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Memorials and Other Papers by Thomas de Quincey

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said, "The wages of the hatter, whether they have been augmented by
increased quantity of labor, or by increased value of labor, must, in
any case, be paid." Now, what is the answer? They must be paid, but
from what fund? Adam Smith knew of no fund, nor could know of any,
until Mr. Ricardo had ascertained the true law of Profits, except
Price: in either case, therefore, as Political Economy then stood, he
was compelled to conclude that the fifteen shillings would be paid out
of the price,--that is, that the whole difference between the twelve
shillings and the fifteen shillings would settle upon the purchaser.
But we now know that this will happen only in the case when the
difference has arisen from increased labor; and that every farthing of
the difference which arises from increased value of labor will be paid
out of another fund, namely, Profits. But this conclusion could not be
arrived at without the new theory of Profits (as will be seen more
fully when we come to that theory); and thus one error was the
necessary parent of another.

Here I will pause, and must beg you to pardon my long speeches in
consideration of the extreme importance of the subject; for everything
in Political Economy depends, as I said before, on the law of value;
and I have not happened to meet with one writer who seemed fully to
understand Mr. Ricardo's law, and still less who seemed to perceive the
immense train of consequences which it involves.

_Phæd_. I now see enough to believe that Mr. Ricardo is right;
and, if so, it is clear that all former writers are wrong. Thus far I
am satisfied with your way of conducting the argument, though some
little confusion still clouds my view. But, with regard to the
consequences you speak of, how do you explain that under so fundamental
an error (as you represent it) many writers, but above all Adam Smith,
should have been able to deduce so large a body of truth, that we
regard him as one of the chief benefactors to the science?

_X_. The fact is, that his good sense interfered everywhere to
temper the extravagant conclusions into which a severe logician could
have driven him. [Footnote: The "Wealth of Nations" has never yet been
ably reviewed, nor satisfactorily edited. The edition of Mr. Buchanan
is unquestionably the best, and displays great knowledge of Political
Economy as it stood before the revolution effected by Mr. Ricardo. But
having the misfortune to appear immediately before that revolution, it
is already to some degree an obsolete book. Even for its own date,
however, it was not good as an edition of Adam Smith, its value lying
chiefly in the body of original disquisitions which composed the fourth
volume; for the notes not only failed to correct the worst errors of
Adam Smith (which, indeed, in many cases is saying no more than that
Mr. Buchanan did not forestall Mr. Ricardo), but were also deficient in
the history of English finance, and generally in the knowledge of
facts. How much reason there is to call for a new edition, with a
commentary adapted to the existing state of the science, will appear on
this consideration: the "Wealth of Nations" is the text-book resorted
to by all students of Political Economy. One main problem of this
science, if not the main problem (as Mr. Ricardo thinks), is to
determine the laws which regulate Rents, Profits, and Wages; but
everybody who is acquainted with the present state of the science must
acknowledge that precisely on these three points it affords "very
little satisfactory information." These last words are the gentle
criticism of Mr. Ricardo: but the truth is, that not only does it
afford very little information on the great heads of Rent, Profits, and
Wages, but (which is much worse) it gives very false and misleading

P. S. _September_ 27, 1854.--It is suggested to me by a friend,
that in this special notice of Mr. Buchanan's edition, I shall be
interpreted as having designed some covert reflection upon the edition
of Adam Smith published by Mr. M'Culloch. My summary answer to any such
insinuation is, that this whole paper was written in the spring of
1824, that is, thirty and a half years ago: at which time, to the best
of my knowledge, Mr. M'Culloch had not so much as meditated any such
edition. Let me add, that if I had seen or fancied any reason for a
criticism unfriendly to Mr. M'Culloch, or to any writer whatever, I
should not have offered it indirectly, but openly, frankly, and in the
spirit of liberal candor due to an honorable contemporary.] At this
very day, a French and an English economist have reared a Babel of far
more elaborate errors on this subject; M. Say, I mean, and Mr. Malthus:
both ingenious writers, both eminently illogical,--especially the
latter, with whose "confusion worse confounded" on the subject of
Value, if reviewed by some unsparing Rhadamanthus of logical justice, I
believe that chaos would appear a model of order and light. Yet the
very want of logic, which has betrayed these two writers into so many
errors, has befriended them in escaping from their consequences; for
they leap with the utmost agility over all obstacles to any conclusions
which their good sense points out to them as just, however much at war
with their own premises. With respect to the confusion which you
complain of as still clinging to the subject, this naturally attends
the first efforts of the mind to disjoin two ideas which have
constantly been regarded as one. But, as we advance in our discussions,
illustration and proof will gradually arise from all quarters, to the
great principle of Mr. Ricardo which we have just been considering;
besides which, this principle is itself so much required for the
illustration and proof of other principles, that the mere practice of
applying it will soon sharpen your eye to a steady familiarity with all
its aspects.

* * * * *



_Phil_. X., I see, is not yet come: I hope he does not mean to
break his appointment, for I have a design upon him. I have been
considering his argument against the possibility of any change in price
arising out of a change in the value of labor, and I have detected a
flaw in it which he can never get over. I have him, sir--I have him as
fast as ever spider had a fly.

_Phæd_. Don't think it, my dear friend: you are a dexterous
_retiarius_; but a gladiator who is armed with Ricardian weapons
will cut your net to pieces. He is too strong in his cause, as I am
well satisfied from what passed yesterday. He'll slaughter you,--to use
the racy expression of a friend of mine in describing the redundant
power with which one fancy boxer disposed of another,--he'll slaughter
you "with ease and affluence." But here he comes.--Well, X., you're
just come in time. Philebus says that you are a fly, whilst _he_
is a murderous spider, and that he'll slaughter you with "ease and
affluence;" and, all things considered, I am inclined to think he will.

_Phil_. Phædrus does not report the matter quite accurately;
however, it is true that I believe myself to have detected a fatal
error in your argument of yesterday on the case of the hat; and it is
this: When the value of labor rose by twenty-five per cent., you
contended that this rise would be paid out of profits. Now, up to a
certain limit this may be possible; beyond that it is impossible. For
the price of the hat was supposed to be eighteen shillings: and the
price of the labor being assumed originally at twelve shillings;--
leaving six shillings for profits,--it is very possible that a rise in
wages of no more than three shillings may be paid out of these profits.
But, as this advance in wages increases, it comes nearer and nearer to
that point at which it will be impossible for profits to pay it; since,
let the advance once reach the whole six shillings, and all motive for
producing hats will be extinguished; and let it advance to seven
shillings, there will in that case be no fund at all left out of which
the seventh shilling can be paid, even if the capitalist were disposed
to relinquish all his profits. Now, seriously, you will hardly maintain
that the hat could not rise to the price of nineteen shillings--or of
any higher sum?

_X_. Recollect, Philebus, what it is that I maintain; assuredly
the hat may rise to the price of nineteen shillings, or of any higher
sum, but not as a consequence of the cause you assign. Taking your
case, I _do_ maintain that it is impossible the hat should exceed,
or even reach, eighteen shillings. When I say eighteen shillings,
however, you must recollect that the particular sum of twelve shillings
for labor, and six shillings for profits, were taken only for the sake
of illustration; translating the sense of the proposition into
universal forms, what I assert is, that the rise in the value of the
labor can go no further than the amount of profits will allow it:
profits swallowed up, there will remain no fund out of which an
increase of wages can be paid, and the production of hats will cease.

_Phil_. This is the sense in which I understood you; and in this
sense I wish that you would convince me that the hat could not, under
the circumstances supposed, advance to nineteen shillings or twenty

_X_. Perhaps, in our conversation on _Wages_, you will see
this more irresistibly; you yourself will then shrink from affirming
the possibility of such an advance as from an obvious absurdity;
meantime, here is a short demonstration of it, which I am surprised
that Mr. Ricardo did not use as the strongest and most compendious mode
of establishing his doctrine.

Let it be possible that the hat may advance to nineteen shillings; or,
to express this more generally, from _x_ (or eighteen shillings)--
which it was worth before the rise in wages--to _x_ + _y_;
that is to say, the hat will now be worth _x_ + _y_ quantity
of money--having previously been worth no more than _x_. That is
your meaning?

_Phil_. It is.

_X_. And if in money, of necessity in everything else; because
otherwise, if the hat were worth more money only, but more of nothing
besides, that would simply argue that money had fallen in value; in
which case undoubtedly the hat might rise in any proportion that money
fell; but, then, without gaining any increased value, which is
essential to your argument.

_Phil_. Certainly; if in money, then in everything else.

_X_. Therefore, for instance, in gloves; having previously been
worth four pair of buckskin gloves, the hat will now be worth four pair
+ _y_?

_Phil_. It will.

_X_. But, Philebus, either the rise in wages is universal or it is
not universal. If not universal, it must be a case of accidental rise
from mere scarcity of hands; which is the case of a rise in
_market_ value; and that is not the case of Mr. Ricardo, who is
laying down the laws of _natural_ value. It is, therefore,
universal; but, if universal, the gloves from the same cause will have
risen from the value of _x_ to _x_ + _y_.

Hence, therefore, the price of the hat, estimated in gloves, is =
_x_ + _y_.

And again, the price of the gloves, estimated in hats, is = _x_ +

In other words, H - _y_ = _x_.
H + _y_ = _x_.
That is to say, H - _y_ = H + _y_.

_Phæd_. Which, I suppose, is an absurdity; and, in fact, it turns
out, Philebus, that he has slaughtered you with "ease and affluence."

_X_. And this absurdity must be eluded by him who undertakes to
show that a rise in the wages of labor can be transferred to the value
of its product.

* * * * *


[Et æquiori sane animo feres, cum hic de primis agatur principiis, si
superstitiose omnia examinavi,--viamque quasi palpando singulaque
curiosius contrectando, lente me promovi et testudineo gradu. Video
enim ingenium humanum ita comparatum esse--ut facilius longe quid
_consequens_ sit dispiciat, quam quid in naturà _primo_
verum; nostramque omnium conditionem non multum ab illà Archimedis
abludere--_Aos æe so kai koiso tæn gæn_. Ubi primum figamus pedem,
inveniro multo magis satagimus, quam (ubi inveninius) ulterius
progredi.--_Henricus Morus in Epist. ad Cartesium._]


_Phæd_. In our short conversation of yesterday, X., you parried an
objection brought forward by Philebus in a way which I thought
satisfactory. You reduced him to an absurdity, or what seemed such. In
fact, I did verily believe that you had slaughtered Philebus; and so I
told him. But we have since reconsidered the matter, and have settled
it between ourselves that your answer will not do; that your
"absurdity," in fact, is a very absurd absurdity. Philebus will tell
you why. I, for my part, shall have enough to do to take care of a
little argument of my own, which is designed to meet something that
passed in our first dialogue. Now, my private conviction is, that both
I and Philebus shall be cudgelled; I am satisfied that such will be the
issue of the business. And my reason for thinking so is this,--that I
already see enough to discern a character of boldness and determination
in Mr. Ricardo's doctrines which needs no help from sneaking
equivocations, and this with me is a high presumption that he is in the
right. In whatever rough way his theories are tossed about, they seem
always, like a cat, to light upon their legs. But, notwithstanding
this, as long as there is a possibility that he may be in the wrong, I
shall take it for granted that he is, and do my best to prove him so.

_X_. For which, Phædrus, I shall feel greatly indebted to you. We
are told of Trajan, that, in the camp exercises, he not only tolerated
hard blows, but courted them; "alacer virtute militum, et lætus quoties
aut cassidi suæ aut clypeo gravior ictus incideret. Laudabat quippe
ferientes, hortabaturque ut auderent." When one of our theatres let
down an iron curtain upon the stage as a means of insulating the
audience from any fire amongst the scenery, and sent men to prove the
strength of this curtain by playing upon it with sledge-hammers in the
sight and hearing of the public, who would not have laughed at the
hollowness of the mummery, if the blows had been gentle, considerate,
and forbearing? A "make-believe" blow would have implied a "make-
believe" hammer and a "make-believe" curtain. No!--hammer away, like
Charles Martel; "fillip me with a three-man beetle;" be to me a
_malleus hæreticorum_; come like Spenser's Talus--an iron man with
an iron flail, and thresh out the straw of my logic; rack me; put me to
the question; get me down; jump upon me; kick me; throttle me; put an
end to me in any way you can.

_Phæd_. I will, I will, my dear friend; anything to oblige you;
anything for peace. So now tie yourself to the stake, whilst we bait
you. And you begin, Philebus; unmuzzle.

_Phil_. I shall be brief. The case of the hat is what I stand
upon; and, by the way, I am much obliged to you, X., for having stated
the question in that shape; it has furnished me with a very manageable
formula for recalling the principle at issue. The wages alter from two
different causes--in one case, because there is the same quantity of
labor at a different rate; in another case, because there is a
different quantity at the same rate. In the latter case, it is agreed
that the alteration settles upon price; in the former case you affirm
that it will _not_: I affirm that it will. I bring an argument to
prove it; which argument you attempt to parry by another. But in this
counter argument of yours it strikes me that there lurks a _petitio
principii_. Indeed, I am sure of it. For observe the course of our
reasoning. I charge it upon your doctrine as an absurd consequence--
that, if the increase of wages must be paid out of profits, then this
fund will at length be eaten out; and as soon as it is, there will be
no fund at all for paying any further increase; and the production must
cease. Now, what in effect is your answer? Why, that as soon as profits
are all eaten up, the production _will_ cease. And this you call
reducing me to an absurdity. But where is the absurdity? Your answer
is, in fact, an identical proposition; for, when you say, "_As soon
as_ profits are absorbed," I retort, Ay, no doubt "_as soon_"
as they are; but when will that be? It requires no Ricardo to tell us
that, _when_ profits are absorbed, they will be absorbed; what I
deny is, that they ever _can_ be absorbed. For, as fast as wages
increase, what is to hinder price from increasing _pari passu_? In
which case profits will _never_ be absorbed. It is easy enough to
prove that price will not increase, if you may assume that profits will
not remain stationary. For then you have assumed the whole point in
dispute; and after _that_, of course you have the game in your own
hands; since it is self-evident that if anybody is made up of two parts
P and W, so adjusted that all which is gained by either must be lost by
the other, then _that_ body can never increase.

_Phæd_. Nor decrease.

_Phil_. No, nor decrease. If my head must of necessity lose as
much weight as my trunk gains, and _vice versa_, then it is a
clear case that I shall never be heavier. But why cannot my head remain
stationary, whilst my trunk grows heavier? This is what you had to
prove, and you have not proved it.

_Phæd_. O! it's scandalous to think how he has duped us; his
"_reductio_" turns out to the merest swindling.

_X_. No, Phædrus, I beg your pardon. It is very true I did not
attempt to prove that your head might not remain stationary; I could
not have proved this _directly_, without anticipating a doctrine
out of its place; but I proved it _indirectly_, by showing that,
if it were supposed possible, an absurdity would follow from that
supposition. I said, and I say again, that the doctrine of wages will
show the very supposition itself to be absurd; but, until we come to
that doctrine, I content myself with proving that, let that supposition
seem otherwise ever so reasonable (the supposition, namely, that
profits may be stationary whilst wages are advancing), yet it draws
after it one absurd consequence, namely, that a thing may be bigger
than that to which it is confessedly equal. Look back to the notes of
our conversation, and you will see that this is as I say. You say,
Philebus, that I prove profits in a particular case to be incapable of
remaining stationary, by assuming that price cannot increase; or, if I
am called upon to prove that assumption--namely, that price cannot
increase--I do it only by assuming that profits in that case are
incapable of remaining stationary. But, if I had reasoned thus, I
should not only have been guilty of a _petitio principii_ (as you
alleged), but also of a circle. Here, then, I utterly disclaim and
renounce either assumption: I do not ask you to grant me that price
must continue stationary in the case supposed; I do not ask you to
grant me that profits must recede in the case supposed. On the
contrary, I will not have them granted to me; I insist on your refusing
both of these principles.

_Phil_. Well, I _do_ refuse them.

_Phæd_. So do I. I'll do anything in reason as well as another.
"If one knight give a testril--" [Footnote: Sir Andrew Aguecheek, in
"Twelfth Night."]

_X_. Then let us suppose the mines from which we obtain our silver
to be in England.

_Phæd_. What for? Why am I to suppose this? I don't know but you
have some trap in it.

_X_. No; a Newcastle coal-mine, or a Cornwall tin-mine, will
answer the purpose of my argument just as well. But it is more
convenient to use silver as the illustration; and I suppose it to be in
England simply to avoid intermixing any question about foreign trade.
Now, when the hat sold for eighteen shillings, on Mr. Ricardo's
principle why did it sell for that sum?

_Phil_. I suppose, because the quantity of silver in that sum is
assumed to be the product of four days' labor in a silver-mine.

_X_. Certainly; because it is the product of the same quantity of
labor as that which produced the hat. Calling twenty shillings,
therefore, four ounces of silver, the hat was worth nine tenths of four
ounces. Now, when wages advance from twelve shillings to fourteen
shillings, profits (you allege) will not pay this advance, but price.
On this supposition the price of the hat will now be--what?

_Phil_. Twenty shillings; leaving, as before, six shillings for

_X_. Six shillings upon fourteen shillings are not the same
_rate_ of profit as six shillings upon twelve shillings; but no
matter; it does not affect the argument. The hat is now worth four
entire ounces of silver, having previously been worth four ounces
_minus_ a tenth of four ounces. But the product of four days'
labor in a silver-mine must also advance in value, for the same cause.
Four ounces of silver, which is that product, will now have the same
power or value as 22.22_s_. had before. Consequently the four
ounces of silver, which had previously commanded in exchange a hat and
the ninth of a hat, will now command a hat and two ninths, fractions
neglected. Hence, therefore, a hat will, upon any Anti-Ricardian
theory, manifestly buy four ounces of silver; and yet, at the same
time, it will not buy four ounces by one fifth part of four ounces.
Silver and the denominations of its qualities, being familiar, make it
more convenient to use that metal; but substitute lead, iron, coal, or
anything whatsoever--the argument is the same, being in fact a
universal demonstration that variations in wages cannot produce
corresponding variations in price.

_Phæd_. Say no more, X.; I see that you are right; and it's all
over with our cause; unless I retrieve it. To think that the whole
cause of the Anti-Ricardian economy should devolve upon me! that fate
should ordain me to be the Atlas on whose unworthy shoulders the whole
system is to rest! This being my destiny, I ought to have been built a
little stronger. However, no matter. I heartily pray that I may prove
too strong for you; though, at the same time, I am convinced I shall
not. Remember, therefore, that you have no right to exult if you toss
and gore me, for I tell you beforehand that you will. And, if you do,
that only proves me to be in the right, and a very sagacious person;
since my argument has all the appearance of being irresistible, and yet
such is my discernment that I foresee most acutely that it will turn
out a most absurd one. It is this: your answer to Philebus issues in
this--that a thing A is shown to be at once more valuable and yet not
more valuable than the same thing B. Now, this answer I take by the
horns; it is possible for A to be more and yet not more valuable than
the same thing. For example, my hat shall be more valuable than the
gloves; more valuable, that is, than the gloves were: and yet not more
valuable than the gloves; not more valuable, that is, than the gloves
now are. So of the wages; all things preserve their former relations,
because all are equally raised. This is my little argument. What do you
think of it? Will it do?

_X_. No.

_Phæd_. Why, so I told you.

_X_. I have the pleasure, then, to assure you that you were
perfectly right. It will _not_ do. But I understand you perfectly.
You mean to evade my argument that the increase of wages shall settle
upon profits; according to this argument, it will settle upon price,
and not upon profits; yet again on price in such a way as to escape the
absurdity of two relations of value existing between the very same
things. But, Phædrus, this rise will be a mere metaphysical one, and no
real rise. The hat, you say, has risen; but still it commands no more
of the gloves, because they also have risen. How, then, has either
risen? The rise is purely ideal.

_Phæd_. It is so, X.; but that I did not overlook; for tell me--on
Mr. Ricardo's principle, will not all things double their value
simultaneously, if the quantity of labor spent in producing all should
double simultaneously?

_X_. It will, Phædrus.

_Phæd_. And yet nothing will exchange for more or less than

_X_. True; but the rise is not ideal, for all that, but will
affect everybody. A pound of wheat, which previously bought three
pounds of salt, will still buy three pounds; but, then, the salt-maker
and the wheat-maker will have only one pound of those articles where
before he had two. However, the difference between the two cases cannot
fully be understood, without a previous examination of certain
distinctions, which I will make the subject of our next dialogue; and
the rather, because, apart from our present question, at every step we
should else be embarrassed, as all others have been, by the perplexity
attending these distinctions. Meantime, as an answer to your argument,
the following consideration will be quite sufficient. The case which
your argument respects is that in which wages are supposed to rise?
Why? In consequence of a _real_ rise in corn or something else. As
a means of meeting this rise, wages rise; but the increased value of
wages is only a means to an end, and the laborer cares about the rise
only in that light. The end is--to give him the same quantity of corn,
suppose. That end attained, he cares nothing about the means by which
it is attained. Now, your ideal rise of wages does not attain this end.
The corn has _really_ risen; this is the first step. In
consequence of this, an ideal rise follows in all things, which evades
the absurdities of a real rise--and evades the Ricardian doctrine of
profits; but, then, only by also evading any real rise in wages, the
necessity of which (in order to meet the real rise in corn) first led
to the whole movement of price. But this you will more clearly see
after our next dialogue.

* * * * *



_X_. Now, gentlemen, I come to a question which on a double
account is interesting: first, because it is indispensable to the
fluency of our future progress that this question should be once for
all decided; secondly, because it furnishes an _experimentum
crucis_ for distinguishing a true knowledge of Mr. Ricardo's theory
from a spurious or half-knowledge. Many a man will accompany Mr.
Ricardo thus far, and will keep his seat pretty well until he comes to
the point which we have now reached--at which point scarcely one in a
thousand will escape being unhorsed.

_Phæd_. Which one most assuredly will not be myself. For I have a
natural alacrity in losing my seat, and gravitate so determinately to
the ground, that (like a Roman of old) I ride without stirrups, by way
of holding myself in constant readiness for projection; upon the least
hint, anticipating my horse's wishes on that point, and throwing myself
off as fast as possible; for what's the use of taking the negative side
in a dispute where one's horse takes the affirmative? So I leave it to
Philebus to ride through the steeple-chase you will lead him; his be
the honor of the day--and his the labor.

_X_. But _that_ cannot be; Philebus is bound in duty to be dismounted,
for the sake of keeping Mr. Malthus with many others in countenance.
For at this point, Phædrus, more than at any other almost, there is a
sad confusion of lords and gentlemen that I could name thrown out of
the saddle pell-mell upon their mother earth.

"So they among themselves in pleasant vein
Stood scoffing."

I suppose I may add--

"Heightened in their thoughts beyond
All doubts of victory."

Meantime, what is it you allude to?

_X_. You are acquainted, I doubt not, Philebus, with the common
distinction between _real_ and _nominal_ value; and in your judgment
upon that distinction I presume that you adopt the doctrine of Mr.

_Phil_. I do; but I know not why you should call it the doctrine
of Mr. Malthus; for, though he has reurged it against Mr. Ricardo, yet
originally it belongs to Adam Smith.

_X_. Not so, Philebus; _a_ distinction between real and nominal value
was made by Adam Smith, but not altogether _the_ distinction of Mr.
Malthus. It is true that Mr. Malthus tells us ("Polit. Econ.," p. 63)
that the distinction is "exactly the same." But in this he is
inaccurate; for neither is it exactly the same; nor, if it had been,
could Mr. Malthus have urged it in his "Political Economy" with the
same consistency as its original author. This you will see hereafter.
But no matter; how do you understand the distinction?

_Phil_. "I continue to think," with Mr. Malthus, and in his words,
"that the most proper definition of real value in exchange, in
contradistinction to nominal value in exchange, is the power of
commanding the necessaries and conveniences of life, including labor,
as distinguished from the power of commanding the precious metals."

_X_. You think, for instance, that if the wages of a laborer should in
England be at the rate of five shillings a day, and in France of no
more than one shilling a day, it could not, therefore, be inferred that
wages were at a high real value in England, or a low real value in
France. Until we know how much food, &c., could be had for the five
shillings in England, and how much in France for the one shilling,
all that we could fairly assert would be, that wages were at a high
_nominal_ value in England and at a low _nominal_ value in France; but
the moment it should be ascertained that the English wages would
procure twice as much comfort as the French, or the French twice
as much as the English, we might then peremptorily affirm that wages
were at a high _real_ value in England on the first supposition,
or in France on the second:--this is what you think?

_Phil_. It is, and very fairly stated, I think this, in common
with Mr. Malthus; and can hold out but little hope that I shall ever
cease to think it.

"Why, then, know this,
Thou think'st amiss;
And, to think right, thou must think o'er again."
[Footnote: Suckling's well-known song.]

_Phæd_. But is it possible that Mr. Ricardo can require me to
abjure an inference so reasonable as this? If so, I must frankly
acknowledge that I am out of the saddle already.

_X_. Reasonable inference? So far from _that_, there is an end
of all logic if such an inference be tolerated. _That_ man may
rest assured that his vocation in this world is not logical, who feels
disposed (after a few minutes' consideration) to question the following
proposition,--namely: That it is very possible for A continually to
increase in value--in _real_ value, observe--and yet to command a
continually decreasing quantity of B; in short, that A may acquire a
thousand times higher value, and yet exchange for ten thousand times
less of B.

_Phæd_. Why, then, "chaos is come again!" Is this the unparadoxical

_X_. Yes, Phædrus; but lay not this unction to your old prejudices,
which you must now prepare to part with forever, that it is any
spirit of wilful paradox which is now speaking; for get rid of Mr.
Ricardo, if you can, but you will not, therefore, get rid of this
paradox. On any other theory of value whatsoever, it will still
continue to be an irresistible truth, though it is the Ricardian theory
only which can consistently explain it. Here, by the way, is a specimen
of paradox in the true and laudable sense--in that sense according to
which Boyle entitled a book "Hydrostatical Paradoxes;" for, though it
wears a _primâ facie_ appearance of falsehood, yet in the end you
will be sensible that it is not only true, but true in that way and
degree which will oblige him who denies it to maintain an absurdity.
Again, therefore, I affirm that, when the laborer obtains a large
quantity of corn, for instance, it is so far from being any fair
inference that wages are then at a high real value, that in all
probability they are at a very low real value; and inversely I affirm,
that when wages are at their very highest real value, the laborer will
obtain the very smallest quantity of corn. Or, quitting wages
altogether (because such an illustration would drive me into too much
anticipation), I affirm universally of Y (that is, of any assignable
thing whatsoever), that it shall grow more valuable _ad infinitum_,
and yet by possibility exchange for less and less _ad infinitum_ of Z
(that is, of any other assignable thing).

_Phæd_. Well, all I shall say is this,--am I in a world where men
stand on their heads or on their feet? But there is some trick in all
this; there is some snare. And now I consider--what's the meaning of
your saying "by possibility"? If the doctrine you would force upon me
be a plain, broad, straightforward truth, why fetter it with such a
suspicious restriction?

_X_. Think, for a moment, Phædrus, what doctrine it is which I
would force upon you; not, as you seem to suppose, that the quantity
obtained by Y is in the _inverse_ ratio of the value of Y; on the
contrary, if that were so, it would still remain true that an
irresistible inference might be drawn from the quantity purchased to
the value of the thing purchasing, and _vice versa_, from the
value of the thing purchasing to the quantity which it would purchase.
There would still be a connection between the two; and the sole
difference between my doctrine and the old doctrine would be this--that
the connection would be no longer _direct_ (as by your doctrine),
but _inverse_. This would be the difference, and the sole difference.
But what is it that I assert? Why, that there is no connection at all,
or of any kind, direct or inverse, between the quantity commanded and
the value commanding. My object is to get rid of your inference, not to
substitute any new inference of my own. I put, therefore, an extreme
case. This case ought by your doctrine to be impossible. If, therefore,
it be _not_ impossible, your doctrine is upset. Simply as a possible
case, it is sufficient to destroy _you_. But, if it were more than a
possible case, it would destroy _me_. For if, instead of demonstrating
the possibility of such a case, I had attempted to show that it were a
universal and necessary case, I should again be introducing the notion
of a connection between the quantity obtained and the value obtaining,
which it is the very purpose of my whole argument to exterminate. For
my thesis is, that no such connection subsists between the two as
warrants any inference that the real value is great because the
quantity it buys is great, or small because the quantity it buys is
small; or, reciprocally, that, because the real value is great or
small, therefore the quantities bought shall be great or small. From,
or to, the real value in these cases, I contend that there is no more
valid inference, than from, or to, the nominal value with which it is

_Phil_. Your thesis, then, as I understand it, is this: that if A
double its value, it will not command double the quantity of B. I have
a barouche which is worth about six hundred guineas at this moment.
Now, if I should keep this barouche unused in my coach-house for five
years, and at the end of this term it should happen from any cause that
carriages had doubled in value, _my_ understanding would lead me
to expect double the quantity of any commodity for which I might then
exchange it, whether _that_ were money, sugar, besoms, or anything
whatsoever. But _you_ tell me--no. And _vice versa_, if I found
that my barouche at the end of five years obtained for me double
the quantity of sugar, or besoms, or political economists, which it
would now obtain, I should think myself warranted in drawing an
inference that carriages had doubled their value. But you tell me--no;
"non valet consequentia."

_X_. You are in the right, Phædrus; I _do_ tell you so. But
you do not express my thesis quite accurately, which is, that if A
double its value, it will not _therefore_ command double the
former quantity of B. It may do so; and it may also command five
hundred times more, or five hundred times less.

_Phæd_. O tempora! O mores! Here is my friend X., that in any
other times would have been a man of incorruptible virtue; and yet, in
our unprincipled age, he is content to barter the interests of truth
and the "majesty of plain-dealing" for a brilliant paradox, or (shall I
say?) for the glory of being reputed an accomplished disputant.

_X_. But, Phædrus, there could be little brilliancy in a paradox
which in the way you understand it will be nothing better than a bold
defiance of common sense. In fact, I should be ashamed to give the air
of a paradox to so evident a truth as that which I am now urging, if I
did not continually remind myself that, evident as it may appear, it
yet escaped Adam Smith. This consideration, and the spectacle of so
many writers since his day thrown out and at a fault precisely at this
point of the chase, make it prudent to present it in as startling a
shape as possible; in order that, the attention being thoroughly
roused, the final assent may not be languid or easily forgotten. Suffer
me, therefore, Phædrus, in a Socratic way, to extort an assent from
your own arguments--allow me to drive you into an absurdity.

_Phæd_. With all my heart; if our father Adam is wrong, I am sure
it would be presumptuous in me to be right; so drive me as fast as

_X_. You say that A, by doubling its own value, shall command a
double quantity of B. Where, by A, you do not mean some one thing in
particular, but generally any assignable thing whatever. Now, B is some
assignable thing. Whatever, therefore, is true of A, will be true of B?

_Phæd_. It will.

_X_. It will be true, therefore, of B, that, by doubling its own
value, it will command a double quantity of A?

_Phæd_. I cannot deny it.

_X_. Let A be your carriage; and let B stand for six hundred
thousands of besoms, which suppose to express the value of your
carriage in that article at this present moment. Five years hence, no
matter why, carriages have doubled in value; on which supposition you
affirm that in exchange for your barouche you will be entitled to
receive no less than twelve hundred thousands of besoms.

_Phæd_. I do; and a precious bargain I shall have of it; like
Moses with his gross of shagreen spectacles. But sweep on, if you
please; brush me into absurdity.

_X_. I will. Because barouches have altered in value, that is no
reason why besoms should _not_ have altered?

_Phæd_. Certainly; no reason in the world.

_X_. Let them have altered; for instance, at the end of the five
years, let them have been doubled in value. Now, because your assertion
is this--simply by doubling in value, B shall command a double quantity
of A--it follows inevitably, Phædrus, that besoms, having doubled their
value in five years, will at the end of that time command a double
quantity of barouches. The supposition is, that six hundred thousand,
at present, command one barouche; in five years, therefore, six hundred
thousand will command two barouches?

_Phæd_. They will.

_X_. Yet, at the very same time, it has already appeared from your
argument that twelve hundred thousand will command only one barouche;
that is, a barouche will at one and the same time be worth twelve
hundred thousand besoms, and worth only one fourth part of that
quantity. Is this an absurdity, Phædrus?

_Phæd_. It seems such.

_X_. And, therefore, the argument from which it flows, I presume,
is false?

_Phæd_. Scavenger of bad logic! I confess that it looks so.

_Phil_. You confess? So do not I. You die "soft," Phædrus; give me
the cudgels, and I'll die "game," at least. The flaw in your argument,
X., is this: you summoned Phædrus to invert his proposition, and then
you extorted an absurdity from this inversion. But that absurdity
follows only from the particular form of expression into which you
threw the original proposition. I will express the same proposition in
other terms, unexceptionable terms, which shall evade the absurdity.
Observe. A and B are at this time equal in value; that is, they now
exchange quantity for quantity. Or, if you prefer your own case, I say
that one barouche exchanges for six hundred thousand besoms. I choose,
however, to express this proposition thus: A (one barouche) and B (six
hundred thousand besoms) are severally equal in value to C. When,
therefore, A doubles its value, I say that it shall command a double
quantity of C. Now, mark how I will express the inverted case. When B
doubles its value, I say that it shall command a double quantity of C.
But these two cases are very reconcilable with each other. A may
command a double quantity of C at the same time that B commands a
double quantity of C, without involving any absurdity at all. And, if
so, the disputed doctrine is established, that a double value implies a
double command of quantity; and reciprocally, that from a doubled
command of quantity we may infer a doubled value.

_X_. A, and B, you say, may simultaneously command a double
quantity of C, in consequence of doubling their value; and this they
may do without absurdity. But how shall I know _that_, until I
know what you cloak under the symbol of C? For if the same thing shall
have happened to C which my argument assumes to have happened to B
(namely, that its value has altered), then the same demonstration will
hold; and the very same absurdity will follow any attempt to infer the
quantity from the value, or the value from the quantity.

_Phil_. Yes, but I have provided against _that_; for by C I
mean any assignable thing which has _not_ altered its own value. I
assume C to be stationary in value.

_X_. In that case, Philebus, it is undoubtedly true that no
absurdity follows from the inversion of the proposition as it is
expressed by you. But then the short answer which I return is this:
your thesis avoids the absurdity by avoiding the entire question in
dispute. Your thesis is not only not the same as that which we are now
discussing; not only different in essence from the thesis which is
_now_ disputed; but moreover it affirms only what _never_ was
disputed by any man. No man has ever denied that A, by doubling its own
value, will command a double quantity of all things which have been
stationary in value. Of things in that predicament, it is self-evident
that A will command a double quantity. But the question is, whether
universally, from doubling its value, A will command a double quantity:
and inversely, whether universally, from the command of a double
quantity, it is lawful to infer a double value. This is asserted by
Adam Smith, and is essential to his distinction of nominal and real
value; this is peremptorily denied by us. We offer to produce cases in
which from double value it shall not be lawful to infer double
quantity. We offer to produce cases in which from double quantity it
shall _not_ be lawful to infer double value. And thence we argue,
that _until_ the value is discovered in some other way, it will be
impossible to discover whether it be high or low from any consideration
of the quantity commanded; and again, with respect to the quantity
commanded--that, _until_ known in some other way, it shall never
be known from any consideration of the value commanding. This is what
we say; now, your "C" contradicts the conditions; "_until_ the
value is discovered in some other way, it shall never be learned from
the quantity commanded." But in your "C" the value is already
discovered; for you assume it; you postulate that C is stationary in
value: and hence it is easy indeed to infer that, because A commands
double quantity of "C," it shall therefore be of double value; but this
inference is not obtained from the single consideration of double
quantity, but from _that_ combined with the assumption of
unaltered value in C, without which assumption you shall never obtain
that inference.

_Phæd_. The matter is clear beyond what I require; yet, X., for
the satisfaction of my "game" friend Philebus, give us a proof or two
_ex abundanti_ by applying what you have said to cases in Adam
Smith or others.

_X_. In general it is clear that, if the value of A increases in a
duplicate ratio, yet if the value of B increases in a triplicate ratio,
so far from commanding a greater quantity of B, A shall command a
smaller quantity; and if A continually goes on squaring its former
value, yet if B continually goes on cubing its former value, then,
though A will continually augment in value, yet the quantity which it
will command of B shall be continually less, until at length it shall
become practically equal to nothing. [Footnote: The reader may imagine
that there is one exception to this case: namely, if the values of A
and B were assumed at starting to be = 1; because, in that case, the
squares, cubes, and all other powers alike, would be = I; and thus,
under any apparent alteration, the real relations of A and B would
always remain the same. But this is an impossible and unmeaning case in
Political Economy, as might easily be shown.] Hence, therefore, I

1. That when I am told by Adam Smith that the money which I can obtain
for my hat expresses only its _nominal_ value, but that the labor
which I can obtain for it expresses its _real_ value--I reply,
that the quantity of labor is no more any expression of the real value
than the quantity of money; both are equally fallacious expressions,
because equally equivocal. My hat, it is true, now buys me _x_
quantity of labor, and some years ago it bought _x/2_ quantity of
labor. But this no more proves that my hat has advanced in real value
according to that proportion, than a double _money_ price will
prove it. For how will Adam Smith reply to him who urges the double
money value as an argument of a double real value? He will say--No; non
valet consequentia. Your proof is equivocal; for a double quantity of
money will as inevitably arise from the sinking of money as from the
rising of hats. And supposing money to have sunk to one fourth of its
former value, in that case a double money value--so far from proving
hats to have risen in real value--will prove that hats have absolutely
fallen in real value by one half; and they will be seen to have done so
by comparison with all things which have remained stationary; otherwise
they would obtain not double merely, but four times the quantity of
money price. This is what Adam Smith will reply in effect. Now, the
very same objection I make to labor as any test of real value. My hat
now obtains _x_ labor; formerly it obtained only one half of
_x_. Be it so; but the whole real change may be in the labor;
labor may now be at one half its former value; in which case my hat
obtains the same real price; double the quantity of labor being now
required to express the same value. Nay, if labor has fallen to one
tenth of its former value, so far from being proved to have risen one
hundred per cent. in real value by now purchasing a double quantity of
labor, my hat is proved to have fallen to one fifth of its former
value; else, instead of buying me only _x_ labor, which is but the
double of its former value (_x/2_), it would buy me 5 _x_, or
ten times its former value.

_Phil_. Your objection, then, to the labor price, as any better
expression of the _real_ value than the money price, would be that
it is an equivocal expression, leaving it doubtful on which side of the
equation the disturbance had taken place, or whether on both sides. In
which objection, as against others, you may be right; but you must not
urge this against Adam Smith; because, on his theory, the expression is
not equivocal; the disturbance can be only on one side of the equation,
namely, in your hat. For as to the other side (the labor), _that_ is
secured from all disturbance by his doctrine that labor is always of
the same value. When, therefore, your hat will purchase _x_ quantity of
labor instead of half _x_, the inference is irresistible that your hat
has doubled its value. There lies no appeal from this; it cannot be
evaded by alleging that the labor may have fallen, for the labor cannot

_X_. On the Smithian theory it cannot; and therefore it is that I
make a great distinction between the error of Adam Smith and of other
later writers. He, though wrong, was consistent. That the value of
labor is invariable, is a principle so utterly untenable, that many
times Adam Smith abandoned it himself implicitly, though not
explicitly. The demonstration of its variable value indeed follows
naturally from the laws which govern wages; and, therefore, I will not
here anticipate it. Meantime, having once adopted that theory of the
unalterable value of labor, Adam Smith was in the right to make it the
expression of real value. But this is not done with the same
consistency by Mr. Malthus at the very time when he denies the
possibility of any invariable value.

_Phil_. How so? Mr. Malthus asserts that there is one article of
invariable value; what is more, this article is labor,--the very same
as that formerly alleged for such by Adam Smith; and he has written a
book to prove it.

_X_. True, Philebus, he has done so; and he _now_ holds that
labor is invariable, supposing that his opinions have not altered
within the last twelve months. But he was so far from holding this in
1820 (at which time it was that he chiefly insisted on the distinction
between nominal and real value), that he was not content with the true
arguments against the possibility of an invariable value, but made use
of one, as I shall soon show you, which involves what the
metaphysicians call a _non-ens_--or an idea which includes
contradictory and self-destroying conditions. Omitting, however, the
inconsistency in the idea of _real_ value as conceived by Mr.
Malthus, there is this additional error engrafted upon the Smithian
definition, that it is extended to "the necessaries and conveniences of
life" in general, and no longer confined exclusively to labor. I shall,
therefore, as another case for illustrating and applying the result of
our dispute,

2. Cite a passage from Mr. Malthus' "Political Economy" (p. 59): "If we
are told that the wages of day-labor in a particular country are, at
the present time, fourpence a day, or that the revenue of a particular
sovereign, seven or eight hundred years ago, was four hundred thousand
pounds a year, these statements of nominal value convey no sort of
information respecting the condition of the lower class of people in
the one case, or the resources of the sovereign in the other. Without
further knowledge on the subject, we should be quite at a loss to say
whether the laborers in the country mentioned were starving or living
in great plenty; whether the king in question might be considered as
having a very inadequate revenue, or whether the sum mentioned was so
great as to be incredible. [Footnote: Hume very reasonably doubts the
possibility of William the Conqueror's revenue being four hundred
thousand pounds a year, as represented by an ancient historian, and
adopted by subsequent writers.--Note of Mr. Malthus.] It is quite
obvious that in cases of this kind,--and they are of constant
recurrence,--the value of wages, incomes, or commodities, estimated in
the precious metals, will be of little use to us alone. What we want
further is some estimate of a kind which may be denominated real value
in exchange, implying the quantity of the necessaries and conveniences
of life which those wages, incomes, or commodities, will enable the
possessor of them to command."

In this passage, over and above the radical error about real value,
there is also apparent that confusion, which has misled so many
writers, between _value_ and _wealth_; a confusion which Mr.
Ricardo first detected and cleared up. That we shall not be able to
determine, from the mere money wages, whether the laborers were
"starving or living in great plenty," is certain; and that we
_shall_ be able to determine this as soon as we know the quantity
of necessaries, etc., which those wages commanded, is equally certain;
for, in fact, the one knowledge is identical with the other, and but
another way of expressing it; we must, of course, learn that the
laborer lived in plenty, if we should learn that his wages gave him a
great deal of bread, milk, venison, salt, honey, etc. And as there
could never have been any doubt whether we should learn _this_
from what Mr. Malthus terms the real value, and that we should
_not_ learn it from what he terms the money value, Mr. Malthus may
be assured that there never can have been any dispute raised on that
point. The true dispute is, whether, after having learned that the
laborer lived in American plenty, we shall have at all approximated to
the appreciation of his wages as to real value: this is the question;
and it is plain that we shall not. What matters it that his wages gave
him a great deal of corn, until we know whether corn bore a high or a
low value? A great deal of corn at a high value implies wages of a high
value; but a great deal of corn at a low value is very consistent with
wages at a low value. Money wages, it is said, leave us quite in the
dark as to real value. Doubtless; nor are we at all the less in the
dark for knowing the corn wages, the milk wages, the grouse wages, etc.
_Given_ the value of corn, _given_ the value of milk, _given_ the value
of grouse, we shall know whether a great quantity of those articles
implies a high value, or is compatible with a low value, in the wages
which commanded them; but, _until_ that is given, it has been already
shown that the quantity alone is an equivocal test, being equally
capable of coexisting with high wages or low wages.

_Phil_. Why, then, it passes my comprehension to understand what
test remains of real value, if neither money price nor commodity price
expresses it. When are wages, for example, at a high real value?

_X_. Wages are at a high real value when it requires much labor to
produce wages; and at a low real value when it requires little labor to
produce wages: and it is perfectly consistent with the high real value
that the laborer should be almost starving; and perfectly consistent
with the low real value that the laborer should be living in great ease
and comfort.

_Phil_. Well, this may be true; but you must allow that it sounds

_X_. Doubtless it sounds extravagant, to him who persists in
slipping under his notion of value another and heterogeneous notion,
namely, that of wealth. But, let it sound as it may, all the
absurdities (which are neither few nor slight) are on the other side.
These will discover themselves as we advance. Meantime, I presume that
in your use, and in everybody's use, of the word value, a high value
ought to purchase a high value, and that it will be very absurd if it
should not. But, as to purchasing a great quantity, that condition is
surely not included in any man's idea of value.

_Phil_. No, certainly; because A is of high value, it does not
follow that it must purchase a great quantity; that must be as various
as the nature of the thing with which it is compared. But having once
assumed any certain thing, as B, it does seem to follow that, however
small a quantity A may purchase of this (which I admit may be very
small, though the value of A should be very great), yet it does seem to
follow, from everybody's notion of value, that this quantity of B,
however small at first, must continually increase, if the value of A be
supposed continually to increase.

_X_. This may "seem" to follow; but it has been shown that it does
not follow; for if A continually double its value, yet let B
continually triple or quadruple its value, and the quantity of B will
be so far from increasing, that it will finally become evanescent. In
short, once for all, the formula is this: Let A continually increase in
value, and it shall purchase continually more and more in quantity--
than what? More than it did? By no means; but more than it would have
done, but for that increase in value. A has doubled its value. Does it
_therefore_ purchase more than it did before of B? No; perhaps it
purchases much less; suppose only one fourth part as much of B as it
did before; but still the doubling of A's value has had its full
effect; for B, it may happen, has increased in value eight-fold; and,
but for the doubling of A, it would, instead of one fourth, have bought
only one eighth of the former quantity. A, therefore, by doubling in
value, has bought not double in quantity of what it bought before, but
double in quantity of what it would else have bought.

The remainder of this dialogue related to the distinction between
"relative" value, as it is termed, and "absolute" value; clearing up
the true use of that distinction. But, this being already too long, the
amount of it will be given hereafter, with a specimen of the errors
which have arisen from the abuse of this distinction.

* * * * *



_X_. The great law which governs exchangeable value has now been
stated and argued. Next, it seems, we must ask, what are its uses? This
is a question which you or I should not be likely to ask; for with what
color of propriety could a doubt be raised about the use of any truth
in any science? still less, about the use of a leading truth? least of
all, about the use of _the_ leading truth? Nevertheless, such a
doubt _has_ been raised by Mr. Malthus.

_Phæd_. On what ground or pretence.

_X_. Under a strange misconception of Mr. Ricardo's meaning. Mr.
Malthus has written a great deal, as you may have heard, against Mr.
Ricardo's principle of value; his purpose is to prove that it is a
false principle; independently of which, he contends that, even if it
were a true principle, it would be of little use. [Footnote: _Vide_ the
foot-note to p. 54 of "The Measure of Value."]

_Phæd_. Little use? In relation to what?

_X_. Ay, _there_ lies the inexplicable mistake: of little use
as a _measure_ of value. Now, this is a mistake for which there
can be no sort of apology; for it supposes Mr. Ricardo to have brought
forward his principle of value as a standard or measure of value;
whereas, Mr. Ricardo has repeatedly informed his reader that he utterly
rejects the possibility of any such measure. Thus (at p. 10, edit. 2d),
after laying down the _conditio sine quâ non_ under which any
commodity could preserve an unvarying value, he goes on to say: "of
such a commodity we have no knowledge, and consequently are unable to
fix on any standard of value." And, again (at p. 343 of the same
edition), after exposing at some length the circumstances which
disqualify "any commodity, or all commodities together," from
performing the office of a standard of value, he again states the
indispensable condition which must be realized in that commodity which
should pretend to such an office; and again he adds, immediately, "of
such a commodity we have no knowledge." But what leaves this mistake
still more without excuse is, that in the third edition of his book Mr.
Ricardo has added an express section (the sixth) to his chapter on
value, having for its direct object to expose the impossibility of any
true measure of value. Setting aside, indeed, these explicit
declarations, a few words will suffice to show that Mr. Ricardo could
not have consistently believed in any standard or measure of value.
What does a standard mean?

_Phæd_. A standard is that which stands still whilst other things
move, and by this means serves to indicate or measure the degree in
which those other things have advanced or receded.

_X_. Doubtless; and a standard of value must itself stand still or
be stationary in value. But nothing could possibly be stationary in
value upon Mr. Ricardo's theory, unless it were always produced by the
same quantity of labor; since any alteration in the quantity of the
producing labor must immediately affect the value of the product. Now,
what is there which can always be obtained by the same quantity of
labor? Raw materials (for reasons which will appear when we consider
Rent) are constantly tending to grow dearer [Footnote: "Constantly
tending to grow dearer"--To the novice in Political Economy, it will
infallibly suggest itself that the direct contrary is the truth; since,
even in rural industry, though more tardily improving its processes
than manufacturing industry, the tendency is always in that direction:
agriculture, as an art benefiting by experience, has never yet been
absolutely regressive, though not progressive by such striking leaps or
sudden discoveries as manufacturing art. But, for all that, it still
remains true, as a general principle, that raw materials won from the
soil are constantly tending to grow dearer, whilst these same materials
as worked up for use by manufacturing skill are constantly travelling
upon an opposite path. The reason is, that, in the case of
manufacturing improvements, no conquest made is ever lost. The course
is never retrogressive towards the worse machinery, or towards the more
circuitous process; once resigned, the inferior method is resigned
forever. But in the industry applied to the soil this is otherwise.
Doubtless the farmer does not, with his eyes open, return to methods
which have experimentally been shown to be inferior, unless, indeed,
where want of capital may have forced him to do so; but, as population
expands, he is continually forced into descending upon inferior soils;
and the product of these inferior soils it is which gives the ruling
price for the whole aggregate of products. Say that soils Nos. 1, 2, 3,
4, had been hitherto sufficient for a nation, where the figures express
the regular graduation downwards in point of fertility; then, when No.
5 is called for (which, producing less by the supposition, costs,
therefore, more upon any given quantity), the price upon this last, No.
5, regulates the price upon all the five soils. And thus it happens
that, whilst always progressive, rural industry is nevertheless always
travelling towards an increased cost. The product of Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4,
is continually tending to be cheaper; but when the cost of No. 5 (and
so on forever as to the fresh soils required to meet a growing
population) is combined with that of the superior soils, the quotient
from the entire dividend, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, is always tending gradually to
a higher expression.] by requiring more labor for their production;
manufactures, from the changes in machinery, which are always
progressive and never retrograde, are constantly tending to grow
cheaper by requiring less; consequently, there is nothing which, upon
Mr. Ricardo's theory, can long continue stationary in value. If,
therefore, he had proposed any measure of value, he must have forgotten
his own principle of value.

_Phil_. But allow me to ask; if that principle is not proposed as
a measure of value, in what character _is_ it proposed?

_X_. Surely, Philebus, as the _ground_ of value; whereas a measure of
value is no more than a _criterion_ or test of value. The last is
simply a _principium cognoscendi_, whereas the other is a _principium

_Phil_. But wherein lies the difference?

_X_. Is it possible that you can ask such a question? A
thermometer measures the temperature of the air; that is, it furnishes
a criterion for ascertaining its varying degrees of heat; but you
cannot even imagine that a thermometer furnishes any _ground_ of
this heat. I wish to know whether a day's labor at the time of the
English Revolution bore the same value as a hundred years after at the
time of the French Revolution; and, if not the same value, whether a
higher or a lower. For this purpose, if I believe that there is any
commodity which is immutable in value, I shall naturally compare a
day's labor with that commodity at each period. Some, for instance,
have imagined that corn is of invariable value; and, supposing one to
adopt so false a notion, we should merely have to inquire what quantity
of corn a day's labor would exchange for at each period, and we should
then have determined the relations of value between labor at the two
periods. In this case, I should have used corn as the _measure_ of
the value of labor; but I could not rationally mean to say that corn
was the _ground_ of the value of labor; and, if I said that I made
use of corn to _determine_ the value of labor, I should employ the
word "determine" in the same sense as when I say that the thermometer
determines the heat--namely, that it ascertains it, or determines it to
my knowledge (as a _principium cognoscendi_). But, when Mr. Ricardo
says that the quantity of labor employed on A determines the value of
A, he must of course be understood to mean that it _causes_ A to be of
this value, that it is the _ground_ of its value, the _principium
essendi_ of its value; just as when, being asked what determines a
stone to fall downwards rather than upwards, I answer that it is the
earth's attraction, or the principle of gravitation, meaning that this
principle _causes_ it to fall downwards; and if, in this case, I say
that gravitation "_determines_" its course downwards, I no longer use
that word in the sense of _ascertain_; I do not mean that gravitation
_ascertains_ it to have descended; but that gravitation has
_causatively_ impressed that direction on its course; in other
words, I make gravitation the _principium essendi_ of its descent.

_Phæd_. I understand your distinction; and in which sense do you
say that Mr. Malthus has used the term Measure of Value--in the sense
of a ground, or of a criterion?

_X_. In both senses; he talks of it as "_accounting for_" the
value of A, in which case it means a ground of value; and as
"_estimating_" the value of A, in which case it means a criterion
of value. I mention these expressions as instances; but, the truth is,
that, throughout his essay entitled "The Measure of Value Stated and
Illustrated" and throughout his "Political Economy" (but especially in
the second chapter, entitled "The Nature and Measures of Value"), he
uniformly confounds the two ideas of a ground and a criterion of value
under a much greater variety of expressions than I have time to

_Phil_. But, admitting that Mr. Malthus has proceeded on the
misconception you state, what is the specific injury which has thence
resulted to Mr. Ricardo?

_X_. I am speaking at present of the uses to be derived from Mr.
Ricardo's principle of value. Now, if it had been proposed as a measure
of value, we might justly demand that it should be "ready and easy of
application," to adopt the words of Mr. Malthus ("Measure of Value," p.
54); but it is manifestly not so; for the quantity of labor employed in
producing A "could not in many cases" (as Mr. Malthus truly objects)
"be ascertained without considerable difficulty;" in most cases,
indeed, it could not be ascertained at all. A measure of value,
however, which cannot be practically applied, is worthless; as a
measure of value, therefore, Mr. Ricardo's law of value is worthless;
and if it had been offered as such by its author, the blame would have
settled on Mr. Ricardo; as it is, it settles on Mr. Malthus, who has
grounded an imaginary triumph on his own gross misconception. For Mr.
Ricardo never dreamed of offering a standard or fixed measure of value,
or of tolerating any pretended measure of that sort, by whomsoever

Thus much I have said for the sake of showing what is not the use of
Mr. Ricardo's principle in the design of its author; in order that he
may be no longer exposed to the false criticism of those who are
looking for what is not to be found, nor ought to be found, [Footnote:
At p. 36 of "The Measure of Value" (in the footnote), this
misconception as to Mr. Ricardo appears in a still grosser shape; for
not only does Mr. Malthus speak of a "concession" (as he calls it) of
Mr. Ricardo as being "quite fatal" to the notion of a standard of
value,--as though it were an object with Mr. Ricardo to establish such
a standard,--but this standard, moreover, is now represented as being
gold. And what objection does Mr. Malthus make to gold as a standard?
The identical objection which Mr. Ricardo had himself insisted on in
that very page of his third edition to which Mr. Malthus refers.] in
his work. On quitting this part of the subject, I shall just observe
that Mr. Malthus, in common with many others, attaches a most
unreasonable importance to the discovery of a measure of value. I
challenge any man to show that the great interests of Political Economy
have at all suffered for want of such a measure, which at best would
end in answering a few questions of unprofitable curiosity; whilst, on
the other hand, without a knowledge of the ground on which value
depends, or without some approximation to it, Political Economy could
not exist at all, except as a heap of baseless opinions.

_Phæd_. Now, then, having cleared away the imaginary uses of Mr.
Ricardo's principle, let us hear something of its real uses.

_X_. The most important of these I expressed in the last words I
uttered: _That_ without which a science cannot exist is commensurate in
use with the science itself; being the fundamental law, it will testify
its own importance in the changes which it will impress on all the
derivative laws. For the main use of Mr. Ricardo's principle, I refer
you therefore to all Political Economy. Meantime, I will notice here
the immediate services which it has rendered by liberating the student
from those perplexities which previously embarrassed him on his first
introduction to the science; I mention two cases by way of specimen.

1. When it was asked by the student what determined the value of all
commodities, it was answered that this value was chiefly determined by
wages. When again it was asked what determined wages, it was
recollected that wages must generally be adjusted to the value of the
commodities upon which they were spent; and the answer was in effect
that wages were determined by the value of commodities. And thus the
mind was entangled in this inextricable circle--that the price of
commodities was determined by wages, and wages determined by the price
of commodities. From this gross _Diallælos_ (as the logicians call
it), or see-saw, we are now liberated; for the first step, as we are
now aware, is false: the value of commodities is _not_ determined
by wages; since wages express the value of labor; and it has been
demonstrated that not the _value_ but the _quantity_ of labor
determines the value of its products.

2. A second case, in which Mr. Ricardo's law has introduced a
simplicity into the science which had in vain been sought for before,
is this: all former economists, in laying down the component parts of
price, had fancied it impossible to get rid of what is termed the
_raw material_ as one of its elements. This impossibility was
generally taken for granted: but an economist of our times, the late
Mr. Francis Horner, had (in the _Edinburgh Review_) expressly set
himself to prove it. "It is not true," said Mr. Horner, "that the thing
purchased in every bargain is merely so much labor: the value of the
raw material can neither be rejected as nothing, nor estimated as a
constant quantity." Now, this refractory element is at once, and in the
simplest way possible, exterminated by Mr. Ricardo's reformed law of
value. Upon the old system, if I had resolved the value of my hat into
wages and profits, I should immediately have been admonished that I had
forgotten one of the elements: "wages, profits, and raw material, you
mean," it would have been said. Raw material! Well, but on what
separate principle can this raw material be valued? or on what other
principle than that on which the hat itself was valued? Like any other
product of labor, its value is determined by the quantity of labor
employed in obtaining it; and the amount of this product is divided
between wages and profits as in any case of a manufactured commodity.
The raw material of the hat suppose to be beaver: if, then, in order to
take the quantity of beavers which are necessary to furnish materials
for a thousand hats, four men have been employed for twenty-five days,
then it appears that the raw material of a thousand hats has cost a
hundred days' labor, which will be of the same value in exchange as the
product of a hundred days' labor (previously equated and discounted as
to its _quality_) in any other direction; as, for example, if a
hundred days' labor would produce two thousand pairs of stockings of a
certain quality, then it follows that the raw material of my hat is
worth two pairs of such stockings. And thus it turns out that an
element of value (which Mr. Horner and thousands of others have
supposed to be of a distinct nature, and to resist all further
analysis) gives way before Mr. Ricardo's law, and is eliminated; an
admirable simplification, which is equal in merit and use to any of the
rules which have been devised, from time to time, for the resolution of
algebraic equations.

Here, then, in a hasty shape, I have offered two specimens of the uses
which arise from a better law of value; again reminding you, however,
that the main use must lie in the effect which it will impress on all
the other laws of Political Economy. And reverting for one moment,
before we part, to the difficulty of Philebus about the difference
between this principle as a _principium cognoscendi_ or measure,
and a _principium essendi_ or determining ground, let me desire
you to consider these two _essential_ marks of distinction: 1.
that by all respectable economists any true measure of value has been
doubted or denied as a possibility: but no man can doubt the existence
of a ground of value; 2. that a measure is posterior to the value; for,
before a value can be measured or estimated, it must exist: but a
ground of value must be antecedent to the value, like any other cause
to its effect.

* * * * *



_X_. The two most eminent economists [Footnote: The reader must
continue to remember that this paper was written in 1824.] who have
opposed the Ricardian doctrines are Mr. Malthus and Colonel Torrens. In
the spring of 1820 Mr. Malthus published his "Principles of Political
Economy," much of which was an attack upon Mr. Ricardo; and the entire
second chapter of eighty-three pages, "On the Nature and Measures of
Value," was one continued attempt to overthrow Mr. Ricardo's theory of
value. Three years afterwards he published a second attack on the same
theory in a distinct essay of eighty-one pages, entitled, "The Measure
of Value Stated and Illustrated." In this latter work, amongst other
arguments, he has relied upon one in particular, which he has chosen to
exhibit in the form of a table. As it is of the last importance to
Political Economy that this question should be settled, I will shrink
from nothing that wears the semblance of an argument: and I will now
examine this table; and will show that the whole of the inferences
contained in the seventh, eighth, and ninth columns are founded on a
gross blunder in the fifth and sixth; every number in which columns is
falsely assigned.


(From p. 38 of "The Measure of Value Stated and Illustrated." London:

N. B.--The sole change which has been made in this reprint of the
original Table is the assigning of names (_Alpha, Beta_, etc.) to
the several cases, for the purpose of easier reference and distinction.

CASE. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Alpha... 150 12 120 25 8 2 10 8.33 12.5
Beta.... 150 13 130 15.38 8.66 1.34 10 7.7 11.53
Gamma... 150 10 100 50 6.6 3.4 10 10 15
Delta... 140 12 120 16.66 8.6 1.4 10 7.14* 11.6
Epsilon. 140 11 110 27.2 7.85 2.15 10 9.09 12.7
Zeta.... 130 12 120 8.3 9.23 0.77 10 8.33 10.8
Eta..... 130 10 100 30 7.7 2.3 10 10 13
Theta... 120 11 110 9 9.17 0.83 10 9.09 10.9
Iota.... 120 10 100 20 8.33 1.67 10 10 12
Kappa... 110 10 100 10 9.09 0.91 10 10 11
Lambda.. 110 9 90 22.2 8.18 1.82 10 11.1 12.2
My...... 100 9 90 11.1 9 1 10 11.1 11.1
Ny...... 100 8 80 25 8 2 10 12.5 12.5
Xi...... 90 8 80 12.5 8.88 1.12 10 12.5 11.25

1.--Quarters of Corn produced by Ten Men.
2.--Yearly Corn Wages to each Laborer.
3.--Yearly Corn Wages of the whole Ten Men.
4.--Rate of Profits under the foregoing Circumstances.
5.--Quantity of Labor required to produce the Wages of Ten Men.
6.--Quantity of Profits on the Advance of Labor.
7.--Invariable Value of the Wages of a given Number of Men.
8.--Value of 100 Quarters of Corn under the varying
Circumstances supposed.
9.--Value of the Product of the Labor of Ten Men under the
Circumstances supposed.

[Footnote: *This is an oversight on the part of Mr. Malthus, and not an
error of the press; for 7.14 would be the value of the 100 quarters on
the supposition that the entire product of the ten men (namely, 140
quarters) went to wages; but the wages in this case (Delta) being 120
quarters, the true value on the principle of this table is manifestly


_Phæd_. Now, X., you know that I abhor arithmetical calculations;
besides which, I have no faith in any propositions of a political
economist which he cannot make out readily without all this elaborate
machinery of tables and figures. Under these circumstances, I put it to
you, as a man of feeling, whether you ought to inflict upon me this
alarming pile of computations; which, by your gloomy countenance, I see
that you are meditating.

_X_. Stop, recollect yourself: not I it is, remember, that impose
this elaborate "table" upon you, but Mr. Malthus. The yoke is his. I am
the man sent by Providence to lighten this yoke. Surrender yourself,
therefore, to my guidance, Phædrus, and I will lead you over the hill
by so easy a road that you shall never know you have been climbing. You
see that there are nine columns; _that_, I suppose, does not pass
your skill in arithmetic. Now, then, to simplify the matter, begin by
dismissing from your attention every column but the first and the last;
fancy all the rest obliterated.

_Phæd_. Most willingly; it is a heavenly fancy.

_X_. Next look into the first column, and tell me what you see

_Phæd_. I see "lots" of 150s and 140s, and other ill-looking
people of the same description.

_X_. Well, these numbers express the products of the same labor on
land of different qualities. The quantity of labor is assumed to be
always the same; namely, the labor of ten men for a year (or one man
for ten years, or twenty men for half a year, etc.). The producing
labor, I say, is always the same; but the product is constantly
varying. Thus, in the case Alpha the product is one hundred and fifty
quarters; in the cases Delta and Epsilon, when cultivation has been
compelled by increasing population to descend upon inferior land, the
product of equal labor is no more than one hundred and forty quarters;
and in the case Iota it has fallen to one hundred and twenty quarters.
Now, upon Mr. Ricardo's principle of valuation, I demand to know what
ought to be the price of these several products which vary so much in

_Phæd_. Why, since they are all the products of the same quantity
of labor, they ought all to sell for the same price.

_X_. Doubtless; not, however, of necessity for the same money
price, since money may itself have varied, in which case the same money
price would be really a very different price; but for the same price in
all things which have _not_ varied in value. The Xi product,
therefore, which is only ninety quarters, will fetch the same real
price as the Alpha or Gamma products, which are one hundred and fifty.
But, by the way, in saying this, let me caution you against making the
false inference that corn is at the same price in the case Xi as in the
case Alpha or Gamma; for the inference is the very opposite; since, if
ninety quarters cost as much as one hundred and fifty, then each
individual quarter of the ninety costs a great deal more. Thus, suppose
that the Alpha product sold at four pounds a quarter, the price of the
whole would be six hundred pounds. Six hundred pounds, therefore, must
be the price of Xi, or the ninety quarters; but _that_ is six
pounds, thirteen shillings, four pence, a quarter. This ought to be a
needless caution; yet I have known economists of great name stand much
in need of it.

_Phæd_. I am sure _I_ stand in need of it, and of all sort of
assistance, for I am "ill at these numbers." But let us go on; what you
require my assent to, I understand to be this: that all the different
quantities of corn expressed in the first column will be of the same
value, because they are all alike the product of ten men's labor. To
this I _do_ assent; and what next? Does anybody deny it?

_X_. Yes, Mr. Malthus: he asserts that the value will not be
always the same; and the purpose of the ninth column is to assign the
true values; which, by looking into that column, you may perceive to be
constantly varying: the value of Alpha, for instance, is twelve and
five tenths; the value of Epsilon is twelve and seven tenths; of Iota,
twelve; and of Xi, eleven and twenty-five one-hundredths.

_Phæd_. But of what? Twelve and five tenths of what?

_X_. Of anything which, though variable, has in fact happened to
be stationary in value; or, if you choose, of anything which is not
variable in value.

_Phæd_. Not variable! But there is no such thing.

_X_. No! Mr. Malthus, however, says there is; labor, he asserts,
is of unalterable value.

_Phæd_. What! does he mean to say, then, that the laborer always
obtains the same wages?

_X_. Yes, the same real wages; all differences being only apparently in
the wages, but really in the commodity in which the wages are paid. Let
that commodity be wheat; then, if the laborer receives ten quarters of
wheat in 1800, and nine in 1820, that would imply only that wheat was
about eleven per cent, dearer in the latter year. Or let money be that
commodity; then, if the laborer receives this century two shillings,
and next century three shillings, this simply argues that money has
fallen in value by fifty per cent.

_Phæd_. Why, so it may; and the whole difference in wages may have
arisen in that way, and be only apparent. But, then, it may also have
arisen from a change in the _real_ value of wages; that is, on the
Ricardian principle, in the quantity of labor necessary to produce
wages. And this latter must have been the nature of the change, if
Alpha, Iota, Xi, etc., should be found to purchase more labor; in which
case Mr. Ricardo's doctrine is not disturbed; for he will say that Iota
in 1700 exchanges for twelve, and Kappa in 1800 for eleven, not because
Kappa has fallen in that proportion (for Kappa, being the product of
the same labor as Iota, _cannot_ fall below the value of Iota),
but because the commodity for which they are exchanged has risen in
that proportion.

_X_. He will; but Mr. Malthus attempts to bar that answer in this
case, by alleging that it is impossible for the commodity in question
(namely, labor) to rise or to fall in that or in any other proportion.
If, then, the change cannot be in the labor, it must be in Alpha, Beta,
etc.; in which case Mr. Ricardo will be overthrown; for they are the
products of the same quantity of labor, and yet have not retained the
same value.

_Phæd_. But, to bar Mr. Ricardo's answer, Mr. Malthus must not
allege this merely; he must prove it.

_X_. To be sure; and the first seven columns of this table are
designed to prove it. Now, then, we have done with the ninth column,
and also with the eighth; for they are both mere corollaries from all
the rest, and linked together under the plain rule of three. Dismiss
these altogether; and we will now come to the argument.


The table is now reduced to seven columns, and the logic of it is this:
the four first columns express the conditions under which the three
following ones are deduced as consequences; and they are to be read
thus, taking the case Alpha by way of example: Suppose that (by
_column one_) the land cultivated is of such a quality that ten
laborers produce me one hundred and fifty quarters of corn; and that
(by _column two_) each laborer receives for his own wages twelve
quarters; in which case (by _column three_) the whole ten receive
one hundred and twenty quarters; and thus (by _column four_) leave
me for my profit thirty quarters out of all that they have produced;
that is, twenty-five per cent. Under these conditions, I insist (says
Mr. Malthus) that the wages of ten men, as stated in column three, let
them be produced by little labor or much labor, shall never exceed or
fall below one invariable value expressed in column seven; and,
accordingly, by looking down that column, you will perceive one uniform
valuation of 10. Upon this statement, it is manifest that the whole
force of the logic turns upon the accuracy with which column three is
valued in column seven. If that valuation be correct, then it follows
that, under all changes in the quantity of labor which produces them,
wages never alter in real value; in other words, the value of labor is

_Phæd_. But of course you deny that the valuation is correct?

_X_. I do, Phædrus; the valuation is wrong, even on Mr. Malthus'
or any other man's principles, in every instance; the value is not
truly assigned in a single case of the whole fourteen. For how does Mr.
Malthus obtain this invariable value of ten? He resolves the value of
the wages expressed in column three into two parts; one of which, under
the name "_labor_," he assigns in column five; the other, under
the name "_profits_," he assigns in column six; and column seven
expresses the sum of these two parts; which are always kept equal to
ten by always compensating each other's excesses and defects. Hence,
Phædrus, you see that--as column seven simply expresses the sum of
columns five and six--if those columns are right, column seven cannot
be wrong. Consequently, it is in columns five and six that we are to
look for the root of the error; which is indeed a very gross one.

_Phil_. Why, now, for instance, take the case Alpha, and what is
the error you detect in that?

_X_. Simply, this--that in column five, instead of eight, the true
value is 6.4; and in column six, instead of two, the true value is 1.6;
the sum of which values is not ten, but eight; and that is the figure
which should have stood in column seven.

_Phil_. How so, X.? In column five Mr. Malthus undertakes to
assign the quantity of labor necessary (under the conditions of the
particular case) to produce the wages expressed in column three, which
in this case Alpha are one hundred and twenty quarters. Now, you cannot
deny that he has assigned it truly; for, when ten men produce one
hundred and fifty (by column one)--that is, each man fifteen--it must
require eight to produce one hundred and twenty; for one hundred and
twenty is eight times fifteen. Six men and four tenths of a man, the
number you would substitute, could produce only ninety-six quarters.

_X_. Very true, Philebus; eight men are necessary to produce the
one hundred and twenty quarters expressed in column three. And now
answer me: what part of their own product will these eight producers
deduct for their own wages?

_Phil_. Why (by column two), each man's wages in this case are
twelve quarters; therefore the wages of the eight men will be ninety-
six quarters.

_X_. And what quantity of labor will be necessary to produce these
ninety-six quarters?

_Phil_. Each man producing fifteen, it will require six men's
labor, and four tenths of another man's labor.

_X_. Very well; 6.4 of the eight are employed in producing the
wages of the whole eight. Now tell me, Philebus, what more than their
own wages do the whole eight produce?

_Phil_. Why, as they produce in all one hundred and twenty
quarters, and their own deduction is ninety-six, it is clear that they
produce twenty-four quarters besides their own wages.

_X_. And to whom do these twenty-four quarters go?

_Phil_. To their employer, for his profit.

_X_. Yes; and it answers the condition expressed in column four;
for a profit of twenty-four quarters on ninety-six is exactly twenty-
five per cent. But to go on--you have acknowledged that the ninety-six
quarters for wages would be produced by the labor of 6.4 men. Now, how
much labor will be required to produce the remaining twenty-four
quarters for profits?

_Phil_. Because fifteen quarters require the labor of one man (by
column one), twenty-four will require the labor of 1.6.

_X_. Right; and thus, Philebus, you have acknowledged all I wish.
The object of Mr. Malthus is to ascertain the cost in labor of
producing ten men's wages (or one hundred and twenty quarters) under
the conditions of this case Alpha. The cost resolves itself, even on
Mr. Malthus' principles, into so much wages to the laborers, and so
much profit to their employer. Now, you or I will undertake to furnish
Mr. Malthus the one hundred and twenty quarters, not (as he says) at a
cost of ten men's labor (for at that cost we could produce him one
hundred and fifty quarters by column one), but at a cost of eight. For
six men and four tenths will produce the whole wages of the eight
producers; and one man and six tenths will produce our profit of
twenty-five per cent.

_Phæd_. The mistake, then, of Mr. Malthus, if I understand it, is
egregious. In column five he estimates the labor necessary to produce
the entire one hundred and twenty quarters--which, he says, is the
labor of eight men; and so it is, if he means by labor what produces
both wages and profits; otherwise, not. Of necessity, therefore, he has
assigned the value both of wages and profits in column five. Yet in
column six he gravely proceeds to estimate profits a second time.

_X_. Yes; and, what is still worse, in estimating these profits a
second time over, he estimates them on the whole one hundred and
twenty; that is, he allows for a second profit of thirty quarters; else
it could not cost two men's labor (as by his valuation it does); for
each man in the case Alpha produces fifteen quarters. Now, thirty
quarters added to one hundred and twenty, are one hundred and fifty.
But this is the _product_ of ten men, and not the _wages_ of
ten men; which is the amount offered for valuation in column three, and
which is all that column seven professes to have valued.


_Phæd_. I am satisfied, X. But Philebus seems perplexed. Make all
clear, therefore, by demonstrating the same result in some other way.
With your adroitness, it can cost you no trouble to treat us with a
little display of dialectical skirmishing. Show us a specimen of
manoeuvring; enfilade him; take him in front and rear; and do it
rapidly, and with a light-horseman's elegance.

_X_. If you wish for variations, it is easy to give them. In the
first argument, what I depended on was this--that the valuation was
inaccurate. Now, then, _secondly_, suppose the valuation to be
accurate, in this case we must still disallow it to Mr. Malthus; for,
in columns five and six, he values by the quantity of producing labor;
but that is the Ricardian principle of valuation, which is the very
principle that he writes to overthrow.

_Phæd_. This may seem a good _quoad hominem_ argument. Yet
surely any man may use the principle of his antagonist, in order to
extort a particular result from it? _X_. He may; but in that case
will the result be true, or will it not be true?

_Phæd_. If he denies the principle, he is bound to think the
result not true; and he uses it as a _reductio ad absurdum_.

_X_. Right; but now in this case Mr. Malthus presents the result
as a truth.

_Phil_. Yes, X.; but observe, the result is the direct
contradiction of Mr. Ricardo's result. The quantities of column first
vary in value by column the last; but the result, in Mr. Ricardo's
hands, is--that they do not vary in value.

_X_. Still, if in Mr. Malthus' hands the principle is made to
yield a truth, then at any rate the principle is itself true; and all
that will be proved against Mr. Ricardo is, that he applied a sound
principle unskilfully. But Mr. Malthus writes a book to prove that the
principle is _not_ sound.

_Phæd_. Yes, and to substitute another.

_X_. True; which other, I go on _thirdly_ to say, is actually
employed in this table. On which account it is fair to say that Mr.
Malthus is a _third_ time refuted. For, if two inconsistent
principles of valuation be employed, then the table will be vicious,
because heteronymous.

_Phil_. _Negatur minor._

_X_. I prove the minor (namely, that two inconsistent principles
_are_ employed) by column the ninth; and thence, also, I deduct a
_fourth_ and a _fifth_ refutation of the table.

_Phæd_. _Euge!_ Now, this is a pleasant skirmishing.

_X_. For, in column the last, I say that the principle of
valuation employed is different from that employed in columns five and
six. Upon which I offer you this dilemma: it is--or it is not; choose.

_Phil_. Suppose I say, it is?

_X_. In that case, the result of this table is a case of _idem
per idem_; a pure childish tautology.

_Phil_. Suppose I say, it is not?

_X_. In that case, the result of this table is false.

_Phil_. Demonstrate.

_X_. I say, that the principle of valuation employed in column
nine is, not the quantity of _producing_ labor, but the quantity
of labor _commanded_. Now, if it is, then the result is childish
tautology, as being identical with the premises. For it is already
introduced into the premises as one of the conditions of the case Alpha
(namely, into column two), that twelve quarters of corn shall command
the labor of one man; which being premised, it is a mere variety of
expression for the very same fact to tell us, in column nine, that the
one hundred and fifty quarters of column the first shall command twelve
men and five tenths of a man; for one hundred and forty-four, being
twelve times twelve, will of course command twelve men, and the
remainder of six quarters will of course command the half of a man. And
it is most idle to employ the elaborate machinery of nine columns to
deduce, as a learned result, what you have already put into the
premises, and postulated amongst the conditions.

_Phæd_. This will, therefore, destroy Mr. Malthus' theory a fourth

_X_. Then, on the other hand, if the principle of valuation
employed in column nine is the same as that employed in columns five
and six, this principle must be the quantity of producing labor, and
not the quantity of labor commanded. But, in that case, the result will
be false. For column nine values column the first. Now, if the one
hundred and fifty quarters of case Alpha are truly valued in column
first, then they are falsely valued in column the last; and, if truly
valued in column the last, then falsely valued in column the first.
For, by column the last, the one hundred and fifty quarters are
produced by the labor of twelve and a half men; but it is the very
condition of column the first, that the one hundred and fifty quarters
are produced by ten men.

_Phæd_. (Laughing). This is too hot to last. Here we have a fifth
refutation. Can't you give us a sixth, X.?

_X_. If you please. Supposing Mr. Malthus' theory to be good, it
shall be impossible for anything whatsoever at any time to vary in
value. For how shall it vary? Because the _quantity_ of producing
labor varies? But _that_ is the very principle which he is writing
to overthrow. Shall it vary, then, because the _value_ of the
producing labor varies? But _that_ is impossible on the system of
Mr. Malthus; for, according to this system, the value of labor is

_Phil_. Stop! I've thought of a dodge. The thing shall vary
because the _quantity_ of labor commanded shall vary.

_X_. But how shall _that_ vary? A can never command a greater
quantity of labor, or of anything which is presumed to be of invariable
value, until A itself be of a higher value. To command an altered
quantity of labor, which (_on any theory_) must be the _consequence_
of altered value, can never be the _cause_ of altered value. No
alterations of labor, therefore, whether as to quantity or value,
shall ever account for the altered value of A; for, according to Mr.
Malthus, they are either insufficient on the one hand, or impossible
on the other.

_Phil_. Grant this, yet value may still vary; for suppose labor to
be invariable, still profits may vary.

_X_. So that, if A rise, it will irresistibly argue profits to
have risen?

_Phil_. It will; because no other element _can_ have risen.

_X_. But now column eight assigns the value of a uniform quantity
of corn--namely, one hundred quarters. In case Alpha, one hundred
quarters are worth 8.33. What are one hundred quarters worth in the
case Iota?

_Phil_. They are worth ten.

_X_. And _that_ is clearly more. Now, if A have risen, by
your own admission I am entitled to infer that profits have risen: but
what are profits in the case Iota?

_Phil_. By column four they are twenty per cent.

_X_. And what in the case Alpha?

_Phil_. By column four, twenty-five per cent.

_X_. Then profits have fallen in the case Iota, but, because
_L_ has risen in case Iota from 8.33 to ten, it is an irresistible
inference, on your theory, that profits ought to have risen.

_Phæd. (Laughing)_. Philebus, this is a sharp practice; go on, X.,
and skirmish with him a little more in this voltigeur style.

N.B.--With respect to "The Templars' Dialogues," it may possibly be
complained, that this paper is in some measure a fragment. My answer
is, that, although fragmentary in relation to the entire _system_
of Ricardo, and that previous _system_ which he opposed, it is no
fragment in relation to the radical _principle_ concerned in those
systems. The conflicting systems are brought under review simply at the
_locus_ of collision: just as the reader may have seen the
chemical theory of Dr. Priestley, and the counter-theory of his anti-
phlogistic opponents, stated within the limits of a single page. If the
principle relied on by either party can be shown to lead into
inextricable self-contradiction, _that_ is enough. So much is
accomplished in that case as was proposed from the beginning--namely,
not to exhaust the _positive_ elements of this system or that, but
simply to settle the central logic of their several polemics; to
settle, in fact, not the matter of what is evolved, but simply the
principle of evolution.

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