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speculations. Perhaps their perfect application is reserved for the nineteenth century. In moral as well as in physical science, men of superior minds will appear, who, after having extended their theoretical views, will disclose methods of placing important truths within the reach of the humblest capacities. In the ordinary occurrences of life, instead of then being guided by the false lights of a transcendental philoso phy, mankind will be governed by the maxims of common sense. Opinions will not rest on gratuitous assumptions, but be the result of an accurate opservation of the nature of things. Thus, habitually and naturally ascending to the source of all truth, we shall not suffer ourselves to be imposed upon by empty sounds, or submit to the guidance of erroneous impressions. Corruption, being thus deprived of the weapons of empiricism, will lose her principal strength, and be no longer able to obtain triumphs, calamitous to honest men and disastrous to






Ir we take the pains to inquire what that is, which mankind in a social state of existence denominate wealth, we shall find the term employed to designate an indefinite quantity of objects bearing inherent value, as of land, of metal, of coin, of grain, of stuffs, of commodities of every description. When they further extend its signification to landed securities, bills, notes of hand, and the like, it is evidently because they contain obligations to deliver things possessed of inherent value. In point of fact, wealth can only exist where there are things. possessed of real and intrinsic value.

Wealth is proportionate to the quantum of that value: great, when the aggregate of component value is great; small, when that aggregate is small.

The value of a specific article is always vague and arbitrary, so long as it remains unacknowledged. Its owner is not a jot the richer, by setting a higher ratio upon it in his own estimation. But the moment that other persons are willing, for the purpose of obtaining it, to give in exchange a certain quantity of other articles, likewise bearing value, the one may then be said to be worth, or to be of equal value with, the other.

The quantity of money, which is readily parted with to obtain a thing, is called its price. Current price, at a given time and place, is that price which the owner is sure of obtaining for a thing, if he is inclined to part with it.*

The knowledge of the real nature of wealth, thus defined, of the difficulties that must be surmounted in its attainment, of the course and order of its distribution amongst the members of society, of the uses to which it may be applied, and, further,

• The numerous and difficult points arising out of the confusion of positive and relative value are discussed in different parts of this work: particularly in the leading chapters of Book II. Not to perplex the attention of the reader, I confine myself here to so much, as is absolutely necessary to comprehend the phenomenon of the production of wealth.

of the consequences resulting respectively from these several circumstances, constitutes that branch of science now entitled Political Economy.

The value that mankind attach to objects originates in the use it can make of them. Some afford sustenance; others serve for clothing; some defend them from the inclemencies of the season, as houses; others gratify their taste, or, at all events, their vanity, both of which are species of wants: of this class are all mere ornaments and decorations. It is universally true, that, where men attribute value to any thing, it is in consideration of its useful properties: what is good for nothing they set no price upon. To this inherent fitness or capability of certain things to satisfy the various wants of mankind, I shall take leave to affix the name of utility. And I will go on to say, that, to create objects which have any kind of utility, is to create wealth; for the utility of things is the ground-work of their value, and their value constitutes wealth.


Objects, however, can not be created by human means; nor is the mass of matter, of which this globe consists, capable of increase or diminution. All that man can do is, to re-produce existing materials under another form, which may give them an utility they did not before possess, or merely enlarge one they may have before presented. So that, in fact, there is a creation, not of matter, but of utility; and this I call production of wealth.

In this sense then, the word production must be understood in political economy, and throughout the whole course of the present work. Production is the creation, not of matter, but of utility. It is not to be estimated by the length, the bulk, or the weight of the product, but by the utility it presents.

Although price is the measure of the value of things, and their value the measure of their utility, it would be absurd to draw the inference, that, by forcibly raising their price, their utility can be augmented. Exchangeable value, or price, is an index of the recognised utility of a thing, so long only as human dealings are exempt from every influence but that of the identical utility: in like manner as a barometer denotes the weight of the atmosphere, only while the mercury is submitted to the exclusive action of atmospheric gravity.

In fact, when one man sells any product to another, he sells him the utility vested in that product: the buyer buys it only for the sake of its utility, of the use he can make of it. If, by

*It would be out of place here to examine, whether or no the value mankind attach to a thing be always proportionate to its actual utility. The accuracy of the estimate must depend upon the comparative judgment, intelligence, habits, and prejudices of those who make it. True morality, and the clear perception of their real interests, lead mankind to the just appreciation of benefits. Political economy takes this appreciation as it finds it-as one of the data of its reasonings; leaving to the moralist and the prac tical man, the several duties of enlightening and of guiding their fellow creatures, as well in this, as in other particulars of human conduct.

any cause whatever, the buyer is obliged to pay more than the value to himself of that utility, he pays for value that has no existence, and consequently which he does not receive.*

This is precisely the case, when authority grants to a particular class of merchants the exclusive privilege of carrying on a certain branch of trade, the India trade for instance; the price of Indian imports is thereby raised, without any accession to their utility or intrinsic value. This excess of price is nothing more or less than so much money transferred from the pockets of the consumers into those of the privileged traders, whereby the latter are enriched exactly as much as the former are unnecessarily impoverished. In like manner, when a government imposes on wine a tax, which raises to 15 sous the bottle what would otherwise be sold for 10 sous, what does it else, but transfer 5 sous per bottle from the hands of the producers or the consumers of wine to those of the tax-gatherer?t The particular commodity is here only the means resorted to for getting at the tax-payer with more or less convenience; and its current value is composed of two ingredients, viz. 1. Its real value originating in its utility: 2. The value of the tax that the government thinks fit to exact, for permitting its manufacture, transport, or consumption.

Wherefore, there is no actual production of wealth, without a creation or augmentation of utility. Let us see in what manner this utility is to be produced.



SOME items of human consumption are the spontaneous gifts of nature, and require no exertion of man for their production; as air, water, and light, under certain circumstances. These are destitute of exchangeable value: because the want of them is never felt, others being equally provided with them as ourselves. Being neither procurable by production, nor destructible by consumption, they come not within the province of political economy.

But there are abundance of others equally indispensable to our existence and to our happiness, which man would never

* This position will hereafter be further illustrated. For the present it is enough to know, that, whatever be the state of society, current prices approximate to the real value of things, in proportion to the liberty of production and of mutual dealing.

† It will be shown in Book III. of this work, what proportion of the tax is paid by the producer, and what by the consumer.


enjoy at all, did not his industry awaken, assist, or complete the operations of nature. Such are most of the articles which serve for his food, raiment and lodging.

When that industry is limited to the bare collection of natural products, it is called agricultural industry, or simply agriculture.

When it is employed in severing, compounding, or fashioning the products of nature, so as to fit them to the satisfaction of our various wants, it is called manufacturing industry. When it is employed in placing within our reach objects of want, which would otherwise be beyond reach, it is called commercial industry, or simply commerce.

It is solely by means of industry that mankind can be furnished, in any degree of abundance, with actual necessaries, and with that variety of other objects, the use of which, though not altogether indispensable, yet marks the distinction between a civilized community, and a tribe of savages. Nature, left entirely to itself, would provide a very scanty subsistence to a small number of human beings. Fertile but desert tracts have been found inadequate to the bare nourishment of a few wretches, cast upon them by the chances of shipwreck: while the presence of industry often exhibits the spectacle of a dense population plentifully supplied upon the most ungrateful soil. The term products is applied to things that industry fur

nishes to mankind.

A particular product is rarely the fruit of one branch of industry exclusively. A table is a joint product of agricultural industry, which has felled the tree whereof it is made, and of manufacturing industry, which has given it form. Europe is indebted for its coffee to the agricultural industry, which has planted, and cultivated the bean in Arabia or elsewhere, and to the commercial industry, which hands it over to the con


These three branches of industry, which may at pleasure be again infinitely subdivided, are uniform in their mode of contributing to the act of production. They all either confer an utility on a substance that possessed none before, or increase one which it already possessed. The husbandman who sows a grain of wheat that yields twenty-fold, does not gain this product from nothing: he avails himself of a powerful agent; that is to say, of Nature, and merely directs an operation, whereby different substances previously scattered throughout the elements of earth, air, and water, are converted into the form of grains of wheat.

Gall-nuts, sulphat of iron, and gum-arabic, are substances existing separately in nature. The joint industry of the mer

Since matter can only be modified, compounded, or separated, by means either mechanical, or chemical, all branches of manufacturing industry may be subdivided into the mechanical and the chemical arts, according to the predominance of the one or the other in their several processes.

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