Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bernard Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees

The Grumbling Hive:
or, Knaves Turn'd Honest
By Bernard Mandeville
Edited by Jack Lynch

Note on the text: The text is transcribed from the 1705 edition of The Grumbling Hive.

A SPACIOUS Hive well stock'd with Bees,
That lived in Luxury and Ease;
And yet as fam'd for Laws and Arms,
As yielding large and early Swarms;
Was counted the great Nursery [5]
Of Sciences and Industry.
No Bees had better Government,
More Fickleness, or less Content.
They were not Slaves to Tyranny,
Nor ruled by wild Democracy; [10]
But Kings, that could not wrong, because
Their Power was circumscrib'd by Laws.

These Insects lived like Men, and all
Our Actions they perform'd in small:
They did whatever's done in Town, [15]
And what belongs to Sword, or Gown:
Tho' th'Artful Works, by nible Slight;
Of minute Limbs, 'scaped Human Sight
Yet we've no Engines; Labourers,
Ships, Castles, Arms, Artificers, [20]
Craft, Science, Shop, or Instrument,
But they had an Equivalent:
Which, since their Language is unknown,
Must be call'd, as we do our own.
As grant, that among other Things [25]
They wanted Dice, yet they had Kings;
And those had Guards; from whence we may
Justly conclude, they had some Play;
Unless a Regiment be shewn
Of Soldiers, that make use of none. [30]

Vast Numbers thronged the fruitful Hive;
Yet those vast Numbers made 'em thrive;
Millions endeavouring to supply
Each other's Lust and Vanity;
Whilst other Millions were employ'd, [35]
To see their Handy-works destroy'd;
They furnish'd half the Universe;
Yet had more Work than Labourers.
Some with vast Stocks, and little Pains
Jump'd into Business of great Gains; [40]
And some were damn'd to Sythes and Spades,
And all those hard laborious Trades;
Where willing Wretches daily sweat,
And wear out Strength and Limbs to eat:
Whilst others follow'd Mysteries, [45]
To which few Folks bind Prentices;
That want no Stock, but that of Brass,
And may set up without a Cross;
As Sharpers, Parasites, Pimps, Players,
Pick-Pockets, Coiners, Quacks, Sooth-Sayers, [50]
And all those, that, in Enmity
With down-right Working, cunningly
Convert to their own Use the Labour
Of their good-natur'd heedless Neighbour:
These were called Knaves; but, bar the Name, [55]
The grave Industrious were the Same.
All Trades and Places knew some Cheat,
No Calling was without Deceit.

The Lawyers, of whose Art the Basis
Was raising Feuds and splitting Cases, [60]
Opposed all Registers, that Cheats
Might make more Work with dipt Estates;
As were't unlawful, that one's own,
Without a Law-Suit, should be known.
They kept off Hearings wilfully, [65]
To finger the retaining Fee;
And to defend a wicked Cause,
Examin'd and survey'd the Laws;
As Burglars Shops and Houses do;
To find out where they'd best break through. [70]

Physicians valued Fame and Wealth
Above the drooping Patient's Health,
Or their own Skill: The greatest Part
Study'd, instead of Rules of Art,
Grave pensive Looks, and dull Behaviour; [75]
To gain th'Apothecary's Favour,
The Praise of Mid wives, Priests and all,
That served at Birth, or Funeral;
To bear with th'ever-talking Tribe,
And hear my Lady's Aunt prescribe; [80]
With formal Smile, and kind How d'ye,
To fawn on all the Family;
And, which of all the greatest Curse is,
T'endure th'Impertinence of Nurses.

Among the many Priests of Jove, [85]
Hir'd to draw Blessings from Above,
Some few were learn'd and eloquent,
But Thousands hot and ignorant:
Yet all past Muster, that could hide
Their Sloth, Lust, Avarice and Pride; [90]
For which, they were as famed, as Taylors
For Cabbage; or for Brandy, Sailors:
Some meagre look'd, and meanly clad
Would mystically pray for Bread,
Meaning by that an ample Store, [95]
Yet lit'rally receiv'd no more;
And, whilst these holy Drudges starv'd,
Some lazy Ones, for which they serv'd,
Indulg'd their Ease, with all the Graces
Of Health and Plenty in their Faces. [100]

The Soldiers, that were forced to fight,
If they survived, got Honour by't;
Tho' some, that shunn'd the bloody Fray,
Had Limbs shot off, that ran away:
Some valiant Gen'rals fought the Foe; [105]
Others took Bribes to let them go:
Some ventur'd always, where 'twas warm;
Lost now a Leg, and then an Arm;
Till quite disabled, and put by,
They lived on half their Salary; [110]
Whilst others never came in Play,
And staid at Home for Double Pay.

Their Kings were serv'd; but Knavishly
Cheated by their own Ministry;
Many, that for their Welfare slaved, [115]
Robbing the very Crown they saved:
Pensions were small, and they lived high,
Yet boasted of their Honesty.
Calling, whene'er they strain'd their Right,
The slipp'ry Trick a Perquisite; [120]
And, when Folks understood their Cant,
They chang'd that for Emolument;
Unwilling to be short, or plain,
In any thing concerning Gain:
For there was not a Bee, but would [125]
Get more, I won't say, than he should;
But than he dared to let them know,
That pay'd for't; as your Gamesters do,
That, tho' at fair Play, ne'er will own
Before the Losers what they've won. [130]

But who can all their Frauds repeat!
The very Stuff, which in the Street
They sold for Dirt t'enrich the Ground,
Was often by the Buyers sound
Sophisticated with a Quarter [135]
Of Good-for-nothing, Stones and Mortar;
Tho' Flail had little Cause to mutter,
Who sold the other Salt for Butter.

Justice her self, famed for fair Dealing,
By Blindness had not lost her Feeling; [140]
Her Left Hand, which the Scales should hold,
Had often dropt 'em, bribed with Gold;
And, tho' she seem'd impartial,
Where Punishment was corporal,
Pretended to a reg'lar Course, [145]
In Murther, and all Crimes of Force;
Tho' some, first Pillory'd for Cheating,
Were hang'd in Hemp of their own beating;
Yet, it was thought, the Sword the bore
Check'd but the Desp'rate and the Poor; [150]
That, urg'd by mere Necessity,
Were tied up to the wretched Tree
For Crimes, which not deserv'd that Fate,
But to secure the Rich, and Great.

Thus every Part was full of Vice, [155]
Yet the whole Mass a Paradice;
Flatter'd in Peace, and fear'd in Wars
They were th'Esteem of Foreigners,
And lavish of their Wealth and Lives,
The Ballance of all other Hives. [160]
Such were the Blessings of that State;
Their Crimes conspired to make 'em Great;
And Vertue, who from Politicks
Had learn'd a Thousand cunning Tricks,
Was, by their happy Influence, [165]
Made Friends with Vice: And ever since
The worst of all the Multitude
Did something for the common Good.

This was the State's Craft, that maintain'd
The Whole, of which each Part complain'd: [170]
This, as in Musick Harmony,
Made Jarrings in the Main agree;
Parties directly opposite
Assist each oth'r, as 'twere for Spight;
And Temp'rance with Sobriety [175]
Serve Drunkenness and Gluttonny.

The Root of evil Avarice,
That damn'd ill-natur'd baneful Vice,
Was Slave to Prodigality,
That Noble Sin; whilst Luxury. [180]
Employ'd a Million of the Poor,
And odious Pride a Million more
Envy it self, and Vanity
Were Ministers of Industry;
Their darling Folly, Fickleness [185]
In Diet, Furniture, and Dress,
That strange, ridic'lous Vice, was made
The very Wheel, that turn'd the Trade.
Their Laws and Cloaths were equally
Objects of Mutability; [190]
For, what was well done for a Time,
In half a Year became a Crime;
Yet whilst they alter'd thus their Laws,
Still finding and correcting Flaws,
They mended by Inconstancy [195]
Faults, which no Prudence could foresee.

Thus Vice nursed Ingenuity,
Which join'd with Time; and Industry
Had carry'd Life's Conveniencies,
It's real Pleasures, Comforts, Ease, [200]
To such a Height, the very Poor
Lived better than the Rich before;
And nothing could be added more:

How vain is Mortals Happiness!
Had they but known the Bounds of Bliss; [205]
And, that Perfection here below
Is more, than Gods can well bestow,
The grumbling Brutes had been content
With Ministers and Government.
But they, at every ill Success, [210]
Like Creatures lost without Redress,
Cursed Politicians, Armies, Fleets;
Whilst every one cry'd, Damn the Cheats,
And would, tho' Conscious of his own,
In Others barb'rously bear none. [215]

One, that had got a Princely Store,
By cheating Master, King, and Poor,
Dared cry aloud; The Land must sink
For all its Fraud; And whom d'ye think
The Sermonizing Rascal chid? [220]
A Glover that sold Lamb for Kid.

The last Thing was not done amiss,
Or cross'd the Publick Business;
But all the Rogues cry'd brazenly,
Good Gods, had we but Honesty! [225]
Merc'ry smiled at th'Impudence;
And Others call'd it want of Sence,
Always to rail at what they loved:
But Jove, with Indignation moved,
At last in Anger swore, he'd rid [230]
The bawling Hive of Fraud, and did.
The very Moment it departs,
And Honsty fills all their Hearts;
There shews 'em, like the Instructive Tree,
Those Crimes, which they're ashamed to see? [235]
Which now in Silence they confess,
By Blushing at their Uglyness;
Like Children, that would hide their Faults,
And by their Colour own their Thoughts;
Imag'ning, when they're look'd upon, [240]
That others see, what they have done.

But, Oh ye Gods! What Consternation,
[illeg.] vast and sudden was the Alteration!
In half an Hour, the Nation round,
Meat fell a Penny in the Pound. [245]
The Mask Hypocrisie's [illeg.] down,
From the great [illeg.]
And some, in [illeg.] known,
Appear'd like Strangers in their own.
The Bar was silent from that Day; [250]
For now the willing Debtors pay,
Even what's by Creditors forgot;
Who quitted them, who had it not.
Those, that were in the Wrong, stood mute,
And dropt the patch'd vexatious Suit. [255]
On which, since nothing less can thrive,
Than Lawyers in an honest Hive,
All, except those, that got enough,
With Ink-horns by their Sides trooped off.

Justice hang'd some, set others free; [260]
And, after Goal-delivery,
Her Presence be'ng no more requier'd,
With all her Train, and Pomp retir'd.
First marched 'some Smiths, with Locks and Grates,
Fetters, and Doors with Iron-Plates; [265]
Next Goalers, Turnkeys, and Assistants:
Before the Goddess, at some distance,
Her cheif and faithful Minister
Squire Catch, the Laws great Finisher,
Bore not th'imaginary Sword, [270]
But his own Tools, an Ax and Cord;
Then on a Cloud the Hood-wink'd fair
Justice her self was push'd by Air:
About her Chariot, and behind,
Were Sergeants, 'Bums of every kind, [275]
Tip-Staffs, and all those Officers,
That squeese a Living out of Tears.

Tho' Physick liv'd, whilst Folks were ill,
None would prescribe, but Bees of Skill;
Which, through the Hive dispers'd so wide, [280]
That none of 'em had need to ride,
Waved vain Disputes; and strove to free
The Patients of their Misery;
Left Drugs in cheating Countries grown,
And used the Product of their own, [285]
Knowing the Gods sent no Disease
To Nations without remedies.

Their Clergy rouz'd from Laziness,
Laid not their Charge on Journey-Bees;
But serv'd themselves, exempt from Vice, [290]
The Gods with Pray'r and Sacrifice;
All those, that were unfit, or knew,
Their Service might be spared, withdrew;
Nor was their Business for so many,
(If th'Honest stand in need of any.) [295]
Few only with the High-Priest staid,
To whom the rest Obedience paid:
Himself, employ'd in holy Cares;
Resign'd to others State Affairs:
He chased no Starv'ling from his Door, [300]
Nor pinch'd the Wages of the Poor:
But at his House the Hungry's fed,
The Hireling finds unmeasur'd Bread,
The needy Trav'ler Board and Bed.

Among the King's great Ministers, [305]
And all th'inferiour Officers
The Change was great; for frugally
They now lived on their Salary.
That a poor Bee should Ten times [illeg.]
To ask his Due, a [illeg.] Sun, [310]
And by some well [illeg.]
To give a Crown, or ne'er be [illeg.]
Would now be called a down-right [illeg.]
Tho' formerly a Perquisite.
All Places; managed first by Three, [315]
Who watch'd each other's Knavery,
And often for a Fellow-feeling,
Promoted, one anothers Stealing,
Are happily supply'd by one;
By which some Thousands more are gone. [320]

No Honour now could be content,
To live, and owe for what was spent.
Liveries in Brokers Shops are hung,
They part with Coaches for a Song;
Sell Stately Horses by whole Sets; [325]
And Country Houses to pay Debts.

Vain Cost is shunn'd as much as Fraud;
They have no forces kept Abroad;
Laugh at the Esteem of Foreigners,
And empty Glory got by Wars; [330]
They fight but for their Country's Sake,
When Right or Liberty's at Stake.

Now mind the glorious Hive, and see,
How Honesty and Trade agree:
The Shew is gone, it thins apace; [335]
And looks with quite another Face,
For 'twas not only that they went,
By whom vast Sums were Yearly spent;
But Multitudes, that lived on them,
Were daily forc'd to do the same. [340]
In vain to other Trades they'd fly;
All were o're-stocked accordingly.

The Price of Land, and Houses falls
Mirac'lous Palaces, whose Walls,
Like those of Thebes, were raised by Play, [345]
Are to be let; whilst the once gay,
Well-seated Houshould Gods would be
More pleased t'expire in Flames, than see;
The mean Inscription on the Door
Smile at the lofty Ones they bore. [350]
The Building Trace is quite destroy'd,
Artificers are not employ'd;
No Limner for his Art is famed;
Stone-cutters, Garvers are not named.

Those, that remain'd, grown temp'rate, strive, [355]
So how to spend; but how to live;
And, when they paid the Tavern Score,
Resolv'd to enter it no more:
No Vintners Jilt in all the Hive
Could wear now Cloth of Gold and thrive; [360]
Nor [illeg.]; such vast sums advance,
For Burgundy and [illeg.];
The Courtier's gone, that with his Miss
Supp'd at his House on Christmass Peas;
Spending as much in two Hours stay, [365]
As keeps a Troop of Horse a Day.

The Haughty Chloe; to live Great,
Had made her Husband rob the State:
But now she sells her Furniture,
Which the Indies had been ransack'd for; [370]
Contracts the expensive Bill of Fare,
And wears her strong Suit a whole Year:
The slight and fickle Age is past;
And Cloaths, as wel as Fashions last.
Weavers that ioyn'd rich Silk with [illeg.], [375]
And all the Trades subordinate,
Are gone. Still Peace and Plenty reign,
And every thing is cheap, tho' plain;
Kind Nature, free from Gard'ners Force,
Allows all Fruits in her own Course; [380]
But Rarities cannot be had,
Where Pains to get 'em are not paid.

As Pride and Luxury decrease,
So by degrees they leave the Seas,
Not Merchants now; but Companies [385]
Remove whole Manufacturies.
All Arts and Crafts neglected lie;
Content the Bane of Industry,
Makes 'em admire their homely Store,
And neither seek, nor covet more. [390]

So few in the vast Hive remain;
The Hundredth part they can't maintain
Against th'Insults of numerous Foes;
Whom yet they valiantly oppose;
Till some well-fenced Retreat is found; [395]
And here they die, or stand their Ground,
No Hireling in their Armies known;
But bravely fighting for their own;
Their Courage and Integrity
At last were crown'd with Victory. [400]
They triumph'd not without their Cost,
For many Thousand Bees were lost.
Hard'ned with Toils, and Exercise
They counted Ease it self a Vice;
Which so improv'd their Temperance, [405]
That to avoid Extravagance,
They flew into a hollow tree,
Blest with content and Honesty.

THEN leave Complaints: Fools only strive
To make a Great an honest Hive. [410]
T'enjoy the World's Conveniencies,
Be famed in War, yet live in Ease
Without great Vices, is a vain
Eutopia seated in the Brain.
Fraud, Luxury, and Pride must live; [415]
We [illeg.] we the Benefits receive.
Hunger's a dreadful Plague no doubt,
Yet who digests or thrives without?
Do we not owe the Growth of Wine
To the dry, crooked, shabby Vine? [420]
Which, whist its [illeg.] neglected flood,
Choak'd other Plants, and ran to Wood;
But blest us with his Noble Fruit;
As soon as it was tied, and cut:
So Vice is beneficial found, [425]
When it's by Justice [illeg.], and bound;
Nay, where the People would be great,
As necessary to the State,
At Hunger is to make 'em eat.
Bare Vertue can't make Nations live [430]
In Splendour; they, that would revive
A Golden Age, must be as free,
For Acorns, as for Honesty.

Thomas Paine, The Crisis

December 23, 1776

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER" and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.

Whether the independence of the continent was declared too soon, or delayed too long, I will not now enter into as an argument; my own simple opinion is, that had it been eight months earlier, it would have been much better. We did not make a proper use of last winter, neither could we, while we were in a dependent state. However, the fault, if it were one, was all our own [NOTE]; we have none to blame but ourselves. But no great deal is lost yet. All that Howe has been doing for this month past, is rather a ravage than a conquest, which the spirit of the Jerseys, a year ago, would have quickly repulsed, and which time and a little resolution will soon recover.
I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent. Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds the king of Britain can look up to heaven for help against us: a common murderer, a highwayman, or a house-breaker, has as good a pretence as he.

'Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through a country. All nations and ages have been subject to them. Britain has trembled like an ague at the report of a French fleet of flat-bottomed boats; and in the fourteenth [fifteenth] century the whole English army, after ravaging the kingdom of France, was driven back like men petrified with fear; and this brave exploit was performed by a few broken forces collected and headed by a woman, Joan of Arc. Would that heaven might inspire some Jersey maid to spirit up her countrymen, and save her fair fellow sufferers from ravage and ravishment! Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them, and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. In fact, they have the same effect on secret traitors, which an imaginary apparition would have upon a private murderer. They sift out the hidden thoughts of man, and hold them up in public to the world. Many a disguised Tory has lately shown his head, that shall penitentially solemnize with curses the day on which Howe arrived upon the Delaware.

As I was with the troops at Fort Lee, and marched with them to the edge of Pennsylvania, I am well acquainted with many circumstances, which those who live at a distance know but little or nothing of. Our situation there was exceedingly cramped, the place being a narrow neck of land between the North River and the Hackensack. Our force was inconsiderable, being not one-fourth so great as Howe could bring against us. We had no army at hand to have relieved the garrison, had we shut ourselves up and stood on our defence. Our ammunition, light artillery, and the best part of our stores, had been removed, on the apprehension that Howe would endeavor to penetrate the Jerseys, in which case Fort Lee could be of no use to us; for it must occur to every thinking man, whether in the army or not, that these kind of field forts are only for temporary purposes, and last in use no longer than the enemy directs his force against the particular object which such forts are raised to defend. Such was our situation and condition at Fort Lee on the morning of the 20th of November, when an officer arrived with information that the enemy with 200 boats had landed about seven miles above; Major General [Nathaniel] Green, who commanded the garrison, immediately ordered them under arms, and sent express to General Washington at the town of Hackensack, distant by the way of the ferry = six miles.

Our first object was to secure the bridge over the Hackensack, which laid up the river between the enemy and us, about six miles from us, and three from them. General Washington arrived in about three-quarters of an hour, and marched at the head of the troops towards the bridge, which place I expected we should have a brush for; however, they did not choose to dispute it with us, and the greatest part of our troops went over the bridge, the rest over the ferry, except some which passed at a mill on a small creek, between the bridge and the ferry, and made their way through some marshy grounds up to the town of Hackensack, and there passed the river. We brought off as much baggage as the wagons could contain, the rest was lost. The simple object was to bring off the garrison, and march them on till they could be strengthened by the Jersey or Pennsylvania militia, so as to be enabled to make a stand. We staid four days at Newark, collected our out-posts with some of the Jersey militia, and marched out twice to meet the enemy, on being informed that they were advancing, though our numbers were greatly inferior to theirs. Howe, in my little opinion, committed a great error in generalship in not throwing a body of forces off from Staten Island through Amboy, by which means he might have seized all our stores at Brunswick, and intercepted our march into Pennsylvania; but if we believe the power of hell to be limited, we must likewise believe that their agents are under some providential control.

I shall not now attempt to give all the particulars of our retreat to the Delaware; suffice it for the present to say, that both officers and men, though greatly harassed and fatigued, frequently without rest, covering, or provision, the inevitable consequences of a long retreat, bore it with a manly and martial spirit. All their wishes centred in one, which was, that the country would turn out and help them to drive the enemy back. Voltaire has remarked that King William never appeared to full advantage but in difficulties and in action; the same remark may be made on General Washington, for the character fits him. There is a natural firmness in some minds which cannot be unlocked by trifles, but which, when unlocked, discovers a cabinet of fortitude; and I reckon it among those kind of public blessings, which we do not immediately see, that God hath blessed him with uninterrupted health, and given him a mind that can even flourish upon care.
I shall conclude this paper with some miscellaneous remarks on the state of our affairs; and shall begin with asking the following question, Why is it that the enemy have left the New England provinces, and made these middle ones the seat of war? The answer is easy: New England is not infested with Tories, and we are. I have been tender in raising the cry against these men, and used numberless arguments to show them their danger, but it will not do to sacrifice a world either to their folly or their baseness. The period is now arrived, in which either they or we must change our sentiments, or one or both must fall. And what is a Tory? Good God! What is he? I should not be afraid to go with a hundred Whigs against a thousand Tories, were they to attempt to get into arms. Every Tory is a coward; for servile, slavish, self-interested fear is the foundation of Toryism; and a man under such influence, though he may be cruel, never can be brave.

But, before the line of irrecoverable separation be drawn between us, let us reason the matter together: Your conduct is an invitation to the enemy, yet not one in a thousand of you has heart enough to join him. Howe is as much deceived by you as the American cause is injured by you. He expects you will all take up arms, and flock to his standard, with muskets on your shoulders. Your opinions are of no use to him, unless you support him personally, for 'tis soldiers, and not Tories, that he wants.

I once felt all that kind of anger, which a man ought to feel, against the mean principles that are held by the Tories: a noted one, who kept a tavern at Amboy, was standing at his door, with as pretty a child in his hand, about eight or nine years old, as I ever saw, and after speaking his mind as freely as he thought was prudent, finished with this unfatherly expression, "Well! give me peace in my day." Not a man lives on the continent but fully believes that a separation must some time or other finally take place, and a generous parent should have said, "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace;" and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awaken every man to duty. Not a place upon earth might be so happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling world, and she has nothing to do but to trade with them. A man can distinguish himself between temper and principle, and I am as confident, as I am that God governs the world, that America will never be happy till she gets clear of foreign dominion. Wars, without ceasing, will break out till that period arrives, and the continent must in the end be conqueror; for though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.

America did not, nor does not want force; but she wanted a proper application of that force. Wisdom is not the purchase of a day, and it is no wonder that we should err at the first setting off. From an excess of tenderness, we were unwilling to raise an army, and trusted our cause to the temporary defence of a well-meaning militia. A summer's experience has now taught us better; yet with those troops, while they were collected, we were able to set bounds to the progress of the enemy, and, thank God! they are again assembling. I always considered militia as the best troops in the world for a sudden exertion, but they will not do for a long campaign. Howe, it is probable, will make an attempt on this city [Philadelphia]; should he fail on this side the Delaware, he is ruined. If he succeeds, our cause is not ruined. He stakes all on his side against a part on ours; admitting he succeeds, the consequence will be, that armies from both ends of the continent will march to assist their suffering friends in the middle states; for he cannot go everywhere, it is impossible. I consider Howe as the greatest enemy the Tories have; he is bringing a war into their country, which, had it not been for him and partly for themselves, they had been clear of. Should he now be expelled, I wish with all the devotion of a Christian, that the names of Whig and Tory may never more be mentioned; but should the Tories give him encouragement to come, or assistance if he come, I as sincerely wish that our next year's arms may expel them from the continent, and the Congress appropriate their possessions to the relief of those who have suffered in well-doing. A single successful battle next year will settle the whole. America could carry on a two years' war by the confiscation of the property of disaffected persons, and be made happy by their expulsion. Say not that this is revenge, call it rather the soft resentment of a suffering people, who, having no object in view but the good of all, have staked their own all upon a seemingly doubtful event. Yet it is folly to argue against determined hardness; eloquence may strike the ear, and the language of sorrow draw forth the tear of compassion, but nothing can reach the heart that is steeled with prejudice.

Quitting this class of men, I turn with the warm ardor of a friend to those who have nobly stood, and are yet determined to stand the matter out: I call not upon a few, but upon all: not on this state or that state, but on every state: up and help us; lay your shoulders to the wheel; better have too much force than too little, when so great an object is at stake. Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it. Say not that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands; throw not the burden of the day upon Providence, but "show your faith by your works," that God may bless you. It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all. The far and the near, the home counties and the back, the rich and the poor, will suffer or rejoice alike. The heart that feels not now is dead; the blood of his children will curse his cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a little might have saved the whole, and made them happy. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death. My own line of reasoning is to myself as straight and clear as a ray of light. Not all the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my property, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and to "bind me in all cases whatsoever" to his absolute will, am I to suffer it? What signifies it to me, whether he who does it is a king or a common man; my countryman or not my countryman; whether it be done by an individual villain, or an army of them? If we reason to the root of things we shall find no difference; neither can any just cause be assigned why we should punish in the one case and pardon in the other. Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man. I conceive likewise a horrid idea in receiving mercy from a being, who at the last day shall be shrieking to the rocks and mountains to cover him, and fleeing with terror from the orphan, the widow, and the slain of America.

There are cases which cannot be overdone by language, and this is one. There are persons, too, who see not the full extent of the evil which threatens them; they solace themselves with hopes that the enemy, if he succeed, will be merciful. It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf, and we ought to guard equally against both. Howe's first object is, partly by threats and partly by promises, to terrify or seduce the people to deliver up their arms and receive mercy. The ministry recommended the same plan to Gage, and this is what the tories call making their peace, "a peace which passeth all understanding" indeed! A peace which would be the immediate forerunner of a worse ruin than any we have yet thought of. Ye men of Pennsylvania, do reason upon these things! Were the back counties to give up their arms, they would fall an easy prey to the Indians, who are all armed: this perhaps is what some Tories would not be sorry for. Were the home counties to deliver up their arms, they would be exposed to the resentment of the back counties who would then have it in their power to chastise their defection at pleasure. And were any one state to give up its arms, that state must be garrisoned by all Howe's army of Britons and Hessians to preserve it from the anger of the rest. Mutual fear is the principal link in the chain of mutual love, and woe be to that state that breaks the compact. Howe is mercifully inviting you to barbarous destruction, and men must be either rogues or fools that will not see it. I dwell not upon the vapors of imagination; I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as A, B, C, hold up truth to your eyes.

I thank God, that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it. While our army was collected, Howe dared not risk a battle; and it is no credit to him that he decamped from the White Plains, and waited a mean opportunity to ravage the defenceless Jerseys; but it is great credit to us, that, with a handful of men, we sustained an orderly retreat for near an hundred miles, brought off our ammunition, all our field pieces, the greatest part of our stores, and had four rivers to pass. None can say that our retreat was precipitate, for we were near three weeks in performing it, that the country might have time to come in. Twice we marched back to meet the enemy, and remained out till dark. The sign of fear was not seen in our camp, and had not some of the cowardly and disaffected inhabitants spread false alarms through the country, the Jerseys had never been ravaged. Once more we are again collected and collecting; our new army at both ends of the continent is recruiting fast, and we shall be able to open the next campaign with sixty thousand men, well armed and clothed. This is our situation, and who will may know it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils — a ravaged country — a depopulated city — habitations without safety, and slavery without hope — our homes turned into barracks and bawdy-houses for Hessians, and a future race to provide for, whose fathers we shall doubt of. Look on this picture and weep over it! and if there yet remains one thoughtless wretch who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented.

December 23, 1776

Monday, November 26, 2007

Turgot, Reflections on the Formation and Distribution of Wealth

M. Turgot, the Author of the Essay, who, for three years held the important office of Intendant or Comptroller of the finances of FRANCE, was, without exception, one of the first political characters which the present century produced: In the various employments of the Master of Requests, Intendant of the province of Lismoges, Minister of the French marine, and Comptroller General of the finances of France, he laboured assiduously to benefit his country. This, however, is his least eulogium: his writings entitle him to a higher praise; and he there shines in the revered character of a friend of mankind.
An author who sends into the world detached pieces will seldom have the good fortune to reach that degree of celebrity which attends a more voluminous compiler, although his works may at the same time possess a greater degree of intrinsic merit. Such has been the fate of M. Turgot: his writings, being in detached pieces, are little known beyond the limits of his own country; nor even there have his countrymen paid the tribute due to his excellent productions, by collecting and publishing them together.
His Essays on the Commerce of Grain, on Loans, on Mines and Quarries, the preambles to the arrests issued during his administration, and the various important articles in the Encyclopedæa on Etymology, Existence, Expansibility, Fair and Foundation, are all pieces of great merit; but in no one does his capacious mind shine forth with greater lustre than in the work, of which a translation is now offered to the public; a work, on the foundation of which was formed, one of the most approved and justly celebrated treatises in the English language, Dr. Adam Smith's Essay on the Wealth of Nations.
This little piece fell by chance into the hands of the translator some time since, and his admiration of it could only be equalled by his surprize, at finding that no translation had appeared in the English language.—In order, therefore, that such of his countrymen as have not perused this admirable treatise in the original, may not be deprived of the important knowledge it contains, he has ventured to give it to the public in an English dress, in which he has been studious to retain the Author's sense and meaning.
Ostendent terris hunc tantum, fata.—Aen. 6.
§1. The impossibility of the existence of Commerce upon the supposition of an equal division of lands, where every man should possess only what is necessary for his own support.
If the land was divided among all the inhabitants of a country, so that each of them possessed precisely the quantity necessary for his support, and nothing more; it is evident that all of them being equal, no one would work for another. Neither would any of them possess wherewith to pay another for his labour, for each person having only such a quantity of land as was necessary to produce a subsistence, would consume all he should gather, and would not have any thing to give in exchange for the labour of others.
§2. The above hypothesis neither has existed nor could continue. The diversity of soils and multiplicity of wants, compel an exchange of the productions of the earth, against other productions.
This hypothesis never can have existed, because the earth has been cultivated before it has been divided; the cultivation itself having been the only motive for a division, and for that law which secures to every one his property. For the first persons who have employed themselves in cultivation, have probably worked as much land as their strength would permit, and, consequently more than was necessary for their own nourishment.
If this state could have existed, it could not possibly be durable; each one gathering from his field only a subsistence, and not having wherewith to pay others for their labour, would not be enabled to supply his other wants of lodging, cloathing, &c. &c., except by the labour of his hands, which would be nearly impossible, as every soil does not produce every material.
The man whose land was only fit to produce grain, and would neither bring forth cotton or flax, would want linen to cloath him. Another would have ground proper for cotton, which would not yield grain. One would want wood for his fire, and another be destitute of corn to support him. Experience would soon teach every one what species of productions his land was best adapted to, and he would confine himself to the cultivation of it; in order to procure himself those things he stood in need of, by an exchange with his neighbours, who, having on their part acquired the same experience, would have cultivated those productions which were best suited to their fields, and would have abandoned the cultivation of any other.
§3. The productions of the earth require long and difficult preparations, before they are rendered fit to supply the wants of men.
The productions which the earth supplies to satisfy the different wants of man, will not, for the most part, administer to those wants, in the state nature affords them; it is necessary they should undergo different operations, and be prepared by art. Wheat must be converted into flour, then into bread; hides must be dressed or tanned; wool and cotton must be spun; silk must be taken from the cod; hemp and flax must be soaked, peeled, spun, and wove into different textures; then cut and sewed together again to make garments, &c. If the same man who cultivates on his own land these different articles, and who raises them to supply his wants, was obliged to perform all the intermediate operations himself, it is certain he would succeed very badly. The greater part of these preparations require care, attention, and a long experience; all which are only to be acquired by progressive labour, and that on a great quantity of materials. Let us refer, for example, to the preparation of hides: what labourer can pursue all the particular things necessary to those operations, which continue several months, sometimes several years? If he is able to do it, can he do it with a single hide? What a loss of time, of room, and of materials, which might be employed, either at the same time or successively, to tan a large quantity of skins! But should he even succeed in manning a single skin, and wants one pair of shoes, what will he do with the remainder? Will he kill an ox to make this pair of shoes? Will he cut down a tree to make a pair of wooden shoes? We may say the same thing of every other want of every other man, who, if he was reduced to his field, and the labour of his own hands, would waste much time, take much trouble, be very badly equipped in every respect and would also cultivate his lands very ill.
§4. The necessity of these preparations, bring on the exchange of productions for labour.
The same motive which has established the exchange of commodity for commodity, between the cultivators of lands of different natures, has also necessarily brought on the exchange of commodities for labour, between the cultivators and another portion of society, who shall have preferred the occupation of preparing and completing the productions of the earth, to the cultivation of it. Every one profits by this arrangement, for every one attaching himself to a peculiar species of labour, succeeds much better therein. The husbandman draws from his field the greatest quantity it is able to produce, and procures to himself, with greater facility, all the other objects of his wants, by an exchange of his superflux, than he could have done by his own labour. The shoemaker, by making shoes for the husbandman, secures to himself a portion of the harvest of the latter. Every workman labours for the wants of the workmen of every other trade, who, on their side, toil also for him.
§5. Pre-eminence of the husbandman who produces, over the artificer who prepares. The husbandman is the first mover in the circulation of labour: it is he who causes the earth to produce the wages of every artificer.
It must, however, be observed that the husbandman, furnishing every one with the most important and the most considerable objects of their consumption (I mean their food, and the materials of almost all manufactures) has the advantage of a greater degree of independence. His labour, among the different species of labour, appropriated to the different members of society, supports the same pre-eminence and priority, as the procuring of food did among the different works he was obliged, in his solitary state, to employ himself in, in order to minister to his wants of every kind. This is not a pre-eminence of honour or of dignity, but of physical necessity. The husbandman can, generally speaking, subsist without the labour of other workmen; but no other workmen can labour, if the husbandman does not provide him wherewith to exist. It is this circulation, which, by a reciprocal exchange of wants, renders mankind necessary to each other, and which forms the bond of society: it is therefore the labour of the husbandman which gives the first movement. What his industry causes the earth to produce beyond his personal wants, is the only fund for the wages, which all the other members of society receive in recompence for their toil. The latter, by availing themselves of the produce of this exchange, to purchase in their turn the commodities of the husbandman, only return to him precisely what they have received. There is here a very essential difference between these two species of labour, on which it is necessary to reflect, and to be well assured of the ground on which they stand, before we trust to the innumerable consequences which flow from them.
§6. The wages of the workman is limited by the competition among those who work for a subsistence. He only gains a livelihood.
The mere workman, who depends only on his hands and his industry, has nothing but such part of his labour as he is able to dispose of to others. He sells it at a cheaper or a dearer price; but this high or low price does not depend on himself alone; it results from the agreement he has made with the person who employs him. The latter pays him as little as he can help, and as he has the choice from among a great number of workmen, he prefers the person who works cheapest. The workmen are therefore obliged to lower their price in opposition to each other. In every species of labour it must, and, in effect, it does happen, that the wages of the workman is confined merely to what is necessary to procure him a subsistence.
§7. The husbandman is the only one whose industry produces more than the wages of his labour. He, therefore, is the only source of all Wealth.
The situation of the husbandman is materially different. The soil, independent of any other man, or of any agreement, pays him immediately the price of his toil. Nature does not bargain with him, or compel him to content himself with what is absolutely necessary. What she grants is neither limited to his wants, nor to a conditional valuation of the price of his day's work. It is a physical consequence of the fertility of the soil, and of justice, rather than of the difficulty of the means, which he has employed to render the soil fruitful. As soon as the labour of the husbandman produces more than sufficient for his necessities, he can, with the excess which nature affords him of pure freewill beyond the wages of his toil, purchase the labour of other members of society. The latter, in selling to him, only procures a livelihood; but the husbandman, besides his subsistence, collects an independent wealth at his disposal, which he has not purchased, but which he can sell. He is, therefore, the only source of all those riches which, by their circulation, animates the labours of society: because he is the only one whose labour produces more than the wages of his toil.
§8. First division of society into two classes, the one productive, or the cultivators, the other stipendiary, or the artificers.
Here then is the whole society divided, by a necessity founded on the nature of things, into two classes, both industrious, one of which, by its labour, produces, or rather draws from the earth, riches continually renewing, which supply the whole society with subsistence, and with materials for all its wants; while the other is employed in giving to the said materials such preparations and forms as render them proper for the use of man, sells his labour to the first, and receives in return a subsistence. The first may be called the productive, the latter the stipendiary class.
§9. In the first ages of society, the proprietors could not be distinguished from the cultivators.
Hitherto we have not distinguished the husbandman from the proprietor of the land; and in the first origin they were not in fact so distinguished. It is by the labour of those who have first cultivated the fields, and who have inclosed them to secure their harvest, that all land has ceased to be common, and that a property in the soil has been established. Until societies have been formed, and until the public strength, or the laws, becoming superior to the force of individuals, have been able to guarantee to every one the tranquil possession of his property, against all invasion from without; the property in a field could only be secured as it had been acquired, by continuing to cultivate it; the proprietor could not be assured of having his field cultivated by the help of another; and that person taking all the trouble, could not easily have comprehended that the whole harvest did not belong to him. On the other hand, in this early age, when every industrious man would find as much land as he wanted, he would not be tempted to labour for another. It necessarily follows, that every proprietor must cultivate his own field or abandon it entirely.