produce in all its ramifications; it diffuses comforts,

and is the cause of the surplus of produce above con:: sumption, being economised, accumulated, and a

stock reserved for the increase of population, the extension of general labour, and the formation of wealth.

Considered in this light, labour appears to contribute to wealth merely through its produce being exchanged, and it is by this exchange alone, that its particular and general properties ought to have been estimated.

But it is not thus that labour has been appreciated by the French economists; they considered it singly in its different kinds, opposed one to the other, and in this imaginary point of view pronounced it productive or unproductive at their pleasure. • To examine whether it be possible to separate labour from the exchange of its produce, would be a very interesting inquiry ; but the discussion would be idle, since it appears evident that unexchanged labour cannot produce any wealth.

Under the supposition that labour be not exchange ed, every individual is reduced to work, to procure the articles necessary for his food, his raiment, and his dwelling; and whatever may be his dexterity, his ardour, and activity, he is badly provided with what is absolutely necessary, and cannot easily attain any kind of comfort, and cannot possibly obtain any surplas; the only means of growing rich. Thousands of ages would roll along, and the unexchanged labour of an individual would not be able to produce any wealth.

Nations of hunters and fishermen, assuredly, labouf. much; their labour is even toilsome and dangerous ; and yet, far from being conducive to wealth, it always leaves them in misery and indigence. . If the condition of nations of shepherds be less wretched than that of hunters and fishermen; the utmost they can do is to supply their wants ; and if, at some periods, they have ranked among rich nations, their wealth was not the produce of labour, but of the spoils of the wealthy nations u hich they plundered. Their wealth even was not of long continuance; it disappeared as rapidly as it had been acquired. The Tartars several times plundered Asia and Europe ; Genghis Kan, Tamerlan, and Attila, transported immense riches to the deserts of Tartary, without being able to render them productive ; and nothing remains of their power and grandeur but the remembrance of their ferocity and rapacity. Almost from the creation of the world, the Arabs of the desert have continued to rob every nation, and every individual that has the misfortune to come in their way; and yet they never could grow rich. They will for ever continue poor, because they live on a produce of labour little susceptible of being exchanged, or the exchange of which is extremely limited.

Agricultural nations restricted to mere agricultural labour, and destitute of the ineans of interchange with other nations, have never existed : we cannot even form an idea of such nations, without going back to the time when they began to be known by other nations : and surely they were then very far from being wealthy; their condition was rather



wretched, and bordering on extreme poverty.* It is well known, in what condition Greece, Africa, and Italy, were found by the Egyptians and Phænicians, when they sent colonies to civilize these countries. The situation of the North of Europe was not happier when the Carthaginians, Phocæans, and Romans, carried thither the arts of civilized life: they were, no doubt, less miserable than nations of shepherds, hunters, and fishermen ; they had more means to supply themselves with food, raiment, and dwellings : but they had not got so far as to accumulate any surplus, and had not the least idea of riches.

Whatever be the kind of labour they are employed in, wealth cannot be acquired, increased, and preserved, among any people, but when commerce, bringing foreign in exchange for the national produce, affords greater means of subsistence, more comforts and enjoyments, and particularly when it directs their labour to new objects, with the utility of which they were unacquainted, and in which they find new

[ocr errors]


* la 966, says Bishop Fleetwood in his Chronicon Preciosum, " a palfrey was worth 10s. ; an acre of land was purchased for 1s. ; " and an hide of land, which contained 120 acres, at one hundred “shillings.” See Anderson's Historical and Chronological Deduction of the Origin of Commerce, 2 vols. fol. London, 1764, vol. i. book iii. p. 52. At present, ten acres of land are worth twenty good horses, and more. The cheapness of the land in the tenth century is accounted for by the great difficulty of and obstruction to the sale of the barons' lands until the statute of King Henry VII., gave leave for their sale. And this circumstance confirms the author's theory, that it is the possibility of exchanging it, which gives value to any produce of labour.-T.

instruments of exchange and wealth. Such has every where been the progress of labour, civilization, and wealth.

Although, the physical revolutions of the globe, the political convulsions of empires, and the lapse of time, left us but insufficient monuments to trace the progress of wealth; yet its having been the work of commerce and of the industrious activity of manufacturers, cannot possibly be doubted.

It was from Egypt and Phænicia that issued the numerous colonies which civilized Greece.*

I shall not examine whether the Egyptians had any commercial object in view in this colonization; this would not agree with what has been stated of their religious aversion to navigation; or whether they merely wanted to get rid of a population they could not maintain. This inquiry is foreign to my subject, and would lead me too far from my plan.

But I think no reasonable doubt can be entertained respecting the destination of the colonies which the Phænicians successively carried to Greece, to the islands of the Archipelago and the Mediterranean, to the shores of the Ægean Sea, of the Euxine and the Black Sea, and into Italy, Gaul, Spain, and Africa. These colonies were as many factories, which attracted the wandering and savage tribes of the neighbouring countries by the lure of new enjoyments, by the captivating exchange of commodities with which they were over-abundantly furnished and for which they did not care, for those which they ardently desired ;, sorrerariamente pro p

* Voyage d'Anacharsis..

and, above all, by the prospect of a less precarious, less toilsome, and more secure existence. * These colonies were as many staples, which opened new channels to the commerce of Tyre and Sidon, and procured new consumers for the produce of their industry. Thus the interests of commerce have been the promoters and instruments of the civilization of that part of the world, and what is very singular, the account of the first historical times agrees with that which modern bistory gives us of the civilization and wealth of America. This similarity of the most remote times with those nearer us, affords a sufficient proof of the progress of wealth and civilization in times with which we are unacquainted, and authorizes us to infer with certainty, that commercial exchange has been for all nations the road to wealth.

It is therefore difficult to conceive that agricultural labour should alone be productive of wealth, and that all other labours should be barren and unproductive. If, like all other labours, agricultural labour cooperates in the creation of wealth merely by the exchange of its productions ; if it has no value but through this exchange, we cannot exclusively allow the productive faculty to it, and affix to all other labours the stigma of a shameful barrenness.t

* Canaan in Sam. Bocharti Geographia Sacra. See Bocharti Opeia omnia. Lugd. Bat. 1692. 3 vols. fol.

t"On examining the labours that produce wealth, those that “circulate it, and those that maintain the order and tranquillity es“sential to its preservation and increase; we perceive that they are

« ForrigeFortsett »