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From a Letter to Benjamin Vaughan, Efq.* written in 1784.

IT is wonderful how prepofterously the affairs of this world are managed. Naturally one would imagine, that the interest of a few individuals fhould give way to general intereft; but individuals manage their affairs with fo much more application, induftry, and addrefs, than the public do theirs, that general interest most commonly gives way to particular. We affemble parliaments and councils, to have the benefit of their collected wifdom; but we neceffarily have, at the fame time, the inconvenience of their col

* Prefent member of parliament for the borough of Calne, in Wiltshire, between whom and our au thor there fubfifted a very close friendship.


lected paffions, prejudices, and private interefts. By the help of these, artful. men overpower their wisdom, and dupe its poffeffors: and if we may judge by the acts, arrets, and edicts, all the world over, for regulating commerce, an afsembly of great men is the greatest fool: upon earth.

I have not yet, indeed, thought of a remedy for luxury. I am not sure that in a great state it is capable of a remedy; nor that the evil is in itself always fo great as it is reprefented. Suppofe we' include in the definition of luxury all unneceffary expence, and then let us confider whether laws to prevent fuch expence are poffible to be executed in a great country, and whether, if they could be executed, our people generally would be happier, or even richer. Is not the hope of being one day able to purchase and enjoy luxuries, a great fpur to labour and induftry? May not luxury K 3 therefore

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therefore produce more than it confumes, if, without fuch a fpur, people would be, as they are naturally enough inclined to be, lazy and indolent? To. this purpose I remember a circumftance. The skipper of a shallop, employed between Cape-May and Philadelphia, had done us fome fmall fervice, for which he refused to be paid. My wife underftanding that he had a daughter, fent her a prefent of a new-fashioned cap. Three years after, this skipper being at my house with an old farmer of Cape-May, his paffenger, he mentioned the cap, and how much his daughter had been pleased with it. "But (faid he) it proved a "dear cap to our congregation.""How fo?"-" When my daughter "appeared with it at meeting, it was fo "much admired, that all the girls re"folved to get fuch caps from Phila"delphia; and my wife and I com"puted that the whole could not have, "" cost

coft lefs than a hundred pounds." "True (faid the farmer), but you do not "tell all the ftory. I think the cap was "nevertheless an advantage to us; for "it was the first thing that put our girls "" upon knitting worfted mittens for fale "at Philadelphia, that they might have "wherewithal to buy caps and ribbons "there; and you know that that induf"try has continued, and is likely to " continue and increase to a much


greater value, and answer better pur"poses."-Upon the whole, I was more reconciled to this little piece of luxury, fince not only the girls were made happier by having fine caps, but the Philadelphians by the fupply of warm mit


In our commercial towns upon the fea-coaft, fortunes will occafionally be made. Some of those who grow rich will be prudent, live within bounds, and preserve what they have gained for their K 4 pofterity:

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pofterity: others, fond of fhewing their wealth, will be extravagant, and ruin themfelves. Laws cannot prevent this and perhaps it is not always an evil to the public. A fhilling spent idly by a fool, may be picked up by a wifer person, who knows better what to do with it. It is therefore not loft. A vain, filly fellow builds a fine houfe, furnishes it richly, lives in it expenfively, and in a few years ruins himself: but the mafons, carpenters, fmiths, and other honeft tradef" men, have been by his employ assisted in maintaining and raising their fami

lies; the farmer has been paid for his

labour, and encouraged, and the estate

is now in better hands.-In fome cafes, indeed, certain modes of luxury may be a public evil, in the fame manner as it is


a private one. If there be a nation, for inftance, that exports its beef and linen, to pay for the importation of claret and porter, while a great part of its people

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