Luxury denotes voluptuous- ness, or an extravagant indulgence in whatever pleases the senses, such as the articles of food, dress, and equipage.
The utility or detriment of luxury: to a State, is a subject on which, great difference of opinion prevails among political writers. Nor is it easily decided, whether this pre-. dominant feature in mankind may with more propriety be called the offspring of vice or folly ; but luxury. doubtless increases in proportion to-the influx of trade ; and, though it may by prescription be justifiable at court, in public officers, or on particular occasions, yet in private individuals it will ever remain an object, of just reproach. For, by increasing the expences of a family, it presents an insuperable bar to matrimonial establishments, and thus contributes to the depopulation of a country. Farther, it impairs, the health and ruins the constitution of its votaries; and, as the opulent leave their rural seats, in order to reside in cities, such change is attended with many bad consequences to themselves, as well as to their numerous domestics. Thus, the country is in a manner deserted and thence we may account for the long train of evils arising from .the indolence and libertinism of a city life.
One of the most pernicious con-sequences resulting from the rapid progress of luxury, is the high price of provisions, which is, in a great measure, occasioned by the keeping of useless .servants, as well as of unnecessary horses : these partly consume, and partly waste, such a portion of food as might be more beneficially employed in the sup port of the industrious poor.—Lastly, though luxury be the attendant on wealth ; though it encourage arts, manufactures, agriculture, an commerce; and, when its prevalence does not corrupt the morals of a people, becomes a national benefit, by diffusing riches among all ranks, and enabling the poor to to pay the most exorbitant prices of provisions ; yet we presume to say, that the greatest benefit would result from the observance of sump' tuary laws, which should limit the expences of individuals from exceeding a certain point; because that money, which is at present spent in the purchase of articles not strictly necessary to domestic life, might thus be diverted into its pro-per channel, and be more generally circulated throughout the country.