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The whole of the Contents are printed at the beginning of the first volume. Its pages very nearly correspond, and the only very obvious difference is that the Contents are now divided between the two volumes. There are, however, a vast number of small differences between the first and second editions. Most of the footnotes appear first in the second edition.

A few corrections as to matters of fact are made, such as that in relation to the percentage of the tax on silver in Spanish America vol. Figures are corrected at vol. New information is added here and there: an additional way of raising money by fictitious bills is described in the long note at vol. There are some interesting alterations in the theory as to the emergence of profit and rent from primitive conditions, though Smith himself would probably be surprised at the importance which some modern inquirers attach to the points in question vol.

At vol.

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The insertion in the second edition of certain cross-references at vol. Beer is a necessary of life in one place and a luxury in another in the first edition, but is nowhere a necessary in the second vol. The epigrammatic condemnation of the East India Company at vol. Between the second edition and the third, published at the end Edition: current; Page: [ xv ] of , 1 there are considerable differences.

The third edition is in three volumes, octavo, the first running to the end of Book II. Strahan; and T.

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This edition was sold at one guinea. Through the greater part of the Book, therefore, whenever the present state of things is mentioned, it is to be understood of the state they were in, either about that time, or at some earlier period, during the time I was employed in writing the Book.

To this 4 third Edition, however, I have made several additions, particularly to the chapter upon Drawbacks, and to that upon Bounties; likewise a new chapter entitled, The Conclusion of the Mercantile System; and a new article to the chapter upon the expences of the sovereign. In all these additions, the present state of things means always the state in which they were during the year and the beginning of the present 5 year Comparing the second and the third editions we find that the additions to the third are considerable. Certain passages in Book IV.

Among the rest is a short but, I flatter myself, a complete history of all the trading companies in Great Britain.

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These additions I mean not only to be inserted at their proper places into the new edition, but to be printed separately and to be sold for a shilling or half a crown to the purchasers of the old edition. The price must depend on the bulk of the additions when they are all written out. Besides the separately printed additions there are many minor alterations between the second and third editions, such as the complacent note on the adoption of the house tax vol. Banks , though nameless in the text, shows either that the index-maker had a certain knowledge of Scotch banking history or that Smith corrected his work in places.

There is therefore no reason for not treating the index as an integral part of the book. The fourth edition, published in , is printed in the same style and with exactly the same pagination as the third. I now, however, find myself at liberty to acknowledge my very great obligations to Mr.

Henery Hop 1 of Amsterdam. To that Gentleman I owe the most distinct, as well as liberal information, concerning a very interesting and important subject, the Bank of Amsterdam; of which no printed account had ever appeared to me satisfactory, or even intelligible. The name of that Gentleman is so well known in Europe, the information which comes from him must do so much honour to whoever has been favoured with it, and my vanity is so much interested in making this acknowledgment, that I can no longer refuse myself the pleasure of prefixing this Advertisement to this new Edition of my Book.

In spite of his statement that he had made no alterations of any kind, Smith either made or permitted a few trifling alterations between the third and fourth editions. In the note at vol. The other differences are so trifling that they may be misreadings or unauthorised corrections of the printers. It is almost identical with the fourth, the only difference being that the misprints of the fourth edition are corrected in the fifth and a considerable number of fresh ones introduced, while several false concords—or concords regarded as false—are corrected see vol.

It is clear from the passage at vol. Nowadays, of course, no author has any special claim to exclusive use of the title. Under this head we will consider the opulence of a state. For this purpose and for defraying the expenses of government some fund must be raised. Hence the origin of revenue.


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In general, whatever revenue can be raised most insensibly from the people ought to be preferred, and in the sequel it is proposed to be shown how far the laws of Britain and other European nations are calculated for this purpose. The connection of revenue and arms with the general principles of law and government is obvious enough, and no question arises as to the explanation on these heads given by the forecast. For the explanation we turn to the beginning of the part of the lectures relating to Police.

Nobody will be so mad as to expose himself upon the highway, when he can make better bread in an honest and industrious manner. Regulations which bring market price below natural price he regarded as equally pernicious, and therefore he condemned the corn bounty, which attracted into agriculture stock which would have been better employed in some other trade. Under the second head he explained the reasons for the use of money as a common standard and its consequential use as the instrument of commerce.

He showed why gold and silver were commonly chosen and why coinage was introduced, and proceeded Edition: current; Page: [ xxii ] to explain the evils of tampering with the currency, and the difficulty of keeping gold and silver money in circulation at the same time. Money being a dead stock, banks and paper credit, which enable money to be dispensed with and sent abroad, are beneficial.

There will always be plenty of money if things are left to their free course, and no prohibition of exportation will be effectual. All commerce that is carried on betwixt any two countries must necessarily be advantageous to both.

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The very intention of commerce is to exchange your own commodities for others which you think will be more convenient for you. When two men trade between themselves it is undoubtedly for the advantage of both. The case is exactly the same betwixt any two nations.

The goods which the English merchants want to import from France are certainly more valuable to them than what they give for them. All political writers since the time of Charles II. Interest does not depend on the value of money, but on the quantity of stock. Exchange is a method of dispensing with the transmission of money. At first governments were so feeble that they could not offer their subjects that security without which no man has any motive to be industrious. Afterwards, when governments became powerful enough to give internal security, they fought among themselves, and their subjects were harried by foreign enemies.

Agriculture was hindered by great tracts of land being thrown into the hands of single persons. This led at first to cultivation by slaves, who had no motive to industry; then came tenants by steelbow metayers who had no sufficient inducement to improve the land; finally the present method of cultivation by tenants was introduced, but these for a long time were insecure in their holdings, and had to pay rent in kind, which made them liable to be severely affected by bad seasons.

The Wealth of Nations Book I, Chapter 1 Summary

Feudal subsidies discouraged industry, the law of primogeniture, entails, and the expense of transferring land prevented the large estates from being divided. The restrictions Edition: current; Page: [ xxiv ] on the export of corn helped to stop the progress of agriculture. Progress in arts and commerce was also hindered by slavery, as well as by the ancient contempt for industry and commerce, by the want of enforcement of contracts, by the various difficulties and dangers of transport, by the establishment of fairs, markets and staple towns, by duties on imports and exports, and by monopolies, corporation privileges, the statute of apprenticeship and bounties.

But certain inconveniences arise from a commercial spirit. Education is neglected. In Scotland the meanest porter can read and write, but at Birmingham boys of six or seven can earn threepence or sixpence a day, so that their parents set them to work early and their education is neglected. The boys throw off parental authority, and betake themselves to drunkenness and riot. So it may very justly be said that the people who clothe the whole world are in rags themselves. Revenue, at any rate in the year when the notes of his lectures were made, was treated by Adam Smith before the last head of police just discussed, ostensibly on the ground that it was in reality one of the causes of the slow progress of opulence.

Originally, he taught, no revenue was necessary; the magistrate was satisfied with the eminence of his station and any presents he might receive. The receipt of presents soon led to corruption. At first too soldiers were unpaid, but this did not last. The earliest method adopted for supplying revenue was assignment of lands to the support of government.

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To maintain the British government would require at least a fourth of the whole of the land of the country. Taxes may be divided into taxes upon possessions and taxes upon commodities. It is easy to tax land, but difficult to tax stock or money; the land tax is very cheaply collected and does not raise the price of commodities and thus restrict the number of persons who have stock sufficient to carry on trade in them.


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Taxes on consumptions are best levied by way of excise. The common belief that wealth consists in money has not been so hurtful as might have been expected in regard to taxes on imports, since it has accidentally led to the encouragement of the import of raw material and discouragement of the import of manufactured articles. From treating of revenue Adam Smith was very naturally led on to deal with national debts, and this led him into a discussion of the causes of the rise and fall of stocks and the practice of stockjobbing.

Under Arms he taught that at first the whole people goes out to war: then only the upper classes go and the meanest stay to cultivate the ground. But afterwards the introduction of arts and manufactures makes it inconvenient for the rich to leave their business, and the defence of the state falls to the meanest.