though a discovery had been made like that of the
alphabet or of metallic coin.1
The new ideas fell, in France
, on the fruitful genius of Turgot
, who came forward in the virgin purity of philosophy to take part in active life.
He was well-informed and virtuous,2
and of a taste the most delicate and sure; a disinterested man, austere, yet holding it to be every man's business to solace those who suffer; wishing the effective accomplishment of good, not his own glory in performing it. For him the human race was one great whole,4
composed, as the Christian
religion first taught, of members of one family under a common Father; always, through calm and through ‘agitations,’ through good and through ill, through sorrow and through joy, on the march, though at ‘a slow step,’5
towards a greater perfection.
To further this improvement of the race, opinion, he insisted, must be free, and liberty conceded to industry in all its branches and in all its connections.
‘Do not govern the world too much,’ he repeated, in the words of an earlier statesman.
Corporations had usurped the several branches of domestic trade and manufactures; Turgot
vindicated the poor man's right to the free employment of his powers.
Statesmen, from the days of Philip the Second of Spain
, had fondly hoped to promote national industry and wealth by a system of prohibitions and restrictions, and had only succeeded in deceiving nations into mutual antipathies, which did but represent the hatreds and envy of avarice: Turgot
would solve questions of trade abstractly from countries as well as from provinces, and make it