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I. Rise of the School - Henry Higgs, The Physiocrats: Six Lectures on the French Economistes of the 18th Century 
The Physiocrats: Six Lectures on the French Economistes of the 18th Century (London: Macmillan and Co., 1897).
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The Physiocrats have been the subjects of so many and such divergent appreciations by historians, philosophers, economists, and students of political science, that hardly a single general proposition of importance has been advanced with regard to them by one writer which has not been contradicted by another. To de Tocqueville they were doctrinaire advocates of absolute equality. To Rousseau they were the supporters of an odious, if “legal,” despotism. To Professor Cohn they are, in their main proposals, “thoroughly socialistic.” To Louis Blanc they were tainted with a bourgeois individualism. To Linguet their mystic jargon was charlatanical nonsense, not to be understood even by themselves. To Voltaire it was so clear as to be made easily comprehensible (and ridiculous) to the meanest intelligence. To Taine, as to many others, they made powerfully for revolution. To Carlyle, who speaks ironically of “victorious analysis” and scornfully of “rose-pink sentimentalism,” they seem to have been a mere literary ripple on the surface of the great flood. Rossi praised them for conceiving a vast synthesis of social organisation; certain writers, like Mably, have blamed them for a narrow materialism; while there are judges who pronounce them markedly deistic. To Proudhon their system of taxation was a rare Utopia; to others they lack an ideal of any kind. They were to de Loménie a bundle of contradictions— at once monarchical and democratic, half-socialist and highly conservative. To Adam Smith their “system, with all its imperfections, is perhaps the nearest approximation to the truth that has yet been published upon the subject of political economy, and is, upon that account, well worth the consideration of every man who wishes to examine with attention the principles of that very important science.” To many compilers of little text-books, who know better than Adam Smith, they are merely people who lived in the dark ages before 1776, and held some absurd opinions about land. To some they appear to have had a transitory success followed by complete and lasting reaction. To Léon Say their principles, after suffering reverses in the eighteenth century, have dominated the nineteenth. Of many serious writers these, anxious for precedent, have appealed to their authority in support of their own views; those, striving after originality, have been eager to prove that the point which they seek to emphasise was really missed by the Physiocrats; and the great majority of authors have been content to follow the well-worn phrases of one predecessor or another without direct reference to the writings of the old economists themselves. Probably no man alive has read the whole published works of, say, the Marquis of Mirabeau—to mention only a single member of the school. And happily no one is obliged to do so. When we have once mastered their doctrines we are dispensed from following the prolix repetitions and tedious amplifications which make up ninetenths of their literary activity. Yet this mastery is essential to a due acquaintance with the history of economic theory. For the Physiocrats were the first scientific school of political economy.
The Mercantilists, it is true, come first in order of time, but they are not in any proper sense of the term “a school” at all. There is no personal link between the different writers who, for more than a century, support what is called “the mercantile system”—an indiscriminate phrase covering proposals so different that their authors can only be said to have had a common tendency and not a common doctrine any more than a common acquaintance. But in the Physiocrats we see an alliance of persons, a community of ideas, an acknowledged authority, and a combination in purpose, which banded them into a society apart. To this personal tie, Turgot, the great lover of individual liberty in thought and deed, took grave objection. “It is the sectarian spirit,” he says, “which arouses against useful truths enemies and persecutions. When an isolated person modestly proposes what he believes to be the truth, he is listened to if he is right, and forgotten if he is wrong. But when even learned men have once formed themselves into a body, and say we, and think they can impose laws upon public opinion, then public opinion revolts against them, and with justice, for it ought to receive laws from truth alone and not from any authority. Every society soon sees its badge worn by the stupid, the crack-brained, and the ignorant, proud in joining themselves to it to give themselves airs. These people are guilty of stupidities and absurdities, and then their excited opponents fail not to impute folly to all their colleagues.” Turgot refused to wear their intellectual badge, but, as we shall see, he shared many of their ideas.
The Physiocrats were not merely a school of economic thought; they were a school of political action. Kings and princes were among their pupils. The great French Revolution itself was influenced by their writings. And the force of their work is still not wholly spent. But before the origin and significance of their writings can be appreciated it is necessary briefly to sketch the circumstances of their time in relation to which their ideas must be considered.
The economic and financial condition of France at the beginning of the eighteenth century was truly pitiable. In spite of her great natural resources, the variety of her favourable climates, the fertility of her well-watered soil, and the thrift, industry, and intelligence of her people, the efforts of able ministers like Mazarin and Colbert to increase her national wealth had been rendered nugatory by the senseless politics of the Great Monarch. Costly campaigns abroad, ruinous extravagance at home, left the kingdom at his death, in 1715, with a debt of 3460 million francs, of which over 3300 had been contracted since the death of Colbert in 1683. His murderous wars, reducing the birth-rate, increasing the mortality, and “an act of religious intolerance, disavowed by religion”1 —the expulsion of the Protestants—had reduced the population by four millions, or 20 per cent, since 1660.2 Agricultural products had fallen off by one-third since he ascended the throne. Burdens increased while they were diminished who bore them. And competent judges computed that two-thirds of the taxes themselves were eaten up by the cost of collection.3 The contemptible creatures who succeeded Louis XIV., Philip, Duke of Orleans (the Regent), and Louis XV., squandered the national revenues in vice and frivolities with shameless prodigality. The system of Law (1718–1720), which is generally held responsible for a large share of the subsequent financial trouble of France, had, it might be shown, little or no ill effect as a whole upon the royal treasury either immediately1 or in the long-run, for it taught useful lessons of the power as well as the dangers of credit, and proved by bitter experience to masses of men the folly of striving after fortune by gambling instead of by honest work. The Court maintained its outward brilliance, and the seigneurs who surrounded the king at Versailles vied with one another in splendour and extravagance, while their country houses were abandoned, and young labourers fled from the gloomy farms and the hated militia to the glitter of the cities and the security of domestic service with the great An economic drain of wealth from the fields to the town thus intensified the contrast between luxury and misery, and a vicious financial system pressed with increasing weight upon the already crushed industries of the nation. The taille or direct tax (said to be etymologically related to our words tallage and tallies) was imposed only upon the goods and persons of the common people, and not on the nobles or clergy, who by a relic of feudal fiction owed the king their personal service and not their money, so that subjection to taille was synonymous with and incidental to degradation from nobility. A man who could afford to buy a patent of nobility obtained with it the privilege of exemption from taille; and the inequality with which the tax was levied, as between place and place, man and man, constituted an additional aggravation. The gabelle, an indirect tax which had come eventually to stand simply for the tax upon salt, was collected at the rate of 62 francs a quintal in some provinces, at 33 francs 12 sous in others, at 21 francs 12 sous in others, while certain districts had either redeemed it or been exempted from its operation. Except in these favoured districts every person over eight years of age was compelled to pay on at least a certain quantity of salt (sel de devoir); and the tax was collected with revolting harshness at a cost of about 50 per cent. The indirect taxes were leased out to a body of financiers, the farmers-general, who paid a fixed sum in advance year by year and purchased thereby the taxes they collected. Armed with stringent powers they paid domiciliary visits, seized goods suspected to be smuggled, and in their efforts to capture smugglers (whose fate was the galleys or the gibbet) they frequently provoked strife and bloodshed. “Those who consider the blood of the people as nothing,” says Adam Smith, “in comparison with the revenue of the prince, may, perhaps, approve of this method of levying taxes.”1 The corvée, an obligation upon the peasant to supply the state with labour or services without payment,— e.g. to work so many days in the year on repairing the roads,—was extended to the whole country in 1737, and was estimated in 1758 to yield 1,200,000 livres's worth of forced labour, though its cost to the peasants greatly exceeded this sum, and was stated by Necker to amount to 624,000 livres a year in Berry alone. It included also the billeting and the transport of soldiers. The regular army was, it is true, recruited by enlistment and not by conscription; but each district was compelled to provide its quota for the militia; and this service was so distasteful that the men whose names were drawn often fled to the woods or the mountains, and were pursued by their neighbours in arms who had no relish for serving in their stead. Voluntary substitutes were not accepted lest recruiting should suffer. Apart from these and other national vexations there were the tithes of the clergy and numerous troublesome local dues. Minute regulations fettered industry and commerce; tolls had been lightened and simplified by Colbert in 1664,2 but Forbonnais still mentions twenty-eight on the Loire alone. Until 1754 corn could not be freely “exported” even from one part of France to another, much less to foreign countries. And at the peasant's own door were the innumerable fees, often for absurdly trifling amounts, but none the less irritating, due to his feudal lord. Financial deficit was chronic. The capital of the nation, its industrial life-blood, ebbed away and left it weaker and weaker. Even the seed-corn was often lacking. In the first half of the century large territories lay waste, and over great tracts of country the poor were reduced to live on grass and water, like the beasts of the field. When the king asked the Bishop of Chartres how his flock fared he was answered that they ate grass like sheep and starved like flies. The Bishop of Clermont-Ferrand described his people— without beds or furniture, and lacking half their time the barley-bread or oaten cakes which constituted their sole food—as infinitely less fortunate than the negro slaves of the colonies, who had at least food and raiment. The government intendant of Bourges reported that whole families passed two days without food, and that in several parishes the starving lay abed most of the day to diminish their suffering. His colleague of Orleans refers to poor widows burning their wooden beds and their fruit-trees for lack of fuel. Beggars abounded. Bread riots were frequent, and so desperate that they were only quelled by lead and cold steel. Young men and maidens refused to marry, asking why they should add to the misery around them. And all the while taxes were ruthlessly wrung from the poorest families. The collectors forced doors, seized furniture and clothing, and even the last measure of meal, and sold the very materials of the building, often for ridiculously small sums, barely sufficient to pay the expenses of distraint The duties levied upon land were so onerous that some proprietors preferred to abandon their property, and more would have done so if the law had not confiscated the whole local property of an owner who left his land derelict. “The people,” says Taine, “is like a man walking in a pond with water up to his chin; the least dip in the ground, the least ripple, and he loses footing, goes under, and suffocates. In vain ancient charity and new humanity strive to succour him; the water is too high. Its level must abate, and the pond find some great outlet. Till then the miserable man can breathe only at intervals, and at every moment will run the risk of drowning.”1 Here and there, no doubt, the people hoarded a little money and enjoyed some surreptitious comfort; but they either bought parcels of land, which brought home to increasing numbers the tyranny of taxation, or they hid their money in secret hoards; for a man was assessed according to his apparent wealth, and there was no inducement to stock a farm well or work it to greater advantage when the rapacity of the tax-gatherer might confiscate more than the whole of the increased profit. Payment of taxes was wilfully delayed, law costs were deliberately incurred, and sheriff's officers were housed and fed for days together lest a readier payment should provoke suspicion of greater wealth, and lead to increased assessments the following year. The nobles, indeed, stood between the people and the crown, but it was only, in the bitter words of Chamfort, as the hounds are between the hunter and the hare; and the fierceness of popular indignation, which was directed first against the agents of the royal treasury, vented itself upon the privileged classes before it spread to the throne in that “general upset” which the elder Mirabeau clearly foresaw, and his son was to be instrumental in bringing to completion.
Such in barest outline were the economic woes of the ancien régime. So deplorable a condition of things could not fail to evoke the criticism and suggestion of thinking men. Passing by La Bruyère and Féieélon, we come, at the end of the seventeenth century, to a courageous, outspoken, and well-informed writer in Boisguillebert (1646–1714),1 a state official of Normandy, who mercilessly exposed the blunders of administration, the misery of the people, and the connection of one with the other. He urged upon successive ministers plans of reform, the consolidation and reduction of taxes, and, convinced that agriculture, the all-important business of the country, was being stifled, he pressed for the abolition of fetters upon internal and export trade,1 until he was disgraced and exiled to Auvergne as a warning against meddling importunity. In 1707 the great soldier, Marshal Vauban, in his seventy-fourth year, printed anonymously, for private circulation, his Dixme Royale or proposal to substitute for a host of other taxes a general tithe upon all classes of men and all kinds of revenue, and died the same year, chagrined at the king's severe disfavour, and the suppression of his book as a social danger.2 The army of financiers and functionaries found their occupations menaced by this hardy plan for the simplification of taxation. The anger of the privileged classes was easily roused by proposals to tax them equally with others. The amour propre of the king himself could not fail to be wounded by the rude simplicity with which Vauban proved him to be, as St. Simon wrote in the security of his closet, not the greatest monarch in Europe, but “a king of tatterdemalions.” In my forty years' wanderings, says Vauban in effect, I have carefully noted the state of the people. Boisguillebert1 is perfectly right Taxation has reached a pitch of absurdity. Naked, starving mendicants swarm the streets and roads. “Of every ten men one is a beggar, five are too poor to give him alms, three more are ill at ease, embarrassed by debts and law-suits, and the tenth does not. represent 100,000 families. I believe not 10,000 great or little are really well-to-do, and these include rich merchants, officials, and the favoured of the king. Take them away and hardly any remain.” He stigmatised luxury, privilege, public debts, and the farming of taxes; extolled labour, agriculture, and equality before the law; and reiterated in capital letters the warning that kings have a real and most essential interest in not overburdening their people to the point of depriving them of the necessaries of life. Half a century was to pass before Vauban's ideas reappeared, in a modified form, with the Physiocrats, and then their spokesman was clapped into prison for using similar language. Such was the encouragement afforded to these early writers on taxation. After Vauban they kept long silence, and the intellect of the nation seemed to lie fallow. “The government,” says Buckle,2 “had broken the spirit of the country.” Writings on paper money raged round the system of Law; and Melon, a former secretary of Law, published in 1734 his overrated Essai politique sur le commerce. The Abbé Alary had indeed founded a little club, the Club de I'Entresol, in 1724, which counted Bolingbroke, D'Argenson, and the Abbé de Saint-Pierre among its members, and met in the Abbe Alary's rooms,1 in the Place Vendôme at Paris, to discuss political economy. But the club was closed in 1731, because the Cardinal de Fleury, then minister, disliked its debating Government affairs. Saint-Pierre, who had been expelled from the Academy for denying to Louis XIV. the title of Grand, turned his prolific pen from one project to another; from spelling-reform to utilising horse-chestnuts, from the advantage of a census to the disadvantage of debasing the coinage, and dreamed a dream of Universal Peace. But his writings, though some of them are not without economic importance, need not detain us. And D'Argenson's2 economic reflections appeared only in 1764. During the whole of the first half of the eighteenth century the Government underwent little public criticism. It was the calm before a storm. After the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 began a veritable renaissance in every department of thought,—in religion, in politics, in philosophy, and in science,—largely under the impulse of English writers, and especially of Locke. The old crystallised forms of thought and action were broken up by the solvent of free criticism and fearless inquiry. Montesquieu's Esprit des Lois appeared in 1748. The Encyclopédie of Diderot and D'Alembert was started in 1751. Voltaire and Rousseau were sharpening their pens, and had even begun to write. Gournay, appointed intendant of commerce in 1751, devoted his attention to the English economists, translated Child and Culpeper, and directed into the same channel the mental activity of Turgot, whom he persuaded to translate a volume of Tucker. The original and suggestive essays of Hume appeared in a French translation (1756). The efforts of Du Pin,1 Gournay, Trudaine, Fourqueux, and Machault had assisted in wringing from the Government an edict in 1754 permitting free trade in corn between one part of France and another; and Herbert had argued (Essai sur la police des grains, 1755) in favour of free export. But the work which heralded in the era of active and original thought in French economics was Cantillon's Essai sur la nature du commerce en général, 1755, a little volume of 430 pages duodecimo, immeasurably superior to anything which had preceded it, and profoundly important by the influence which it exercised over the minds of leading writers.1 Cantillon, who died in 1734, was an English banker of Irish extraction. He had houses in all the principal countries of Europe, made a great fortune out of sagacious operations at Paris during the “system” of Law, and studied with great penetration the general principles which regulate the production, distribution, and consumption of wealth. His original English writings are unfortunately lost; but his Essay was handed about in manuscript, and a translation of part of the Essay which he made for a French friend is all that we have remaining of him. The Mercantilists seem always to have propounded to themselves the problem, How can Government make this nation prosperous? Nationalism, state-regulation, and particularism are the essence of their policy. But a man of much travel is less prone to be trammelled by narrow views of local circumstance, as had already been shown by Dudley North in his tract of 1691, the Discourse of Trade, and especially by Nicholas Barbon in his book of the same title a year before.1 In Cantillon and his successors we find broader and more philosophical views of the fundamental principles which govern the Science of Wealth at all times and in all places, though time and place are not without their modifying effect. The words en général which figure in his title are significant of much. They mark a change from works like Mun's England's Treasure by Forraign Trade (published 1664), Malynes's Canker of England's Commonwealth (1601), Fortrey's England's Interest and Improvement (1663), Britannia Languens (1680), Yarranton's England's Improvement by Sea and Land (1677, 1681), and others, to the cosmopolitan spirit which Adam Smith was to show in his Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776)— of nations in general and not of England in particular. Cantillon sets himself to answer the questions, What is wealth? How does it originate? What are the causes which regulate its distribution among the different classes of society, and determine its circulation not only within the country but between one country and another? “Land,” he begins (and this is the keynote of physiocracy), “is the source or material from which Wealth is extracted”; but he continues, “human labour is the form which produces it; and Wealth in itself is no other than the sustenance, the conveniences, and the comforts of life.” He sketches the growth of human societies, beginning with the nomadic stage, and concludes that in all forms of society the ownership of land necessarily belongs to a small number; that in modern societies, after satisfying the claims of farmers and labourers, the surplus product is at the disposition of the landowners, and that their mode of consuming this surplus will determine the nature of national production. After dwelling upon the formation of villages, hamlets, towns, and cities, he passes to a consideration of labour, shows why the work of an agricultural labourers cannot command such high wages as that of an artisan, and distinguishes between the causes which regulate the difference of wages in different industries. The supply of labour of all kinds is determined by the demand for it; and, generally, the normal price of all services and commodities is regulated by the cost of Production. Without pursuing his analysis further, or dwelling upon his masterly account of foreign exchanges, it will be seen that this manner of attacking the problem at once raises economic discussion to the highest plane.1
It has been mentioned that Cantillon's manuscript had been handed about before its publication. Postlethwayt plagiarised large portions of it verbatim in his Universal Dictionary of Trade and Commerce as early as 1751.1 But the French translation, subsequently published, had been for many years in the hands of the Marquis of Mirabeau, father of the great orator and tribune of the French Revolution. Mirabeau seems at one time to have meditated publishing this fragment as his own work; but he eventually set himself to write a commentary upon it, and after the Essai itself had been reclaimed from him and given to the world in 1755 he expanded and published his commentary under the title of L'Ami des Hommes, Avignon, 1756, which took the public by storm. The anonymous author was soon revealed. He became the lion of the hour. The people flocked to see him when he showed himself in public. Tradesmen set up the sign-board of L'Ami des Hommes, and Mirabeau himself was so designated to the day of his death. His book ran, it is said, through forty editions, and was widely translated. Its peculiarities of style accounted for part of its success. The Marquis's first work was a plea for decentralisation of local government published in 1750, the Mémoire concernant I'utilité des états provinciaux. The country was divided into two groups—pays d'état and fays d'élection, in the first of which (consisting mainly of the frontier provinces) the inhabitants themselves decided how to raise the money demanded from them by royal precept, in the second, the officials of the Government (the intendants) allotted its share of burden to each parish. Mirabeau pleaded for a general extension of the system of the pays d'état. His Mémoire had been attributed by D'Argenson, no mean judge, to Montesquieu. The Ami des Homines now reminded readers of the naïve prattle of Montaigne. Here it glowed with the fire of eloquence, there it glittered with wit and humour, elsewhere it exhibited shrewd observation, sober judgment, and able, though often inconsecutive, discussion. Its success owed something to its style, where quaint archaisms jostled with words fresh-minted by the author, and provoked Quesnay to write Où diable avez-vous pris ce style marotique? Je ne connais pas Marat, was the answer, mais apparemment J' ai bu de la me'me eau que lui. Victor Hugo finds in him the style of Moliére and Saint-Simon, the beau style-grand-seigneur du temps de Louis XIV. The sub-title of the book was Traité de la Population, and its central purpose was to show that a large population was desirable as conducive to the wealth of the country. It was a time of peace, and the population was already recovering from the set-back it had experienced during half a century. But it was seen that for a long time there had been, side by side with a diminution of population, a reduction in national wealth; and in Mirabeau's view the problem of the statesman was to remove the economic causes which kept down the numbers of the people. “Men multiply,” he says, borrowing from Cantillon, “like rats in a barn, if they have the means of subsistence.” “The means of subsistence are the measure of population.” The production of food should therefore be assisted. The burdens of agriculture should be alleviated. The small cultivator was to be encouraged and held in honour; the idle consumer viewed with reprobation. Luxury he defined as the abuse of wealth. An unequal distribution of wealth is prejudicial to production, for the very rich are “like pikes in a pond” who devour their smaller neighbours. Great landowners should live upon their estates and stimulate their development,—not lead an absentee life of pleasure in the metropolis. Interest should be reduced, public debts extinguished, and a ministry of agriculture created to bring to agriculture the succour of applied science, to facilitate the development of canals, communications, drainage, and so forth. The state is a tree, agriculture its roots,1 population its trunk, arts and commerce its leaves. From the roots come the vivifying sap drawn up by multitudinous fibres from the soil. The leaves, the most brilliant part of the tree, are the least enduring. A storm may destroy them. But the sap will soon renew them if the roots maintain their vigour. If, however, some unfriendly insect attack the roots, then in vain do we wait for the sun and the dew to reanimate the withered trunk. To the roots must the remedy go, to let them expand and recover. If not, the tree will perish.
Such was the burden of the book which fell into the hands of Quesnay, a doctor at the court, in attendance on Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of the king. Quesnay, the son of an advocate,1 had early distinguished himself as a surgeon and physician, and had come to court as the Abbé de Saint-Pierre had done before, and perhaps from the same motive. This is how the Abbe had expressed himself in a letter to a friend: “I have taken a little opera-box to get a better view of the principal actors on the stage of the world. I see our Government at its headquarters, and already I perceive that it would be easy to make it much more honourable to the king, much more convenient to his ministers, and much more useful to the people.”1
If these, too, were Quesnay's motives, he purchased his advantages dearly; for, as will be found, his official position fettered his freedom of action very considerably. He was now over sixty-three years of age, had written nothing on economic subjects except two recent articles, “Fermiers” (1756) and “Grains” (1757), in the Encyclopédie of Diderot, and the courtiers by whom he was surrounded seem to have regarded him as a harmless eccentric with a mania for agricultural science. But there was much in Mirabeau's book of which he approved. “The child,” he wrote on the margin, “has been nursed on bad milk: the strength of his constitution often sets him right in the end, but he has no knowledge of principles.” He expressed a desire to meet the author, and they had an interview, of which Mirabeau, many years later, wrote a graphic and perhaps somewhat fanciful account to Rousseau. Quesnay, he says, showed him that Cantillon had set the plough before the oxen,—that population was not a means to national wealth, but vice versâ. Quesnay sketched his own ideas to the Ami des Hommes, who confesses that, much as he had written, his mind was still swimming in an ocean of uncertainties. He thought the doctor mad, and quitted him. But he came back the same night, renewed the discussion, and was converted into a life-long disciple and friend. Each found in the other the qualities lacking in himself. Quesnay, aged, sententious, oracular, personally retiring, timorous in action, but a hard thinker, who had carved out for himself a consistent theory, —the marquis, young (for all his forty-two years), garrulous, diffuse, egotistic, daring, and imaginative, but unsystematic and incapable of sustained connected thought. As an example of his boldness take the following extract from L'Ami des Hommes, in which the preface declares that he personifies la voix de l'humanity qui réclame ses droits. Sire, he says to the king, regard that class of your subjects which is “the most useful of all, those who see beneath them nothing but their nurse and yours —mother-earth; who stoop unceasingly beneath the weight of the most toilsome labours; who bless you every day, and ask nothing from you but peace and protection. It is with their sweat and (you know it not!) their very blood that you gratify that heap of useless people who are ever telling you that the greatness of a prince consists in the value, and above all, the number of favours he divides among his courtiers, nobility, and companions. I have seen a tax-gathering bailiff cut off the wrist of a poor woman who clung to her saucepan, the last utensil of her household, which she was defending from distraint. What would you have said, great Prince?” etc. etc. This fiery spirit was never quite kept in check by Quesnay's influence, but the energy which lay behind it soon raised up a band of followers for the solitary thinker of Versailles. The school of the Physiocrats dates from this interview in July 1757.
Levasseur, Recherches historiques stir le système de Law, Paris, 1854, p. I.
Lavergne, Les economistes français du XVIIIesiécle, Paris, 1870, p. 65.—Taine probably overstates the case when he estimates at six millions the deaths due to poverty and starvation alone between 1690 and 1715. L'Ancien Régime, vol. i. p. 430.
Quesnay, quoted by Lavergne, p. 79.
Those who vilify Law will find food for reflection in the fact that at the moment when he quitted France, ruined and disgraced, the Czar offered to place him at the head of the finances of Russia. Law declined the offer.—Lemontey, Histoire de la Régence, 1832, vol. i. p. 342.
Wealth of Nations, bk. v. ch. ii.
See P. Clement's Colbert, Lettres et Instructions, ii. 2, 787–796.
Taine, L'Ancien Régime, vol. i. pp. 429–441. He works out the average taxation of a small peasant proprietor (taille, etc., tithes, and feudal dues) at nearly 82 per cent of his total net produce, P. 543.
Detail de la France, 1697; Factum de la France, 1707.
He did not, however, desire free imports except when famine was to be feared.
See the researches on this subject of A. M. de Boislisle, De la proscription de la dime royale, Paris, 1875. The official papers there printed prove how much Vauban took to heart the arrêts against his book, and how rigorously they were carried out; while they disprove the allegation that the Abbe de Beaumont, as alleged by Voltaire and others, was its real author. The arrêt which proscribed the Dixme Royale was followed the same day, I4th March 1707, by another sup pressing Boisguillebert's Factum de la France as seditious.
Vatuban had made his personal acquaintance.
Hist, of Civilisation in England, vol. ii. p. 291, ed. 1868.
In the house of President Henault. A full account of the club was written by D'Argenson, Mémoires, 1825, pp. 247–269. The chatterbox Abbe de Pomponne was the cause of its suppression. Lavergne's history of its foundation is erroneous.
Sainte-Beuve devoted two of his Causeries du Lundi to D'Argenson (3rd and 10th Nov. 1853), vol xii. p. 93, edition of 1857. He tells us that the Considerations of 1764 were a very defective edition of the original manuscript, and that the edition of 1784, “which passes for better,” is still imperfect and inaccurate. The title designed by D'Argenson himself wasJusques où la démocratie peut être admise dans le gouvernemant.
A farmer-general, and grandfather of Georges Sand. His tract on the corn trade, separately printed under the title Mémoire sur les Bleds, 1748, is the first plea for free trade in corn by a French writer. It formed a chapter of his Oeconomiques, Carlsruhe, 1745, 3 vols., rigidly suppressed, and now extant in only three copies.
See the fascinating essay of Jevons on Cantillon in Contemporary Review, January 1881, “The Nationality of Political Economy.” The present writer has added some further information upon Cantillon's life and work in the Economic Journal, vol. i. No. 2, June 1891. Kautz points out that some of the ideas of the Physiocrats are to be found in Asgill, Several Assertions Proved in Order to Create Another Species of Money than Gold and Silver, 1696, and in Vanderlint, Money Answers all Things, 1734. It would be easy to multiply such references, but there is no evidence that the Physiocrats were acquainted with them.
On Barbon see the articles of Dr. Stephan Bauer, by whom his importance was first fully recognised, in Palgrave's Dict, of Pol. Econ. S.V., and in Conrad's Jahrbüuher fur Nationalökonomie und Statistik, xxi. Bd. N. F. pp. 561–590 (1890).
Cf. Higgs, “Cantillon's Place in Economics,” in Quarterly Journal of Economics (Harvard, U.S.A.), July 1892. An analysis of Cantillon's essay is given in Espinas, Histoire des doctrines Oeconomiques, Paris, 1891.
A fact first noticed by Mr. Edwin Cannan. See Economic Journal, March 1896, p. 165.
Cf. Leibnitz in Dutens, G. G. Leibnitii Opera omnia, Geneva, 1768, vol. v. p. 577.—Quesnay, art. “Grains” in Encyclopedic, 1757. This became a favourite figure with the Physiocrats, see e.g. Le Trosne, Del'ordre social, 1777.
According to Grand Jean de Fouchy, Éloge de Quesnay, 1774, and the Comte d'Albon's Éloge, 1775. Other accounts say his father was a peasant. The truth seems to be that his father left his wife and child at home on a small farm, and that, in effect, Quesnay's early childhood was that of a peasant's son. He was taught to read by a friendly gardener at the age of twelve.
Lavergne, p. 5.