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think that you will recognize in others, only the inherent mystification of political economics.
I have the honour to be,
Is laying the following little work before the public I am fully conscious of its many imperfections; some of these it would have been no difficult matter to correct, had I possessed the necessary leisure; but, obliged to an almost constant attendance to a pursuit requiring unremitted attention, it has ouly been in my power to snatch a few minutes from time to time to commit to paper my ideas on a subject of considerable intricacy.
It will naturally be asked why I obtruded on the public, a work, which I had not leisure to render worthy of its eye. My answer is, that the light in which I have seen this subject is, I believe, perfectly new; and if my ideas on it be correct, its publicity at this period is of some importance. I conceive that the present distress of the country arises from the adoption of measures founded on false notions, viz. That its prosperity depends on the granting to our merchants and manufacturers monopolies against our agriculturists, and against each other. That our manufactures cannot prosper but by the depression of the wages of labour. And that the interests of the landholder and of the public creditor are entitled to a paramount consideration in all acts of the legislature. These ideas appear to me to be so completely erroneous, that I conceive not a moment should be lost in their thorough investigation.
In the course of these sketches I have freely borrowed, and without acknowledgment, the ideas, and sometimes even the language of others; particularly of Dr. Adam Smith. I have nevertheless on
some occasions ventured to differ from this great luminary; who wrote at a time when the subject had been little canvassed, and when therefore it was hardly possible that any individual should have contemplated every part of it, under every possible bearing. In treating of the decay of manufactures in Spain, Dr. Smith attributes it principally to the danger and expense of smuggling silver out of that country, which, by causing a greater abundance of it there than in the rest of Europe, must necessarily enhance the money price of labor there, and consequently, he says, enable foreigners to undersell the Spaniards even in their own market. He did not consider that the foreigner who imported his manufactures into Spain must, in diminution of the price he received for them, pay for all the risk and expense of smuggling his returns, if made in silver, out of the country; and that in proportion as that risk and expense could have enhanced the money price of labor in Spain, so in like proportion it must have diminished the price which was ultimately received for foreign manufactures imported into that country.
In pointing out this error in Dr. Smith's reasoning, I by no means wish to undervalue the merit of his most excellent work, but, merely by showing that as the greatest industry and the most extensive human ability do not always exonerate from fault, to claim a lenient consideration for those which may be detected in the following sketches.
One, and only one advantage I derive from situation in the discussion of political subjects. I have long been an inhabitant of an island where the people, though unrepresented, are in some degree free from taxation; where they are neither agitated by political parties, nor the minds of individuals warped by the pressure of those public burthens to which Great Britain is peculiarly subjected. In such a situation, it is at least more easy to appreciate with candor all arguments connected with my subject than in one where the personal feelings are more directly interested.
Isle of Man, 22d May, 1317.
CHAPTER I.-Trade is only Barter.
In the infancy of society, when the community lives by the produce of the chase, peltry is almost the only article of export. When the hunter has procured more skins than are necessary to his own wants, he willingly exchanges a part of them for such articles of foreign produce or manufacture as he may desire. It also sometimes happens, that he may not only thus exchange his surplus peltry, but even perhaps the whole of it, when by so doing he finds that the articles procured in barter for it may be substituted with advantage to all the purposes to which his skins had heretofore been employed. His exchanges are simple; and as money rarely forms a medium of his barter, the whole process is perceived at one view; and its principle, and its practice, have therefore never admitted of any dispute. But in the complex transactions of the commerce of civilized nations, such a circuitous mode of barter is often adopted, and our minds are so much habituated to consider money as the standard of value, rather than as the medium of barter, that in tracing the principles and effects of extended foreign commerce the judgment is apt to be bewildered in a maze of intricacy. And hence the various and often contradictory systems concerning commerce, with which the world has frequently been amused. The same principles however which govern the commerce of the savage, equally regulate that of the civilized man; they both part with so much of the produce of their land and labor as they can exchange for other produce which they consider more useful or more agreeable to them: and (conquest excepted) it will be difficult to devise any other effectual mode of procuring the latter than by parting with the fornier. This exchange however is frequently circuitous; and the different states