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This private communication, now for the first time seeing the light, is full of prophecy, or of that remarkable discernment and forecast which mark the prophetic spirit, whether in announcing "the future population of millions superadded to millions," or in the high estimate of the National Territory, destined to become in a few years “an unparalleled phenomenon in the political world,” “a new and unheard-of financial organ of stupendous magnitude.” How few at home saw the Public Lands with as clear a vision as Hartley!
GALIANI, 1776, 1778.
AMONG the most brilliant in this extending list is the Abbé Galiani, the Neapolitan, who was born 1728, and died at Naples 1787. Although Italian by birth, yet by the accident of official residence he became for a while domesticated in France, wrote the French language, and now enjoys a French reputation. His writings in French and his letters have the wit and ease of Voltaire.
Galiani was a genius. Whatever he touched shone at once with his brightness, in which there was originality as well as knowledge. He was a finished scholar, and very successful in lapidary verses. Early in life, while in Italy, he wrote a grave essay on Money, which contrasted with another of rare humor suggested by the death of the public executioner. Other essays followed; and then came the favor of the congenial pontiff, Benedict the Fourteenth. In 1760 he found himself at Paris as Secretary of the Neapolitan Embassy. Mingling with courtiers officially, according to the duties of his posi
tion, he fraternized with the liberal and adventurous spirits who exercised such influence over society and literature. He was recognized as one of them, and inferior to none.
His petty stature was forgotten when he conversed with inexhaustible faculties of all kinds, so that he seemed an Encyclopædia, Harlequin, and Machiavelli all in one. The atheists at the Thursday dinner of D'Holbach were confounded while he enforced the existence of God. Into the questions of political economy occupying attention at the time he entered with a pen which seemed borrowed from the French Academy. His “ Dialogues sur le Commerce des Blés." had the success of a romance: ladies carried this book on Corn in their work-baskets. Returning to Naples, he continued to live in Paris through his correspondence, especially with Madame d'Épinay, the Baron d'Holbach, Diderot, and Grimm.
Among later works, after his return to Naples, was a solid volume — not to be forgotten in the History of International Law — on the Duties of Neutrals, where a difficult subject is treated with such mastery, that, more than half a century later, D'Hautefeuille, in his elaborate treatise, copies from it at length. Galiani was the predecessor of this French writer in the extreme assertion of neutral rights. Other works were left at his death in manuscript, some grave and some humorous ; also letters without number. The letters preserved from Italian savans filled eight large volumes; those from sarans, ministers, and sovereigns abroad filled fourteen. His Parisian correspondence did not see the light till 1818, although some of the
1 Biographie Universelle (Michaud). Biographie Générale (Didot). Louis Blanc, Histoire de la Révolution Française, Tom. I. pp. 390, 515 - 551.
letters may be found in the contemporary correspondence of Grimm.
In his Parisian letters, which are addressed chiefly to that clever individuality, Madame d'Épinay, the Neapolitan abbé shows not only the brilliancy and nimbleness of his talent, but the universality of his knowledge and the boldness of his speculations. Here are a few words from a letter dated at Naples, 12th October, 1776, in which he brings forward the idea of “ races,” so important in our day, with an illustration from Russia :
“ All depends upon races. The first, the most noble of races, comes naturally from the North of Asia. The Russians are the nearest to it, and this is the reason why they have made more progress in fifty years than can be got out of the Portuguese in five hundred.” 1
Belonging to the Latin race, Galiani was entitled to speak thus freely.
In another letter to Madame d'Épinay, dated at Naples, 18th May, 1776, he bad already foretold the success of our Revolution. Few prophets have been more explicit than he was in the following passage:
“Livy said of his age, which so strongly resembled ours, * Ad hæc tempora ventum est, quibus nec vitia nostra nec remedia pati possumus,' — “We are in an age when the remedies hurt at least as much as the vices.' 2 know how matters stand? The epoch has come of the total downfall of Europe, and of transmigration to America. Everything here is falling into rottenness, --- religion, laws,
1 Correspondance Inédite, (Paris, 1818,) Tom. II. p.
221. See also Grimm, Correspondance, (Paris, 1812 - 14,) Tom. IX. p. 282.
2 “On est dans un siècle où les remèdes nuisent au moins autant que les vices."
arts, sciences, - and everything is going to be rebuilt anew in America. This is no joke ; nor is it an idea drawn from the English quarrels; I have said, announced, preached it, for more than twenty years, and I have always seen my prophecies fulfilled. Do not buy your house, then, in the Chaussée d'Antin ; you must buy it in Philadelphia. My trouble is, that there are no abbeys in America.” 1
This letter was written some months before the Declaration of Independence.
In another, dated at Naples, 7th February, 1778, the Abbé alludes to the great numbers of English men and women who have come to Naples“ for shelter from the American tempests," and adds, "Meanwhile the Washingtons and Hancocks will be fatal to them." 2 In still another, dated at Naples, 25th July, 1778, he renews his prophecies in language still more explicit:
“You will at this time have decided the greatest revolution of the globe, — namely, if it is America which is to reign over Europe, or if it is Europe which is to continue to reign over America. I would wager in favor of America, for the reason, merely physical, that for five thousand years genius has turned opposite to the diurnal motion, and travelled from East to West." 3
Here again is the idea of Berkeley which has been so captivating
ADAM SMITH, 1776. In contrast with the witty Italian is the illustrious philosopher and writer of Scotland, Adam Smith, who
i Correspondance Inédite, Tom. II. pp. 202, 203. Grimm, Tom. IX. pp. 284, 285. 2 Correspondance Inédite, Tom. II. p. 275.
8 Ibid., p. 280.
was born 5th June, 1723, and died 17th July, 1790. His fame is so commanding that any details of life or works would be out of place. He was thinker and inventor, through whom mankind was advanced in knowledge.
I say nothing of his “Theory of Moral Sentiments,” constituting an important contribution to the science of Ethics, but come at once to his great work of political economy, entitled “ An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations," which first appeared in 1776. Its publication marhs an epoch described by Mr. Buckle, when he says that Adam Smith, " by the publication of this single work, contributed more towards the happiness of man than has been effected by the united abilities of all the statesmen and legislators of whom history has preserved an authentic account.” 1 The work is full of prophetic knowledge, and especially with regard to the British Colonies. Writing while the debate with the mother country was still pending, Adam Smith urged that they should be admitted to Parliamentary representation in proportion to taxation, so that their representation would enlarge with their growing resources; and here he predicts nothing less than the transfer of empire:
“The distance of America from the seat of government, 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 American might exceed that of British taxation.
1 History of Civilization in England, (London, 1857–61,) Chap. IV., Vol. I. p. 197.