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duced results little observed, and yet worthy of the greatest attention, because they are immediately connected with the causes of the wealth of modern nations, the peculiar object of political economy.
If, 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 connnunity, acquainted them with its value and advantages, gave them the hope of comforts, and flattered them with the idea of civilindependence! 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 elsewhere :* 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 ex: change 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 peo
* See hereafter, book iv. chap. 5.
pled, cultivated, 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, (orinth, 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 ihem 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 herfor along time against the attacks of the Barbarians; prolonged herresistence, 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 of
alternately acquired, by manufactures and commerce, riches which have enabled them to act an important part in the political world, and even placed some of them in the rank of preponderating powers.
These splendid testimonies of history did not escape the attention and profound sagacity of Adam Smith; and he has neither denied their importance nor disputed their consequences ; on the contrary, he has betrayed in several parts of his work the impressions which they made upon his inind.
In one place he states that “it is the great multi“plication of the productions of the different arts, " in consequence of the division of labour, which oc“ casions in a well-governed society, that universal " opulence which extends itself to the lowest ranks " of the people."*
Elsewhere he acknowledges, that " it is upon the “sea-coast, and along the banks of navigable rivers, “that industry of every kind naturally begins to sub“ divide and improve itself; and it is frequently not " till a long time after, that those improvements ex' tend themselves to the inland parts of a country.”
acres. Her population does not exceed two millions of individuals ; and yet what a figure did she make in Europe in the seventeenth century! what wars she sustained ! what forces she resisted, and what power she attained! She is subject to frequent invasions ; ber harbours are bad ; she annually spends immense sums, not to be swal. lowed up by the waves of the sea ; and all these difficulties have been: overcome by her indefatigable industry. Devenant, vol. ii. page 193.
* Adam Smiļh's Wealth of Nations, edition of 1805, vol. i. book 1.. chap. 1. page. 17. .
+ Ibid. vol.i, book i. chap. 3. page 29.
In another place he admits, that “the revenue of * a trading and manufacturing country must, other *things being equal, always be much greater than "" that of one without trade or manufactures."*
And yet, notwithstanding this homage paid to the power of commerce and industry, he gives the preference to agriculture. I feel almost tempted to accuse him of having contradicted himself, and to refute him by his own statements. But although this kind of refutation gives great advantages, it would be ill-timed and unbecoming towards an author'so illustrious, and to whom the science of political econ. omy owes its progress and consideration. I shall rather endeavour to discover what were the motives of . his predilection for the agricultural system, and appreciate their merits and strength.
He asserts, that if social institutions had never de ranged the order of things, the wealth and increase of the country would have advanced with equal steps with the improvement and cultivation of cities; and that, if public wealth has been indebted from its progress to the industry of the towns rather than to ago riculture, it ought to be attributed merely to the privileges and monopolies granted to towns, to the prejudice of the country.†
Although his observations in this part of his work are extremely acute and ingenious, and although he must be acknowledged to have been right when he imputed the misery of the country to the monopoly
* Wealth of Nations, vol. iji. book iv. chap. 9. page 25, 26.
Ibid, the whole of the third book.