The State And Trade
The Maxims And Reflections Of Burke selected and edited by F.W. Rafferty

You will be convinced, sir, that I am not mistaken, if you reflect how generally it is true that commerce, the principal object of that office, flourishes most when it is left to itself. Interest, the great guide of commerce, is not a blind one.— Economical Reform (II. 366).

A trade sometimes seems to perish when it only assumes a different form.— State of the Nation (I. 264).

It should stand as a fundamental maxim, that no vulgar precaution ought to be employed in the cure of evils which are closely connected with the cause of our prosperity.—American Taxation (II. 119).

Beggary and bankruptcy are not the circumstances which invite to an intercourse with that or with any country; and I believe it will be found invariably true, that the superfluities of a rich nation furnish a better object of trade than the necessities of a poor one. It is the interest of the commercial world that wealth should be found everywhere—Letter to Bristol (II. 295).

The moment that government appears at market, all the principles of market will he subverted.— Scarcity (VI. 20).

But the clearest line of distinction which I could draw, whilst I had my chalk to draw any line, was this : that the state ought to confine itself to what regards the state, or the creatures of the state, namely, the exterior establishment of its religion its magistracy; its revenue; its military force by sea and land; the corporations that owe their existence to its fiat; in a word, to everything that is truly and properly public, to the public peace, to the public safety, to the public order, to the public prosperity.— Letter to Bristol(VI. 30).

An untimely shower, or an unseasonable drought; a frost too long continued, or too suddenly broken up with rain and tempest; the blight of the spring, or the smut of the harvest, will do more to cause the distress of the belly, than all the contrivances of all statesmen can do to relieve it. Let government protect and encourage industry, secure property, repress violence, and discountenance fraud it is all that they have to do. In other respects, the less they meddle in these affairs the better; the rest is in the hands of our Master and theirs. We are in a constitution of things wherein—"Modo sot nimius, modo corripit imber."—Regicide Peace(VI. 279).

Our woollens and cottons, it is true, are not all for the home market. They do not distinctly prove what is my present point, our own wealth by our own expense. I admit it: we export them in great and growing quantities: and they who croak themselves hoarse about the decay of our trade, may put as much of this account as they choose to the creditor side of money received from other countries in payment for British skill and labour—Regicide Peace(VI. 295).

I know, too, the obstinacy of unbelief, in those perverted minds, which have no delight but in contemplating the supposed distress, and predicting the immediate ruin, of their country. These birds of evil presage, at all times, have grated our ears with their melancholy song; and, by some strange fatality or other, it has generally happened that they have poured forth their loudest and deepest lamentations at the periods of our most abundant prosperity.— Regicide Peace(VI. 299).

If they prove us ruined, we were always ruined. Some ravens have always indeed croaked out this kind of song. They have a malignant delight in presaging mischief, when they are not employed in doing it : they are miserable and disappointed at every instance of the public prosperity.— State Of The Nation (I. 272).

Trade is not a limited thing; as if the objects of mutual demand and consumption could not stretch beyond the bounds of our jealousies. God has given the earth to the children of men, and he has undoubtedly, in giving it to them, given them what is abundantly sufficient for all their exigencies; not a scanty, but a most liberal provision for them all. The author of our nature has written it strongly in that nature, and has promulgated the same law in his written word, that man shall eat his bread by his labour; and I am persuaded that no man, and no combination of men, for their own ideas of their particular profit, can, without great impiety, undertake to say, that he shall not do so; that they have no sort of right, either to prevent the labour, or to withhold the bread.— Letter to Bristol (II. 299).