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of the towns: yet it may easily be proved, that, even if these particular calamities had not existed, commerce and manufactures would always have obtained the same superiority over agriculture; because this superiority arises from the nature of things, and can be neither arrested nor impeded by the combinations of men.'
Agricultural produce is common to all countries, and has every where to struggle against a general competition ; whilst commerce and manufactures are peculiar only to some countries and some governments, and have of course no general competition to encounter. :
Agriculture does not require any great talents ; "nature performs a great part of the work ;'* its improvements are slow, and the discoveries by which they may be hastened are soon known to all agricultural nations. The case is different with manufactures and commerce ; they require a certain intelligence, are continually improved, reach to a degree of superiority difficult to be attained, and rarely lose the superiority which they have once acquired.
Agriculture is subject to numerous accidents. Bad seasons often disappoint the hopes of the husbandman: wild beasts devour part of his harvest, another part is spoiled and damaged; he is constantly at the mercy of accidents, and his fortune is continually menaced. The risks of industry and commerce are less numerous, and above all, less fatal. If there he no demand for their productions in one
* This is a thought of Adam Smith's
Auntry, they are carried to another. If, by some fortuitous or unforeseen cause, they be damaged or part of them lost, that which remains is sold dearer, and the loss is covered by the high price occasioned by their scarcity.
Agriculture cannot extend its produce beyond the extent of the territory and agricultural popu. ·lation ; neither can it accumulate or store up large quantities of its productions, because they would require immense and costly buildings, and, above all, because they rapidly perish. Manufactures and commerce may multiply their productions with out increasing the number of hands employed, and frequently even by diminishing their number. These productions may be stored up, at comparatively smail expences, in proper warehouses, without any fear of their decaying before they are sold. Their consumption finds no limits but in the numbers of mankind and in the progress of general wealth, that is to say, it is unlimited.
Finally, agriculture cannot build great hopes on the improvement of its methods. Notwithstanding the rapid pr gress of general knowledge, and the encouragements which have been bestowed upon ag. riculture by governments, and the efforts of learned societies, it has not, among the most enlightened nations, advanced much beyond the point at which it remains among the most ignorant; while the improvements of manufactures and commerce have been uninterrupted within the last three centuries, and promise still greater success from the advanced state of sciences, the discoveries of the arts, and
the developement of all the productive powers of labour.
It therefore remains undisputed, that without either monopoly, privileges, or oppression, and by the mere force of things, manufactures and commerce contribute more efficaciously than agriculture to the progress of wealth, and give to manufacturing and trading nations an absolute preponderance over agricultural nations.
Adam Smith has paid a splendid homage to the · principles which we have just now established. He
expressly states, 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.' By means of " trade and manufactures, a greater quantity of “ subsistence can be annually imported into a par“ticular country than what its own lands, in the “actual state of their cultivation, could afford. The sinhabitants of a town, though they frequently possess " no lands of their own, yet draw to themselves, by " their industry, such a quantity of the rude produce 6 of the lands of other people, as supplies them not "only with the materials of their work, but with the “ fund of their subsistence. What a town always is " with regard to the country in its neighbourhood, as one independent state or country inay frequently o be with regard to other independent states or coun“tries. A small quantity of manufactured produce * purchases a great quantity of rude produce. A “ trading and manufacturing country, therefore, na“ turally purchases, with a small part of its manufac-. «?tured produce, a great part of the rude produce of
Other countries; while, on the contrary, a country
without trade and manufactures is generally obliged " to purchase, at the expence of a great part of its “ rude produce, a very small part of the manufac
tured produce of other countries. The one exports what can subsist and accommodate but a
very few, and imports the subsistence and accom“ modation of a great number. The other exports "the accommodation and subsistence of a great num“ber, and imports that of a very few only. The “ inhabitants of the one must always enjoy a much "greater quantity of subsistence than what their s own lands, in the actual state of their cultivation, “could afford. The inhabitants of the other must “ always enjoy a much smaller quantity.”
His French translator, whom I have mentioned before, far from combating this part of his theory, has strengthened it by still more forcible and decisive considerations.
“ An industrious people," says he, “ enjoys such a " superiority over many other nations with regard to "manufactural industry and commercial operations, " that they may draw to themselves a considerable sportion of the raw produce of other countries.* Thus, let us suppose an article of household furni"ture, a convenient implement, manufactured with a “material uncommonly cheap, and almost of no value, " the manufacture of which, by the help of machines " and particular methods, required only one single "day of labour, represented by eight ar ten pounds
Wealth of Nations, Edition of 1805. Yol. iji. b. iv. c. 9. p. 26.
*“ of wheat; this piece of furniture, if carried to a "country which enjoys none of the advantages of " the industrious country, will naturally be valued “ by the purchasers, not according to the quantity “ of labour which it may have really cost, but accor“ding to the quantity of labour which they would be
“obliged to pay for in their own country for an arti: "cle so convenient and so agreeable. They will
" therefore gladly offer in exchange for this commo“ dity a value representing four or five days of labour 1" in their own country, or a quantity of raw produce “ corresponding to this value : consequently, such an “exchange will bring to the manufacturing country, “over and above the value of the provisions consú. “ med by the labourers who were the manufacturers " and carriers of that commodity, double the quan“tity of those provisions at least, or what is the same, “ double their price."*
After having so positively acknowledged the superiority of manufactures and trade over agriculture, how could Adam Smith and his French translator assert that agricultural labour is the most productive of labours, and contributes most efficaciously to the progress of public and private wealth: To account for this contradiction is impossible.
The French translator of Adam Smith observes, it is true, “that a source of wealth and power which pro“ceeds only from a superiority of industry, is by its "nature, temporary and precarious ; that it can last
* French translation of the Wealth of Nations, by the Senator Germain Garnier, Paris, 1802. Vol. v. note xxix, p. 272, 273.