Imatges de pÓgina
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ties and at such times as may be most suitable for all classes of consumers. And since it is ad mitted, on all hands, that this necessary business will be best conducted by a class of traders distinct from the wholesale dealers, it is impossible to doubt that their employment is equally conducive as that of the others to the public interest, or that it tends equally to augment national wealth and comfort.

II. Home TRADE. The observations already made serve to show the influence of the home trade in allowing individuals to confine their attention to some one employment, and to prosecute it without interruption. But it is not in this respect only that the establishment of the home trade is advantageous. It is so in a still greater degree, by its allowing the inhabitants of the different districts of the empire to turn their labour into those channels in which it will be inost productive. The different soils, different minerals, and different climates of different districts, fit them for being appropriated, in preference, to certain species of industry. A district, like Lancashire, where coal is abundant, which has an easy access to the ocean, and a considerable command of internal navigation, is the natural seat of manufactures. Wheat and other species of grain are the natural products of rich arable soils ; and cattle, after being reared in mountainous districts, are most advantageously fattened in meadows and low grounds. Hence it follows, that the inhabitants of different districts, by confining themselves to those branches of industry for the successful prosecution of which they have some peculiar capability, and exchanging their surplus produce for that of others, will obtain an incomparably larger supply of all sorts of useful and desirable products, than they could do, were they to apply themselves indiscriminately to every different business. The territorial division of labour is, if possible, even more advantageous than its division among individuals. A person may be what is commonly called Jack of all trades; and though it is next to certain that he will not be well acquainted with any one of them, he may nevertheless make some sort of rude efforts in them all. But it is not possible to apply the same soils or the same minerals to every different purpose. Hence it is, that the inhabitants of the richest and most extensive country, provided it were divided into small districts without any intercourse with each other, or with foreigners, could not, how well soever labour might be divided among themselves, be otherwise than poor and miserable. Some of them might have a superabundance of corn, at the same time that they were wholly destitute of wine, coal, and iron: while others might have the largest supplies of the latter articles, with but very little grain. But in commercial countries no such anomalies can exist. Opulence and comfort are there universally diffused. The labours of the mercantile classes enable the inhabitants of each district to apply themselves principally to those employments that are naturally best suited to them. This superadding of the division of labour among different provinces to its division among different individuals, renders the productive powers of industry immeasurably greater ; and augments the mass of necessaries, conveniences, and enjoyments, in a degree that could not previously have been conceived possible, and which cannot be exceeded except by the introduction of foreign commerce.

" With the benefit of commerce," says an eloquent and philosophical writer, “ or a ready exchange of commodities, every individual is enabled to avail hiinself, to the utmost, of the peculiar advantage of his place; to work on the peculiar materials with which nature has furnished him; to humour bis genius or disposition, and betake himself to the task in which he is peculiarly qualified to succeed. The inhabitant of the mountain may betake himself to the culture of his woods and the manufacture of his timber; the owner of pasture lands may betake himself to the care of his herds ; the owner of the clay-pit to the manufacture of his pottery ; and the husbandman to the culture of his fields, or the rearing of his cattle. And any one commodity, however it may form but a small part in the accommodations of human life, may, under the facility of commerce, find a market in which it may be exchanged for what will procure any other part, or the whole : so that the owner of the clay-pit, or the industrious potter, without producing any one article immediately fit to supply his own necessities, may obtain possession of all that he wants. And commerce, in which it appears that commodities are merely exchanged, and nothing produced, is, nevertheless, in its effects, very productive, because it ministers a facility and art encouragement to every artist in multiplying the productions of his own art; thus adding greatly to the mass of wealth in the world, in being the occasion that much is produced."---( Ferguson's Principles of Moral Science, vol. ü p. 424.)

The roads and canals that intersect a country, and open an easy communication between its remotest extremities, render the greatest service to internal commerce, and also to agriculture and manufactures. A diminution of the expense of carriage has, in fact, the same effect as a diminution of the direct cost of production. If the coals brought into a city sell at 208. a ton, of which the carriage amounts to a half, or 10s., it is plaint


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that in the event of an improved communication, such as a more level or direct road, a railway, or a canal, being opened for the conveyance of the coals, and that they can, by its means, be imported for half the previous expense, their price will immediately fall to 158. a ton; just as it would have done, had the expense of extracting them from the mine been reduced a half.

Every one acquainted with the merest elements of political science is aware that employments are more and more subdivided, that more powerful machinery is introduced, and the productive powers of labour increased, according as larger masses of the population congregate together. In a great town like London, Glasgow, or Manchester, the same number of hands will perform much more work than in a small village, where each individual has to perform several operations, and where the scale of employment is not sufficiently large to admit of the introduction of extensive and complicated machinery. But the great towns with which England is studded could not exist without our improved means of communication. These, however, enable their inhabitants to supply themselves with the bulky products of the soil and of the mines almost as cheaply as if they lived in country villages ; securing to them all the advantages of concentration, with but few of its inconveniences. Roads and canals are thus productive of a double benefit; for while. by affording comparatively cheap raw materials to the manufacturers, they give them the means of perfecting the divisions of labour, and of supplying propor. tionally cheap manufactured goods; the latter are conveyed by their means, and at an extremely small expense, to the remotest parts of the country. The direct advantages which they confer on agriculture are not less important. Without them it would not be possible to carry to a distance sufficient supplies of lime, marl, shells, and other bulky and heavy articles necessary to give luxuriance to the crops of rich soils, and to render those that are poor productive. Good roads and canals, therefore, by furnishing the agriculturists with cheap and abundant supplies of manure, reduce, at one and the same time, the cost of producing the necessaries of life, and the cost of bringing them to market.

In other respects, the advantages resulting from improved communications are probably even more striking. They give the same common interest to every different part of the most widely extended empire ; and put down, or rather prevent, any attempt at monopoly on the part of the dealers of particular districts, by bringing them into competition with those of all the others. Nothing in a state enjoying great facilities of communication is separate and unconnected. All is mutual, reciprocal, and dependent. Every man naturally gets into the precise situation that he is best fitted to fill; and each, cooperating with every one else, contributes to the utmost of his power to extend the limits of production and civilisation. — (See Roads.)

Such being the nature and vast extent of the advantages derived from the home trade, it is obviously the duty of the legislature to give it every proper encouragement and protection. It will be found, however, on a little consideration, that this duty is rather negative than positive -- that it consists less in the framing of regulations, than in the removal of obstacles. The error of governments in matters of trade has not been that they have done too little, but that they have attempted too much. It will be afterwards shown that the encouragement which has been afforded to the producers of certain species of articles in preference to others, has uniformly been productive of disadvantage. In the mean time it is sufficient to observe, that the encouragement which a prudent and enlightened government bestows on industry, will equally extend to all its branches ; and will be especially directed to the removal of every thing that may in any respect fetter the freedom of commerce, and the power of individuals to engage in different employments. All regulations, whatever be their object, that operate either to prevent the circulation of commodities from one part of the empire to another, or the free circulation of labour, necessarily tend to check the division of employments and the spirit of competition and emulation, and must, in consequence, lessen the amount of produce. The same principle that prompts to open roads, to construct bridges and canals, should lead every people to erase from the statute book every regulation which either prevents or fetters the operations of the merchant, and the free disposal of capital and labour. Whether the freedom of internal commerce and industry be interrupted by impassable mountains and swamps, or by oppressive tolls or restrictive regulations, the effect is equally pernicious.

The common law and the ancient statute law of England are decidedly hostile to monopolies, or to the granting of powers to any particular class of individuals to furnish the market with commodities. Lord Coke distinctly states, “ that all monopolies concerning trade and traffic are against the liberty and freedom granted by the great charter, and divers other acts of parliament which are good commentaries upon that charter.” -(2 Inst. 63.) And he affirms, in another place, that, “ Commercium jure gentium commune esse debet, et non in monopolium et privatum paululorum questum conrertendum. Iniquum est aliis permittere, aliis inhibere mercaturam.

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But, notwithstanding this concurrence of the common an a statute law of the country in favour of the freedom of industry, during the arbitrary reigns of the princes of the house of Tudor, the notion that the crown was by its prerogative entitled to dispense with any law to the contrary, and to establish monopolies, became fashionable among the court lawyers, and was acted upon to a very great extent. Few things, indeed, occasioned so much dissatisfaction in the reign of Elizabeth as the multiplication of monopolies ; and notwithstanding the opposition made by the crown, and the court party in parliament, the grievance became at length so intolerable as to give rise to the famous statute of 1624 (21 James 1. c. 3. ), by which all monopolies, grants, letters patent, and licences, for the sole buying, selling, and making of goods and manufactures, not given by an act of the legislature, are declared to be “altogether contrary to the laws of this realm, void, and of none effect.” This statute has been productive of the greatest advantage; and has, perhaps, contributed more than any other to the development of industry, and the accumulation of wealth. With the exception of the monopoly of printing Bibles, and the restraints imposed by the charters of bodies legally incorporated, the freedom of internal industry has ever since been vigilantly protected; full scope has been given to the principle of competition; the whole kingdom has been subjected to the same equal law; no obstacles have been thrown in the way of the freest transfer of commodities from one country or place to another; the home trade has been perfectly unfettered; and though the public have not been supplied with commodities at so low a price as they might have obtained them for, had there been no restrictions on foreign commerce, they have obtained them at the lowest price that would suflice to pay the home producers the cost of producing and bringing them to market. It is to this freedom that the comparatively flourishing state of industry in Great Britain is mainly to be ascribed.

III. FOREIGN TRADE. What the home trade is to the different provinces of the same country, foreign trade is to all the countries of the world. Particular countries produce only particular commodities, and, were it not for foreign commerce, would be entirely destitute of all but such are indigenous to their own soil. It is difficult for those who have not reflected on the subject, to imagine what a vast deduction would be made, not only from the comforts, but even from the necessaries, of every commercial people, were its intercourse with strangers put an end to. It is not, perhaps, too much to say that in Great Britain we owe to our intercourse with others a full half or more of all that we enjoy. We are not only indebted to it for the cotton and silk marrufactures, and for supplies of wine, tea, coffee, sugar, the precious metals, &c. ; but we are also indebted to it for most of the fruits and vegetables that we now cultivate. At the same time, too, that foreign commerce supplies us with an immense variety of most important articles, of which we must otherwise have been wholly ignorant, it enables us to employ our industry in the mode in which it is sure to be most productive, and reduces the price of almost every article. We do not misemploy our labour in raising sugar from the beet-root, in cultivating tobacco, or in forcing vines; but we employ ourselves in those departments of manufacturing industry in which our command of coal, of capital, and of improved machinery give us an advantage; and obtain the articles produced more cheaply by foreigners, in exchange for the surplus produce of those branches in which we have a superiority over

a them. A commercial nation like England avails herself of all the peculiar facilities of production given by Providence to different countries. To produce claret here is perhaps impossible; and at all events it could not be accomplished, unless at more than 100 times the expense required for its production in France. We do not, however, deny ourselves the gratification derivable from its use; and to obtain it, we have only to send to France, or to some country indebted to France, some articles in the production of which we have an advantage, and we get claret in exchange at the price which it takes to raise it under the most favourable circumstances. One country has peculiar capacities for raising corn, but is at the same time destitute of wine, silk, and tea; another, again, has peculiar facilities for raising the latter, but is destitute of the former; and it is impossible to point out a single country which is abundantly supplied with any considerable variety of commodities of domestic growth. Non omnis fert omnia tellus. Providence, by giving to each particular nation something which the others want, has evidently intended that they should be mutually dependent upon one another. And it is not difficult to see that, cæteris paribus, those must be the richest and most abundantly supplied with every sort of useful and desirable accommodation, who cultivate the arts of peace with the greatest success, and deal with all the world on fair and liberal principles.

“ The commerce of one country with another is, in fact,” to use the words of an able and profound writer, “ merely an extension of that division of labour by which so many benefits are conferred upon the human race. As the same country is rendered the richer by the trade of one province with another; as its labour becomes thus infinitely

more divided and more productive than it could otherwise have been; and as the mutual supply to each other of all the accommodations which one province has, and another wants, multiplies the accommodations of the whole, and the country becomes thus in a wonderful degree more opulent and happy; the same beautiful train of consequences is observable in the world at large, – that great empire of which the different kingdoms and tribes of men may be regarded as the provinces. In this magnificent empire, too, one province is favourable to the production of one species of accommodation, and another province to another : by their mutual intercourse they are enabled to sort and distribute their labour as most peculiarly suits the genius of each particular spot. The labour of the human race thus becomes much more productive, and every species of accommodation is afforded in much greater abundance. The same number of labourers, whose efforts might have been expended in producing a very insignificant quantity of home-made luxuries, may thus, in Great Britain, produce a quantity of articles for exportation, aommodated to the wants of other places, and peculiarly suited to the genius of Britain to furnish, which will purchase for her an accumulation of the luxuries of every quarter of the globe. There is not a greater proportion of her population employed in adıninistering to her luxuries, in consequence of her commerce; there is probably a good deal less; but their labour is infinitely more productive: the portion of commodities which the people of Great Britain acquire by means of the same labour, is vastly greater." - (Mill's Commerce defended, p. 38.)

What has been already stated is sufficient to expose the utter fallacy of the opinion that has sometimes been maintained, that whatever one nation may gain by her foreign commerce, must be lost by some one else. It is singular, indeed, how such a notion should ever have originated. Commerce is not directly productive, nor is the good derived from it to be estimated by its immediate effects. What commercial nations give is uniformly the fair equivalent of what they get. In their dealings they do not prey upon each other, but are benefited alike. The advantage of commerce consists in its enabling labour to be divided, and giving each people the power of supplying themselves with the various articles for which they have a demand, at the lowest price required for their production in those countries and places where they are raised with the greatest facility. We import wine from Portugal, and cotton from America, sending in exchange cloth and other species of manufactured goods. By this means we obtain two very important articles, which it would be all but impossible to produce at home, and which we could not, certainly, produce, except at an infinitely greater cost. But our gain is no loss to the foreigners. They derive precisely the same sort of advantage from the transaction that we do. We have very superior facilities for manufacturing, and they get from us cloth, hardware, and other important articles, at the price at which they can be produced in this country, and consequently for far less than their direct production would have cost them. The benefits resulting from an intercourse of this sort are plainly mutual and reciprocal. Commerce gives no advantage to any one people over any other people ; but it increases the wealth and enjoyments of all in a degree that could not previously have been conceived possible.

But the influence of foreign commerce in multiplying and cheapening conveniences and enjoyments, vast as it most certainly is, is perhaps inferior to its indirect influence

that is, to its influence on industry, by adding immeasurably to the mass of desirable articles, by inspiring new tastes, and stimulating enterprise and invention by bringing each people into competition with foreigners, and making them acquainted with their arts and institutions.

The apathy and languor that exist in a rude state of society have been universally remarked. But these uniformly give place to activity and enterprise, according as man is rendered familiar with new objects, and is inspired with a desire to obtain them. An individual might, with comparatively little exertion, furnish himself with an abundant supply of the commodities essential to his subsistence ; and if he had no desire to obtain others, or if that desire, however strong, could not be gratified, it would be folly to suppose that he should be laborious, inventive, or enterprising. But, when once excited, the wants and desires of man become altogether illimitable; and to excite them, no more is necessary than to bring new products and new modes of enjoyment within his reach. Now, the sure way to do this is to give every facility to the most extensive intercourse with foreigners. The markets of a commercial nation being filled with the various commodities of every country and every climate, the motives and gratifications which stimulate and reward the efforts of the industrious are proportionally augmented. The husbandman and manufacturer exert themselves to increase their supplies of raw and manufactured produce, that they may exchange the surplus for the products imported from abroad. And the merchant, finding a ready demand for such products, is prompted to import a greater variety, to find out cheaper markets, and thus constantly to afford new incentives to the vanity and ambition, and consequently to the enterprise and industry, of his customers. The whole powers of the mind and the body are thus


called into action; and the passion for foreign commodities — a passion which has sometimes been ignorantly censured -- becomes one of the most efficient causes of wealth and civilisation.

Not only, however, does foreign commerce excite industry, distribute the gifts of nature, and enable them to be turned to the best account, but it also distributes the gifts of science and of art, and gives to each particular country the means of profiting by the inventions and discoveries of others as much as by those of her own citizens. The ingenious machine invented by Mr. Whitney, of the United States, for separating cotton wool from the pod, by reducing the cost of the raw material of one of our principal manufactures, has been quite as advantageous to us as to his own countrymen. And the discoveries and inventions of Watt, Arkwright, and Wedgwood, by reducing the cost of the articles we send abroad, have been as advantageous to our foreign customers as to ourselves. Commerce has caused the blessings of civilisation to be universally diffused, and the treasures of knowledge and science to be conveyed to the remotest

Its humanising influence is, in this respect, most important; while, by making each country depend for the means of supplying a considerable portion of its wants on the assistance of others, it has done more than any thing else to remove a host of the most baleful prejudices, and to make mankind regard each other as friends and brothers, ; and not as enemies. The dread, once so prevalent, of the progress of other nations in wealth and civilisation, is now universally admitted to be as absurd as it is illiberal. While every people ought always to be prepared to resist and avenge any attack upon their independence or their honour, it is not to be doubted that their real prosperity will be best secured by their endeavouring to live at peace.“ A commercial war, whether crowned with victory or branded with defeat, can never prevent another nation from becoming more industrious than you are ; and if they are more industrious they will sell cheaper ; and consequently your customers will forsake your shop and go to theirs. This will happen, though you covered the ocean with fleets, and the land with armies. The soldier may lay waste; the privateer, whether successful or unsuccessful, will make poor; but it is the eternal law of Providence that the hand of the diligent can alone make rich.'" -- ( Tucker's Four Tracts, p. 41. 3d ed.)

Mr. Hume has beautifully illustrated the powerful and salutary influence of that spirit of industry and enterprise resulting from the eager prosecution of commerce and the arts.

“ Men,” says he, “ are then kept in perpetual occupation, and enjoy, as their reward, the occupation itself, as well as those pleasures which are the fruits of their labour. The mind acquires new vigour; enlarges its powers and faculties; and, by an assiduity in honest industry, both satisfies its natural appetites, and prevents the growth of unnatural ones, which commonly spring up when nourished with ease and idleness. Banish those arts from society, you deprive men both of action and of pleasure; and, leaving nothing but indolence in their place, you even destroy the relish of indolence, which never is agreeable but when it succeeds to labour, and recruits the spirits, exhausted by too much application and fatigue.

“ Another advantage of industry and of refinements in the mechanical arts is, that they commonly produce some refinements in the liberal; nor can the one be carried to perfection, without being accompanied in some degree with the other. The same age which produces great philosophers and politicians, renowned genemis and poets, usually abounds with skilful weavers and ship-carpenters. We cannot reasonably expect that a piece of woollen cloth will be wrought to perfection in a nation which is ignorant of astronomy, or where ethics are neglected. The spirit of the age affects all the arts; and the minds of men, being once roused from their lethargy, and put into a fermentation, turn themselves on all sides, and carry improvements into every art and science. Profound ignorance is totally banished; and men enjoy the privilege of rational creatures, to think as well as to act, to cultivate the pleasures of the mind as well as those of the body.

“ The more these refined arts advance, the more sociable do men become; nor is it possible that, when enriched with science, and possessed of a fund of conversation, they should be contented to remain in solitude, or live with their fellow citizens in that distant manner which is peculiar to ignorant and barbarous nations. They flock into cities; love to receive and communicate knowledge ; to show their wit or their breeding; their taste in conversation or living, in clothes or furniture. Curiosity aliures the wise, vanity the foolish, and pleasure both. Particular clubs and societies are every where formed; both sexes meet in an easy and sociable manner; and the tempers of men, as well as their behaviour, nefine apace. So that beside the improvements they receive from knowledge and the liberal arts, it is impossible but they must feel an increase of humanity from the very habit of conversing together, and contributing to each other's pleasure and entertainment. Thus industry, knowledge, and humanity are linked together by an indissoluble chain ; and are found, from experience as well as reason, to be peculiar to the

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