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general exchange; and commerce foments general production by general consumption. s The labour of the husbandman is no longer confined to obtain the produce necessary for his subsistence, and the wages of those who assist him with their services. He also labours to procure commodities with which he is yet unacquainted, to have a surplus, and to be enabled to purchase objects, the sight of which in the market may inspire him with the desire of possessing them. The industrious classes do not wait for orders to labour. They create, invent, perfect the means of rendering life convenient, comfortable, and agreeable; of multiplying enjoyments and satisfying every desire; they do not embarrass themselves about the sale of their productions or the return of equivalents; they depend upon the market, which rarely disappoints their expectations. Lastly, the trading classes are no longer reduced to a mercenary and not very lucrative hawking ; they collect and keep in their warehouses the surplus of productions which have not met with any demand, and endeavour to provide consumers for it on every point of the globe where nature and the labour of man yield any productions capable of exciting desire, flattering taste, and multiplying enjoyments. In this twofold respect, the trading classes produce, preserve, and multiply wealth. Riches now no longer consist in the proportion of produce to wants, of income to expenditure, of production to consumption; but in the accumulation of a surplus stored up for unforeseen wants, accidents, and enjoyments. This surplus is a resource for the existing population against the uncertainty of the seasons ; it is a stock, a sort of patrimony, a premium for their increase ; by means of this surplus, man soars above the animal creation ; he avoids the calamities to which he was doomed by nature, and insures to himself a destiny which he had been originally denied. Individuals are multiplied in proportion the surplus that is accumulated, nations pros or the compound ratio of the mass of their sit to the increase of their population, and public results from the exchange of the surplus produce general labour. Any new object which is conveyed by commerce to the general market, which excites fresh desires, and which the multitude may acquire by labour, augments the emulation of the labourers, gives a new impulse to general labour, and accelerates the progress of opulence in an indefinite proportion. When, after the discovery of the New World, that effort of genius or audacity, productions till then unknown were brought into the market of Europe, every one redoubled his exertions, activity, and industry, to procure them, and public wealth was increased by both the productions imported from the New World, and those produced in Europe to serve as equivalents. Gold and silver, which were only circulating among the rich and prosperous classes, being, all at once, profusely scattered among the industrious and labouring classes, excited a general emulation, multiplied individual, domestic, and social relations, and produced results little observed, and yet worthy of the greatest attention, because they are immediately conocted with the canses of the wealth of modern olons, the peculiar object of political economy. # , as it must be acknowledged, property is the spring of labour and wealth, the foundation of social order, and the support of public and private prosperity; how much must its power have been augmented by the abundance of gold and silver, which caused property to reach even the poorest classes of the community, acquainted them with its value and advantages, gave them the hope of comforts, and flattered them with the idea of civil independence ' What peculiar charms must they not have found in property which may be either hidden or shewn, kept or transmitted, stored up or used at the call of their passions, propensities, and dispositions, and according to the circumstances in which they are placed By diffusing the advantages of property among the labouring classes, the precious metals united them with the other classes of the community by the general name of proprietors, inspired them with sentiments of justice and mutual benevolence, and bound them to each other by the indissoluble ties of common interests. Even governments must have felt the effects of this general impulse; they must have more carefully regulated and moderated their authority, when they perceived that it might be prejudicial to property and injurious to wealth, the basis of their strength and power. I shall not examine here the numerous controversies
that have arisen about the effects of the plenty of gold and silver with regard to circulation ; that discussion will find its place elsewhereo; but I may observe, that the effects which necessarily result from the plenty of the precious metals, considered merely as merchandize, belong exclusively to manufactures and commerce, and could never have taken place in the agricultural system. This shews already, at what distance those two kinds of pursuits are from each other, and how greatly their reciprocal influence on labour and wealth differs. How confined the action of agriculture, which has nothing but wages to offer to manufactures and commerce, and builds upon the portion of its produce destined for such wages, all its hopes of wealth ! How extensive, on the contrary, the action of manufactures and commerce, which put all the powers of labour into motion, multiply its produce by exchanges, and redouble their efforts in proportion to their success In the agricultural system, labour is paid for by the idle land-owner, who fancies himself the richer for having less to pay : in the mercantile system, labour rewards labour, and even the idleness of the wealthy ; it never receives without giving, and never gives without receiving. The universal exch ange of the produce of labour enables the nations, tribes, and savage hordes dispersed on the globe, reciprocally to encourage each other to fresh labour by the hope of fresh enjoyments; immense deserts which nature had doomed to everlasting sterility, are peopled, cultivated,
* See hereafter book iv., chap. 5.
fertilized ; the Hindoo renounces his indolence, and the seas that wash the Poles are rendered productive, and afford mankind new sources of wealth. This superiority of manufactures and commerce over agriculture, which is founded on the nature of things, is also proved by the history of wealth among all ancient and modern nations. Sidon, Tyre, Corinth, Athens, Syracuse, and Carthage, in ancient times, acquired by their industry and commerce riches of which there is no example in any agricultural nation ; and what is not less worthy of remark, their riches raised them to a degree of power and consideration to which their territory and their population would not have allowed them to aspire. Even the immense wealth of Rome, under the republic and during the three first centuries of the empire, cannot counterbalance the authority of these instances; because she was not indebted for it to agriculture, but to the power of her arms, the spoliation of the vanquished, and the tributes of the subdued nations. In the middle age, Constantinople, by her industry and commerce, preserved the wealth acquired by her arms ; and these riches, thus purified by labour, protected her for along time against the attacks of the Barbarians; prolonged her resistance, and retarded her fall, which was hastened by her follies, disorders, and vices. In modern times, Venice, Genoa, Pisa, Florence, the Hanseatic towns, Holland”, and England, have * The territory of Holland is only from eight to nine millions
ef acres. Her population does not exceed two millions of indiyi