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The
fact, however, is true, according to what is called a balance; and it
is from this cause that commerce is universally supported. Every nation
feels the advantage, or it would abandon the practice: but the deception
lies in the mode of making up the accounts, and in attributing what are
called profits to a wrong cause. Mr. Pitt has sometimes amused himself,
by showing what he called a balance of trade from the custom-house
books. This mode of calculating not only affords no rule that is true,
but one that is false. In the first place, Every cargo that departs from
the custom-house appears on the books as an export; and, according to
the custom-house balance, the losses at sea, and by foreign failures,
are all reckoned on the side of profit because they appear as exports.

Secondly, Because the importation by the smuggling trade does not appear
on the custom-house books, to arrange against the exports.

No balance, therefore, as applying to superior advantages, can be
drawn from these documents; and if we examine the natural operation of
commerce, the idea is fallacious; and if true, would soon be injurious.
The great support of commerce consists in the balance being a level of
benefits among all nations.

Two merchants of different nations trading together, will both become
rich, and each makes the balance in his own favour; consequently, they
do not get rich of each other; and it is the same with respect to the
nations in which they reside. The case must be, that each nation must
get rich out of its own means, and increases that riches by something
which it procures from another in exchange.

If a merchant in England sends an article of English manufacture abroad
which costs him a shilling at home, and imports something which sells
for two, he makes a balance of one shilling in his favour; but this is
not gained out of the foreign nation or the foreign merchant, for he
also does the same by the articles he receives, and neither has the
advantage upon the other. The original value of the two articles in
their proper countries was but two shillings; but by changing their
places, they acquire a new idea of value, equal to double what they had
first, and that increased value is equally divided.

There is no otherwise a balance on foreign than on domestic commerce.
The merchants of London and Newcastle trade on the same principles, as
if they resided in different nations, and make their balances in the
same manner: yet London does not get rich out of Newcastle, any more
than Newcastle out of London: but coals, the merchandize of Newcastle,
have an additional value at London, and London merchandize has the same
at Newcastle.

Though the principle of all commerce is the same, the domestic, in a
national view, is the part the most beneficial; because the whole of the
advantages, an both sides, rests within the nation; whereas, in foreign
commerce, it is only a participation of one-half.

The most unprofitable of all commerce is that connected with foreign
dominion. To a few individuals it may be beneficial, merely because it
is commerce; but to the nation it is a loss. The expense of maintaining
dominion more than absorbs the profits of any trade. It does not
increase the general quantity in the world, but operates to lessen it;
and as a greater mass would be afloat by relinquishing dominion, the
participation without the expense would be more valuable than a greater
quantity with it.

But it is impossible to engross commerce by dominion; and therefore
it is still more fallacious. It cannot exist in confined channels, and
necessarily breaks out by regular or irregular means, that defeat
the attempt: and to succeed would be still worse. France, since the
Revolution, has been more indifferent as to foreign possessions, and
other nations will become the same when they investigate the subject
with respect to commerce.

To the expense of dominion is to be added that of navies, and when the
amounts of the two are subtracted from the profits of commerce, it will
appear, that what is called the balance of trade, even admitting it to
exist, is not enjoyed by the nation, but absorbed by the Government.

The idea of having navies for the protection of commerce is delusive.
It is putting means of destruction for the means of protection. Commerce
needs no other protection than the reciprocal interest which every
nation feels in supporting it--it is common stock--it exists by a
balance of advantages to all; and the only interruption it meets, is
from the present uncivilised state of governments, and which it is its
common interest to reform.*[26]

Quitting this subject, I now proceed to other matters.--As it is
necessary to include England in the prospect of a general reformation,
it is proper to inquire into the defects of its government. It is only
by each nation reforming its own, that the whole can be improved, and
the full benefit of reformation enjoyed. Only partial advantages can
flow from partial reforms.

France and England are the only two countries in Europe where a
reformation in government could have successfully begun. The one secure
by the ocean, and the other by the immensity of its internal strength,
could defy the malignancy of foreign despotism. But it is with
revolutions as with commerce, the advantages increase by their becoming
general, and double to either what each would receive alone.

As a new system is now opening to the view of the world, the European
courts are plotting to counteract it. Alliances, contrary to all former
systems, are agitating, and a common interest of courts is forming
against the common interest of man. This combination draws a line that
runs throughout Europe, and presents a cause so entirely new as to
exclude all calculations from former circumstances. While despotism
warred with despotism, man had no interest in the contest; but in a
cause that unites the soldier with the citizen, and nation with nation,
the despotism of courts, though it feels the danger and meditates
revenge, is afraid to strike.

No question has arisen within the records of history that pressed with
the importance of the present. It is not whether this or that party
shall be in or not, or Whig or Tory, high or low shall prevail; but
whether man shall inherit his rights, and universal civilisation take
place? Whether the fruits of his labours shall be enjoyed by himself
or consumed by the profligacy of governments? Whether robbery shall be
banished from courts, and wretchedness from countries?

When, in countries that are called civilised, we see age going to the
workhouse and youth to the gallows, something must be wrong in the
system of government. It would seem, by the exterior appearance of such
countries, that all was happiness; but there lies hidden from the eye of
common observation, a mass of wretchedness, that has scarcely any other
chance, than to expire in poverty or infamy. Its entrance into life is
marked with the presage of its fate; and until this is remedied, it is
in vain to punish.

Civil government does not exist in executions; but in making such
provision for the instruction of youth and the support of age, as to
exclude, as much as possible, profligacy from the one and despair from
the other. Instead of this, the resources of a country are lavished upon
kings, upon courts, upon hirelings, impostors and prostitutes; and even
the poor themselves, with all their wants upon them, are compelled to
support the fraud that oppresses them.

Why is it that scarcely any are executed but the poor? The fact is a
proof, among other things, of a wretchedness in their condition. Bred up
without morals, and cast upon the world without a prospect, they are
the exposed sacrifice of vice and legal barbarity. The millions that are
superfluously wasted upon governments are more than sufficient to reform
those evils, and to benefit the condition of every man in a nation, not
included within the purlieus of a court. This I hope to make appear in
the progress of this work.

It is the nature of compassion to associate with misfortune. In taking
up this subject I seek no recompense--I fear no consequence. Fortified
with that proud integrity, that disdains to triumph or to yield, I will
advocate the Rights of Man.

It is to my advantage that I have served an apprenticeship to life. I
know the value of moral instruction, and I have seen the danger of the
contrary.

At an early period--little more than sixteen years of age, raw and
adventurous, and heated with the false heroism of a master*[27] who
had served in a man-of-war--I began the carver of my own fortune,
and entered on board the Terrible Privateer, Captain Death. From
this adventure I was happily prevented by the affectionate and moral
remonstrance of a good father, who, from his own habits of life, being
of the Quaker profession, must begin to look upon me as lost. But the
impression, much as it effected at the time, began to wear away, and I
entered afterwards in the King of Prussia Privateer, Captain Mendez,
and went with her to sea. Yet, from such a beginning, and with all the
inconvenience of early life against me, I am proud to say, that with
a perseverance undismayed by difficulties, a disinterestedness that
compelled respect, I have not only contributed to raise a new empire in
the world, founded on a new system of government, but I have arrived at
an eminence in political literature, the most difficult of all lines to
succeed and excel in, which aristocracy with all its aids has not been
able to reach or to rival.*[28]

Knowing my own heart and feeling myself as I now do, superior to all the
skirmish of party, the inveteracy of interested or mistaken opponents,
I answer not to falsehood or abuse, but proceed to the defects of the
English Government.

I begin with charters and corporations.

It is a perversion of terms to say that a charter gives rights. It
operates by a contrary effect--that of taking rights away. Rights are
inherently in all the inhabitants; but charters, by annulling those
rights, in the majority, leave the right, by exclusion, in the hands of
a few.



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