The Coming of Age of Political Economy, 1815-1825

By Gary F. Langer | Go to book overview

"soon be necessary even for a private individual to understand [political economy] before he can lay claim to the character of an instructed man." 7

The ideas that clustered most conspicuously around the banner of political economy in the postwar years survived and thrived as well, settling, as Bagehot remarked, into "the common sense of the nation." Once raised they became, as Alfred Marshall described them, like a "yeast ceaselessly working in the Cosmos."8 What certainly triumphed was the belief that "the desire to better one's condition" allied with the application of the "principle of liberty" to economic policymaking explained Britain's phenomenal economic successes. For generations of students and laymen alike, this was the message of political economy.


NOTES
1.
Such was Edwin Cannon's intent in publishing a reprint of the Bullion Report in 1919. See the introduction to his Paper Pound of 1797- 1821.
2.
John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money ( London: Macmillan and Co., 1936), 32.
3.
For an example of one of the most influential of these histories, see Toynbee Lectures on the Industrial Revolution.
4.
In the introduction to his Essay on Wealth, Torrens wrote, "With respect to Political Economy the period of controversy is passing away, and that of unanimity rapidly approaching" (p. xiii).
5.
Malthus's recent biographer, Patricia James, observes that his opinions on Poor Law reform were vague and erratic following the early 1820s. See Population Malthus ( London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979), 449-56. McCulloch's opposition to the New Poor Law is discussed in O'Brien J. R. McCulloch, chap. 13, and Mallet's opinions can be obtained from his diary entries of 1833-1834 contained in the Political Economy Club's Centenary Volume.
6.
William D. Grampp The Manchester School of Economics ( Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1960) discusses this anomaly in detail. A similar irony is pointed out by Thomas Hodgskin in a review of McCulloch's edition of Ricardo's works, published in the Economist of 28 November 1846. There he argues that few of the reasons advanced by Ricardo in opposition to the Corn Law "in the end, operated on the community and the legislature to bring about the abolition of the corn laws," and that "in the numerous and great debates which have lately taken place on subjects that Mr. Ricardo discussed, his authority has been rarely appealed to" (p. 1557).
7.
Review of James Mill Elements of Political Economy, 289.
8.
Alfred Marshall to James Bonar, 27 September 1898, in A. C. Pigou, ed. Memorials of Alfred Marshall ( London: Macmillan and Co., 1925), 374.

-193-

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The Coming of Age of Political Economy, 1815-1825
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Economics and Economic History Series Editor. Robert Sobel ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Tables and Figures xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Abbreviations xv
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • Introduction 9
  • Note 10
  • Part I - The Meaning of Political Economy 11
  • 2 - What Political Economy Meant 13
  • 3 - The Celebrated Masters of Political Economy 27
  • 4 - Allies of Political Economy 51
  • 5 - Opposition to Political Economy 83
  • Part II - Political Economy and Societ 99
  • 6 - Money and Distress 101
  • 7 - Free Trade 129
  • Epilogue 191
  • Notes 193
  • Appendix A Syllabus of George Pryme's Lectures on Political Economy 195
  • Title Page 196
  • Preface 197
  • Preface 198
  • A SYLLABUS &c. &c. Introductory Lecture 200
  • Bibliography 209
  • Index 219
  • About the Author 224
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