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produce without value. Were some nations even less favourably situated for agriculture, or blind enough to apply their capital to manufactures; if navigation had no-where made a progress proportioned to that of agriculture, (which would infallibly be the case, if the employment of capital in agriculture were the most beneficial ;) there would be no vent for the surplus of agricultural produce, and consequently all superfluous re-production would be at an end.
Adam Smith was no doubt aware of these results, when he said that the agricultural system can en. tich a country only by rearing artisans, merchants, and manufacturers; and that this can only be accoʻy, plished by giving the utmost liberty to commerce and manufactures."
But he also was so sensible of the insufficiency of these means, that he says, " the agricultural system discourages, in the end, the very industry which it ought to favour.”
If the agricultural system can enrich a country only by creating industry and commerce, and if, instead of favouring it, it discourages them ; it is self-evident that this system never can in any case enrich a country, and consequently no country can, without prejudice to her interests, employ her capitals in agri. culture.
Will it be said, that the surplus of capitals which cannot be employed in agriculture, is applied to man, ufactures and commerce, and that this employment, by causing the latter to prosper, confers upon the age ricultural produce a value and power which it had not of itself?
The consequence may at least be doubted; it is much more probable, that being incited to labour by their wants, the agricultural classes will only rear as much produce as is sufficient to supply these wants, and never will have a surplus to devote to the establishment and maintenance of manufactures and commerce.
But admitting that there is a surplus of agricultural produce which, by its new employment, might create manufactures and commerce; if this surplýs, by creating manufactures and commerce, is the true cause of the wealth of the agricultural classes, it must be acknowledged that the most useful employment of capital is not that which supports agriculture, but that which supports manufactures and commerce.
And let it not be supposed, that if the employment of capital in agriculture be not the most useful in the infancy of wealth and capitals, it is more beneficial when wealth has reached a certain pitch, and capitals are abundant and nearly sufficient for the support of every branch of labour. The influence of capitals employed in agriculture upon public prosperity even then can only be proportioned to the success of the capitals employed in manufactures and commerce. Even then agriculture can prosper only through the prosperity of manufactures and commerce. How can the employment of capital in agriculture be the most useful and most profitable, when its utility is dependent on the utility of the capitals employed in manufactures and commerce; when the nation to whom these different capitals belong, can expect wealth only from manufactures and commerce, which enrich agriculture and render it productive ?
OF 'POLITICAL ECONOMY.
It appears to me fully demonstrated, that in this first supposition, in the case of an agricultural country with an extensive territory, the employment of capital in agriculture is not the most advantageous, and cannot lead to wealth: a nation can only grow wealthy, as has also been remarked by Adam Smith, by some great manufacture destined to answer the demands of foreign countries.
But would not the case be different with regard to a people whom nature or fate has cast on some barren shore or deep marsh-land, whence the sea has receded, but which it still threatens every moment with a fresh incursion ?
In this case, I think again, that to propose to such a people to employ their capitals in agriculture would be condemping them to eternal misery.
If, on the contrary, they apply their savings to inanufactures, cominerce, and navigation; this employment opens inexhaustible sources of wealth, which, pouring in from abroad, are concentrated in the country, and render barrenness itself productive. Of this, both ancient and modern history afford numerous and striking examples.
Tyre, Athens, Carthage, Constantinople, Venice, Genoa, and Holland, rose to wealth and power by employing their capitals in industry and commerce ; and, what is equally remarkable, history does not offer a single nation that, by the exclusive employment of capitals in agriculture, accumulated with so little means and resources such extensive wealth, enjoyed so great a consideration, and attained such an eminent degree of power and grandeur. How then is it
possible to compare, and even to prefer, the employment of capital in agriculture to its employment in manufactures and commerce ?
Adam Smith again furnishes us with an argument conclusive against his system, and all in favour of manufactures and commerce.
He acknowledges, that “the first improvements, of art and industry must have been made on the seacoast and along the banks of navigable rivers, where the conveniency of water carriage opens the whole world for a market to the produce of every sort of labour."
How has it happened, that a truth so pregnant with consequences did not wean him from the system he adopted ? How was it that he did not perceive, that if iodustry and commerce owed their first progress to causes unconnected with agriculture, if they prosper by themselves and independently of agricultural wealth, nothing can hinder capitals, thus employed, from enriching the people to whom they belong, as well as capitals employed in agriculture ? The fact cannot be denied.
Although Adam Smith laid the foundations of the mercantile system, he yet could not detach himself from the impression which agricultural ideas had made on his mind. Though he attached great importance to manufactures and commerce, he yet considered them simply as the instruments, agents, and distributors of agricultural wealth. He constantly kept very close to the system
• Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, London, 1805, vol. i. book i. chap. 3, page 31.
of the French economists which he had combated, and in the end gave it the preference over the system he had created.
But he has himself provided us with the means of avoiding the error into which he fell, by the very lights which he disseminated and neglected.
Why should capitals employed in agriculture be more advantageous to a nation than capitais employed in manufactures and commerce? It is, says he, because in this kind of labour nature does a third or a fourth of the work, and, consequently, economizes a third or a fourth of the capitals.
But the produce of labour, according to his own principles, is not valued by what it has cost, nor by its use, but by its value in exchange : of course it matters little, whether the agricultural produce costs more or less to be raised, if it has not a greater value or even less value in exchange. A quarter of wheat, though it cost less to produce than a large lookingglass, and though its value in use be far superior to that of a mirror, may, however, have no value at all, if no one wants it ; while a mirror may have a very great value, if desired by many individuals. It is, therefore, neither this nor that particular produce which constitutes wealth; it is the exchangeable vaIne of all produce, and the capitals which confer the greatest exchangeable value upon the produce of a country are the most useful and most favourable to the wealth of that country. Capitals employed in manufactures and commerce are eminently possessed of that faculty, because they afford the produce most in request, and find consumers and commodities in