Front Page Titles (by Subject) 80.: THE QUARTERLY REVIEW ON THE POLITICAL ECONOMISTS EXAMINER, 30 JAN., 1831, P. 68 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXII - Newspaper Writings December 1822 - July 1831 Part I
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80.: THE QUARTERLY REVIEW ON THE POLITICAL ECONOMISTS EXAMINER, 30 JAN., 1831, P. 68 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXII - Newspaper Writings December 1822 - July 1831 Part I 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXII - Newspaper Writings December 1822 - July 1831 Part I, ed. Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson, Introduction by Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986).
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THE QUARTERLY REVIEW ON THE POLITICAL ECONOMISTS
Mill in this article replies to “The Political Economists,” Quarterly Review, XLIV (Jan. 1831), 1-52, by George Poulett Scrope (1797-1876), liberal M.P. for Stroud, 1833-68, geologist and writer on economics. The item, headed as title, appears in the “Literary Examiner.” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An article headed ‘The Quarterly Review on the Political Economists’ in the Examiner of 30th January 1831” (MacMinn, p. 15). It is listed as title and marked as Mill’s in the Somerville College set.
the number just published of the Quarterly Review, contains an article headed “The Political Economists,” which exhibits some proofs of thought and talent, and more of arrogance and self-sufficiency. In criticizing, sometimes with and sometimes without ground, various doctrines of various Political Economists, from some part or other of whose writings, however, he has derived every valuable idea, relevant to the subject, which his article contains, he is careful to assure the reader on every topic which he successively takes in hand, that not a word of sense has been spoken upon it by any of his predecessors: after which he proceeds to lay down the true theory of the subject, with an unhesitating and undisguised confidence in his own infallibility, which is not altogether becoming in one who contends that those who have hitherto written on this extensive and complicated science, many of whom he will not pretend to have been any way his inferiors in mental endowments, have fallen into so many errors.
Though we have said thus much in dispraise of the spirit in which this article is conceived, our object in noticing it is to draw attention to one portion of it, which is on the whole praiseworthy: we mean the concluding pages,1 in which the writer strongly insists upon the insufficiency and sterility of all inquiries which relate to the means by which a community may obtain the greatest accumulation of commodities possessing exchangeable value, unless followed up by the inquiry how far the particular nature of those commodities, and the manner in which they are distributed among the different members of the community, are conducive to human happiness in the largest sense and upon the most extended scale. He adds (and on this important truth he dwells at some length, and in a spirit honourable to his feelings,) that the wealth of a country is upon a footing most favourable to human happiness, just in proportion to the number of persons whom it enables to obtain, by their bodily and mental exertions, a comfortable subsistence; while on the contrary, a further increase of the wealth of particular individuals beyond this point, makes a very questionable addition to the general happiness; and is even, if the same wealth would otherwise have been employed in raising other persons from a state of poverty, a positive evil.
These are precisely our opinions, and it is in the spirit of them that we would wish all legislation to be directed, so far as is consistent with that secure enjoyment, by every man, of the fruits of his industry, or that of his ancestors, which is an essential condition of all human prosperity. But we know not whence the reviewer has derived the idea, that the political economists of the present day are adverse to these views; nor do we see much good sense in his complaint that the science, as it at present exists, is founded upon a wrong principle, because it professes to inquire only how a nation may be made rich, not how it may be made happy. It is not usual to find fault with mathematics, for being conversant only with lines, and angles, and planes, and solids, and numbers; nor is it ever surmised that mathematical science is founded upon a wrong basis, because mankind cannot be made happy by means of that science exclusively. The truth is, that there are, among those who have studied political economy, the same two kinds of men, into which the students of any other subject whatever may be divided: there are the men who know nothing except political economy, and the men whose ideas and whose feelings habitually comprehend the whole range of moral and political truth. This latter class of political economists the reviewer will find to be unanimously, or almost unanimously, of his opinion; and it is no fault of political economy if the other sort of persons, who have studied that and nothing else, judge of all practical questions exclusively by the considerations which their own subject presents to them, simply because they are incapable of appreciating any others; no more than the art of dancing is responsible for the individual absurdity of the dancing-master in Molière—“La philosophie est quelque chose; mais la danse, monsieur, la danse!”*
We have said thus much, because we are really sick of the crazy outcries against the political economists, which seem to be rather increasing than diminishing, at the very time when the public is almost unanimously adopting most of the opinions which principally excited the original uproar against them. It is unworthy of a man like this reviewer, who has really studied the subject sufficiently to have perceived, or at any rate to have profited by, the immense merits of the writers whom he attacks, thus to mingle his voice in the vulgar howl of ignorance against knowledge.
[1 ]Pp. 43ff.
[* ][Jean Baptiste Poquelin Molière (1622-73), Le bourgeois gentilhomme (Paris: Le Monnier, 1671), I, ii; p. 13.] Mr. Herschel, in his excellent Discourse, just published, on the Study of Natural Philosophy, most justly and wisely observes, that it is impossible to know any one even of the physical sciences well, without knowing all of them. The same observation is still more emphatically true of the moral sciences; but it is no reproach to the completeness of each individual science within its own limits. [John Frederick William Herschel (1792-1871), A Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy (London: Longman, et al., 1830), p. 132. Mill reviewed the work two months later; see No. 94.]