Page:Cournot Theory of Wealth (1838).djvu/25

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11
OF THE THEORY OF WEALTH

confusion which has continued to obtain between the fixed, definite idea of value in exchange, and the ideas of utility which every one estimates in his own way, because there is no fixed standard for the utility of things.[1]

It has sometimes happened that a publisher, having in store an unsalable stock of some work, useful and sought after by connoisseurs, but of which too many copies were originally printed in view of the class of readers for whom it was intended, has sacrificed and destroyed two-thirds of the number, expecting to derive more profit from the remainder than firom the entire edition.[2]

There is no doubt that there might be a book of which it would be easier to sell a thousand copies at sixty francs, than three thousand at twenty francs. Calculating in this way, the Dutch Company is said to have caused the destruction in the islands of the Sound of a part of the precious spices of which it had a monopoly. Here is a complete destruction of objects to which the word wealth is applied because they are both sought after, and not easily obtainable. Here is a miserly, selfish act, evidently opposed to the interests of society; and yet it is nevertheless evident that this sordid act, this actual destruction, is a real creation of wealth in the commercial sense of the word. The


  1. By this we do not intend that there is neither truth nor error in opinions on the utility of things; we only mean that generally neither the truth nor the error is capable of proof; that these are questions of valuation, and not soluble by calculation, nor by logical argument.
  2. I have heard it said by a very respectable surveyor, that one of the greatest griefs which he had felt in his youth had been to learn that the publisher Dupont had done thus with the valuable collection of the Memoirs of the old Academy of Sciences.