and calamities of the world ; the moment is not far distant, when monarchs will acknowledge that there are no safe, legitimate, and honourable means to grow rich but through labour, manufactures, and con


Let us, therefore, conclude, that wealth, in all

ages and under all goverminents, exercised an absolute power over individuals, nations, and empires; and that, according as it was attempted by force, conquest, and devastation, or by labour, and economy,

its effects have been fatal or salutary to the human race. How greatly then have they erred, who thought they could apply to modern wealth the results and effects of the wealth of the nations of antiquity and the middle age! One is no more to be compared to the other, than the offensive and defensive weapons of the ancients can be compared with those of the moderns, or their tactics with ours. Their wealth had its source in the impoverishment of nine-tenths of the people: modern wealth is derived from the riches of the whole population. The former enervated, effeminated, and depraved the rich, perverted and degraded the poor, and rendered them strangers to the community : the latter furnishes the rich with the means of knowledge and instruction, and enables them to direct labour, industry and commerce : it insures to the less fortunate classes, and even to those who are the most needy, a portion of the general wealth, which portion is always proportioned to the extent of that wealth. Thus the interest of the

poor is never separated from the interest of the rich ; they lend each other a mutual support.

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T'he wealth of the ancients kept all nations in a permanent state of hostility, devastation, and servitude ; and, consequently, held out a permanent obstacle to the general civilization and improvement of mankind. Modern wealth connects all nations ; it binds them by common interests, causes them to forward the same ends by the sentiment of their private interest, and associates them, in some degree, to the

progress of the civilization and amelioration of the human race.

One is, therefore, as desirable as the other is odious; and one ought to be as much extolled, as the other has been justly reprobated by all enlightened writers.

Those nations which ambition is still propelling towards domination, as well as those who possess a sentiment of real grandeur, and know that it consists in a noble independence, are equally interested in studying the causes of modern wealth, and in discovering and improving the methods by which it may be increased and rendered useful in its application : they ought, therefore, to patronize the progress of political economy by all the means in their power.





The most ancient system concerning the sources of Wealth derives wealth from foreign commerce; that is to say, from that commerce in which one nation sells more to other nations than it purchases, and is paid for the surplus of its sales over its purchases in precious metals. This doetrine was adopted without any limitation by the authors who first wrote upon Political Economy in England, Italy, and France, during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and up to the iniddle of the eighteenth century; and although it has been strenuously combated by later writers, it has yet prevailed and still prevails in the opinion of individuals, nations, and governments : all consider commerce as the true way to grow rich; and by commerce they all understand the exchange of commodities with foreign nations. An opinion so general, so ancient, so lasting, can neither be ascribed to blind prepossession, nor to vain credulity or foolish obstinacy. Time, which has destroyed so many errors, superstitions, and inveterate habits, almost coëval with the social state, would not have respected


a doctrine contrary to private and public interest. What then has so long protected this doctrine against the outrages of time, the progress of knowledge, and the charm of innovations? Is it not its resting on the authority of facts, on the experience of ages, on every thing that is certain and evident among men ? The conjecture is not improbable.

If we ascend ever so high in the history of Wealth, we find that wcalth always followed the direction of foreign commerce, and remained faithful to its banbers and ships. During eight hundred years, the commerce of the Phænicians fixed wealth in the ports of Sidon and Tyre. In these celebrated cities it long bade defiance to the avarice of the greatest conquerors of the East; and when the conquest and ruin of these industrious cities forced wealth to seek for a fresh asylum, it went over to the nations that inherited their commerce,

The Greek and lonian cities, Alexandria, Marseilles, and Carthage, which gathered the wrecks of the trade of Sidon and Tyre, were not less celebrated for their wealth. Carthage, in particular, rose to the highest degree of splendour and power, struggled successfully for a length of time against the fortune of the Romans, and delayed for more than a century the subjection of the other nations.

When the Genius of Rome grounded on the ruins of Carthage the conquest of the world, the sources of wealth were dried up in Europe, in Asia, and in Africa ; because these countries had no longer any commercial cominunication.

The treasures which had been accumulated at Rome

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by the plunder of all nations, did not prove a source of wealth for any country ; they fertilized lands, improved no kind of industry, and did not extend the bounds of civilization in any one respect. They were exhausted by purchasing the rich productions of Asia, appeasing the seditions of the cohorts, saving the empire from the successive depredations of the Barbarians, and satisfying their insatiable avidity. They vanished without leaving a vestige behind, and Rome, her provinces, and her tributary nations, differed only in the degree of misery and wretchedness.

During the eight centuries which followed the overthrow of the Western Empire, under the rapid succession of Barbarians, who left nothing behind but the remembrance of their ferocity, rapacity, and devastations ; during that long period of violence, anarchy, and crimes, the opulence of a few individuals condemned the whole population to general misery.

Constantinople, it is true, was the centre of an immense variety of political and commercial affairs : but the great extent of the empire, the majesty of a conquering nation surrounded by barbarous and rapacious neighbours, the magnitude of the tributes, the sums accumulated in the imperial exchequer, stified that emulation, that activity and energy, for which commerce is distinguished, and through which it yields abundant riches. It may therefore truly be said, that, from the destruction of Carthage to an advanced period in the middle age, that is to say, for more than thirteen centuries, the sources of wealth were dried up throughout the Roman empire, and


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