them are to a great extent blameworthy. On the average, men who deal in bales and tons differ but little in morality from men who deal in yards and pounds. Illicit practices, of every form and shade, from venial deception up to all but direct theft, may be brought home to the higher grades of our commercial world. Tricks innumerable, lies acted or uttered, elaborately-devised frauds, are prevalent-many of them estab.
customs of the trade;" nay, not only established but defended.
Passing over, then, the much-reprobated shopkeepers, of whose delinquencies most people know something, let us turn our attention to the delinquencies of the classes above them in the mercantile scale.
The business of wholesale houses
in the clothingtrades at least-is chiefly managed by a class of men called “buyers." Each wholesale establishment is usually divided into several departments; and at the head of each of these departments is placed one of these functionaries. A buyer is a partially-independent sub-trader. At the beginning of the year he is debited with a certain share of the capital of his employers. With this capital he trades. From the makers he orders for his department such goods as he thinks will find a market; and for the goods thus bought he obtains as large a sale as he can among the retailers of his connection. The accounts show at the end of the year, what profit has been made on the capital over which he has command ; and according to the result, his engagement is continued, perhaps at an increased salary, or he is discharged.
Under such circumstances, bribery would hardly be expected. Yet we learn, on unquestionable authority, that buyers habitually bribe and are bribed. Giving presents, as a means of obtaining custom, is an established and understood practice between them and all with whom they have dealings. Their connection among retailers they extend by treating and favours; and they are themselves influenced in their purchases by like means. It might be presumed that self-interest would in both cases negative this. But apparently, no very obvious sacrifice results from yielding to such influences. When, as usually happens, there are many manufacturers producing articles