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And tenant some lone cottage in the wild ;
Fancy's unfetter'd and enthusiast child ;
As o'er his thatch the summer evening smild;
To sit and look upon the setting sun,
To bave his days in fairy circles run,
To send his poems up to print when done;
In love with cottage happiness; for many
In such delicious peace,- but found not any
In short, they'd sell their cottage for a penny,
END OF PART I.
WHICH OUGHT TO BE MORE ENCOURAGED IN THE UNITED
KINGDOM, AGRICULTURE OR COMMERCE?
Tue present was a subject that had often been investigated by political economists, both in elaborate volumes and brief pamphlets. It was still interesting, and must ever remain of the first importance. It could not be expected, that the question, in the limited nature of these discussions, could receive a complete examination. Several of the points con
nected with the subject must be hinted at, rather than explained. The intelligence which was addressed, rendered it, indeed, unnecessary to dwell with minuteness upon many of the topics. That which would be attempted, was rather an appeal to known principles, than a laboured effort to expound
A discussion did not aim, like a lecture, at presenting an elaborate and comprehensive view; it suggested trains of thought rather than detailed minutiæ, and professed only to glance at the subject and sketch the outline.
With these preliminary remarks, the advocates of the superior importance of AGRICULTURE contended, 1st, That Agriculture was the source of all wealth ; 2ndly, That it was niore beneficial, more durable, and tended more to the happiness of nations in general, and of Great Britain in particular, than Commerce; and, 3rdly, That the former was favourable to morality than the latter. It was maintained, that the land was the source of all wealth ; and that, though persons engaged in commerce might acquire riches, yet their opulence sprung from the exchange of the produce of the agriculturist with the commodities of the manufacturer. Commercial men created no wealth, however extensive and however splendid might be their acquisitions. Commerce only interchanged or transported riches, and did not produce them. Manufactures indeed added the price of labour to the raw material, but then the price was paid by agriculture. The artizan was sustained by the produce of the land, which was thus the original source of every thing. The mere trafficker neither produced the first material, nor furnished the subsequent labour. He was the middle man, who subsisted upon the profits imposed by himself upon other, men's industry. He stood between the productive class and the consumer, and exacted a tax upon both. He was undoubtedly useful in a certain state of society, and facilitated the business of mankind. For this he was entitled to his reward, and he received it. But he ought not to arrogate a superiority over those, without whom he could have no existence,
over a class which was the foundation of society, and upon which its first interests wholly depended.
That the interchange of commodities between two countries was not a source of wealth to either, for they only exchanged their surplus produce; and all countries were capable of producing for their inhabitants the necessaries of life. That, although several countries and states,--such as Tyre, Phænicia, Genoa, Holland, and Venice, had been said to enrich themselves by commerce, their trade could not be properly so called; for it arose from the conveyance of merchandize from one country to another, (usually termed the carrying trade,)
and not from the interchange of commodities between one merchant and another at home, or between their own and foreign merchants. That the wealth and power of these states was never either great or lasting ; when their trade declined, they have always sunk into a state of insignificance and wretchedness, and a transitory prosperity of this nature could never be desirable.
That wealth ought not to be considered only in a pecuniary point of view, for it might exist in the absence of a circulating medium, and certainly of a metalic one. Money was no otherwise valuable than in relation to its capability of producing happiness.
Wealth was not the only source of happiness. The rapid acquisition of it by a few individuals engaged in commerce was no sufficient reason for its national encouragement in preference to Agriculture.
In order to judge which ought to be the more encouraged of the two, we should consider the consequence of the exclusive use of either. Commerce was unstable, and depended upon casual demands. A trifling change of taste might deprive a country of the greatest part of its trade. Commerce, therefore, must always be considered uncertain, as well in the mass as in every branch of it. Agriculture, on the contrary, was a source of wealth altogether independent of external circumstances.
Agriculture was characterized by its durability,--Commerce by its instability. It had been well said that Commerce had wings. It fled from Phænicia, from Tyre, from Venice, from Genoa, from every part and place in which it had ever taken up its residence. It was short-lived. It rose in speed, and declined with rapidity: It had no medium course. Unless counteracted by Agriculture, it exported every benefit, and imported every evil.
The riches of Commerce were obtained at an injurious price. A few were enriched, but the many were impoverished. Its tendency was to make men rich suddenly; this was always bad.
When men had thus obtained riches, they desired power; and, having rapidly and illicitly acquired wealth abroad, they too frequently expended it in purchasing slavery at home.
When the merchant exported commodities, and received only gold in return, he, in fact, impoverished his country by sending away that which is valuable. But we should look a little closer at our exports and imports. What are the former? Woollen, hardware, leather,-things essential to our comfortable existence; and by losing which our real wealth was diminished. And what are our imports? Wine,
VOL, II. PART 11.
spirits, tea, tobacco,-articles which are useless, and most of them injurious to either health or to morals, or to both. Commerce thus deprives the country of that which is useful and necessary, and furnishes in return only that which is perpicious.
But it might be demanded, in what did the wealth derived from commerce consist? The charges and profits attached to merchandize formed no part of national wealth. They were imposed by commercial men,-by persons who sat in their counting-houses, calculating on foreign speculations and the state of the markets. If their conjectures were wrong, their ruin frequently ensued; if right, they become wealthy, at the expense of the rest of the community. Very different was this to the nature of domestic trade and manufactures, and to that course of business which the farmer so beneficially performed.
It could not be said, that there was not land enough in Great Britain to maintain the people. There was not long since a calculation made as to the quantity of waste and unemployed land, and the estimate was thirty millions of acres. If this amount were reduced to one half, there would still be enough besides the extensive tracts in the sister kingdom. It might be said, that the Irish are not commercial, and that they would prosper if commerce were more encouraged amongst them; but it was the absence of the landed proprietors that rendered that country miserable. They afforded no encouragement to agriculture, and the peasantry could not be benefited by commerce. Persons engaged in commerce with Ireland would not spread wealth to the tenants of its hills and vallies, nor shed happiness over the country. It was absurd to suppose that a population, wbich consisted chiefly of peasantry, could be rendered happy by commercial pursuits, the very nature of which drained the villages, and enlarged the cities.
Although the revenue derived from commerce amounted to an enormous sum, it must be recollected that it was derived from the purse of the people, and was paid by them as an additional price for the articles they consumed. It was paid by persons resident here; a few of whom, it was true, might be foreign merchants, but the far greater part were our own countrymen. It might be an ingenious expedient to place before the country luxuries at large prices, that the people might empty their coffers; but this was a strange mode of proying that the country became rich by commerce. The glory of the country was founded on the numbers and independence of its inbabitants,-on its fertility and real wealth. Riches did not consist in an array of figures, nor even in quantities of gold. Gold was only the measure to appreciate wealth, but was not wealth itself. Spain, indeed, actually became impoverished by the productions of her mines.
That agriculture was more conducive to the happiness of a nation than commerce, was obvious, from the consideration that a large portion of the inhabitants of all countries must always be supported by manual labour,—that the agricultural labourer was always more comfortable than the manufacturer,-that the former enjoyed a clean and healthy cottage, whilst the latter was the miserable occupant of a miserable garret or dreary cellar; and though his remuneration might be greater than that of the agriculturist, yet “who would exchange the life of the ploughman for one so injurious to his health and comfort as that of the manufacturer?"
That, as regarded morality, we need only compare an agricultural dist, ict with a manufacturing town. For example, we might look at some of the large towns of that description in Lancashire, the inhabitants of which were occupied in the manufacture of goods for the foreign market. That, although agricultural districts might not be free from vice, it would never be found so prevalent as in commercial towns. Agriculture tended to good morals more than commerce, because the latter familia ized men with vices which the agriculturist must be but little acquainted with. The agriculturist had nature to converse with and the man who was framed with sensibility would find commune with his Maker amongst the beauty of his works.
There were various ways in which commerce tended to demoralize a nation when it usurped the place of agriculture. Not only did the trader, in endeavouring to make the most of his commodities, give way to the low and degrading vice of lying, but in seasons of war the commercial system was supported by documents called similated papers; that is, by documents Forged by the belligerent parties, for the purpose of carrying on commerce with other nations. Custom-house oaths, also, were proverbial for their falsehood.
Commerce had created and carried on the SLAVE-TRADE; for, though slaves were bought to cultivate the ground, yet that is by nations which make the produce of their labours comniodities of commerce. Spain made slaves for the purpose of working her South American mines, for the purpose of having the minerals as articles of commerce, to be transported to the mother-country. And though England had slaves to work her colonies, yet they are employed in countries which we had seized for commercial purposes, and to bring the produce to this country.
The pursuits of commerce were of a more selfish character