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“ autres par la disette, se detruit lui-même par les “ excès *."
To consider luxury in a political view, no refinement of dress, of the table, of equipage, of habitation, is luxury in those who can afford the expence; and the public gains by the encouragement that is given to arts, manufactures, and commerce. But a mode of living above a man's annual income, weakens the state, by reducing to poverty, not only the squanderers themselves, but many innocent and industrious persons connected with them. Luxury is, above all, pernicious in a commercial state. A person of moderation is satisfied with small profits : not so the luxurious, who despise every
branch of trade but what returns great profits : other branches are engrossed by foreigners who are more frugal. The merchants of Amsterdam, and even of London, within a century, lived with more economy than their clerks do at present. Their country-houses and gardens make not the greatest articles of their expence. At first, a mer
*“The sole glory of the rich man is, to consume and de“stroy: and his grandeur consists, in lavishing in one day upon
of his table what would procure subsist"ence for many families. He abuses equally animals and his “ fellow-creatures ; a great part of whom, a prey to famine, " and languishing in misery, labour and toil to satisfy his im. “ moderate desires, and insatiable vanity; who, destroying “ others by want, destroys himself by excess."--BUPFON. VOL. I.
chant retires to his country-house on Sundays only and holidays : but beginning to relish indolent retirement, business grows irksome, he trusts all to his clerks, loses the thread of his affairs, sees no longer with his own eyes, and is now in the high way to perdition. Every cross accident makes him totter: and in labouring circumstances, he is tempted to venture all in hopes of re-establishment. He falls at last to downright gaming; which, setting conscience aside, is a prudent measure: he risks only the money of his creditors, for he himself has nothing to lose : it is now with him, Cesar aut nibil*. Such a man never falls without involving many in his ruin.
The bad effects of luxury above displayed, are not the whole, nor indeed the most destructive. In all times luxury has been the ruin of every state where it prevailed. Nations originally are poor and virtuous. They adyance to industry, commerce, and perhaps to conquest and empire. But this state is never permanent : great opulence opens a wide door to indolence, sensuality, corruption, prostitution, perdition. But that more important branch of the subject is reserved to particular sketches, where it will make a better figure.
In the savage state, inan is almost all body, with a very small proportion of mind. In the maturity of civil society, he is complete both in mind and body. In a state of degeneracy by luxury and voluptuousness, he has neither mind nor body *,
* “ Cæsar or no:hing."
* In ancient Egypt, execution against the person of a debtor was prohibited. Such a law could not obtain, but among a temperate people, where bankruptcy happens by misfortune, and seldom by luxury or extravagance. In Switzerland, not only a bankrupt but even his sons are excluded from public office till all the family debts be paid.
END OF VOLUME FIRST.