If the tobacco of Virginia had been purchased
not with British manufactures, but with 
the sugar and rum of Jamaica, which had 
been purchased with those manufactures, he 
must wait for the returns of three. If those 
two or three distinct foreign trades should 
happen to be carried on by two or three distinct 
merchants, of whom the second buys 
the goods imported by the first, and the third 
buys those imported by the second, in order 
to export them again, each merchant, indeed, 
will, in this case, receive the returns of his 
own capital more quickly; but the final returns 
of the whole capital employed in the 
trade will be just as slow as ever. Whether 
the whole capital employed in such a round-about 
trade belong to one merchant or to 
three, can make no difference with regard to 
the country, though it may with regard to the 
particular merchants. Three times a greater 
capital must in both cases be employed, in order 
to exchange a certain value of British 
manufactures for a certain quantity of flax 
and hemp, than would have been necessary, 
had the manufactures and the flax and hemp 
been directly exchanged for one another. The 
whole capital employed, therefore, in such a 
round-about foreign trade of consumption
will generally give less encouragement and 
support to the productive labour of the country
than an equal capital employed in a more 
direct trade of the same kind
Whatever be the foreign commodity with 
which the foreign goods for home consumption 
are purchased, it can occasion no essential 
difference, either in the nature of the trade
or in the encouragement and support which it 
can give to the productive labour of the country 
from which it is carried on. If they are 
purchased with the gold of Brazil, for example, 
or with the silver of Peru, this gold 
and silver, like the tobacco of Virginia, must 
have been purchased with something that either 
was the produce of the industry of the 
country, or that had been purchased with 
something else that was so. So far, therefore, 
as the productive labour of the country is concerned, 
the foreign trade of consumption, which 
is carried on by means of gold and silver, has 
all the advantages and all the inconveniences 
of any other equally round-about foreign trade 
of consumption; and will replace, just as fast
or just as slow, the capital which is immediately 
employed in supporting that productive 
labour. It seems even to have one advantage 
over any other equally round-about 
foreign trade. The transportation of those 
metals from one place to another, on account 
of their small bulk and great value, is less expensive 
than that of almost any other foreign 
goods of equal value. Their freight is much less, 
and their insurance not greater; and no goods
besides, are less liable to suffer by the carriage
An equal quantity of foreign goods, therefore, 
may frequently be purchased with a smaller 
quantity of the produce of domestic industry
by the intervention of gold and silver, than 
by that of any other foreign goods. The demand 
of the country may frequently, in this 
manner, be supplied more completely, and at 
a smaller expense, than in any other. Whether, 
by the continual exportation of those 
metals, a trade of this kind is likely to impoverish 
the country from which it is carried on 
in any other way, I shall have occasion to examine 
at great length hereafter. 
That part of the capital of any country 
which is employed in the carrying trade, is 
altogether withdrawn from supporting the productive 
labour of that particular country, to 
support that of some foreign countries. Though 
it may replace, by every operation, two distinct 
capitals, yet neither of them belongs to 
that particular country. The capital of the 
Dutch merchant, which carries the corn of 
Poland to Portugal, and brings back the 
fruits and wines of Portugal to Poland, replaces 
by every such operation two capitals
neither of which had been employed in supporting 
the productive labour of Holland; 
but one of them in supporting that of Poland
and the other that of Portugal. The 
profits only return regularly to Holland, and 
constitute the whole addition which this trade 
necessarily makes to the annual produce of the 
land and labour of that country. When, indeed, 
the carrying trade of any particular 
country is carried on with the ships and sailors 
of that country, that part of the capital 
employed in it which pays the freight is distributed 
among, and puts into motion, a certain 
number of productive labourers of that 
country. Almost all nations that have had 
any considerable share of the carrying trade 
have, in fact, carried it on in this manner. 
The trade itself has probably derived its name 
from it, the people of such countries being 
the carriers to other countries. It does not, 
however, seem essential to the nature of the 
trade that it should be so. A Dutch merchant 
may, for example, employ his capital in transacting 
the commerce of Poland and Portugal
by carrying part of the surplus produce of the 
one to the other, not in Dutch, but in British 
bottoms. It may be presumed, that he actually 
does so upon some particular occasions
It is upon this account, however, that the carrying 
trade has been supposed peculiarly advantageous 
to such a country as Great Britain
of which the defence and security depend 
upon the number of its sailors and shipping
But the same capital may employ as many 
sailors and shipping, either in the foreign trade 
of consumption, or even in the home trade
when carried on by coasting vessels, as it 
could in the carrying trade. The number of 
sailors and shipping which any particular capital 
can employ, does not depend upon the 
nature of the trade, but partly upon the bulk 
of the goods, in proportion to their value, and