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than those of agriculture. The calculation was one of individual gain. Commerce held forth more splendid prizes than agriculture, and therefore excited more cupidity. It was also more engrossing. Jt partook of the vice of gambling, and absorbed the mind in sordid avocations. The gains of the one were limited by the bound of moderation, and, with moderation, virtue and happiness could alone be allied. The intoxicating speculations of the other had no limits. Commerce existed in extremes and excess. · There were enormous riches on the one hand, and bankruptcy on the other. Man preyed
The contest was one of sharp-wittedness, pot of industry. True it was, that the farmer had his own good in view, and did not act with pure disinterestedness; but bis skill and labour were exercised not in overreaching others, but in improving the modes of agriculture, and rendering the earth more productive. His efforts, therefore, were always beneficial, and excited an honest emulation. He did not triumph over his fellow-men, but over the stubborn soil; and that which he produced was actual and not representative wealth.
The pursuits of agriculture were more favorable to patriotism than was commerce. The trader derived his wealth from an intercourse with strangers and foreigners. He was very naturally satisfied with the benefits he derived from them. He felt no local attachments, and but little regard for home. The wide ocean that bore the wealth that he exchanged or received was more interesting than “ the land of his sire.” As the Adriatic was the mistress of the Venetian chief, and the rialto the favorite haunt of the Venetian merchant,--so even here the associations of the Exchange and the Custom-house were held in superior estimation to all the renowned and illustrious recollections which immortalized the deeds of past ages, and hallowed the ground upon which they had been performed. Commerce thus tended to substitute, for a love of country, a love of pelf,—for an ardent attachment to our laws and insti. tutions, a thirst for novelty and speculation; in short, to convert the patriot into the shop-keeper, and to substitute for a class characterized by its sturdy independence, a fawning cringing sycophantic race of money-getters and spendthrifts.
When we were proudly counting the advantages of commerce, we should not omit to reckon the loss which its was Bad occasioned. If we calculated the blood which had been shed, and the treasure which had been wasted, in the taking and retaking colonies, in maintaining them in subjection, or preserving them from rival powers, we should find the balance turned against us. They tended to excite the jealousy of other states, to occasion discord amongst nations, and fraud and treachery amongst individuals.
It had been sometimes said that the intellect of the inhabitants of commercial towns was superior to that of the agricultural districts. If by intellect was meant cunning, it might be most true. If it meant a knowledge of the world, or of mankind, it could not be denied. But to those who did not dwell in crowded cities, or associate with their inhabitants, such knowledge was needless. It was to know the vices and crimes, the frauds and perfidies, of man. But there was danger in the knowledge, there was contagion in the example. It might be, that in extensive cities there were more persons acquainted with the rudiments of learning than in the villages. But we must not refer these attainments solely to the demands, or the influence of commerce. The members of learned professions abounded in large towns, and in their train followed great numbers who were unconnected with commerce. The motley tribes of literati increased and multiplied. Thousands of these were maintained, not by the profits of commerce, but by the resources of agriculture; and it was too much, therefore, to ascribe all the intelligence that prevailed in a town, still more in a metropolis, to the influence of commerce.
It should be recollected, that commerce invariably introduced an increase of luxury, and luxury was the cause of the decline of every nation where it was permitted to obtain an extensive footing. It was not argued that commerce should be neglected; still less that it should be discouraged or opposed. To a certain extent it was doubtless beneficial. It acted in a certain stage of agriculture as a stimulus to improvement. But it ought ever to be held as subordinate to agriculture, and made use of rather as a means to assist it, than pursued as an object worthy of equal regard. By this moderate view we should not degenerate into any pernicious excess, and whilst we had every useful luxury, as well as necessary of life, we should avoid those evils that debased and led to the overthrow of nations. We should never forget the language of that true and exquisite poet, who exclaimed
" flow wide the limits stand,
Between a splendid and a happy land!
That leaves our useful products still the same. Upon the whole, it was insisted thatcommerce produced luxury and vice : agriculture, industry and virtue: that the one tended to degenerate, the other to improve mankind. That agriculture was durable in its benefits; commerce transitory and luctuating: That commerce kindleri warfare, and agri
culture led to peace. That the former extended and encouraged slavery; and the latter imparted independence and liberty.
IN FAVOUR OF COMMERCE it was maintained that agri. culture was not the only source of wealth. It had been said, that every country could produce the necessaries of life to its inhabitants. It was extremely difficult to determine with precision what were the necessaries of life; and if determined, there were, perhaps, few nations willing to be satisfied with them, if they could procure any thing beyond them. Wealth, however, consisted in an abundance of every thing that was desirable; of every thing that conduced to the well-being, the comfort, and the delight of man. Now there were many articles of necessity, or of enjoyment, which our country could not produce at all; and there were many more which could only be produced at a much greater expense than would be incurred by importation. With regard to the first class, it was quite obvious, that if we possessed them at all it must be by means of commerce; and as to the second, there seemed no reason whatever why we should pay for the articles more than they were worth, merely for the sake of raising them within ourselves. It must ever be the interest of a nation, as it was that of an individual, to purchase at the cheapest market. If, therefore, we could grow or manufacture those things of which we stood in need, cheaper than we could import them, we ought to do so: but if other nations, from local advantages, or any other causes, were enabled to furnish them at á cheaper rate than they could be obtained at home, it was the part of wisdom to import, rather than to produce. No check was or could be given to domestic industry by this, because the articles imported must be paid for, either in produce or manufactures of our own. In this interchange of commodities both countries would be benefited, because both would obtain that which they desired at a cheaper rate than they otherwise could. It was observable, also, that those who contended that agriculture was the only source of wealth, seemed entirely to have overlooked the riches derived from MINES, which surely could not be considered as resulting from agriculture. The fact was, that agriculture furnished the means of mere subsistence, and nothing beyond.
It had been urged, that our importations consisted almost exclusively of articles of luxury. This might be denied, but if true, what was there so reprehensible in it. If by exporting our own superfluities, we could increase our comforts, why should we not do so?
It would be foolish to deny the benefits of agriculture. No one in his senses would abandon agriculture, for men must be fed ; but it was not, therefore, of paramount importance. We should look to what would be the greatest benefit to párticular countries. It would be as absurd to deprive England of conmerce, as for a country, without a sea-port, to attempt to be commercial. Look at Great Britain in her exercise of commerce; she acquired wealth, power, and importance, in the scale of nations, and agriculture had been improved, by the stimulus given to it by commerce. The manufactures carried on for the benefit of home consumption were comparatively trivial, however important they might be when stimulated by foreign commerce.
We read of the golden age, and of the happiness of those times, when the business of men was agriculture; when they loved and looked after sheep. But in these iron days, we contemplated truth, not poetry. It had been said, that “a bold peasantry was their country's pride,”-not so was a race of ignorant and famished paupers. Comparing the peasantry with the commercial and manufacturing population, the former were far behind in the exercise of the mental faculties. All who had known them practically must be aware that they were little superior to the clods of the valley. The comforts, too, of the agricultural labourer had been spoken of. The agricultural population were all in a state of pauperism, and a great portion of their support was drawn from the poor-rates, and extracted from the pockets of conimercial men.
We were told of the many millions of acres lying waste, and of the ample population which they would support. But many parcels of land, in a state of inclosure, were not worth the labour of cultivation; such was the worthless condition of Dartmoor, in an agricultural point of view, and many other large tracts of land, on which a starving race of sheep could scarcely find a scanty subsistence.
It had been objected that commercial men existed upon the industry of others; but it did not follow that the transition of wealth should impoverish the individual who parted with it; -commerce was to the world what , dealings were to individuals. If a person sold an article with a profit upon its original cost, and on attendant labour, time, and expense, the purchaser furnished him with an equivalent, either in money or commodities, and neither were impoverished. On the contrary, both were enriched by an accession of industry, labour, and capital. Gold and silver, though not the only species of wealth, were articles desired by all mankind, and afforded the means of commanding whatever their possessors desired.
Some nations were enabled to manufacture better than others; almost every nation excelled in something peculiar to itself. England could not produce cotton, but she could, by her invaluable industry and ingenuity, manufacture from it articles not to be produced in many foreign countries; yet necessary to their comfort. She sent these manufactures by her white-winged messengers over the globe, from pole to pole; and they returned fraught with rich tributes to her industry; pouring into the bosom of our land all the comforts and necessaries of life in the most plenteous abundance, and thereby increasing the active, skilful, industrious, and wealth-contributing population of the country, and increasing also the productions of the industry of the people, in which the riches of England chiefly consisted. We might, it was true, live on bread and beef; but Englishmen, in this day, required something more. We might be content without wine, without sugar, and many other luxuries which the English people were in the daily habit of enjoying; articles conducive to their happiness, and which could only be from abroad. Even corn could be imported cheaper than it could be grown; why then should the majority of the people of England pay for it more than it was worth to enrich a minority? Why should monopoly and restriction be employed to benefit a small portion of the community, at the expense of the larger.
But our insular situation peculiarly fitted us for the pursuits of commerce, and it were madness to neglect advantages which Nature had been so prodigal in bestowing upon us. Commerce produced to the public treasury a revenue of several millions. Commerce had carried us through the protracted, arduous, and expensive contests in which we had been engaged.
To commerce we were indebted for our NAVY, the bulwark of our strength, and the crown of our glory.
Looking at the question as a practical one, it was notorious that countries, purely agricultural, had always been poor, while commercial countries had always been rich. A commercial country, though small, might become powerful; for wealth bestowed power, and commerce was always productive of wealth.
The superior morality of villages, compared with large towns, bad been lauded." No proof had been offered of this, it therefore could only be met by an unqualified denial. The fact was, that vice was just as prevalent in one as in the other. With regard to their comparative happiness, the villager might, to appearance, have a more comfortable dwelling, but it was not his own, the rent was paid by the parish, and if from