Page:Essays on Political Economy (Bastiat).djvu/209

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Thus the chemist sacrifices some substances, the agriculturist some seed and a corner of his field, to make trial of an idea.

But, then, think of the immeasurable distance between the gardener and his trees, between the inventor and his machine, between the chemist and his substances, between the agriculturist and his seed! The Socialist thinks, in all sincerity, that there is the same distance between himself and mankind.

It is not to be wondered at that the politicians of the nineteenth century look upon society as an artificial production of the legislator's genius. This idea, the result of a classical education, has taken possession of all the thinkers and great writers of our country.

To all these persons, the relations between mankind and the legislator appear to be the same as those which exist between the clay and the potter.

Moreover, if they have consented to recognise in the heart of man a principle of action, and in his intellect a principle of discernment, they have looked upon this gift of God as a fatal one, and thought that mankind, under these two impulses, tended fatally towards ruin. They have taken it for granted, that if abandoned to their own inclinations, men would only occupy themselves with religion to arrive at atheism, with instruction to come to ignorance, and with labour and exchange to be extinguished in misery.

Happily, according to these writers, there are