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Of systems of equality. Wallace. Condorcet.

is said, under the pressure of that cruel proscription which terminated in his death. If he had no hopes of its being seen during his life, and of its interesting France in his favor, it is a singular instance of the attachment of a man to principles, which every day's experience was so fatally for himself contradicting. To see the human mind, in one of the most enlightened nations of the world, debased by such a fermentation of disgusting passions, of fear, cruelty, malice, revenge, ambition, madness, and folly, as would have disgraced the most savage nations in the most barbarous age, must have been such a tremendous shock to his ideas of the necessary and inevitable progress of the human mind, as nothing but the firmest conviction of the truth of his principles, in spite of all appearances, could have withstood.

This posthumous publication is only a sketch of a much larger work which he proposed should be executed. It necessarily wants therefore that detail and application, which can alone prove the truth of any theory. A few observations will be sufficient to show how completely this theory is contradicted, when it is applied to the real and not to an imaginary state of things,

Of systems of equality. Wallace. Condorcet.

In the last division of the work, which treats of the future progress

of man towards perfection, M. Condorcet says, that comparing in the different civilized nations of Europe the actual population with the extent of territory; and observing their cultivation, their industry, their divisions of labor, and their means of subsistence, we shall see that it would be impossible to preserve the same means of subsistence, and consequently the same population, without a number of individuals who have no other means of supplying their wants than their industry.

Having allowed the necessity of such a class of men, and adverting afterwards to the precarious revenue of those families that would depend so entirely on the life and health of their chief," he says very justly, “ There exists then a necessary cause

of inequality, of dependence, and even of misery, “ which menaces without ceasing, the most nu

merous and active class of our societies." The difficulty is just and well stated; but his mode of

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1 To save time and long quotations, I shall here give the substance of some of M. Condorcet's sentiments, and I hope that I shall not misrepresent them ; but I refer the reader to the work itself, which will amuse if it do not convince him.

Of systems of equality. Wallace. Condorcet.

money, he

removing it will, I fear, be found totally ineffica. cious.

By the application of calculations to the proba. bilities of life, and the interest of

proposes that a fund should be established, which should assure to the old an assistance produced in part by their own former savings, and in part by the savings of individuals, who in making the same sacrifice die before they reap the benefit of it. The same or a similar fund should give assistance to women and children who lose their hus. bands or fathers; and afford a capital to those who were of an age to found a new family, sufficient for the development of their industry. These establishments, he observes, might be made in the name and under the protection of the society. Going still further, he says, that by the just application of calculations, means might be found of more completely preserving a state of equality, by preventing credit from being the exclusive privilege of great fortunes, and yet giving it a basis equally solid, and by rendering the progress of industry and the activity of commerce less dependent on great capitalists.

Such establishments and calculations may appear very promising upon paper ; but when applied vol. ii.

m

Of systems of equality. Wallace. Condorcet.

to real life they will be found to be absolutely nugatory. M. Condorcet allows that a class of people which maintains itself entirely by industry is necessary to every state. Why does he allow this? No other reason can well be assigned, than because he conceives that the labor necessary to procure subsistence for an extended population will not be performed without the goad of necessity. If by establishments upon the plans that have been mentioned, this spur to industry be re. moved ; if the idle and negligent be placed upon the same footing with regard to their credit, and the future support of their wives and families, as the active and industrious, can we expect to see men exert that animated activity in bettering their condition, which now forms the master-spring of public prosperity? If an inquisition were to be established to examine the claims of each indivi. dual, and to determine whether he had or had not exerted himself to the utmost, and to grant or refuse assistance accordingly, this would be little else than a repetition upon a larger scale of the English poor laws, and would be completely destructive of the true principles of liberty and equality.

But independently of this great objection to these establishments, and supposing for a moment

Of systems of equality. Wallace. Condorcet.

that they would give no check to production, the greatest difficulty remains yet behind. .

Were every man sure of a comfortable provision for a family, almost every man would have one ; and were the rising generation free from the * killing frost” of misery, population must increase with unusual rapidity. Of this M. Condorcet seems to be fully aware himself; and after ha described further improvements he says,

“ But in this progress of industry and happiness, each generation will be called to more "extended enjoyments, and in consequence, by " the physical constitution of the human frame, to < an increase in the number of individuals. Must "not there arrive a period then when these laws "equally necessary shall counteract each other; “ when the increase of the number of men surpas“sing their means of subsistence, the necessary “ result must be, either a continual diminution of

happiness and population—a movement truly * retrograde; or at least a kind of oscillation be“tween good and evil? In societies arrived at " this term will not this oscillation be a constantly “subsisting cause of periodical misery? Will it " not mark the limit when all further melioration “ will become impossible, and point out that term " to the perfectibility of the human race, which

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