whole world are all become agriculturists, manufacturers, and traders, (a period which is not near at hand,) manufacturing and trading nations are not likely to lose any of their advantages, and will always preserve their wealth and their power. It might even be said, and the assertion would not appear too paradoxical, that, far from having any thing to apprehend from the progress of manufactures and commerce among agricultural nations, this progress would afford manufacturing and trading nations fresh means of prosperity and wealth. The phenomenon is easily explained, When an agricultural country, supplied by foreign manufactures, establishes national manufactures to supply herself and to share in the benefits of the general maket, she gives to her labour and capitals a direction more useful and more profitable than before, and consequently becomes richer by all the profits derived from her new manufactures and trade: but whatever may be her efforts, she cannot concentrate this new wealth in herself; it scatters itself abroad, and feeds foreign industry. If this wealth amounts to ten millions a year, these ten millions are mostly carried to the general market to be exchanged for the productions of the industry of other nations: they cannot take any other direction, because there alone they meet with commodities that serve as equivalents. This new demand of the produce of ancient industry necessarily raises its price, increases the gains of the ancient producers, favours their manufactures and commerce, and accelerates the growth of general wealth. Among all nations without exception

the increase of national wealth occasions a larger importation of foreign productions; and these imports are necessarily an increase of wealth to the producing nations; these relative benefits are necessary and indispensable. It is therefore evident, that the introduction of manufactures and commerce among agricultural nations, which is to them an increase of wealth, can never be prejudicial to the wealth of manufacturing and trading nations. * A truth so important in its consequences has escaped the attention of the most esteemed writers on political economy, because they have preferred argument to observation : and their observations have been directed rather to particular than to general facts : they also have not perceived, that when wealth produced by manufactures and commerce has been introduced among recent nations, the ancient manufacturing and trading nations have by no means been impoverished. The fact is however motorious, and there is not one better ascertained in modern history. When the cities of the North of Europe appropriated to themselves the commerce and manufactures which the Italian cities had carried thither, the latter were not injured either by the exclusion or competition, and their wealth was not impaired ; the domain of their manufactures and commerce was extended to the Baltic, Flanders, and Germany ; the munber of consumers increased with the number of manufacturing and trading towns, and the more particular markets were multiplied, the more facilities had the Italian cities to vend the produce of their commerce and manufactures, and to supply themselves with the produce of the manufactures and commerce of the North. If their trade and manufactures have decayed, their decline is to be attributed solely to the wars which swallowed their capitals, overloaded their trade with ruinous imposts, diminished their population, and plunged them into discouragement and despair. When Holland and England enriched themselves with the spoils of Flanders, it was not by shutting their harbours to the Flemish traders, nor by becoming troublesome competitors in the general market; the ruin of this industrious people was again the work of a war of oppression, pillage, and destruction, which forced their industrious inhabitants to emigrate and to seek for an asylum in Holland, Saxony, and England. When France, Sweden, Denmark, and Prussia, shared in the manufactures and commerce of the world, England and Holland lost nothing of their trade and manufactures; and, according to the public accounts of the imports and exports of England, it may be affirmed that its trade increased in extent, activity, and productiveness. Finally, when the United States of North America shook off the yoke which kept them fettered to the manufactures and commerce of the mother-country ; when they entered into competition with all trading nations, did the manufactures and commerce of any nation experience any restriction ? None, undoubtedly ; and it might, on the contrary, be affirmed, that the manufactures of all became more extensive, and more profitable than they had been before. It therefore appears demonstrated by modern history, that the progress of manufactures and commerce among new nations, far from being prejudicial to old trading nations, turns, on the contrary, to their advantage. Instead of bestowing upon these luminous facts the attention and importance to which they are entitled, the trade of nations with each other was regulated by the example of the individual trade of a country; and as it was found that the number of manufacturers and traders of a village, borough, or town, cannot be increased without every one of them suffering more or less from this competition, or being even ruined, it was inferred that the same fate awaits manufacturing and trading nations in proportion as their number increases in the world. But it is easy to shew, that the two cases are essentially different, or rather that there is not any similarity between them. The industry and trade of a village, borough, or town, draw all their means of getting rich from the wealth of the place; they are kept and paid by it, and can prosper only in proportion to this wealth, and its increase, over which they have neither direct nor indirect control. Confined to such a narrow sphere, trade and industry are merely passive and destroyed by their own efforts. But this is not the characteristic of manufactures and trade, nor their sole power; they act a more important part in the formation of wealth, and, far from being burthensome, they are its firmest support, and perhaps its true foundation. Wherever they enjoy all their elasticity, they bestow productiveness upon the existing wealth, hasten its progress, and

carry it to the highest pitch which it can attain ; they assign to labour the most beneficial direction, to capitals the best employment, and to the circulation of produce, the most rapid and most profitable activity. When Sir Richard Arkwright invented the cottonspinning machine, he shortened that kind of labour by two thirds, aud rendered it twenty times more productive than it had been before; he improved the manufacture of cotton so as to make it an object of luxury to the rich, and lowered its price so as to ena. ble the less fortunate classes to wear better garments: in short, be insured to this kind of industry a superior value in exchange over the other productions of general industry; and the result of his invention was less labour and more produce ; smaller expences and greater value. This saving in labour and expence, this increase of produce in value and quantity, is a real increase of public and private wealth, and in every respect assimilates the skilful mechanic to whom it owes its birth, to the husbandman, who, by his labour, increases agricultural produce. What is here observed concerning Sir Richard Arkwright, applies to all who have made any improvements in science, manufactures, and arts, from the invention of the plough to the spinning-machine. They all were creators of wealth in the ratio of the expence saved in the performance of labour, or of the higher value given to its productions. Commerce is exactly on a par with manufactures, and contributes in the same manner to the growth of wealth : by commerce, however, we must not, as the French economists and many writers on political eco

« ForrigeFortsett »