« ForrigeFortsett »
commerce. But when examined more closely, it will be seen that there is not any branch of foreign trade that, if this doctrine were admitted, would be secure against a monopoly, and the privilege of which might not easily be justified. Indeed this kind of privileges is almost always founded upon the advantage of opening a new trade with distant nations, upon the risks of a hazardous undertaking, or upon the necessity of an indemnity. All privileges therefore would be just and necessary : but in such cases, it is not the interest of the privileged individuals that ought to be considered; it is the interest of the circulation of the produce of labour. But this circulation is essentially endangered by any kind of privilege. It is checked alike by the low price of the produce and the dearness of the consumption, by the higher rate of profit, and every obstacle by which it may be obstructed.
Should it however happen, that one or several individuals had opened, at their own risk, a road unknown to commerce and of evident utility; it would be proper for government to grant them not only an indemnity, but a reward proportioned to their services This measure, conformable to justice and to the spirit of civilized societies, would afford useful encouragements, turn to the advantage of commerce, and be free from the inconvenience of exclusive privileges.
Before the guardian principles of commerce were ascertained, the immense extent of capital required for certain commercial enterprizes, the necessity of harmonizing their various branches, the permanent establishments which they demanded, the risks to which they were exposed, and the slowness of the returns, served as pretences for the creation of a number of privileges,' and have since protected them against the blows, which have been aimed at them. It is on such a foundation that almost all European nations have created monopolies or exclusive companies for the trade of the East Indies, of Africa, America, and of the East and North of Europe.
But experience has long since manifested the inutility of these privileges ; and it is now generally known, that any trade carried on by a company may be carried on much more advantageously by private individuals. It is particularly with regard to the trade with the East Indies that this truth has been made most evident. The proofs have been accumulated in a vast number of separate tracts; and among all those which I could quote, I shall appeal to the evidence of a member of the French board of trade, a man deeply learned on those subjects.
“ It is notorious,” said Mr. De Gournai, “ that, the direction of a company being very costly and burthened with many expences foreign to trade, a company can only engage in trades that yield high profits, such as cent. per cent. or eighty per cent. All trades whose profits are less, are neglected by trading companies; they cannot undertake them. But as nothing restricts commerce more than a high rate of profit, it is not surprizing that countries so extensive as China and the East Indies, do scarcely employ annually twenty vessels of the East India Company."*
* Mémoires de ”Abbé Morellet sur la Compaignio des Indies en 1769,
Let us therefore conclude, that privileges for the circulation of any branch of national and foreign produce, is contrary both to the true principles of political economy and to the progress of wealth.
Of Modern Colonies.
M ODERN colonies, in whatever light they may be viewed, have nothing common with the colonies of the ancients but the name.
The Greeks and Romans had no other object in establishing colonies, than to open a vent to an overincreased population, the wants of which exceeded the means of the society, and which, soured by misery, might become an instrument of disorder, favour civil commotions, and endanger the tranquillity and safety of the state. The object of these colonies was therefore to avoid poverty, which is always fatal to the tranquillity and power of states.
Modern colonies have a totally different object. They are an extension of the territory of the mothercountry, the means of increasing its population, wealth, and power; and they accomplish this important end by the fertility of their soil, and the variety and novelty of their productions, which render them universally desirable, and above all, by their abundance and cheapness, which place them within the reach of every one,
Brought into the market of Europe, these productions afforded a new equivalent to the produce of its soil and industry, raised its price, and necessarily augmented its production. They therefore increased the wealth of Europe, not only with their own value, but also with the value of all the commodities which they caused to be produced to serve as their equivalent. The results of this double improvement are incalculable. .
It is true, that the population of Europe has almost entirely created the population of the New World : that its capitals have paid for the clearing and cultivating of its valuable soil : but how advantageous and profitable has this employment of capital provedto Europe! It is, no doubt, impossible to ascertain the precise amount of these advantages ; but the most superficial estimation enables us to judge of
their extent and importance. · The number of Europeans who have peopled the
New World, cannot be estimated higher than one million. This population, according to the most enlightened political arithmeticians, would have been doubled in Europe in five hundred years, and consequently would have multiplied only at the rate of two thousand individuals a year, which, in the space of two centuries, would have augmented the population of Europe by four hundred thousand individuals.
The population of the New World, which is of European origin, amounts at least to twelve millions ;,which supposes that the one million of individuals who passed from Europe into the New World hare
inultiplied at the rate of fifty-three thousand three hundred individuals a year, consequently in a proportion twenty-six times superior to that which would have taken place, if that one million of individuals had remained in Europe.
The progression of the capitals which Europe sent to the New World has not been less rapid, nor less extraordinary.
Supposing that every European who went over to the New World carried with him a capital of threehundred French livres (about 121. 10s. sterling), the totality of the capitals conveyed from Europe to America, in the space of two centuries, would amount to three hundred French millions, (12,500,0001. sterling.) As this transmission was effected gradually, it is probable that Europe has not been totally deprived of it for more than a century. These three hundred millions employed in Europe would not have produced above ten per cent. per annum, and consequently would only have increased the capital of Europe by three-thousand millions.
The same three hundred millions employed in the clearing and cultivating of the lands of the New World, and in the working of its mines, have created a capital of more than five-and-twenty thousand millions.
According to the most particular information derived from persons intimately acquainted with the subject, the lands that have been cleared in the United States amount to thirty-nine millions of acres. Besides having subsisted above six millions of individuals