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But were it even true that the agricultural system could by itself raise a numerous, rich, and flourishing population, it would not be productive of any great moral and political virtues, of the energy, public spirit, and eminent qualities which form great nations, render mankind illustrious, and honour humanity.
The industrious and commercial classes being necessarily limited to the lowest rate of wages, would be discouraged and degraded; destitute of talents, activity, and energy, and confined to mechanical trades, they never could ascend to the brilliant coneeptions of the liberal arts; to those inspirations of genius which open new sources to the prosperity, opulence, and splendour of nations, mitigate human misery, render life supportable, and produce ages of glory and grandeur.
Possessing hereditary comforts or riches; certain of their concomitant honours, distinctions, and considerations; without rivals and competitors; and allured by mone but sensual pleasures, the agricultural classes would be little disposed to devote themselves to the painful and laborious toils attendant on the study of sciences, and on the cultivation of the arts of peace and war, or their efforts would be limited to the first starts of genius, and they afterwards would drag along on the same road through the duration of ages. Such is the state of the inhabitants of China and India: it is the unavoidable consequence of the preference which these two countries have given to agriculture over industry and commerce.
The views, the hopes, the ambition of every one would be turned to agriculture, as the only lucrative, honourable, and honoured profession; the people would be divided into two classes, one domineering, and the other servile; and the government set over both, not finding any support in the intermediate classes, would be forced to be the tool of the rich, and the agent or accomplice of their tyranny. A constitution so vicious and so opposite to the progress of civilization, would be still more deplorable and prejudicial with regard to its foreign relations, and afford little or no security to the national independence and glory. Whence indeed could it derive its political force, its means of resistance and attack, of power and grandeur The agricultural class forming more than threefourths of the people, and being the only rich and flourishing class, could not be removed even for a moment from their agricultural labours, without this essential branch of labour being a sufferer by their absence; their produce would be diminished, and this diminution would inflict a fatal blow to public wealth and national power. The industrious and commercial class might more conveniently be called out for the service of the state, because the defalcation of their produce would only occasion the deprivation of enjoyments, which is always easily borne. But this class would be too inconsiderable to afford any great assistance; at the utmost they would form a sixth of the population, and leave but a very small mumber of defenders that could never be formidable to the enemies of the state.
Were a military cast formed, and endowed wiri, portion of the territory, as in ancient Egypt; we need only remember how fatal it proved to the Egyp. tians, to be convinced that it would afford little security,
“In none of the known; periods of their history “ were the Egyptians ever formidable; never did an “ enemy enter their country, but they were subdued.
“ The Scythians were the first who invaded Egypt. 4.
After the Scythians came Nabuchodomosor, who con“ quered Egypt without meeting with any resistance. “ Cyrus achieved its conquest by merely sending one “ of his lieutenants. When the Egyptians revolted “ under Cambyses, a single campaign sufficed to sub“ due them. Darius Cochus educed Egypt to a & 4 province of his kingdom. Alexander, Caesar, Au“gustus, and the Caliph Omar, conquered fogypt “ with the same facility. The Mamelukes possessed “ themselves of that country in the time of the Cru“ sades. Lastly, Selim the First conquered Egypt “ in a single campaign. *” The Chinese have experienced the same fate ; they never resisted any hostile attack. Several times subdued by the Tartars, they have submitted to the yoke which it pleased the conquerors to impose upon them. And that the calamities with which these nations have been afflicted are no unusual attendants on the vices of their system of political economy, is proved to a certain degree by the circumstance that Africa, Sicily, and Poland, which were essentially agricultural countries, have experienced the same fate, and been
* Poltaire, Essai sur les Moeurs, vol. i. p. 117. Edit, of 1785.
unable to preserve their liberty and independence, and to maintain themselves in the rank of nations. What more striking proofs can there be required of the vices of the agricultural system with regard to political independence, national power, and public wealth These vices equally shew themselves in the small extent of general labour, in the insulated condition of individuals, in the weakness of government, and in national impotency and general indifference. They ought to alarm all who might be blind enough to share in Dr. Quesnay's predilection for the agricultural system, and to suffer themselves to be fascinated by the charms with which it has been invested by his numerous proselytes, and against which even Adam Smith has been unable to guard. Agriculture can no longer be considered either as exclusively productive of wealth, or as the most productive of all labours; much less can it be regarded as possessing the eminent prerogative of forming “ the natural constitution of a “ government the best adapted to the human race.” Do manufactures and commerce afford the advantages which we have denied to agriculture? “ It is true, that men begin by tilling their lands before they build ships to go in search of new lands “ beyond the seas: but those who are forced to devote “ themselves to maritime commerce, soon acquire “ that industry, the offspring of want, which does
“ not stimulate other nations.”* This industry must particularly acquire a great superiority, when labour is subdivided, when the
* Poltaire, Essai sur les Moeurs, vol. i. p. 73. Edit. of 1785.
manufacturing and trading classes, breaking the fetters which kept them enchained to the agricultural classes, labour without waiting for the demand, submit their productions to commercial exchanges, and derive from the equivalents obtained in return, their subsistence, their comforts, and their wealth. Their economical notions then take a new course, their relations become complicated ; the results of their commerce are lost in an obscurity so profound, that they are not always clear to the most acute and best exercised understandings, and their advantages and inconveniences are frequently mistaken. The happy effects of this revolution are not even yet completely demonstrated, and its benefits have long been in existence, though the channels through which they are poured are not yet sufficiently known and described.—Let us attempt to throw some light upon these abysses of political economy. As soon as the labouring classes, whether agricultural, or manufactural and commercial, carry to market the surplus of their produce above their consumption, and exchange one for the other, general industry receives a fresh impulse, follows another direction, and attains a higher destiny. The producer does not wait for the produce being consumed, before he re-produces it; neither does he limit his productions to the local consumption, or to his present and actual wonts. Commerce meets production ; it stimulates the consumer by the presence of the produce, and the producer by the certitude of obtaining equivalents in return. In this system, every producer is a consumer; all productions are thrown into the scales of a