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A Commentary and Review of Montesquieu's "Spirit of Laws"; Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude Destutt de
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J. B. Say, formerly a member of the French institute, is undoubtedly the author of the best work on political economy, that has yet appeared; he wrote a long time after Smith, and acknowleges with him, that the employment of our faculties is the source of all wealth, and it alone, is the cause of the necessary value of all things that possess any; because this value is only the representation of all that was necessary to satisfy the person who had formed any thing by his industry during the time he employed his faculties thereupon. He goes yet farther, and expressly says, that being incapable of creating even an atom of matter, we can never effect any thing but transmutation and transformation, and that what we call producing, is in every imaginable case, giving a greater utility as it respects us, to the elements we combine and operate on, with the assistance of the powers of nature which are put into action by us; as that which we call consuming, is always diminishing or destroying this utility by making use thereof. This luminous principle, is equally applicable to the farmer, manufacturer, and merchant; to cultivate, is by the means of a tool called a field, to convert seeds by means of the air, earth, water, and other principles, into an abundant harvest. *23 To manufacture, is, with the assistance of some instruments, to change hemp first into linen, and then into shirts. To traffic, is, with such machines as ships and waggons, to convey for the consumer useful commodities produced at a distance from him, adding thereto the expence of transportation; while to those whom we take these things from, we send other articles, that they are in want of, and which, in like manner, are not within their reach. On the contrary, to consume food, is to convert it into dung; to consume a suit of clothes, is to change them into rags; to consume water, is to drink, make it foul, or only return it to the river.