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chapter ix 139 The conductor of a nation ought to take particular care to encourage the commerce that is advantageous to his people, and to suppress or lay restraints upon that which is to their disadvantage. Gold and silver having become the common standard of the value of all the articles of commerce , the trade that brings into the state a greater quantity of these metals than it carries out, is an advantageous trade; and, on the contrary, that is a ruinous one, whichcausesmoregoldandsilvertobesentabroad, than it brings home. This is what is called the balance of trade. The ability of those who have the direction of it, consists in making that balance turn in favour of the nation. Of all the measures that a wise government may take with this view, we shall only touch here on import duties. When the conductors of a state, without absolutely forcing trade, are nevertheless desirous of diverting it into other channels, they lay such duties on the merchandises they would discourage, as will prevent their consumption. Thus French wines are charged with very high duties in England, while the duties on those of Portugal are very moderate,—because England sells few of her productions to France, while she sells large quantities to Portugal.There is nothing in this conduct that is not very wise and extremely just; and France has no reason to complain of it,—every nation having an undoubted right to make what conditions she thinks proper, with respect to receiving foreign merchandises, and being even at liberty to refuse taking them at all. chapter ix Of the Care of the Public Ways of Communication, and the Right of Toll. The utility of high-ways, bridges, canals, and, in a word, of all safe and commodious ways of communication, cannot be doubted. They facilitate the trade between one place and another, and render theconveyance of merchandise less expensive, as well as more certain and easy. Themerchants are enabled to sell at a better price, and to obtain the preference;§98. Balance of trade, and attention of government in this respect.§99. Import duties.§100. Utility of high-ways, canals, &c. 140 book i: nations in themselves an attraction is held out to foreigners, whose merchandises are carried through the country, and diffuse wealth in all the places through which they pass. France and Holland feel the happy consequences of this from daily experience. One of the principal things that ought to employ the attention of the government with respect to the welfare of the public in general, and of trade in particular, must then relate to the high-ways, canals, &c. in which nothing ought to be neglected to render them safe and commodious . France is one of those states where this duty to the public is discharged with the greatest attention and magnificence. Numerous patroles every where watch over the safety of travellers: magnificent roads, bridges, and canals, facilitate the communication between one province and another:—Lewis XIV. joined the two seas by a work worthy of the Romans. The whole nation ought, doubtless, to contribute to such useful undertakings . When therefore the laying out and repairing of high-ways, bridges, and canals, would be too great a burthen on the ordinary revenues of the state, the government may oblige the people to labour at them, or to contribute to the expense. The peasants, in some of the provinces of France, have been heard to murmur at the labours imposed upon them for the construction of roads: but experience had no sooner made them sensible of their true interest, than they blessed the authors of the undertaking. The construction and preservation of all these works being attended with great expense, the nation may very justly oblige all those to contribute to them, who receive advantage from their use: this is the legitimate origin of the right of toll. It is just, that a traveller, and especially a merchant, who receives advantage from a bridge, a canal, or a road, in his own passage, and in the more commodious conveyance of his merchandise , should help to defray the expense of these useful establishments , by a moderate contribution: and if the state thinks proper to exempt the citizens from paying it, she is under no obligation to gratify strangers in this particular. But a law so just in its origin frequently degenerates into greatabuses. There are countries where no care is taken of the high-ways, and where§101. Duty of government in this respect...


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