– ALL THAT IS WORTH REMEMBERING –
wish there were but a few realities that lasted so long, and were followed with so little disappointment. The imaginary is what we conceive to be: it is reality that tantalizes us and turns out a fiction—that is the false Florimel!
R. But the Political Economists, in directing the attention to ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest numbers,’ wish to provide for the solid comforts and amelioration of human life.
S. Yes, in a very notable way, after their fashion. I should not expect from men who are jealous of the mention of any thing like enjoyment, any great anxiety about its solid comforts. Theirs is a very comfortable theory indeed! They would starve the poor outright, reduce their wages to what is barely necessary to keep them alive, and if they cannot work, refuse them a morsel for charity. If you hint at any other remedy but ‘the grinding law of necessity’ suspended in terrorem over the poor, they are in agonies and think their victims are escaping them: if you talk of the pressure of Debt and Taxes, they regard you as a very commonplace person indeed, and say they can show you cases in the reign of Edward III where, without any reference to Debt or Taxes, the price of labour was tripled—after a plague! So full is their imagination of this desolating doctrine, that sees no hope of good but in cutting off the species, that they fly to a pestilence as a resource against all our difficulties—if we had but a pestilence, it would demonstrate all their theories!