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Foreign seeds have been introduced, and the methods of cultivation adopted from the nations whence they were borrowed. The intelligent farmer, profiting by the wider diffusion of knowledge, derives assistance from the philosopher, and is furnished with the useful principles of every art in the least degree conducive to the improvement and success of his occupations.
QUESTIONS.—1. What is agriculture? 2. What does the practice demand? 3. Why is it advantageous to those who engage in it? 4. Why must every improvement in the art be considered of high utili. ty? 5. What is said of agriculture with regard to nations ? 6. What belongs to the business of the husbandman besides the raising of vegetables? 7. What is said of modern improvements in agriculture ?
Commerce and Manufactures.
the stock which a merchant or tradesman employs in business
on his own account. COMMERCE is the interchange of commodities, or the disposal of produce of any kind for other articles, or for some representative of value for which other articles can be procured, with a view of making a profit by the transaction. The term is usually restricted to the mercantile intercourse between different countries. The internal dealings between individuals of the same country, either for the supply of immediate consumption, or for carrying on manufactures, is more commonly denominated trade.
Those who engage their capitals in commerce or trade, act as agents between the producers and the consumers of the fruits of the earth; they purchase them of the former, and sell them to the latter, and it is by profits on the sale that capital so employed yields a revenue or income. Commerce or trade increases the wealth of a nation, not by raising produce, like agriculture, nor by working up raw materials like manufactures; but it gives an additional value to commodities by bringing them from places where they are plentiful to those where they are scarce; and by providing the means for their more extended distribution, both the
agricultural and manufacturing classes are incited to greater industry. Agriculture never arrives at any considerable, much less at its highest, degree of perfection, where it is not connected with trade, that is, where the demand for the produce is not increased by the consumption of trading cities. But it should be remembered that agriculture is the immediate source of human provision; that trade conduces to the production of provision only as it promotes agriculture; and that the whole system of commerce, vast and various as it is, has no other public iinportance than its subserviency to this end.
Manufactures are the arts by which natural productions are brought into the state or form in which they are consumed or used. They require in general great expenses for their first establishment, costly machines for shortening manual labour, and money and credit for purchasing materials from distant countries. There is not a single manufacture of Great Britain which does not require, in some part of its process, productions from the different parts of the globe; it requires, therefore, ships and a friendly intercourse with foreign nations, to transport commodities and exchange productions. They would not be a manufacturing unless they were a commercial nation.
The two sciences which most assist the manufacturer, are mechanics and chemistry ;-the one for building mills, working mines, and in general for constructing machines, either to shorten the labour of man by performing it in less time, or to perform what the strength of man alone could not accomplish; the other for fusing and working ores, for dyeing and bleaching, and extracting the virtues of various substances for particular occasions.
It is more common to see merchants and manufacturers accumulate large and rapid fortunes than farmers. They are a class who generally employ capital upon a much larger scale, hence their riches make a greater show. Yet, upon the whole, trade and manufactures do not yield greater profits than agriculture. It must be observed that though a farmer does not so frequently and rapidly amass wealth as a merchant, yet neither is he so often ruined The risks a man encounters in trade are much greater than in farming. The merchant is liable to severe losses arising from contingencies in trade; he must have therefore a chance of making
proportionally greater profits. The chances of gain must balance the chances of loss. If he be so skilful or so fortunate as to make more than his average share of gains, he . will accumulate wealth with greater rapidity than a farmer; but should either a deficiency of talents or of fortunate circumstances occasion an uncommon share of losses, he may become a bankrupt. The rate of profits, therefore, upon any employment of capital is proportioned to the risks with which it is attended; but if calculated during a sufficient period of time, and upon a sufficient number of instances to afford an average, these different modes of employing capital will be found to yield similar profits. It is thus that the distribution of capital to the several branches of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, preserves a due equilibrium, which, though it may be accidentally disturbed, cannot, whilst allowed to pursue its natural course, be permanently deranged. A remarkably abundant harvest may occasionally raise the rate of agricultural profits, or a very bad season may reduce them below their level. The opening of a trade with a new country, or the breaking out of a war which impedes foreign commerce, will affect the profits of the merchant : but these accidents disturb the equal rate of profits, as the winds disturb the sea; and when they cease, it returns to its natural level.
QUESTIONS.-1. What is commerce ? 2. Trade ? 3. How does commerce or trade increase the wealth of a nation ? 4. To what end is the whole system of commerce subservient ? 5. What are manufactures ? 6. What is said of the connexion of manufactures with trade? 7. How do the sciences of mechanics and chemistry assist the manufacturer ? 8. What is said of the profits arising from agricul. ture, commerce, and manufactures ?
Money. Spe'cie, gold and silver coin, distinguished from paper money. Gold and silver, when first introduced into commerce were probably bartered like other commodities, by bulk merely; but shortly, instead of being given loosely by bulk, every portion was weighed in scales, but weight was no se
curity against mixing gold and silver with base metals. To prevent that fraud, pieces of gold and silver are impressed with a public stamp, vouching both the purity and the quantity; and such pieces are termed coin. This was an improvement in commerce, and at first, probably, deemed complete. It was not foreseen that these metals wear by much handling in the course of circulation, and consequently, that in tii the public stamp is reduced be a voucher of the purity only, not of the quantity. This embarrassment is remedied by the use of paper money; and paper money is attended with another advantage, that of preventing the los3 of much gold and silver by wearing.
Before the invention of money, men were much at a loss how to estimate the value of their property. In order to express that value they were necessarily obliged to compare it to something else, and having no settled standard, they would naturally choose objects of known and established value. Accordingly we read both in Scripture and in the ancient poets, of a man's property being worth so many oxen and so many flocks and herds. We are informed that even at the present day the Calmuc Tartars reckon the value of a coat of mail from six to eight, and up to the value of fifty horses. In civilized countries every one estimates his capital by the quantity of money it is worth ;-he does not really possess the sum in money, but his property, whatever be its nature or kind, is equivalent to such a sum of money.
It is common to imagine that the more money a country possesses, the more affluent is its condition. And that is usually the case. But the cause is often mistaken for the effect. A great quantity of money is necessary to circulate a great quantity of commodities. Rich flourishing countries require abundance of money, and possess the means of obtaining it; but this abundance is the consequence, not the cause of their wealth, which consists in the commodities circulated, rather than in the circulating medium. The increase of European comforts, of affluence, of luxury, is attributed to the influx of the treasures of the new world--and with reason; but those treasures are the sugar, the coffee, the indigo, and other articles, which America exports, to obtain which Europe must send her commodities that have been produced by the employment of their people. Gold and silver, though they have greatly excited their avarice
and ambition, have eventually contributed but little to stimulate their industry. It has been remarked of Spain, that the gold and silver of America, instead of animating the country and promoting industry, instead of giving life and vigour to the whole community, by the increase of arts, of manufactures, and of commerce, had an opposite effect, and produced in the event weakness, poverty, and depopulation. The wealth whịch proceeds from industry resembles the copious yet tranquil stream, which passes silent, and almost invisible, enriches the whole extent of country through which it flows; but the treasures of the new world, like a swelling torrent, were seen, heard, felt, and admired; yet their first operation was to desolate and lay waste the spot on which they fell. The shock was sudden; the contrast was too great.. Spain overflowed with specie, whilst other nations were. comparatively poor in the extreme. The price of labour, of provisions, and of manufactures, bore proportion to the quantity of circulating cash. The consequence is obvious; in the poor countries industry advanced; in the more wealthy it declined.
QUESTIONS.—1. What is probable respecting gold and silver on their first introduction ? 2. Why were gold and silver coined ? 3. To what is the public stamp in time reduced ? 4. What is the advantage. of paper-money? 5. How did men estimate the value of their property before the invention of money? 6. How is capital estimated in civilized countries ? 7. What is said of an abundance of money ? & What has been remarked of Spain ?
Ship-building and Navigation. No art or profession has appeared more astonishing and marvellous than that of navigation, in the state in which it is at present. This cannot be made more evident than by taking a retrospective view of the tottering, inartificial craft to which navigation owes its origin: and by comparing them with the noble and majestic edifices now in use, containing a thousand men, with their provisions, drink, furniture, vearing-apparel, and other necessaries for many months, esides a hundred pieces of heavy ordnance, and carrying