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Extra resources for A Treatise on Political Economy or the Production, Distribution and consumption of Wealth

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Smith was under heavy obligations to Stewart* an author whom he has not once quoted, even for the purpose of refuting him. I cannot perceive in what these obligations consist. In the conception of his subject, Dr. Smith displays the elevation and comprehensiveness of his views, whilst the researches of Stewart exhibit but a narrow and insignificant scope. Stewart has supported a system already maintained by Colbert, adopted afterwards by all the French writers on commerce, and steadily followed by most European governments; a system which considers national wealth as depending, not upon the sum total of its productions, but upon the amount of its sales to foreign countries.

Such are the principal imperfections of the Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, in relation to its fundamental doctrines. The plan of the work, or, in other words, the manner in which these doctrines are unfolded, is liable to no less weighty objections. In many places the author is deficient in perspicuity, and the work almost throughout is destitute of method. To understand him thoroughly, it is necessary to accustom one's self to collect and digest his views; a labour, at least in respect to some passages, he has placed beyond the reach of most readers; indeed, so much so, that persons otherwise enlightened, professing both to comprehend and admire his doctrines, have written on subjects he has discussed, namely, on taxes and bank-notes as supplementary to money, without having understood any part of his theory on these points, which, nevertheless, forms one of the most beautiful portions of his Inquiry.

Everything, however, announces that this beautiful, and above all, useful science, is spreading itself with increasing rapidity. Since it has been perceived that it does not rest upon hypothesis, but is founded upon observation and experience, its importance has been felt. It is now taught wherever knowledge is cherished. In the universities of Germany, of Scotland, of Spain, of Italy, and of the north of Europe, professorships of political economy are already established. Hereafter this science will be taught in them, with all the advantages of a regular and systematic study.

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A Treatise on Political Economy or the Production, Distribution and consumption of Wealth by Say J.-B.


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