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consider only what a variety of labour is requisite in order to form that very simple machine, the shears with which the shepherd clips the wool. The miner, the builder of the furnace for smelting the ore, the feller of the timber, the burner of the charcoal to be made use of in the smeltinghouse, the brick-maker, the bricklayer, the workmen who attend the furnace, the mill-wright, the forger, the smith, must all of them join their different arts in order to produce them. Were we to examine, in the same manner, all the different parts of his dress and household furniture, the coarse linen shirt which he wears next his skin, the shoes which cover his feet, the bed which he lies on, and all the different parts which compose it, the kitchen grate at which he prepares his victuals, the coals which he makes use of for that purpose, dug from the bowels of the earth, and brought to him perhaps by a long sea and a long land carriage, all the other utensils of his kitchen, all the furniture of his table, the knives, and forks, the earthen or pewter plates upon which he serves up and divides his victuals, the different hands employed in preparing his bread and his beer, the glass window which lets in the heat and the light, and keeps out the wind and the rain, with all the knowledge and art requisite for preparing that beautiful and happy invention, without which these northern parts of the world could scarce have afforded a very comfortable habitation, together with the tools of all the different workmen employed in producing those different conveniences; if we examine, I say, all these things, and consider what a variety of labour is employed about each of them, we shall be sensible that without the assistance and coöperation of many thousands, the very meanest person in a civilized country could not be provided, even according to, what we very falsely imagine, the easy and simple manner in which he is commonly accommodated. Compared, indeed, with the more extravagant luxury of the great, his accommodation must no doubt appear extremely simple and easy; and yet it may be true, perhaps, that the accommodation of an European prince does not always so much exceed that of an industrious and frugal peasant, as the accommodation of the latter exceeds that of many an African king, the absolute master of the lives and liberties of ten thousand naked savages.



A. *What has been already stated is sufficient to expose the sophism of the Economists, who contended, that as a full equivalent must be always given for commodities brought from abroad, it was impossible foreign commerce could add any thing to national wealth. How, they asked, can the wealth of a country be increased by giving equal values for equal values? They admitted that commerce made a better distribution of the wealth of the world; but as it did nothing more than substitute one sort of wealth for another, they denied it could make any addition to its amount. At first sight, this sophistical and delusive statement appears sufficiently conclusive; but a few words will suffice to demonstrate its fallacy. Those who suppose that commerce cannot be a means of increasing the wealth of both parties engaged in it, and that if one of them gains any thing, it must be at the expense of the other, entirely misconceive its nature and objects. It may cost as much to produce the cloth with which the English purchase the wine of Portugal, as it does to produce the latter; and it may even cost more. But then it must be observed, that, in making the exchange, the value of the wine is estimated by its cost in Portugal, which has peculiar facilities for its production, and not by what it would cost to produce it in England were the trade put an end to; while, in like manner, the value of the cloth is estimated by its cost in England, and not by what it would cost were it produced in Portugal. The advantage of the intercourse consists in its enabling each country to obtain commodities, which it

*McCulloch-Principles of Political Economy, 4th ed., 1849. Part I, Chapter V, pp. 146-148.

could either not produce at all, or which it would cost a comparatively large sum to produce directly at home, for what it costs to produce them under the most favourable circumstances, and with the least possible expense. In no respect, therefore, can the gain of the one be said to be a loss to the other. Their intercourse is evidently productive of mutual advantage. Through its means each is supplied with produce for which it has a demand, by a less sacrifice of labour and expense than would otherwise be required; so that the wealth of both parties is not only better distributed, but is, at the same time, vastly augmented, by thus judiciously availing themselves of each other's peculiar capacities and powers.

To set this principle in a clearer point of view, let it be supposed that, with a certain outlay, we may either manufacture 10,000 yards of cloth or raise 1,000 quarters of wheat, and that with the same outlay the Poles can manufacture 5,000 yards of cloth or raise 2,000 quarters of wheat. Under these circumstances, it is plain, were a free intercourse established between this country and Poland, that we should, by exporting cloth to the latter, get twice the quantity of corn in exchange for any given outlay that we should get by employing the same sum in the culture of land at home; while, on their side, the Poles would get through this exchange, twice as much cloth in return for their expenditure on corn as they would have got had they tried directly to manufacture it. Now, this supposed case being identical, in respect of principle, with every case that really occurs in the practice of commerce, every one must see how ridiculous it is to contend that the latter is not a means of adding to the productiveness of labour, and, consequently, of increasing wealth! Were our intercourse with Portugal and the West Indies put an end to, it would be impossible, perhaps, to produce port wine, sugar, and coffee, directly in this country; and though it were possible, it would, at any rate, cost fifty or a hundred times as much to produce them here as it costs to produce the equivalents exported to pay for them.

B. *Whether exchange should be considered to be productive of wealth is an old question of debate among economists. The Physiocrats used to answer it in the negative. When we look at the fact of exchange separately, and reduced to its legal basis, as a simple transfer of property, as a quid pro quo: we certainly cannot term it an act of production; for it follows from its very definition that its function is not to produce new wealth, but to transfer already existing wealth. Clearly, the sale of a piece of land cannot be called an act of production. Moreover, as sale and purchase are the two faces of exchange, if to sell is to produce, so likewise is to buy; and we should all of us be producing every time we make a purchase. That would be a confusion of language.

But we must not look at exchange in this light. We must regard it as the last in that series of acts of production which begins with invention, also an immaterial act, and continues through the whole series of agricultural, manufacturing, and transporting industries, forwarding products, stage by stage, towards their final destination, the hands of the person who is to use them. Change of form, of place, and of ownership are all three equally indispensable for the final result; and surely the last named is not the least important.

Yet the Physiocrats attempted to show that exchange was profitable to no one. For, said they, all exchange, if it is equitable, presupposes the equivalence of the two values Vexchanged, and consequently implies that there is neither gain nor loss on either side. It is true that one party may be cheated; but in that case, one man's profit is easily balanced by the other's loss, so that altogether the final result is nought (see Quesnay, Dialogues sur le Commerce, and Le Trosne, De l'Interet social). This is nothing but sophistry, and was refuted by Condillac long ago. We need only remark that, if no exchange ever led to profit, or if every exchange necessarily implies fraud, it would be difficult to understand why men have persisted in practising exchange

*From Gide's Principles of Political Economy. Copyright 1891 and 1903, by D. C. Heath & Co. By permission. First American Edition, pp. 170-172.

for so many centuries. As a matter of fact, the values exchanged are not equivalent. What I yield in the process of exchange is always worth less to me than what I acquire; for clearly without that motive I should not surrender it at all, and my fellow-exchanger goes through the same train of reasoning for his part. Each of us considers that he receives from the exchange more than he gives, and we are both of us correct. There is no contradiction between these opposite judgments and conflicting preferences, for we know that the utility of each thing is purely subjective, and varies according to the wants and desires of each individual.




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