But before this … great increase of mankind, [our first parents’] desires were easily satisfied, as their wants were the boundaries of them; they contentedly made the fleece of their sheep serve them for clothing, and their hunger found a ready supply from their gardens and kine; a neighbouring spring slacked their thirst; and a tree, or a tent, was sufficient to defend them from the inclemencies of weather, in those climes where the first race was settled.

Their labour procured them a satisfactory support, and the products of the earth and cattle served them both for necessaries and regales, till their corruptions brought in fraud, and this gave birth to avarice and violence; the stronger began to invade the weaker, and as these oppressive acquisitions could only be maintained by force and policy, cities were built, and governments formed; and when by this means an aggregated number swelled to too great a magnitude, to have their necessities supplied by their neighbouring territories, they were compelled to seek for remoter helps, by commerce, destroying those halcyon days, pregnant with the blessing of health and peace, by the introduction of luxury and excess, which spreading as trade did, carried with them a long train of mischiefs and diseases, quite changing the face of the primeval golden age, so replete with quiet and tranquility: distempers and disquiets flowed in from this defection; and our unhappy forefathers no sooner quitted the rules of abstinence and moderation, than they found this deviation and change productive of a thousand ills, destructive both to the case of mind and body.

But though these were the fatal consequences of commerce thus abused, yet the growth of vitiated mankind, and the peopling thereby of different parts and continents, rendered the continuation of it absolutely necessary for their comfort and support; and life itself would have proved burthensome,…

Joseph Chitty
Joseph Chitty
12 March 1775 – 17 February 1841
Lex Mercatoria, An historical deduction of commerce from its origin, 1813.