Proofed and corrected from the scanned original edition.
Some of my correspondents will not be surprised at the notice I find myself compelled to give, that I shall henceforward take in no unpaid letters, directed in an unknown handwriting, which have not the name of the writer superscribed. The tax of postage for anonymous flattery or abuse is one to which I cannot be expected to submit.
As for the other tax,—on time,—thus imposed on myself and others, it may supersede some of it to declare, once for all, that no appeals to me, whether made in print or by letter, anonymous or avowed, have or shall have any effect upon me, unless they are addressed to my reason. If my arguments are open to refutation, I shall be thankful to have them refuted. If my views are founded on a false or narrow induction, the most acceptable as well as the truest kindness will be to show me where lies the error or deficiency. As an illustrator of truth, it behaves me to listen, with the utmost respect, to applications like these; but, as a vowed servant of the people, I am not at liberty to attend to appeals to my individual interests, whether presented in the form of evil prognostications, of friendly cautions, or of flattery, gross or refined.
What I have just said is applicable to only a few individuals, to some of whom I owe gratitude for kind intentions, and towards others of whom I feel more concern than resentment. To those to whom my work has been, in my own heart, dedicated from the beginning,—the people,—I have only to say that their generous appreciation of my object is so effective a support and stimulus, that nothing troubles me but a sense of the imperfection of my service; and that the most precious of my hopes is, that I may become capable of serving them with an ability which may bear some proportion to the respect with which I regard their interests.
An excerpt from:
Summary of Principles Illustrated in This and the Preceding Volume.
The countries of the world differ in their facilities for producing the comforts and luxuries of life.
The inhabitants of the world agree in wanting or desiring all the comforts and luxuries which the world produces.
These wants and desires can be in no degree gratified but by means of mutual exchanges. They can be fully satisfied only by means of absolutely universal and free exchanges.
By universal and free exchange,—that is, by each person being permitted to exchange what he wants least for what he wants most,—an absolutely perfect system of economy of resources is established, the whole world being included in the arrangement.
The present want of agreement in the whole world to adopt this system does not invalidate its principle when applied to a single nation. It must ever be the interest of a nation to exchange what it wants little at home for what it wants more from abroad. If denied what it wants most, it will be wise to take what is next best; and so on, as long as anything is left which is produced better abroad than at home.
In the above case, the blame of the deprivation rests with the prohibiting power; but the suffering affects both the trading nations,—the one being prevented getting what it wants most—the other being prevented parting with what it wants least.
As the general interest of each nation requires that there should be perfect liberty in the exchange of commodities, any restriction on such liberty, for the sake of benefiting any particular class or classes, is a sacrifice of a larger interest to a smaller,—that is, a sin in government.
This sin is committed when,—
First,—Any protection is granted powerful enough to tempt to evasion, producing disloyalty, fraud, and jealousy: when,
Secondly,—Capital is unproductively consumed in the maintenance of an apparatus of restriction: when,
Thirdly,—Capital is unproductively bestowed in enabling those who produce at home dearer than foreigners to sell abroad as cheap as foreigners,—that is, in bounties, on exportation: and when,
Fourthly,—Capital is diverted from its natural course to be employed in producing at home that which is expensive and inferior, instead of in preparing that which will purchase the same article cheap and superior abroad,—that is, when restrictions are imposed on importation.
But though the general interest is sacrificed, no particular interest is permanently benefited, by special protections, since
Restrictive regulations in favour of the few are violated, when such violation is the interest of the many; and
Every diminution of the consumer's fund causes a loss of custom to the producer....