Faced with the widening cleavage, both real and psychological, between rich and poor, nineteenth-century liberals at first held to the doctrine of laissez faire:
Suffering and evil are nature’s admonitions; they cannot be got rid of and the impatient attempts of benevolence to banish them from the world by legislation . . . have always been productive of more evil than good.
The thinkers who held to these ideas in the early nineteenth century were the classical economists, the architects of “the dismal science”—so called because of its pessimistic determinism. The most famous were two Englishmen: Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) and David Ricardo (1772-1823).