16 Economist - The Economist 9 January 1851 pp 57-58 The...

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The Economist 9, January 1851, pp. 57-58 The Economist was founded in Britain in 1843 as a newspaper promoting free trade during heated debates over the repeal of the Corn Laws, which put tariffs on wheat imports into Britain. After the triumph of free-trade forces, the lead articles in The Economist (like the one reprinted here) often served to crystallize the views of pro- market liberalizers in Britain and North America . “The First Half of the Nineteenth Century: The Progress of the Nation, and the Race” The close of one half-century and the commencement of another offer to us one of those resting-places in the march of tie which, whenever they occur, at shorter or longer intervals, impressively summon us to the task of retrospect and reflection. “The poorest moment that passes over us is the conflux of two eternities;”—we are, it is true, at every moment standing on the narrow isthmus that divides the great ocean of duration—a ground that, even as we name it, is washed from beneath our feet;—but it is only at the termination of the longer epochs by which our life is told off into the past, that we feel fully this truth. At such times it is well to pause for a brief space amid the struggle and the race of life, to consider the rate of our progress and the duration of our course, to measure our distance from the starting-post in relation to the advantages with which we set out and the time we have spent upon the road, and to calculate, as far as may be, the probably rapidity of our future advance in a career to which there is no goal. Too many of us are disposed to place our Golden Age in the Past: this is especially the tendency of the imaginative, the ignorant, the indolent, and the old. To such it is soothing to turn from the dry and disappointing labours of the present and the hot and dusty pathways of the actual world, and to speculate on that early spring-time of our Race in which Fancy, without toil or hindrance, can construct a Utopia of which History affords us not trace, and which Logic assures us could have had no existence. Another and a larger class are ever prone to seek a refuge from baffled exertions, disappointed hopes, and dissatisfied desires, in a distant Future in which all expectations, reasonable or unreasonable, are to have their fulfillment. But nearly everybody agrees by
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