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I Have somewhere read, that, in China, an account is yearly taken of the number of people, and the quantities of provision produced. This account is transmitted to the emperor, whose ministers can thence foresee a scarcity, likely to happen in any province, and from what province it can best be supplied in good time. To facilitate the collecting of this account, and prevent the necessity of entering houses and spending time in asking and answering questions, each house is furnished with a little board, to be hung without the door during a certain time each year; on which board are marked certain words, against which the inhabitant is to mark the number and quantity, somewhat in this manner;

Rice or Wheat,
Flesh, &c.

All under sixteen are accounted children, and all above men and women. Any other particulars, which the government desires information of, are occasionally marked on the same boards. Thus the officers, appointed to collect the accounts in each district, have only to pass before the doors, and enter into their book

• Taken from Dr. Percival's Essays, (Vol. III. p. 25,) being an extract from a letter written to him by Dr. Franklin, on the subject of his Observations on the state of population in Manchester and other adjacent places. — B. V.

what they find marked on the board, without giving the least trouble to the family. There is a penalty on marking falsely; and, as neighbours must know nearly the truth of each other's account, they dare not expose themselves, by a false one, to each other's accusation. Perhaps such a regulation is scarcely practicable with us.

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Freedom and protection are its best support; industry the only means to render manufactures cheap.

Commerce is generally understood to be the basis, on which the power of this country hath been raised, and on which it must ever stand.

Tous les Bujcts doivent leurs soins, et leurs lumieres, a l'etat.

The account given of this tract by William Temple Franklin is as follows. "It was originally published in 1774, and is the joint work of George Whatley and Dr. Franklin. The original work was indeed written by the former, and communicated to the latter. The corrections and additions, which were made by Dr. Franklin, produced an amicable controversy between them, who had the best claim to call himself the author of it, which closed by a determination to publish it without any name, but under this designation, By a Well'Wisher to the King and Country." The parts contributed by each might perhaps be separated by a careful inspection, but the whole tract is too valuable to be marred by such an attempt; and moreover it may be presumed, from the circumstances of the case, that all the principles contained in it were approved by Dr. Franklin. In a letter ten years afterwards to Mr. Whatley, written at Passy, he requests of him a copy of his " excellent little work, The Principles of Trade," and adds; "If your bookseller has any quantity of them left, I should be glad he would send them to America. The ideas of our people there, though rather better than those that prevail in Europe, are not so good as they should be, and that piece might be of service to them." Mr. Vaughan has brought together detached parts of this paper under the title of Political Fragments, and it is probable that the passages selected by him are those, which were written by Franklin.

This essay abounds in sound doctrines of political economy, and is characterized throughout by originality, comprehensiveness, and justness of thinking. — Editor.


To all those, who have the welfare and prosperity of these kingdoms at heart, the following essay, containing, we hope, useful and incontrovertible principles on the subjects treated of, is very heartily and affectionately inscribed.

March, 1774.


It is a vain imagination that we exist only for ourselves, or our particular country. The all-wise Creator has ordered that a mutual dependence shall run through all his works; and though our limited capacities will not admit us fully to comprehend the nature and end of this connected chain of things, yet we may, and indeed ought, to inquire into and consider every thing, which relates to our mutual dependence upon one another, and the springs and principles of our actions.

By this investigation we shall find, that our wants, whether real or ideal, our passions, and our habits, are the springs of all our actions, and indeed the movers of the general intercourse and commerce between one man and another, one country and another.

Most writers upon trade have made it their business to support and explain some particular branches of traffic, or some favorite hypothesis. We shall, in the ensuing essay, use our best endeavours to remove from the friends of trade, and mankind in general, some prevailing prejudices; and to treat, in a concise manner, upon a few self-evident principles and general maxims; under a persuasion, that, if such maxims and principles are just, all deductions and discussions whatever may be tried by their standard.

Some very respectable friends have indulged us with their ideas and opinions. It is with the greatest pleasure we, in this second edition, most gratefully acknowledge the favor; and must add, that, should the public hold this performance in any estimation, no small share belongs to those friends.

Definition of Trade.

1. Trade, or commerce, is the intercourse, as well between nation and nation, as between one man and another; by which we acquire whatsoever may be thought, or understood to be, of use or delight, whether real or ideal.

Gain the End of Trade.

2. The spring or movement of such intercourse is, and ever must be, gain, or the hopes of gain; as neither the public, nor the individual, would intentionally pursue any unprofitable intercourse or commerce.

3. Gain being the principle of trade, the whole mystery of trade must therefore consist in prosecuting methods, whereby gain or advantage may be obtained.

In transactions of trade, it is not to be supposed, that, like gaming, what one party gains the other must lose. The gain to each may be equal. If A has more corn than he can consume, but wants cattle, and B has more cattle, but wants corn, an exchange is gain to each; hereby the common stock of comforts in life is increased.

Freedom and Protection the best Support of Trade.

4. Freedom and protection are most indisputable

VOL. II. 25

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