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high, and land so cheap, in this, (and in all new countries) there is a continual bounty offered to the labourers, to leave their masters, and go
and buy land, and till it for themselves; since every man, who has any proper feeling about him, would rather labour for himse and his family than for a stranger. Whence the manufacturers would be liable to frequent interruptions in their proceedings, and suffer much prejudice in their trade, enhancing the price, and deteriorating the quality of their wares; all which evil must, ultimately, fall upon the consumers, and, necessarily, entail à burdensome impediment on the productive exertions of the community.
The United States, therefore, it should seem, would do well, not anxiously to endeavour to force the production of manufactures before an effectual demand shall be made for them by the increase of population, by the more minute division of labour, and by the more complete filling up of the other channels of trade and agriculture. Nay, perhaps, it would be wiser for the Americans to confine themselves chiefly to the raising of raw materials, and let Europe continue to be the work-shop, where those materials might be manufactured ; because experience has uniformly shewn, that no nation has ever yet carried its manufactures to any great extent, without introducing and continuing a very alarming quantity of misery and disease, decrepitude, vice and profligacy among the lower orders of the people ; and this, to one, who measures the strength and the greatness of a nation by the virtue, the prosperity, and the happiness of the people, seems too great a price to pay for the privilege of manufacturing a few yards of broad-cloth, or a few pieces of muslin. But as the introduction of manufactures into a country, and their extended increase in that country, generally ensures large masses of money to individuals, it is not to be expected, that the mere circumstance of manufactures being destructive of the virtue, the health, and the happiness of the labourers employed in such manufactories, will ever be of sufficient moment to deter any nations from introducing and establishing these nur. series of individual wealth and of general misery, among themselves, whenever an opportunity for so doing shall offer itself,
Columella paints, in high-wrought colours, the precarious condition of a nation, which subsists, merely, by the foreign carrying trade ; and declares, that, although it might derive great gains from such a mode of commerce, yet it would be destitute of all the internal resources, which render a country independent and respectable. Columella might make himself easy, as to his apprehensions about
America ever becoming a mere carrying nation ; since no country, ever has been, or ever can be supported by the foreign carrying trade alone ; because that part of the capital of any country, which is employed in the carrying trade, is altogether withdrawn from supporting the productive labour of the carrying country, to support that of some foreign countries. Though it may replace, by every voyage, two distinct capitals, yet neither of those capitals belongs to the carrying country. The capital of the American mer, chant, which carries the cotton of Surinam to France, and brings back the wines and silks of France to Surinam, replaces by every such operation two capitals, neither of which had been used to put in motion the productive industry of America ; but one of the capitals had supported the productive labour of Surinam, and the other that of France. The profits only return to America, and constitute the whole addition, which such a trade necessarily makes to the annual produce of the land and labor of this country. Consequently, no country can subsist by the use of the carrying trade, alone, to the entire abandonment of other modes of industry.
It must not, however, be concealed, that, when the carrying trade of any given country is carried on with the ships and the sailors of that country, that portion of the capital employed in the trade, which pays the freight, is destributed among, and puts in motion a certain number of productive labourers in that country.
Columella points out agriculture, and internal commerce, as the means best fitted to promote the permanent strength and properity of America. His arguments are, in themselves, good, and arrayed in terms clear, concise, and forcible. His notion, however, that
our country can afford room for the most rapid increase of population, which the nature of man will admit, to an incalculable extent of time,”—is a mistake in economics, which he will soon learn to rectify by a more careful research into the principles of population.
Columella enters into detail, as to the ill effects arising to America from the carrying trade, in discouraging agriculture, retarding the progress of population, introducing luxury and dissipation, and opening a wide door for the entrance of dishonesty and fraud. This part of the argument, although much labored, and urged with spirit, is not altogether correct, for the carrying trade can only injure agriculture by with-drawing labourers from tillage ; but America is so fully cultivated, and her granaries are so abundantly stored, as sufficiently to supply the demand both of the home and of the foreign markets; neither does the carrying trade retard the progress of po
pulation, it chiefly employs the super-abundant labourers, which swarm in the New England States, that immense manufactory (to borrow a phrase from Montesqueieu) of children; neither can the carrying trade introduce luxury and dissipation ; for its profits are less than those, either of the home-consumption trade, or of the direct, or the round-about foreign trade : and as to opening a door for dishonesty; this effect can be produced only by the tendency, which the carrying trade has to degenerate into the covering trade, the profits of which must, from the very nature of its dishonourable and nefarious traffic, combined with its risque, and hazard, be great; and, as wealth ill-gotten, and rapidly acquired, is apt to to make unto itself wings, and fly away, the covering trade necessarily introduces luxury and dissipation, together with deceit and iniquity.
Indeed Columella inveighs against the covering trade, and justly; for, both in principle and in practise, it militates against every principle of common justice and of common honesty, and degrades and debases human nature. Neither should it be forgotten, that when once a nation breaks down the barriers of moral honour, and confounds truth with falsehood, and deceit with uprightness, that nation is at no great distance from destruction.
Columella inveighs, with considerable acrimony, against, what he calls, the present alarming want of the principles of common honesty, among the merchants of this country.-But he seems not to have sufficiently considered the necessary tendency of trade itself to warp men from that erect aspect of honour, which shrinks, like the sensitive plant, from the least shadow of approach towards ought that bears the most distant resemblance to tricking and shuffling, and charges upon the American merchant that obliquity of principle, which is, perhaps, almost inseparably attached to the very nature of commerce. That wild spirit of speculation, which the prospect of great and of rapid gain engenders, is too apt to pervade all trading communities, and to induce the merchant to consider Mammon as his God, his ledger as his bible, and to have no faith but in his banker : This spirit of selfishness and of avarice can only be counteracted by a high sense of moral obligation, arising from the continual conviction of our being accountable for our actions to a higher tribunal, than that of the market or the exchange. It is not therefore, in general, to be expected, that merchants will be induced by any argument, short of actual force, to prefer the remote and prospective good of their country, to their own immediate gains. The histories of Tyre, and Carthage, and Venice, and Holland, and England, amply prove the truth of this position; and the pure patrio
tism of American traders is not so great, nor so exalted, as to induce us to imagine, that they will ever desist from the covering trade, while such a trade fills their own private coffers, merely because that trade injures the best interests of their country, and threatens to involve her in a war, whose ruinous effects will be seen and felt in the misery and the desolation of a great portion of her people, for a long series of years to come.
Columella's language is, in general, neat, elegant, clear,and sometimes spirited. He however, uses the words will and shall, would and should, as if they were convertible, which is not the case.Upon a careful perusal of this pamphlet we have no hesitation in declaring, that Columella has deserved well of his country, by presenting to it a production, which combines literary excellence with economical research.
nor of a tissue of elegant enjoyments; by far the greater portion of our allotted time is consumed in bowing to petty necessities, in fulfilling daily and hourly duties; in fencing off minute inconveniences, and in the attainment or the pursuit of little pleasures ; and our happiness is abundant or scanty, in proportion as the general current of existence flows all cheerily down its channels, or is ruffled and polluted by the intervention of trifling obstacles, and frequent interruptions. The true condition of every nation, therefore, can only be learned by a knowledge of its state of common life.
The manners of a people do not appear, either in the retreats of the learned, or in the palaces of the great; for there the national character is clouded, or annihilated by insolence and affectation ; neither the feasts of the wealthy, nor the glittering crowds of the vain and the indolent form the gage of public happiness. The great mass of population, in every country, can neither be rich, nor gay ; the individuals, whose aggregate constitutes the people, must always be found in the streets and in the fields, in the farms and in the stores; and from them, collectively considered, must we obtain the measure of general prosperity. In proportion as these individuals advance towards delicacy is a nation refined, and in proportion as their standard of morality is high must a nation be esteemed virtuous.
And not only is it, that very few are involved in great events, or suspend the fate of armies or of nations upon their own personal exertions; but even those, who tread the stage of public life, and appear to the vulgar eye to be far aloof from all common cares and all ordinary enjoyments, must consume the greatest portion of their life in familiar occupations, and in domestic pursuits; from these scenes they advance into public life, and to these scenes they are continually recalled by a power not to be resisted, even by the passions and the feelings of our common nature ; in these scenes must they seek the recompence of their labour, and to them must they retire, when wearied, but not satiated, with the efforts of intellectual greatness. VOL. I.