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BOOK public deliberations, therefore, his voice is little I. heard and lefs regarded, except upon fome par
ticular occafions, when his clamour is animated, fet on, and supported by his employers, not for his, but their own particular purposes.
His employers conftitute the third order, that of those who live by profit. It is the flock that is employed for the fake of profit, which puts into motion the greater part of the useful labour of every fociety. The plans and projects of the employers of stock regulate and direct all the most important operations of labour, and profit is the end propofed by all thofe plans and projects. But the rate of profit does not, like rent and wages, rife with the profperity, and fall with the declenfion, of the fociety. On the contrary, it is naturally low in rich, and high in poor countries, and it is always highest in the countries which are going fastest to ruin. The intereft of this third order, therefore, has not the fame connexion with the general intereft of the fociety as that of the other two. Merchants and mafter manufacturers are, in this order, the two claffes of people who commonly employ the largest capitals, and who by their wealth draw to themselves the greatest share of the public confideration. As during their whole lives they are engaged in plans and projects, they have frequently more acuteness of understanding than the greater part of country gentlemen. As their thoughts, however, are commonly exercised rather about the intereft of their own particular branch
of business, than about that of the fociety, their c HA P. judgment, even when given with the greatest candour (which it has not been upon every oc cafion), is much more to be depended upon with regard to the former of those two objects, than with regard to the latter. Their fuperiority over the country gentleman is, not fo much in their knowledge of the public intereft, as in their having a better knowledge of their own interest than he has of his. It is by this fuperior knowledge of their own intereft that they have frequently impofed upon his generosity, and perfuaded him to give up both his own interest and that of the public, from a very fimple but honeft conviction, that their intereft, and not his, was the intereft of the public. The intereft of the dealers, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in fome refpects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the intereft of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the intereft of the public; but to narrow the competition muft always be against it, and can ferve only to enable the dealers, by raifing their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an abfurd tax upon the reft of their fellow-citizens. The propofal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be liftened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted
BO_O K till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the moft fcrupulous, but with the moft fufpicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whofe intereft is never exactly the fame with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to opprefs the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occafions, both deceived and oppreffed it.