« AnteriorContinuar »
cultivated and improved to any confiderable CHAP. degree. Upper Egypt extends itself nowhere above a few miles from the Nile, and in Lower Egypt that great river breaks itself into many different canals, which, with the affiftance of a little art, feem to have afforded a communication by water-carriage, not only between all the great towns, but between all the confiderable villages, and even to many farm-houfes in the country; nearly in the fame manner as the Rhine and the Maefe do in Holland at prefent. The extent and eafinefs of this inland navigation was probably one of the principal caufes of the early improvement of Egypt.
The improvements in agriculture and manufactures feem likewife to have been of very great antiquity in the provinces of Bengal in the Eaft Indies, and in fome of the eastern provinces of China; though the great extent of this antiquity is not authenticated by any hiftories of whofe authority we, in this part of the world, are well affured. In Bengal the Ganges and several other great rivers form a great number of navigable canals in the fame manner as the Nile does in Egypt. In the Eastern provinces of China too, feveral great rivers form, by their different branches, a multitude of canals, and by communicating with one another afford an inland navigation much more extenfive than that either of the Nile or the Ganges, or perhaps than both of them put together. It is remarkable that neither the antient Egyptians, nor the Indians, nor the Chinese, encouraged foreign commerce, but
BOOK feem all to have derived their great opulence I. from this inland navigation.
All the inland parts of Africa, and all that part of Afia which lies any confiderable way north of the Euxine and Caspian feas, the antient Scythia, the modern Tartary and Siberia, feem in all ages of the world to have been in the fame barbarous and uncivilized ftate in which we find them at prefent. The fea of Tartary is the frozen ocean which admits of no navigation, and though fome of the greatest rivers in the world run through that country, they are at too great a distance from one another to carry commerce and communication through the greater part of it. There are in Africa none of thofe great inlets, fuch as the Baltic and Adriatic feas in Europe, the Mediterranean and Euxine feas in both Europe and Afia, and the gulphs of Arabia, Perfia, India, Bengal, and Siam, in Afia, to carry maritime commerce into the interior parts of that great continent: and the great rivers of Africa are at too great a distance from one another to give occafion to any confiderable inland navigation. The commerce befides which any nation can carry on by means of a river which does not break itself into any great number of branches or canals, and which runs into another territory before it reaches the fea, can never be very confiderable; becaufe it is always in the power of the nations who poffefs that other territory to obftruct the communication between the upper country and the fea. The navigation of the Danube is of very little ufe to the different ftates
ftates of Bavaria, Austria and Hungary, in com- CHAP. parison of what it would be if any of them poffeffed the whole of its courfe till it falls into the Black Sea.
Of the Origin and Ufe of Money.
HEN the divifion of labour has been once C HA P. thoroughly established, it is but a very fmall part of a man's wants which the produce of his own labour can fupply. He supplies the far greater part of them by exchanging that furplus part of the produce of his own labour, which is over and above his own confumption, for fuch parts of the produce of other men's la bour as he has occafion for. Every man thus lives by exchanging, or becomes in fome meafure a merchant, and the fociety itself grows to be what is properly a commercial fociety.
But when the divifion of labour firft began to take place, this power of exchanging muft frequently have been very much clogged and embarraffed in its operations. One man, we fhali fuppofe, has more of a certain commodity than he himself has occafion for, while another has lefs. The former confequently would be glad to difpofe of, and the latter to purchase, a part of this fuperfluity. But if this latter fhould chance to have nothing that the former ftands in need of, no exchange can be made between them.
BOOK The butcher has more meat in his shop than he I. himself can confume, and the brewer and the baker would each of them be willing to purchase a part of it. But they have nothing to offer in exchange, except the different productions of their respective trades, and the butcher is already provided with all the bread and beer which he has immediate occafion for. No exchange can, in this cafe, be made between them. He cannot be their merchant, nor they his cuftomers; and they are all of them thus mutually lefs ferviceable to one another. In order to avoid the inconveniency of fuch fituations, every prudent man in every period of fociety, after the firft establishment of the divifion of labour, muft naturally have endeavoured to manage his affairs in fuch a manner, as to have at all times by him, befides the peculiar produce of his own industry, a certain quantity of fome one commodity or other, fuch as he imagined few people would be likely to refuse in exchange for the produce of their industry.
Many different commodities, it is probable, were fucceffively both thought of and employed for this purpose. In the rude ages of fociety, cattle are faid to have been the common inftrument of commerce; and, though they must have been a most inconvenient one, yet in old times we find things were frequently valued according to the number of cattle which had been given in exchange for them. The armour of Diomede, fays Homer, coft only nine oxen; but that of Glaucus coft an hundred oxen. Salt is faid to
be the common inftrument of commerce and ex- CHA P. changes in Abyffinia; a fpecies of fhells in fome parts of the coaft of India; dried cod at Newfoundland; tobacco in Virginia; fugar in fome of our Weft India colonies; hides or dreffed leather in fome other countries; and there is at this day a village in Scotland where it is not uncommon, I am told, for a workman to carry nails instead of money to the baker's shop or the ale houfe.
In all countries, however, men feem at last to have been determined by irrefiftible reasons to give the preference, for this employment, to metals above every other commodity. Metals can not only be kept with as little lofs as any other commodity, fcarce any thing being less perishable than they are, but they can likewise, without any lofs, be divided into any number of parts, as by fufion thofe parts can eafily be reunited again; a quality which no other equally durable commodities poffefs, and which more than any other quality renders them fit to be the inftruments of commerce and circulation. The man who wanted to buy falt, for example, and had nothing but cattle to give in exchange for it, must have been obliged to buy falt to the value of a whole ox, or a whole sheep, at a time. He could feldom buy lefs than this, because what he was to give for it could feldom be divided without lofs; and if he had a mind to buy more, he muft, for the fame reafons, have been obliged to buy double or triple the quantity, the value, to wit, of two or three oxen, or