The course of human prosperity, indeed, 
seems scarce ever to have been of so long continuance 
as to enable any great country to acquire 
capital sufficient for all those three purposes
unless, perhaps, we give credit to the 
wonderful accounts of the wealth and cultivation 
of China, of those of ancient Egypt
and of the ancient state of Indostan. Even 
those three countries, the wealthiest, according 
to all accounts, that ever were in the world, 
are chiefly renowned for their superiority in 
agriculture and manufactures. They do not 
appear to have been eminent for foreign trade
The ancient Egyptians had a superstitious antipathy 
to the sea; a superstition nearly of the 
same kind prevails among the Indians; and 
the Chinese have never excelled in foreign 
commerce. The greater part of the surplus 
produce of all those three countries seems to 
have been always exported by foreigners, who 
gave in exchange for it something else, for 
which they found a demand there, frequently 
gold and silver. 
It is thus that the same capital will in any 
country put into motion a greater or smaller 
quantity of productive labour, and add
greater or smaller value to the annual produce 
of its land and labour, according to the 
different proportions in which it is employed 
in agriculture, manufactures, and wholesale 
trade. The difference, too, is very great, according 
to the different sorts of wholesale 
trade in which any part of it is employed
All wholesale trade, all buying in order to 
sell again by wholesale, may be reduced to 
three different sorts: the home trade, the foreign 
trade of consumption, and the carrying 
trade. The home trade is employed in purchasing 
in one part of the same country, and 
selling in another, the produce of the industry 
of that country. It comprehends both the inland 
and the coasting trade. The foreign 
trade of consumption is employed in purchasing 
foreign goods for home consumption. The 
carrying trade is employed in transacting the 
commerce of foreign countries, or in carrying 
the surplus produce of one to another. 
The capital which is employed in purchasing 
in one part of the country, in order to 
sell in another, the produce of the industry of 
that country, generally replaces, by every such 
operation, two distinct capitals, that had both 
been employed in the agriculture or manufactures 
of that country, and thereby enables 
them to continue that employment. When it 
sends out from the residence of the merchant 
a certain value of commodities, it generally 
brings back in return at least an equal value 
of other commodities. When both are the 
produce of domestic industry, it necessarily 
replaces, by every such operation, two distinct 
capitals, which had both been employed in 
supporting productive labour, and thereby enables 
them to continue that support. The 
capital which sends Scotch manufactures to 
London, and brings back English corn and 
manufactures to Edinburgh, necessarily replaces
by every such operation, two British 
capitals, which had both been employed 
in the agriculture or manufactures of Great 
The capital employed in purchasing foreign 
goods for home consumption, when this purchase 
is made with the produce of domestic 
industry, replaces, too, by every such operation
two distinct capitals; but one of them 
only is employed in supporting domestic industry. 
The capital which sends British goods 
to Portugal, and brings back Portuguese goods 
to Great Britain, replaces, by every such operation
only one British capital. The other is 
a Portuguese one. Though the returns, therefore, 
of the foreign trade of consumption
should be as quick as those of the home trade
the capital employed in it will give but one 
half the encouragement to the industry or 
productive labour of the country. 
But the returns of the foreign trade of consumption 
are very seldom so quick as those 
of the home trade. The returns of the home 
trade generally come in before the end of the 
year, and sometimes three or four times in 
the year. The returns of the foreign trade 
of consumption seldom come in before the end 
of the year, and sometimes not till after two 
or three years. A capital, therefore, employed 
in the home trade, will sometimes make twelve 
operations, or be sent out and returned twelve 
times, before a capital employed in the foreign 
trade of consumption has made one. If 
the capitals are equal, therefore, the one will 
give four-and-twenty times more encouragement 
and support to the industry of the country 
than the other. 
The foreign goods for home consumption 
may sometimes be purchased, not with the 
produce of domestic industry, but with some 
other foreign goods. These last, however, 
must have been purchased, either immediately 
with the produce of domestic industry, or 
with something else that had been purchased 
with it; for, the case of war and conquest 
excepted, foreign goods can never be acquired, 
but in exchange for something that had been 
produced at home, either immediately, or after 
two or more different exchanges. The effects, 
therefore, of a capital employed in such a 
round-about foreign trade of consumption
are, in every respect, the same as those of one 
employed in the most direct trade of the same 
kind, except that the final returns are likely 
to be still more distant, as they must depend 
upon the returns of two or three distinct foreign 
trades. If the hemp and flax of Riga 
are purchased with the tobacco of Virginia
which had been purchased with British manufactures
the merchant must wait for the 
returns of two distinct foreign trades, before 
he can employ the same capital in repurchasing 
a like quantity of British manufactures