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commerce and conquest, the wealth of Carthage, partook of the vices of both : the parsimony of the merchant tarnished the warlike virtues of the soldier, and the avidity of the soldier impaired the social virtues of the merchant; both were less'occupied with the state than with their private interests, and less anxious for their country than for their wealth. But in this instance, these vices were not the offspring of wealth, they proceeded chiefly from the conquests to which the Carthaginians owed the greatest part of their riches. The influence of the commercial spirit could not prevail over the spirit of conquest; they mutually perverted each other, and became equally incapable of saving and defending the country.
Lastly; Rome, which during the second Punic war counted two hundred and fifty thousand men under arms, beheld, when she was become mistress of the world, her liberty decided at Pharsale by sixty-three thousand combatants, forty-one thousand of whom were in the army of Pompey, and twenty-two thousand in that of Cæsar; and the world submitted to the decision of that famous battle. *
What more striking proof can there be required of the fatal effects of the concentration of riches? And is it possible to ascribe to any other cause the number
* The lands of Italy, which had been originally distributed to poor but free families, were insensibly purchased or usurped by the avarice of the nobles, and in the century which preceded the fall of the republic, there were scarcely two thousand citizens possessed of an independent fortune sufficient for their maintenance, Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
less calamities which hurled all the empires of antiquity from the summit of grandeur and power?
The Barbarians who invaded the Roman empire in the middle age, left to the vanquished a part of their riches, and shared in the other part : this partition divided wealth among two classes of men, but in proportions so unequal, that, if it did not occasion a concentration similar to that which existed at Sparta, Athens, and Rome, it caused at least so great a disparity, that the people were again divided in three classes ; one composed of slaves and bondmen, the second of small proprietors, and the third of the owners of large estates.
The bondmen, like the slaves of the ancients, were condemned to labour for their masters, and had no more rank in the state than the slaves of Athens and Rome and the Helotes of Sparta. The class doomed to this servitude, composed the major part of the people.
The small proprietors, much more numerous than the great land-owners, were indebted to the latter for their safety and part of their means of subsistence; and in both respects resembled the Proletarians and the poorer
citizens of Rome and other ancient states. The great land-owners, as they disposed of the bondmen and small proprietors, whom they attached to their fortune or rendered dependent, defied public power, warred with each other, and regarded themselves as so many independent sovereigns. This anarchy, again, had evidently its sourcein the concentration of wealth; a concentration, the strength of which
increased as the public power was enfeebled ; its excess occasioned that general misery which every where provoked resistance, and finally delivered Europe from feudal oppression.
Again, therefore, does the history of this period impute the calamities of the times to the concentration of riches, and absolve wealth itself of the reproaches with which many philosophers have judged themselves authorized to load it.
But its moral and political effects, as soon as it circulated, with comparatively less obstacles, in every class and among all individuals, ought in my opinion, to remove every doubt respecting the nature of wealth and the estimation in which it is to be held.
From that period, which separates modern times from the middle age, wealth has been as productive of public and private prosperity, as it had been before of general and individual distress.
Produced by labour, it rendered men particularly attentive to the means of augmenting the productiveness of labour.
They soon perceived, that the free labourer who works for his profit, multiplies the pro- . duce he consumes during his labour; while the slave or bondman scarcely replaces what he consumes. In proportion as this truth was diffused by experience, the passion for wealth broke the fetters with which it had held mankind enslaved.
On the other hand, the free but poor class that till then had lived dependent on the great land-owners, being enriched by labour, shook off this dependence, afforded to the public power a force formerly devoted
to the private power of the great land-owners, conferred upon civil society a greater stability and extent, and gave it a stronger and more secure direction.
By being rendered more general, the interests of the community were aggrandized, the commonwealth ceased to be a private concern, and actually became common. The interest of the hitherto oppressive and domineering rich was no longer an obstacle to good laws, a protecting government, and a public power capable of watching over and maintaining the rights and interests of all. The ideas of morality, justice, and humanity, which are effaced when poverty is oppressed by wealth, resumed their force, as soon as riches circulated in every rank of the community ; the
poor had no longer to dread the oppression of the rich, the laws guarded every private interest, and governments directed their attention to the interests of all.
As wealth diffused itself in every rank of the community, it consolidated for ever this beneficial revolution by affording to every class the means of knowledge, instruction, and wisdom, formerly confined to the rich alone. Nations, as they grew more enlightened, became better acquainted with their own interests, and better disposed to perform every individual, domestic, and social duty. Knowledge exercised a reaction upon wealth, and imparted to it a power which rules alike individuals, associations, and empires.
The social compact, the constitution, the laws and the institutions of every people, were'gradually directed towards the maintenance, preservation, extension, and possession of those riches, which every one may acquire by labour, industry and commerce.
Even in the foreign concerns of nations, and in their treaties with others, diplomacy had no other object in view than the preservation and extension of their respective riches,
Thus, that passion for wealth, which had armed the nations of antiquity and the middle age, which had continually excited them to battles, rapine, destruction, and conquest, and filled up the measure of social calamities, enticed the moderns to labour, manufactures and commerce, and inspired them with the love of peace and feelings of general benevolence and friendship. On this new road to wealth, individuals, communities and empires have found all the prosperity which may reasonably be expected in civilized society.
Wealth, produced by labour, maintains, in eighteen twentieths of the people, the strength, energy, and dexterity, with which man is endowed by nature, and developes, in the two remaining twentieths, those faculties of the mind which seem beyond thesphere of humanity, and bring man as it were nearer to the divine nature. Produced by labour, wealth banishes idleness and the vices unavoidably connected with idleness; ito renders man laborious, patient, sober, economical, and adorns him with those precious qualities, the sources of individual, domestic and social virtues.
It binds the natives of the same land by the most powerful of all thes, mutual wants, reciprocal services, and the general consideration, which they entail upon their country.