Cornhill Magazine,  2 (1860), 543–64.

"Unto This Last". IV.—Ad Valorem  [4/4]

J R, pseud.  [John Ruskin]


Essay, Polemic, Serial


Political Economy, Heterodoxy, Boundary Formation, Natural Law, Energy, Human Species, Population, Utilitarianism, Environmentalism, Theology of Nature

    Contends that 'the real science of political economy', which teaches the love of virtue and life, 'has yet to be distinguished from the bastard science, as medicine from witchcraft, and astronomy from astrology' (547). Ruskin also invokes the laws of energy conservation to invalidate the assertion that everybody can make a profit: 'by the unfortunate constitution of the world we live in, the laws both of matter and motion have quite rigorously forbidden universal acquisition of this kind [...] for every plus there is a precisely equal minus' (551). While for Thomas R Malthus and his followers 'Man [is] considered as an animal [...] limited by the same laws' that check the 'multiplication of animals' like gnats and swallows, Ruskin insists that 'the law of human population differs wholly from that of animal life', and it is 'limited only by the limits of his courage and his love' (559). Expressing his environmental concerns, Ruskin alleges that although 'All England may, if it so chooses, become one manufacturing town [...] the world cannot become a factory or a mine'. Rather, 'so long as men live by bread, the far away vallies must laugh as they are covered with the gold of God', and men will always continue to love the 'triplets of birds, and murmur and chirps of insects'. (562)


Ruskin 1862

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