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Rouvroy, Claude Henri de (1760-1825), Comte de Saint-Simon, political and economic theorist
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William Whewell to Richard Jones

Trinity College - WW is concerned with RJ's health and lifestyle. When RJ has 'time [after writing his book on wages] you shall write your fill about the economical conditions of political institutions but pray do not set off on this cross road at present'. RJ should not start with just any principle: 'If any truth is to be got at pluck it when it has grown ripe, and do not like the deductive savages cut down the tree to get at it'. WW has been reading 'the St. Simonian - who is the man that writes the exposition? - he must be a fine fellow: I am entirely charmed with the beauty and coherence of great part of his theory...his theory of organic and critical periods is constructed and followed into its various developments with consummate perception of the period state and tendency of men's thought and the cravings of their nature. I do not think the doctrine of the perpetual diminution of anlaganism is quite so well made out; and the assumption of a complete difference in kind between the next organic period and all preceding ones is as appears to me quite forced and illogical'. WW agrees with RJ that there 'are as you say several right notions about the character of science - one in which they have hit on the same way which I have used for nearly the same thing. The conceptions which must exist in the mind in order to get by induction a law from a collection of facts: and the impossibility of inducting or even of collecting without this. ' Charles Babbage told WW that he had a project of publishing a book like John Herschel's ['A Preliminary Discourse on Natural Philosophy', 1830]. WW agrees with RJ's view of Charles Babbage's new book ['On the Economy of Manufactures', 1832]: 'But still there is a great deal of ingenuity in his speculations and the one you mention about skilled labour is I think the brightest of them. Moreover the book is of a kind which will receive its full need of praise in these days'.

Richard Jones to William Whewell

RJ presents a story of the evolution of the cloth trade in France. He begins with the moment the king's seal of approval is established to certify that a piece of cloth is correct and of the right quality. He then notes the struggle which emerged between merchants, manufacturers and labour with the regulations falling into disrepute. He then looks at Colbert's attempt to make France manufacture for export by copying the English and Flemish regulations. Colbert was abused and ridiculed by the economists for thinking that such regulations could be useful: 'Now for the moral - when first established this abused regulation this shackle upon industry was eminently useful. The English then exported their cloths to staple towns where they were bought by foreigners from the Mediterranean the Baltic etc. - If the buyers had been cheated redress was hopeless - the want of ports - agencies - etc. the expense and dangers of voyages and lawsuits made indeed redress all but impassable - but the King's seal was an assurance to the buyer - the seller profited by his confidence in it and the export was enlarged. Times changed - communications became more perfect - responsible companies appeared as exporting merchants - the seal became less needed - in time the superintendence and initial fees became a burden and nuisance which ought to have been abated' but they were not. 'Next comes Colbert with his blind imitation of the part without reference to change of circumstances or the spirit of the times'. This is an example of 'founding a general principle on a true but insulated fact namely Colbert's blunder and helplessness and dogmatising and predicating to their own delight and the edification of the world about the necessary and utter folly of regulations at all times and places'. RJ is in wonder at the St. Simonians - L'Organizateur: 'I am bold to say, one of the half dozen most extraordinary and interesting books in the world. Learned - logical - powerful - feeling - good - and taming - ignorant - unreasonable - feeble mischievous and disgusting - making one alternately proud and ashamed and afraid of being one of the generation that has produced it'. Further, there 'are some excellent speculations on induction and much in your spirit as to the provinces of the imagination - the intellect and the senses in seizing on general laws - and then such assumptions historical - moral - and economical - and much confident deductions and much blasphemy and much folly'. The book is 'spawned from an unnatural conjunction of the strength and weakness of the human mind and redolent of the times we live in and of those which are departing and a thing you must study - NB It is the hardest book I ever read'.

Richard Jones to William Whewell

Brasted - RJ will be in Brighton most of next week and would like to know WW's movements. The St. Simonien book RJ called L'Organizateur [see RJ to WW, 17 January, 1832] 'is properly entitled Doctrine de Saint Simon - Exposition - Première année - 1828-1829 - second edition - Paris - Au Bureau de L'Organizateur'. The 'book is a strange manifestation of the strength of the past and present labouring in its weakness to create a future but I doubt if there are many who will understand and appreciate it as a marked phenomenon in the story of mind - you will'.

Richard Jones to William Whewell

Haileybury - RJ is unable to lecture due to a 'visitation of the nerves of the face'. RJ thinks that the common character of Fourier, Comte and John S. Mill is St. Simonianism - they 'began with speculating on induction and well then they applied their instrument of discovery to history and politics. T hey found out that preceding states of mankind[,] religious and intellectual followed each other in a sort of necessary sequence in which [Jove?] and [J.C.?] found their proper places while the course of events urged on by a fluid and unreasoning necessity was even now producing new forms of religion and policy also in their proper place of which novelties they the great inductors were to be the prophets[,] expounders and administrators - and having the present and future thus in their hands they set no limits to the practical profligacy they meant to indulge in and having preached a community of women and goods they perished because it was quite clear they did not mean to share fairly'. RJ gives a synopsis of Fourier's book - 'published at the common expense of a society of Frenchmen associated for the purpose of disseminating his doctrines and if possible trying his plans. I see nothing of the inductive part but he takes up mathematically and astronomically the theory of successive cycles distinguished by different religious and political systems of these some are better some worse we are near the close of the very worst which is only to last 5000 years and near the opening of the very best which is to last 15000. He of course reveals its regime and becomes at once more disgustingly profligate than the St. Simonians because more elaborately and systematically'. Further, 'every woman is to be allowed 5 lovers - besides casual professors - by two of the lovers only is she to have children. and towns and buildings are to be constructed with a view to carry out all this in winter and summer by night and by day with the greatest possible comfort and convenience'. 'Very mad you say - good[,] in what sort of atmosphere moral[,] political and intellectual could all this be generated and wonderful to tell inculcated in an expensive form and with a confidence of finding readers and adherents?' RJ has nothing to say about the morals of Comte's books - 'Though there are significant indications of a new code of his own. But he too is an inductor (a very bad one) and is going to bring politics and religion to obedience to the laws of the positive sciences and whatever becomes of morals all that there is theological feudal or metaphysical in public institutions or ideas is to fall crushed beneath the power of the new positive philosophy and its revelations. With him too all the past has obeyed a set of laws acting quite independently of any will human or divine and so will the proximate future - the exact regime of that future he does not disclose - all existing institutions and opinions are to be chased away and as a practical preliminary step he proposes a committee of 30 sitting permanently at Paris consisting of 8 Frenchmen[,] 7 Englishmen and made up by the rest of the Continent who are to preach against all the past and proclaim the coming era till the nations of the earth are willing to receive new laws[,] manners[,] institutions and morals from the hand of a wise legislator Mr. Comte of course or his disciples - the change of institutions though compleat is to be less important than the equally compleat change in morals and manners from which again every thing theological[,] feudal or metaphysical is to be excluded and positive science is to preside and dictate'. Comte 'is a child of the St. Simonians without either their philosophical cleverness or their bold unblushing profligacy'. Just as Comte dedicates his book to Fourier, Mill dedicates his book to Comte: 'Whatever Mill may think of their morals his book we must admit steers clear of their profligacy but he of all men is unlucky in being linked with such a man at all. But as a philosopher Comte has done a great deal towards mystifying him'.