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ESSAY V.

OF TRADES AND PROFESSIONS.

In the world of which man is an inhabitant, there are some who, by the established distribution of property, are provided with the means of subsistence, from the period of their birth, without the intervention of any industry of theirs ; and others who have no prospect of obtaining even the neccffarics of life, but through the medium of their own exertions.

The numbers in this latter class are so great, and in the former so insignificant, that the latter, whether the question to be considered relate to freedom, virtue or happiness, may well pass for all, and the former be regarded as nothing.

The class of the unprovided, comprehensive as it is, is somewhat fwelled, by the addition of those persons who, though provided for by the condition of their birth as to the necessaries of lise, are yet dissatisfied, covet something more, and refort to some species of industry or occupation that they may fill up the imaginary deficiency.

From this survey of the human species it appears that there cannot be a question of greater

importance,

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the most insignificant dish for his master's table.

This monstrous association and union of wealth and poverty together, isone of the most astonishing exhibitions that the human imagination can figure to itself. It is voluntary however, at least on the part of the master. If it were compulsorily imposed upon him, there is no chearfulness and gaiety of mind, that could stand up against the melancholy scene. It would be a revival of the barbarity of Mezentius, the linking a living body and a dead one together. It would cure the most obdurate heart of its partiality for the distinction of ranks in society. But, as it is, and as the human mind is constituted, there is nothing, however monstrous, however intolerable to sober and impartial reason, to which cuftom does not render us callous.

There is one other circumstance, the object of the senses, characteristic of this distinction of classes in the fame house, which, though inferior to the preceding, deserves to be mentioned. I amuse myself, suppose, with viewing the mansion of a man of rank. I admire the splendour of the apartments, and the coftliness of their decorations. I pass from room to room, and find them all spacious, lofty and magnificent.

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cuniary income. Let us analyse the principles of trade.

The earth is the sufficient means, either by the fruit it produces, or the animals it breeds, of the subsistence of man. A small quantity of human labour, when mixed and incorporated with the bounties of nature, is found perfectly adequate to the purposes of subsistence. This small quantity it is, in the strictness of moral obligation, every man's duty to contribute; unless perhaps, in rare instances, it can be shown that the labour of fome, directed to a higher species of usefulness, would be injuriously interrupted by the intervention of this trivial portion of me, chanical and subordinate labour.

This is the simple and undebauched view of man in, what we may call, his state of innocence, In the experiment of human society it is found that the division of labour tends considerably to diminish the burthen to which it would otherwise amount, and to forward the improvement of human skill and ingenuity. This variation does not necessarily produce any defalcation from the purity of human motives and actions. Were the members of any coinmunity sufficiently upright and disinterested, I might supply my neighbour with the corn he wanted, and he supply me with the cloth of which I was in need, without having recourse to the groveling and ungenerous methods of barter and sale. We might supply each other for this reason only, because one party had a superfluity and the other a want, without in the smallest degree adverting to a reciprocal bounty to be by this method engendered ; and we might depend upon the corresponding upright and disinterested affections of the other members of the community, for the being in like manner supplied with the commodities of which we were in want *.

Liberal and generous habits of thinking and acting, are the growth only of a high degree of civilisation and refinement. It was to be expected therefore that, in the coarse and narrow state of human society, in which the division of labour was first introduced, the illiberal ideas of barter and sale would speedily follow.

The persons who first had recourse to these ideas, undoubtedly were not aware what a complication of vices and misery they were preparing for mankind. Barter and sale being once introduced, the invention of a circulating 'medium in the precious metals gave folidity to the evil, and afforded a field upon which for the rapacity

* Political Justice, Book VIII, Chap. VIII, octavo edi.

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and selfishness of man to develop all their refinements.

It is from this point that the inequality of fortunes took their commencement.

Here began to be exhibited the senseless profusion of some and the insatiable atarice of others. It is an old remark, that there is no avarice so great and so destitute of shame, as that of the licentious prodigal.

Avarice is not so thoroughly displayed in the preservation, as in the accumulation, of wealth. The chief method by which wealth can be begun to be accumulated by him who is destitute of it, is trade, the transactions of barter and sale.

The trader or merchant is a man the grand effort of whose life is directed to the pursuit of gain. This is true to a certain degree of the lawyer, the soldier and the divine, of every man who proposes by some species of industry to ac-. quire for himself a pecuniary income. But there is a great difference in this respect. Other men, though, it may be, their first object in choosing their calling was the acquisition of income, yet have their attention frequently diverted from this object, by the progress of reputation, or the improvements of which they have a prospect in the art they pursue. The trader begins, proceeds and concludes with this one

object

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