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it is much to be deplored, that such salutary effects are so frequently disturbed, obstructed, or impeded, by numberless political, economical, and administrative regulations.
There are then fixed and positive laws which deterinine the true proportion of consumption to income. Whenever private and public consumption exceeds the national income or the total produce of general labour, capitals are exhausted, industry pines, produce is diminished, the wages of labour sink, the population decays ; nations are impoverished, and frequently leave no vestige of their existence but in the pages of history and in the monuments of their ruin.
When private and public consumption is equal to the produce of general labour, individuals possibly may not be sufferers, they may enjoy a happy and tranquil existence, and population and wealth may even attain some splendour. * But this prosperity is precarious, dependant on every passing event; the least shock is sufficient to precipitate such a colossus from its slender foundation, to destroy the golden
* The author even says : “ Et il ne seroit pas étonnant que le population et la richesse s' élevassent à une tre's-grande splendeur.” But if a nation consume exactly as much as it receives, it grows neither richer nor poorer : and it is difficult to conceive how population and wealth can attain any splendour, when they are running the most imminent risk of retrograding. Wealth cannot be increased without receiving an addition, and it cannot rise to splendour without being increased.-See Boileau's Introduction to the Study of Political Economy, page 350.---T.
statue resting on feet of clay, to hurl a flourishing people from the pinnacle of grandeur, and to bend their necks under the yoke of a conqueror.
Individuals and nations enjoy a solid and permanent prosperity only when private and public consumption does not absorb the general income; when the surplus produce, that is annually accumulated, is not diverted from its destination by the political constitution of the country, or the economical and adininistrative measures of government, nor concentrated in some favoured classes, or among a few privileged men; when, being left to the individual by whom it has been saved, it augments the sum of labour, raises the wages of labourers, increases population, developes industry, multiplies wealth, and places public power on the immoveable basis of population and wealth. .
Adam Smith has inquired whether there be one kind of consumption more proper, more profitable, and more favourable to the wealth and power of nations; and he demonstratively shews, that property, expended in durable commodities, or in accumulating goods that have a lasting value, is more beneficial to private economy, and of course to the increase of public capital, than that which is expended in commodities as frivolous as trinkets and all the trifling ornaments of our garments and furniture.
It ought, however, to be remembered, that though it may be advantageous.to wealth that the expences of individuals and nations should preferably be directed to solid and lasting commodities, it may yet not be indifferent to the individual character and manners of
nations, and perhaps to the general prosperity of the world, that the tastes of nations be various, that their enjoyments be multiplied, and that they be anxious to partake of the treasures of all soils, and of the produce of all labour, industry, and commerce. Though riches are means of prosperity and power, they yet are not the sole object and end of man in his individual and social capacity ; and I think it is enough for political economy to point out the road to wealth; the care of applying wealth to the uses most conducive to the happiness of individuals and nations must be left to morals and politics.
CONCLUSION OF THE WORK.
THE various systems of political economy, thus analysed, approximated, and discussed, form a focus of knowledge which sheds a most brilliant light on the science, brightens the path into the labyrinth of public and private wealth, and affords a glimpse of the end towards which it ought to be directed. The science has not yet, it is true, attained that degree of certainty and evidence which precludes all doubts and controversy among the learned, yet it is sufficiently advanced to prescribe rules of conduct that no country can neglect without rendering herself tributary to the nations by which they are observed, without losing part of her natural and acquired advantages, and without descending from the rank which she ought to hold among other powers.
Political economy is peculiarly entitled to attention and consideration, because wealth, the sources of which it studies and investigates, has been, at all times, among all nations, and under all governments, the constant object of the desires and ambition, of the efforts and combinations of all. And is this to be woudered at ? Wealth has always been the basis,
and frequently the measure of private regard, of social distinctions, and of the absolute and relative power of empires, As wealth, among the people of antiquity and the middle age, was wrested from weakness by force, from slaves by their masters, from the vanquished by their conquerors, from a large number of subjugated nations by a domineering people; as it was concentrated in one metropolis, and became the exclusive patrimony of some privileged families, it proved the direct aud immediate cause of the troubles and disorders which successively agitated the domi. neering people, of the revolutions which shook their empire, and of the convulsions which occasioned their decline and fall. The innumerable calamities with which wealth was pregnant, have not escaped the attention of ancient and modern moralists and politicians, and inspired them with violent prepossessions against it. They imputed to wealth every vice, every evil, every crime, in which it had shared; and even went so far as to suppose it incompatible with good morals, with the stability of empires and the prosperity of nations.
But the history of modern wealth, far from confirming this severe judgment, has refuted its errors and dissipated its illusions. Created by general labour, modern wealth has been as productive of prosperity as that of antiquity and the middle age had been productive of misfortunes, crimes, and misery. Modern empires are all indebted to wealth for their independence; for the security of their governments; for the stability of the civil power, that guardian an gel of individual safety, private prosperity, and public