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equivalents in exchange for the agricultural produce offered to them.
66 The extent of the home-market, for corn,” says Adam Smith, “ must be in proportion to the general industry of the country where it grows."
If this maxim be correct; how can the employment of capital in agriculture be the most profitable, the best calculated to enrich the society to which it belongs? How can the manufacturing and trading classes, when deprived of the capitals reserved for agriculture, rise and prosper so as to give any value to the produce of the agricultural class ? And without this value, what will become of the agricultural produce ?
The nations of ancient and feudal times employed their capitals exclusively in agriculture, and yet they never arrived at wealth; or at least their wealth was confined to the hands of a few individuals, and did not circulate in the nation. The agricultural produce, however abundant for each land-owner, created neither commerce nor manufactures. Every rich and powerful individual had in his house slaves whose labour supplied his wants; and having nothing to ask of his fellow-citizens, he had nothing to offer them. Whenever his wealth became excessive, he imagined no other way of using or employing it than to erect public monuments, and to entertain the people with sumptuous feasts, or to surround himself with a numerous train of courtiers, flatterers, and valets ; so that it was consumed without any re-production, and without any advantage to national wealth and population.
* Adam Smith; Wealth of Nations; London, 1805, vol. ii. book iv. chap. 5, page 321.
Such was the effect of the employment of capital in agriculture.
Prejudicial as it was to the nations of antiquity and of the middle age, it would yet prove much more fatal to modern nations. It then produced at least private wealth, because agriculture was entrusted to slaves and bond-men, whom fear condemned to labour: but at present it would not even produce private wealth. Not finding any vent for the surplus of their produce, the agricultural classes would only labour up to their wants, and all means of attaining wealth and prosperity would vanish for ever *
Will it be said, that the agricultural country may sell her produce abroad?
But if other countries also employed their capitals in agriculture, if they too neglected manufactures and commerce, her hopes would be disappointed and her produce without value. Were some nations even less favourably situated for agriculture, or blind enough to apply their capital to manufactures ; if navigation had no-where made a progress proportioned to that of agriculture, (which would infallibly be the case, if the employinent of capital in agriculture were the most beneficial ;) there would be no vent for the surplus of agricultural produce, and consequently all superiluous re-production would be at an end.
* In our modern states, lands are unequally distributed. They yield more produce than those by whom they are cultivated can consume; aud if arts be neglectal, and agriculture alone practised, the country cannot be peopled. Those who till, or cause the ground to be tilled, having a surplus of produce, nothing stimulates chem to lahour the following year; neither is the produce consumeil by the idle, because the idle have not wherewith to purchase it. Arts must therefore be introduced, that tlie produce may be consumed by artists and workmen. In short, it is necessary, in modern states, that many should raise agricultural produce beyond what they want. For this purpose, a wish must be excited in them to possess superfluities; and these are afforded only by artisans. Mondesquicu, Esprit des Loir, Lir. Taiji. chap 16.
Adam Smith was no doubt aware of these results, when he said that “ the agricultural system can eorich a country only by rearing artisans, merchants, and manufacturers; and that this can only be accomplished by giving the utmost liberty to commerce and manufactures."
But he also was so sensible of the insufficiency of these means, that he " the agricultural system discourages, in the end, the very industry which it ought to favour."
If the agricultural system can enrich a country only by creating industry and commerce, and if, instead of favouring, it discourages them; it is self-evident that this system nerer can in any case enrich a country, and consequently no country can, without prejudice to her interests, employ her capitals in agriculture.
Will it be said, that the surplus of capitals which cannot be employed in agriculture, is applied to manufactures and commerce, and that this enployment, by causing the latter to prosper, confers upon the agricultural produce a value and power which it had not of itself?
that he says,
The consequence may at least be doubted; it in much more probable, that being incited to labour by their wants, the agricultural classes will only rear as much produce as is sufficient to supply these wants, and never will have a surplus to devote to the establishment and maintenance of manufactures and commerce.
But admitting that there is a surplus of agricultural produce which, by its new employment, might create manufactures and commerce ; if this surplus, by creating manufactures and commerce, is the true cause of the wealth of the agricultural classes, it must be acknowledged that the most useful employment of capital is not that which supports agriculture, but that which supports manufactures and commerce.
And let it not be supposed, that if the employment of capital in agriculture be not the most useful in the infancy of wealth and capitals, it is more beneficial when wealth has reached a certain pitch, and capitals are abundant and nearly sufficient for the support of every branch of labour. The influence of capitals employed in agriculture upon public prosperity even then can only be proportioned to the success of the capitals employed in manufactures and commerce. Even then agriculture can prosper only through the prosperity of manufactures and commerce. How can the employment of capital in agriculture be the most useful and most profitable, when its utility is dependent on the utility of the capitals employed in manufactures and commerce; when the nation to whom these different capitals belong, can expect wealth only from manufactures and commerce, which enrich agriculture and render it productive?
It appears to me fully demonstrated, that in this first supposition, in the case of an agricultural country with an extensive territory, the employment of capital in agriculture is not the most advantageous, and cannot lead to wealth: a nation can only grow wealthy, as has also been remarked by Adam Smith, by some great manufacture destined to answer the demands of foreign countries.
But would not the case be different with regard to a people whom nature or fate has cast on some barren shore or deep marsh-land, whence the sea has receded, but which it still threatens every moment with a fresh incursion?
In this case, I think again, that to propose to such a people to employ their capitals in agriculture would be condemning them to eternal misery.
If, on the contrary, they apply their savings to manufactures, commerce, and navigation; this employment opens inexhaustible sources of wealth, which, pouring in from abroad, are concentrated in the country, and render barrenness itself productive. Of this, both ancient and modern history afford numerous and striking examples.
Tyre, Athens, Carthage, Constantinople, Venice, Genoa, and Holland, rose to wealth and power by employing their capitals in industry and commerce ; and, what is equally remarkable, history does not offer a single nation that, by the exclusive employment of capitals in agriculture, accumulated with so little means and resources such extensive wealth, enjoyed 90 great a consideration, and attained such an eminent degree of power and grandeur. How then is it