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[26] tax-gatherers, left little ‘to the peasant1 but eyes
chap. II.} 1763.
to weep with.’ The treasury was poor, for the realm was poor; and the realm was poor because the husbandman was poor.2 While every one, from the palace to the hovel, looked about for a remedy to this system of merciless and improvident spoliation, there arose a school of upright and disinterested men,3 who sought a remedy for the servitude of labor by looking beyond the precedents of the statute book, or forms of government, to universal principles and the laws of social life; beyond the power of the people or the power of princes, to the power of nature.4 They found that man in society renounces no natural right, but remains the master of his person and his faculties, with the right to labor and to enjoy or exchange the fruits of his labor. Exportation has no danger,5 for demand summons supplies; dearness need not appal, for high prices, quickening production, as manure does the soil, are their own certain, as well as only cure. So there should be no restriction on commerce6 and industry, internal or external; competition should supersede monopoly, and private freedom displace the regulating supervision of the state.

Such was ‘the liberal and generous’ 7 system of the political economists who grouped themselves round the calm and unpretending Quesnai, startling the world by their axioms and tables of rustic economy,8 as

1 Blanqui: Histoire de l'economie Politique, II. 54.

2 Quesnai: Maximes Generales du Gouvernement. Edition of the ‘Physiocrates’ of Eugene Daire, 83.

3 Blanqui: Hist. de l'econ. Pol. II. 94.

4 Hence their name; not democrats, but ‘physiocrates.’

5 Quesnai: Maximes Generales du Gouvernement, XVI.

6 F. Quesnai: Maximes Gienrales du Gouvernement, XXV.

7 Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, Book IV. ch. 9.

8 Marmontel: Livre cinquieme, Oeuvres i. 149, 150.

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