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of mankind, ignorant whence this wealth or poverty arises, boldly ascribe it to good or bad fortune. By a singular conformity, when governments, notwithstanding the efforts and promises of ignorant and visionary projectors, find themselves reduced to distress, they are often inclined to attribute it to occult causes, the influence of which is to be remedied by.. specifics and secrets unknown to the learned. They eagerly search after, and even flatter themselves they have hit upon financial plans capable of relieving the distress of the state, without either impairing the fortune of individuals, oraccelerating the decay of public wealth. As well might they seek for means to enable men to exist without food, to have their wants supplied without labour, and to grow rich by prodigality.
And can this credulity be wondered at? Does not the sect of the Economists, who cannot be accused of being deficient in knowledge or candour, seriously assert that governments ought to leave industry to its natural course; and that they have done every thing, when in fact they have done nothing ?* A paradox, this, extremely convenient for ignorance, intrigue, and ambition, and particularly agreeable to those who are entrusted with the management of national affairs.
Ina certain point of view, this paradox undoubtedly contains a very profound meaning and conveys a lesson highly useful in many respects. Individuals generally display more sagacity in the management of their own concerns, than governments in the regulations,
statutes, privileges, prohibitions, premiums, and bounties, with which they think to provide for the greater prosperity of individuals and nations. Did governments suffer private individuals to act as they think proper, without attempting to regulate their affairs; their conduct certainly would be more conducive to wealth: in such instances, the maxim of the Economists is indeed an eniightened censure, and cannot be regarded as paradoxical.
But it ought not to be supposed that a government intimately acquainted with the interests of a country, and attentive to follow the progress and direction of private industry, should be utterly unable to invigo- rate the impulse of this industry when it happens to be beneficial, to prevent its aberrations when they might prově hurtful, or to lead it into more enlarged, more extensive, and more profitable channels. Elizabeth in England, Richelieu, and above all Colbert in France, are for ever entitled to the gratitude of their country and the veneration of all enlightened ages. *
It is admitted by the Economists themselves, “ that " a great empire ought not to quit the plough for the "carrying trade; and that, at the example of a celes brated minister of state, wealth ought not to be
* « The more simple ideas of order and equity are sufficient to si guide a legislator in every thing that regards the internal adminis" tration of justice : but the principles of commerce are much more
? complicated, and require long experience and deep reflection " to be well understood in any state. The real consequence of a " law or practice is there often contrary to first appearances.” Hume's History of England. London, 1802. vol. iii. Henry VII. p. 397..
“ derived from manual dexterity to the prejudice of “the primary source of wealth."* Would they then be sorry if governments should apply all the means in their power to favour agriculture in preference to industry and commerce, and to derive public wealth from an increased net produce ?
Adam Smith is not more consistent than the Economists. He laughs at a statesman who should attempt to direct the employment of the capital of the nationt; and yet he poipts out the conduct government ought to pursue, to encourage manufactures necessary for the defence of a country, to facilitate the exportation of the manufactured pro- .' duce, and to favour the importation of the raw produce to which the manufacturer superadds his labour.
Let us therefore conclude, that, though it be the duty of governments to give the utmost latitude to private industry, it is yet of serious importance to, nations, that their statesmen be intimately acquainted
† "What is the species of domestic industry which his capitai “s can employ, and of which the produce is likely to be of the “ greatest value, every individual, it is evident, can, in his local site “ vation, judge much better than any statesman or lawgiver can do “ for him. The statesman who should attempt to direct private pea5 ple in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would s not only load bimself with a most unnecessary concern, but as* sume an authority which could neither be safely trusted to any so single person, nor to any council or senate whatever, and which “ would no-where be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who bad « the folly and presumption to fancy himself fit to exercise it.'' Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. Eleventh Edit, London, 180.5. yol, ij. B. iv. c. 2. p. 190.
with a science that teaches the means of deriving the greatest benefits from industry and capital, and of directing both into the most profitable channels. It is only when a government is deficient in knowledge that its absolute inactivity is desirable. .
The salutary influence of political economy is not confined to governments; it is still more sensibly felt in legislation. Its principles, tenets, and theory, are closely allied and identified with the principles, tenets, and theory of legislation ; they act upon each other with an incalculable and assuredly unexpected force.,
In every system of political economy, wealth is the work of men. It owes its existence to their passions, . and its perservation to their moraldispositions. Hence wealth is necessarily modified by their political existence, just as their political existence is necessarily modified by the system that regulates wealth, .
A political system which reduces the largest portion of the people to servitude, must have upon wealth an effect very different from one that insures the liberty of all the individual members of a nation, and admits them all to share in the benefits of the social compact, in proportion to their knowledğe, talents, industry and activity.
But even though the political system does not infringe upon the liberty of the subject; if the law does not cause all kinds of property to be respected ; if it restrains the disposal and circulation of any property whatever; if wealth is suffered to flow exclusively into the lap of certain classes or individuals to the prejudice of all the other classes or individuals of the community, it is again evident that the law in this
case must have upon wealth an influence different from that which it exercises when it watches alike over the safety of persons and the security of property; when it protects every kind of labour and industry; and when it leaves individuals at liberty to contract for and dispose of whatever is their own.
How greatly do they err, who suppose political economy a stranger to politics, legislation, and government, and judge it possible to have good laws with a bad system of political economy, or a good system of political economy together with bad laws! Wealth depends as much on politics, legislation, and government, as on political economy: these sciences are connected by indissoluble chains; they support or oppose, and ultimately uphold or destroy each other.
Inattention to combine the elements of those different sciences in the constitution, laws and government of a country, gives birth to that clashing of public and private interests, that absence of character and phisiognomy in modern nations, those false measures and oscillations of governments, and that want of public spirit; the necessary results of the conformity of individual passions with public ambition.
This opposition of views and interests, of theory and practice, of principles and conduct, is sure to disappearin proportion as political economy is improved; as its study is rendered less difficult and more general; as the ways of acquiring wealth are better known; and as the necessity of combining the political civil and administrative systems with the system of political economy, is more sensibly felt.
Durst I even venture freely to deliver my senti- :