« AnteriorContinuar »
THE THIRD EDITION.
HE Firft Edition of the following Work was printed in the end of the year 1775, and in the beginning of the year 1776. Through the greater part of the Book, therefore, whenever the prefent ftate of things is mentioned, it is to be understood of the state they were in, either about that time, or at fome earlier period, during the time I was employed in writing the Book. To the Third Edition, however, I have made feveral additions, particularly to the chapter upon Drawbacks, and to that upon Bounties; likewise a new chapter entitled, The Conclufion of the Mercantile Syftem; and a new article to the chapter upon the expences of the Sovereign. In all these additions, the prefent flate of things means always the ftate in which they were during the year 1783 and the beginning of the year 1784.
THE FOURTH EDITION.
IN this Fourth Edition I have made no al
terations of any kind. I now, however, find myself at liberty to acknowledge my very great obligations to Mr. HENRY HOPE of Amfterdam. To that Gentleman I owe the most diftinct, as well as liberal information, concerning a very interefting and important fubject, the Bank of Amfterdam; of which no printed account had ever appeared to me fatisfactory, or even intelligible. The name of that Gentleman is fo well known in Europe, the information which comes from him must do fo much honour to whoever has been favoured with it, and my vanity is fo much interested in making this acknowledgement, that I can no longer refuse myself the pleasure of prefixing this Advertisement to this new Edition of my Book.
NATURE AND CAUSES
WEALTH OF NATIONS.
INTRODUCTION AND PLAN OF THE WORK.
HE annual labour of every nation is the Introduct. THE fund which originally supplies it with all the neceffaries and conveniences of life which it annually confumes, and which confift always either in the immediate produce of that labour, or in what is purchased with that produce from other nations.
According therefore, as this produce, or what is purchased with it, bears a greater or smaller proportion to the number of those who are to confume it, the nation will be better or worse fupplied with all the neceffaries and conve niencies for which it has occafion.
But this proportion must in every nation be regulated by two different circumftances; first, by the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which
Introduct. its labour is generally applied; and, fecondly, by the proportion between the number of those who are employed in ufeful labour, and that of those who are not fo employed. Whatever be the foil, climate, or extent of territory of any particular nation, the abundance or fcantinefs of its annual fupply muft, in that particular fituation, depend upon those two circumftances.
The abundance or fcantiness of this supply too feems to depend more upon the former of those two circumstances than upon the latter. Among the favage nations of hunters and fishers, every individual who is able to work, is more or lefs employed in ufeful labour, and endeavours to provide, as well as he can, the neceffaries and conveniences of life, for himself, or fuch of his family or tribe as are either too old, or too young, or too infirm to go a hunting and fishing. Such nations, however, are fo miferably poor, that from mere want, they are frequently reduced, or, at least, think themselves reduced, to the neceffity fometimes of directly deftroying, and fometimes of abandoning their infants, their old people, and thofe afflicted with lingering difeafes, to perifh with hunger, or to be devoured by wild beasts. Among civilized and thriving nations, on the contrary, though a great number of people do not labour at all, many of whom confume the produce of ten times, frequently of a hundred times more labour than the greater part of those who work; yet the produce of the whole labour of the fociety is fo great, that all are often abundantly supplied, and a workman,