given to a really practical question. If a man's business pays
him, well — it pays him, and that is his chief concern.
To your " scientific " economist, however, this eminently
practical reply is so utterly opposed to all the canons of
economics as to evoke profound pity and contempt for the
foggy perversity of the bucolic mind, and there the matter
ends as between the practical agriculturist and the theoretical
Economic Science Tested by its own Fallacies
Let us, however, draw a parallel between agriculture and
the manufacturing industries, as a further illustration.
It is not for a moment supposed, except by the unin-
itiated, that every line of goods that a manufacturer makes is
exceedingly profitable, or — equally profitable.
Questioned on the point, he will frankly tell you that this
particular line is more profitable than that ; that some goods
hardly pay to make, and that, in one or two instances, he is,
owing to excessive local competition, cheap imitations, or other
causes, really working at no profit, or even at a slight loss.
Asked why he does not give up producing goods that do not
pay and he will tell you that the nature of his business would
not admit of his doing so, many of his customers being buyers
of at least half a dozen of the lines of goods he is in the habit
of making, and that, taking one thing with another, it pays
him to go on manufacturing the more or less unprofitable lines.
TUE FAf.LAClES OP ECONOMIC SCIENCE 211
He would then .add: "T have to look at the j:,'eneral result of
the business rather than to uniform proHts on individual lines.
I would, of course, prefer that everything I manufacture should
produce equally good profit, but, as this is impossible in business,
I can only look to the result in the aggregate ; if iJiat is satis-
factory, I have good reason to conclude that my business pays
me on the whole."
The Plain Facts about Economic Science
Wlien we get down to the substratum of fact which
underlies this, as all other things in life, the simple truth is
that much "science" remains inoperative, and therefore —
useless, liecause of its inapplicability to the domestic require-
ments of the everyday life of the people. No sane man,
knowing the enormous benefits that Science has bestowed
upon the human race, would be foolish enough to carp and
sneer at her marvellous achievements, particularly so as much
scientific discovery has been practically applied to the needs of
mankind. On the other hand, it will be as freely admitted
that the quality of " science " which is unpractical is but a
waste product of the human brain, and therefore — useless.
No rational man is inclined to cavil at the science of
Economics, much benefit having been derived from its appli-
cation to human affairs, Ijut few men would admit of its
applicability to every item in the domestic economy of the
Cobden, following the teaching of Adam Smith, said that
wc ought " to buy in the cheapest market and sell in the
dearest ; " and so we ought, in every case where so excellent
a commercial principle can be practically applied, 1)ut like so
many other fascinating objects which we constantly come across
in this world, we find that this attractive morsel in the menu
of our domestic lives, although bearing the semblance of an
" economic " law, is in reality not possible of universal applica-
tion, because — as has been shown in other chapters — the first
cost of an article does not necessarily include other costs which,
when added to the original amount paid, renders first cost much
greater than was ever intended. Shortly, although the principle
is theoretically sound, it is practically impossible, and Adam
Smith's famous dictum thus becomes a mere adage and not
a — law.
"Science," "Laws," and "Doctrines" are useful and bene-
ficial up to a certain point, but if we attempt to apply them
with arlntrary rigidity to every one of our life's affairs, we shall
couie to grief.
21 2 BRITAIN FOR THl':^ BRITOJ?
Tlic Laws of Motion, lor example, although essential and
applicable to the vast, complicated economy of the physical
luuverse, could not be applied effectually to a drunken man
who prefers to lie prone in the gutter rather than maintain
his natural e(|uilibrium. In this case they would, therefore,
remain — inoperative.
Xor would your most learned professor bo bold enough to
assert that a bird must not, should not, or does not know how
to fly, because some " scientists " assert that he flies against all
the laws of mechanics.
The minds of many great thinkers are so impregnated with
ligures and symbols, with algebraic signs and scientiflc formulie,
that they become utterly subordinate to their influence.
The " Exact " Sciences evex Fraudulent
In illustration of this well-known fact, a very amusing, yet
liighly instructive article appeared in the Dailij Express of
April, 1U08, entitled "The Fraud of Mathematics." The
writer * said : —
"AVhen you meet a mathematician, and find that his miud is
utterly subordinate to figures and symbols, that lie explains Nature
by numerical values, reduces a sunset to a, h, and ,r, takes no
account of human or other susceptibilities, but works out everything
by a rigid order of thought— though you know that Nature is
never rigid, that no two waves are ever the same — yet, because
you are ballied, you may even think you ought to admire the
'• But when somebody who does understand the higher mathe-
matics comes over to your side, and roundly declares that they arc a
fraud and a delusion, and that algebra ought to be abolished as a
mighty hindrance to thought — then you may whoop iu joy and
fearlessly shake a fist in a Senior Wrangler's face."
He then goes on to tell his readers that one of our Scientists,
Mr. Frederick Hovendeu, has a ])rofound contempt for what he
calls " Educated Ignorance." This is what he says —
" ' Eighty per cent, of human sufl"ering and misery,' he said to
me gravely, ' arises from ignorance, especially from that most terrible
form of ignorance — educated ignorance due to false education.' "
" Here are some of the things that can be done by algebra :
Something can be subtracted from nothing ; something can be
subtracted from something h^df a time to produce two somethings ;
something can be added to something half a time to produce lialf a
* " The Fraud of Mathematics," Mr. Llarcus Woodford ; Daily Expresn
April 0, rJ08.
THE FALLACIES OF ECONOMIC SCIENCE 213
sometliing ; uothiajj; can be subtracted no times from notliinfr to
produce any number of somethings ; while under cerfciin mathe-
matical conditions algebra Bays that addition is the same as
subtraction, and tliat something can lie niultii»lied by or into itself."
" Fancy multiplying a line into a line to produce an area, or
multiplying an area into a line to produce a cube. It is impossible
physically ; but it is possil)le in higher mathematics."
Such men as are here referred to, although possessing minds
of transcendent power and ability, are, so far as many of life's
affairs are concerned, of an exceedingly impracticable nature.
In respect to the highly important item of dietetics, for
example, your learned professor is, as a rule, proverbially
careless, despite the fact that suitable food and the proper
nutrition of the body are, after all, the most important factors
in our physical being.
He does not know, for exaniple, that a pound of Dutch
cheese contains two and a half times the amount of nutriment
that beef does, and that all kinds of nuts contain nearly three
and a half times as much, and that both form better fuel fur
the human machine than does the time-honoured beef.
"The people owe a deep debt of gratitude to their scientistr;,
philosophists, and thinkers ; to that splendid array of cultured
men and women who have given to the world all that is useful,
noble, and uplifting : and we stand in admiration and almost in awe
at the mighty deeds they have done, and we wonder at the greatness
of their intellectual power. l>ut beliind all this transcendent learn-
ing, these great ones of the earth are, in many cases, mere tyros in
the matter of feeding ; mere babes in knowledge and of no wisdom
"AVbat, then, is the use of that marvellous inventive genius of
the age which has strewn the world with such wondrous shapes and
devices for man's comfort and enjoyment, if the inventor himself
remain ignorant of the iirst principles of life, ignorant of that
fundamental truth upon which his own body is built up, and
which it is absolutely essential he should know." t
"Science" of Little Use in Domestic Economy
At any rate it will be patent enough, at least to the
majority of people, that men who are capable of multiplying
a line into a line to produce au area, or, in other words, of
performing — on paper — a -physical impoasihiUt ji , might con-
ceivably not be quite the sort of people to apply t<» in order
* " Errors in Eating," Sir W. E. Cooler, pp. 37, 38.,
t Ibid., p. 37.
214 BRITAIN FOR THE BRITON
to decide the question as to whether it would be better all
round, and generally more economical, to cultivate one's garden
patch or leave it lying waste. Surely such men would be aljle
to prove by all the laws of science, and notably by the science
of economics, wliich is by no means an " exact " science, that
to grow your own spring onions and your new potatoes, or to
produce early cabbages and new peas, when you can buy
foreign importations cheaper from the costermongers' barrows,
would be to fly in the face of all the laws of political economy.
Your cottager may be utterly confounded by the man of
science who reduces everything in life to a^ h, and x, and
expounds every question by algebraic jargon, or by what is
called the laws of economics, which are as mutable as sand,
but he goes on cultivating his garden plot all the same, despite
the pessimism of the learned scientist.
Leave Nature alone to work out her own problems and we
shall find that, if we are capable of understanding her ways,
she never errs, and the application of li&r laws, therefore, to
man's needs are invariably the best and most economic, because
in obeying the laws of Nature we are but conforming to the
laws of natural science, which know neither change nor brook
It is as natural for a man to cultivate the soil as it is for
the duck to take to water ; and if we interfere with the opera-
tion of natural laws we shall as surely suffer in the long run
as does the man who derides and sets at naught the laws which
protect society from depredation and outrage.
The problem which the British people have to solve is of
the simplest possible nature, and, provided they set about it
in a direct, matter-of-fact manner, they will experience no
difficulty in its solution. The question is simply — 'wluther or
'no they shall cuUicate their garden ^mtch ?
Tlie best way to answer the question is — by cultivating it.
This is the direct common-sense way, and tlie only practical
Economic Science a Dam — Plow to Eemove it
When a mountain slide takes place and dams up the river
at the bottom of the valley we do not invoke tlie aid of your
learned professors of this 'ology or the other, nor do we ask
your political economist to determine by the " laws," so called,
of economic science whether it would be better to leave the
dam as it is ; on the contrary, we know that the landslip has
interfered with the natural tiow of the river, and we take our
picks and shovels and set the river free.
THE FALLACIES OF ECONOMIC SCIEXCE 215
This is the only practical way to take with the great land
industry ; a ])olitical slip took place over half a century ago
which impeded the natural ilow of tlie tide of agriculture, and
the only way to effectually deal with the matter is to — remove
It is regrettahle that in all these years we have never tried
to remove the dam, hut rather to explain and justify its exist-
ence. We deliheratoly huilt up a great harrier against the
natural flow and development of agriculture, and thus interfered
with the operations of a natural law ; and, instead of frankly
recognising our error and remedying the evil by removing the
obstacle, we have foolishly, ever since, been invoking the aid
of economic science to justify our position, i'or all the good
it has done we might as well have trusted to the old cabalistic
Abracadabra of the ancients.
The simple task before the British people is, then, to
cultivate the land in the same simple manner tliat the peoples
of all other countries in the world cultivate their lands.
In agriculture, as in all other industries, where a number
of things are either manufactured or grown, you cannot always
pick and choose your way. In business you must take the
good with the bad, the profitable with the unprofitable ; if it
were otherwise it follows that every person engaged in business
would become exceedingly well-oif, if not vastly rich, and, in
many cases, disproportionately so in comparison with the
How Manufacturers remove the Dam of Economic
Your coal manufacturer, your woollen and cotton goods
manufacturer, your furniture makers and the rest of them,
who turn out many lines of goods, will all tell you they make
more profit on some lines and less on others, while some hardly
pay at all ; and your railway managers will tell you that third-
class passenger traffic pays better than first, yet they are
obliged to maintain the latter. In every industry in the
world it is the same, some things pay better than others, but
all must be carried on together — heeausc they arc i/i separable.
Because the land plays a more important part in the
economy of human life than anytliing else, it necessarily offers
a wider scope for the vagaries of political economists than
manufactures or other industries ; and we should therefore
be exceedingly circumspect in regard to many of the con-
clusions arrived at by economists, because political economy.
216 BRITAIN FOR THE P.RITON
not being one of the " exact " sciences, is necessarily not exact
in its conclusions.
At any rate, practical agriculture demonstrates by the
simple process of putting down in CJreat Britain an average,
in round numbers, of 1,000,000 acres under wlieat each year,
out of a total area under corn crops of 6,900,000 acres, that
it does pay to grow wheat, or that wheat pays, grown in
conjunction with other things.
This being so, it is equally clear that he or they — scientists
or non-scientists — who declare that it is flying against all
the laws of " scientific " economy to grow wheat under such
"unscientific" conditions, are but advancing an untenable
proposition instead of demonstrating an ascertained fact. It
may be taken for granted that agriculturists know more of
such matters than the political economist who has never
turned a furrow or sown a seed, and it would be better for
the latter to leave farmers to look after their own affairs than
to teach them a science which, while not being exact, is
necessarilv — faUacioiis.
DISCOURAGERS AND PESSIMISTS — THE PART THEY PLAY
IN THE AGRICUETURAL QUESTION — UNDER SIMILAR
CONDITIONS, AGRICULTURE CAN RE AS SUCCESSFUL
^Iany misconceptions still exist in the minds of most people
in respect to British agriculture being a possible industry.
These misconceptions exist because there are all sorts of
bizarre notions in respect to this great primal industry, the
inevitable outcome of environing it with unhealthy and, there-
fore, unnatural conditions.
Many people have become veritable pessimists and dis-
couragers in all matters pertaining to agriculture, and the
harm they do is not lessened because of their real belief in
the hopelessness of the industry tliey condemn.
What many People think of AoiHCULTUPtE
Some tliink that the industry is hopeless because of the
general desire on the part of the rural population to get what
is called " a good time."
The people want more amusement, it is said ; they like
the cheap restaurants, the cocoa-rooms, the public-house and
the music halls, the busy thoroughfares, the glitter of shops
and the well-lighted streets. Tliey want more excitement
than they get in the countv}', and rural folk are, therefore,
well content to cliange the dull village life for the superior
attractions of a bustling town.
Others conteiul that tlie spread of education has made the
village lads and maidens discontented with the ordinary sur-
roundings of countiy life and its dull setting of colourless
background, and that they pine to break away from it all and
find an outlet for their new-born ambitions in other directions
•218 BRITAIN FOR THE BRITON
where these natural aspirations for advancement will find full
" Why should our young people be kept back in the race of
life ? " it is asked. Education has opened their eyes to life's
possibilities, they contend, and it is but right and proper that
they should gravitate to the towns, and there find those freer
facilities for improving their conditions of life, which are more
likely to be met with in the great centres of population.
Then there is the school whicli contends that the land is
hopeless as an industry because it does not pay, and that you
cannot expect people to grind out their lives amid dull sur-
roundings, in hard dreary toil, without being able to make a
decent living. " Why should they ? " they ask ; " and how can
you expect any man to devote his life to any calling out of
which he is not likely to make a fairly good living ? "
Then come those who ridicule the " Back to the Land "
cry, and contentl that the vast majority of the people would
rather 'lud go Ijack to the land, and that, if they did, they
would be sure to make a mess of it.
" How can you expect a city clerk and a girl typist, for
example, to take on a small farm and conduct it to a successful
issue ? " they say ; and to unthinking, uncritical minds this does
seem to be somewliat of a problem. First appearances are,
however, proverbially deceptive, and, like many things, this
question will assume other aspects on clear examination.
Nor should we overlook that well-known section of the
community which belongs to the school of " experts," who love
to demonstrate by all the laws of this, that, and the other, that
British agriculture is impossible, and that the land is practically
a negligible quantity.
The Batteries of Science and Agriculture
Among this group may be found professors of political
economy and other cults, who will prove by all the laws of
science, and by every other conceivable ism that can be called
to their aid, tliat it is cheaper to import your wheat from the
far off plains of Western Australia, or from the remote Xorthern
Provinces of Canada, than to grow it at your own doors. This
school is well armed with all the up-to-date weapons of polemical
warfare, and when it charges its guns with deductive and
inductive logic, and those terrible figures which prove anything
or nothing, and trains them on the public mind, the people
succumb at once.
The ordinary " man-in-the-street " can no more stand against
a well-directed fire from the statistical batteries of political
DISCOURAGERS AND PESSIMISTS 219
economists, or the jargon of the " professors " of this or that
" ism," than flesh and blood can withstand the deadly fusilade
of the modern machine gun.
After tliis comes that great school of "controversialists"
which perhaps exercises a wider influence over the minds of the
people tlian any other school extant, because of the omnifarious-
ness of its studies. No subject is too lofty for its ambitions,
and none are l)eneath its consideration. It will tackle the
most abstruse problems in astronomical science as readily as it
will devote its attention to the best way of boiling broad
beans ! Tell a member of tliis school that it is better and
truer economy to cultivate your garden patch than to leave it
lying unfruitful, and he will prove by all the laws of science,
and entirely to his own satisfaction, that you are as wrong in
your position as the man who happens for the moment to be
standing on his head.
Nor should we overlook the political economist, pure and
simple, who may be likened unto the spider that spins on and
on until his web is broad enough to enmesh all those who are
unwary enough to come in contact with it. This man is a great
thinker, a professed student of all matters pertaining to the
movement of trade, the import of food products, and the export
of merchandise, and he will prove to you that the man in this
country who attempts to grow bacon and make butter, when he
can import both of these commodities cheaper from Chicago and
Denmark, is nothing more or less than an imbecile.
IXTERESTED MERCHANTS, BANKERS, AND ^MANUFACTURERS
Then there is that great army of those who, for excellent
reasons, are deeply interested in the maintenance of existing
conditions, and whose widespread intluence militates seriously
against the chances of carrying British agriculture to a successful
In the ranks of this army are to be found bankers, merchants,
shipowners, stockbrokers, produce-brokers, commercial com-
panies of many sorts, the " Trusts," those engaged, directly or
indirectly, in the import and export trade, and a host of others
too numerous to mention. Question these last — the " hoi-
poUoi " of this crowd — as to the advantages or otherwise of
preserving the st((tw^ quo in respect to this matter, and they will
probably know little or nothing of the subject ; but ask the
bank director, the merchant, the shipowner, or the " Trust "
magnate whether we should grow our own corn or imj^ort it, and
his answer will be short, empluitic, and to the point. Merchants
and exchange bankers, dock owners, and ship owners are,
220 BRITAIN FOR THE BRITON
naturally enough, all hugely interested in the importation of
fooJ-stulfs, and this much may be accepted in strict verity, that
neither in the future nor at the present time can lielp be
expected to come from this large and influential group, which
would assist in the smallest degree in solving the agricultural
problem. All who are connected with this powerful coterie
are financially interestcnl, or think they are, in maintaining
present conditions, and to a man they would fight for their
continuance. It is a fallacy, yet it exists all the same.
The Greatest Pessimists
The man who exercises the most malign influence is perhaps
he who is a pessimist by nature, a born grumbler, and one of
life's failures. This man is to be met with everywhere, and
wherever he may be encountered, or under whatever conditions,
he always deals in cold douches and doles out wet blankets to
his friends. Take him into your confidence, tell him of your
little plans in regard to turning the land to account for the
betterment of your life's conditions, unfold your schemes and
talk of your hopes and your chances of success, and, as sure as
fate, he will so cool your ardour with his chilly douche, and
quench your hopes with his wet blanket of everlasting dis-
paragement, that you will be filled with discouragement and
despair. This is the type of man who will say to you, " Don't
for goodness* sake, my dear fellow, do anything of the kind. I
tried that game some years ago, and found it was an utter
frnutl ; in fact I dropped more money over it than I could
afford." " Or," he may say, " don't you believe it, old chap ;
you'll only drop your money if you try anything of the kind.
Look at old Smith, for example, lie thought he could make
something out of it, but after a year or two he dropped it like a
hot coal. Stop where you are, is my advice."
This type of man is as plentiful as bees in summer, and as
ubiquitous as the sparrow. He is to be met with in every grade
of society, as also in the columns of the daily Press; but
whether his utterances be oral or written there is always the
same pessimistic note running through them which proclaims
him to be what in reality he is — one of life's failures, or at
least a pessimist of the worst type. Nevertheless, this man,
iailure that he may be, and born grumbler that he is, exercises
considerable influence over certain members of the community,
and he is, therefore, a factor in the ([uestion we are considering.
If you venture to point out the significant fact that all
other countries in the world but ours make much of their