17 SEPTEMBER 1831, Page 18


Dr. Whately's Introductory Lectures on Political Economy Fellowes. GnoLoos., De la Beche's Geological Manual ...• Treuttel and Co. Struounv, Baron Heurteloup's Principles of Lithotrity Whittaker and CO. SATIRE, Crayons from the Commons Cochrane and Co.


Corn Law Rhymes. (Third Edition).. Stein. Village Patriarch. By the same Author ..


Treatise on Coffee. (Second Edition). Baldwin and Cradock.


OXFORD has been most especially fortunate in her two Professors of Political Economy. If the world had been searched through, it would have been impossible to find two men so well calculated to introduce Political Economy into this country as a branch of general education, as Mr. SENIOR and Dr. WHATELY. These gentlemen are in possession of every thing that the previous eco- nomists of England wanted, and are prepared better than any others to persuade the obstinate and to convince the prejudiced. Both of them pretty nearly contemporaries, and intimate friends, were distinguished masters of all that Oxford and our Aristocracy teach and are taught to hold in reverence. In any walk they would have earned all the honours and emoluments that a University can bestow. Besides possessing the education of gentlemen, they had also the manners and bearing which as lecturers were calculated to produce a favourable impression. They were, moreover, professed adherents of the Aristocracy, or at least the friends of all the prin- ciples of the Conservative order : they were sincere Christians, and one a minister of the Established Church: they were haters, or un- derstood to be haters, of French philosophy, and no friends to what in the minds of many is nearly as bad, Scotch. These were power- ful recommendations with a high and influential class of the public, who have long looked with more than suspicion on every thing that bore the appearance of being new, French, sceptical in reli- gion, or even Scotch, and which, to add to the horror, was stoutly defended and applauded by the press. To these requisites, nothing more seemed necessary than a popular delivery for the lecturer, and a polished and copious style for the writer. Since ADAM SMITH, there has not been a political economist able to expound his views with ordinary neatness of com- position. Elegance of style is a term which, applied to late econo- mists, would be ridiculous : their writings were not merely dry, they were repulsive—when the subject was obscure, the writer only made that confused which was before dark. We have reason, therefore, to rejoice in the springing up of two persons eminently qualified to adorn as well as expound the science which the arid genius of its ,professors had invested with a sort of chevaux-defrise, as if their object had been to deter all students from intruding on the pre- cincts sacred to them—their conceit and their intolerance. Ox- ford, if happy in no other branch of study, at least excels in the art of cultivating an elegant and pleasing style of writing : and a man can scarcely possess a more valuable accomplishment than that of being master of his native tongue. In this art, that Uni- versity owns no sons more distinguished than Mr. SENIOR and his successor. Their works exhibit a most gratifying specimen of the union of persuasiveness of tone, felicity of diction, copiousness of illustration, strictness of reasoning, and knowledge of the subject. The object of Dr. WHATELY'S present work is, clearly, not so much the inculcation of principles, as the obliteration of the pre- judices which have been so generally entertained against the science of which he is now the professor. We need hardly say that he attains his object. We would defy the most narrow and bigoted enemy of all new light to withstand the luminousness of his ex- planations, or to resist the force of his conclusions. We trust that Dr. WHATELY'S Introductory Lectures will be extensively read : their careful perusal must be attended with good. As a specimen of the author's manner, we may take the follow- ing passage, in which Dr. WHATELY speaks of the prejudice en- tertained against Political Economy.

" Such is the existing state of feeling on the subject—so numerous are the misapprehensions that prevail respecting it—and so strong is the pre- judice in many minds against the study—a prejudice, partly the effect, and partly the cause, of these misapprehensions, that I am compelled, however reluctantly, to occupy some of your time in removing objections and mistakes which stand in the very threshold of our inquiries. I find myself somewhat in the condition of settlers in a country but newly oc- cupied by civilized man; who have to clear land overgrown with thickets —to extirpate wild beasts—and to secure themselves from the incursions of savages, before they can proceed to the cultivation of the soil.

" It might seem indeed an insult to your understanding, to enter upon a formal apology for treating of a science, for the cultivation of which you have accepted the endowment of a Professorship, whose duties you have done me the honour to entrust to my hands. I have no Stich inten- tion : nor do I mean to imply, that those who now hear me are likely to be imbued with those vulgar prejudices to which I have alluded. But you should be prepared to expect and to encounter them. Both in the conversation and in the writings, not only of such as are universally mere empty pretenders, but of some who on other sub- jects show themselves not destitute of good sense, of candour, or of in- formation, you will be likely to meet with such assertions and (intended) arguments, on this subject, as the very same persons would treat with scorn in any other case. If, therefore, I should appear to any of you to bestow, either now or hereafter, more attention than is requisite on mistakes and absurdities which may be thought to carry their own refu- tation with them, I shall intreat-you to reflect how much import-mite -the circumstances of the case may attach to objections and errors, in them- selves unworthy of notice. It may be well worth while to suggest popu- lar answers to prevailing fallacies, which could never mislead a man of moderate intelligence, attention, and candour, applied to the question; because the number is so considerable of those who are deficient in one or other of these qualities, or in the exercise of them in a field of inquiry that may be new to their minds. A mixture of indolence and self-con- ceit inclines many a one to flatter himself, that there can be nothing worth studying in a subject with which he is unacquainted. Many a one is overawed by a blind veneration for antiquity, into a conviction that whatever is true must have been long since discovered; or by a mistaken view of the design of scripture, into an expectation of finding re- vealed there, every thing relative to human concerns. And any again are prone to mistake declamation for argument, and to accept confident assertion and vehement vituperation as a substitute for logical refutation.

" In fact, the number of those who are not only qualified to appreciate justly the force of arguments, but who are also accustomed to this em. ployment of their faculties, is probably less than is supposed. When a man maintains, on several points, opinions which are true, and assigns good and sufficient reasons for them, both he himself, and others, are apt to conclude at once that he is convinced by those reasons: whereas the truth will often be, that he has taken upon trust both the premises and the conclusion, as well as the connexion between them ; that lie is in- dolently repeating what he has heard, without performing any process of reasoning in his own mind ; and that if he had not been early trained or predisposed to admit the conclusion, and it had been presented to him as a novelty, the arguments which support it, though in themselves per- fectly valid, would riave had little or no weight with him. If such a man then enters on any new field of inquiry, his deficiencies at once become apparent. He is in a situation analogous to that of children taught by a negligent or unskilful master, who are often found able apparently to read with great fluency in a book they have been accustommi to ; though in reality they are not so much reading, as repeatine'' by rote the sen- tences they have often gone over; and if tried in a new book, are at a loss to put two syllables together.

Causes such as I have alluded to, and many others, operate more or less to produce indifference, prejudice, or error, as to the subject new before us, in the minds of great numbers, whom you cannot either in prudence or in charity pass by with disdain, as unworthy of atten- tion. There are indeed degrees of intellectual or of moral deficiency, such as to preclude all hope of effecting rational conviction ; but there are also minor degrees of these obstacles which may be surmounted by patient assiduity, though not without. And it should be remembered, that a cause would be in no very flourishing condition which should be opposed by all except those who are preeminent at once in acuteness, in industry, and in candour. Nay, sonic may be brought to deserve even this very description, who were at first of a-very different character; even as the illustrious authors of our Reformation, who listened and re. plied with unwearied patience to every objection, found some most zealous and able coadjutors in men who had for a time been strenuous upholders of Popery.

And there is the more encouragement to labour perseveringly in the removal of prejudices and the inculcation of just principles, inasmuch as the great majority of those whom you will find assenting to the most ab- surd arguments, and perfectly unmoved by the strongest, have no such natural incapacity for reasoning as some might thence infer ; but possess powers which lie dormant for want of exercise ; and these they may be roused to exert, when once they are brought to perceive that they have been accustomed to imagine themselves following a course of reasoning,. when in fact they were not. The puerile fallacies which you may some- times hear a man adduce on some subjects, are perhaps in reality no- more his own, than the sound arguments he employs on others ; he may have given an indolent, unthinking acquiescence to each ; and if he can be excited to exertion of thought, he may be very capable of distinguish- ing the sound from the unsound.

" Not that after all you must expect even the clearest explanations and the most unanswerable arguments to prove universally successful. Those who have been too long and willingly enthralled in the fetters of presumptuous ignorance and bigoted prejudice, even if driven out of the house of bondage, which they love, will continue wanderers in a wilder- ness; but there may be a rising generation of more docile mind, who may be led forward with fairer hopes of ultimate success.

"As for the vehement vituperation lavished on the study of Political Economy which you will be prepared to hear, though, of course, not to answer, I will only remark, that I think it on the whole no unfavourable sign. Invective is the natural resort either of those who are incapable of sound reasoning altogether, or are at a loss for arguments to suit their present purpose : supposing, that is, of course, in each case, as far as they are not withheld by gentlemanly or Christian feeling. In propor- tion, therefore, as any branch of study leads to important and useful re- sults—in proportion as it gains ground in public estimation—in propor- tion as it tends to overthrow prevailing errors—in the same degree, it may be expected to call forth angry declamation from those who are try- ing to despise what they will not learn, and wedded to prejudices which they cannot defend. Galileo probably would have escaped persecution, if his discoveries could have been disproved, and his reasonings refuted. The same spirit which formerly consigned the too powerful disputant to the dungeon or the stake, is now, thank heaven, compelled to vent itself in railing; which you need not more regard than the hiss of a serpent which has been deprived of its fangs."