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that of Gournay, and that .of Quesnay, he classes under the former denomination (among some other very illustrious names), Mr David Hume ; whose Political Discourses, I must take the liberty of remarking, were published as early as 1752, the very year when M. Gournay published his translations of Child and of Culpepper.
The same writer afterwards adds: “ Entre ces deux écoles, pro“ fitant de l'une et de l'autre, mais évitant avec soin de paroître “ tenir à aucune, se sont élevés quelques philosophes éclectiques, à “ la tête desquels il faut placer M. Turgot, l’Abbé de Condillac, et “ le célèbre Adam Smith; et parmi lesquels on doit compter très-ho
norablement le traducteur de celui-ci, M. le Sénateur Germain “ Garnier, en Angleterre my Lord Landsdown, à Paris M. Say, à 66 Genève M. Simonde.”
How far Mr Smith has availed himself of the writings of the Economists in his Wealth of Nations, it is not my present business to examine. All that I wish to establish is, his indisputable claim to
« their estates, than they have now when the taxes are almost wholly levied on
goods.” For his argument in proof of this proposition, see his Essay on Money, p. 109, et seq. See also Locke's Considerations on the lowering of interest and rais. ing the Value of Money ; published in 1691.
As to the discovery (as it has been called) of the luminous distinction between the “ produit total” and the produit net de la culture*,” it is not worth while to dis. pute about its author. Whatever merit this theory of taxation may possess, the whole credit of it evidently belongs to those who first proposed the doctrine stated in the fore. going paragraph. The calculations of M. Quesnay, however interesting and useful they may have appeared in a country where so great a proportion of the territory was cul. tivated by Métayers or Coloni Partiarii, cannot surely be considered as throwing any new light on the general principles of Political Economy. See the Ephémérides du Citoyen for the year 1769, T. I. pp. 13, 25 and 26, and T: IX. p. 9.
the same opinions which he professed in common with them, several years
before the names of either Gournay or of Quesnay were at all heard of in the republic of letters.
With respect to a very distinguished and enlightened English statesman, who is here included along with Mr Smith among the eclectic disciples of Gournay and of Quesnay, I am enabled to state, from his own authority, the accidental circumstance which first led him into this train of thought. In a letter which I had the honour to receive from his Lordship in 1795, he expresses himself thus:
“ I owe to a journey I made with Mr Smith from Edinburgh to “ London, the difference between light and darkness through the best
part of my life. The novelty of his principles, added to my youth “ and prejudices, made me unable to comprehend them at the time, “ but he urged them with so much benevolence, as well as eloquence, " that they took a certain hold, which, though it did not develope « itself so as to arrive at full conviction for some few years after, I
can fairly say, has constituted, ever since, the happiness of my “ life, as well as any little consideration I may have enjoyed in
As the current of public opinion, at a particular period (or at least the prevailing habits of study), may be pretty accurately judg. ed of by the books which were then chiefly in demand, it may be worth mentioning, before I conclude this note, that in the year 1751 (the same year in which Mr Smith was promoted to his professorship), several of our choicest tracts on subjects connected with political economy were re-published by Robert and Andrew Foulis, printers to the University of Glasgow. A book of Mr Law's, entitled, Proposals and Reasons for constituting a Council of Trade in Scotland, &c. reprinted in that year, is now lying before me; from which it appears, that the following works had recently issued from the university press:Child's Discourse of Trade ; Law's Essay on Money and Trade ; Gee's Trade and Navigation of Great Britain considered; and Berkeley's Querist. In the same list, Sir William Petty's Political Arithmetic is advertised as being then in the press.
Mr Smith's Lectures, it must be remembered (to the fame of which he owed his appointment at Glasgow), were read at Edinburgh as early as 1748.
NOTE (G), P. 102.
Among the questionable doctrines to which Mr Smith has lent the sanction of his name, there is perhaps none that involves so many important consequences as the opinion he has maintained concerning the expediency of legal restrictions on the rate of interest. The inconclusiveness of his reasoning on this point, has been evinced, with a singular degree of logical acuteness, by Mr Bentham, in a short treatise entitled A Defence of Usury ; a performance to which (notwithstanding the long interval that has elapsed since the date of its publication), I do not know that any answer has yet been attempted; and which a late writer, eminently acquainted with the operations of commerce, has pronounced (and, in my opinion, with great truth), to be “perfectly unanswerable *.” It is a remarkable circumstance, that Mr Smith should, in this solitary instance, have adopted, on such slight grounds, a conclusion so strikingly contrasted with the general spirit of his political discussions, and so manifestly at variance with the fundamental principles which, on other occasions, he has so boldly followed out, through all their practical applications. This is the more surprising, as the French Economists had, a few years before, obviated the most plausible objections which are apt to present themselves against this extension of the doctrine of commercial freedom. See, in particular, some observations in M. Turgot's Reflections on the Formation and Distribution of Riches; and a separate Essay, by the same author, entitled, « Mémoire sur le prêt à interêt, et sur le Commerce des * Fers *"
* Sir Francis Baring. Pamphlet on the Bank of England.
Upon this particular question, however, as well as upon those mentioned in the preceding Note, I must be allowed to assert the prior claims of our own countrymen to those of the Economists. From a memoir presented by the celebrated Mr Law (before his elevation to the ministry), to the Regent Duke of Orleans, that very ingenious writer appears to have held the same opinion with M. Turgot; and the arguments he employs in support of it are expres
* In an Essay read before a literary society in Glasgow, some years before the pub. lication of the Wealth of Nations, Dr Reid disputed the expediency of legal restrictions on the rate of interest ; founding his opinion on some of the same considerations which were afterwards so forcibly stated by Mr Bentham. His attention had proba. bly been attracted to this question by a very weak defence of these restrictions in Sir James Stewart's Political Economy; a book which had then been recently published, and which (though he differed widely from many of its doctrines), he was accustom. ed, in his academical lectures, to recommend warmly to his students. It was indeed the only systematical work on the subject that had appeared in our language, pre. rious to Mr Smith's Inquiry,
sed with that clearness and conciseness which, in general, distinguish his compositions. The memoir to which I refer is to be found in a French work entitled, Recherches et Considerations sur les Finances de France, depuis 1595 jusqu'en 1721. (See Vol. VI. p. 181. Edit. printed at Liege, 1758.) In the same volume, this doctrine is ascribed by the editor, to Mr Law as its author, or, at least, as its first broacher in France. “ Une opinion apportée en France pour la
première fois par M. Law, c'est que l'etat ne doit jamais donner de réglemens sur le taux de l'interêt."-p. 64.
To this opinion Law appears evidently to have been led by Locke, whose reasonings (although he himself declares in favour of a legal rate of interest), seem, all of them, to point at the opposite conclusion. Indeed the apology he suggests for the existing regulations is so trifling and so slightly urged, that one would almost suppose he was prevented merely by a respect for established prejudices, from pushing his argument to its full extent. The passage I allude to, considering the period when it was written, does no small credit to Locke's sagacity. (See the folio edit. of his Works, Vol. II. p. 31,
I would not have entered here into the historical details contained in the two last Notes, if I had not been anxious to obviate the effect of that weak, but inveterate prejudice which shuts the eyes of so many against the most manifest and important truths, when they are supposed to proceed from an obnoxious quarter. The leading opinions which the French Economists embodied and systematized were, in fact, all of British origin; and most of them follow as necessary consequences, from a maxim of