There are no more useful members in a commonwealth than merchants. They knit mankind together in a mutual intercourse of good offices, distribute the gifts of Nature, find work for the poor, and wealth to the rich, and magnificence to the great.
A statesman may do much for commerce, most by leaving it alone. A river never flows so smoothly, as when it follows its own course, without either aid or check. Let it make its own bed, it will do so better than you can.
Commerce, however we may please ourselves with the contrary opinion, is one of the daughters of fortune, inconstant and deceitful as her mother. She chooses her residence where she is least expected, and shifts her abode when her continuance is, in appearance, most firmly settled.
Commerce tends to wear off those prejudices which maintain distinction and animosity between nations. It softens and polishes the manners of men. It unites them by one of the strongest of all tiesthe desire of supplying their mutual wants. It disposes them to peace, by establishing in every State an order of citizens bound by their interest to be the guardians of public tranquillity. As soon as the commercial spirit acquires vigor, and begins to gain an ascendant in any society, we begin to discern a new genius in its policy, its alliances, its wars, and its negotiations.
Nature seems to have taken a particular care to disseminate her blessings among the different regions of the world, with an eye to their mutual intercourse and traffic among mankind, that the nations of the several parts of the globe might have a kind of dependence upon one another and be united together by their common interest.