"soon be necessary even for a private individual to understand [political economy] before he can lay claim to the character of an instructed man."
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
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.
John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money
( London: Macmillan and Co., 1936), 32.
For an example of one of the most influential of these histories, see Toynbee Lectures on the Industrial Revolution.
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).
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.
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).
James Mill Elements of Political Economy, 289.
Alfred Marshall to James Bonar, 27 September 1898, in
A. C. Pigou, ed. Memorials
of Alfred Marshall ( London: Macmillan and Co., 1925), 374.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: The Coming of Age of Political Economy, 1815-1825.
Contributors: Gary F. Langer - Author.
Publisher: Greenwood Press.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 1987.
Page number: 193.
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