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BY NASSAU W: SENIOR, A.M.,
LATE FELLOW OF MAGDALEN COLLEGE,
PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL ECONOMY.
CAUSES THAT HAVE RETARDED THE PROGRESS OF
POLITICAL Economy, as a separate branch of study, may be said to be about a century old. Many of the facts which are its subject-matter, have indeed attracted human attention from the earliest times; many opinions, right or wrong, have been formed respecting them, and many customs and laws, beneficial or injurious, have been the consequence: but it was not until nearly the middle of the last century, that any attempt was made to reduce those opinions into a system, or to ascertain the grounds on which they were founded, or even how far they were reconcileable with one another. To M. Quesnay belongs the honour of having first endeavoured to explain of what wealth consists, by what means it is produced, increased, and diminished, and according to what laws distributed; in other words, of having been the first teacher of Political Economy. In the course of his investigations, he found that in the pursuit of wealth all governments had not merely mistaken the straight road, but had frequently pursued a path leading directly away from it. He found that instead of