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Manufactures and commerce afford in every respect means of wealth, power, and grandeur, which are not found in agriculture; and Adam Smith was equally right when he asserted, 1. That it is to the labours of industry that we are indebted for that general opulence which in a well-governed community extends to the lowest classes of the people ; and, 2. That the improvements of commerce and manufactures have begun in places, which enjoyed the rare", advantage of carrying their produce to the market of the whole world.
Why has this precious and apparently involuntary avowal, drawn from his candour, not been developed in his excellent work? Why, after having acknowledged that the agricultural system cannot alone form a great nation, has not Adam Smith examined whether the case was the same with the mercantile system ? And, though the latter has so many advantages over the former in his reasonings, why do his conclusions give the preference to the agricultural, over the mercantile system?
Shall I be allowed to declare the reason ? Strong understandings are rarely fond of innovating : the authority of times that are past, often stops them on the road to new truths: they are afraid of going astray, even when they pursue the direction of the light which they themselves profusely stattered
"what a difference is there in the power and grandeur of those kings "doms? Which can be ascribed to nothing but the increase of art " and industry." Hume's Essays. Edinb, 1804. vol. i. part 2, of RA finement in the Arts, page 290.
abroad: When Adam Smith wrote his immortal work, the agricultural system was predominent in the most recent publications, and the mercantile system preponderated in public opinion and in the cabinets of princes. To choose between the two doctrines, or to introduce a new one, would not perhaps have been an easy task, and would not have insured the success of his work. The state of the science in his time rendered doubts allowable; and it is but justice to acknowledge, that if he declared for the agricultural system, he neglected none of the considerations which could recommend the mercantile system and cause it to triumph, as it were, over his own decision. He overturned with one hand the altar which he had raised with the other, and contented himself with refuting errors fatal to the science without daring to proclaim truths which would have insured its progress and success. To leave the question undecided between the agricultural and mercantile system, would have been neglecting his own lessons; it would have been stopping short of the point to which he has carried the science, it would have been relinquishing the course which he himself has traced to wealth.
Let us therefore conclude, that if labour has the greatest share in the formation and progress of wealth, this productiveness is not the exclusive lot of any particular labour, but is common to labour in general, and eminently connected with manufactures and commerce.
How beautiful is this concurrence of all labours to produce wealth without any other pre-eminence or distinction, than that which is obtained by the exchange of their productions ! How encouraging to the labouring classes, incentive to nations, favourable to civilization, and honourable to humanity! In this system, all follow their individual inclinations, develope and improve their faculties, encourage each other by a noble emulation, are every moment remioded of their need of each other, connected by habit and mutual interest, and bound by the ties of the great family of the human race which the formation of separate nations had broken. Scattered all over the globe, men are no longer strangers to each other, they labour one for the other, and correspond together, although separated by deep seas, 'severe climates, inaccessible mountains, and unhospitable deserts. Thanks to the genius of commerce and the inexhaustible resources of industry, perils are braved, difficulties vanquished, obstacles overcome, and the produce of general labour circulated all over the world.*
Can this generous and liberal system be compared with that which acknowledges no wealth but what proceeds from agriculture, allows the latter à superiority over all other labours, pays them with its produce, and impoverishes them all to grow rich by their misery ? The parallel is repugnant to every principle by which the nature and effects of labour in general are regulated ; and it would be improper to dwell any longer upon it.
* “ Tutte le invenzione le piu' ben meritè del genere humano, e " che hanno sviluppato l'ingegno e la facolta dell'animo nostro,
sono quelle che accostano l'uomo a l'uomo e facilitano la commu“nicazione delle idee, dei bisogni, dei sentimenti, e riducono il ge* Dere umano a massa,” Dello Econ. Polit. del Conde Veri, $ 2.
The nature and effects of labour in general being fixed and known, let us see which means the different systems recommend to increase its force, develope its faculties, and extend its power, and what obstacles oppose its progress, paralyse its efforts, and impede its success.
Of the Causes which invigorate Labour, improve its
Powers, and ameliorate its Produce.
ADAM Smith, who first assigned to labour such important functions, demonstrated its powerful influence upon wealth, and rendered it so interesting in economical respects, is also the first who bestowed particular attention upon the causes which invigorate labour, improve its faculties, and augment and ameliorate its produce. He ascribes all its improvements to the division of its parts, or the confiding to several hands the different branches of the same labour, which gives each labourer more dexterity, avoids the loss of time occasioned by the change of labour, and is conducive to the invention of machines which shorten and facilitate labour and enable one individ. ual to perform the labour of many.
This fruitful principle, on which Adam Smith reared his system of political economy, to which he
bent his theory, and which exercises a sort of domination over the science, had hitherto been considered as one of the facts which have most accelerated the progress of political economy and most contributed to the celebrity of its author. · But this title to glory has not been respected by the Earl of Lauderdale; and it is, no doubt, interesting to behold the efforts of the Noble Author to overturn the main pillar of political economy.
Lord Lauderdale begins by observing, “that the " idea of the effects of the division of labour is not new ;
that the dexterity which man acquires in performing labour, by confining himself to one par
ticular branch, has been dwelt upon from the times “ of Xenophon to the present day ; and that, on this
principle, professions in ancient times had been "made hereditary; as was the case in Egypt, in some
parts of India, and in Peru."
To this rather critical than instructive observation, the noble Earl adds, that “the great number of dis"tinct operations that contribute towards the forma" tion of some of the most trifling manufactures, “such as the trade of pin-making, is not derived “ from any degree of habitual dexterity, or from the
saving of time, as results of the division of labour; “ but from the circumstance of supplanting and
performing labour by capital. Without the machinery, which the faculty that man possesses of supplanting labour by capital introduces, no great
progress could have been made in the rapidity with " which pins are formed; and one man, with the use " of this machinery, though he goes through and per