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TRACT I. - Josiah Tucker, Four Tracts on Political and Commercial Subjects 
Four Tracts on Political and Commercial Subjects, 2nd edition (Glocester: R. Raikes, 1774).
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The great Question resolved, Whether a rich Country can stand a Competition with a poor Country (of equal natural Advantages) in raising of Provisions, and Cheapness of Manufactures?—With suitable Inferences and Deductions.
IT has been a Notion universally received, That Trade and Manufactures, if left at full Liberty, will always descend from a richer to a poorer State; somewhat in the same Manner as a Stream of Water falls from higher to lower Grounds; or as a Current of Air rushes from a heavier to a lighter Part of the Atmosphere, in order to restore the Equilibrium. It is likewise inferred, very consistently with this first Principle, that when the poor Country, in Process of Time, and by this Influx of Trade and Manufactures, is become relatively richer, the Course of Traffic will turn again: So that by attending to this Change, you may discover the comparative Riches or Poverty of each particular Place or Country.
The Reasons usually assigned for this Migration, or rather Circulation of Industry and Commerce, are the following, viz. In rich Countries, where Money is Plenty, a greater Quantity thereof is given for all the Articles of Food, Raiment, and Dwelling: Whereas in poor Countries, where Money is scarce, a lesser Quantity of it is made to serve in procuring the like Necessaries of Life, and in paying the Wages of the Shepherd, the Plowman, the Artificer, and Manufacturer. The Inference from all which is, that Provisions are raised, and Goods manufactured much cheaper in poor Countries than in rich ones; and therefore every poor Country, if a near Neighbour to a rich one, and if there is an easy and commodious Communication between them, must unavoidably get the Trade from it,—were Trade to be left at Liberty to take its natural Course. Nor will this Increase of Agriculture and Manufactures, whereby the richer Country is drained, and the poorer proportionably enriched, be stopped or prevented, ’till Things are brought to a perfect Level, or the Tide of Wealth begins to turn the other Way.
Now, according to this Train of Reasoning, one alarming and obvious Consequence must necessarily follow, viz. That the Provisions and Manufactures of a rich Country could never find a Vent in a poor one, on Account of the higher Value, or dearer Price set upon them: Whereas those of a poor Country would always find a Vent in a rich one, because they would be afforded the cheapest at the common Market.
This being the Case, can it be denied, that every poor Country is the natural and unavoidable Enemy of a rich one; especially if it should happen to be adjoining to it? And are not we sure beforehand, that it will never cease from draining it of its Trade and Commerce, Industry and Manufactures, ’till it has reduced it, at least so far as to be on a Level and Equality with itself? Therefore the rich Country, if it regards its own Interest, is obliged by a Kind of Self-defence to make War upon the poor one, and to endeavour to extirpate all its Inhabitants, in order to maintain itself in statu quo, or to prevent the fatal Consequences of losing its present Influence, Trade and Riches. For little less than a total Extirpation can be sufficient to guard against the Evils to be feared from this dangerous Rival, while it is suffered to exist.
But is this indeed the Case?—One would not willingly run Counter to the settled Notions of Mankind; and yet one ought not to make a Sacrifice of Truth to mere Numbers, and the Authority of Opinion; especially if it should appear, that these are Truths of great Moment to the Welfare of Society. Therefore, with a becoming Deference, may it not here be asked,—Can you suppose, that Divine Providence has really constituted the Order of Things in such a Sort, as to make the Rule of national Self preservation to be inconsistent with the fundamental Principle of universal Benevolence, and the doing as we would be done by? For my Part, I must confess, I never could conceive that an all-wife, just, and benevolent Being would contrive one Part of his Plan to be so contradictory to the other, as here supposed;—that is, would lay us under one Obligation as to Morals, and another as to Trade; or, in short, make that to be our Duty, which is not, upon the whole, and generally speaking (even without the Consideration of a future State) our Interest likewise.
Therefore I conclude a priori, that there must be some Flaw or other in the preceding Arguments, plausible as they seem, and great as they are upon the Foot of human Authority. For though the Appearance of Things at first Sight makes for this Conclusion, viz. “That poor Countries must inevitably draw away the Trade from rich ones, and consequently impoverish them,” the Fact itself cannot be so. But leaving all Arguments of this Sort, as being perhaps too metaphysical for common Use, let us have Recourse to others, wherein we may be assisted by daily Experience and Observation.
Suppose therefore England and Scotland to be two contiguous, independant Kingdoms, equal in Size, Situation, and all natural Advantages; suppose likewise, that the Numbers of People in both were nearly equal; but that England had acquired Twenty Millions of current Specie, and Scotland had only a tenth Part of that Sum, viz.Two Millions: The Question now is, Whether England will be able to support itself in its superior Influence, Wealth, and Credit? Or be continually on the Decline in Trade and Manufactures, ’till it is sunk into a Parity with Scotland; so that the current Specie of both Nations will be brought to be just the same, viz Eleven Millions each.
Now, to resolve this Question in a satisfactory Manner, a previous Enquiry should be set on Foot, viz. How came England to acquire this great Surplus of Wealth? And by what Means was it accumulated?—If in the Way of Idleness, it certainly cannot retain it long; and England will again become poor;—perhaps so poor as to be little better than Hungary or Poland: But if by a Course of regular and universal Industry, the same Means, which obtained the Wealth at first, will, if pursued certainly preserve it, and even add thereto: So that England need not entertain any Jealousy against the Improvements and Manufactures of Scotland;—and on the other Hand, Scotland without hurting England, will likewise increase in Trade, and be benefited both by its Example, and its Riches.
But as these are only general Assertions, let us now endeavour to support them by an Induction of particular Cases.
ENGLAND has acquired 20,000,000l. of Specie in the Way of National Idleness, viz. Either by Discoveries of very rich Mines of Gold and Silver,—or by successful Privateering and making Captures of Plate Ships,—or by the Trade of Jewels, and vending them to foreign Nations for vast Sums of Money,—or, in short, by any other conceivable Method, wherein (universal Industry and Application being out of the Question) very few Hands were employed in getting this Mass of Wealth (and they only by Fits and Starts, not constantly)—and fewer still are supposed to retain what is gotten.
According to this State of the Case, it seems evidently to follow, That the Provisions and Manufactures of such a Country would bear a most enormous Price, while this Flush of Money lasted; and that for the two following Reasons: 1st. A people enriched by such improper Means as these, would not know the real Value of Money, but would give any Price that was asked; their superior Folly and Extravagance being the only Evidence which they could produce of their superior Riches. 2dly. At the same Time that Provisions and Manufactures would bear such an excessive Price, the Quantity thereof raised or made within the Kingdom would be less than ever; inasmuch as the Cart, and the Plow, the Anvil, the Wheel, and the Loom, would certainly be laid aside for these quicker and easier Arts of getting rich, and becoming fine Gentlemen and Ladies; because all Persons, whether Male or Female, would endeavour to put themselves in Fortune’s Way, and hope to catch as much as they could of this golden Shower. Hence the Number of Coaches, Post-Chaises, and all other Vehicles of Pleasure, would prodigiously increase; while the usual Sets of Farmer’s Carts and Waggons proportionably decreased: The Sons of lower Tradesmen and Labourers would be converted into spruce, powdered Footmen; and that robust Breed, which used to supply the Calls for laborious Occupations, and common Manufactures, would turn off to commence Barbers and Hair-Dressers, Dancing Masters, Players, Fidlers, Pimps, and Gamesters. As to the Female Sex, it is no difficult Matter to foresee, what would be the Fate of the younger, the more sprightly, and pleasing Part among them. In short, the whole People would take a new Turn; and while Agriculture, and the ordinary mechanic Trades became shamefully neglected, the Professions which subsist by procuring Amusements and Diversions, and exhibiting Allurements and Temptations, would be amazingly increased,—and indeed for a Time enriched; so that from being a Nation of Bees producing Honey, they would become a Nation of Drones to eat it up. In such a Case certain it is, that their industrious Neighbours would soon drain them of this Quantity of Specie,—and not only drain them, so far as to reduce them to a Level with the poor Country, but also sink them into the lowest State of abject Poverty. Perhaps indeed some few of the Inhabitants, being naturally Misers, and foreseeing the general Poverty that was coming upon the Country, would make the more ample Provision for themselves; and, by feeding the Vices, and administering to the Follies and Extravagances of others, would amass and engross great Estates. Therefore when such a Nation came to awake out of this gilded Dream, it would find itself to be much in the same Circumstances of pretended Wealth, but real Poverty, as the Spaniards and Portuguese are at present. Nay, when their Mines, or their former Resources of Gold and Silver, came to fail them, they would really be in a much worse; and their Condition would then approach the nearest of any Thing we can now conceive, to that of Baron and Vassal in Poland and Hungary, or to Planter and Slave in the West-Indies.
According to this System of Reasoning, the Expedition in the late*Spanish War against Carthagena must have been ill-judged in every Particular; for if the End in View had been only to open a Market for British Manufactures, this End was answered, as far as an hostile Method could have answered a commercial End, by taking the Forts at the Mouth of the Haven, and therefore the Attempt ought not to have been pushed any farther:—But if the Design was to destroy the Fortifications round Carthagena, and to give up the Town to the Plunder of the Soldiers, and then to have deserted, or to have restored it to its former Owners at the Conclusion of the War (for surely it would have been the very Height of Madness in us to have been at the Expence of keeping it)—this was an End by no Means worthy of national Attention, and not at all adequate to the Blood and Treasure it must have cost,—even tho’ the Project had succeeded. But if the real Plan was to open a Way to the Spanish Mines by taking the Port or Entrance into them, and so to get rich all at once without Trade or Industry,—this Scheme would have been the most fatal and destructive of any, had not Providence kindly interposed by defeating it. For if we had been victorious, and had vanquished the Spaniards, as they formerly vanquished the Indian Inhabitants, our Fate and Punishment would have been by this Time similar to theirs;—Pride elated with imaginary Wealth, and abject Poverty without Resource.
Hence likewise we may discern the Weakness of one Argument (indeed the only popular one) sometimes insisted on with more Warmth than Judgment in Favour of a general Naturalization, viz. That it would induce such rich Foreigners as are not engaged in any Trade or Business, and consequently would not interfere with any of the Natives, to come and spend their Fortunes in this Land of Liberty. [What is truly to be hoped from a general Naturalization, is, that it would induce industrious and ingenious Foreigners, Men who have their Fortunes yet to make, to come, and enrich the Country at the same Time that they are enriching themselves by their superior Industry, Ingenuity, and other good Qualities.] For as to idle Foreigners, living on the Income of their great Estates,—pray, of what national Advantage would they be to us? What, I say, even supposing we could persuade all the wealthy Foreigners of this Class throughout the World to come and reside in England? The real Fact is, that no other Consequences could ensue, but that this Nation, instead of being chiefly composed of substantial Yeomen, and Farmers, creditable Manufacturers, and opulent Merchants, would then become a Nation of Gentlemen and Ladies on the one Side, and of Footmen and Grooms, Ladies’ Women, and Laundresses, and such like Dependants, on the other. In short, we have Proofs enough already of this Matter, now before our Eyes, and in our own Kingdom, if we will but make the proper Use of them. For Example, the Towns of Birmingham, Leeds, Halifax, Manchester, &c. &c. being inhabited in a Manner altogether by Tradesmen and Manufacturers, are some of the richest and most flourishing in the Kingdom: Whereas the City of York, and such other Places as seem to be more particularly set apart for the Residence of Persons who live upon their Fortunes, are not without evident Marks of Poverty and Decay.
Hence also we come to the true Reason, why the City of Edinburgh, contrary to the Fears and Apprehensions of its Inhabitants, has thriven and flourished more since the Union than it did before, viz. It has lost the Residence of the Court and Parliament, and has got in its Stead, Commerce and Manufactures; that is, it has exchanged Idleness for Industry: And were the Court and Parliament of Ireland to leave Dublin by Virtue of an Union with Great-Britain, the same good Consequences would certainly follow.
ENGLAND has acquired Twenty Millions of Specie in the Way of general Industry, viz. By exciting the Ingenuity and Activity of its People, and giving them a free Scope without any Exclusion, Confinement, or Monopoly;—by annexing Burdens to Celibacy, and Honours and Privileges to the married State;—by constituting such Laws, as diffuse the Wealth of the Parents more equally among the Children, than the present Laws of Europe generally do;—by modelling the Taxes in such a Manner, that all Things hurtful to the Public Good shall be rendered proportionably dear, and placed beyond the Reach of the Multitude; whereas such Things as are necessary, or useful, shall be proportionably encouraged; and, in short, by every other conceivable Method, whereby the Drones of Society may be converted into Bees, and the Bees be prevented from degenerating back into Drones.
Therefore, as we are to suppose, that by such Means as these, the South-Britons have accumulated 20,000,000l. in Specie, while the North-Britons have no more than 2,000,000l.: The Question now is, Which of these two Nations can afford to raise Provisions, and sell their Manufactures on the cheapest Terms? “Supposing that both did their utmost to rival one another, and that Trade and Manufactures were left at Liberty to take their own Course, according as Cheapness or Interest directed them.”
Now, on the Side of the poorer Nation, it is alledged, That seeing it hath much less Money, and yet is equal in Size, Situation, and other natural Advantages, equal also in Numbers of People, and those equally willing to be diligent and industrious; it cannot be but that such a Country must have a manifest Advantage over the rich one in Point of its parsimonious Way of Living, low Wages, and consequently cheap Manufactures.
On the contrary, the rich Country hath the following Advantages which will more than counter-ballance any Disadvantage that may arise from the foregoing Articles, viz.
1st. As the richer Country hath acquired its superior Wealth by a general Application, and long Habits of Industry, it is therefore in actual Possession of an established Trade and Credit, large Correspondences, experienced Agents and Factors, commodious Shops, Work-Houses, Magazines, &c. also a great Variety of the best Tools and Implements in the various Kinds of Manufactures, and Engines for abridging Labour;—add to these good Roads, Canals, and other artificial Communications; Quays, Docks, Wharfs, and Piers; Numbers of Ships, good Pilots, and trained Sailors:—And in respect to Husbandry and Agriculture, it is likewise in Possession of good Enclosures, Drains, Waterings, artificial Graffes, great Stocks, and consequently the greater Plenty of Manures; also a great Variety of Plows, Harrows, &c. suited to the different Soils; and in short of every other superior Method of Husbandry arising from long Experience, various and expensive Trials. Whereas the poor Country has, for the most Part, all these Things to seek after and procure.—Therefore what the Poet observed to be true in a private Sense, is true also in a public and commercial one, viz.
2dly. The richer Country is not only in Possession of the Things already made and settled, but also of superior Skill and Knowledge (acquired by long Habit and Experience) for inventing and making of more. The Importance of this will appear the greater, when we consider, that no Man can pretend to set Bounds to the Progress that may yet be made both in Agriculture and Manufactures; for who can take upon him to affirm, that our Children cannot as far exceed us as we have exceeded our Gothic Forefathers? And is it not much more natural and reasonable to suppose, that we are rather at the Beginning only, and just got within the Threshold, than that we are arrived at the ne plus ultra of useful Discoveries? Now, if so, the poorer Country, however willing to learn, cannot be supposed to be capable of making the same Progress in Learning with the Rich, for want of equal Means of Instruction, equally good Models and Examples;—and therefore, tho’ both may be improving every Day, yet the practical Knowledge of the poorer in Agriculture and Manufactures will always be found to keep at a respectful Distance behind that of the richer Country.
3dly. The richer Country is not only more knowing, but is also more able than the other to make further Improvements, by laying out large Sums of Money in the Prosecution of the intended Plan. Whereas the poor Country has here again the Mortification to find, that the Res angusta domi is in many Cases an insuperable Bar to its Rise and Advancement: And this Circumstance deserves the more Regard as it is a known Fact and trite Observation, that very few great and extensive Projects were ever brought to bear at first setting out; and that a vast deal of Money must be sunk, and many Years be elapsed, before they are capable of making any Returns. In short, the Inhabitants of a poor Country, who, according to the vulgar Phrase, generally live from Hand to Mouth, dare not make such costly Experiments, or embark in such expensive and long-winded Undertakings, as the Inhabitants of a rich Country can attempt, and execute with Ease.
4thly. The higher Wages of the rich Country, and the greater Scope and Encouragement given for the Exertion of Genius, Industry, and Ambition, will naturally determine a great many Men of Spirit and Enterprize to forsake their own poor Country, and settle in the richer; so that the one will always drain the other of the Flower of its Inhabitants: Whereas there are not the same Temptations for the best Hands and Artists of a rich Country to forsake the best Pay, and settle in a poor one.—Though for Argument’s Sake, it was allowed at the Beginning, that the Numbers of People in these two adjoining States were just equal, yet certain it is, that the Thing itself could never have so happened,—the richer Country being always endowed with the attractive Quality of the Loadstone, and the poor one with the repelling: And therefore, seeing that the poorer Country must necessarily be the least peopled (if there is a free Intercourse between them) the Consequence would be, that in several Districts, and in many Instances, it would be impossible for certain Trades even to subsist; because the Scarcity and Poverty of the Inhabitants would not afford a sufficient Number of Customers to frequent the Shop, or to take off the Goods of the Manufacturer.
5thly. In the richer Country, where the Demands are great and constant, every Manufacture that requires various Processes, and is composed of different Parts, is accordingly divided and subdivided into separate and distinct Branches; whereby each Person becomes more expert, and also more expeditious in the particular Part assigned him. Whereas in a poor Country, the same Person is obliged by Necessity, and for the Sake of getting a bare Subsistence, to undertake such different Branches, as prevent him from excelling, or being expeditious in any. In such a Case, Is it not much cheaper to give 2s. 6d. a Day in the rich Country to the nimble and adroit Artist, than it is to give only 6d. in the poor one, to the tedious, aukward Bungler?
6thly. As the richer Country has the greater Number of rival Tradesmen, and those more quick and dexterous, the Goods of such a Country have not only the Advantages arising from Quickness and Dexterity, but also will be afforded much the cheaper on Account of the Emulation of so many Rivals and Competitors. Whereas in a poor Country, it is very easy for one rich, over-grown Tradesman to monopolize the whole Trade to himself, and consequently to set his own Price upon the Goods, as he knows that there are none who dare contend with him in Point of Fortune;—or, what is full as bad, the like Consequences will follow where the Numbers of the Wealthy are so few, that they can combine together whenever they will, to prey upon the Public.
7thly. and lastly. In the rich Country, the Superiority of the Capital, and the low Interest of Money, will insure the vending of all Goods on the cheapest Terms; because a Man of 2000l. Capital can certainly afford to give the best Wages to the best Workmen, and yet be able to sell the Produce or Manufacture of such Workmen at a much cheaper Rate than he who has only a Capital of 200l. For if the one gets only 10l. per Cent. per Ann. for his Money, that will bring him an Income of 200l. a Year; a Sum very sufficient to live with Credit and Reputation in the Rank of a Tradesman; and considerably more than double to what he would have received in the Way of common Interest, even if lent at 4l. and an Half per Cent. Whereas, the other with his poor Capital of 200l. must get a Profit of at least 20l. per Cent. in order to have an Income just above the Degree of a common Journeyman.—Not to mention, that Men of superior Capitals will always command the Market in buying the raw Materials at the best Hand; and command it also in another View, viz. by being able to give longer Credit to their Dealers and Customers.—So much as to the reasoning Part of this Subject: Let us now examine how stand the Facts.
And here it must be premised, that were a greater Quantity of Specie to enhance the Price of Provisions and Manufactures in the Manner usually supposed, the Consequence would be, that all Goods whatever would be so much the dearer in a rich Country, compared with a poor one, as there had been different Sets of People employed, and greater Wages paid in making them. For the Argument proceeds thus,—The more Labour, the more Wages;—the more Wages, the more Money;—the more Money paid for making them, the dearer the Goods must come to Market: And yet the Fact itself is quite the Reverse of this seemingly just Conclusion. For it may be laid down as a general Proposition, which very seldom fails, That operose or complicated Manufactures are cheapest in rich countries;—and raw Materials in poor ones: And therefore in Proportion as any Commodity approaches to one, or other of these Extremes, in that Proportion it will be found to be cheaper, or dearer in a rich, or a poor Country.
The raising of Corn, for Instance, employs a considerable Number of Hands, has various Processes, takes up a great deal of Time, and is attended with great Expence. If so, pray, Where is Corn the cheapest? Why, Corn is raised as cheap in England as in Scotland, if not cheaper. Moreover, tho’ Wages are very high in Hertfordshire, as being in the Neighbourhood of London, and the Lands dear, and far from being naturally good; yet the Price of good Wheat is certainly as cheap in Hertfordshire as in Wales, and sometimes much cheaper; tho’ the Wages in Wales are low, the Rents easy, and the Lands in many Places sufficiently rich and fertile, and the Land-Tax extremely light.
The raising Garden-Stuff, and all Sorts of Produce fit for the Kitchen is another Instance; for this likewise is an expensive and operose Affair, requiring great Skill and Judgment. But the Price of Garden Stuff is prodigiously sunk to what it was in former Times; and I much question, whether any Town of Note in Scotland can now vie with the common Markets of London in that Respect. Certain it is, that formerly, viz. about 100 Years ago, a Cabbage would have cost 3d. in London, when London was not near so rich as it is now, which at present may be bought for a Halfpenny. And were you to proceed on to Colliflowers, Asparagus, Broccoli, Melons, Cucumbers, and all Sorts of the choicer Wall Fruits, you would find the Disproportions still greater. But waving such Exotics, even the common Articles of Pease and Beans, Sallads, Onions, Carrots, Parsneps, and Turneps, are considerably cheaper than ever they were known to be in former Times; tho’ the Rent of Garden Grounds, and Wages of Journeymen Gardeners, are a great deal higher.
On the contrary, the raising both of small and large Cattle is a more simple Affair, and doth not employ near so many Hands, as the raising of Corn or Garden-Stuff: Therefore you will find that small and large Cattle are much cheaper in poor Countries than in rich ones; and that the Produce of such Cattle, for the same Reason, viz. Milk, Wool, and Hair, also the Flesh, Skins, Horns, and Hides, are cheaper likewise. As to Milk, this being made into Butter or Cheese by a short and single Process, and the Intervention of only one Female Servant, is indeed cheaper in the poorer Country. But were Butter and Cheese to have required a more intricate Operation, and to have taken up as much Time, and employed as many Hands in the manufacturing of them, as Wool, or Leather, it might be greatly questioned whether the richer Country would not have produced Butter and Cheese at a cheaper Rate than the poor one. And what countenances this Suspicion is, that in the Case of Wool, Hair, Horns, and Hides, when manufactured into Cloth, Hair Cloths, Hornery-Ware, and Leather, the richer Country hath generally the Advantage: Indeed, if there are some Exceptions, they are extremely few. And it is an indisputable Fact at this Day, that there are more Woollen Cloths, Stuffs, Serges, &c. more Horn Combs, Ink-Horns, Powder-Flasks, Lanthorns, &c. more Leather for Shoes and Boots, sent by the Manufacturers of England into Scotland, than by those of Scotland into England.
Wood, or Timber, is another Instance in Point: For Timber may be reckoned to be in a great Degree the spontaneous Production of Nature, and therefore Timber is always cheapest in a poor Country. But what shall we say of such Manufactures, of which Timber is only the raw Material? Are they cheaper also?—This, I am sure, is much to be doubted; especially in those Instances where the Manufacture is to pass through several Hands, before it is completed. Nay, were you to go into a Cabinet Maker’s Shop in London, and enquire even for common Articles, you would not find that the same Articles of equal Neatness and Goodness could be bought in Scotland much cheaper, if so cheap. Moreover, as to Ship-building, than which nothing creates so great a Consumption of Timber, Pray, how much cheaper is a Ship of any Burthen, viz. 3 or 400 Tons, built at Leith or Glasgow, than in the Yards bordering on the Thames? And are not Ships built at Sardam, in Holland, where the Necessaries of Life and Wages cannot be cheap, and where not a Stick of Timber grows, are not they built as cheap there as in most Countries whatever, even such Countries which have the raw Materials just at their Doors?
The like Observations might be made to extend to the building of large and sumptuous Houses, and purchasing all the Furniture proper for them; and to almost every other Article, where many Hands, much Labour and Expence, great Skill and Ingenuity, and a Variety of different Trades are required before the Thing in Question is completely finished. For in all these Cases, the rich, industrious Country has a manifest Advantage over the poor one. London, tho’ the dearest Place in the Kingdom to live at, is by far the cheapest for purchasing Houshold Goods.
After so much hath been said on the Subject, it would be needless to have Recourse to the Branch of Metals for further Illustrations, were it not that there is something so very striking in their Case, that it ought not to be omitted. Iron Ore, for Example, is dug in Lancashire, and frequently sent by Sea Carriage into the County of Argyle, there to be smelted, on Account of the great Plenty and Cheapness of Wood and Charcoal. Now, when it is thus brought into Pigs and Bars, the great Question is, What becomes of it? Do you find that any considerable Quantity remains in Scotland? Or is the far greater Part brought back again, in order to be sent into the manufacturing Counties of England?—The latter is indisputably the Case, notwithstanding the Expence of Re-carriage; notwithstanding also, that the Collieries in Scotland could supply as much Coal as even about Birmingham, or Sheffield, were Coal the only Article that was wanted. But for all that, Sheffield and Birmingham are in Possession of the Trade; and will ever keep it, unless it be their own Faults.
The Case of Sweden is still more extraordinary (and surely Sweden is a Country poor enough) for the Swedish Iron pays a large Duty to the Swedish Government before Exportation;—it is then burdened with Freight into England;—it pays a heavy Duty upon being landed here;—is then carried partly by Water, and partly by Land, into the manufacturing Counties;—is there fabricated,—re-carried again to the Sea-Side,—there shipped off, for Sweden,—pays a very heavy Duty, as English Manufactures;—and yet, almost every Article of such Manufactures, as hath passed thro’ two, three, or more Stages, before it was completed, is afforded so cheap at the Market of Stockholm, that the Swedes have lost Money in every Attempt they have made to rival them.
Judge now, therefore, what little Cause there is to fear that a poor Country can ever rival a rich one in the more operose, complicated, and expensive Branches of a Manufacture: Judge also, whether a rich Country can ever lose its Trade, while it retains its Industry; and consequently how absurd must every Project be for securing or encreasing this Trade, which doth not tend to secure, or encrease the Diligence and Frugality of the People.
A War, whether crowned with Victory, or branded with Defeats, can never prevent another Nation from being more industrious than you are; and if they are more industrious, they will sell cheaper; and consequently your former Customers will forsake your shop, and go to theirs; tho’ you covered the Ocean with Fleets, and the Land with Armies:—In short, the Soldier may make Waste, the Privateer, whether, successful or unsuccessful, will make Poor; but it is the eternal Law of Providence, that The Hand of the Diligent alone can make Rich.
This being the Case, it evidently follows, that as no trading Nation can ever be ruined but by itself, so more particularly the Improvements and Manufactures of Scotland can never be a Detriment to England; unless the English do voluntarily decline their Industry, and become profligate in their Morals. Indeed, when this comes to pass, it is of little Consequence by what Name that Nation is called, which runs away with their Trade; for some Country or other necessarily must. Whereas, were the English to reform their Manners, and encrease their Industry, the very Largeness of their Capitals, and their Vicinity to Scotland, might enable the English to assist the Scotch in various Ways, without prejudicing themselves, viz. By lending them Money at moderate Interest,—by embarking in Partnership with them in such Undertakings as require large Stocks and long Credits,—by supplying them with Models and Instructors,—exciting their Emulation, and directing their Operations with that Judgment and good Order which are only learnt by Use and Experience.
Nay, to pass from Particulars to Generals, we may lay it down as an universal Rule, subject to very few Exceptions, that as an industrious Nation can never be hurt by the encreasing Industry of its Neighbours; and as it is so wisely contrived by Divine Providence, that all People should have a strong Biass towards the Produce and Manufactures of others;—so it follows, that when this Biass is put under proper Regulations, the respective Industry of Nation and Nation enables them to be so much the better Customers, to improve in a friendly Intercourse, and to be a mutual Benefit to each other. A private Shopkeeper would certainly wish, that his Customers did improve in their Circumstances, rather than go behind-hand; because every such Improvement would probably redound to his Advantage. Where then can be the Wisdom in the public Shopkeeper, a trading People, to endeavour to make the neighbouring States and Nations, that are his Customers, so very poor as not to be able to trade with him?
The Conclusion of the whole is this: Heaps of Gold and Silver are not the true Riches of a Nation: Gold and Silver got in the Ways of Idleness are its certain Ruin; it is Wealth in Appearance but Poverty in Reality: Gold and Silver got by Industry, and spent in Idleness, will prove to be Destruction likewise: But Gold and Silver acquired by general Industry, and used with Sobriety, and according to good Morals, will promote still greater Industry, and go on, for any Thing that appears to the contrary, still accumulating; so that every Augmentation of such Money is a Proof of a preceding Increase of Industry: Whereas an Augmentation of Money by such Means as decrease Industry, is a national Curse—not a Blessing. And therefore, tho’ the Accounts of such a Nation may look fair to the Eyes of a Merchant or Tradesman, who (keeping their own Books by Pounds, Shillings, and Pence) suppose, that all must be right, when they see at the Foot of the Account, a large Balance of Pounds, Shillings, and Pence, in the Nation’s Favour; yet the able Statesman, and judicious Patriot, who are to keep the public Accounts by quite different Columns,—by Men, Women, and Children, employed, or not employed,—will regard this Tumour of Wealth as a dangerous Disease, not as a natural and healthy Growth. In one Word, the only possible Means of preventing a Rival Nation from running away with your Trade, is to prevent your own People from being more idle and vicious than they are; and by inspiring them with the contrary good Qualities: So that the only War, which can be attended with Success in that Respect, is a War against Vice and Idleness; a War, whose Forces must consist of—not Fleets and Armies,—but such judicious Taxes and wise Regulations, as shall turn the Passion of private Self-Love into the Channel of public Good. Indeed Fleets and Armies may be necessary, where the Merchant or Manufacturer are in Danger of being robbed or plundered in carrying their Goods to Market; but Fleets and Armies can never render those Goods the cheaper; and consequently cannot possibly encrease the Number of your Customers; supposing such Customers have the Liberty of trading where ever they please, and to the best Advantage. But if you should continue these Armaments, in order to stop up the Ports of other Nations, and deprive them of the Benefit of a free Trade, what will be the Consequence of this wise Manœuvre? Plainly this;—That while you are getting One Shilling, you are spending Ten; while you are employing a few in a Course of regular Industry, you are supporting Thousands in Habits of Idleness, and at the same Time involving the Nation in such immense Expences as must, if persisted in, inevitably prove its Ruin.—Grant, therefore, that during a War, a War crowned with uninterrupted Success (for no other can avail) grant, I say, that in some Articles you enjoy an Increase of Trade, at what Expence is this Increase obtained, and how long is it to last? Moreover, that Consequences will arise when the War is at an End, and other Ports are open? (for surely it cannot be intended that a trading Nation is to fight for ever,) and when Peace is made, what new Duties, what additional Taxes are to be imposed for defraying both Principal and Interest of the Charges of such a War?—How are they to be levied?—Who is to bear them?—And will you by this Means be better able to render your Goods cheaper at a foreign Market than heretofore?—A plain Answer to these Questions, would unravel the whole Matter, and bring Mankind to a right Use of their Senses.
THE only set of Objections, as far as they have come to my Knowledge, which have been hitherto made to the Principles and Reasonings laid down and illustrated in the foregoing Treatise, are the four following:
1st. That according to this Hypothesis, Improvements, Industry, and Riches, may be advanced and encreased ad infinitum; which is a Position too extravagant to be admitted.
2dly. That in Consequence of this accumulating Scheme, one Nation might engross the Trade of the whole World, and beggar every other State or Kingdom: which Opinion is not only contradicted by Fact and Experience, but is also contrary to my own System of Commerce, wherein I strongly declare against Monopoly and Exclusion of every Kind.
3dly. That tho’ a poor Country cannot immediately and at once rival a rich one in its Trade and Manufactures, yet it may do it by Degrees, beginning first with the coarser and less complicated Kinds, and then advancing Step by Step to others more compounded, operose, and costly; ’till at length it hath reached that Summit of Art, Industry, and Riches, from which the rich Country hath lately fallen, and from whence also this upstart Adventurer must recede in its Turn. And to strengthen this Reasoning, it may be observed,
4thly. “That all human Things have the Seeds of Decay within themselves:—Great Empires, great Cities, great Commerce, all of them receive a Cheque, not from accidental Events, but from necessary Principles.”
Thus stand the Objections of that acute Philosopher, and celebrated Writer, who honoured the above Treatise with his ingenious Remarks. Let us now therefore attend to the Force of each of these Objections with that Care and Impartiality which the Cause of Truth deserves; and with that Respect also, which is due to a Person of Eminence in the Republic of Letters.
And 1st. I must beg Leave to observe, that the Gentleman has, in Part at least, mistaken my Meaning, where I say, towards the Close of the Treatise, “That Gold and Silver acquired by general Industry, and used with Sobriety, and according to good Morals, will promote still greater Industry, and go on, for any thing that appears to the contrary, still accumulating:”—I say, he has mistaken my Meaning, if he imagined, that I roundly and positively there asserted, that the Progress must be, ad infinitum: For I did not intend to assert any such Thing, and one Reason, among others, which restrained me, was the Consideration that I am not Metaphysician enough to comprehend was Infinity really means. Therefore what I undertake to maintain is this,—That such a Progression as here described, may be so far carried on, as evidently to prove, that no Man can positively define, when, or where it must necessarily stop: No Man can set Bounds to Improvements even in Imagination; and therefore, ’till the ne plus ultra of all Advancements in Arts, Sciences, and Manufactures, in Agriculture, Trade, and Navigation, &c. &c. is clearly demonstrated (a Thing which I presume no one will be in Haste to attempt) we may still be allowed to assert, that the richer manufacturing Nation will maintain its Superiority over the poorer one, notwithstanding this latter may be likewise advancing towards Perfection. This being the Cause it follows,
2dly. That my Hypothesis is so far from supposing that one Nation may engross the Trade of the whole World, and beggar all the rest, that it remains just the contrary: Because it follows, from my System, that every Nation, poor as well as rich, may improve their Condition if they please. The poorer Nation, for Example, may adopt the good Police,—the Abolition of Monopolies and exclusive Companies, and several useful Regulations of its richer neighbouring State: All these it may adopt without Expence, at the same Time that it may avoid their Errors or Mistakes; for Errors there will be, more or less, in all human Institutions. Moreover, tho’ the poorer Nation cannot rival the Manufactures of a richer one at a third Place, or in a foreign Market, where the Goods and Merchandize of both are supposed to be admissible on the same Footing, yet it may, and ought, by Means of judicious Taxes, to discourage the too great or excessive Consumption of alien Manufactures, and especially Liquors, within its own Territories; and as this likewise may be done without Expence, nay, to the great Advantage of the Revenue, it therefore follows, that the poorer Nation may get forwards in many Respects without being obstructed by the rich one. To which Consideration we should not forget to add, that there are certain local Advantages resulting either from the Climate, the Soil, the Productions, the Situation, or even the natural Turn and peculiar Genius of one People preferably to those of another, which no Nation can deprive another of, unless by Violence and Conquest; and therefore, these being out of the Question, the necessary Consequence is, that the poor Country is left at Liberty to cultivate all these natural and local Advantages, as far as it can. Nay, I observe further, than the very superior Riches of a neighbouring State may contribute greatly to the carrying of such a Plan into Execution: And here I do not mean merely to say, that the Manufactures and Merchant Adventurers of the poorer Country may avail themselves of the Wealth of a richer by borrowing Money, at a low Interest, to be employed in Trade; tho’ by the bye, that is no small Benefit: But what I lay the chief Stress on at present is, that a rich Neighbour is more likely to become a good Customer than a poor one; and consequently, that the Traders of the poorer Country will find a better Market, and a more general Demand for their peculiar Productions, whether of Art or Nature, by Means of the superior Wealth and great Consumptions of their richer Neighbours, than they could possibly have had, were the latter equally poor with themselves. Moreover, vice versa, I affirm on the other Hand, that even the rich Country will be benefited in its Turn, by this Accession of Wealth flowing into the poor one. For when the Inhabitants of the poorer Country feel themselves enabled, there is no Doubt to be made, but that they will also become proportionably willing to purchase some of the more commodious or more sumptuous Furniture, and elegant Manufactures, of those Persons, who are actually their best Customers, as well as richer Neighbours. Indeed, to say the Truth, these Things are no other than the usual Consequences, and almost necessary Effects of natural Causes: And surely that Man must have been a very great Stranger to what passes in the World, who cannot discern these daily Rotations of Commercial Industry.
But there is one Circumstance more, relative to this Subject, which being not so obvious to common Observers, seems therefore to require a particular Explanation. The Circumstance is this,—That the very same Country may be relatively both richer and poorer than another at the very same Time, if considered in different Points of View; and consequently, that all the opposite and seemingly contradictory Assertions concerning both the Cheapness and the Dearness of Manufactures, may be found to correspond with Truth and Matters of Fact. Thus, for Example, England is undoubtedly richer either than Scotland or Ireland, in regard to most Branches of Trade and Manufacture; and therefore it sells those Manufactures much cheaper than they can be fabricated in either of those Countries. But nevertheless, both Scotland and Ireland are richer than England in respect to one particular Point; for both these Countries have got the Start of England in respect to the Linen Manufacture, by more than Half a Century; and in Consequence thereof, their Capitals are larger, their Machinery is better, and their Correspondences are become more extensive; so that in short, almost every thing relative to the Linen Manufacture in those Countries is conducted with more Adroitness, and managed to greater Advantage, than in England. Hence therefore it is easily to be accounted for, how it comes to pass that the Scotch and Irish can sell their Linens, and more especially their fine Linens, considerably cheaper than the English Linen Manufacturer is able to do. Nay, by Way of strengthening the general Argument, I would observe further, that tho’ the Modes of Living are more expensive, tho’ the daily Wages, and Rents of Houses and Lands, and the Prices of Provisions, are at least doubled, if not trebled, in the manufacturing Parts of Scotland and Ireland, to what they were about 60 or 70 Years ago,—yet the present Linens are both better and cheaper than the former, in a very considerable Degree; so that theScotland and Ireland of the Year 1763, if compared with the Scotland or Ireland of 1700, are as strong an Instance, and as convincing a Proof, as can possibly be desired of the Truth of these Positions:—And hence also we may observe, that the Riches of England in many Branches, and the Riches of Scotland and Ireland in some Branches, are mutually assistant to, and reciprocally advantageous to each other: For by mutually consuming and wearing each other’s Manufactures, the English, Scotch, and Irish, become the better and the greater Customers to each other.
The 3d Objection needs not a Reply so long and laboured as the second: For when the Gentleman proposed, that the poorer Country should first begin with the coarser and more simple Manufactures, and then proceed Step by Step to others more operose, complicated, and expensive, ’till at last it had supplanted the rich one in all its Trade and Manufactures,—he unfortunately forgot, that in Proportion as his poorer Country made a Progress in these Things, in the same Proportion, or nearly the same, would the Price of Labour, of Provisions, and of raw Materials, advance likewise; so that all these imaginary Advantages would vanish away like a Dream, when they were most wanted, and when he most depended on their Assistance. In fact, his not paying due Attention to this Circumstance was probably the very Thing which led him and others into so many Errors on this Head. But as he had one Objection more to offer, let us see whether the Weight of that will make up for the Deficiency of the others.
Now his 4th Objection, or rather his Observation, is, “That all Human Things have the Seeds of Decay within themselves: Great Empires, great Cities, great Commerce, all of them receive a Cheque, not from accidental Events, but from necessary Principles.” From all which it is implied, that the richer Nation cannot maintain its Superiority over a poorer one; because, when it comes to a certain Period, it must necessarily fall to Decay;—I say, this must be the Inference intended, otherwise the Observation is not applicable, and has nothing to do with the present Subject.
Here therefore, as the Ideas and Terms made use of, are borrowed from the State of natural Bodies, and from thence metaphorically transferred to political Constitutions, one Thing is taken for granted in this Argument, to which I cannot readily assent. It is taken for granted, that as all Animals, by having the Seeds of Decay within themselves, must die sooner or later, therefore political or commercial Institutions are subject to the like Fate, and on the same Principles. Now this remains to be proved; for the Parallel doth not hold in all Respects; and tho’ it be true that the Body Politic may come to an End, as well as the Body Natural, there is no physical Necessity that it must. A Set of Rules and Regulations may be formed for the distributing Property, the securing and disfusing Industry, the preventing the present shocking Vices of Electioneering, and in general, for the correcting most, if not all of those Evils, which great Riches, Excess of Liberty, and Length of Time, are too apt to introduce. I say such a Set of Rules and Regulations may be formed; against the Admission of which into our Code of Laws, there cannot be the least Pretence of a Physical Impossibility. In one Word, the Constitution of the Body Natural is so framed, that after a certain length of Time, no Remedy in Nature can restore it to its pristine Health and Vigour; for at last old Age will necessarily destroy it, if nothing else shall put a Period to it sooner:—But the Diseases of the Body Politic are not absolutely incurable; because Care and Caution, and proper Remedies, judiciously and honestly applied, will produce those Effects in one Case, which it would be impossible for them to produce in the other.
[* ]The Reader is desired to bear in Mind, that this Tract was written in the Year 1748, just after the Spanish War.