- Advertisement By the American Editor, to the Sixth Edition.
- Advertisement By the American Editor, to the Fifth Edition.
- Book I: Of the Production of Wealth.
- Book I, Chapter I.: Of What Is to Be Understood By the Term, Production.
- Book I, Chapter II.: Of the Different Kinds of Industry, and the Mode In Which They Concur In Production.
- Book I, Chapter III: Of the Nature of Capital, and the Mode In Which It Concurs In the Business of Production.
- Book I, Chapter IV: On Natural Agents That Assist In the Production of Wealth, and Specially of Land.
- Book I, Chapter V: On the Mode In Which Industry, Capital, and Natural Agents Unite In Production.
- Book I, Chapter VI: Of Operations Alike Common to All Branches of Industry.
- Book I, Chapter VII: Of the Labour of Mankind, of Nature, and of Machinery Respectively.
- Book I, Chapter VIII: Of the Advantages and Disadvantages Resulting From Division of Labour, and of the Extent to Which It May Be Carried.
- Book I, Chapter IX: Of the Different Methods of Employing Commercial Industry, and the Mode In Which They Concur In Production.
- Book I, Chapter X: Of the Transformations Undergone By Capital In the Progress of Production
- Book I, Chapter XI: Of the Formation and Multiplication of Capital.
- Book I, Chapter XII: Of Unproductive Capital
- Book I, Chapter XIII: Of Immaterial Products, Or Values Consumed At the Moment of Production.
- Book I, Chapter XIV: Of the Right of Property.
- Book I, Chapter XV: Of the Demand Or Market For Products.
- Book I, Chapter XVI: Of the Benefits Resulting From the Quick Circulation of Money and Commodities.
- Book I, Chapter XVII: Of the Effect of Government Regulations Intended to Influence Production.
- Book I, Chapter XVIII: Of the Effect Upon National Wealth, Resulting From the Productive Efforts of Public Authority.
- Book I, Chapter XIX: Of Colonies and Their Products.
- Book I, Chapter XX: Of Temporary and Permanent Emigration, Considered In Reference to National Wealth.
- Book I, Chapter XXI: Of the Nature and Uses of Money.
- Book I, Chapter XXII: Of Signs Or Representatives of Money.
- Book II: Of the Distribution of Wealth
- Book Ii, Chapter I: Of the Basis of Value; and of Supply and Demand.
- Book Ii, Chapter II: The Sources of Revenue.
- Book Ii, Chapter III: Of Real and Relative Variation of Price.
- Book Ii, Chapter IV: Of Nominal Variation of Price, and of the Peculiar Value of Bullion and of Coin.
- Book Ii, Chapter V: Of the Manner In Which Revenue Is Distributed Amongst Society.
- Book Ii, Chapter VI: Of What Branches of Production Yield the Most Liberal Recompense to Productive Agency.
- Book Ii, Chapter VII: Of the Revenue of Industry
- Book Ii, Chapter VIII: Of the Revenue of Capital.
- Book Ii, Chapter IX: Of the Revenue of Land.
- Book Ii, Chapter X: Of the Effect of Revenue Derived By One Nation From Another.
- Book Ii, Chapter XI: Of the Mode In Which the Quantity of the Product Affects Population.
- Book III: Of the Consumption of Wealth
- Book Iii, Chapter I: Of the Different Kinds of Consumption.
- Book Iii, Chapter II: Of the Effect of Consumption In General.
- Book Iii, Chapter III: Of the Effect of Productive Consumption.
- Book Iii, Chapter IV: Of the Effect of Unproductive Consumption In General.
- Book Iii, Chapter V: Of Individual Consumption—its Motives and Its Effects.
- Book Iii, Chapter VI: On Public Consumption
- Book Iii, Chapter VII: Of the Actual Contributors to Public Consumption.
- Book Iii, Chapter VIII: Of Taxation.
- Book Iii, Chapter IX: Of National Debt.
- Appendix A: a Table, Showing the Result of Value Lent to the State.
THE AMERICAN EDITOR,
TO THE FIFTH EDITION.
No work upon political economy, since the publication of Dr. Adam Smith's profound and original Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, has attracted such general attention, and received such distinguished marks of approbation from competent judges, as the "Traite D'Economie Politique," of M. Say. It was first printed in Paris in the year 1803; and, subsequently, has passed through five large editions, that have received various corrections and improvements from the author. Translations of the work have been made into the German, Spanish, Italian, and other languages; and it has been adopted as a textbook in all the universities of the continent of Europe, in which this new but essential branch of liberal education is now taught. The four former American editions of this translation have also been introduced into many of the most respectable of our own seminaries of learning.
It is unquestionably the most methodical, comprehensive and best digested treatise on the elements of political economy, that has yet been presented to the world. It exhibits a clear and systematical view of all the solid and important doctrines of this very extensive and difficult science, unfolded in their proper order and connexion. In the establishment of his principles, the author's reasonings, with but few exceptions, are logical and accurate, delivered with distinctness and perspicuity, and generally supported by the fullest and most satisfactory illustrations. A rigid adherence to the inductive method of investigation, in the prosecution of almost every part of his inquiry, has enabled M. Say to effect a nearly complete analysis of the numerous and complicated phenomena of wealth, and to enunciate and establish, with all the evidence of demonstration, the simple and general laws on which its production, distribution, and consumption depend. The few slight and inconsiderable errors into which the author has fallen, do not affect the general soundness and consistency of his text, although, it is true, they are blemishes that thus far darken and disfigure it. But these are of rare occurrence, and the false conclusions involved in them may be easily detected and refuted by recurrence to the fundamental principles of the work, with which they manifestly are at variance, and contradict.
The foundation of the science of political economy was firmly laid, and the only successful method of conducting our inquiries in it pointed out and exemplified by the illustrious author of the Wealth of Nations; a number of its leading doctrines were also developed and explained by other eminent writers on the continent of Europe, who, about the same time, were engaged in investigating the nature and causes of social riches. But neither the scientific genius and penetrating sagacity of the former, nor the profound acuteness and extensive research of many of the latter, enabled them to obtain a complete discovery of all the actual phenomena of wealth, and thus to effect an entire solution of the most abstruse and difficult problems in political economy; those, namely, which demonstrate the true theory of value, and unfold the real sources of production. Aided, however, by the valuable materials collected and arranged by the labours of his distinguished predecessors, here referred to, and proceeding in the same path, our author, with the closeness and minutenes of attention due to this important study, has succeeded in examining under all their aspects, the general facts which the groundwork of the science presents, and by rejecting and excluding the accidental circumstances connected with them, has thus established its ultimate laws or principles.
Accordingly, by pursuing the inductive method of investigation, M. Say, in the most strict and philosophical manner, has deduced the true nature of value, traced up its origin, and presented a clear and accurate explanation of its theory. His definition of wealth, therefore, is more precise and correct than that of any of his predecessors in this inquiry. The agency of human industry, which Dr. Adam Smith, not with the strictest propriety, denominated labour, the important operation of natural powers, especially land, and the functions of capital, as well as the relative services of these three instruments, and the modes in which they all concur in the business of production, were first distinctly and fully pointed out and illustrated by our author. In this way he successfully unfolded the manner in which production is carried on, and imparts value to the products of agriculture, manufactures, and commerce. By, also, distinguishing reproductive from unproductive consumption, M. Say has exhibited the exact nature of capital, and its consequent important agency in production, and thus has shown why economy is a source of national wealth. Such are this author's peculiar and original speculations, the fruits of deep and patient meditation on the phenomena observed. The elementary principles derived from them, with others previously ascertained, he has combined into one harmonious, consistent, and beautiful system.
But a few of these solid and well-established positions have been criticised and objected to as inconclusive and inadmissible, by Mr. Ricardo and by Mr. Malthus, two of the ablest and most distinguished political economists among our author's contemporaries. Other doctrines in relation to the nature and origin of value have been advanced by them, and with so much plausibility too, that some of the most acute reasoners of the present day have not been sufficiently on their guard against the fallacies involved in them. The mathematical cast given to their reasonings by these writers, has captivated and led astray the understandings of intelligent and sagacious readers, and induced them to adopt, as scientific truths, what, when properly investigated and analyzed, are found to be merely specious hypotheses. Hence it is that a theory of value, purely gratuitous, has been extolled in one of the principal literary journals of Great Britain, as being "no less logical and conclusive than it was profound and important." Our author, accordingly, deemed it necessary to examine the arguments brought forward in support of these views of his opponents, in order to test their soundness and accuracy, and to submit his own principles to a further review, that he might become satisfied that the conclusions he had deduced from them had not been in any manner invalidated.
In the notes appended by M. Say to the French translation of Mr. Ricardo's Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, the reader will find what the editor deems a masterly and conclusive refutation of the theoretical errors of this author. M. Say's strictures upon the twentieth chapter of the work, entitled, "Value and Riches, their Distinctive Properties," are in his opinion decisive and unanswerable. The fallacies contained in Mr. Ricardo's theory of value, which, the editor thinks, may be traced to an anxiety to give consistency to the loose and inaccurate proposition of Dr. Adam Smith, that exchangeable value is entirely derived from human labour, are there fully exposed, and his whole train of reasoning, in connection with it, shown to rest upon an unwarrantable assumption. It must, however, be conceded that Mr. Ricardo was an intrepid and uncompromising reasoner, who always proceeded in the most direct and fearless manner from his premises to the conclusion. But not uniting with the strongest powers of reasoning, a capacity for analytical subtilty, he sometimes did not perceive verbal ambiguities in the formation of his premises, and transitions in the signification of his terms in the conduct of his argument, which, in these instances, vitiated his conclusions. The fundamental errors into which he has fallen, accordingly, do not arise from any want of strictness in his deductions, but from undue generalizations and perversions of language. In M. Say's Letters to Mr. Malthus, which have been translated by Mr. Richter, the points at issue between these two eminent political economists are discussed in the most luminous, impartial, and satisfactory manner; and by all candid and unprejudiced critics must be considered as bringing the controversy to a close.
It is not his intention, nor would it be proper on this occasion, for the editor to enter further into the merits of the controversial writings of our author. Any dispassionate inquirer, who will take the pains carefully to review the whole ground in dispute, will, he thinks, find that the disquisitions referred to contain a triumphant vindication of such of the author's general principles as had been assailed by his ingenious opponents. Whenever the study of the science of political economy shall be more generally cultivated as an essential branch of early education, most of the abstruse questions involved in the controversies which now divide the writers on this subject will be brought to a conclusion; the accession of useful knowledge it will occasion will more effectually eradicate the prejudices which have given birth to these disputes and misconceptions, than any direct argumentative refutation.
The great merits of this treatise on political economy are now beginning to be well known and properly estimated by that class of readers who take a deep interest in the progress of a science, which "aims at the improvement of society," as Dugald Stewart so truly remarks, "not by delineating plans of new constitutions, but by enlightening the policy of actual legislators;" a science, therefore, with the right understanding of whose principles, the welfare and happiness of mankind are intimately connected.
In alluding to this admirable work of M. Say, Mr. Ricardo remarks, "that its author not only was the first, or among the first, of continental writers, who justly appreciated and applied the principles of Smith, and who has done more than all other continental writers taken together, to recommend the principles of that enlightened and beneficial system to the nations of Europe; but who has succeeded in placing the science in a more logical, and more instructive order; and has enriched it by several discussions, original, accurate, and profound."
The English public has for some time been in possession of the present excellent translation of this treatise by Mr. Prinsep; the first edition of which was published in London in the spring of 1821. It is executed with spirit, elegance, and general fidelity, and is a performance, in every respect, worthy of the original. It is here given to the American reader without any material alteration.
In various notes which the English translator has thought proper to subjoin to his edition of the text, he has wasted much ingenuity in endeavouring to overthrow some of the author's leading principles, which, notwithstanding these attacks, are as fixed and immutable as the truths which constitute their basis. Had Mr. Prinsep more thoroughly studied M. Say's profound theoretical views on the subject of value, and had he, also, made himself acquainted, which it nowhere appears that he has done, with the powerful and victorious defence of these doctrines, contained in the notes on Mr. Ricardo's work, and in the letters to Mr. Malthus, already referred to, he perhaps might have discovered, that they are the ultimate generalizations of facts, which, agreeably to the most legitimate rules of philosophizing, the author was entitled to lay down as general laws or principles. At all events, Mr. Prinsep should not have ventured upon an attack on these first principles of the science of political economy, without this previous examination.
Such, therefore, of these notes of the English translator as are in opposition to the well-established elements of the science, and have no other support than the hypothesis of Mr. Ricardo and Mr. Malthus, have been entirely omitted; the American editor not deeming himself under any obligation to give currency to errors, which would perpetually interrupt and distract the attention of the reader in a most abstruse and difficult inquiry. Other notes of the translator, which contain interesting and valuable illustrations of other general principles of the work, drawn from the actual state of Great Britain and her colonies, have been retained in this edition, as appropriate and useful. The translator's remarks on the pernicious character and tendency of the restrictive and prohibitive policy, are particularly worthy of regard, confirming as they most fully do, on this subject, all the important conclusions of the author. The folly of attempting, either by extraordinary encouragements, to attract towards some branches of production a larger share of capital and industry than would be naturally employed in them, or by uncommon restraints forcibly to divert from others a portion of the capital and industry that would otherwise be invested in them, is at last beginning to be understood.
The restrictive system, or that which by means of legislative enactments endeavours to give a particular direction to national capital and industry, derived its whole support from the assumption of positions now generally admitted to be gratuitous and unfounded, namely, that in trade whatever is gained by one nation must necessarily be lost by another, that wealth consists exclusively of the precious metals, and consequently, that in all sales of commodities, the great object should be to obtain returns in gold and silver. In Europe these erroneous opinions have now, for some time, been relinquished by political economists of all the various schools, some of whom yet differ and dispute respecting a few of the more recondite and ultimate elements of the science. In the whole range of inquiry in political economy, perhaps there is not a single proposition better established, or one that has obtained a more universal sanction from its enlightened cultivators in every country, than the liberal doctrine, that the most active, general, and profitable employments are given to the industry and capital of every people, by allowing to their direction and application the most perfect freedom, compatible with the security of property. This fundamental position of political economy, and the various principles that flow from it as corollaries, were first systematically developed, explained, and taught by the great father of the science, Dr. Adam Smith; although glimpses of the same important truth had previously, and about the same time, reached the minds of a few eminent individuals in other parts of the world. "The most effectual plan for advancing a people to greatness," says Dr. Smith, "is to maintain that order of things which nature pointed out; by allowing every man, as long as he observes the rules of justice, to pursue his own interest in his own way, and to bring both his industry and his capital into the freest competition with those of his fellow-citizens." Animated by a like desire to promote the improvement and happiness of mankind, with that which actuated the author of the Wealth of Nations, the most profound inquiries among his successors embraced his enlarged and benevolent views, as the only certain means of increasing the general prosperity, and eloquently maintained and enforced them. The doctrines of the freedom of trade and the rights of industry, were vindicated and taught by all the distinguished British political economists; namely, by Dugald Stewart, Ricardo, Malthus, Torrens, Horner, Huskisson, Lauderdale, Bentham, Mills, Craig, Lowe, Tooke, Senior, Bowring, M'Culloch, and Whatley; and, on the continent of Europe, by authors as celebrated, by Say, Droz, Sismondi, Storch, Garnier, Destutt-Tracy, Ganilh, Jovellanos, Sartorius, Queypo, Leider, Von Schlozer, Kraus, Weber, Muller, Scarbeck, Pechio, and Gioja.
"Under a system of perfectly free commerce," says Mr. Ricardo, "each country naturally devotes its capital and labour to such employments as are most beneficial to each. This pursuit of individual advantage is admirably connected with the universal good of the whole. By stimulating industry, by rewarding ingenuity, and by using most efficaciously the powers bestowed by nature, it distributes labour most effectively and most economically: while by increasing the general mass of productions, it diffuses general benefit, and binds together by one common tie of interest and intercourse, the universal society of nations throughout the civilized world. It is this principle which determines that wine shall be made in France and Portugal, that corn shall be grown in America and Poland, and that hardware and other goods shall be manufactured in England."
Our own celebrated countryman, Franklin, too, with a sagacity and force which always characterized his intellect, maintained and exemplified in his "Essay on the Principles of Trade," what he therein repeatedly called "the great principle of freedom in trade." Even before the appearance of the Wealth of Nations, he had with almost intuition anticipated some of the most profound conclusions of the science of political economy, which other inquirers had arrived at only after a patient and laborious analysis of its phenomena. The new and generous commercial policy is not more beholden for support and currency to the arguments and illustrations of any of its early expositors, than to the clear and vigorous pen of the highly gifted American philosopher. "The expressions, Laissez nous faire, and pas trop gouverner," which, to use the language of Dugald Stewart, the highest of all authorities, "comprise in a few words two of the most important lessons of political wisdom, are indebted chiefly for their extensive circulation, to the short and luminous comments of Franklin, which had so extraordinary an influence on public opinion, both in the Old and New World." Nevertheless, strange as it may seem, by a perversion or misconception of a few of his incidental opinions, the name of the first of practical statesmen has been invoked, and its authority employed among us, in aid of a system of restraints and prohibitions on commerce, which it was the chief aim of his politico-economical writings to refute and condemn, as alike repugnant to sound theory and destructive to national prosperity. Whenever American statesmen and legislators shall have as clear and steady perceptions as Franklin of the truth and wisdom of the doctrine of commercial freedom, we may expect that our national and state codes will no longer exhibit so many traces of that empirical spirit of tampering regulation which, instead of invigorating and quickening the development of national wealth, only cramps and retards its natural growth. "Where should we expect," says M. Say, in a letter to the editor, "sound doctrine to be better received than amongst a nation that supports and illustrates the value of free principles, by the most striking examples. The old states of Europe are cankered with prejudices and bad habits; it is America who will teach them the height of prosperity which may be reached when governments follow the counsels of reason, and do not cost too much."
The preliminary discourse has been translated by the American editor, and in his editions of the work restored to its place. The editor must confess that he is at a loss to account for the omission by the English translator of so material a part of the author's treatise as this introduction to his whole inquiry. In itself it is a performance of uncommon merit, has immediate reference to, and sheds much light over, the general views unfolded in the body of the work. The nature and object of the science of political economy, the only certain method of conducting any of our inquiries in it with success, and the causes which have hitherto so much retarded its advancement, are all considered and pointed out with great clearness and ability. The author has also connected with it a highly interesting and instructive historical sketch of the progress of this science during the last and present century, interspersed with numerous judicious and acute criticisms upon the writings and opinions of his predecessors. Moreover, this discourse, throughout every part, is deeply philosophical, and well calculated to prepare the reader for the study on which he is about to enter. The editor has, therefore, he trusts, performed an acceptable service in putting the American student in possession of so important a part of the original work.
Notes have also been subjoined by the American editor, for the purpose of marking a few inconsiderable errors and inconsistencies into which the author has inadvertently fallen, and of supplying an occasional illustration, drawn from other authors, of such passages of the text as seemed to require further elucidation or correction.
C. C. B.
Philadelphia, December, 1832.