Economic Sophisms/117

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"reveries of the Egyptian, Greek, and Hindoo astrologers far more effectually than he could have done by refuting them directly in innumerable volumes. Truth is one, and the work which explains it is an edifice at once durable and imposing:


Il brave les tyrans avides,
Plus hardi que les Pyramides
Et plus durable que l'airain.


Error is multifarious and of an ephemeral nature; and the work which combats it does not carry in itself a principle of greatness and duration.

But if the power, and perhaps the occasion, have been wanting to enable me to proceed in the manner of Laplace and of Say, I cannot help thinking that the form I have adopted has also its modest utility. It seems to me well suited to the wants of our day, and the occasional moments which are set aside for study.

A treatise has no doubt unquestionable superiority, but on one condition—namely, that it is read and carefully pondered and thought over. It is addressed to a select class of readers. Its mission is to fix first of all, and afterwards enlarge, the circle of our acquired knowledge.

A refutation of vulgar errors and prejudices cannot occupy this high position. It aspires merely to clear the road before the march of truth, to prepare men's minds for its reception, to rectify public opinion, and disarm dangerous ignorance.

It is, above all, in the department of Social Economy that this hand-to-hand struggle, that these constantly-recurring battles with popular errors, are of true practical utility.

The sciences may be divided into two classes.

One of these classes may be known only to savans. It includes those sciences the application of which constitutes the business of special professions. The vulgar reap the fruit, in spite of their ignorance. A man may find use for a watch, though ignorant of mechanics and astronomy, and he may be carried along by a locomotive or a steamer, trusting to the skill of the engineer and the pilot. We walk according to the laws of equilibrium, although unacquainted with these laws, just as M. Jourdain had talked prose all his life without knowing it

But there are sciences which exercise on the public mind an