manufactures, and to supply themselves with the

produce of the manufactures and commerce of the North. If their trade and manufactures have decayed, their decline is to be attributed solely to the wars which swallowed their capitals, overloaded their trade with ruinous imposts, diminished their population, and plunged them iuto discouragement and despair.

When Holland and England enriched themselves with the spoils of Flanders, it was not by shutting their harbours to the Flemish traders, nor by becoming troublesome competitors in the general market ; the ruin of this industrious people was again the work of a war of oppression, pillage, and destruction, which forced their industrious inhabitants to emigrate and to seek for an asylum in Holland, Saxony, and England.

When France, Sweden, Denmark, and Prussia, shared in the manufactures and commerce of the world, England and Holland lost nothing of their trade and manufactures; and, according to the public accounts of the imports and exports of England, it may be affirmed that its trade increased in extent, activity, and productiveness.

Finally, when the United States of North America shook off che yoke which kept them fettered to the manufactures and commerce of the mother-country; when they entered into competition with all trading nations, did the 'manufactures and commerce of any nation experience any restriction ? None, undoubtedly; and it might, on the contrary, be affirmed, that the manufactures of all became more extensive, and more profitable than they had been before.

It therefore appears demonstrated by modern his

tory, that the progress of manufactures and commerce among new nations, far from being prejudicial to old trading nations, turns, on the contrary to their advantage.

Instead of bestowing upon these luminous facts the attention and importance to which they are entitled, the trade of nations with each other was regulated by the example of the individual trade of a country ; and as it was found that the number of manufacturers and traders of a village, borough, or town, cannot be increased without every one of them suffering more or less from this competition, or being even ruined, it was inferred that the same fate awaits manufacturing and trading nations in proportion as their number increases in the world. But it is easy to shew, that the two cases are essentially different, or rather that there is not any similarity between them.

The industry and trade of a village, borough or town, draw all their means of getting rich from the wealth of the place ; they are kept and paid by it, and can prosper only in proportion to this wealth, and its increase, over which they have neither direct nor indirect control. Confined to such a narrow sphere, trade and industry are merely passive and destroyed by their own efforts.

But this is not the characteristic of manufactures and trade, nor their sole power; they act a more important part in the formation of wealth, and, far from being burthensome, they are its firmest support, and perhaps its true foundation, Wherever they enjoy all their elasticity, they bestow productiveness upon the existing wealth, hasten its progress, and

[ocr errors]

carry it to the highest pitch which it can attain; they assign to labour the most beneficial direction, to capitals the best employment, and to the circulation of produce, the most rapid and most profitable activity.

When Sir Richard Arkwright invented the cottonspiuning machine, he shortened that kind of labour by two thirds, and rendered it twenty times more productive than it had been before; he improved the manufacture of cotton so as to make it an object of luxury to the rich, and lowered its price so as to enable the less fortunate classes to wear better garments: in short, he insured to this kind of industry a superior value in exchange over the other productions of general industry; and the result of his invention was less labour and more produce ; smaller expences and greater value. This saving in labour and expence, this increase of produce in value and quantity, is à real increase of public and private wealth, and in every respect assimilates the skilful mechanic to whom it owes its birth, to the husbandman, who, by his labour, increases agricultural produce. What is here observed concerning Sir Richard Arkwright, applies to all who have made any improvements in science, manufactures, and arts, from the invention of the plough to the spinning-machine. They all were creators of wealth in the ratio of the expence saved in the performance of labour, or of the higher value given to its productions.

Commerce is exactly on a par with manufactures, and contributes in the same manner to the growth of wealth : by commerce, however, we must not, as the French economists and many writers on political eco

nomy have done, understand the simple conveyance of the produce of agriculture and manufactures from the spot where it is produced to the place where it is consumed'; but such commerce as creates and, multiplies productions by conferring upon them a value which else they would not possess.

Merchants, by following navigators on all coasts, and travellers in all climates, to open commercial commụnications with their inhabitants, by bringing to market the produce of unknown countries, or of savage and barbarous nations, and, in exchange for this produce, which is of no value to those distant nations, giving them other useful and agreeable productions, are actually creators of both this new produce and the equivalents which serve to pay for it, and aug. ment public and private wealth by the whole value of this produce and its equivalents.

There is, therefore, a kind of industry which is not paid for by local wealth ; which draws its wages from the wealth which it creates, and which of course can never obstruct any kind of manufactures and trade; which can neither be impoverished by, nor impoverish any; all may prosper by each other's side, lend each other a mutual support, and be so much more beneficial to general wealth as they are numerous. Wrong notions have been entertained respecting commerce and manufactures, when it has been supposed that they are destroyed in proportion as they make any progress among different nations, and that manufacturing and trading nations have every thing to apprehend from the rapidity of such progress. The advantages of manufactures and



commerce are not precarious and transitory ; they are permanent, unlimited, and indefinite, and can never be wrested from manufacturing and trading nations by the competition of agricultural nations.

But it is particularly with regard to political power and independence that the superiority of the mercantile, over the agricultural system, becomes manifest.

In the mercantile system, the manufacturing and trading classes are able to spare, for the service of the country, a great number of young men, without any prejudice to general labour. The diminution of hands is repaired by more exertion, more assiduity, and a better employment of time on the part of the other labourers. And, should the produce be diminished, its value is increased by its scarcity, the national income always remains the same, and consequently is always adequate to the wants of the individuals who devote themselves to the service of the state; and, what is most extraordinary, commerce and manufactures extend to the whole world the burthen of war. fare which may press upon manufacturing and trading nations.

Finally, if the interest of manufacturing and trading nations requires them to carry their means of attack and defence to a great distance, they find in their foreign and commercial relations, in the circulation of their produce on all points of the globe, and in their credit, facilities, and resources, from which agricultural nations are debarred. *

* « The bounds of all the European kingdoms are, at present, ** (1752,) nearly the same they were two hundred years ago : but

« ForrigeFortsett »