circulates, there is little to be got; but that 
where a great deal is in motion, some share 
of it may fall to them. The same maxim 
which would in this manner direct the common 
sense of one, or ten, or twenty individuals
should regulate the judgment of one, 
or ten, or twenty millions, and should make 
a whole nation regard the riches of its neighbours
as a probable cause and occasion for itself 
to acquire riches. A nation that would 
enrich itself by foreign trade, is certainly most 
likely to do so, when its neighbours are all 
rich, industrious and commercial nations. A 
great nation, surrounded on all sides by wandering 
savages and poor barbarians, might, no 
doubt, acquire riches by the cultivation of its 
own lands, and by its own interior commerce
but not by foreign trade. It seems to have 
been in this manner that the ancient Egyptians 
and the modern Chinese acquired their 
great wealth. The ancient Egyptians, it is 
said, neglected foreign commerce, and the modern 
Chinese, it is known, hold it in the utmost 
contempt, and scarce deign to afford it 
the decent protection of the laws. The modern 
maxims of foreign commerce, by aiming 
at the impoverishment of all our neighbours
so far as they are capable of producing their 
intended effect, tend to render that very commerce 
insignificant and contemptible. 
It is in consequence of these maxims, that 
the commerce between France and England 
has, in both countries, been subjected to so 
many discouragements and restraints. If those 
two countries, however, were to consider their 
real interest, without either mercantile jealousy 
or national animosity, the commerce of France 
might be more advantageous to Great Britain 
than that of any other country, and, for the 
same reason, that of Great Britain to France. 
France is the nearest neighbour to Great Britain
In the trade between the southern coast 
of England and the northern and north-western 
coast of France, the returns might be expected
in the same manner as in the inland 
trade, four, five, or six times in the year. The 
capital, therefore, employed in this trade could, 
in each of the two countries, keep in motion 
four, five, or six times the quantity of industry
and afford employment and subsistence 
to four, five, or six times the number of people
which an equal capital could do in the 
greater part of the other branches of foreign 
trade. Between the parts of France and Great 
Britain most remote from one another, the 
returns might be expected, at least, once in 
the year; and even this trade would so far be 
at least equally advantageous, as the greater 
part of the other branches of our foreign European 
trade. It would be, at least, three 
times more advantageous than the boasted 
trade with our North American colonies, in 
which the returns were seldom made in less 
than three years, frequently not in less than 
four or five years. France, besides, is supposed 
to contain 24,000,000 of inhabitants
Our North American colonies were never supposed 
to contain more than 3,000,000; and 
France is a much richer country than North 
America; though, on account of the more 
unequal distribution of riches, there is much 
more poverty and beggary in the one country 
than in the other. France, therefore, could 
afford a market at least eight times more extensive
and, on account of the superior frequency 
of the returns, four-and-twenty times 
more advantageous than that which our North 
American colonies ever afforded. The trade 
of Great Britain would be just as advantageous 
to France, and, in proportion to the 
wealth, population, and proximity of the respective 
countries, would have the same superiority 
over that which France carries on with 
her own colonies. Such is the very great 
difference between that trade which the wisdom 
of both nations has thought proper to 
discourage, and that which it has favoured the 
But the very same circumstances which 
would have rendered an open and free commerce 
between the two countries so advantageous 
to both, have occasioned the principal 
obstructions to that commerce. Being neighbours
they are necessarily enemies, and the 
wealth and power of each becomes, upon that 
account, more formidable to the other; and 
what would increase the advantage of national 
friendship, serves only to inflame the violence 
of national animosity. They are both rich and 
industrious nations; and the merchants and 
manufacturers of each dread the competition 
of the skill and activity of those of the other. 
Mercantile jealousy is excited, and both inflames
and is itself inflamed, by the violence 
of national animosity, and the traders of both 
countries have announced, with all the passionate 
confidence of interested falsehood, the certain 
ruin of each, in consequence of that unfavourable 
balance of trade, which, they pretend, 
would be the infallible effect of an unrestrained 
commerce with the other. 
There is no commercial country in Europe
of which the approaching ruin has not frequently 
been foretold by the pretended doctors 
of this system, from an unfavourable balance 
of trade. After all the anxiety, however, 
which they have excited about this, after 
all the vain attempts of almost all trading nations 
to turn that balance in their own favour
and against their neighbours, it does not appear 
that any one nation in Europe has been, 
in any respect, impoverished by this cause. 
Every town and country, on the contrary, in 
proportion as they have opened their ports to 
all nations, instead of being ruined by this 
free trade, as the principles of the commercial 
system would lead us to expect, have been enriched 
by it. Though there are in Europe
indeed, a few towns which, in some respects, 
deserve the name of free ports, there is no