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and barren parts of the country, than in the plainest and most fertile. The advantageous situation of the country,and the great number of independent states which at that time subsisted in it, probably contributed not a little to this general cultivation. It is not impossible, too, notwithstanding this general expression of one of the most judicious and reseryed of modern historians, that Italy was not at that time better cultivated than England is at present.
The capital, however, that is acquired to any country by commerce and manufactures, is all a very precarious and uncertain possession, till some part of it has been secured and realized in the cul, tivation and improvement of its lands. A merchant, it has been said very properly, is not necessarily the citizen of any particular country. It is in a great measure indifferent to him from what place he carries on his trade ; and a very trifling disgust will make him remove his capital, and, together with it, all the industry which it supports, from one country to another. No part of it can be said to belong to any particular country, till it has been spread, as it were, over the face of that eountry, either in buildings,or in the lasting improvement of lands. No vestige now remains of the great wealth, said to have been possessed by the greater part of the Ilans towns, except in the obscure histories of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It is even uncertain where some of them were situated, or to what towns in Europe the Latin names given to some of them belong. But though the misfortunes in Italy, in the end of the fifteenth and beginning, of the sixteenth centuries, greatly diminished the commerce and manufactures of the cities of Lom,
bardy and Tuscany, those countries stillcontinue to be among the most populous and best cultivated in Europe. The civil wars of Flanders, and the Spanish government which succeeded them,chased away the great commerce of Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges. But Flanders still continues to be one of the richest, best cultivated, and most populous provinces of Europe. The ordinary revolutions of war and government, easily dry up the sources of that wealth which arises from commerce only. That which arises from the more solid improvements of agriculture, is much more durable, and cannot be destroyed but by those more violent convulsions occasioned by the depredations of hostile and barbarous nations continued for a century or two together ; such as those that happened for some time before and after the fall of the Roman empire in the western provinces of Europe.
Of Systems of Political Economy.
POLITICAL economy, considered as a branch of the science of a statesman or legislator, proposes two distinct objects; first, to provide a plentiful revenue or subsistence for the people, or, more properly,to enable them to provide such a revenue or subsistence to themselves; and, secondly, to supply the state or commonwealth with a revenue sufficient for the public services. It proposes to enrich both the people and the sovereign.
The different progress of opulence in different ages and nations, has given occasion to two different systems of political economy, with regard to enriching the people. The one may be called the system of commerce, the other that of agriculture. I shall endeavour to explain both as fully and distinctly as I can, and shall begin with the system of commerce. It is the modern system, and is best understood in our own country and in ourown times.
Of the Principle of the commercial or mercantile
System. That wealth consists in money, or in gold and silver, is a popularnotion which naturally arises from the double function of money,as in the instrument of commerce, and as the measure of value. In consequence of its being the instrument of commerce, when we have money, we can more readily obtain: 'whatever else we have occasion for, than by means of any other commodity. The great affair, we always find, is to get money. When that is obtained, there is no difficulty in making any subsequent pur. chase. In consequence of its being the measure of value, we estimate that of all other commodities by the quantity of money which they will exchange for. We say of a rich man, that he is worth a great deal, and of a poor man, that he is worth very little money. A frugal man, or a man eager to be rich, is said to love money; and a careless, a generous, or a profuse man, is said to be indifferent about it. To grow rich is to get money; and wealth and money, in short, are in common language, considered as in every respect synonymous.
A rich country, in the same manner asa rich man, is supposed to be a country aboundingin money; and to heap up goldandsilver inany country is supposed to be the readiest way to enrich it. For some time after the discovery of America, the first inquiry of the Spaniards, when they arrived upon any unknown coast, used to be, if there was any gold or silver to be found in the neighbourhood ? By the information