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useful, have thrown considerable light upon this department of human knowledge; and, by disclosing its importance, have at length placed Political Economy in the first rank of political sciences.
But, as if the inability of ascending to general causes were the inevitable lot of man, the sources of Wealth have hitherto escaped the most laborious research. The solitary and combined efforts of the most distinguished writers among the most celebrated nations of Europe, have alike been unable to dispel the clouds in which these sources are enveloped. Opinions, arguments, and controversies, have been heaped together, which by their variety and multitude 'embarrass and fatigue the mind. The difficulty of choosing among them disheartens the student, and leaves him in doubt and uncertainty... .
If he should wish to know wherein national wealth consists; how great will be his-surprise at meeting with so many different and even contrary opinions in the most esteemed authors !
Some state the wealth of a nation to consist in the totality of the private property of its individuals *; others, in the abundance of its commodities. t .
Some, distinguishing public from private wealth, assign to the former a value in use, but no value in exchange; and to the latter, an exchangeable value,
* Sir William Petty's Treatise on Taxes and Contributions ; 1667. Gregory King's Calculation, published by Davenant. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, B. iv. c. 1. Dr. Beeke's Observations on the Produce of the Income Tax. . .
† Dixme royale du Maréchal de Vauban.
but no value in use; and make public wealth to consist in the exchangeable value of the net produce.*
Others state wealth to consist of all the material commodities which man may use to supply a want, or to procure an enjoyment either to his sensuality, his fancy, or his vanity.t
One writer considers wealth as being the posses· sion of a thing more desired by those who have it not, than by those who possess it. Another defines wealth, whatever is superfluous.
A modern French writer calls wealth the accumulation of superfluous labour :|| and a noble English author, who, like the French economists, distinguishes individual riches from public wealth, submits that .“ the latter may be accurately defined to consist of all " that man desires as useful or delightful to him ; " and the former to consist of all that man desires “as useful or delightful to him, which exists in a de"gree of scarcity.”T
* Physiocratie, p. 118. Philosophie rurale, ou Economie générale et politique de l'Agriculture, p. 60.
7 Essai sur la nature du Commerce, par Cantillon.—Abrégé des Principes d'Economie Politique, par Mr. le Sénateur Germain Garnier ; Paris, 1796.
I Richezza è il possesso d'alcuna cosa che sia piu desiderata dal altri, che dal possessore. Galiani della Moneta.
Ý Il superfluo costituisce la richezza. Palmieri publica Felicità, vol. i. p. 155.
Il Principes d'Economie Politique, par B.V. F. Canard. Paris, 1801,
f An Inquiry into the Natu 'e and Origin of public Wealth, by the Earl of Lauderdale. Edinb. 1804. ch. ii. p. 56, 57. But he French author, by saying, “ qui distingue la richesse particu
The same uncertainty, the existence of which wé. deploré concerning the nature of wealth, * prevails with regard to the means of contributing to its progress and increase.
Those who first wrote upon this important subject; being misled by appearances, assigned the precious metals obtained in return for the raw and manufactured produce exported, as the cause of the wealth of nations. t
a lière de a rickesse générale, définit la première tout ce que l'homme 6 désire comme atile ou agréable, et la seconde tout ce que l'homme * désire 'comme utile ou agréable, mais qui n'existe que dans un certain • degré de rareté;" states the very reverse of what His Lordship has asserted.-T.
* According to one German writer, National Wealth is the sum total of productive powers actually exerted in a nation. C. D. Voss, Staatswirthschaftslehre. Erste abtheilung. Zweyter Abschnitt. Leipz. 1798. According to another, it is the aggregate of all the property belonging to a nation, and to every one of its individual members. L. H. Jakob. Grundsætze der National Oekonomie ; Halle, 1805. See also page 6, of Boileau's Introduction to the Study of Political Economy. The definition of public wealth, as“ the surplus of the national income above the actual " expenditure of a nation,' given in the second page of that work, appears equally correct, since it is out of this surplus that whatever constitutes public or private property, is obtained.-T.
+ In England, Raleigh in his Essay on Commerce ; 1595. Edward Misselden on Commerce ; 1623. Lewis Roberts, the Treasure of Traffic ; 1641. Thomas Mun's England's Treasure by Foreign Trade; 1664. Fortrey's Interests and Improvements of England ; 1664. Davenant's Works relating to the Trade and Revenue of England ; 1696. M. Martin, Inspector-General of the Customs. King's British Merchant, or Commerce Preserved; 1713.
In Holland, Jean de Witt Memoires ; 1669.
Others ascribed the origin of wealth to the lowering of the legal rate of interest.* .
Deluded by a fascinating and captious theory, the French economists greatly extolled the Agricultural system.t
Adam Smith gave the preference to “ Labour im"proved by subdivision, which fixes and realizes “itself in some particular object or vendible com“modity, which lasts for some time, at least, after "that labour is past.”
Lord Lauderdale, in the work which we have quoted before, and which is remarkable for the sagacity of its views, states that, “man owes his wealth "to the power of directing his labour to the increasing "of the quantity or the meliorating of the quality of
In Italy, Sèrra Breve Trattato delle cose che possono far abondare li Regni d'Oro; 1613. Genovesi, Lezioni di Econom. Civile; 1764. Muratori, Felicit. publ. cạp. 16. sul principio. Corniani, Reflez, sul le Monete.
In France, the Cardinal de Richelieu, and Colbert, Ordonnances et Réglemens pendant leur Administration.
* Thomas Culpeper's useful Remarks on the Mischief of an high National Interest; 1641. Sir Josiah Child's Brief Observations concerning Trade and Interest of Money ; 1651. Samuel Lamb on Banks; 1657. William Paterson, author of the Project of the London Bank; 1694. Barnard's Discourses on the lowering of the Interest of Money; 1714.
1 Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, Eleventh Edition, 1805, vol. 11. b. ii. c. 3. p. 2.. David Hume has probably suggested the idea of this theory to Adam Smith. He expressly says: “ Every thing in
the world is purchased by labour.” Hume's Essays, Edinb. 1804, 8v@, vol.ii Essay on Commerce, p. 277.
:“ the productions of nature, and to the power of sup:"planting and performing labour by capital."*
The same variety of qpinions prevails respecting - the action or influence of the causes of wealth, their immediate or distant effects, their apparent or actual · results. Some systems agree on a few points, and are at variance upon others; and generally they disagree in so many respects, that they cannot possibly be reconciled, reduced to common tenets, or condensed into a general theory,
Hence that variety of systems among authors, of methods among governments, of opinions among the learned; hence the discouragement of those who are desirous of studying the science, and the indifference of those whom a sense of duty should prompt to acquire the knowledge of it; hence also the little consideration which Political Economy enjoys in the world, and its total exclusion from the official routine of practical statesmen..
Some, in other respects well-informed men, doubt the existence of the science; others are even tempted to consider it as an occult one, the mysteries of which are revealed only to a few initiated individuals: thus ignorance, in this as in many other instances, begets alike incredulity and superstition.
When, in the course of private life, certain indivia duals get rich while others grow poor, the generality
* An Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Public Wealth, and into the Means and Causes of its Increase; by the Earl of Lauderdale. Edinb. 1804. p. 363.