Economic Sophisms/66

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A Poor vine-dresser of the Gironde had trained with fond enthusiasm a slip of vine, which, after much fatigue and much labour, yielded him, at length, a tun of wine; and his success made him forget that each drop of this precious nectar had cost his brow a drop of sweat. "I shall sell it," said he to his wife, "and with the price I shall buy stuff sufficient to enable you to furnish a trousseau for our daughter." The honest countryman repaired to the nearest town, and met a Belgian and an Englishman. The Belgian said to him: "Give me your cask of wine, and I will give you in exchange fifteen parcels of stuff." The Englishman said: "Give me your wine, and I will give you twenty parcels of stuff; for we English can manufacture the stuff cheaper than the Belgians." But a Customhouse officer, who was present, interposed, and said: "My good friend, exchange with the Belgian if you think proper, but my orders are to prevent you from making an exchange with the Englishman." "What!" exclaimed the countryman; "you wish me to be content with fifteen parcels of stuff which have come from Brussels, when I can get twenty parcels which have come from Manchester?" "Certainly; don't you see that France would be a loser if you received twenty parcels, instead of fifteen?" "I am at a loss to understand you," said the vine-dresser, "And I am at a loss to explain it," rejoined the Customhouse official; "but the thing is certain, for all our deputies, ministers, and journalists agree in this, that the more a nation receives in exchange for a given quantity of its products, the more it is impoverished." The peasant found it necessary to conclude a bargain with the Belgian. The daughter of the peasant got only three-quarters of her trousseau; and these simple people are still asking themselves how it happens that one is ruined by receiving four instead of three; and why a person is richer with three dozens of towels than with four dozens.