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tax, or any other impost, by enhancing the price of commodities, increase the quantity of wealth? The income of the producer arising from the cost of production, why is not this income impaired by a diminution in the cost of production? Now it is the power of resolving these abstruse problems which, nevertheless, constitutes the science of Political Economy.†

By the exclusive restriction of the term wealth to values fixed and realized in material substances, Dr. Smith has narrowed the boundary of this science. He should also have included under it values which, although immaterial, are not less real, such as natural or acquired talents. Of two individuals equally destitute of fortune, the one in possession of a particular talent is by no means so poor as the other. Whoever has acquired a particular talent at the expense of an annual sacrifice, enjoys an accumulated capital; a description of wealth, notwithstanding its immateriality, so little imaginary, that, in

⚫ Dr. Smith has, in a satisfactory manner, established the difference between the real and nominal prices of things, that is to say, between the quantity of real values which must be given to obtain a commodity, and the name which is given to the sum of these values. The difference here alluded to, arises from a more perfect analysis, in which the real price itself is decomposed.

It is not, for example, until after the manner in which production takes place is thoroughly understood, that we can say how far the circulation of money and commodities have contributed towards it, and consequently what circulation is useful and what is not; otherwise, we should only talk nonsense, as is daily done, respecting the utility of a quick circulation. My being obliged to furnish a chapter on this subject (Book I, Chap. 16.) must be attributed to the inconsiderable advancement made in the science of Political Economy, and to the consequent necessity of directing our attention to some of its more simple applications. The same remark is applicable to the twentieth chapter, in the same book, on the subject of temporary and permanent emigration, considered in reference to national wealth. Any person, however, well acquainted with the principles of this science, would find no difficulty in arriving at the same conclusions.

The time is not distant when not only writers on finance, but on history and geography, will be required to possess a knowledge of at least the fundamental principles of Political Economy. A modern treatise on Universal Geography, (vol. 2, page 602) a work in other respects denoting extensive research and information, contains the following passage: "The number of inhabitants of a country is the basis of every good system of finance; the more numerous is its population, the greater height will its commerce and manufactures attain; and the extent of its military force be in proportion to the amount of its population." Unfortunately every one of these positions may be erroneous. National revenue, necessarily consisting either of the income of the public property, or of the contributions, in the shape of taxes, drawn. from the incomes of individuals, does not depend upon the number, but upon the wealth, and above all upon the incomes of the people. Now, an indigent multitude has the fewer contributions to yield, the more mouths it has to feed. It is not the numerical population of a state, but the capital and genius of its inhabitants, that most conduces to the advancement of its commerce; these benefit population much more than they are benefited by it. Finally, the number of troops a government can maintain depends still less upon the extent of its population than upon its revenues; and it has been already seen that revenue is not dependent upon population.


the shape of professional services, it is daily exchanged for gold and silver.

Dr. Smith, who with so much sagacity unfolds the manner in which production takes place, and the peculiar circumstances accompanying it in agriculture and the arts, on the subject of commercial production presents us with only obscure and indistinct notions. He, accordingly, was unable to point out with precision, the reason why, and the extent to which, facilities of communication are conducive to production.

He did not subject to a rigid analysis the different operations comprehended under the general name of industry, or as he calls it, of labour, and, therefore, could not appreciate the peculiar importance of each of them in the business of production.

His work does not furnish a satisfactory or well connected account of the manner in which wealth is distributed in society; a branch of Political Economy, it may be remarked, opening an almost new field for cultivation. The too imperfect views of economical writers respecting the production of wealth, precluded them from forming any accurate notions in relation to its distribution.*

Finally, although the phenomena of the consumption of wealth are but the counterpart of its production, and although Dr. Smith's doctrine leads to its correct examination, he did not himself develop it; which precluded him from establishing numerous important truths. Thus, by not characterizing the two different kinds of consumption, namely, unproductive and reproductive, he does not satisfactorily demonstrate, that the consumption of values saved and accumulated in order to form capital, is as perfect as the consumption of values which are dissipated. The better we shall become acquainted with Political Economy, the more correctly shall we appreciate the importance of the improvements this science has received from him, as well as of those he left to be accomplished.t

Such are the principal imperfections the Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations contains, in relation to its fundamental doctrines. The plan of the work, or, in other words, the manner in which these doctrines are unfolded, is liable to no less weighty objections.

In many places the author is deficient in perspicuity, and almost throughout is destitute of method. To understand him thoroughly, it is necessary to accustom one's self to collect and digest his views; a labour, at least in respect to some passages, he has placed beyond the reach of most readers; indeed, so much so, that persons otherwise enlightened, professing both to comprehend and admire them, have written on subjects he

Witness Turgot's Reflexions sur la formation et la distribution des richesses, in which he has introduced various views on both these subjects, either entirely erroneous, or very imperfect.

Many other points of doctrine, besides those here noticed, have been either overlooked or but imperfectly analysed by Dr. Smith.

has discussed, namely, on taxes and bank notes as supplementary to money, without having understood any part of his theory on these points, which, nevertheless, forms one of the most beautiful parts of his inquiry.

His fundamental principles are not established in the chapters assigned to their development. Many of them will be found scattered through the two excellent refutations of the exclusive or mercantile system and the system of the Economists, but in no other parts of the work. The principles relating to the real and nominal prices of things, are introduced into a dissertation on the value of the precious metals during the course of the last four centuries; and the author's opinions on the subject of money are contained in the chapter on Commercial Treaties.

Dr. Smith's long digressions have, also, with great propriety, been much censured. An historical account of a particular law or institution, as a collection of facts, is in itself, doubtless, highly interesting; but in a work devoted to the support and illustration of general principles, particular facts not exclusively applicable to these ends, can only unnecessarily overload the attention. His sketch of the progress of opulence in the different nations of Europe after the fall of the Roman empire, is but a magnificent digression. The same remark is applicable to the highly ingenious disquisition on public education, replete as it is with erudition and sound philosophy, at the same time that it abounds with valuable instruction.

Sometimes these dissertations have but a very remote connexion with his subject. In treating of public expenditures, he has gone into a very curious history of the various modes in which war was carried on by different nations at different epochs; in this manner accounting för military successes which have had so decided an influence on the civilization of many parts of the earth. These long digressions at times, also, are devoid of interest to every other people but the English. Of this description is the long statement of the advantages Great Britain would derive from the admission of all of her co lonies into the right of representation in parliament.

The excellence of a literary composition as much depends upon what it does not, as upon what it does contain. So many details, although in themselves useful, unnecessarily incumber a work designed to unfold the pinciples of Political Economy. Bacon made us sensible of the emptiness of the Aristotelian philosophy; Smith, in like manner, caused us to perceive the fallaciousness of all the previous systems of Political Economy; but the latter no more raised the superstructure of this science, than the former created logic. To both, however, our obligations are sufficiently great, for having deprived their successors of the deplorable possibility of proceeding, for any length of time, with success on an improper route.*

• Since the time of Dr. Smith, both in England and France, a variety of

We are not, however, yet in possession of an established text-book on the science of Political Economy, in which the fruits of an enlarged and accurate observation are referred to general principles, that might be admitted by every reflecting mind; a work in which these results are so complete and well arranged, as to afford to each other mutual support, and that might every where, and at all times, be studied with advantage. To prepare myself for undertaking so useful a task, I have thought it necessary attentively to study what had been previously written on the same subject, and afterwards to forget it: to prosecute this investigation, that I might profit by the experience of the many competent inquirers who have preceded me; to endeavour to obliterate its impressions, not to be misled by any system, and at all times be enabled freely to consult the nature and course of things, as actually existing in society. Having no particular hypothesis to support, I am simply desirous of unfolding the manner in which wealth is produced, distributed, and consumed. A knowledge of these facts could only be acquired by observing them. It is the result of these observations, within the reach of every inquirer, that are here given. The correctness of the general conclusions I have deduced from them, every one can judge of.

It was but reasonable to expect from the lights of the age, and from that method of philosophizing which has so powerfully contributed to the advancement of other sciences, that I might at all times be able to ascend to the nature of things, and never lay down an abstract principle that was not immediately applicable in practice; so that, always compared with well established facts, any one could easily find its confirmation by at the same time discovering its utility.

Nor is this all: solid general principles, previously laid down, must be noticed, and briefly but clearly proved; those which had not been laid down must be established, and the whole so combined, as to satisfy us, that no material omission has taken place, nor any fundamental point been overlooked. The science must be stript of many false opinions; but this labour must be confined to such errors as are generally received, and to authors of acknowledged reputation. For what injury can an obscure writer or a discredited dogma ef

publications on Political Economy have made their appearance; some of considerable length, but seldom containing any thing worthy of preservation. The greater part of them are of a controversial character, in which the principles of the science are merely laid down for the purpose of maintaining a favourite hypothesis; but from which, nevertheless, many important facts, and even sound principles, when they coincide with the views of their authors, may be collected. The "Essai sur les finances de la GrandBretagne," by Gentz, an apology for Mr. Pitt's system of finance, is of this description; so also is Thornton's Inquiry into the nature and effects of paper credit, written with a view to justify the suspension of cash payments by the bank of England; as well as a great number of other works on the same subject, and in relation to the corn laws.

fect? The utmost precision must be given to the phraseology we employ, so as to prevent the same word from ever being understood in two different senses; and all problems be reduced to their simplest elements, in order to facilitate the detection of any errors, and above all of our own. In fine, the doctrines of the science must be conveyed in such a popular* form, that every man of sound understanding may be enabled to comprehend them in their whole scope and consequences, and be able to apply their principles to all the various circumstances of life.

The position maintained in this work, that the value of things is the measure of wealth, has been especially objected to. This, perhaps, has been my fault; I should have taken care not to be misunderstood. The only satisfactory reply I can make to the objection, is to endeavour to give more perspicuity to this doctrine. I must, therefore, apologize to the owners of the former editions for the numerous corrections I have made in the present. It became my duty in treating a subject of such essential importance to the general welfare, to give it all the perfection within my reach.

Since the publications of the former editions of this work, various authors, some of whom enjoy a well merited celebrity, have given to the world new treatises on Political Economy. It is not my province, either to pronounce upon the general character of these productions, or to decide whether they do, or do not, contain a full, clear and well digested exposition of the fundamental principles of this science. This much I can with sincerity say, that many of these works contain truths and illustrations well calculated greatly to advance. the science, and from the perusal of which I have derived important benefit. But, in common with every other inquirer, I am entitled to remark how far some of their principles, which at first sight appear to be plausible, arc contradicted by a more cautious and rigid induction of facts.

It is, perhaps, a well founded objection to Mr. Ricardo, that he sometimes reasons upon abstract principles to which he gives too great a generalization. When once fixed in an hypothesis which can not be assailed, from its being founded upon observations not called in question, he pushes his reason

By a popular treatise, I do not mean a treatise for the use of persons, who neither know how to read, nor to make any use of it. By this expression, I mean a treatise not exclusively addressed to professional or scientific cultivators of this particular branch of knowledge; but one calculated to be read by every intelligent and useful member of society.

† Ricardo, Sismondi, and others. The fair sex begin also to perceive that they had done themselves injustice, in supposing that they were unequal to a branch of study destined to exercise so benign an influence over domestic happiness. In England a lady (Mrs. Marcet) has published a work, "Conversations on Political Economy," since translated into French; in which the soundest principles are explained in a familiar and pleasing style.

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