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important phenomenon, which has conducted their successors to its entire development. On the other hand, the labours of the Economists have been attended with serious evils; the many useful maxims they decryed, their sectarian spirit, the dogmatical and abstract language of the greater part of their writings, and the tone of inspiration pervading them, gave currency to the opinion, that all who were engaged in such studies were but idle dreamers, whose theories, at best only gratifying literary curiosity, were wholly inapplicable in practice.

No one, however, has ever denied that the writings of the Economists have uniformly been favourable to the strictest morality and to the liberty, which every human being ought to possess, of disposing of his person, fortune and talents, according to the bent of his inclination; without which, individual happiness and national prosperity are but empty and unmeaning sounds. These opinions alone entitle their authors to universal gratitude and esteem. I do not, moreover, believe that a dishonest man or bad citizen can be found among their number.

This is doubtless the reason why, since the year 1760, almost all the French writers of any celebrity on subjects connected with Political Economy, without absolutely being enrolled under the banners of the Economists, have, nevertheless, been influenced by their opinions. Raynal, Condorcet, besides many others, will be found among this number. Condillac may also be enumerated among them, notwithstanding his endeavours to found a system of his own in relation to a subject which he did not understand. Many useful hints may be collected from amidst the ingenious trifling of his work;t but, like the Economists, he almost invariably founds a principle upon some gratuitous assumption. Now, an hypothesis. may indeed be resorted to, in order to exemplify and elucidate the correctness of the general reasoning, but never can be suf

The belief that moral and political science is founded upon chimerical theories, arises chiefly from our almost continually confounding questions of right with matters of fact. Of what consequence, for instance, is the question so long agitated in the writings of the Economists, whether the sovereign power in a country is, or is not, the co-proprietor of the soil? The fact is, that in every country the government takes, or in the shape of taxes the people are compelled to furnish it, with a part of the revenue drawn from real estate. Here then is a fact, and an important one; the consequence of certain facts, which we can trace up, as the cause of other facts (such as the rise in the price of commodities) to which we are led with certainty, Questions of right are always more or less matters of opinion; matters of fact. on the contrary, are susceptible of proof and demonstration. The former exercise but little influence over the fortunes of mankind; while the latter, inasmuch as facts grow out of each other, are deeply interesting to them; and, as it is of importance to us that some results should take place in preference to others, it is, therefore, essential to ascertain the means by which these may be obtained. The Social Contract of J. J. Rousseau, from being almost entirely founded upon questions of right, has thereby become, what I feel no hesitation in avowing, a work of at least but little practical utility.

Du Commerce et du Governement considérés l'ûn relativement à l'autre.

ficient to establish a fundamental truth. Political Economy has only become a science, since it has been confined to the results of inductive investigation.

Turgot was himself too good a citizen, not sincerely to esteem as good citizens as the Economists; and, accordingly, when in power, he deemed it advantageous to countenance them. The Economists, in their turn, found their account in passing off so enlightened an individual and minister of state as one of their adepts; but the opinions of Turgot, however, were not borrowed from their school, but derived from the nature of things; and although on many important points of doctrine he may have been deceived, the measures of his administration, either planned or executed, are amongst the most brilliant ever conceived by any statesman. There can not therefore be a stronger proof of the incapacity of his sovereign, than his inability to appreciate such exertions, or if capable of appreciating them, in not knowing how to afford them support. The Economists not only exercised a particular sway over French writers; but also had a very remarkable influence over many Italian authors, who even went beyond them. Beccaria, in a course of public lectures at Milan, first analysed the true functions of productive capital. The Count de Verri, the countryman and friend of Beccaria, and worthy of being so, both a man of business and an accomplished scholar, in his Meditazione sull' Economia politica, published in 1771, approached nearer than any other writer before Dr. Smith, to the real laws which regulate the production and consumption of wealth. Filangieri, whose treatise on political and economical laws was not given to the public until the year 1780, appears not to have been acquainted with the work of Dr. Smith, published four years before. The principles de Verri laid down are followed by Filangieri, and even received from him a more complete development; but although guided by the torch of analysis and deduction, he did not proceed from the most. fortunate premises to the immediate consequences which confirm them, at the same time that they exhibit their application and utility.


None of these inquiries could lead to any important result. How, indeed, was it possible to become acquainted with the causes of national prosperity, when no clear or distinct notions had been formed respecting the nature of wealth itself? The object of our investigations must be thoroughly perceived before the means of attaining it are sought after. In the year 1776, Adam Smith, educated in that school in Scotland which has produced so many scholars, historians and philosophers of the highest celebrity, published his Inquiry into the Nature

See the syllabus of his lectures, which was printed for the first time, in the year 1804, in the valuable collection published at Milan by Pietro Cus todi, under the title of Scrittori classici italiani di Economia politica. It was unknown to me until after the publication of the first edition of this work in 1803.

and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. In this work, its author demonstrated that wealth was the exchangeable value of things; that its extent was proportional to the number of things in our possession having value; and, that inasmuch as value could be given or added to matter, that wealth could be created and engrafted on things previously destitute of value, and there be preserved, accumulated or destroyed.*

In inquiring into the origin of value, Dr. Smith found it to be derived fom the labour of man, which he ought to have denominated industry, from its being a more comprehensive and significant term than labour. From this fruitful demonstration he deduced numerous and important conclusions respecting the causes which, from checking the development of the productive powers of labour, are prejudicial to the growth of wealth; and as they are rigorous deductions from an indisputable principle, they have only been assailed by individuals, either too careless to have thoroughly understood the principle, or of such perverted understandings as to be wholly incapable of seizing the connexion or relation between any two ideas. Whenever the Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations is perused with the attention it so well merits, it will be perceived, that until the epoch of its publication the science of Political Economy did not exist.

From this period gold and silver coin were considered as constituting only a portion, and but a small portion, of National Wealth; a portion the less important, because less susceptible of increase, and because its uses can be more easily supplied than those of many other articles equally valuable; and hence it results that a community, as well as its individual members, are in no way interested in obtaining metallic money beyond the extent of this limited demand.

These views, we conceive, first enabled Dr. Smith to ascertain, in their whole extent, the true functions of money; and the applications of them, which he made to bank notes and paper money, are of the utmost importance in practice. They afford him the means of demonstrating, that productive capítal does not consist of a sum of money, but in the value of the objects made use of in production. He arranged and analysed

During the same year that Dr. Smith's work appeared, and immediately before its publication, Browne Dignan, published in London, written in the French language, his Essai sur les principes de l'Economie publique, containing the following remarkable passage: "The class of reproducers includes all who, uniting their labour to that of the vegetative power of the soil, or modifying the productions of nature in the processes of their several arts, create in some sort a new value, of which the sum total forms what is called the annual reproduction."

This striking passage, in which reproduction is more clearly characterised than in any part of Dr. Smith's writings, did not lead its author to any important conclusions, but merely gave birth to a few scattered hints. A want of connexion in his views, and of precision in his terms, have rendered his Essay so vague and obscure, that no instruction whatever can be derived from it.

the elements of which productive capital is composed, and pointed out their true functions.*

Many principles strictly correct had often been advanced prior to the time of Dr. Smith;t he, however, was the first author who established their truth. Nor is this all: he has furnished us, also, with the true method of detecting errors; he has applied to Political Economy the new mode of scientific investigation, namely, of not looking for principles abstractly, but by ascending from facts the most constantly observed to the general laws which govern them. As every fact may be said to have a particular cause, it is in the spirit of system to determine the cause; it is in the spirit of analysis, to be solicitous to know why a particular cause has produced this effect, in order to be satisfied that it could not have been produced by any other cause. The work of Dr. Smith is a succession of demonstrations, which has elevated many propositions to the rank of indisputable principles, and plunged a still greater number into that imaginary gulph, into which extravagant hypotheses and vague opinions for a certain period struggle, before being forever swallowed up.

It has been said that Dr. Smith was under heavy obligations to Steuart, an author whom he has not once quoted, even for the purpose of refuting him. I can not perceive in what these obligations consist. In the conception of his subject, Dr. Smith displays the elevation and comprehensiveness of his views, whilst the researches of Steuart exhibit but a narrow and insignificant scope. Steuart has supported a system already maintained by Colbert, adopted afterwards by all the French writers on commerce, and steadily followed by most European governments; a system which considers national wealth as depending, not upon the sum total of its productions, but upon the amount of its sales to foreign countries. One of the most important portions of Dr. Smith's work is devoted to the refutation of this theory. If he has not particularly refuted Steuart, it is from the latter not being considered by him as

• This difficult and abstruse subject has not, perhaps, been treated by Dr. Smith with sufficient method and perspicuity. Owing to this circumstance, his intelligent and acute countryman, lord Lauderdale, has composed an entire treatise, in order to prove that his lordship had completely failed in comprehending this part of the Wealth of Nations.

In the article Grains, in the Encyclopedie, Quesnay had remarked, that "commodities, which can be sold, ought always to be considered without distinction, either as pecuniary or real wealth, applicable to the purposes of whoever may make use of it." This, in reality, is Dr. Smith's exchangeable value. De Verri had observed, (chapter 3,) that reproduction was nothing more than the reproduction of value, and that the value of things constituted wealth. Galiani, as has been already noticed, had said, that labour was the source of all value; but Dr. Smith, nevertheless, made these views his own, by exhibiting, as we see, their connexion with all the other important phenomena, and in demonstrating them even by their consequen


+ Sir James Steuart, author of a treatise on Political Economy.

the father of his school, and from having deemed it of more importance to overthrow an opinion, then universally received, than to confute the doctrines of an author, which, in themselves, contained nothing peculiar.

The Economists have also pretended, that Dr. Smith was under obligations to them. But to what do such pretensions amount? A man of genius is indebted to every thing around him; to the scattered lights which he has concentrated, to the errors which he has overthrown, and even to the enemies by whom he has been assailed; inasmuch as they all contribute to the formation of his opinions. But when out of these materials he afterwards forms enlarged views, useful to his contemporaries and posterity, it rather behoves us to acknowledge the extent of our own obligations, than to reproach_him with what he has been supplied by others. Moreover, Dr. Smith has not been backward in acknowledging the advantages he had derived from his intercourse with the most enlightened men in France, and from his intimate correspondence with his friend and countryman Hume, whose essays on Political Economy, as well as on various other subjects, contain many just views.

After having shown, as fully as so rapid a sketch will permit, the improvement which the science of Political Economy owes to Dr. Smith, it will not, perhaps, be useless to indicate, in as summary a manner, some of the points on which he has erred, and others which he has left to be elucidated.

To the labour of man alone he ascribes the power of producing values. This is an error. A more exact analysis demonstrates, as will be seen in the course of this work, that all values are derived from the operation of labour, or rather from the industry of man, combined with the operation of those agents which nature and capital furnish him. Dr. Smith did not therefore obtain a thorough knowledge of the most important phenomenon in production; this has led him into some erroneous conclusions, such, for instance, as attributing a gigantic influence to the division of labour, or rather to the separation of employments. This influence, however, is by no means inappreciable or even inconsiderable; but the greatest wonders of this description are not so much owing to any peculiar property in human labour, as to the use we make of the powers of nature. His ignorance of this principle precluded him from establishing the true theory of machinery in relation to the production of wealth.

The phenomena of production being now better known than they were in the time of Dr. Smith, have enabled his successors to distinguish and to assign the difference found to exist between a real and a relative rise in prices;* a difference which furnishes the solution of numerous problems, otherwise wholly inexplicable. Such, for example, as the following: Does a

*See Chapter third, Book second.

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