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There are, in the composition of our countryman, Dr. CHALMERS, very many of the most essential dispositions and highest qualities of a reformer of this MASTER-LODGE ; and although it is quite true that sundry men in other walks of life, have, even in our pigmy age, exhibited a greater regularity and completeness of character, and, upon the whole, approached much more nearly to our IDEAL,—it is as undeniable that the labours of no single person have been crowned with more remarkable success, or attended with a more large and intoxicating effect upon the minds in his immediate neighbourhood. To arouse the slumbering or overlaid spirit to a perception of higher and purer forms of virtue, is an achievement to which no man has ever proved himself more thoroughly equal ; and it is a notorious fact, that more than any other teacher of this generation, hás he succeeded in awakening that enthusiastic sense of independence, responsibility, and self-respect, which is the only origin of the improvement of human nature, the substratum or condition of all moral freedom. The gifts which have enabled him to fulfil the important duties of his mission are two-fold,-a free insight into principles the most deeply-rooted, and a wide sympathy with the dearest hopes in the human heart, along with surprising power and energy in the conduct of his appeal. Dr. Chalmers, as well as other men, has often de. livered what was not accurate, and his creed is not untinged by the ephemeral habits and systems of the present and receding age; but inasmuch as humanity can only be purified by what is pure, and attracted upwards by what is heavenly, his veriest fallacies must have been accompanied by some redeeming truth, and his logical or dogmatical errors countervailed by the presence of natural and deep-searching feeling. The victories which he gained, and the sway he has established over his followers, are too great and remarkable to have their roots in sophism. What is fitted for the heart, alone goes to it ;-whatever is untrue, has, from Time's beginning, had but a transient reign; and it were not possible to make it permanent, or to extend its influence far, even by the surprising strength of expression and power of energetic enforcement which may be predicated par excellence, of our countryman's most original oratory. That energy which is so peculiarly his own, springs from his profound convictions of the truth. Of all men in this speculating world, it could be said with the least justice of Chalmers, that he has, upon any point, a sympathy with the sceptic, or the slightest tendency towards indifference. Scepticism is, perhaps, much more of an intellectual infirmity than moralists are generally willing to allow ; and certainly the Doctor is precluded from being afflicted with it, by the very structure of his intellect. We know not another individual, in the whole gallery of literature, who takes hold of his ideas with something so like a convulsive gripe. His conceptions are often true, and always possessed . of a certain verisimilitude ; but it is the character of his mind to throw itself rapturously into them on the very instant of their creation, to seize them with a vigour, and expound them with an emphasis and exclusive devotion, which bespeak their possession of his entire soul. There is no mistaking that he uniformly delivers himself “ from the heart." His compressed enunciation is the evident breathing of his spirit ; and it is said that he composes as if from a divine impulse, and under a frenzy resembling the inspired delirium of the Pythoness,
It were utterly impossible for a man like this to have taken a range over so many subjects of contemporary interest, as have avowedly attracted Dr. Chalmers' attention, without illustrating much that is im
portant; and an enlightened survey of his labours, cannot but be fraught with interest and instruction. Had his speculations been confined to mere technical theology, it is not likely that we should have conceived ourselves qualified or, to say the least, entitled, to summon him before our critical bar, and either to dismiss him with our approval, or to take exceptions to his deliverances ; but he is nearly as well known as an economist as a theologian, and has made distant excursions to the field of politics, not because of the instability, but of the expanse and comprehensiveness of his intellect,-because of his practical acquaintance with the mutual dependence of the different departments of moral inquiry, and his conviction of how much, in the fabric of human knowledge, and the progress of human society, the several parts and powers support, illustrate, and modify each other. His attention to the systems of public economy appears to have originated in a deep sense of their connexion with the machinery of public morals; and even in the formation of this single idea, we recognise a spirit infinitely superior to the trammelled sectarians who would convert Theology into a formulary and a trade. Surveying economy from such an elevation, and with an object so exclusively philanthropic, he could not fail to seize hold of several of its most important discoveries, and impress and expound them with his wonted energy and perseverance. Political science, accordingly, owes much to Dr. Chalmers; and we are, above all, his debtors, for one of the most eloquent, unshrinking, and best sustained developments of the grand doctrine of population with which modern literature has furnished us. This momentous truth appears to have attracted, and almost engrossed him from the very commencement of his economical inquiries; and he has never ceased to enforce and inculcate, with every variety of illustration, that those wide-spread social miseries which flow from the constant pressure of numbers upon the means of subsistence, can be neither removed nor permanently alleviated, by any change or provision whatsoever which does not infuse into the working man a taste, for higher comforts, and the desire after a better form of life. Simple and axiomatic as this is, when formally and distinctly stated, it has nevertheless been hitherto the great stumblingblock of political economy, the truth which theorists and sentimentalists view with the most utter repugnance, and has called down upon the science the dead weight of Mr. Sadler's displeasure. Nothing, it seems, will drive the crude nostrum from the heads of these benevolent innocents, that the method of alleviating a wretchedness which flows from the comparatively slow increase of the public wealth or means of subsistence, and the comparatively rapid increase of the state's population, is the adoption of certain ingenious contrivances for accelerating the latter and impeding the former! This and nothing less is the secret meaning of our schemes of modern agrarianism, our New-Harmony settlements, our cottage-sys. tems, cow-systems, et hoc genus omne ; and it is hardly in our power to express the depth of our gratitude to Dr. Chalmers for his masterly exhi. bition and fearless denouncement of the whole list of ludicrous fallacies, in the volume he has lately given to the public.
That we mean to follow up the foregoing expression of honest praise, with a few exceptions, against what we consider our countryman's errors, can neither be unacceptable to the public, nor disrespectful to him. Our admiration is not the less valuable that we admire without adulation ; and our censure will not offend by its bitterness, as it had not its origin in envy. To praise a great man is not to dethrone our own reason, nor do we cease to love him when we note his faults. In regard of his position in society, and the place he holds in men's esteem, Dr. Chalmers is very independent; but he has himself too much humility and good sense, to imagine that this place ought either to blind us to his weaknesses, or give an unquestioned currency to his speculations. Many of these are indeed exceedingly exceptionable, and the defects of his mind are almost as evident as its powers. His ability to enforce and illus trate truth is much greater than his ability to discover or define it. His strength is greater than his discrimination. More comprehensive than minute—more eloquent and forcible than accurate, he is ever apt to be misled by his own illustrations, and whirled into ecstasy by his analogies ; and the very profundity of his convictions, and intenseness of his gaze upon what he deems an important principle, appear too often to have effaced from his understanding all knowledge or recollection of its limits, and allowed him to manufacture it into a paradox.
He often dwells upon some single announcement with a most unproportionate and unnecessary perseverance in the belief seemingly that he was the first to reveal it to mankind, whereas the truth may have been as old as science, and long ago taken its due place, and obtained its full importance in the system of knowledge.* It is, howeyer, by an unguarded extension of his analogies and illustrations that he is led most frequently into error. The volume lately published for instance, is principally occupied with an endeavour to extend the doctrine of POPULATION to Capital, and to prove its corresponding ten. dency to impinge against the limits of profitable employment. The dogma bears upon the very front of it the undisguised mark of a para dox; but the Doctor neither pauses nor doubts. Impelled by some unaccountable dislike of the inquirers, at whom, with an ill-disguised but most unworthy contempt, he constantly sneers as “the economists," he flies back to one of Adam Smith's vague statements regarding profits, and erects it into an absolute foundation for his theory. No two per. sons could be more apart in their whole character, as well as in the nature of their systematic writings than Adam Smith and Dr. Chalmers. The latter is essentially a speculator-a logician ; whilst the father of Po. litical Economy was a philosophic observer. Several of Smith's statements on the effects of accumulation certainly required the correction of Mr. Say and Mr. Ricardo ; but, as “The Wealth of Nations " is a book of observation, not of logic, these fundamental imperfections sel. dom led its author into important errors. By Dr. Chalmers, on the other
* One very remarkable instance of this vice, cannot have escaped the notice of any one at all acquainted with the Doctor's economical writings,- we allude to the supposed discoveries which he hangs upon his division of society into the three classes of primaries, secondaries, and disposables ; by which, he means the labourers em. ployed in the production of food, of the second necessaries of life, and of luxuries. What new truth, or new light, in regard of any important point of economical or political science, might be expected from this new nomenclature—for it is nothing more it would certainly puzzle an ordinary thinker to predicate ; but the Doctor cherishes it yastly, writes of it in no measured terms of laudation, infers from it that commerce is of the least possible use ; that the landed aristocracy are our natu. ral superiors, in virtue of principles similar to those which make Euclid true; and that “ the Economists,” for want of possessing the invaluable Abracadabra, have fallen into the terrible error of supposing that the buckle-trade, could directly, and of itself, administer to the keeping up of the flesh and blood of the disposables ! It is really astonishing that a man like Dr. Chalmers, could, by any process of self delu, sion, be brought to give in to this egregious trifling. See an admirable exposé of the whole absurdity in the Westminster Review, No. XXXIII, for July, 1832, hand, that incipient mistake is not only never corrected, but relentlessly worked up by his fearless logic into all manner of extravagant untruth. There are sundry gaps at which we think he might have been stopped by the way—but stop he does not; and at length lands himself in the astounding asseveration, that ALL TAXES FALL ULTIMATELY UPON RENT ! We do not remember a counterpart to this piece of extraordinary ratiocination, if it be not Laplace's inquiry into the ascent of fluids in capillary tubes. No analysis was ever more perfect or more beautiful ; the symbolic process is exquisite, and the management of the calculus most dexterous; yet so ludicrously inconsistent is the result-so utterly in contradiction to all fact and experiment, that, although Frenchmen delight not in acknowledgments of error, the illustrious mathematician was compelled to resign the attempt in piteous hopelessness, and to close his volume in silence. Our countryman, however, is even bolder than Laplace ; for he dwells with pertinacious steadfastness upon his discovery, and insists in a tone of authority for its instant application! We are no great believers in political arithmetic, and are aware that it is never difficult to get up a plausible statistical refutation ; but we truly think that, in this case, statistics might have sufficed to intimate the error, for the veriest tyro in finance could demonstrate the result im. possible. On Dr. Chalmers' theory, the total rent of Great Britain and Ireland should amount at present to about one hundred and ten millions, a sum less by but a few millions than the value of the entire annual produce of the soil of the United Kingdom, including the whole corn, of all descriptions consumed by men and animals within the year, and the whole ani.. mals killed annually for the purposes of food ! Rent, it is well known, is only the surplus, after deducting all the expenses of the agriculturist -expenses which consume much more than half of the entire pro. duce. There is, indeed, no danger of application being made of this strange fallacy, .or of the State suffering by its incorporation with our theoretical finance; but we nevertheless exceedingly lament our countryman's having fallen into it, and regard his mistake with the very gravest emotions, as it has blinded his upright spirit to one efficient mode of benefiting his country, reconciled him to the exactions of the oppressor, and withdrawn him, for the present, from the patriot ranks.
The same unfortunate incompleteness or imperfection of mind, which has hurried Dr. Chalmers into these theoretical errors, renders him an unsafe guide in matters of Practical Politics. What is exhibited by a want of attention to the minutiæ and limitations of a logical process, manifests itself in the world of action by an imperfect sympathy with the tendencies and character of the time. Without a profound acquaintance with all these deep and ever-moving tendencies, a man may fashion Utopias, but he can never be a Statesman. Do we recommend slavish obedience to the commands and ephemeral passions of “ the mob ?" No such thing; only attention to popular movements, and a right appreciation of their importance. Superficial thinkers spurn even at this, and talk magniloquently of the lack of foresight and headlong ignorance of the many! Fools! the multitude are what they are, not by their own making ; they are the produce of all past time, the receptacle into which every discovery of genius made heretofore, every new light thrown upon the condition of the human heart, and every revelation in regard of man's destiny, have been laid up and are all preserved. The multitude are the result of the world's bygone growth, and their movements its pulse. To despise the multitude is easy-easy to separate one's self from them ; but to rise above them is permitted to few; and the great mass of our originals acquire little other distinction than is conferred by a Harlequin's cap and bells. The man who truly merits the appellation of GREAT, attains, indeed, to a superior elevation ; but it is only because he steadily eschews separation. His mind is formed by past time, as well as the tendencies of the multitude--his opinions are the very principles which guide and modify their hidden life, and he merely superadds an energy of WiLL Dr. Chalmers possesses too much prudence to ad. mit of his entirely cutting himself loose ; but he has never taken sufficient note of the progress of events; and his sentiments on all practical matters are marked, accordingly, by a tendency towards absolutism and mere fancifulness. There is an amusing naïveté in that announcement somewhere in the volume referred to, of the form of government which he considers the only tolerable one. He wishes a King upon the throne, and nobles around him, clad, we fancy, in mail jackets, and swelling with the virtues and charities of feudalism ; but this wish, ought, logically, to have been preceded by another,—the vain wish that societies remain permanently in that condition which could alone render the machinery possible. The day of feudalism is indeed past : its tournaments are now food for the romancers; and the body politic of Europe is throwing off its oppressive forms as an old shell. There were good feelings and virtuous men in these past ages; but the ages are themselves gone, and no theorist need expect to restore them-at least until the Reform Bill shall be accounted of less value than the ballad of Chevy Chace. Has Dr. Chalmers fallen into the egregious blunder of imagining those social respects -those duties of the lower orders, and what else might be denominated the conservative sentimentalism of feudal times—to be the natural offspring of the heart and conscience of man? Does he not know that they were the produce and not the cause of that peculiar arrangement of po. litical society, that they were the results of man's endeavours to be happy, however cloudy the vault above him-of his heart's struggles to alleviate the oppressions of the worst and best compacted tyranny the world ever saw, and to humanize rugged and barbarous force by initiat. ing it in kindness, and teaching it to feel ? To lament over the passing away of these sentiments is no task for a philosopher, and our country. man should not have composed their elegy. It is vain to endeavour to revive them, as their materiel is worn out; and to regret their disappearance is unworthy, since it merely happened because society has advanced.
The Doctor, however, not only regrets those antiquated forms of social life, but alludes, with little ceremoniousness, and no forbearance or kind. liness of feeling, to the attempts of modern nations to organize a new one ; and certainly, if we were to quarrel with him seriously, this would be the point of our difference. Jonathan may abide a jibe, for he is stout and healthy, and now tolerably used to it; but we must pronounce it ungracious in the extreme, to refer, with a sneering lip, to the brave but unfortunate population of France, who have been twice afflicted by the terrible scourge of revolution. The safety of Britain, a safety which hung but upon the events of a few hours, may be a ground for our thankfulness, but it is none for despite of our neighbour; and, least of all, ought one sneering remark to have escaped from a theorist, whose panacea for the evils which afflict that country, appears to be a form of Government ; the materials of which do not exist within its boundaries ! In regard of their final settlement, let the Doctor be quite at ease. We will not trust the formation of a constitution to him ; but we will trust it to that “moon-struck rabble.” If they have hitherto