Of Restraints Upon Importation From Foreign Countries Of Such Goods As Can Be Produced At Home

By restraining, either by high duties, or by absolute prohibitions, the

importation of such goods from foreign countries as can be produced at

home, the monopoly of the home market is more or less secured to the

domestic industry employed in producing them. Thus the prohibition of

importing either live cattle or salt provisions from foreign countries,

secures to the graziers of Great Britain the monopoly of the home market
/> for butcher's meat. The high duties upon the importation of corn,

which, in times of moderate plenty, amount to a prohibition, give a

like advantage to the growers of that commodity. The prohibition of

the importation of foreign woollen is equally favourable to the woollen

manufacturers. The silk manufacture, though altogether employed upon

foreign materials, has lately obtained the same advantage. The linen

manufacture has not yet obtained it, but is making great strides towards

it. Many other sorts of manufactures have, in the same manner obtained

in Great Britain, either altogether, or very nearly, a monopoly against

their countrymen. The variety of goods, of which the importation

into Great Britain is prohibited, either absolutely, or under certain

circumstances, greatly exceeds what can easily be suspected by those who

are not well acquainted with the laws of the customs.

That this monopoly of the home market frequently gives great

encouragement to that particular species of industry which enjoys it,

and frequently turns towards that employment a greater share of both the

labour and stock of the society than would otherwise have gone to it,

cannot be doubted. But whether it tends either to increase the general

industry of the society, or to give it the most advantageous direction,

is not, perhaps, altogether so evident.

The general industry of the society can never exceed what the capital

of the society can employ. As the number of workmen that can be kept in

employment by any particular person must bear a certain proportion to

his capital, so the number of those that can be continually employed by

all the members of a great society must bear a certain proportion to the

whole capital of the society, and never can exceed that proportion.

No regulation of commerce can increase the quantity of industry in any

society beyond what its capital can maintain. It can only divert a part

of it into a direction into which it might not otherwise have gone; and

it is by no means certain that this artificial direction is likely to

be more advantageous to the society, than that into which it would have

gone of its own accord.

Every individual is continually exerting himself to find out the most

advantageous employment for whatever capital he can command. It is his

own advantage, indeed, and not that of the society, which he has

in view. But the study of his own advantage naturally, or rather

necessarily, leads him to prefer that employment which is most

advantageous to the society.

First, every individual endeavours to employ his capital as near home

as he can, and consequently as much as he can in the support of domestic

industry, provided always that he can thereby obtain the ordinary, or

not a great deal less than the ordinary profits of stock.

Thus, upon equal, or nearly equal profits, every wholesale merchant

naturally prefers the home trade to the foreign trade of consumption,

and the foreign trade of consumption to the carrying trade. In the home

trade, his capital is never so long out of his sight as it frequently

is in the foreign trade of consumption. He can know better the character

and situation of the persons whom he trusts; and if he should happen to

be deceived, he knows better the laws of the country from which he must

seek redress. In the carrying trade, the capital of the merchant is,

as it were, divided between two foreign countries, and no part of it is

ever necessarily brought home, or placed under his own immediate view

and command. The capital which an Amsterdam merchant employs in carrying

corn from Koningsberg to Lisbon, and fruit and wine from Lisbon to

Koningsberg, must generally be the one half of it at Koningsberg, and

the other half at Lisbon. No part of it need ever come to Amsterdam. The

natural residence of such a merchant should either be at Koningsberg or

Lisbon; and it can only be some very particular circumstances which can

make him prefer the residence of Amsterdam. The uneasiness, however,

which he feels at being separated so far from his capital, generally

determines him to bring part both of the Koningsberg goods which he

destines for the market of Lisbon, and of the Lisbon goods which

he destines for that of Koningsberg, to Amsterdam; and though this

necessarily subjects him to a double charge of loading and unloading as

well as to the payment of some duties and customs, yet, for the sake of

having some part of his capital always under his own view and command,

he willingly submits to this extraordinary charge; and it is in this

manner that every country which has any considerable share of the

carrying trade, becomes always the emporium, or general market, for

the goods of all the different countries whose trade it carries on. The

merchant, in order to save a second loading and unloading, endeavours

always to sell in the home market, as much of the goods of all those

different countries as he can; and thus, so far as he can, to convert

his carrying trade into a foreign trade of consumption. A merchant, in

the same manner, who is engaged in the foreign trade of consumption,

when he collects goods for foreign markets, will always be glad, upon

equal or nearly equal profits, to sell as great a part of them at home

as he can. He saves himself the risk and trouble of exportation, when,

so far as he can, he thus converts his foreign trade of consumption into

a home trade. Home is in this manner the centre, if I may say so, round

which the capitals of the inhabitants of every country are continually

circulating, and towards which they are always tending, though, by

particular causes, they may sometimes be driven off and repelled from

it towards more distant employments. But a capital employed in the home

trade, it has already been shown, necessarily puts into motion a greater

quantity of domestic industry, and gives revenue and employment to a

greater number of the inhabitants of the country, than an equal capital

employed in the foreign trade of consumption; and one employed in

the foreign trade of consumption has the same advantage over an equal

capital employed in the carrying trade. Upon equal, or only nearly equal

profits, therefore, every individual naturally inclines to employ his

capital in the manner in which it is likely to afford the greatest

support to domestic industry, and to give revenue and employment to the

greatest number of people of his own country.

Secondly, every individual who employs his capital in the support of

domestic industry, necessarily endeavours so to direct that industry,

that its produce may be of the greatest possible value.

The produce of industry is what it adds to the subject or materials

upon which it is employed. In proportion as the value of this produce is

great or small, so will likewise be the profits of the employer. But

it is only for the sake of profit that any man employs a capital in the

support of industry; and he will always, therefore, endeavour to employ

it in the support of that industry of which the produce is likely to be

of the greatest value, or to exchange for the greatest quantity either

of money or of other goods.

But the annual revenue of every society is always precisely equal to

the exchangeable value of the whole annual produce of its industry,

or rather is precisely the same thing with that exchangeable value.

As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can, both to

employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to

direct that industry that its produce maybe of the greatest value;

every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of

the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to

promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it.

By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he

intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a

manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his

own gain; and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible

hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it

always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing

his own interest, he frequently promotes that of the society more

effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never

known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.

It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very

few words need be employed in dissuading them from it.

What is the species of domestic industry which his capital can employ,

and of which the produce is likely to be of the greatest value, every

individual, it is evident, can in his local situation judge much better

than any statesman or lawgiver can do for him. The statesman, who should

attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ

their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary

attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not

only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and

which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had

folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.

To give the monopoly of the home market to the produce of domestic

industry, in any particular art or manufacture, is in some measure

to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their

capitals, and must in almost all cases be either a useless or a hurtful

regulation. If the produce of domestic can be brought there as cheap

as that of foreign industry, the regulation is evidently useless. If it

cannot, it must generally be hurtful. It is the maxim of every prudent

master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost

him more to make than to buy. The tailor does not attempt to make

his own shoes, but buys them of the shoemaker. The shoemaker does

not attempt to make his own clothes, but employs a tailor. The farmer

attempts to make neither the one nor the other, but employs those

different artificers. All of them find it for their interest to employ

their whole industry in a way in which they have some advantage over

their neighbours, and to purchase with a part of its produce, or, what

is the same thing, with the price of a part of it, whatever else they

have occasion for.

What is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be

folly in that of a great kingdom. If a foreign country can supply us

with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it

of them with some part of the produce of our own industry, employed in a

way in which we have some advantage. The general industry of the country

being always in proportion to the capital which employs it, will

not thereby be diminished, no more than that of the abovementioned

artificers; but only left to find out the way in which it can be

employed with the greatest advantage. It is certainly not employed to

the greatest advantage, when it is thus directed towards an object which

it can buy cheaper than it can make. The value of its annual produce

is certainly more or less diminished, when it is thus turned away from

producing commodities evidently of more value than the commodity which

it is directed to produce. According to the supposition, that commodity

could be purchased from foreign countries cheaper than it can be made

at home; it could therefore have been purchased with a part only of the

commodities, or, what is the same thing, with a part only of the price

of the commodities, which the industry employed by an equal capital

would have produced at home, had it been left to follow its natural

course. The industry of the country, therefore, is thus turned away from

a more to a less advantageous employment; and the exchangeable value

of its annual produce, instead of being increased, according to the

intention of the lawgiver, must necessarily be diminished by every such


By means of such regulations, indeed, a particular manufacture may

sometimes be acquired sooner than it could have been otherwise, and

after a certain time may be made at home as cheap, or cheaper, than in

the foreign country. But though the industry of the society may be thus

carried with advantage into a particular channel sooner than it could

have been otherwise, it will by no means follow that the sum-total,

either of its industry, or of its revenue, can ever be augmented by

any such regulation. The industry of the society can augment only in

proportion as its capital augments, and its capital can augment only in

proportion to what can be gradually saved out of its revenue. But the

immediate effect of every such regulation is to diminish its revenue;

and what diminishes its revenue is certainly not very likely to augment

its capital faster than it would have augmented of its own accord,

had both capital and industry been left to find out their natural


Though, for want of such regulations, the society should never acquire

the proposed manufacture, it would not upon that account necessarily

be the poorer in anyone period of its duration. In every period of its

duration its whole capital and industry might still have been employed,

though upon different objects, in the manner that was most advantageous

at the time. In every period its revenue might have been the greatest

which its capital could afford, and both capital and revenue might have

been augmented with the greatest possible rapidity.

The natural advantages which one country has over another, in producing

particular commodities, are sometimes so great, that it is acknowledged

by all the world to be in vain to struggle with them. By means of

glasses, hot-beds, and hot-walls, very good grapes can be raised in

Scotland, and very good wine, too, can be made of them, at about thirty

times the expense for which at least equally good can be brought

from foreign countries. Would it be a reasonable law to prohibit the

importation of all foreign wines, merely to encourage the making of

claret and Burgundy in Scotland? But if there would be a manifest

absurdity in turning towards any employment thirty times more of the

capital and industry of the country than would be necessary to purchase

from foreign countries an equal quantity of the commodities wanted,

there must be an absurdity, though not altogether so glaring, yet

exactly of the same kind, in turning towards any such employment a

thirtieth, or even a three hundredth part more of either. Whether the

advantages which one country has over another be natural or acquired, is

in this respect of no consequence. As long as the one country has

those advantages, and the other wants them, it will always be more

advantageous for the latter rather to buy of the former than to make.

It is an acquired advantage only, which one artificer has over his

neighbour, who exercises another trade; and yet they both find it more

advantageous to buy of one another, than to make what does not belong to

their particular trades.

Merchants and manufacturers are the people who derive the greatest

advantage from this monopoly of the home market. The prohibition of the

importation of foreign cattle and of salt provisions, together with the

high duties upon foreign corn, which in times of moderate plenty amount

to a prohibition, are not near so advantageous to the graziers and

farmers of Great Britain, as other regulations of the same kind are to

its merchants and manufacturers. Manufactures, those of the finer kind

especially, are more easily transported from one country to another

than corn or cattle. It is in the fetching and carrying manufactures,

accordingly, that foreign trade is chiefly employed. In manufactures,

a very small advantage will enable foreigners to undersell our own

workmen, even in the home market. It will require a very great one

to enable them to do so in the rude produce of the soil. If the free

importation of foreign manufactures were permitted, several of the home

manufactures would probably suffer, and some of them perhaps go to ruin

altogether, and a considerable part of the stock and industry at present

employed in them, would be forced to find out some other employment.

But the freest importation of the rude produce of the soil could have no

such effect upon the agriculture of the country.

If the importation of foreign cattle, for example, were made ever so

free, so few could be imported, that the grazing trade of Great Britain

could be little affected by it. Live cattle are, perhaps, the only

commodity of which the transportation is more expensive by sea than

by land. By land they carry themselves to market. By sea, not only the

cattle, but their food and their water too, must be carried at no small

expense and inconveniency. The short sea between Ireland and Great

Britain, indeed, renders the importation of Irish cattle more easy. But

though the free importation of them, which was lately permitted only for

a limited time, were rendered perpetual, it could have no considerable

effect upon the interest of the graziers of Great Britain. Those

parts of Great Britain which border upon the Irish sea are all grazing

countries. Irish cattle could never be imported for their use, but must

be drove through those very extensive countries, at no small expense

and inconveniency, before they could arrive at their proper market. Fat

cattle could not be drove so far. Lean cattle, therefore, could only be

imported; and such importation could interfere not with the interest of

the feeding or fattening countries, to which, by reducing the price

of lean cattle it would rather be advantageous, but with that of the

breeding countries only. The small number of Irish cattle imported since

their importation was permitted, together with the good price at which

lean cattle still continue to sell, seem to demonstrate, that even the

breeding countries of Great Britain are never likely to be much affected

by the free importation of Irish cattle. The common people of Ireland,

indeed, are said to have sometimes opposed with violence the exportation

of their cattle. But if the exporters had found any great advantage in

continuing the trade, they could easily, when the law was on their side,

have conquered this mobbish opposition.

Feeding and fattening countries, besides, must always be highly

improved, whereas breeding countries are generally uncultivated. The

high price of lean cattle, by augmenting the value of uncultivated land,

is like a bounty against improvement. To any country which was highly

improved throughout, it would be more advantageous to import its lean

cattle than to breed them. The province of Holland, accordingly, is said

to follow this maxim at present. The mountains of Scotland, Wales, and

Northumberland, indeed, are countries not capable of much improvement,

and seem destined by nature to be the breeding countries of Great

Britain. The freest importation of foreign cattle could have no other

effect than to hinder those breeding countries from taking advantage of

the increasing population and improvement of the rest of the kingdom,

from raising their price to an exorbitant height, and from laying a real

tax upon all the more improved and cultivated parts of the country.

The freest importation of salt provisions, in the same manner, could

have as little effect upon the interest of the graziers of Great Britain

as that of live cattle. Salt provisions are not only a very bulky

commodity, but when compared with fresh meat they are a commodity both

of worse quality, and, as they cost more labour and expense, of higher

price. They could never, therefore, come into competition with the fresh

meat, though they might with the salt provisions of the country. They

might be used for victualling ships for distant voyages, and such like

uses, but could never make any considerable part of the food of the

people. The small quantity of salt provisions imported from Ireland

since their importation was rendered free, is an experimental proof that

our graziers have nothing to apprehend from it. It does not appear that

the price of butcher's meat has ever been sensibly affected by it.

Even the free importation of foreign corn could very little affect the

interest of the farmers of Great Britain. Corn is a much more bulky

commodity than butcher's meat. A pound of wheat at a penny is as dear

as a pound of butcher's meat at fourpence. The small quantity of foreign

corn imported even in times of the greatest scarcity, may satisfy our

farmers that they can have nothing to fear from the freest importation.

The average quantity imported, one year with another, amounts only,

according to the very well informed author of the Tracts upon the Corn

Trade, to 23,728 quarters of all sorts of grain, and does not exceed the

five hundredth and seventy-one part of the annual consumption. But as

the bounty upon corn occasions a greater exportation in years of plenty,

so it must, of consequence, occasion a greater importation in years

of scarcity, than in the actual state of tillage would otherwise take

place. By means of it, the plenty of one year does not compensate the

scarcity of another; and as the average quantity exported is necessarily

augmented by it, so must likewise, in the actual state of tillage, the

average quantity imported. If there were no bounty, as less corn would

be exported, suit is probable that, one year with another, less would be

imported than at present. The corn-merchants, the fetchers and carriers

of corn between Great Britain and foreign countries, would have

much less employment, and might suffer considerably; but the

country gentlemen and farmers could suffer very little. It is in the

corn-merchants, accordingly, rather than the country gentlemen and

farmers, that I have observed the greatest anxiety for the renewal and

continuation of the bounty.

Country gentlemen and farmers are, to their great honour, of all people,

the least subject to the wretched spirit of monopoly. The undertaker

of a great manufactory is sometimes alarmed if another work of the same

kind is established within twenty miles of him; the Dutch undertaker

of the woollen manufacture at Abbeville, stipulated that no work of

the same kind should be established within thirty leagues of that city.

Farmers and country gentlemen, on the contrary, are generally disposed

rather to promote, than to obstruct, the cultivation and improvement of

their neighbours farms and estates. They have no secrets, such as those

of the greater part of manufacturers, but are generally rather fond of

communicating to their neighbours, and of extending as far as possible

any new practice which they may have found to be advantageous. "Pius

quaestus", says old Cato, "stabilissimusque, minimeque invidiosus;

minimeque male cogitantes sunt, qui in eo studio occupati sunt." Country

gentlemen and farmers, dispersed in different parts of the country,

cannot so easily combine as merchants and manufacturers, who being

collected into towns, and accustomed to that exclusive corporation

spirit which prevails in them, naturally endeavour to obtain, against

all their countrymen, the same exclusive privilege which they generally

possess against the inhabitants of their respective towns. They

accordingly seem to have been the original inventors of those restraints

upon the importation of foreign goods, which secure to them the monopoly

of the home market. It was probably in imitation of them, and to put

themselves upon a level with those who, they found, were disposed to

oppress them, that the country gentlemen and farmers of Great Britain

so far forgot the generosity which is natural to their station, as to

demand the exclusive privilege of supplying their countrymen with corn

and butcher's meat. They did not, perhaps, take time to consider how

much less their interest could be affected by the freedom of trade, than

that of the people whose example they followed.

To prohibit, by a perpetual law, the importation of foreign corn and

cattle, is in reality to enact, that the population and industry of the

country shall, at no time, exceed what the rude produce of its own soil

can maintain.

There seem, however, to be two cases, in which it will generally be

advantageous to lay some burden upon foreign, for the encouragement of

domestic industry.

The first is, when some particular sort of industry is necessary for

the defence of the country. The defence of Great Britain, for example,

depends very much upon the number of its sailors and shipping. The act

of navigation, therefore, very properly endeavours to give the sailors

and shipping of Great Britain the monopoly of the trade of their own

country, in some cases, by absolute prohibitions, and in others, by

heavy burdens upon the shipping of foreign countries. The following are

the principal dispositions of this act.

First, All ships, of which the owners, masters, and three-fourths of

the mariners, are not British subjects, are prohibited, upon pain of

forfeiting ship and cargo, from trading to the British settlements

and plantations, or from being employed in the coasting trade of Great


Secondly, A great variety of the most bulky articles of importation can

be brought into Great Britain only, either in such ships as are above

described, or in ships of the country where those goods are produced,

and of which the owners, masters, and three-fourths of the mariners,

are of that particular country; and when imported even in ships of this

latter kind, they are subject to double aliens duty. If imported in

ships of any other country, the penalty is forfeiture of ship and goods.

When this act was made, the Dutch were, what they still are, the great

carriers of Europe; and by this regulation they were entirely excluded

from being the carriers to Great Britain, or from importing to us the

goods of any other European country.

Thirdly, A great variety of the most bulky articles of importation are

prohibited from being imported, even in British ships, from any country

but that in which they are produced, under pain of forfeiting ship and

cargo. This regulation, too, was probably intended against the Dutch.

Holland was then, as now, the great emporium for all European goods; and

by this regulation, British ships were hindered from loading in Holland

the goods of any other European country.

Fourthly, Salt fish of all kinds, whale fins, whalebone, oil, and

blubber, not caught by and cured on board British vessels, when imported

into Great Britain, are subject to double aliens duty. The Dutch, as

they are still the principal, were then the only fishers in Europe that

attempted to supply foreign nations with fish. By this regulation, a

very heavy burden was laid upon their supplying Great Britain.

When the act of navigation was made, though England and Holland were not

actually at war, the most violent animosity subsisted between the two

nations. It had begun during the government of the long parliament,

which first framed this act, and it broke out soon after in the

Dutch wars, during that of the Protector and of Charles II. It is not

impossible, therefore, that some of the regulations of this famous act

may have proceeded from national animosity. They are as wise, however,

as if they had all been dictated by the most deliberate wisdom. National

animosity, at that particular time, aimed at the very same object which

the most deliberate wisdom would have recommended, the diminution of the

naval power of Holland, the only naval power which could endanger the

security of England.

The act of navigation is not favourable to foreign commerce, or to

the growth of that opulence which can arise from it. The interest of a

nation, in its commercial relations to foreign nations, is, like that

of a merchant with regard to the different people with whom he deals,

to buy as cheap, and to sell as dear as possible. But it will be most

likely to buy cheap, when, by the most perfect freedom of trade, it

encourages all nations to bring to it the goods which it has occasion to

purchase; and, for the same reason, it will be most likely to sell dear,

when its markets are thus filled with the greatest number of buyers. The

act of navigation, it is true, lays no burden upon foreign ships that

come to export the produce of British industry. Even the ancient

aliens duty, which used to be paid upon all goods, exported as well

as imported, has, by several subsequent acts, been taken off from the

greater part of the articles of exportation. But if foreigners, either

by prohibitions or high duties, are hindered from coming to sell, they

cannot always afford to come to buy; because, coming without a cargo,

they must lose the freight from their own country to Great Britain. By

diminishing the number of sellers, therefore, we necessarily diminish

that of buyers, and are thus likely not only to buy foreign goods

dearer, but to sell our own cheaper, than if there was a more perfect

freedom of trade. As defence, however, is of much more importance than

opulence, the act of navigation is, perhaps, the wisest of all the

commercial regulations of England.

The second case, in which it will generally be advantageous to lay some

burden upon foreign for the encouragement of domestic industry, is when

some tax is imposed at home upon the produce of the latter. In this

case, it seems reasonable that an equal tax should be imposed upon the

like produce of the former. This would not give the monopoly of the

borne market to domestic industry, nor turn towards a particular

employment a greater share of the stock and labour of the country, than

what would naturally go to it. It would only hinder any part of what

would naturally go to it from being turned away by the tax into a less

natural direction, and would leave the competition between foreign and

domestic industry, after the tax, as nearly as possible upon the same

footing as before it. In Great Britain, when any such tax is laid upon

the produce of domestic industry, it is usual, at the same time,

in order to stop the clamorous complaints of our merchants and

manufacturers, that they will be undersold at home, to lay a much

heavier duty upon the importation of all foreign goods of the same kind.

This second limitation of the freedom of trade, according to some

people, should, upon most occasions, be extended much farther than to

the precise foreign commodities which could come into competition with

those which had been taxed at home. When the necessaries of life have

been taxed in any country, it becomes proper, they pretend, to tax not

only the like necessaries of life imported from other countries, but all

sorts of foreign goods which can come into competition with any thing

that is the produce of domestic industry. Subsistence, they say, becomes

necessarily dearer in consequence of such taxes; and the price of labour

must always rise with the price of the labourer's subsistence. Every

commodity, therefore, which is the produce of domestic industry, though

not immediately taxed itself, becomes dearer in consequence of such

taxes, because the labour which produces it becomes so. Such taxes,

therefore, are really equivalent, they say, to a tax upon every

particular commodity produced at home. In order to put domestic upon

the same footing with foreign industry, therefore, it becomes necessary,

they think, to lay some duty upon every foreign commodity, equal to this

enhancement of the price of the home commodities with which it can come

into competition.

Whether taxes upon the necessaries of life, such as those in Great

Britain upon soap, salt, leather, candles, etc. necessarily raise the

price of labour, and consequently that of all other commodities, I shall

consider hereafter, when I come to treat of taxes. Supposing, however,

in the mean time, that they have this effect, and they have it

undoubtedly, this general enhancement of the price of all commodities,

in consequence of that labour, is a case which differs in the two

following respects from that of a particular commodity, of which the

price was enhanced by a particular tax immediately imposed upon it.

First, It might always be known with great exactness, how far the price

of such a commodity could be enhanced by such a tax; but how far the

general enhancement of the price of labour might affect that of every

different commodity about which labour was employed, could never be

known with any tolerable exactness. It would be impossible, therefore,

to proportion, with any tolerable exactness, the tax of every foreign,

to the enhancement of the price of every home commodity.

Secondly, Taxes upon the necessaries of life have nearly the same effect

upon the circumstances of the people as a poor soil and a bad climate.

Provisions are thereby rendered dearer, in the same manner as if it

required extraordinary labour and expense to raise them. As, in the

natural scarcity arising from soil and climate, it would be absurd to

direct the people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals and

industry, so is it likewise in the artificial scarcity arising from such

taxes. To be left to accommodate, as well as they could, their industry

to their situation, and to find out those employments in which,

notwithstanding their unfavourable circumstances, they might have some

advantage either in the home or in the foreign market, is what, in both

cases, would evidently be most for their advantage. To lay a new-tax

upon them, because they are already overburdened with taxes, and because

they already pay too dear for the necessaries of life, to make them

likewise pay too dear for the greater part of other commodities, is

certainly a most absurd way of making amends.

Such taxes, when they have grown up to a certain height, are a curse

equal to the barrenness of the earth, and the inclemency of the heavens,

and yet it is in the richest and most industrious countries that they

have been most generally imposed. No other countries could support so

great a disorder. As the strongest bodies only can live and enjoy health

under an unwholesome regimen, so the nations only, that in every sort of

industry have the greatest natural and acquired advantages, can subsist

and prosper under such taxes. Holland is the country in Europe in which

they abound most, and which, from peculiar circumstances, continues to

prosper, not by means of them, as has been most absurdly supposed, but

in spite of them.

As there are two cases in which it will generally be advantageous to lay

some burden upon foreign for the encouragement of domestic industry,

so there are two others in which it may sometimes be a matter of

deliberation, in the one, how far it is proper to continue the free

importation of certain foreign goods; and, in the other, how far, or in

what manner, it may be proper to restore that free importation, after it

has been for some time interrupted.

The case in which it may sometimes be a matter of deliberation how far

it is proper to continue the free importation of certain foreign goods,

is when some foreign nation restrains, by high duties or prohibitions,

the importation of some of our manufactures into their country. Revenge,

in this case, naturally dictates retaliation, and that we should impose

the like duties and prohibitions upon the importation of some or all

of their manufactures into ours. Nations, accordingly, seldom fail to

retaliate in this manner. The French have been particularly forward to

favour their own manufactures, by restraining the importation of

such foreign goods as could come into competition with them. In this

consisted a great part of the policy of Mr Colbert, who, notwithstanding

his great abilities, seems in this case to have been imposed upon by

the sophistry of merchants and manufacturers, who are always demanding

a monopoly against their countrymen. It is at present the opinion of the

most intelligent men in France, that his operations of this kind have

not been beneficial to his country. That minister, by the tariff

of 1667, imposed very high duties upon a great number of foreign

manufactures. Upon his refusing to moderate them in favour of the Dutch,

they, in 1671, prohibited the importation of the wines, brandies, and

manufactures of France. The war of 1672 seems to have been in part

occasioned by this commercial dispute. The peace of Nimeguen put an

end to it in 1678, by moderating some of those duties in favour of the

Dutch, who in consequence took off their prohibition. It was about the

same time that the French and English began mutually to oppress each

other's industry, by the like duties and prohibitions, of which the

French, however, seem to have set the first example, The spirit of

hostility which has subsisted between the two nations ever since, has

hitherto hindered them from being moderated on either side. In 1697,

the Ehglish prohibited the importation of bone lace, the manufacture

of Flanders. The government of that country, at that time under the

dominion of Spain, prohibited, in return, the importation of English

woollens. In 1700, the prohibition of importing bone lace into England

was taken oft; upon condition that the importation of English woollens

into Flanders should be put on the same footing as before.

There may be good policy in retaliations of this kind, when there is

a probability that they will procure the repeal of the high duties or

prohibitions complained of. The recovery of a great foreign market will

generally more than compensate the transitory inconveniency of paying

dearer during a short time for some sorts of goods. To judge whether

such retaliations are likely to produce such an effect, does not,

perhaps, belong so much to the science of a legislator, whose

deliberations ought to be governed by general principles, which are

always the same, as to the skill of that insidious and crafty animal

vulgarly called a statesman or politician, whose councils are directed

by the momentary fluctuations of affairs. When there is no probability

that any such repeal can be procured, it seems a bad method of

compensating the injury done to certain classes of our people, to do

another injury ourselves, not only to those classes, but to almost all

the other classes of them. When our neighbours prohibit some manufacture

of ours, we generally prohibit, not only the same, for that alone would

seldom affect them considerably, but some other manufacture of theirs.

This may, no doubt, give encouragement to some particular class of

workmen among ourselves, and, by excluding some of their rivals, may

enable them to raise their price in the home market. Those workmen

however, who suffered by our neighbours prohibition, will not be

benefited by ours. On the contrary, they, and almost all the other

classes of our citizens, will thereby be obliged to pay dearer than

before for certain goods. Every such law, therefore, imposes a real

tax upon the whole country, not in favour of that particular class of

workmen who were injured by our neighbours prohibitions, but of some

other class.

The case in which it may sometimes be a matter of deliberation, how

far, or in what manner, it is proper to restore the free importation

of foreign goods, after it has been for some time interrupted, is when

particular manufactures, by means of high duties or prohibitions upon

all foreign goods which can come into competition with them, have been

so far extended as to employ a great multitude of hands. Humanity may in

this case require that the freedom of trade should be restored only by

slow gradations, and with a good deal of reserve and circumspection.

Were those high duties and prohibitions taken away all at once, cheaper

foreign goods of the same kind might be poured so fast into the home

market, as to deprive all at once many thousands of our people of their

ordinary employment and means of subsistence. The disorder which this

would occasion might no doubt be very considerable. It would in all

probability, however, be much less than is commonly imagined, for the

two following reasons.

First, All those manufactures of which any part is commonly exported to

other European countries without a bounty, could be very little affected

by the freest importation of foreign goods. Such manufactures must be

sold as cheap abroad as any other foreign goods of the same quality and

kind, and consequently must be sold cheaper at home. They would still,

therefore, keep possession of the home market; and though a capricious

man of fashion might sometimes prefer foreign wares, merely because they

were foreign, to cheaper and better goods of the same kind that were

made at home, this folly could, from the nature of things, extend to

so few, that it could make no sensible impression upon the general

employment of the people. But a great part of all the different branches

of our woollen manufacture, of our tanned leather, and of our hardware,

are annually exported to other European countries without any bounty,

and these are the manufactures which employ the greatest number of

hands. The silk, perhaps, is the manufacture which would suffer the most

by this freedom of trade, and after it the linen, though the latter much

less than the former.

Secondly, Though a great number of people should, by thus restoring the

freedom of trade, be thrown all at once out of their ordinary employment

and common method of subsistence, it would by no means follow that they

would thereby be deprived either of employment or subsistence. By the

reduction of the army and navy at the end of the late war, more than

100,000 soldiers and seamen, a number equal to what is employed in the

greatest manufactures, were all at once thrown out of their ordinary

employment: but though they no doubt suffered some inconveniency, they

were not thereby deprived of all employment and subsistence. The greater

part of the seamen, it is probable, gradually betook themselves to the

merchant service as they could find occasion, and in the mean time both

they and the soldiers were absorbed in the great mass of the people,

and employed in a great variety of occupations. Not only no great

convulsion, but no sensible disorder, arose from so great a change in

the situation of more than 100,000 men, all accustomed to the use of

arms, and many of them to rapine and plunder. The number of vagrants was

scarce anywhere sensibly increased by it; even the wages of labour

were not reduced by it in any occupation, so far as I have been able

to learn, except in that of seamen in the merchant service. But if

we compare together the habits of a soldier and of any sort of

manufacturer, we shall find that those of the latter do not tend so much

to disqualify him from being employed in a new trade, as those of the

former from being employed in any. The manufacturer has always been

accustomed to look for his subsistence from his labour only; the soldier

to expect it from his pay. Application and industry have been familiar

to the one; idleness and dissipation to the other. But it is surely much

easier to change the direction of industry from one sort of labour to

another, than to turn idleness and dissipation to any. To the greater

part of manufactures, besides, it has already been observed, there are

other collateral manufactures of so similar a nature, that a workman can

easily transfer his industry from one of them to another. The greater

part of such workmen, too, are occasionally employed in country labour.

The stock which employed them in a particular manufacture before, will

still remain in the country, to employ an equal number of people in some

other way. The capital of the country remaining the same, the demand for

labour will likewise be the same, or very nearly the same, though it may

be exerted in different places, and for different occupations. Soldiers

and seamen, indeed, when discharged from the king's service, are at

liberty to exercise any trade within any town or place of Great Britain

or Ireland. Let the same natural liberty of exercising what species of

industry they please, be restored to all his Majesty's subjects, in the

same manner as to soldiers and seamen; that is, break down the exclusive

privileges of corporations, and repeal the statute of apprenticeship,

both which are really encroachments upon natural Liberty, and add to

those the repeal of the law of settlements, so that a poor workman, when

thrown out of employment, either in one trade or in one place, may seek

for it in another trade or in another place, without the fear either

of a prosecution or of a removal; and neither the public nor the

individuals will suffer much more from the occasional disbanding some

particular classes of manufacturers, than from that of the soldiers.

Our manufacturers have no doubt great merit with their country, but they

cannot have more than those who defend it with their blood, nor deserve

to be treated with more delicacy.

To expect, indeed, that the freedom of trade should ever be entirely

restored in Great Britain, is as absurd as to expect that an Oceana or

Utopia should ever be established in it. Not only the prejudices of the

public, but, what is much more unconquerable, the private interests of

many individuals, irresistibly oppose it. Were the officers of the army

to oppose, with the same zeal and unanimity, any reduction in the number

of forces, with which master manufacturers set themselves against every

law that is likely to increase the number of their rivals in the home

market; were the former to animate their soldiers. In the same manner

as the latter inflame their workmen, to attack with violence and outrage

the proposers of any such regulation; to attempt to reduce the army

would be as dangerous as it has now become to attempt to diminish, in

any respect, the monopoly which our manufacturers have obtained against

us. This monopoly has so much increased the number of some particular

tribes of them, that, like an overgrown standing army, they have become

formidable to the government, and, upon many occasions, intimidate the

legislature. The member of parliament who supports every proposal for

strengthening this monopoly, is sure to acquire not only the reputation

of understanding trade, but great popularity and influence with an order

of men whose numbers and wealth render them of great importance. If

he opposes them, on the contrary, and still more, if he has authority

enough to be able to thwart them, neither the most acknowledged probity,

nor the highest rank, nor the greatest public services, can protect him

from the most infamous abuse and detraction, from personal insults, nor

sometimes from real danger, arising from the insolent outrage of furious

and disappointed monopolists.

The undertaker of a great manufacture, who, by the home markets being

suddenly laid open to the competition of foreigners, should be obliged

to abandon his trade, would no doubt suffer very considerably. That part

of his capital which had usually been employed in purchasing materials,

and in paying his workmen, might, without much difficulty, perhaps, find

another employment; but that part of it which was fixed in workhouses,

and in the instruments of trade, could scarce be disposed of without

considerable loss. The equitable regard, therefore, to his interest,

requires that changes of this kind should never be introduced suddenly,

but slowly, gradually, and after a very long warning. The legislature,

were it possible that its deliberations could be always directed, not by

the clamorous importunity of partial interests, but by an extensive

view of the general good, ought, upon this very account, perhaps, to be

particularly careful, neither to establish any new monopolies of this

kind, nor to extend further those which are already established.

Every such regulation introduces some degree of real disorder into the

constitution of the state, which it will be difficult afterwards to cure

without occasioning another disorder.

How far it may be proper to impose taxes upon the importation of foreign

goods, in order not to prevent their importation, but to raise a revenue

for government, I shall consider hereafter when I come to treat of

taxes. Taxes imposed with a view to prevent, or even to diminish

importation, are evidently as destructive of the revenue of the customs

as of the freedom of trade.