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An Inquiry Into The Nature And Causes Of The Wealth Of Nations - Chapter 7, Part 3 continue

1. Introduction And Plan Of The Work

2. Book 1, Chapter 1

3. Chapter 2

4. Chapter 3

5. Chapter 4

6. Chapter 5

7. Chapter 6

8. Chapter 7

9. Chapter 8

10. Chapter 8 continue

11. Chapter 9

12. Chapter 10

13. Chapter 10 continue

14. Chapter 11

15. Chapter 11 continue

16. Chapter 11 continue.

17. Chapter 11 continue..

18. Chapter 11 continue...

19. Conclusion of the Chapter 11

20. Book 2 Introduction

21. Chapter 1

22. Chapter II

23. Chapter II continue

24. Chapter II continue

25. Chapter 3

26. Chapter 4

27. Chapter 5

28. Book 3, Chapter 1

29. Chapter 2

30. Chapter 3

31. Chapter 4

32. Book 4, Chapter 1

33. Chapter 1 continue

34. Chapter 2

35. Chapter 3, Part 1

36. Chapter 3, Part 2

37. Chapter 4

38. Chapter 5

39. Chapter 5 continue

40. Chapter 6

41. Chapter 7, Part 1

42. Chapter 7, Part 2

43. Chapter 7, Part 3

44. Chapter 7, Part 3 continue

45. Chapter 8

46. Chapter 9

47. Book 5, Chapter 1, Part 1

48. Chapter 1, Part 2

49. Chapter 1, Part 3

50. Chapter 1, Part 3 continue

51. Chapter 1, Part 3 continue B

52. Chapter 1, Part 4

53. Chapter 2, Part 1

54. Chapter 2, Part 2

55. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue

56. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue B

57. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue C

58. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue D

59. Chapter 3

60. Chapter 3 continue

The maintenance of this monopoly has hitherto been the principal, or
more properly, perhaps, the sole end and purpose of the dominion which
Great Britain assumes over her colonies. In the exclusive trade, it is
supposed, consists the great advantage of provinces, which have never
yet afforded either revenue or military force for the support of the
civil government, or the defence of the mother country. The monopoly is
the principal badge of their dependency, and it is the sole fruit which
has hitherto been gathered from that dependency. Whatever expense Great
Britain has hitherto laid out in maintaining this dependency, has really
been laid out in order to support this monopoly. The expense of the
ordinary peace establishment of the colonies amounted, before the
commencement of the present disturbances to the pay of twenty regiments
of foot; to the expense of the artillery, stores, and extraordinary
provisions, with which it was necessary to supply them; and to the
expense of a very considerable naval force, which was constantly kept
up, in order to guard from the smuggling vessels of other nations, the
immense coast of North America, and that of our West Indian islands. The
whole expense of this peace establishment was a charge upon the revenue
of Great Britain, and was, at the same time, the smallest part of what
the dominion of the colonies has cost the mother country. If we would
know the amount of the whole, we must add to the annual expense of this
peace establishment, the interest of the sums which, in consequence of
their considering her colonies as provinces subject to her dominion,
Great Britain has, upon different occasions, laid out upon their
defence. We must add to it, in particular, the whole expense of the late
war, and a great part of that of the war which preceded it. The late
war was altogether a colony quarrel; and the whole expense of it, in
whatever part of the world it might have been laid out, whether in
Germany or the East Indies, ought justly to be stated to the account
of the colonies. It amounted to more than ninety millions sterling,
including not only the new debt which was contracted, but the two
shillings in the pound additional land tax, and the sums which were
every year borrowed from the sinking fund. The Spanish war which began
in 1739 was principally a colony quarrel. Its principal object was to
prevent the search of the colony ships, which carried on a contraband
trade with the Spanish Main. This whole expense is, in reality, a bounty
which has been given in order to support a monopoly. The pretended
purpose of it was to encourage the manufactures, and to increase the
commerce of Great Britain. But its real effect has been to raise the
rate of mercantile profit, and to enable our merchants to turn into a
branch of trade, of which the returns are more slow and distant than
those of the greater part of other trades, a greater proportion of their
capital than they otherwise would have done; two events which, if a
bounty could have prevented, it might perhaps have been very well worth
while to give such a bounty.

Under the present system of management, therefore, Great Britain derives
nothing but loss from the dominion which she assumes over her colonies.

To propose that Great Britain should voluntarily give up all authority
over her colonies, and leave them to elect their own magistrates, to
enact their own laws, and to make peace and war, as they might think
proper, would be to propose such a measure as never was, and never will
be, adopted by any nation in the world. No nation ever voluntarily gave
up the dominion of any province, how troublesome soever it might be to
govern it, and how small soever the revenue which it afforded might
be in proportion to the expense which it occasioned. Such sacrifices,
though they might frequently be agreeable to the interest, are always
mortifying to the pride of every nation; and, what is perhaps of still
greater consequence, they are always contrary to the private interest of
the governing part of it, who would thereby be deprived of the disposal
of many places of trust and profit, of many opportunities of acquiring
wealth and distinction, which the possession of the most turbulent, and,
to the great body of the people, the most unprofitable province, seldom
fails to afford. The most visionary enthusiasts would scarce be capable
of proposing such a measure, with any serious hopes at least of its ever
being adopted. If it was adopted, however, Great Britain would not
only be immediately freed from the whole annual expense of the peace
establishment of the colonies, but might settle with them such a treaty
of commerce as would effectually secure to her a free trade, more
advantageous to the great body of the people, though less so to the
merchants, than the monopoly which she at present enjoys. By thus
parting good friends, the natural affection of the colonies to the
mother country, which, perhaps, our late dissensions have well nigh
extinguished, would quickly revive. It might dispose them not only to
respect, for whole centuries together, that treaty of commerce which
they had concluded with us at parting, but to favour us in war as well
as in trade, and instead of turbulent and factious subjects, to become
our most faithful, affectionate, and generous allies; and the same sort
of parental affection on the one side, and filial respect on the other,
might revive between Great Britain and her colonies, which used to
subsist between those of ancient Greece and the mother city from which
they descended.

In order to render any province advantageous to the empire to which it
belongs, it ought to afford, in time of peace, a revenue to the public,
sufficient not only for defraying the whole expense of its own peace
establishment, but for contributing its proportion to the support of
the general government of the empire. Every province necessarily
contributes, more or less, to increase the expense of that general
government. If any particular province, therefore, does not contribute
its share towards defraying this expense, an unequal burden must be
thrown upon some other part of the empire. The extraordinary revenue,
too, which every province affords to the public in time of war, ought,
from parity of reason, to bear the same proportion to the extraordinary
revenue of the whole empire, which its ordinary revenue does in time of
peace. That neither the ordinary nor extraordinary revenue which Great
Britain derives from her colonies, bears this proportion to the whole
revenue of the British empire, will readily be allowed. The monopoly,
it has been supposed, indeed, by increasing the private revenue of the
people of Great Britain, and thereby enabling them to pay greater taxes,
compensates the deficiency of the public revenue of the colonies. But
this monopoly, I have endeavoured to show, though a very grievous
tax upon the colonies, and though it may increase the revenue of
a particular order of men in Great Britain, diminishes, instead of
increasing, that of the great body of the people, and consequently
diminishes, instead of increasing, the ability of the great body of the
people to pay taxes. The men, too, whose revenue the monopoly increases,
constitute a particular order, which it is both absolutely impossible to
tax beyond the proportion of other orders, and extremely impolitic even
to attempt to tax beyond that proportion, as I shall endeavour to show
in the following book. No particular resource, therefore, can be drawn
from this particular order.

The colonies may be taxed either by their own assemblies, or by the
parliament of Great Britain.

That the colony assemblies can never be so managed as to levy upon their
constituents a public revenue, sufficient, not only to maintain at
all times their own civil and military establishment, but to pay their
proper proportion of the expense of the general government of the
British empire, seems not very probable. It was a long time before even
the parliament of England, though placed immediately under the eye of
the sovereign, could be brought under such a system of management, or
could be rendered sufficiently liberal in their grants for supporting
the civil and military establishments even of their own country. It was
only by distributing among the particular members of parliament a great
part either of the offices, or of the disposal of the offices arising
from this civil and military establishment, that such a system of
management could be established, even with regard to the parliament of
England. But the distance of the colony assemblies from the eye of the
sovereign, their number, their dispersed situation, and their various
constitutions, would render it very difficult to manage them in the same
manner, even though the sovereign had the same means of doing it; and
those means are wanting. It would be absolutely impossible to distribute
among all the leading members of all the colony assemblies such a share,
either of the offices, or of the disposal of the offices, arising from
the general government of the British empire, as to dispose them to
give up their popularity at home, and to tax their constituents for the
support of that general government, of which almost the whole emoluments
were to be divided among people who were strangers to them. The
unavoidable ignorance of administration, besides, concerning the
relative importance of the different members of those different
assemblies, the offences which must frequently be given, the blunders
which must constantly be committed, in attempting to manage them in
this manner, seems to render such a system of management altogether
impracticable with regard to them.

The colony assemblies, besides, cannot be supposed the proper judges of
what is necessary for the defence and support of the whole empire. The
care of that defence and support is not entrusted to them. It is not
their business, and they have no regular means of information concerning
it. The assembly of a province, like the vestry of a parish, may judge
very properly concerning the affairs of its own particular district,
but can have no proper means of judging concerning those of the whole
empire. It cannot even judge properly concerning the proportion which
its own province bears to the whole empire, or concerning the relative
degree of its wealth and importance, compared with the other provinces;
because those other provinces are not under the inspection and
superintendency of the assembly of a particular province. What is
necessary for the defence and support of the whole empire, and in what
proportion each part ought to contribute, can be judged of only by
that assembly which inspects and super-intends the affairs of the whole

It has been proposed, accordingly, that the colonies should be taxed by
requisition, the parliament of Great Britain determining the sum which
each colony ought to pay, and the provincial assembly assessing
and levying it in the way that suited best the circumstances of
the province. What concerned the whole empire would in this way be
determined by the assembly which inspects and superintends the affairs
of the whole empire; and the provincial affairs of each colony might
still be regulated by its own assembly. Though the colonies should, in
this case, have no representatives in the British parliament, yet, if we
may judge by experience, there is no probability that the parliamentary
requisition would be unreasonable. The parliament of England has not,
upon any occasion, shewn the smallest disposition to overburden those
parts of the empire which are not represented in parliament. The islands
of Guernsey and Jersey, without any means of resisting the authority
of parliament, are more lightly taxed than any part of Great Britain.
Parliament, in attempting to exercise its supposed right, whether well
or ill grounded, of taxing the colonies, has never hitherto demanded
of them anything which even approached to a just proportion to what
was paid by their fellow subjects at home. If the contribution of the
colonies, besides, was to rise or fall in proportion to the rise or fall
of the land-tax, parliament could not tax them without taxing, at the
same time, its own constituents, and the colonies might, in this case,
be considered as virtually represented in parliament.

Examples are not wanting of empires in which all the different provinces
are not taxed, if I may be allowed the expression, in one mass; but in
which the sovereign regulates the sum which each province ought to pay,
and in some provinces assesses and levies it as he thinks proper; while
in others he leaves it to be assessed and levied as the respective
states of each province shall determine. In some provinces of France,
the king not only imposes what taxes he thinks proper, but assesses
and levies them in the way he thinks proper. From others he demands a
certain sum, but leaves it to the states of each province to assess and
levy that sum as they think proper. According to the scheme of taxing by
requisition, the parliament of Great Britain would stand nearly in the
same situation towards the colony assemblies, as the king of France does
towards the states of those provinces which still enjoy the privilege of
having states of their own, the provinces of France which are supposed
to be the best governed.

But though, according to this scheme, the colonies could have no just
reason to fear that their share of the public burdens should ever exceed
the proper proportion to that of their fellow-citizens at home, Great
Britain might have just reason to fear that it never would amount to
that proper proportion. The parliament of Great Britain has not, for
some time past, had the same established authority in the colonies,
which the French king has in those provinces of France which still enjoy
the privilege of having states of their own. The colony assemblies,
if they were not very favourably disposed (and unless more skilfully
managed than they ever have been hitherto, they are not very likely to
be so), might still find many pretences for evading or rejecting the
most reasonable requisitions of parliament. A French war breaks out,
we shall suppose; ten millions must immediately be raised, in order to
defend the seat of the empire. This sum must be borrowed upon the credit
of some parliamentary fund mortgaged for paying the interest. Part of
this fund parliament proposes to raise by a tax to be levied in Great
Britain; and part of it by a requisition to all the different colony
assemblies of America and the West Indies. Would people readily advance
their money upon the credit of a fund which partly depended upon the
good humour of all those assemblies, far distant from the seat of the
war, and sometimes, perhaps, thinking themselves not much concerned
in the event of it? Upon such a fund, no more money would probably
be advanced than what the tax to be levied in Great Britain might be
supposed to answer for. The whole burden of the debt contracted on
account of the war would in this manner fall, as it always has done
hitherto, upon Great Britain; upon a part of the empire, and not upon
the whole empire. Great Britain is, perhaps, since the world began, the
only state which, as it has extended its empire, has only increased
its expense, without once augmenting its resources. Other states have
generally disburdened themselves, upon their subject and subordinate
provinces, of the most considerable part of the expense of defending the
empire. Great Britain has hitherto suffered her subject and subordinate
provinces to disburden themselves upon her of almost this whole expense.
In order to put Great Britain upon a footing of equality with her
own colonies, which the law has hitherto supposed to be subject and
subordinate, it seems necessary, upon the scheme of taxing them by
parliamentary requisition, that parliament should have some means of
rendering its requisitions immediately effectual, in case the colony
assemblies should attempt to evade or reject them; and what those means
are, it is not very easy to conceive, and it has not yet been explained.

Should the parliament of Great Britain, at the same time, be ever fully
established in the right of taxing the colonies, even independent of
the consent of their own assemblies, the importance of those assemblies
would, from that moment, be at an end, and with it, that of all the
leading men of British America. Men desire to have some share in the
management of public affairs, chiefly on account of the importance which
it gives them. Upon the power which the greater part of the leading
men, the natural aristocracy of every country, have of preserving
or defending their respective importance, depends the stability and
duration of every system of free government. In the attacks which those
leading men are continually making upon the importance of one another,
and in the defence of their own, consists the whole play of domestic
faction and ambition. The leading men of America, like those of all
other countries, desire to preserve their own importance. They feel,
or imagine, that if their assemblies, which they are fond of calling
parliaments, and of considering as equal in authority to the parliament
of Great Britain, should be so far degraded as to become the humble
ministers and executive officers of that parliament, the greater part of
their own importance would be at an end. They have rejected, therefore,
the proposal of being taxed by parliamentary requisition, and, like
other ambitious and high-spirited men, have rather chosen to draw the
sword in defence of their own importance.

Towards the declension of the Roman republic, the allies of Rome, who
had borne the principal burden of defending the state and extending the
empire, demanded to be admitted to all the privileges of Roman citizens.
Upon being refused, the social war broke out. During the course of that
war, Rome granted those privileges to the greater part of them, one
by one, and in proportion as they detached themselves from the general
confederacy. The parliament of Great Britain insists upon taxing the
colonies; and they refuse to be taxed by a parliament in which they are
not represented. If to each colony which should detach itself from
the general confederacy, Great Britain should allow such a number of
representatives as suited the proportion of what it contributed to the
public revenue of the empire, in consequence of its being subjected
to the same taxes, and in compensation admitted to the same freedom
of trade with its fellow-subjects at home; the number of its
representatives to be augmented as the proportion of its contribution
might afterwards augment; a new method of acquiring importance, a new
and more dazzling object of ambition, would be presented to the leading
men of each colony. Instead of piddling for the little prizes which are
to be found in what may be called the paltry raffle of colony faction,
they might then hope, from the presumption which men naturally have in
their own ability and good fortune, to draw some of the great prizes
which sometimes come from the wheel of the great state lottery of
British politics. Unless this or some other method is fallen upon,
and there seems to be none more obvious than this, of preserving the
importance and of gratifying the ambition of the leading men of America,
it is not very probable that they will ever voluntarily submit to us;
and we ought to consider, that the blood which must be shed in forcing
them to do so, is, every drop of it, the blood either of those who are,
or of those whom we wish to have for our fellow citizens. They are very
weak who flatter themselves that, in the state to which things have
come, our colonies will be easily conquered by force alone. The persons
who now govern the resolutions of what they call their continental
congress, feel in themselves at this moment a degree of importance
which, perhaps, the greatest subjects in Europe scarce feel. From
shopkeepers, trades men, and attorneys, they are become statesmen and
legislators, and are employed in contriving a new form of government for
an extensive empire, which, they flatter themselves, will become, and
which, indeed, seems very likely to become, one of the greatest and most
formidable that ever was in the world. Five hundred different people,
perhaps, who, in different ways, act immediately under the continental
congress, and five hundred thousand, perhaps, who act under those five
hundred, all feel, in the same manner, a proportionable rise in their
own importance. Almost every individual of the governing party in
America fills, at present, in his own fancy, a station superior, not
only to what he had ever filled before, but to what he had ever expected
to fill; and unless some new object of ambition is presented either to
him or to his leaders, if he has the ordinary spirit of a man, he will
die in defence of that station.

It is a remark of the President Heynaut, that we now read with pleasure
the account of many little transactions of the Ligue, which, when they
happened, were not, perhaps, considered as very important pieces of
news. But everyman then, says he, fancied himself of some importance;
and the innumerable memoirs which have come down to us from those times,
were the greater part of them written by people who took pleasure in
recording and magnifying events, in which they flattered themselves they
had been considerable actors. How obstinately the city of Paris, upon
that occasion, defended itself, what a dreadful famine it supported,
rather than submit to the best, and afterwards the most beloved of all
the French kings, is well known. The greater part of the citizens, or
those who governed the greater part of them, fought in defence of their
own importance, which, they foresaw, was to be at an end whenever the
ancient government should be re-established. Our colonies, unless
they can be induced to consent to a union, are very likely to defend
themselves, against the best of all mother countries, as obstinately as
the city of Paris did against one of the best of kings.

The idea of representation was unknown in ancient times. When the people
of one state were admitted to the right of citizenship in another, they
had no other means of exercising that right, but by coming in a body to
vote and deliberate with the people of that other state. The admission
of the greater part of the inhabitants of Italy to the privileges of
Roman citizens, completely ruined the Roman republic. It was no longer
possible to distinguish between who was, and who was not, a Roman
citizen. No tribe could know its own members. A rabble of any kind could
be introduced into the assemblies of the people, could drive out the
real citizens, and decide upon the affairs of the republic, as if they
themselves had been such. But though America were to send fifty or
sixty new representatives to parliament, the door-keeper of the house
of commons could not find any great difficulty in distinguishing
between who was and who was not a member. Though the Roman constitution,
therefore, was necessarily ruined by the union of Rome with the allied
states of Italy, there is not the least probability that the British
constitution would be hurt by the union of Great Britain with her
colonies. That constitution, on the contrary, would be completed by it,
and seems to be imperfect without it. The assembly which deliberates and
decides concerning the affairs of every part of the empire, in order to
be properly informed, ought certainly to have representatives from every
part of it. That this union, however, could be easily effectuated,
or that difficulties, and great difficulties, might not occur in the
execution, I do not pretend. I have yet heard of none, however, which
appear insurmountable. The principal, perhaps, arise, not from the
nature of things, but from the prejudices and opinions of the people,
both on this and on the other side of the Atlantic.

We on this side the water are afraid lest the multitude of American
representatives should overturn the balance of the constitution, and
increase too much either the influence of the crown on the one hand, or
the force of the democracy on the other. But if the number of American
representatives were to be in proportion to the produce of American
taxation, the number of people to be managed would increase exactly in
proportion to the means of managing them, and the means of managing to
the number of people to be managed. The monarchical and democratical
parts of the constitution would, after the union, stand exactly in the
same degree of relative force with regard to one another as they had
done before.

The people on the other side of the water are afraid lest their distance
from the seat of government might expose them to many oppressions; but
their representatives in parliament, of which the number ought from the
first to be considerable, would easily be able to protect them from all
oppression. The distance could not much weaken the dependency of the
representative upon the constituent, and the former would still feel
that he owed his seat in parliament, and all the consequence which
he derived from it, to the good-will of the latter. It would be the
interest of the former, therefore, to cultivate that good-will, by
complaining, with all the authority of a member of the legislature, of
every outrage which any civil or military officer might be guilty of in
those remote parts of the empire. The distance of America from the
seat of government, besides, the natives of that country might flatter
themselves, with some appearance of reason too, would not be of very
long continuance. Such has hitherto been the rapid progress of that
country in wealth, population, and improvement, that in the course of
little more than a century, perhaps, the produce of the American might
exceed that of the British taxation. The seat of the empire would then
naturally remove itself to that part of the empire which contributed
most to the general defence and support of the whole.

The discovery of America, and that of a passage to the East Indies by
the Cape of Good Hope, are the two greatest and most important events
recorded in the history of mankind. Their consequences have already been
great; but, in the short period of between two and three centuries which
has elapsed since these discoveries were made, it is impossible that the
whole extent of their consequences can have been seen. What benefits
or what misfortunes to mankind may hereafter result from those great
events, no human wisdom can foresee. By uniting in some measure the most
distant parts of the world, by enabling them to relieve one another's
wants, to increase one another's enjoyments, and to encourage one
another's industry, their general tendency would seem to be beneficial.
To the natives, however, both of the East and West Indies, all the
commercial benefits which can have resulted from those events have been
sunk and lost in the dreadful misfortunes which they have occasioned.
These misfortunes, however, seem to have arisen rather from accident
than from any thing in the nature of those events themselves. At the
particular time when these discoveries were made, the superiority of
force happened to be so great on the side of the Europeans, that they
were enabled to commit with impunity every sort of injustice in those
remote countries. Hereafter, perhaps, the natives of those countries may
grow stronger, or those of Europe may grow weaker; and the inhabitants
of all the different quarters of the world may arrive at that equality
of courage and force which, by inspiring mutual fear, can alone overawe
the injustice of independent nations into some sort of respect for the
rights of one another. But nothing seems more likely to establish this
equality of force, than that mutual communication of knowledge, and
of all sorts of improvements, which an extensive commerce from all
countries to all countries naturally, or rather necessarily, carries
along with it.

In the mean time, one of the principal effects of those discoveries has
been, to raise the mercantile system to a degree of splendour and glory
which it could never otherwise have attained to. It is the object of
that system to enrich a great nation, rather by trade and manufactures
than by the improvement and cultivation of land, rather by the industry
of the towns than by that of the country. But in consequence of those
discoveries, the commercial towns of Europe, instead of being the
manufacturers and carriers for but a very small part of the world (that
part of Europe which is washed by the Atlantic ocean, and the countries
which lie round the Baltic and Mediterranean seas), have now become the
manufacturers for the numerous and thriving cultivators of America, and
the carriers, and in some respects the manufacturers too, for almost all
the different nations of Asia, Africa, and America. Two new worlds
have been opened to their industry, each of them much greater and more
extensive than the old one, and the market of one of them growing still
greater and greater every day.

The countries which possess the colonies of America, and which trade
directly to the East Indies, enjoy indeed the whole show and splendour
of this great commerce. Other countries, however, notwithstanding
all the invidious restraints by which it is meant to exclude them,
frequently enjoy a greater share of the real benefit of it. The colonies
of Spain and Portugal, for example, give more real encouragement to the
industry of other countries than to that of Spain and Portugal. In
the single article of linen alone, the consumption of those colonies
amounts, it is said (but I do not pretend to warrant the quantity ), to
more than three millions sterling a-year. But this great consumption
is almost entirely supplied by France, Flanders, Holland, and Germany.
Spain and Portugal furnish but a small part of it. The capital which
supplies the colonies with this great quantity of linen, is annually
distributed among, and furnishes a revenue to, the inhabitants of those
other countries. The profits of it only are spent in Spain and Portugal,
where they help to support the sumptuous profusion of the merchants of
Cadiz and Lisbon.

Even the regulations by which each nation endeavours to secure to itself
the exclusive trade of its own colonies, are frequently more hurtful
to the countries in favour of which they are established, than to
those against which they are established. The unjust oppression of the
industry of other countries falls back, if I may say so, upon the heads
of the oppressors, and crushes their industry more than it does that of
those other countries. By those regulations, for example, the merchant
of Hamburg must send the linen which he destines for the American market
to London, and he must bring back from thence the tobacco which he
destines for the German market; because he can neither send the one
directly to America, nor bring the other directly from thence. By this
restraint he is probably obliged to sell the one somewhat cheaper, and
to buy the other somewhat dearer, than he otherwise might have done;
and his profits are probably somewhat abridged by means of it. In this
trade, however, between Hamburg and London, he certainly receives the
returns of his capital much more quickly than he could possibly have
done in the direct trade to America, even though we should suppose, what
is by no means the case, that the payments of America were as punctual
as those of London. In the trade, therefore, to which those regulations
confine the merchant of Hamburg, his capital can keep in constant
employment a much greater quantity of German industry than he possibly
could have done in the trade from which he is excluded. Though the one
employment, therefore, may to him perhaps be less profitable than
the other, it cannot be less advantageous to his country. It is
quite otherwise with the employment into which the monopoly naturally
attracts, if I may say so, the capital of the London merchant. That
employment may, perhaps, be more profitable to him than the greater part
of other employments; but on account of the slowness of the returns, it
cannot be more advantageous to his country.

After all the unjust attempts, therefore, of every country in Europe to
engross to itself the whole advantage of the trade of its own colonies,
no country has yet been able to engross to itself any thing but the
expense of supporting in time of peace, and of defending in time of war,
the oppressive authority which it assumes over them. The inconveniencies
resulting from the possession of its colonies, every country has
engrossed to itself completely. The advantages resulting from their
trade, it has been obliged to share with many other countries.

At first sight, no doubt, the monopoly of the great commerce of America
naturally seems to be an acquisition of the highest value. To the
undiscerning eye of giddy ambition it naturally presents itself, amidst
the confused scramble of politics and war, as a very dazzling object to
fight for. The dazzling splendour of the object, however, the immense
greatness of the commerce, is the very quality which renders the
monopoly of it hurtful, or which makes one employment, in its own nature
necessarily less advantageous to the country than the greater part of
other employments, absorb a much greater proportion of the capital of
the country than what would otherwise have gone to it.

The mercantile stock of every country, it has been shown in the
second book, naturally seeks, if one may say so, the employment most
advantageous to that country. If it is employed in the carrying trade,
the country to which it belongs becomes the emporium of the goods of all
the countries whose trade that stock carries on. But the owner of that
stock necessarily wishes to dispose of as great a part of those goods as
he can at home. He thereby saves himself the trouble, risk, and expense
of exportation; and he will upon that account be glad to sell them at
home, not only for a much smaller price, but with somewhat a smaller
profit, than he might expect to make by sending them abroad. He
naturally, therefore, endeavours as much as he can to turn his carrying
trade into a foreign trade of consumption, If his stock, again, is
employed in a foreign trade of consumption, he will, for the same
reason, be glad to dispose of, at home, as great a part as he can of the
home goods which he collects in order to export to some foreign market,
and he will thus endeavour, as much as he can, to turn his foreign trade
of consumption into a home trade. The mercantile stock of every
country naturally courts in this manner the near, and shuns the distant
employment: naturally courts the employment in which the returns are
frequent, and shuns that in which they are distant and slow; naturally
courts the employment in which it can maintain the greatest quantity of
productive labour in the country to which it belongs, or in which
its owner resides, and shuns that in which it can maintain there the
smallest quantity. It naturally courts the employment which in ordinary
cases is most advantageous, and shuns that which in ordinary cases is
least advantageous to that country.

But if, in any one of those distant employments, which in ordinary cases
are less advantageous to the country, the profit should happen to
rise somewhat higher than what is sufficient to balance the natural
preference which is given to nearer employments, this superiority of
profit will draw stock from those nearer employments, till the profits
of all return to their proper level. This superiority of profit,
however, is a proof that, in the actual circumstances of the society,
those distant employments are somewhat understocked in proportion to
other employments, and that the stock of the society is not distributed
in the properest manner among all the different employments carried on
in it. It is a proof that something is either bought cheaper or sold
dearer than it ought to be, and that some particular class of citizens
is more or less oppressed, either by paying more, or by getting less
than what is suitable to that equality which ought to take place, and
which naturally does take place, among all the different classes of
them. Though the same capital never will maintain the same quantity of
productive labour in a distant as in a near employment, yet a distant
employment maybe as necessary for the welfare of the society as a near
one; the goods which the distant employment deals in being necessary,
perhaps, for carrying on many of the nearer employments. But if the
profits of those who deal in such goods are above their proper level,
those goods will be sold dearer than they ought to be, or somewhat above
their natural price, and all those engaged in the nearer employments
will be more or less oppressed by this high price. Their interest,
therefore, in this case, requires, that some stock should be withdrawn
from those nearer employments, and turned towards that distant one, in
order to reduce its profits to their proper level, and the price of the
goods which it deals in to their natural price. In this extraordinary
case, the public interest requires that some stock should be withdrawn
from those employments which, in ordinary cases, are more advantageous,
and turned towards one which, in ordinary cases, is less advantageous to
the public; and, in this extraordinary case, the natural interests and
inclinations of men coincide as exactly with the public interests as in
all other ordinary cases, and lead them to withdraw stock from the near,
and to turn it towards the distant employments.

It is thus that the private interests and passions of individuals
naturally dispose them to turn their stock towards the employments which
in ordinary cases, are most advantageous to the society. But if from
this natural preference they should turn too much of it towards those
employments, the fall of profit in them, and the rise of it in all
others, immediately dispose them to alter this faulty distribution.
Without any intervention of law, therefore, the private interests and
passions of men naturally lead them to divide and distribute the stock
of every society among all the different employments carried on in it;
as nearly as possible in the proportion which is most agreeable to the
interest of the whole society.

All the different regulations of the mercantile system necessarily
derange more or less this natural and most advantageous distribution of
stock. But those which concern the trade to America and the East Indies
derange it, perhaps, more than any other; because the trade to those two
great continents absorbs a greater quantity of stock than any two other
branches of trade. The regulations, however, by which this derangement
is effected in those two different branches of trade, are not altogether
the same. Monopoly is the great engine of both; but it is a different
sort of monopoly. Monopoly of one kind or another, indeed, seems to be
the sole engine of the mercantile system.

In the trade to America, every nation endeavours to engross as much as
possible the whole market of its own colonies, by fairly excluding all
other nations from any direct trade to them. During the greater part of
the sixteenth century, the Portuguese endeavoured to manage the trade
to the East Indies in the same manner, by claiming the sole right of
sailing in the Indian seas, on account of the merit of having first
found out the road to them. The Dutch still continue to exclude all
other European nations from any direct trade to their spice islands.
Monopolies of this kind are evidently established against all other
European nations, who are thereby not only excluded from a trade to
which it might be convenient for them to turn some part of their stock,
but are obliged to buy the goods which that trade deals in, somewhat
dearer than if they could import them themselves directly from the
countries which produced them.

But since the fall of the power of Portugal, no European nation has
claimed the exclusive right of sailing in the Indian seas, of which
the principal ports are now open to the ships of all European nations.
Except in Portugal, however, and within these few years in France, the
trade to the East Indies has, in every European country, been
subjected to an exclusive company. Monopolies of this kind are properly
established against the very nation which erects them. The greater part
of that nation are thereby not only excluded from a trade to which it
might be convenient for them to turn some part of their stock, but are
obliged to buy the goods which that trade deals in somewhat dearer than
if it was open and free to all their countrymen. Since the establishment
of the English East India company, for example, the other inhabitants of
England, over and above being excluded from the trade, must have paid,
in the price of the East India goods which they have consumed, not only
for all the extraordinary profits which the company may have made
upon those goods in consequence of their monopoly, but for all the
extraordinary waste which the fraud and abuse inseparable from the
management of the affairs of so great a company must necessarily have
occasioned. The absurdity of this second kind of monopoly, therefore, is
much more manifest than that of the first.

Both these kinds of monopolies derange more or less the natural
distribution of the stock of the society; but they do not always derange
it in the same way.

Monopolies of the first kind always attract to the particular trade
in which they are established a greater proportion of the stock of the
society than what would go to that trade of its own accord.

Monopolies of the second kind may sometimes attract stock towards the
particular trade in which they are established, and sometimes repel
it from that trade, according to different circumstances. In poor
countries, they naturally attract towards that trade more stock than
would otherwise go to it. In rich countries, they naturally repel from
it a good deal of stock which would otherwise go to it.

Such poor countries as Sweden and Denmark, for example, would probably
have never sent a single ship to the East Indies, had not the trade been
subjected to an exclusive company. The establishment of such a company
necessarily encourages adventurers. Their monopoly secures them against
all competitors in the home market, and they have the same chance for
foreign markets with the traders of other nations. Their monopoly shows
them the certainty of a great profit upon a considerable quantity of
goods, and the chance of a considerable profit upon a great quantity.
Without such extraordinary encouragement, the poor traders of such poor
countries would probably never have thought of hazarding their small
capitals in so very distant and uncertain an adventure as the trade to
the East Indies must naturally have appeared to them.

Such a rich country as Holland, on the contrary, would probably, in the
case of a free trade, send many more ships to the East Indies than
it actually does. The limited stock of the Dutch East India company
probably repels from that trade many great mercantile capitals which
would otherwise go to it. The mercantile capital of Holland is so great,
that it is, as it were, continually overflowing, sometimes into the
public funds of foreign countries, sometimes into loans to private
traders and adventurers of foreign countries, sometimes into the most
round-about foreign trades of consumption, and sometimes into the
carrying trade. All near employments being completely filled up, all
the capital which can be placed in them with any tolerable profit being
already placed in them, the capital of Holland necessarily flows towards
the most distant employments. The trade to the East Indies, if it
were altogether free, would probably absorb the greater part of
this redundant capital. The East Indies offer a market both for the
manufactures of Europe, and for the gold and silver, as well as for the
several other productions of America, greater and more extensive than
both Europe and America put together.

Every derangement of the natural distribution of stock is necessarily
hurtful to the society in which it takes place; whether it be by
repelling from a particular trade the stock which would otherwise go
to it, or by attracting towards a particular trade that which would not
otherwise come to it. If, without any exclusive company, the trade of
Holland to the East Indies would be greater than it actually is, that
country must suffer a considerable loss, by part of its capital being
excluded from the employment most convenient for that port. And, in the
same manner, if, without an exclusive company, the trade of Sweden and
Denmark to the East Indies would be less than it actually is, or, what
perhaps is more probable, would not exist at all, those two countries
must likewise suffer a considerable loss, by part of their capital being
drawn into an employment which must be more or less unsuitable to
their present circumstances. Better for them, perhaps, in the present
circumstances, to buy East India goods of other nations, even though
they should pay somewhat dearer, than to turn so great a part of their
small capital to so very distant a trade, in which the returns are so
very slow, in which that capital can maintain so small a quantity of
productive labour at home, where productive labour is so much wanted,
where so little is done, and where so much is to do.

Though without an exclusive company, therefore, a particular country
should not be able to carry on any direct trade to the East Indies, it
will not from thence follow, that such a company ought to be established
there, but only that such a country ought not, in these circumstances,
to trade directly to the East Indies. That such companies are not in
general necessary for carrying on the East India trade, is sufficiently
demonstrated by the experience of the Portuguese, who enjoyed almost
the whole of it for more than a century together, without any exclusive

No private merchant, it has been said, could well have capital
sufficient to maintain factors and agents in the different ports of
the East Indies, in order to provide goods for the ships which he might
occasionally send thither; and yet, unless he was able to do this, the
difficulty of finding a cargo might frequently make his ships lose the
season for returning; and the expense of so long a delay would not only
eat up the whole profit of the adventure, but frequently occasion a very
considerable loss. This argument, however, if it proved any thing at
all, would prove that no one great branch of trade could be carried on
without an exclusive company, which is contrary to the experience of all
nations. There is no great branch of trade, in which the capital of any
one private merchant is sufficient for carrying on all the subordinate
branches which must be carried on, in order to carry on the principal
one. But when a nation is ripe for any great branch of trade, some
merchants naturally turn their capitals towards the principal, and some
towards the subordinate branches of it; and though all the different
branches of it are in this manner carried on, yet it very seldom happens
that they are all carried on by the capital of one private merchant. If
a nation, therefore, is ripe for the East India trade, a certain portion
of its capital will naturally divide itself among all the different
branches of that trade. Some of its merchants will find it for their
interest to reside in the East Indies, and to employ their capitals
there in providing goods for the ships which are to be sent out by other
merchants who reside in Europe. The settlements which different European
nations have obtained in the East Indies, if they were taken from the
exclusive companies to which they at present belong, and put under the
immediate protection of the sovereign, would render this residence both
safe and easy, at least to the merchants of the particular nations to
whom those settlements belong. If, at any particular time, that part of
the capital of any country which of its own accord tended and inclined,
if I may say so, towards the East India trade, was not sufficient for
carrying on all those different branches of it, it would be a proof
that, at that particular time, that country was not ripe for that trade,
and that it would do better to buy for some time, even at a higher
price, from other European nations, the East India goods it had occasion
for, than to import them itself directly from the East Indies. What it
might lose by the high price of those goods, could seldom be equal to
the loss which it would sustain by the distraction of a large portion
of its capital from other employments more necessary, or more useful, or
more suitable to its circumstances and situation, than a direct trade to
the East Indies.

Though the Europeans possess many considerable settlements both upon the
coast of Africa and in the East Indies, they have not yet established,
in either of those countries, such numerous and thriving colonies as
those in the islands and continent of America. Africa, however, as well
as several of the countries comprehended under the general name of the
East Indies, is inhabited by barbarous nations. But those nations
were by no means so weak and defenceless as the miserable and helpless
Americans; and in proportion to the natural fertility of the countries
which they inhabited, they were, besides, much more populous. The
most barbarous nations either of Africa or of the East Indies, were
shepherds; even the Hottentots were so. But the natives of every part of
America, except Mexico and Peru, were only hunters and the difference is
very great between the number of shepherds and that of hunters whom the
same extent of equally fertile territory can maintain. In Africa and the
East Indies, therefore, it was more difficult to displace the natives,
and to extend the European plantations over the greater part of the
lands of the original inhabitants. The genius of exclusive companies,
besides, is unfavourable, it has already been observed, to the growth
of new colonies, and has probably been the principal cause of the little
progress which they have made in the East Indies. The Portuguese carried
on the trade both to Africa and the East Indies, without any exclusive
companies; and their settlements at Congo, Angola, and Benguela, on the
coast of Africa, and at Goa in the East Indies though much depressed by
superstition and every sort of bad government, yet bear some resemblance
to the colonies of America, and are partly inhabited by Portuguese
who have been established there for several generations. The Dutch
settlements at the Cape of Good Hope and at Batavia, are at present the
most considerable colonies which the Europeans have established,
either in Africa or in the East Indies; and both those settlements
an peculiarly fortunate in their situation. The Cape of Good Hope
was inhabited by a race of people almost as barbarous, and quite as
incapable of defending themselves, as the natives of America. It is,
besides, the half-way house, if one may say so, between Europe and the
East Indies, at which almost every European ship makes some stay, both
in going and returning. The supplying of those ships with every sort of
fresh provisions, with fruit, and sometimes with wine, affords alone a
very extensive market for the surplus produce of the colonies. What the
Cape of Good Hope is between Europe and every part of the East Indies,
Batavia is between the principal countries of the East Indies. It lies
upon the most frequented road from Indostan to China and Japan, and is
nearly about mid-way upon that road. Almost all the ships too, that sail
between Europe and China, touch at Batavia; and it is, over and above
all this, the centre and principal mart of what is called the country
trade of the East Indies; not only of that part of it which is carried
on by Europeans, but of that which is carried on by the native Indians;
and vessels navigated by the inhabitants of China and Japan, of Tonquin,
Malacca, Cochin-China, and the island of Celebes, are frequently to be
seen in its port. Such advantageous situations have enabled those two
colonies to surmount all the obstacles which the oppressive genius of
an exclusive company may have occasionally opposed to their growth. They
have enabled Batavia to surmount the additional disadvantage of perhaps
the most unwholesome climate in the world.

The English and Dutch companies, though they have established no
considerable colonies, except the two above mentioned, have both made
considerable conquests in the East Indies. But in the manner in which
they both govern their new subjects, the natural genius of an exclusive
company has shewn itself most distinctly. In the spice islands,
the Dutch are said to burn all the spiceries which a fertile season
produces, beyond what they expect to dispose of in Europe with such
a profit as they think sufficient. In the islands where they have no
settlements, they give a premium to those who collect the young blossoms
and green leaves of the clove and nutmeg trees, which naturally
grow there, but which this savage policy has now, it is said, almost
completely extirpated. Even in the islands where they have settlements,
they have very much reduced, it is said, the number of those trees. If
the produce even of their own islands was much greater than what suited
their market, the natives, they suspect, might find means to convey some
part of it to other nations; and the best way, they imagine, to secure
their own monopoly, is to take care that no more shall grow than what
they themselves carry to market. By different arts of oppression, they
have reduced the population of several of the Moluccas nearly to the
number which is sufficient to supply with fresh provisions, and other
necessaries of life, their own insignificant garrisons, and such of
their ships as occasionally come there for a cargo of spices. Under the
government even of the Portuguese, however, those islands are said to
have been tolerably well inhabited. The English company have not yet had
time to establish in Bengal so perfectly destructive a system. The plan
of their government, however, has had exactly the same tendency. It has
not been uncommon, I am well assured, for the chief, that is, the first
clerk or a factory, to order a peasant to plough up a rich field of
poppies, and sow it with rice, or some other grain. The pretence was, to
prevent a scarcity of provisions; but the real reason, to give the chief
an opportunity of selling at a better price a large quantity of opium
which he happened then to have upon hand. Upon other occasions, the
order has been reversed; and a rich field of rice or other grain has
been ploughed up, in order to make room for a plantation of poppies,
when the chief foresaw that extraordinary profit was likely to be made
by opium. The servants of the company have, upon several occasions,
attempted to establish in their own favour the monopoly of some of the
most important branches, not only of the foreign, but of the inland
trade of the country. Had they been allowed to go on, it is impossible
that they should not, at some time or another, have attempted to
restrain the production of the particular articles of which they
had thus usurped the monopoly, not only to the quantity which they
themselves could purchase, but to that which they could expect to sell
with such a profit as they might think sufficient. In the course of a
century or two, the policy of the English company would, in this manner,
have probably proved as completely destructive as that of the Dutch.

Nothing, however, can be more directly contrary to the real interest
of those companies, considered as the sovereigns of the countries
which they have conquered, than this destructive plan. In almost all
countries, the revenue of the sovereign is drawn from that of the
people. The greater the revenue of the people, therefore, the greater
the annual produce of their land and labour, the more they can afford
to the sovereign. It is his interest, therefore, to increase as much
as possible that annual produce. But if this is the interest of every
sovereign, it is peculiarly so of one whose revenue, like that of the
sovereign of Bengal, arises chiefly from a land-rent. That rent must
necessarily be in proportion to the quantity and value of the produce;
and both the one and the other must depend upon the extent of the
market. The quantity will always be suited, with more or less exactness,
to the consumption of those who can afford to pay for it; and the price
which they will pay will always be in proportion to the eagerness of
their competition. It is the interest of such a sovereign, therefore, to
open the most extensive market for the produce of his country, to allow
the most perfect freedom of commerce, in order to increase as much as
possible the number and competition of buyers; and upon this account
to abolish, not only all monopolies, but all restraints upon the
transportation of the home produce from one part of the country
to mother, upon its exportation to foreign countries, or upon the
importation of goods of' any kind for which it can be exchanged. He is
in this manner most likely to increase both the quantity and value of
that produce, and consequently of his own share of it, or of his own

But a company of merchants, are, it seems, incapable of considering
themselves as sovereigns, even after they have become such. Trade, or
buying in order to sell again, they still consider as their principal
business, and by a strange absurdity, regard the character of the
sovereign as but an appendix to that of the merchant; as something which
ought to be made subservient to it, or by means of which they may be
enabled to buy cheaper in India, and thereby to sell with a better
profit in Europe. They endeavour, for this purpose, to keep out as much
as possible all competitors from the market of the countries which are
subject to their government, and consequently to reduce, at least,
some part of the surplus produce of those countries to what is barely
sufficient for supplying their own demand, or to what they can expect to
sell in Europe, with such a profit as they may think reasonable. Their
mercantile habits draw them in this manner, almost necessarily, though
perhaps insensibly, to prefer, upon all ordinary occasions, the little
and transitory profit of the monopolist to the great and permanent
revenue of the sovereign; and would gradually lead them to treat the
countries subject to their government nearly as the Dutch treat the
Moluccas. It is the interest of the East India company, considered as
sovereigns, that the European goods which are carried to their Indian
dominions should be sold there as cheap as possible; and that the Indian
goods which are brought from thence should bring there as good a price,
or should be sold there as dear as possible. But the reverse of this is
their interest as merchants. As sovereigns, their interest is exactly
the same with that of the country which they govern. As merchants, their
interest is directly opposite to that interest.

But if the genius of such a government, even as to what concerns
its direction in Europe, is in this manner essentially, and perhaps
incurably faulty, that of its administration in India is still more so.
That administration is necessarily composed of a council of merchants,
a profession no doubt extremely respectable, but which in no country in
the world carries along with it that sort of authority which naturally
overawes the people, and without force commands their willing obedience.
Such a council can command obedience only by the military force
with which they are accompanied; and their government is, therefore,
necessarily military and despotical. Their proper business, however,
is that of merchants. It is to sell, upon their master's account, the
European goods consigned to them, and to buy, in return, Indian goods
for the European market. It is to sell the one as dear, and to buy the
other as cheap as possible, and consequently to exclude, as much as
possible, all rivals from the particular market where they keep their
shop. The genius of the administration, therefore, so far as concerns
the trade of the company, is the same as that of the direction. It
tends to make government subservient to the interest of monopoly, and
consequently to stunt the natural growth of some parts, at least, of
the surplus produce of the country, to what is barely sufficient for
answering the demand of the company.

All the members of the administration besides, trade more or less upon
their own account; and it is in vain to prohibit them from doing so.
Nothing can be more completely foolish than to expect that the clerk of
a great counting-house, at ten thousand miles distance, and consequently
almost quite out of sight, should, upon a simple order from their
master, give up at once doing any sort of business upon their own
account abandon for ever all hopes of making a fortune, of which they
have the means in their hands; and content themselves with the moderate
salaries which those masters allow them, and which, moderate as they
are, can seldom be augmented, being commonly as large as the real
profits of the company trade can afford. In such circumstances, to
prohibit the servants of the company from trading upon their own
account, can have scarce any other effect than to enable its superior
servants, under pretence of executing their master's order, to oppress
such of the inferior ones as have had the misfortune to fall under their
displeasure. The servants naturally endeavour to establish the same
monopoly in favour of their own private trade as of the public trade of
the company. If they are suffered to act as they could wish, they will
establish this monopoly openly and directly, by fairly prohibiting all
other people from trading in the articles in which they choose to deal;
and this, perhaps, is the best and least oppressive way of establishing
it. But if, by an order from Europe, they are prohibited from doing
this, they will, notwithstanding, endeavour to establish a monopoly
of the same kind secretly and indirectly, in a way that is much more
destructive to the country. They will employ the whole authority of
government, and pervert the administration of Justice, in order to
harass and ruin those who interfere with them in any branch of commerce,
which by means of agents, either concealed, or at least not publicly
avowed, they may choose to carry on. But the private trade of the
servants will naturally extend to a much greater variety of articles
than the public trade of the company. The public trade of the company
extends no further than the trade with Europe, and comprehends a part
only of the foreign trade of the country. But the private trade of the
servants may extend to all the different branches both of its inland and
foreign trade. The monopoly of the company can tend only to stunt the
natural growth of that part of the surplus produce which, in the case of
a free trade, would be exported to Europe. That of the servants tends
to stunt the natural growth of every part of the produce in which they
choose to deal; of what is destined for home consumption, as well as
of what is destined for exportation; and consequently to degrade the
cultivation of the whole country, and to reduce the number of its
inhabitants. It tends to reduce the quantity of every sort of produce,
even that of the necessaries of life, whenever the servants of the
country choose to deal in them, to what those servants can both afford
to buy and expect to sell with such a profit as pleases them.

From the nature of their situation, too, the servants must be more
disposed to support with rigourous severity their own interest, against
that of the country which they govern, than their masters can be to
support theirs. The country belongs to their masters, who cannot avoid
having some regard for the interest of what belongs to them; but it does
not belong to the servants. The real interest of their masters, if they
were capable of understanding it, is the same with that of the country;
{The interest of every proprietor of India stock, however, is by no
means the same with that of the country in the government of which his
vote gives him some influence.--See book v, chap. 1, part ii.}and it is
from ignorance chiefly, and the meanness of mercantile prejudice, that
they ever oppress it. But the real interest of the servants is by
no means the same with that of the country, and the most perfect
information would not necessarily put an end to their oppressions. The
regulations, accordingly, which have been sent out from Europe, though
they have been frequently weak, have upon most occasions been well
meaning. More intelligence, and perhaps less good meaning, has sometimes
appeared in those established by the servants in India. It is a very
singular government in which every member of the administration wishes
to get out of the country, and consequently to have done with the
government, as soon as he can, and to whose interest, the day after he
has left it, and carried his whole fortune with him, it is perfectly
indifferent though the whole country was swallowed up by an earthquake.

I mean not, however, by any thing which I have here said, to throw any
odious imputation upon the general character of the servants of the East
India company, and touch less upon that of any particular persons. It is
the system of government, the situation in which they are placed, that
I mean to censure, not the character of those who have acted in it. They
acted as their situation naturally directed, and they who have
clamoured the loudest against them would probably not have acted better
themselves. In war and negotiation, the councils of Madras and Calcutta,
have upon several occasions, conducted themselves with a resolution and
decisive wisdom, which would have done honour to the senate of Rome in
the best days of that republic. The members of those councils, however,
had been bred to professions very different from war and politics. But
their situation alone, without education, experience, or even example,
seems to have formed in them all at once the great qualities which it
required, and to have inspired them both with abilities and virtues
which they themselves could not well know that they possessed. If
upon some occasions, therefore, it has animated them to actions of
magnanimity which could not well have been expected from them, we should
not wonder if, upon others, it has prompted them to exploits of somewhat
a different nature.

Such exclusive companies, therefore, are nuisances in every respect;
always more or less inconvenient to the countries in which they are
established, and destructive to those which have the misfortune to fall
under their government.

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