If you feel your Intellectual Superiority to any one with whom you are conversing, do not seek to bear him down: it would be an inglorious triumph, and a breach of good manners. Beware, too, of speaking lightly of subjects which bear a sacred character. 

General Principles of the Rule

Proportion is sometimes called the "Rule of Three," because a certain system of conventionalisms has its origin in that, which is called, by way of joke, the "Three Estates" of the realm—King Lords , and Commons ; in other words, a parliament , so called from its being the focus of palaver, in which originate those splendid specimens of collective wisdom, known by the name of Acts of Parliament—because they "won't act."

The theoretic proportion is, that numbers should be exactly balanced,—that one sovereign should equal six hundred lords, that six hundred lords should equal six hundred and fifty-eight commoners, and that these should represent twenty-nine millions of people. Now, as the interests of each of these estates are said in theory to be opposed to each other, and as they are all theoretically supposed to pull three opposite ways with equal force, it must follow that legislation would be at a stand still, by the first law of mechanics, viz. that action and reaction are always equal: but to prevent such a catastrophe of stagnation, and to set in motion this beautiful machine, a pivot-spring, in the shape of a prime minister, or prime mover, is superadded, and a golden supply, fly, or budget wheel, is introduced, by which the following subordinate, yet ruling principles are developed; and thus we go on from age to age, making laws one day, and unmaking them the next, for the sake of variety.

'Out of Proportion.'


The Working of the Rule

It must not be forgotten that this rule is one of proportionals, as its name imports. It therefore teaches proportion in all its relations, social and political; it is the rule of our country, and seeks to develop that beautiful equality and justice, so conspicuous in all our institutions, exemplified in the following well-known legal and constitutional maxim, viz. "One man may steal a horse, but another must not look over the hedge."

It is a maxim of English law, that punishment should be proportionate  to the offence, and have a relation to the moral turpitude of the offender. Hence the seducer and adulterer only inquire, "What's the damage?" By the same rule, it is held highly penal to sell the only ripe fruit in England, roasted apples; and the stock in trade of the basket woman is confiscated. She, too, is sent to the Counter —because she is not rich enough to keep one with a shop attached.

Called to Account


This brings us to the rationale  of reward, and shows us the policy of making a prison superior to a poor-house. This wise arrangement of the collective wisdom of the Rule of Three (the three estates) is upon the principle of counter-irritation , that is, the best way to administer to the miserable is to inflict more misery, just as we put a blister on one part to subdue inflammation on another, or set up a mercurial disease to cure a liver complaint. On the other hand, we cure villany by increased rations of beef, bread, beer, and potatoes, in accordance with the maxim, that "the nearest way to a man's heart is through his stomach."

'The nearest Way to a Man's Heart'

On the same principle of "Proportion," the operative is to have for his share the pleasure of doing the labour; for if one man had the labour and the gains too, it would be abominable, and destructive to all the usages of society.

It is also strictly proportional, that we should pay not only for what we have, but for that which we have not. Thus  church-rates ought to be inflicted, not so much for the benefit of the church, but as the substitute for that wholesome discipline of flagellation, unhappily discontinued, and for the "good of the soul;" for if the spiritual benefit be great to those who pay for what they receive only, how great must be the reward of those who are content to pay for that which, they not only do not receive, but which they will not have at any price! Hence, it is possible that even dissenters may be saved —the trouble of spending their money in other ways.

The "Tax upon Incomes" affords also a striking example of the doctrine of Proportionals. It is so beautifully equalized, that the loss upon one branch of trade is not to be set off against the gain of another, the object of the act being, no doubt, to put a stop to trade altogether, as the best means of placing things statu quo, the grand desideratum of modern legislation.

"Bear ye each other's burdens" is a sublime maxim. The principle of the lever is well brought to bear  in the doctrine of proportionals—and shows how to shift the weight of taxation from the shoulders of the rich upon those of the poor—

A Sliding Scale


The laws and regulations for the conduct of our civil polity and social condition being founded on these divine principles, it is assumed as a fundamental maxim, that "great folks will be biggest," and he who has not learned that this is the ideal of true proportion, and who does not recognise it in his practical philosophy, will be compelled to knock his head against a wall to the day of his dissolution.