Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

more.

more highly than the money which I am obliged to give in exchange for it. I give less to receive

Were not both of us to reason in this manner with ourselves, he would keep his cloth, I my money, and no exchange would take place between us.

In exchanges, a thing passes from hand to hand only inasmuch as it acquires increased value; and as every superfluity becomes wealth, the result is a constantly increasing reproduction, because each

person, in creating superfluities, is certain of being able to exchange them for things which he stands in need of.

The more frequent, then, and the more easy exchanges are, the more productions multiply: commerce or exchanges consequently concur in causing them to be produced: they augment the mass of wealth.

It is wise, therefore, to encourage and favour all the means of exchange and communication among mankind : as high-roads and cross-roads, canals, public conveyances, the transmission of letters by post, bills of exchange, navigation and printing, which, according to the observation of Bacon, perpetuates all discoveries, or carries them to all parts of the globe, communicates the wisdom and knowledge of each nation to all, and

renders the wisdom and knowledge of all the property of each.

All obstructions that tend to cramp, retard, or check these communications and means of exchange ought to be removed.

Such is the magic operation of exchanges in commerce; we shall find it equally powerful in the social and political organization. The government ensures to each citizen or subject the advantages resulting from order and harmony--peace, security, property. Each individual contributes to procure in exchange for the chief magistrate wealth, honour, the conveniences and luxuries of life, consideration, authority, fortune, glory. This voluntary exchange between the government and the nation constitutes one of the elements of the social machine.

The different conditions and professions of society are also making continual exchanges from which their reciprocal well-being results. Practical and theoretical men mutually enlighten and assist each other. The husbandman supplies the scholar and the philosopher with the bread which supports their life and strength : the philosopher gives in exchange the result of his studies and meditations. The produce of the labour of the former, placed at the disposal of the latter, enables him to pursue his observations and meditations freely and without molestation; and he

in return furnishes the individual, by whose toil he is fed, with the means of improving his condition, his habitation, his apparel, and his implements of agriculture.

In the military organization, the different kinds of troops, infantry, light horse, heavy horse and artillery, instead of being jealous of each other, or setting up individual claims to superiority, ought to consider themselves as intimately connected, and to lend one another mutual aid by the exchange of their respective strength and means, and by their judicious association and combination.

We discover the law of exchanges not only in our social institutions, and in the transactions between man and man, in our armies, and in all the arts, but likewise in nature, and between all beings.

The plants, observes a philosophic physician, placed among us to purify the air we breathe, derive in their turn from animal emanations the most essential elements of their growth and vege. tation. This reciprocal commerce of influence, this continual interchange of restorative benefits between the two organised kingdoms, is one of the most delightful spectacles to the philosopher, who views nature with an eye worthy of contemplating her operations.

The husbandman commits his seed to the ground

which he cultivates, and which returns it to him

with usury.

[ocr errors]

The atmosphere gives water to the ocean, and pumps it up again in the form of vapours.

The earth supplies us with our food, and we restore to the earth our mortal remains. The wrecks of death become the germs of life.'

This law of exchanges, observed throughout the globe, a law of absolute generality, and most fertile in its applications, is more particularly connected with morals, with beneficence, and with love, which is the soul of the universe.

Man himself is the result of a real exchange between the two beings to whom he owes his existence. All his steps in life and in society are marked by so many exchanges. The first instructions which he receives are repaid by his first caresses. His whole education consists in giving in order to receive, and in receiving that he may one day give—(Action and re-action; see the eighth law.) He ought also to be made sensible by daily experience that no person ever does ill to others, but sooner or later, directly or indirectly, evil results from it to himself. The good that is done recoils in like manner on its author. The law of exchanges, duly understood and applied, is the principle of general virtue and prac

[ocr errors]

tical morality, which embrace all the social relations.* A father of a family cannot with impunity separate his happiness from that of his children, nor a monarch his prosperity from that of his subjects. Whatever interests humanity ought not to be foreign to any man. That egotism which is wrapt up in its own self-sufficiency, and adopting a certain negative, false and anti-social philosophy, insulates and envelops itself in a system of indolence, inactivity and nullity, studies its exclusive advantage, and strives to draw every thing from others without making any return, is but the result of an error, a prejudice, a false calculation, a mistake.

Mistakes, the primary cause of the crimes and miseries which embitter human life, and which spring from a wrong way of viewing things, will furnish, in the examination of one of our general laws, matter for considerations, important in themselves and fertile in consequences.t

* Do not to another what you would not wish to be done to you.

+ See the ninth law, the Law of the Universal Mixture of Good and Evil.

« AnteriorContinuar »