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It takes ground on every character and condition that
appertains to man, and blends the individual, the nation, and the world.
From a small spark, kindled in America, a flame has arisen not to be
extinguished. Without consuming, like the Ultima Ratio Regum, it winds
its progress from nation to nation, and conquers by a silent operation.
Man finds himself changed, he scarcely perceives how. He acquires
a knowledge of his rights by attending justly to his interest, and
discovers in the event that the strength and powers of despotism consist
wholly in the fear of resisting it, and that, in order "to be free, it
is sufficient that he wills it."

Having in all the preceding parts of this work endeavoured to establish
a system of principles as a basis on which governments ought to be
erected, I shall proceed in this, to the ways and means of rendering
them into practice. But in order to introduce this part of the subject
with more propriety, and stronger effect, some preliminary observations,
deducible from, or connected with, those principles, are necessary.

Whatever the form or constitution of government may be, it ought to have
no other object than the general happiness. When, instead of this, it
operates to create and increase wretchedness in any of the parts
of society, it is on a wrong system, and reformation is necessary.
Customary language has classed the condition of man under the two
descriptions of civilised and uncivilised life. To the one it has
ascribed felicity and affluence; to the other hardship and want. But,
however our imagination may be impressed by painting and comparison,
it is nevertheless true, that a great portion of mankind, in what are
called civilised countries, are in a state of poverty and wretchedness,
far below the condition of an Indian. I speak not of one country, but of
all. It is so in England, it is so all over Europe. Let us enquire into
the cause.

It lies not in any natural defect in the principles of civilisation,
but in preventing those principles having a universal operation; the
consequence of which is, a perpetual system of war and expense,
that drains the country, and defeats the general felicity of which
civilisation is capable. All the European governments (France
now excepted) are constructed not on the principle of universal
civilisation, but on the reverse of it. So far as those governments
relate to each other, they are in the same condition as we conceive of
savage uncivilised life; they put themselves beyond the law as well
of God as of man, and are, with respect to principle and reciprocal
conduct, like so many individuals in a state of nature. The inhabitants
of every country, under the civilisation of laws, easily civilise
together, but governments being yet in an uncivilised state, and almost
continually at war, they pervert the abundance which civilised life
produces to carry on the uncivilised part to a greater extent. By thus
engrafting the barbarism of government upon the internal civilisation of
a country, it draws from the latter, and more especially from the poor,
a great portion of those earnings, which should be applied to their
own subsistence and comfort. Apart from all reflections of morality and
philosophy, it is a melancholy fact that more than one-fourth of the
labour of mankind is annually consumed by this barbarous system. What
has served to continue this evil, is the pecuniary advantage which
all the governments of Europe have found in keeping up this state of
uncivilisation. It affords to them pretences for power, and revenue,
for which there would be neither occasion nor apology, if the circle
of civilisation were rendered complete. Civil government alone, or the
government of laws, is not productive of pretences for many taxes; it
operates at home, directly under the eye of the country, and precludes
the possibility of much imposition. But when the scene is laid in
the uncivilised contention of governments, the field of pretences is
enlarged, and the country, being no longer a judge, is open to every
imposition, which governments please to act. Not a thirtieth, scarcely
a fortieth, part of the taxes which are raised in England are either
occasioned by, or applied to, the purpose of civil government. It is
not difficult to see, that the whole which the actual government does
in this respect, is to enact laws, and that the country administers
and executes them, at its own expense, by means of magistrates, juries,
sessions, and assize, over and above the taxes which it pays. In this
view of the case, we have two distinct characters of government; the one
the civil government, or the government of laws, which operates at home,
the other the court or cabinet government, which operates abroad, on the
rude plan of uncivilised life; the one attended with little charge, the
other with boundless extravagance; and so distinct are the two, that if
the latter were to sink, as it were, by a sudden opening of the earth,
and totally disappear, the former would not be deranged. It would still
proceed, because it is the common interest of the nation that it should,
and all the means are in practice. Revolutions, then, have for their
object a change in the moral condition of governments, and with this
change the burthen of public taxes will lessen, and civilisation will be
left to the enjoyment of that abundance, of which it is now deprived.
In contemplating the whole of this subject, I extend my views into the
department of commerce. In all my publications, where the matter would
admit, I have been an advocate for commerce, because I am a friend to
its effects. It is a pacific system, operating to cordialise mankind, by
rendering nations, as well as individuals, useful to each other. As to
the mere theoretical reformation, I have never preached it up. The most
effectual process is that of improving the condition of man by means of
his interest; and it is on this ground that I take my stand. If commerce
were permitted to act to the universal extent it is capable, it would
extirpate the system of war, and produce a revolution in the uncivilised
state of governments. The invention of commerce has arisen since those
governments began, and is the greatest approach towards universal
civilisation that has yet been made by any means not immediately flowing
from moral principles. Whatever has a tendency to promote the civil
intercourse of nations by an exchange of benefits, is a subject as
worthy of philosophy as of politics. Commerce is no other than the
traffic of two individuals, multiplied on a scale of numbers; and by the
same rule that nature intended for the intercourse of two, she intended
that of all. For this purpose she has distributed the materials of
manufactures and commerce, in various and distant parts of a nation and
of the world; and as they cannot be procured by war so cheaply or so
commodiously as by commerce, she has rendered the latter the means
of extirpating the former. As the two are nearly the opposite of each
other, consequently, the uncivilised state of the European governments
is injurious to commerce. Every kind of destruction or embarrassment
serves to lessen the quantity, and it matters but little in what part
of the commercial world the reduction begins. Like blood, it cannot be
taken from any of the parts, without being taken from the whole mass in
circulation, and all partake of the loss. When the ability in any
nation to buy is destroyed, it equally involves the seller. Could the
government of England destroy the commerce of all other nations, she
would most effectually ruin her own. It is possible that a nation may be
the carrier for the world, but she cannot be the merchant. She cannot
be the seller and buyer of her own merchandise. The ability to buy must
reside out of herself; and, therefore, the prosperity of any commercial
nation is regulated by the prosperity of the rest. If they are poor she
cannot be rich, and her condition, be what it may, is an index of the
height of the commercial tide in other nations. That the principles
of commerce, and its universal operation may be understood, without
understanding the practice, is a position that reason will not deny; and
it is on this ground only that I argue the subject. It is one thing
in the counting-house, in the world it is another. With respect to its
operation it must necessarily be contemplated as a reciprocal thing;
that only one-half its powers resides within the nation, and that
the whole is as effectually destroyed by the destroying the half that
resides without, as if the destruction had been committed on that which
is within; for neither can act without the other. When in the last, as
well as in former wars, the commerce of England sunk, it was because the
quantity was lessened everywhere; and it now rises, because commerce is
in a rising state in every nation. If England, at this day, imports
and exports more than at any former period, the nations with which she
trades must necessarily do the same; her imports are their exports, and
vice versa. There can be no such thing as a nation flourishing alone
in commerce: she can only participate; and the destruction of it in any
part must necessarily affect all. When, therefore, governments are
at war, the attack is made upon a common stock of commerce, and the
consequence is the same as if each had attacked his own. The present
increase of commerce is not to be attributed to ministers, or to any
political contrivances, but to its own natural operation in consequence
of peace. The regular markets had been destroyed, the channels of trade
broken up, the high road of the seas infested with robbers of every
nation, and the attention of the world called to other objects. Those
interruptions have ceased, and peace has restored the deranged condition
of things to their proper order.*[25] It is worth remarking that every
nation reckons the balance of trade in its own favour; and therefore
something must be irregular in the common ideas upon this subject. The
fact, however, is true, according to what is called a balance; and it
is from this cause that commerce is universally supported.



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