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LECTURES ON POLITICAL ECONOMY.

VOL. IX.

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[CONTINUATION OF BOOK SECOND.]

[OF NATIONAL WEALTH.]

[CHAPTER III.]

[OF TRADE.]

SECT.

OF THE FREEDOM OF TRADE.

SECT. I.—OF THE FREEDOM OF TRADE. (Interpolation from Notes.)—I now proceed to trace, in as few words as possible, the outline of that practical doctrine, concerning the freedom of trade, which it was the great scope of Mr. Smith's work to establish ; combining together, in one point of view, various speculations, which his comprehensive plan necessarily led him to state under different titles.

I have observed, in my Account of the Life and Writings of Mr. Smith, “ that the great and leading object of Mr. Smith's speculations is to illustrate the provision made by nature in the principles of the human mind, and, in the circumstances of man's external situation, for a gradual and progressive augmentation in the means of national wealth, and to demonstrate, that the most effectual plan for advancing a people to greatness, is to maintain that order of things which nature has pointed out, by allowing every man, as long as he observes the rules of justice, to pursue his own interest in his own way, and to bring both his industry and his capital into the freest competition with those of his fellow-citizens.

“Every system of policy which endeavours, either by extraordinary encouragements to draw towards a particular species of industry a greater share of the capital of the society than what would naturally go to it, or, by extraordinary restraints, to force from a particular species of industry some share of the capital which would otherwise be employed in it, is, in reality, subversive of the great purpose which it means to promote.

“ What the circumstances are, which, in modern Europe, have contributed to disturb this order of nature, and, in particular, to encourage the industry of towns, at the expense of that of the country, Mr. Smith has investigated with great ingenuity, and in such a manner as to throw much new light on the history of that state of society which prevails in this quarter of the globe. His observations on this subject tend to shew, that these circumstances were, in their first origin, the natural and the unavoidable result of the peculiar situation of mankind during a certain period ; and that they took their rise, not from any general scheme of policy, but from the private interests and prejudices of particular orders of men.

“ The state of society, however, which at first arose from a singular combination of accidents, has been prolonged much beyond its natural period, by a false system of Political Economy, propagated by merchants and manufacturers; a class of individuals whose interest is not always the same with that of the public, and whose professional knowledge gave them many advantages, more particularly in the infancy of this branch of science, in defending those opinions which they wished to encourage. By means of this system, a new set of obstacles to the progress of national prosperity has been created. Those which arose from the disorders of the feudal ages, tended directly to disturb the internal arrangements of society, by obstructing the free circulation of labour and of stock, from employment to employment, and from place to place. The false system of Political Economy which has been hitherto prevalent, as its professed object has been to regulate the commercial intercourse between different nations, has produced its

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