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of labour, and application of his materials, which will enable him to produce the greatest quantity of commodities at the least cost; by which process, not only future production is facilitated, and manufactures multiplied, but, as a necessary consequence, they come cheaper to the purchaser; and the whole society is decidedly enriched by the greater abundance of consumable.commodities produced in it.
If it were not for the establishment of this system of commerce and manufactures which Mr Spence is here attempting to depreciate, and for the skill and dexterity which it engenders, it is perfectly evident that the coach, which is now constructed by a quantity of labour, which can be maintained with fifty quarters of grain, could not have been put together by twice as much labour. If men had not been trained to coachmaking by those gainful establishments and that subdivision of labour which constitute the commercial system, it is obvious that it would have taken at least twice as many men, and twice as long a time, to manufacture a coach, as it does now with the benefit of these establishments. There must also have been a proportionately greater waste of materials. If a coach, therefore, be a part of wealth, it is evident, that wealth must be increased by that system of commerce and subdivided labour by which coaches are multiplied with less consumption either of food or materials. The case is precisely the same with every other production of industry; and the multiplication of every thing which contributes to the comfort or delight of human beings, is evidently dependent, in a great degree, on that accumulation of capital, and that perfection of manufacture, which Mr Spence conceives to make no addition to the wealth of a country. For our own parts, we know not whence is derived that proud preeminence which England enjoys in agricultural and mauufacturing capital, which enables her to cultivate her lands so well with such few hands; and, with the price of labour at two shillings aday, to contend in the low price of muslins with the natives of India, who work for an eighth part of the sum,-unless it be to the accumulation and skilful direction of the profits derived from the transfers here described; and it is to be sure a most gross inconsistency in Mr Spence, who thinks that we are not enriched by foreign commerce, and that expenditure is the sole duty of the landholder, to treat as unproductive the only remaining source of that capital which makes a part of his definition of wealth.
Mr Spence, however, seems to be of opinion, that there is another far more powerful source of riches to a nation, which Dr Smith has overlooked; and that the extension of the wealth of a society depends on the yearly expenditure of the revenue which the land proprietors derive from the soil.' It is abolutely neces
sary, he says, that they should spend this revenue; and, so long as they perform this duty, every thing goes on in its proper
It must really be a great consolation to the landed gentlemen of this country to hear, that, in spending the whole of their incomes, to which they are generally sufficiently prompted by inclination, they are performing so patriotic a duty; and we doubt not that they will confer some signal mark of their approbation upon Mr Spence, if he succeeds in establishing their very high public deserts on account of this most usual and not very arduous part of their conduct. But without meaning to detract from the merits of a set of men for whom we have the most sincere respect; we would just observe, that in the present state of society, they would not, with us at least, forfeit the fair character which they have hitherto enjoyed, if they were occasionally to lay by a little for younger children when they have large families; nor would they, in our eyes, be guilty of any great crime towards the state, even if so many as were so disposed, and there would be no great danger of their numbers being prodigious, were to be as parsimonious as Mr Elwes. While the greatest part of the land in the country is let in farms, and all the rest is cultivated for profit, and is generally best cultivated where most profits are saved, the parsimony of some landlords would in no respect impede the flow of raw produce into the market for the general use of the society; and the savings so obtained would operate precisely in the same manner on the gegeral prosperity of the country, as the accumulation of the profits of trade before alluded to.
We are perfectly ready to admit, that consumption must exist somewhere, or there could be no production; and that there are limits to the accumulation of capital, though we do not know where to place them: but we are strongly disposed to believe, that production generates consumption, as well as consumption production; and that an increasing capital naturally produces an increased use of consumable commodities, from the greater cheapness of manufactures, the comparative higher price of labour, the improved cultivation of the soil, the more rapid increase of population, and the constant growth of an important class of consumers living upon the profits of stock, and the interest of money. There cannot, in our conception, be a more gross error, than to consider, as Mr Spence does, the land proprietors as almost the sole, or, at least, the principal consumers in the country. They were so perhaps four hundred years ago; but almost every subsequent year has diminished their relative importance in this light. Our Landlords at present have not the distribution of much above a
fourth part of the value of the raw produce raised in the country; and our readers already know, that we consider the gross revenue of the society as greatly exceeding the gross produce of the soil. We can form no guess at the portion of manufactures consumed in London by our land proprietors; but we should conceive that it was comparatively not very considerable; and that our cotton manufacturers would be more alarmed at a non-consumption agreement among the wives, daughters, and maid-servants of tradesmen and labourers, than among the country gentlemen.
It is very far from being true, that the manufacturer derives the whole of his revenue from the land proprietor. He derives indeed his food, and whatever raw materials he may want of home growth, which, we are most perfectly ready to acknowledge, are the most important, because the most necessary part of his revenue: but for his clothes, his houses, his furniture, and numberless other articles of comfort and convenience, which unquestionably form a part of the revenue he consumes, and often the largest part, he is indebted to other manufacturers. Each manufacturer and artificer becomes a consumer to his brother manufacturers and artificers in different lines; and if history tells true, the states of Holland and Venice, particularly the latter, at the period of their greatest prosperity, experienced all the enriching effects that can arise from a great consumption, without the aid of many land proprietors. Nothing can be more ridiculous than the importance which Mr Spence attaches to the circumstance of fifty landlords becoming parsimonious, which, according to his own calculation, could only occasion a check on agriculture and manufactures to the amount of a million, while he regards as insignificant a check from the stoppage of foreign commerce to the amount of fifty millions, which, in the actual state of things, would operate precisely in the same way, and only be different from the greatness of its extent. We are quite certain that, in those feelings, the manufacturers in our great staples of woollens, leather, iron, &c. as well as cotton, cannot sympathise with him; and, while they would treat with the most per-1 fect indifference the threat of a few landlords to imitate Mr Elwes, they may not be able to contemplate, with the same unconcern, the loss of all the lack-land consumers of Europe or America.
We come now to Mr Spence's main argument against foreign commerce, which we suppose must be considered as the one by which he means to stand or fall, as it is only by the establishment of this argument to the satisfaction of the public, that he can justify his title-page, to which he has called so much attention. A few observations, we think, will be sufficient to show how completely he has bewildered himself on this subject,
in one of the worst parts of the system of the economists, their doctrine of the exchange of equivalents; and how totally unconscious he seems to be of the true nature of foreign commerce, But, lest we should unintentionally misrepresent Mr Spence's meaning on so important a point, we shall quote the passages in which his principal positions and proofs are advanced; and they will serve as a fair specimen of the style in which the pamphlet is written.
As all commerce naturally divides itself into commerce of import and export, I fhall, in the first place, endeavour to prove, that no riches, no increase of national wealth can in any cafe be derived from commerce of import; and, in the next place, that although national wealth may, in fome cafes, be derived from commerce of export, yet that Britain, in confequence of particular circumftances, has not derived, nor does derive, from this branch of commerce, any portion of her national wealth; and confequently, that her riches, her profperity, and her power, are intrinfic, derived from her own refources, independent of commerce, and might and will exift, even though her trade fhould be annihilated. Thefe pofitions, untenable as at first glance they may feem, I do not fear of being able to establish to the fatisfaction of those who will difmifs from their minds the deep-rooted prejudices with which, on this fubject, they are warped; and who, no longer contented with examining the mere furface of things, fhall determine to penetrate through every ftratum of the mine which conceals the grand truths of political econo my.'
After this bold intimation of his intentions, he thus proceeds to establish his positions; inclining, as the reader will see, rather more to that easy and impressive figure of speech called assertion, than to that more difficult and duller one of proof.
Every one must allow, that for whatever a nation purchases in a foreign market, it gives an adequate value, either in money, or in other goods; fo far then, certainly it gains no profit nor addition to its wealth; it has changed one fort of wealth for another, but it has not increased the amount it was before poffeffed of. Thus, when the India Company has exchanged a quantity of bullion with the Chinese for tea, no one will fay that this mere exchange is any increase of national wealth, We have gained a quantity of tea, but we have parted with an equal value of gold and filver; and if this tea were fold at home for exactly the fame fum that had been given for it, it would be allowed on all hands, that no wealth had accrued to the nation from this transfer. But because goods, bought at a foreign market, and fold at home, have their value confiderably augmented by the charge of tranfporting them, the duty paid to government, the profit of the merchant, importer) &c.; it is contended by the difciples of the mercantile fyftem, that this increased value is fo much profit to the nation,-fo much addition to the amount of national wealth. Thus, a quantity of tea, fay they, which has cost in China 1000l., will, by the charges and profits which have occurred
occurred upon it, previous to its expofure for fale in England, have its value augmented to 15ool., and will be fold for that fum at home. Since then the tea coft but roool, and has been fold for 15col., is not this fool. an addition to national wealth? To this question I answer, No; certainly not. There is no doubt but the perfons concerned in this tranfaction have gained a profit, and have added to their individual wealth. The fhip-owner has added to his wealth by the freight of the tea; the underwriter by his premiums of insurance upon it: the government has increafed the revenue by the duties of cuftom and excife; and the East India Company has augmented its dividend by the profit gained upon this article. But the queftion is, from whence have thefe profits of the fhip-owner, the underwriter, the government, and the Eaft India Company been derived? Have they not been drawn from the confumers of this tea? and is it not as clear as the noon day, that whatever the former have gained, the latter have loft; that the latter are exactly poorer in proportion as the former are richer; and in fhort, that a transfer, not a creation of wealth has taken place? If this tea had been fold for foool., the bare fum which it coft, would the nation have been poorer than if it were fold for 1500l. Certainly not. In this cafe, the confumers of the tea would have kept in their pockets the 5ool. which, on the other fuppofition, they transferred to the pockets of the fhip-owner, the insurer, &c.: but the national wealth would be neither increased nor diminished.
The fame reasoning is applicable to all commerce of import. In every cafe the value of an article is what it has coft in the foreign market; and whatever it is fold for more than this, is a transfer of wealth from the confumers of the article to those who gain' a profit by it; but in no inftance is there any addition to national wealth created by this branch of commerce.'
These are the principal arguments by which Mr Spence controverts the notion of wealth being derived from a commerce of import. The following are his concessions in favour of the commerce of export.
If it be clear that no increase of national wealth can be derived from commerce of import, it is on the other hand equally plain, that in fome cafes an increase of national wealth may be derived from commerce of export. The value obtained in foreign markets for the manufactures which a nation exports, refolves itself into the value of the food which has been expended in manufacturing them, and the profits of the maftermanufacturer and the exporting merchant. Thefe profits are undoubtedly national profit. Thus, when a lace-manufacturer has been fo long employed in the manufacturing a pound of flax into lace, that his fubfistence during that period has coft 3c., this fum is the real worth of the lace; and if it be fold at home, whether for gol. or 6ol., the nation is, as has been fhown, no richer for this manufacture. But if this lace be exported to another country, and there fold for 60l., it is undeniable, that the exporting nation has added 30l. to its wealth by its fale, fince the soft of it was only 30l."