. 10
( 25)


which it is bestowed, and generally adds to its price the value at
least of their own maintenance and consumption. The profits of the
farmer, of the manufacturer, of the merchant, and retailer, are all
drawn from the price of the goods which the two first produce, and the
two last buy and sell. Equal capitals, however, employed in each of
those four different ways, will immediately put into motion very
different quantities of productive labour; and augment, too, in very
different proportions, the value of the annual produce of the land and
labour of the society to which they belong.

The capital of the retailer replaces, together with its profits, that
of the merchant of whom he purchases goods, and thereby enables him to
continue his business. The retailer himself is the only productive
labourer whom it immediately employs. In his profit consists the whole
value which its employment adds to the annual produce of the land and
labour of the society.

The capital of the wholesale merchant replaces, together with their
profits, the capital's of the farmers and manufacturers of whom he
purchases the rude and manufactured produce which he deals in, and
thereby enables them to continue their respective trades. It is by
this service chiefly that he contributes indirectly to support the
productive labour of the society, and to increase the value of its
annual produce. His capital employs, too, the sailors and carriers who
transport his goods from one place to another; and it augments the
price of those goods by the value, not only of his profits, but of
their wages. This is all the productive labour which it immediately
puts into motion, and all the value which it immediately adds to the
annual produce. Its operation in both these respects is a good deal
superior to that of the capital of the retailer.

Part of the capital of the master manufacturer is employed as a fixed
capital in the instruments of his trade, and replaces, together with
its profits, that of some other artificer of whom he purchases them.
Part of his circulating capital is employed in purchasing materials,
and replaces, with their profits, the capitals of the farmers and
miners of whom he purchases them. But a great part of it is always,
either annually, or in a much shorter period, distributed among the
different workmen whom he employs. It augments the value of those
materials by their wages, and by their masters' profits upon the whole
stock of wages, materials, and instruments of trade employed in the
business. It puts immediately into motion, therefore, a much greater
quantity of productive labour, and adds a much greater value to the
annual produce of the land and labour of the society, than an equal
capital in the hands of any wholesale merchant.

No equal capital puts into motion a greater quantity of productive
labour than that of the farmer. Not only his labouring servants, but
his labouring cattle, are productive labourers. In agriculture, too,
Nature labours along with man; and though her labour costs no expense,
its produce has its value, as well as that of the most expensive
workmen. The most important operations of agriculture seem intended,
not so much to increase, though they do that too, as to direct the
fertility of Nature towards the production of the plants most
profitable to man. A field overgrown with briars and brambles, may
frequently produce as great a quantity of vegetables as the best
cultivated vineyard or corn field. Planting and tillage frequently
regulate more than they animate the active fertility of Nature; and
after all their labour, a great part of the work always remains to be
done by her. The labourers and labouring cattle, therefore, employed
in agriculture, not only occasion, like the workmen in manufactures,
the reproduction of a value equal to their own consumption, or to the
capital which employs them, together with its owner's profits, but of
a much greater value. Over and above the capital of the farmer, and
all its profits, they regularly occasion the reproduction of the rent
of the landlord. This rent may be considered as the produce of those
powers of Nature, the use of which the landlord lends to the farmer.
It is greater or smaller, according to the supposed extent of those
powers, or, in other words, according to the supposed natural or
improved fertility of the land. It is the work of Nature which
remains, after deducting or compensating every thing which can be
regarded as the work of man. It is seldom less than a fourth, and
frequently more than a third, of the whole produce. No equal quantity
of productive labour employed in manufactures, can ever occasion so
great reproduction. In them Nature does nothing; man does all; and the
reproduction must always be in proportion to the strength of the
agents that occasion it. The capital employed in agriculture,
therefore, not only puts into motion a greater quantity of productive
labour than any equal capital employed in manufactures; but in
proportion, too, to the quantity of productive labour which it
employs, it adds a much greater value to the annual produce of the
land and labour of the country, to the real wealth and revenue of its
inhabitants. Of all the ways in which a capital can be employed, it is
by far the most advantageous to society.

The capitals employed in the agriculture and in the retail trade of
any society, must always reside within that society. Their employment
is confined almost to a precise spot, to the farm, and to the shop of
the retailer. They must generally, too, though there are some
exceptions to this, belong to resident members of the society.

The capital of a wholesale merchant, on the contrary, seems to have no
fixed or necessary residence anywhere, but may wander about from place
to place, according as it can either buy cheap or sell dear.

The capital of the manufacturer must, no doubt, reside where the
manufacture is carried on; but where this shall be, is not always
necessarily determined. It may frequently be at a great distance, both
from the place where the materials grow, and from that where the
complete manufacture is consumed. Lyons is very distant, both from the
places which afford the materials of its manufactures, and from those
which consume them. The people of fashion in Sicily are clothed in
silks made in other countries, from the materials which their own
produces. Part of the wool of Spain is manufactured in Great Britain,
and some part of that cloth is afterwards sent back to Spain.

Whether the merchant whose capital exports the surplus produce of any
society, be a native or a foreigner, is of very little importance. If
he is a foreigner, the number of their productive labourers is
necessarily less than if he had been a native, by one man only; and
the value of their annual produce, by the profits of that one man. The
sailors or carriers whom he employs, may still belong indifferently
either to his country, or to their country, or to some third country,
in the same manner as if he had been a native. The capital of a
foreigner gives a value to their surplus produce equally with that of
a native, by exchanging it for something for which there is a demand
at home. It as effectually replaces the capital of the person who
produces that surplus, and as effectually enables him to continue his
business, the service by which the capital of a wholesale merchant
chiefly contributes to support the productive labour, and to augment
the value of the annual produce of the society to which he belongs.

It is of more consequence that the capital of the manufacturer should
reside within the country. It necessarily puts into motion a greater
quantity of productive labour, and adds a greater value to the annual
produce of the land and labour of the society. It may, however, be
very useful to the country, though it should not reside within it. The
capitals of the British manufacturers who work up the flax and hemp
annually imported from the coasts of the Baltic, are surely very
useful to the countries which produce them. Those materials are a part
of the surplus produce of those countries, which, unless it was
annually exchanged for something which is in demand here, would be of
no value, and would soon cease to be produced. The merchants who
export it, replace the capitals of the people who produce it, and
thereby encourage them to continue the production; and the British
manufacturers replace the capitals of those merchants.

A particular country, in the same manner as a particular person, may
frequently not have capital sufficient both to improve and cultivate
all its lands, to manufacture and prepare their whole rude produce for
immediate use and consumption, and to transport the surplus part
either of the rude or manufactured produce to those distant markets,
where it can be exchanged for something for which there is a demand at
home. The inhabitants of many different parts of Great Britain have
not capital sufficient to improve and cultivate all their lands. The
wool of the southern counties of Scotland is, a great part of it,
after a long land carriage through very bad roads, manufactured in
Yorkshire, for want of a capital to manufacture it at home. There are
many little manufacturing towns in Great Britain, of which the
inhabitants have not capital sufficient to transport the produce of
their own industry to those distant markets where there is demand and
consumption for it. If there are any merchants among them, they are,
properly, only the agents of wealthier merchants who reside in some of
the great commercial cities.

When the capital of any country is not sufficient for all those three
purposes, in proportion as a greater share of it is employed in
agriculture, the greater will be the quantity of productive labour
which it puts into motion within the country; as will likewise be the
value which its employment adds to the annual produce of the land and
labour of the society. After agriculture, the capital employed in
manufactures puts into motion the greatest quantity of productive
labour, and adds the greatest value to the annual produce. That which
is employed in the trade of exportation has the least effect of any of
the three.

The country, indeed, which has not capital sufficient for all those
three purposes, has not arrived at that degree of opulence for which
it seems naturally destined. To attempt, however, prematurely, and
with an insufficient capital, to do all the three, is certainly not
the shortest way for a society, no more than it would be for an
individual, to acquire a sufficient one. The capital of all the
individuals of a nation has its limits, in the same manner as that of
a single individual, and is capable of executing only certain
purposes. The capital of all the individuals of a nation is increased
in the same manner as that of a single individual, by their
continually accumulating and adding to it whatever they save out of
their revenue. It is likely to increase the fastest, therefore, when
it is employed in the way that affords the greatest revenue to all the
inhabitants or the country, as they will thus be enabled to make the
greatest savings. But the revenue of all the inhabitants of the
country is necessarily in proportion to the value of the annual
produce of their land and labour.

It has been the principal cause of the rapid progress of our American
colonies towards wealth and greatness, that almost their whole
capitals have hitherto been employed in agriculture. They have no
manufactures, those household and coarser manufactures excepted, which
necessarily accompany the progress of agriculture, and which are the
work of the women and children in every private family. The greater
part, both of the exportation and coasting trade of America, is
carried on by the capitals of merchants who reside in Great Britain.
Even the stores and warehouses from which goods are retailed in some
provinces, particularly in Virginia and Maryland, belong many of them
to merchants who reside in the mother country, and afford one of the
few instances of the retail trade of a society being carried on by the
capitals of those who are not resident members of it. Were the
Americans, either by combination, or by any other sort of violence, to
stop the importation of European manufactures, and, by thus giving a
monopoly to such of their own countrymen as could manufacture the like
goods, divert any considerable part of their capital into this
employment, they would retard, instead of accelerating, the further
increase in the value of their annual produce, and would obstruct,
instead of promoting, the progress of their country towards real
wealth and greatness. This would be still more the case, were they to
attempt, in the same manner, to monopolize to themselves their whole
exportation trade.

The course of human prosperity, indeed, seems scarce ever to have been
of so long continuance as to unable any great country to acquire
capital sufficient for all those three purposes; unless, perhaps, we
give credit to the wonderful accounts of the wealth and cultivation of
China, of those of ancient Egypt, and of the ancient state of
Indostan. Even those three countries, the wealthiest, according to all
accounts, that ever were in the world, are chiefly renowned for their
superiority in agriculture and manufactures. They do not appear to
have been eminent for foreign trade. The ancient Egyptians had a
superstitious antipathy to the sea; a superstition nearly of the same
kind prevails among the Indians; and the Chinese have never excelled
in foreign commerce. The greater part of the surplus produce of all
those three countries seems to have been always exported by
foreigners, who gave in exchange for it something else, for which they
found a demand there, frequently gold and silver.

It is thus that the same capital will in any country put into motion a
greater or smaller quantity of productive labour, and add a greater or
smaller value to the annual produce of its land and labour, according
to the different proportions in which it is employed in agriculture,
manufactures, and wholesale trade. The difference, too, is very great,
according to the different sorts of wholesale trade in which any part
of it is employed.

All wholesale trade, all buying in order to sell again by wholesale,
maybe reduced to three different sorts: the home trade, the foreign
trade of consumption, and the carrying trade. The home trade is
employed in purchasing in one part of the same country, and selling in
another, the produce of the industry of that country. It comprehends
both the inland and the coasting trade. The foreign trade of
consumption is employed in purchasing foreign goods for home
consumption. The carrying trade is employed in transacting the
commerce of foreign countries, or in carrying the surplus produce of
one to another.

The capital which is employed in purchasing in one part of the
country, in order to sell in another, the produce of the industry of
that country, generally replaces, by every such operation, two
distinct capitals, that had both been employed in the agriculture or
manufactures of that country, and thereby enables them to continue
that employment. When it sends out from the residence of the merchant
a certain value of commodities, it generally brings hack in return at
least an equal value of other commodities. When both are the produce
of domestic industry, it necessarily replaces, by every such
operation, two distinct capitals, which had both been employed in
Supporting productive labour, and thereby enables them to continue
that support. The capital which sends Scotch manufactures to London,
and brings back English corn and manufactures to Edinburgh,
necessarily replaces, by every such operation, two British capitals,
which had both been employed in the agriculture or manufactures of
Great Britain.

The capital employed in purchasing foreign goods for home consumption,
when this purchase is made with the produce of domestic industry,
replaces, too, by every such operation, two distinct capitals; but one
of them only is employed in supporting domestic industry. The capital
which sends British goods to Portugal, and brings back Portuguese
goods to Great Britain, replaces, by every such operation, only one
British capital. The other is a Portuguese one. Though the returns,
therefore, of the foreign trade of consumption, should be as quick as
those of the home trade, the capital employed in it will give but one
half of the encouragement to the industry or productive labour of the

But the returns of the foreign trade of consumption are very seldom so
quick as those of the home trade. The returns of the home trade
generally come in before the end of the year, and sometimes three or
four times in the year. The returns of the foreign trade of
consumption seldom come in before the end of the year, and sometimes
not till after two or three years. A capital, therefore, employed in
the home trade, will sometimes make twelve operations, or be sent out
and returned twelve times, before a capital employed in the foreign
trade of consumption has made one. If the capitals are equal,
therefore, the one will give four-and-twenty times more encouragement
and support to the industry of the country than the other.

The foreign goods for home consumption may sometimes be purchased, not
with the produce of domestic industry but with some other foreign
goods. These last, however, must have been purchased, either
immediately with the produce of domestic industry, or with something
else that had been purchased with it; for, the case of war and
conquest excepted, foreign goods can never be acquired, but in
exchange for something that had been produced at home, either
immediately, or after two or more different exchanges. The effects,
therefore, of a capital employed in such a round-about foreign trade
of consumption, are, in every respect, the same as those of one
employed in the most direct trade of the same kind, except that the
final returns are likely to be still more distant, as they must depend
upon the returns of two or three distinct foreign trades. If the hemp
and flax of Riga are purchased with the tobacco of Virginia, which had
been purchased with British manufactures, the merchant must wait for
the returns of two distinct foreign trades, before he can employ the
same capital in repurchasing a like quantity of British manufactures.
If the tobacco of Virginia had been purchased, not with British
manufactures, but with the sugar and rum of Jamaica, which had been
purchased with those manufactures, he must wait for the returns of
three. If those two or three distinct foreign trades should happen to
be carried on by two or three distinct merchants, of whom the second
buys the goods imported by the first, and the third buys those
imported by the second, in order to export them again, each merchant,
indeed, will, in this case, receive the returns of his own capital
more quickly; but the final returns of the whole capital employed in
the trade will be just as slow as ever. Whether the whole capital
employed in such a round about trade belong to one merchant or to
three, can make no difference with regard to the country, though it
may with regard to the particular merchants. Three times a greater
capital must in both cases be employed, in order to exchange a certain
value of British manufactures for a certain quantity of flax and hemp,
than would have been necessary, had the manufactures and the flax and
hemp been directly exchanged for one another. The whole capital
employed, therefore, in such a round-about foreign trade of
consumption, will generally give less encouragement and support to the
productive labour of the country, than an equal capital employed in a
more direct trade of the same kind.

Whatever be the foreign commodity with which the foreign goods for
home consumption are purchased, it can occasion no essential
difference, either in the nature of the trade, or in the encouragement
and support which it can give to the productive labour of the country
from which it is carried on. If they are purchased with the gold of
Brazil, for example, or with the silver of Peru, this gold and silver,
like the tobacco of Virginia, must have been purchased with something
that either was the produce of the industry of the country, or that
had been purchased with something else that was so. So far, therefore,
as the productive labour of the country is concerned, the foreign
trade of consumption, which is carried on by means of gold and silver,
has all the advantages and all the inconveniencies of any other
equally round-about foreign trade of consumption; and will replace,
just as fast, or just as slow, the capital which is immediately
employed in supporting that productive labour. It seems even to have
one advantage over any other equally round-about foreign trade. The
transportation of those metals from one place to another, on account
of their small bulk and great value, is less expensive than that of
almost any other foreign goods of equal value. Their freight is much
less, and their insurance not greater; and no goods, besides, are less
liable to suffer by the carriage. An equal quantity of foreign goods,
therefore, may frequently be purchased with a smaller quantity of the
produce of domestic industry, by the intervention of gold and silver,
than by that of any other foreign goods. The demand of the country may
frequently, in this manner, be supplied more completely, and at a
smaller expense, than in any other. Whether, by the continual
exportation of those metals, a trade of this kind is likely to
impoverish the country from which it is carried on in any other way, I
shall have occasion to examine at great length hereafter.

That part of the capital of any country which is employed in the
carrying trade, is altogether withdrawn from supporting the productive
labour of that particular country, to support that of some foreign
countries. Though it may replace, by every operation, two distinct
capitals, yet neither of them belongs to that particular country. The
capital of the Dutch merchant, which carries the corn of Poland to
Portugal, and brings back the fruits and wines of Portugal to Poland,
replaces by every such operation two capitals, neither of which had
been employed in supporting the productive labour of Holland; but one
of them in supporting that of Poland, and the other that of Portugal.
The profits only return regularly to Holland, and constitute the whole
addition which this trade necessarily makes to the annual produce of
the land and labour of that country. When, indeed, the carrying trade
of any particular country is carried on with the ships and sailors of
that country, that part of the capital employed in it which pays the
freight is distributed among, and puts into motion, a certain number
of productive labourers of that country. Almost all nations that have
had any considerable share of the carrying trade have, in fact,
carried it on in this manner. The trade itself has probably derived
its name from it, the people of such countries being the carriers to
other countries. It does not, however, seem essential to the nature of
the trade that it should be so. A Dutch merchant may, for example,
employ his capital in transacting the commerce of Poland and Portugal,
by carrying part of the surplus produce of the one to the other, not
in Dutch, but in British bottoms. It maybe presumed, that he actually
does so upon some particular occasions. It is upon this account,
however, that the carrying trade has been supposed peculiarly
advantageous to such a country as Great Britain, of which the defence
and security depend upon the number of its sailors and shipping. But
the same capital may employ as many sailors and shipping, either in
the foreign trade of consumption, or even in the home trade, when
carried on by coasting vessels, as it could in the carrying trade. The
number of sailors and shipping which any particular capital can
employ, does not depend upon the nature of the trade, but partly upon
the bulk of the goods, in proportion to their value, and partly upon
the distance of the ports between which they are to be carried;
chiefly upon the former of those two circumstances. The coal trade
from Newcastle to London, for example, employs more shipping than all
the carrying trade of England, though the ports are at no great
distance. To force, therefore, by extraordinary encouragements, a
larger share of the capital of any country into the carrying trade,
than what would naturally go to it, will not always necessarily
increase the shipping of that country.

The capital, therefore, employed in the home trade of any country,
will generally give encouragement and support to a greater quantity of
productive labour in that country, and increase the value of its
annual produce, more than an equal capital employed in the foreign
trade of consumption; and the capital employed in this latter trade
has, in both these respects, a still greater advantage over an equal
capital employed in the carrying trade. The riches, and so far as
power depends upon riches, the power of every country must always be
in proportion to the value of its annual produce, the fund from which
all taxes must ultimately be paid. But the great object of the
political economy of every country, is to increase the riches and
power of that country. It ought, therefore, to give no preference nor
superior encouragement to the foreign trade of consumption above the
home trade, nor to the carrying trade above either of the other two.
It ought neither to force nor to allure into either of those two
channels a greater share of the capital of the country, than what
would naturally flow into them of its own accord.

Each of those different branches of trade, however, is not only
advantageous, but necessary and unavoidable, when the course of
things, without any constraint or violence, naturally introduces it.

When the produce of any particular branch of industry exceeds what the
demand of the country requires, the surplus must be sent abroad, and
exchanged for something for which there is a demand at home. Without
such exportation, a part of the productive labour of the country must
cease, and the value of its annual produce diminish. The land and
labour of Great Britain produce generally more corn, woollens, and
hardware, than the demand of the home market requires. The surplus
part of them, therefore, must be sent abroad, and exchanged for
something for which there is a demand at home. It is only by means of
such exportation, that this surplus can acquired value sufficient to
compensate the labour and expense of producing it. The neighbourhood
of the sea-coast, and the banks of all navigable rivers, are
advantageous situations for industry, only because they facilitate the
exportation and exchange of such surplus produce for something else
which is more in demand there.

When the foreign goods which are thus purchased with the surplus
produce of domestic industry exceed the demand of the home market, the
surplus part of them must be sent abroad again, and exchanged for
something more in demand at home. About 96,000 hogsheads of tobacco
are annually purchased in Virginia and Maryland with a part of the
surplus produce of British industry. But the demand of Great Britain
does not require, perhaps, more than 14,000. If the remaining 82,000,
therefore, could not be sent abroad, and exchanged for something more
in demand at home, the importation of them must cease immediately, and
with it the productive labour of all those inhabitants of Great
Britain who are at present employed in preparing the goods with which
these 82,000 hogsheads are annually purchased. Those goods, which are
part of the produce of the land and labour of Great Britain, having no
market at home, and being deprived of that which they had abroad, must
cease to be produced. The most round-about foreign trade of
consumption, therefore, may, upon some occasions, be as necessary for
supporting the productive labour of the country, and the value of its
annual produce, as the most direct.

When the capital stock of any country is increased to such a degree
that it cannot be all employed in supplying the consumption, and
supporting the productive labour of that particular country, the
surplus part of it naturally disgorges itself into the carrying trade,
and is employed in performing the same offices to other countries. The
carrying trade is the natural effect and symptom of great national
wealth; but it does not seem to be the natural cause of it. Those
statesmen who have been disposed to favour it with particular
encouragement, seem to have mistaken the effect and symptom for the
cause. Holland, in proportion to the extent of the land and the number
of it's inhabitants, by far the richest country in Europe, has
accordingly the greatest share of the carrying trade of Europe.
England, perhaps the second richest country of Europe, is likewise
supposed to have a considerable share in it; though what commonly
passes for the carrying trade of England will frequently, perhaps, be
found to be no more than a round-about foreign trade of consumption.
Such are, in a great measure, the trades which carry the goods of the
East and West Indies and of America to the different European markets.
Those goods are generally purchased, either immediately with the
produce of British industry, or with something else which had been
purchased with that produce, and the final returns of those trades are
generally used or consumed in Great Britain. The trade which is
carried on in British bottoms between the different ports of the
Mediterranean, and some trade of the same kind carried on by British
merchants between the different ports of India, make, perhaps, the
principal branches of what is properly the carrying trade of Great

The extent of the home trade, and of the capital which can be employed
in it, is necessarily limited by the value of the surplus produce of
all those distant places within the country which have occasion to
exchange their respective productions with one another; that of the
foreign trade of consumption, by the value of the surplus produce of
the whole country, and of what can be purchased with it; that of the
carrying trade, by the value of the surplus produce of all the
different countries in the world. Its possible extent, therefore, is
in a manner infinite in comparison of that of the other two, and is
capable of absorbing the greatest capitals.

The consideration of his own private profit is the sole motive which
determines the owner of any capital to employ it either in
agriculture, in manufactures, or in some particular branch of the
wholesale or retail trade. The different quantities of productive
labour which it may put into motion, and the different values which it
may add to the annual produce of the land and labour of the society,
according as it is employed in one or other of those different ways,
never enter into his thoughts. In countries, therefore, where
agriculture is the most profitable of all employments, and farming and
improving the most direct roads to a splendid fortune, the capitals of
individuals will naturally be employed in the manner most advantageous
to the whole society. The profits of agriculture, however, seem to
have no superiority over those of other employments in any part of
Europe. Projectors, indeed, in every corner of it, have, within these
few years, amused the public with most magnificent accounts of the
profits to be made by the cultivation and improvement of land. Without
entering into any particular discussion of their calculations, a very
simple observation may satisfy us that the result of them must be
false. We see, every day, the most splendid fortunes, that have been
acquired in the course of a single life, by trade and manufactures,
frequently from a very small capital, sometimes from no capital. A
single instance of such a fortune, acquired by agriculture in the same
time, and from such a capital, has not, perhaps, occurred in Europe,
during the course of the present century. In all the great countries
of Europe, however, much good land still remains uncultivated; and the
greater part of what is cultivated, is far from being improved to the
degree of which it is capable. Agriculture, therefore, is almost
everywhere capable of absorbing a much greater capital than has ever
yet been employed in it. What circumstances in the policy of Europe
have given the trades which are carried on in towns so great an
advantage over that which is carried on in the country, that private
persons frequently find it more for their advantage to employ their
capitals in the most distant carrying trades of Asia and America than
in the improvement and cultivation of the most fertile fields in their
own neighbourhood, I shall endeavour to explain at full length in the
two following books.





The great commerce of every civilized society is that carried on
between the inhabitants of the town and those of the country. It
consists in the exchange of rude for manufactured produce, either
immediately, or by the intervention of money, or of some sort of paper
which represents money. The country supplies the town with the means
of subsistence and the materials of manufacture. The town repays this
supply, by sending back a part of the manufactured produce to the
inhabitants of the country. The town, in which there neither is nor
can be any reproduction of substances, may very properly be said to
gain its whole wealth and subsistence from the country. We must not,
however, upon this account, imagine that the gain of the town is the
loss of the country. The gains of both are mutual and reciprocal, and
the division of labour is in this, as in all other cases, advantageous
to all the different persons employed in the various occupations into
which it is subdivided. The inhabitants of the country purchase of the
town a greater quantity of manufactured goods with the produce of a
much smaller quantity of their own labour, than they must have
employed had they attempted to prepare them themselves. The town
affords a market for the surplus produce of the country, or what is
over and above the maintenance of the cultivators; and it is there
that the inhabitants of the country exchange it for something else
which is in demand among them. The greater the number and revenue of
the inhabitants of the town, the more extensive is the market which it
affords to those of the country; and the more extensive that market,
it is always the more advantageous to a great number. The corn which
grows within a mile of the town, sells there for the same price with
that which comes from twenty miles distance. But the price of the
latter must, generally, not only pay the expense of raising it and
bringing it to market, but afford, too, the ordinary profits of
agriculture to the farmer. The proprietors and cultivators of the
country, therefore, which lies in the neighbourhood of the town, over
and above the ordinary profits of agriculture, gain, in the price of
what they sell, the whole value of the carriage of the like produce
that is brought from more distant parts; and they save, besides, the
whole value of this carriage in the price of what they buy. Compare
the cultivation of the lands in the neighbourhood of any considerable
town, with that of those which lie at some distance from it, and you
will easily satisfy yourself bow much the country is benefited by the
commerce of the town. Among all the absurd speculations that have been
propagated concerning the balance of trade, it has never been
pretended that either the country loses by its commerce with the town,
or the town by that with the country which maintains it.

As subsistence is, in the nature of things, prior to conveniency and
luxury, so the industry which procures the former, must necessarily be
prior to that which ministers to the latter. The cultivation and
improvement of the country, therefore, which affords subsistence,
must, necessarily, be prior to the increase of the town, which
furnishes only the means of conveniency and luxury. It is the surplus
produce of the country only, or what is over and above the maintenance
of the cultivators, that constitutes the subsistence of the town,
which can therefore increase only with the increase of the surplus
produce. The town, indeed, may not always derive its whole subsistence
from the country in its neighbourhood, or even from the territory to
which it belongs, but from very distant countries; and this, though it
forms no exception from the general rule, has occasioned considerable
variations in the progress of opulence in different ages and nations.

That order of things which necessity imposes, in general, though not
in every particular country, is in every particular country promoted
by the natural inclinations of man. If human institutions had never
thwarted those natural inclinations, the towns could nowhere have
increased beyond what the improvement and cultivation of the territory
in which they were situated could support; till such time, at least,
as the whole of that territory was completely cultivated and improved.
Upon equal, or nearly equal profits, most men will choose to employ
their capitals, rather in the improvement and cultivation of land,
than either in manufactures or in foreign trade. The man who employs
his capital in land, has it more under his view and command; and his
fortune is much less liable to accidents than that of the trader, who
is obliged frequently to commit it, not only to the winds and the
waves, but to the more uncertain elements of human folly and
injustice, by giving great credits, in distant countries, to men with
whose character and situation he can seldom be thoroughly acquainted.
The capital of the landlord, on the contrary, which is fixed in the
improvement of his land, seems to be as well secured as the nature of
human affairs can admit of. The beauty of the country, besides, the
pleasure of a country life, the tranquillity of mind which it
promises, and, wherever the injustice of human laws does not disturb
it, the independency which it really affords, have charms that, more
or less, attract everybody; and as to cultivate the ground was the
original destination of man, so, in every stage of his existence, he
seems to retain a predilection for this primitive employment.

Without the assistance of some artificers, indeed, the cultivation of
land cannot be carried on, but with great inconveniency and continual
interruption. Smiths, carpenters, wheelwrights and ploughwrights,
masons and bricklayers, tanners, shoemakers, and tailors, are people
whose service the farmer has frequent occasion for. Such artificers,
too, stand occasionally in need of the assistance of one another; and
as their residence is not, like that of the farmer, necessarily tied
down to a precise spot, they naturally settle in the neighbourhood of
one another, and thus form a small town or village. The butcher, the
brewer, and the baker, soon join them, together with many other
artificers and retailers, necessary or useful for supplying their
occasional wants, and who contribute still further to augment the
town. The inhabitants of the town, and those of the country, are
mutually the servants of one another. The town is a continual fair or
market, to which the inhabitants of the country resort, in order to
exchange their rude for manufactured produce. It is this commerce
which supplies the inhabitants of the town, both with the materials of
their work, and the means of their subsistence. The quantity of the
finished work which they sell to the inhabitants of the country,
necessarily regulates the quantity of the materials and provisions
which they buy. Neither their employment nor subsistence, therefore,
can augment, but in proportion to the augmentation of the demand from
the country for finished work; and this demand can augment only in
proportion to the extension of improvement and cultivation. Had human
institutions, therefore, never disturbed the natural course of things,
the progressive wealth and increase of the towns would, in every
political society, be consequential, and in proportion to the
improvement and cultivation of the territory of country.

In our North American colonies, where uncultivated land is still to be
had upon easy terms, no manufactures for distant sale have ever yet
been established in any of their towns. When an artificer has acquired
a little more stock than is necessary for carrying on his own business
in supplying the neighbouring country, he does not, in North America,
attempt to establish with it a manufacture for more distant sale, but
employs it in the purchase and improvement of uncultivated land. From
artificer he becomes planter; and neither the large wages nor the easy
subsistence which that country affords to artificers, can bribe him
rather to work for other people than for himself. He feels that an
artificer is the servant of his customers, from whom he derives his
subsistence; but that a planter who cultivates his own land, and
derives his necessary subsistence from the labour of his own family,
is really a master, and independent of all the world.

In countries, on the contrary, where there is either no uncultivated
land, or none that can be had upon easy terms, every artificer who has
acquired more stock than he can employ in the occasional jobs of the
neighbourhood, endeavours to prepare work for more distant sale. The
smith erects some sort of iron, the weaver some sort of linen or
woollen manufactory. Those different manufactures come, in process of
time, to be gradually subdivided, and thereby improved and refined in
a great variety of ways, which may easily be conceived, and which it
is therefore unnecessary to explain any farther.

In seeking for employment to a capital, manufactures are, upon equal
or nearly equal profits, naturally preferred to foreign commerce, for
the same reason that agriculture is naturally preferred to
manufactures. As the capital of the landlord or farmer is more secure
than that of the manufacturer, so the capital of the manufacturer,
being at all times more within his view and command, is more secure
than that of the foreign merchant. In every period, indeed, of every
society, the surplus part both of the rude and manufactured produce,
or that for which there is no demand at home, must be sent abroad, in
order to be exchanged for something for which there is some demand at
home. But whether the capital which carries this surplus produce
abroad be a foreign or a domestic one, is of very little importance.
If the society has not acquired sufficient capital, both to cultivate
all its lands, and to manufacture in the completest manner the whole
of its rude produce, there is even a considerable advantage that the
rude produce should be exported by a foreign capital, in order that
the whole stock of the society may be employed in more useful
purposes. The: wealth of ancient Egypt, that of China and Indostan,
sufficiently demonstrate that a nation may attain a very high degree
of opulence, though the greater part of its exportation trade be
carried on by foreigners. The progress of our North American and West
Indian colonies, would have been much less rapid, had no capital but
what belonged to themselves been employed in exporting their surplus

According to the natural course of things, therefore, the greater part
of the capital of every growing society is, first, directed to
agriculture, afterwards to manufactures, and, last of all, to foreign
commerce. This order of things is so very natural, that in every
society that had any territory, it has always, I believe, been in some
degree observed. Some of their lands must have been cultivated before
any considerable towns could be established, and some sort of coarse
industry of the manufacturing kind must have been carried on in those
towns, before they could well think of employing themselves in foreign

But though this natural order of things must have taken place in some
degree in every such society, it has, in all the modern states of
Europe, been in many respects entirely inverted. The foreign commerce
of some of their cities has introduced all their finer manufactures,
or such as were fit for distant sale; and manufactures and foreign
commerce together have given birth to the principal improvements of
agriculture. The manners and customs which the nature of their
original government introduced, and which remained after that
government was greatly altered, necessarily forced them into this
unnatural and retrograde order.



When the German and Scythian nations overran the western provinces of
the Roman empire, the confusions which followed so great a revolution
lasted for several centuries. The rapine and violence which the
barbarians exercised against the ancient inhabitants, interrupted the
commerce between the towns and the country. The towns were deserted,
and the country was left uncultivated; and the western provinces of
Europe, which had enjoyed a considerable degree of opulence under the
Roman empire, sunk into the lowest state of poverty and barbarism.
During the continuance of those confusions, the chiefs and principal
leaders of those nations acquired, or usurped to themselves, the
greater part of the lands of those countries. A great part of them was
uncultivated; but no part of them, whether cultivated or uncultivated,
was left without a proprietor. All of them were engrossed, and the
greater part by a few great proprietors.

This original engrossing of uncultivated lands, though a great, might
have been but a transitory evil. They might soon have been divided
again, and broke into small parcels, either by succession or by
alienation. The law of primogeniture hindered them from being divided
by succession; the introduction of entails prevented their being broke
into small parcels by alienation.

When land, like moveables, is considered as the means only of
subsistence and enjoyment, the natural law of succession divides it,
like them, among all the children of the family; of all of whom the
subsistence and enjoyment may be supposed equally dear to the father.
This natural law of succession, accordingly, took place among the
Romans who made no more distinction between elder and younger, between
male and female, in the inheritance of lands, than we do in the
distribution of moveables. But when land was considered as the means,
not of subsistence merely, but of power and protection, it was thought
better that it should descend undivided to one. In those disorderly
times, every great landlord was a sort of petty prince. His tenants
were his subjects. He was their judge, and in some respects their
legislator in peace and their leader in war. He made war according to
his own discretion, frequently against his neighbours, and sometimes
against his sovereign. The security of a landed estate, therefore, the
protection which its owner could afford to those who dwelt on it,
depended upon its greatness. To divide it was to ruin it, and to
expose every part of it to be oppressed and swallowed up by the
incursions of its neighbours. The law of primogeniture, therefore,
came to take place, not immediately indeed, but in process of time, in
the succession of landed estates, for the same reason that it has
generally taken place in that of monarchies, though not always at
their first institution. That the power, and consequently the security
of the monarchy, may not be weakened by division, it must descend
entire to one of the children. To which of them so important a
preference shall be given, must be determined by some general rule,
founded not upon the doubtful distinctions of personal merit, but upon
some plain and evident difference which can admit of no dispute. Among
the children of the same family there can be no indisputable
difference but that of sex, and that of age. The male sex is
universally preferred to the female; and when all other things are
equal, the elder everywhere takes place of the younger. Hence the
origin of the right of primogeniture, and of what is called lineal

Laws frequently continue in force long after the circumstances which
first gave occasion to them, and which could alone render them
reasonable, are no more. In the present state of Europe, the
proprietor of a single acre of land is as perfectly secure in his
possession as the proprietor of 100,000. The right of primogeniture,
however, still continues to be respected; and as of all institutions
it is the fittest to support the pride of family distinctions, it is
still likely to endure for many centuries. In every other respect,
nothing can be more contrary to the real interest of a numerous
family, than a right which, in order to enrich one, beggars all the
rest of the children.

Entails are the natural consequences of the law of primogeniture. They
were introduced to preserve a certain lineal succession, of which the
law of primogeniture first gave the idea, and to hinder any part of
the original estate from being carried out of the proposed line,
either by gift, or device, or alienation; either by the folly, or by
the misfortune of any of its successive owners. They were altogether
unknown to the Romans. Neither their substitutions, nor fidei
commisses, bear any resemblance to entails, though some French lawyers
have thought proper to dress the modern institution in the language
and garb of those ancient ones.

When great landed estates were a sort of principalities, entails might
not be unreasonable. Like what are called the fundamental laws of some
monarchies, they might frequently hinder the security of thousands
from being endangered by the caprice or extravagance of one man. But
in the present state of Europe, when small as well as great estates
derive their security from the laws of their country, nothing can be
more completely absurd. They are founded upon the most absurd of all
suppositions, the supposition that every successive generation of men
have not an equal right to the earth, and to all that it possesses;
but that the property of the present generation should be restrained
and regulated according to the fancy of those who died, perhaps five
hundred years ago. Entails, however, are still respected, through the
greater part of Europe; In those countries, particularly, in which
noble birth is a necessary qualification for the enjoyment either of
civil or military honours. Entails are thought necessary for
maintaining this exclusive privilege of the nobility to the great
offices and honours of their country; and that order having usurped
one unjust advantage over the rest of their fellow-citizens, lest
their poverty should render it ridiculous, it is thought reasonable
that they should have another. The common law of England, indeed, is
said to abhor perpetuities, and they are accordingly more restricted
there than in any other European monarchy; though even England is not
altogether without them. In Scotland, more than one fifth, perhaps
more than one third part of the whole lands in the country, are at
present supposed to be under strict entail.

Great tracts of uncultivated land were in this manner not only
engrossed by particular families, but the possibility of their being
divided again was as much as possible precluded for ever. It seldom
happens, however, that a great proprietor is a great improver. In the
disorderly times which gave birth to those barbarous institutions, the
great proprietor was sufficiently employed in defending his own
territories, or in extending his jurisdiction and authority over those
of his neighbours. He had no leisure to attend to the cultivation and
improvement of land. When the establishment of law and order afforded
him this leisure, he often wanted the inclination, and almost always
the requisite abilities. If the expense of his house and person either
equalled or exceeded his revenue, as it did very frequently, he had no
stock to employ in this manner. If he was an economist, he generally
found it more profitable to employ his annual savings in new purchases
than in the improvement of his old estate. To improve land with
profit, like all other commercial projects, requires an exact
attention to small savings and small gains, of which a man born to a
great fortune, even though naturally frugal, is very seldom capable.
The situation of such a person naturally disposes him to attend rather
to ornament, which pleases his fancy, than to profit, for which he has
so little occasion. The elegance of his dress, of his equipage, of his
house and household furniture, are objects which, from his infancy, he
has been accustomed to have some anxiety about. The turn of mind which
this habit naturally forms, follows him when he comes to think of the
improvement of land. He embellishes, perhaps, four or five hundred
acres in the neighbourhood of his house, at ten times the expense
which the land is worth after all his improvements; and finds, that if
he was to improve his whole estate in the same manner, and he has
little taste for any other, he would be a bankrupt before he had
finished the tenth part of it. There still remain, in both parts of
the united kingdom, some great estates which have continued, without
interruption, in the hands of the same family since the times of
feudal anarchy. Compare the present condition of those estates with
the possessions of the small proprietors in their neighbourhood, and
you will require no other argument to convince you how unfavourable
such extensive property is to improvement.

If little improvement was to be expected from such great proprietors,
still less was to be hoped for from those who occupied the land under
them. In the ancient state of Europe, the occupiers of land were all
tenants at will. They were all, or almost all, slaves, but their
slavery was of a milder kind than that known among the ancient Greeks
and Romans, or even in our West Indian colonies. They were supposed to
belong more directly to the land than to their master. They could,
therefore, be sold with it, but not separately. They could marry,
provided it was with the consent of their master; and he could not
afterwards dissolve the marriage by selling the man and wife to
different persons. If he maimed or murdered any of them, he was liable
to some penalty, though generally but to a small one. They were not,
however, capable of acquiring property. Whatever they acquired was
acquired to their master, and he could take it from them at pleasure.
Whatever cultivation and improvement could be carried on by means of
such slaves, was properly carried on by their master. It was at his
expense. The seed, the cattle, and the instruments of husbandry, were
all his. It was for his benefit. Such slaves could acquire nothing but
their daily maintenance. It was properly the proprietor himself,
therefore, that in this case occupied his own lands, and cultivated
them by his own bondmen. This species of slavery still subsists in
Russia, Poland, Hungary, Bohemia, Moravia, and other parts of Germany.
It is only in the western and south-western provinces of Europe that
it has gradually been abolished altogether.

But if great improvements are seldom to be expected from great
proprietors, they are least of all to be expected when they employ
slaves for their workmen. The experience of all ages and nations, I
believe, demonstrates that the work done by slaves, though it appears
to cost only their maintenance, is in the end the dearest of any. A
person who can acquire no property can have no other interest but to
eat as much and to labour as little as possible. Whatever work he does
beyond what is sufficient to purchase his own maintenance, can be
squeezed out of him by violence only, and not by any interest of his
own. In ancient Italy, how much the cultivation of corn degenerated,
how unprofitable it became to the master, when it fell under the
management of slaves, is remarked both by Pliny and Columella. In the
time of Aristotle, it had not been much better in ancient Greece.
Speaking of the ideal republic described in the laws of Plato, to
maintain 5000 idle men (the number of warriors supposed necessary for
its defence), together with their women and servants, would require,
he says, a territory of boundless extent and fertility, like the
plains of Babylon.

The pride of man makes him love to domineer, and nothing mortifies him
so much as to be obliged to condescend to persuade his inferiors.
Wherever the law allows it, and the nature of the work can afford it,
therefore, he will generally prefer the service of slaves to that of
freemen. The planting of sugar and tobacco can afford the expense of
slave cultivation. The raising of corn, it seems, in the present
times, cannot. In the English colonies, of which the principal produce
is corn, the far greater part of the work is done by freemen. The late
resolution of the Quakers in Pennsylvania, to set at liberty all their
negro slaves, may satisfy us that their number cannot be very great.
Had they made any considerable part of their property, such a
resolution could never have been agreed to. In our sugar colonies., on
the contrary, the whole work is done by slaves, and in our tobacco
colonies a very great part of it. The profits of a sugar plantation in
any of our West Indian colonies, are generally much greater than those
of any other cultivation that is known either in Europe or America;
and the profits of a tobacco plantation, though inferior to those of
sugar, are superior to those of corn, as has already been observed.
Both can afford the expense of slave cultivation but sugar can afford
it still better than tobacco. The number of negroes, accordingly, is
much greater, in proportion to that of whites, in our sugar than in
our tobacco colonies.

To the slave cultivators of ancient times gradually succeeded a
species of farmers, known at present in France by the name of
metayers. They are called in Latin Coloni Partiarii. They have been so
long in disuse in England, that at present I know no English name for
them. The proprietor furnished them with the seed, cattle, and
instruments of husbandry, the whole stock, in short, necessary for
cultivating the farm. The produce was divided equally between the
proprietor and the farmer, after setting aside what was judged
necessary for keeping up the stock, which was restored to the
proprietor, when the farmer either quitted or was turned out of the

Land occupied by such tenants is properly cultivated at the expense of
the proprietors, as much as that occupied by slaves. There is,
however, one very essential difference between them. Such tenants,
being freemen, are capable of acquiring property; and having a certain
proportion of the produce of the land, they have a plain interest that
the whole produce should be as great as possible, in order that their
own proportion may be so. A slave, on the contrary, who can acquire
nothing but his maintenance, consults his own ease, by making the land
produce as little as possible over and above that maintenance. It is
probable that it was partly upon account of this advantage, and partly
upon account of the encroachments which the sovereigns, always jealous
of the great lords, gradually encouraged their villains to make upon
their authority, and which seem, at least, to have been such as
rendered this species of servitude altogether inconvenient, that
tenure in villanage gradually wore out through the greater part of
Europe. The time and manner, however, in which so important a
revolution was brought about, is one of the most obscure points in
modern history. The church of Rome claims great merit in it; and it is
certain, that so early as the twelfth century, Alexander III.
published a bull for the general emancipation of slaves. It seems,
however, to have been rather a pious exhortation, than a law to which
exact obedience was required from the faithful. Slavery continued to
take place almost universally for several centuries afterwards, till
it was gradually abolished by the joint operation of the two interests
above mentioned; that of the proprietor on the one hand, and that of
the sovereign on the other. A villain, enfranchised, and at the same
time allowed to continue in possession of the land, having no stock of
his own, could cultivate it only by means of what the landlord
advanced to him, and must therefore have been what the French call a

It could never, however, be the interest even of this last species of
cultivators, to lay out, in the further improvement of the land, any
part of the little stock which they might save from their own share of
the produce; because the landlord, who laid out nothing, was to get
one half of whatever it produced. The tithe, which is but a tenth of
the produce, is found to be a very great hindrance to improvement. A
tax, therefore, which amounted to one half, must have been an
effectual bar to it. It might be the interest of a metayer to make the
land produce as much as could be brought out of it by means of the
stock furnished by the proprietor; but it could never be his interest
to mix any part of his own with it. In France, where five parts out of
six of the whole kingdom are said to be still occupied by this species
of cultivators, the proprietors complain, that their metayers take
every opportunity of employing their master's cattle rather in
carriage than in cultivation; because, in the one case, they get the
whole profits to themselves, in the other they share them with their
landlord. This species of tenants still subsists in some parts of
Scotland. They are called steel-bow tenants. Those ancient English
tenants, who are said by Chief-Baron Gilbert and Dr Blackstone to have
been rather bailiffs of the landlord than farmers, properly so called,
were probably of the same kind.

To this species of tenantry succeeded, though by very slow degrees,
farmers, properly so called, who cultivated the land with their own
stock, paying a rent certain to the landlord. When such farmers have a
lease for a term of years, they may sometimes find it for their
interest to lay out part of their capital in the further improvement
of the farm; because they may sometimes expect to recover it, with a
large profit, before the expiration of the lease. The possession, even
of such farmers, however, was long extremely precarious, and still is
so in many parts of Europe. They could, before the expiration of their
term, be legally ousted of their leases by a new purchaser; in
England, even, by the fictitious action of a common recovery. If they
were turned out illegally by the violence of their master, the action
by which they obtained redress was extremely imperfect. It did not
always reinstate them in the possession of the land, but gave them
damages, which never amounted to a real loss. Even in England, the
country, perhaps of Europe, where the yeomanry has always been most
respected, it was not till about the 14th of Henry VII. that the
action of ejectment was invented, by which the tenant recovers, not
damages only, but possession, and in which his claim is not
necessarily concluded by the uncertain decision of a single assize.
This action has been found so effectual a remedy, that, in the modern
practice, when the landlord has occasion to sue for the possession of
the land, he seldom makes use of the actions which properly belong to
him as a landlord, the writ of right or the writ of entry, but sues in
the name of his tenant, by the writ of ejectment. In England,
therefore the security of the tenant is equal to that of the
proprietor. In England, besides, a lease for life of forty shillings
a-year value is a freehold, and entitles the lessee to a vote for a
member of parliament; and as a great part of the yeomanry have
freeholds of this kind, the whole order becomes respectable to their
landlords, on account of the political consideration which this gives
them. There is, I believe, nowhere in Europe, except in England, any
instance of the tenant building upon the land of which he had no
lease, and trusting that the honour of his landlord would take no
advantage of so important an improvement. Those laws and customs, so
favourable to the yeomanry, have perhaps contributed more to the
present grandeur of England, than all their boasted regulations of
commerce taken together.

The law which secures the longest leases against successors of every
kind, is, so far as I know, peculiar to Great Britain. It was
introduced into Scotland so early as 1449, by a law of James II. Its
beneficial influence, however, has been much obstructed by entails;
the heirs of entail being generally restrained from letting leases for
any long term of years, frequently for more than one year. A late act
of parliament has, in this respect, somewhat slackened their fetters,
though they are still by much too strait. In Scotland, besides, as no
leasehold gives a vote for a member of parliament, the yeomanry are
upon this account less respectable to their landlords than in England.

In other parts of Europe, after it was found convenient to secure
tenants both against heirs and purchasers, the term of their security
was still limited to a very short period; in France, for example, to
nine years from the commencement of the lease. It has in that country,
indeed, been lately extended to twentyseven, a period still too short
to encourage the tenant to make the most important improvements. The
proprietors of land were anciently the legislators of every part of
Europe. The laws relating to land, therefore, were all calculated for
what they supposed the interest of the proprietor. It was for his
interest, they had imagined, that no lease granted by any of his
predecessors should hinder him from enjoying, during a long term of
years, the full value of his land. Avarice and injustice are always
short-sighted, and they did not foresee how much this regulation must
obstruct improvement, and thereby hurt, in the long-run, the real
interest of the landlord.

The farmers, too, besides paying the rent, were anciently, it was
supposed, bound to perform a great number of services to the landlord,
which were seldom either specified in the lease, or regulated by any
precise rule, but by the use and wont of the manor or barony. These
services, therefore, being almost entirely arbitrary, subjected the
tenant to many vexations. In Scotland the abolition of all services
not precisely stipulated in the lease, has, in the course of a few
years, very much altered for the better the condition of the yeomanry
of that country.

The public services to which the yeomanry were bound, were not less
arbitrary than the private ones. To make and maintain the high roads,
a servitude which still subsists, I believe, everywhere, though with
different degrees of oppression in different countries, was not the
only one. When the king's troops, when his household, or his officers
of any kind, passed through any part of the country, the yeomanry were
bound to provide them with horses, carriages, and provisions, at a
price regulated by the purveyor. Great Britain is, I believe, the only
monarchy in Europe where the oppression of purveyance has been
entirely abolished. It still subsists in France and Germany.

The public taxes, to which they were subject, were as irregular and
oppressive as the services The ancient lords, though extremely
unwilling to grant, themselves, any pecuniary aid to their sovereign,
easily allowed him to tallage, as they called it, their tenants, and
had not knowledge enough to foresee how much this must, in the end,
affect their own revenue. The taille, as it still subsists in France.
may serve as an example of those ancient tallages. It is a tax upon
the supposed profits of the farmer, which they estimate by the stock
that he has upon the farm. It is his interest, therefore, to appear to
have as little as possible, and consequently to employ as little as
possible in its cultivation, and none in its improvement. Should any
stock happen to accumulate in the hands of a French farmer, the taille
is almost equal to a prohibition of its ever being employed upon the
land. This tax, besides, is supposed to dishonour whoever is subject
to it, and to degrade him below, not only the rank of a gentleman, but
that of a burgher; and whoever rents the lands of another becomes
subject to it. No gentleman, nor even any burgher, who has stock, will
submit to this degradation. This tax, therefore, not only hinders the
stock which accumulates upon the land from being employed in its
improvement, but drives away all other stock from it. The ancient
tenths and fifteenths, so usual in England in former times, seem, so
far as they affected the land, to have been taxes of the same nature
with the taille.

Under all these discouragements, little improvement could be expected
from the occupiers of land. That order of people, with all the liberty
and security which law can give, must always improve under great
disadvantage. The farmer, compared with the proprietor, is as a
merchant who trades with burrowed money, compared with one who trades
with his own. The stock of both may improve; but that of the one, with
only equal good conduct, must always improve more slowly than that of
the other, on account of the large share of the profits which is
consumed by the interest of the loan. The lands cultivated by the
farmer must, in the same manner, with only equal good conduct, be
improved more slowly than those cultivated by the proprietor, on
account of the large share of the produce which is consumed in the
rent, and which, had the farmer been proprietor, he might have
employed in the further improvement of the land. The station of a
farmer, besides, is, from the nature of things, inferior to that of a
proprietor. Through the greater part of Europe, the yeomanry are
regarded as an inferior rank of people, even to the better sort of
tradesmen and mechanics, and in all parts of Europe to the great
merchants and master manufacturers. It can seldom happen, therefore,
that a man of any considerable stock should quit the superior, in
order to place himself in an inferior station. Even in the present
state of Europe, therefore, little stock is likely to go from any
other profession to the improvement of land in the way of farming.
More does, perhaps, in Great Britain than in any other country, though
even there the great stocks which are in some places employed in
farming, have generally been acquired by fanning, the trade, perhaps,
in which, of all others, stock is commonly acquired most slowly. After
small proprietors, however, rich and great farmers are in every
country the principal improvers. There are more such, perhaps, in
England than in any other European monarchy. In the republican
governments of Holland, and of Berne in Switzerland, the farmers are
said to be not inferior to those of England.

The ancient policy of Europe was, over and above all this,
unfavourable to the improvement and cultivation of land, whether
carried on by the proprietor or by the farmer; first, by the general
prohibition of the exportation of corn, without a special licence,
which seems to have been a very universal regulation; and, secondly,
by the restraints which were laid upon the inland commerce, not only
of corn, but of almost every other part of the produce of the farm, by
the absurd laws against engrossers, regraters, and forestallers, and
by the privileges of fairs and markets. It has already been observed
in what manner the prohibition of the exportation of corn, together
with some encouragement given to the importation of foreign corn,
obstructed the cultivation of ancient Italy, naturally the most
fertile country in Europe, and at that time the seat of the greatest
empire in the world. To what degree such restraints upon the inland
commerce of this commodity, joined to the general prohibition of
exportation, must have discouraged the cultivation of countries less
fertile, and less favourably circumstanced, it is not, perhaps, very
easy to imagine.



The inhabitants of cities and towns were, after the fall of the Roman
empire, not more favoured than those of the country. They consisted,
indeed, of a very different order of people from the first inhabitants
of the ancient republics of Greece and Italy. These last were composed
chiefly of the proprietors of lands, among whom the public territory
was originally divided, and who found it convenient to build their
houses in the neighbourhood of one another, and to surround them with
a wall, for the sake of common defence. After the fall of the Roman
empire, on the contrary, the proprietors of land seem generally to
have lived in fortified castles on their own estates, and in the midst
of their own tenants and dependants. The towns were chiefly inhabited
by tradesmen and mechanics, who seem, in those days, to have been of
servile, or very nearly of servile condition. The privileges which we
find granted by ancient charters to the inhabitants of some of the
principal towns in Europe, sufficiently show what they were before
those grants. The people to whom it is granted as a privilege, that
they might give away their own daughters in marriage without the
consent of their lord, that upon their death their own children, and
not their lord, should succeed to their goods, and that they might
dispose of their own effects by will, must, before those grants, have
been either altogether, or very nearly, in the same state of villanage
with the occupiers of land in the country.

They seem, indeed, to have been a very poor, mean set of people, who
seemed to travel about with their goods from place to place, and from
fair to fair, like the hawkers and pedlars of the present times. In
all the different countries of Europe then, in the same manner as in
several of the Tartar governments of Asia at present, taxes used to be
levied upon the persons and goods of travellers, when they passed
through certain manors, when they went over certain bridges, when they
carried about their goods from place to place in a fair, when they
erected in it a booth or stall to sell them in. These different taxes
were known in England by the names of passage, pontage, lastage, and
stallage. Sometimes the king, sometimes a great lord, who had, it
seems, upon some occasions, authority to do this, would grant to
particular traders, to such particularly as lived in their own
demesnes, a general exemption from such taxes. Such traders, though in
other respects of servile, or very nearly of servile condition, were
upon this account called free traders. They, in return, usually paid
to their protector a sort of annual poll-tax. In those days protection
was seldom granted without a valuable consideration, and this tax
might perhaps be considered as compensation for what their patrons
might lose by their exemption from other taxes. At first, both those
poll-taxes and those exemptions seem to have been altogether personal,
and to have affected only particular individuals, during either their
lives, or the pleasure of their protectors. In the very imperfect
accounts which have been published from Doomsday-book, of several of
the towns of England, mention is frequently made, sometimes of the tax
which particular burghers paid, each of them, either to the king, or
to some other great lord, for this sort of protection, and sometimes
of the general amount only of all those taxes. {see Brady's Historical
Treatise of Cities and Boroughs, p. 3. etc.}

But how servile soever may have been originally the condition of the
inhabitants of the towns, it appears evidently, that they arrived at
liberty and independency much earlier than the occupiers of land in
the country. That part of the king's revenue which arose from such
poll-taxes in any particular town, used commonly to be let in farm,
during a term of years, for a rent certain, sometimes to the sheriff
of the county, and sometimes to other persons. The burghers themselves
frequently got credit enough to be admitted to farm the revenues of
this sort winch arose out of their own town, they becoming jointly and
severally answerable for the whole rent. {See Madox, Firma Burgi, p.
18; also History of the Exchequer, chap. 10, sect. v, p. 223, first
edition.} To let a farm in this manner, was quite agreeable to the
usual economy of, I believe, the sovereigns of all the different
countries of Europe, who used frequently to let whole manors to all
the tenants of those manors, they becoming jointly and severally
answerable for the whole rent; but in return being allowed to collect
it in their own way, and to pay it into the king's exchequer by the
hands of their own bailiff, and being thus altogether freed from the
insolence of the king's officers; a circumstance in those days
regarded as of the greatest importance.

At first, the farm of the town was probably let to the burghers, in
the same manner as it had been to other farmers, for a term of years
only. In process of time, however, it seems to have become the general
practice to grant it to them in fee, that is for ever, reserving a
rent certain, never afterwards to be augmented. The payment having
thus become perpetual, the exemptions, in return, for which it was
made, naturally became perpetual too. Those exemptions, therefore,
ceased to be personal, and could not afterwards be considered as
belonging to individuals, as individuals, but as burghers of a
particular burgh, which, upon this account, was called a free burgh,
for the same reason that they had been called free burghers or free

Along with this grant, the important privileges, above mentioned, that
they might give away their own daughters in marriage, that their
children should succeed to them, and that they might dispose of their
own effects by will, were generally bestowed upon the burghers of the
town to whom it was given. Whether such privileges had before been
usually granted, along with the freedom of trade, to particular
burghers, as individuals, I know not. I reckon it not improbable that
they were, though I cannot produce any direct evidence of it. But
however this may have been, the principal attributes of villanage and
slavery being thus taken away from them, they now at least became
really free, in our present sense of the word freedom.

Nor was this all. They were generally at the same time erected into a
commonalty or corporation, with the privilege of having magistrates
and a town-council of their own, of making bye-laws for their own
government, of building walls for their own defence, and of reducing
all their inhabitants under a sort of military discipline, by obliging
them to watch and ward; that is, as anciently understood, to guard and
defend those walls against all attacks and surprises, by night as well
as by day. In England they were generally exempted from suit to the
hundred and county courts: and all such pleas as should arise among
them, the pleas of the crown excepted, were left to the decision of
their own magistrates. In other countries, much greater and more
extensive jurisdictions were frequently granted to them. {See Madox,
Firma Burgi. See also Pfeffel in the Remarkable events under Frederick
II. and his Successors of the House of Suabia.}

It might, probably, be necessary to grant to such towns as were
admitted to farm their own revenues, some sort of compulsive
jurisdiction to oblige their own citizens to make payment. In those
disorderly times, it might have been extremely inconvenient to have
left them to seek this sort of justice from any other tribunal. But it
must seem extraordinary, that the sovereigns of all the different
countries of Europe should have exchanged in this manner for a rent
certain, never more to be augmented, that branch of their revenue,
which was, perhaps, of all others, the most likely to be improved by
the natural course of things, without either expense or attention of
their own; and that they should, besides, have in this manner
voluntarily erected a sort of independent republics in the heart of
their own dominions.

In order to understand this, it must be remembered, that, in those
days, the sovereign of perhaps no country in Europe was able to
protect, through the whole extent of his dominions, the weaker part of
his subjects from the oppression of the great lords. Those whom the
law could not protect, and who were not strong enough to defend
themselves, were obliged either to have recourse to the protection of
some great lord, and in order to obtain it, to become either his
slaves or vassals; or to enter into a league of mutual defence for the
common protection of one another. The inhabitants of cities and
burghs, considered as single individuals, had no power to defend
themselves; but by entering into a league of mutual defence with their
neighbours, they were capable of making no contemptible resistance.
The lords despised the burghers, whom they considered not only as a
different order, but as a parcel of emancipated slaves, almost of a
different species from themselves. The wealth of the burghers never
failed to provoke their envy and indignation, and they plundered them
upon every occasion without mercy or remorse. The burghers naturally
hated and feared the lords. The king hated and feared them too; but
though, perhaps, he might despise, he had no reason either to hate or
fear the burghers. Mutual interest, therefore, disposed them to
support the king, and the king to support them against the lords. They
were the enemies of his enemies, and it was his interest to render
them as secure and independent of those enemies as he could. By
granting them magistrates of their own, the privilege of making
bye-laws for their own government, that of building walls for their
own defence, and that of reducing all their inhabitants under a sort
of military discipline, he gave them all the means of security and
independency of the barons which it was in his power to bestow.
Without the establishment of some regular government of this kind,
without some authority to compel their inhabitants to act according to
some certain plan or system, no voluntary league of mutual defence
could either have afforded them any permanent security, or have
enabled them to give the king any considerable support. By granting
them the farm of their own town in fee, he took away from those whom
he wished to have for his friends, and, if one may say so, for his
allies, all ground of jealousy and suspicion, that he was ever
afterwards to oppress them, either by raising the farm-rent of their
town, or by granting it to some other farmer.

The princes who lived upon the worst terms with their barons, seem
accordingly to have been the most liberal in grants of this kind to
their burghs. King John of England, for example, appears to have been
a most munificent benefactor to his towns. {See Madox.} Philip I. of
France lost all authority over his barons. Towards the end of his
reign, his son Lewis, known afterwards by the name of Lewis the Fat,
consulted, according to Father Daniel, with the bishops of the royal
demesnes, concerning the most proper means of restraining the violence
of the great lords. Their advice consisted of two different proposals.
One was to erect a new order of jurisdiction, by establishing
magistrates and a town-council in every considerable town of his
demesnes. The other was to form a new militia, by making the
inhabitants of those towns, under the command of their own
magistrates, march out upon proper occasions to the assistance of the
king. It is from this period, according to the French antiquarians,
that we are to date the institution of the magistrates and councils of
cities in France. It was during the unprosperous reigns of the princes
of the house of Suabia, that the greater part of the free towns of
Germany received the first grants of their privileges, and that the
famous Hanseatic league first became formidable. {See Pfeffel.}

The militia of the cities seems, in those times, not to have been
inferior to that of the country; and as they could be more readily
assembled upon any sudden occasion, they frequently had the advantage
in their disputes with the neighbouring lords. In countries such as
Italy or Switzerland, in which, on account either of their distance
from the principal seat of government, of the natural strength of the
country itself, or of some other reason, the sovereign came to lose
the whole of his authority; the cities generally became independent
republics, and conquered all the nobility in their neighbourhood;
obliging them to pull down their castles in the country, and to live,
like other peaceable inhabitants, in the city. This is the short
history of the republic of Berne, as well as of several other cities
in Switzerland. If you except Venice, for of that city the history is
somewhat different, it is the history of all the considerable Italian
republics, of which so great a number arose and perished between the
end of the twelfth and the beginning of the sixteenth century.

In countries such as France and England, where the authority of the
sovereign, though frequently very low, never was destroyed altogether,
the cities had no opportunity of becoming entirely independent. They
became, however, so considerable, that the sovereign could impose no
tax upon them, besides the stated farm-rent of the town, without their
own consent. They were, therefore, called upon to send deputies to the
general assembly of the states of the kingdom, where they might join
with the clergy and the barons in granting, upon urgent occasions,
some extraordinary aid to the king. Being generally, too, more
favourable to his power, their deputies seem sometimes to have been
employed by him as a counterbalance in those assemblies to the
authority of the great lords. Hence the origin of the representation
of burghs in the states-general of all great monarchies in Europe.

Order and good government, and along with them the liberty and
security of individuals, were in this manner established in cities, at
a time when the occupiers of land in the country, were exposed to
every sort of violence. But men in this defenceless state naturally
content themselves with their necessary subsistence; because, to
acquire more, might only tempt the injustice of their oppressors. On
the contrary, when they are secure of enjoying the fruits of their
industry, they naturally exert it to better their condition, and to
acquire not only the necessaries, but the conveniencies and elegancies
of life. That industry, therefore, which aims at something more than
necessary subsistence, was established in cities long before it was
commonly practised by the occupiers of land in the country. If, in the
hands of a poor cultivator, oppressed with the servitude of villanage,
some little stock should accumulate, he would naturally conceal it
with great care from his master, to whom it would otherwise have
belonged, and take the first opportunity of running away to a town.
The law was at that time so indulgent to the inhabitants of towns, and
so desirous of diminishing the authority of the lords over those of
the country, that if he could conceal himself there from the pursuit
of his lord for a year, he was free for ever. Whatever stock,
therefore, accumulated in the hands of the industrious part of the
inhabitants of the country, naturally took refuge in cities, as the
only sanctuaries in which it could be secure to the person that
acquired it.

The inhabitants of a city, it is true, must always ultimately derive
their subsistence, and the whole materials and means of their
industry, from the country. But those of a city, situated near either
the sea-coast or the banks of a navigable river, are not necessarily
confined to derive them from the country in their neighbourhood. They
have a much wider range, and may draw them from the most remote
corners of the world, either in exchange for the manufactured produce
of their own industry, or by performing the office of carriers between
distant countries, and exchanging the produce of one for that of
another. A city might, in this manner, grow up to great wealth and
splendour, while not only the country in its neighbourhood, but all
those to which it traded, were in poverty and wretchedness. Each of
those countries, perhaps, taken singly, could afford it but a small
part, either of its subsistence or of its employment; but all of them
taken together, could afford it both a great subsistence and a great
employment. There were, however, within the narrow circle of the
commerce of those times, some countries that were opulent and
industrious. Such was the Greek empire as long as it subsisted, and
that of the Saracens during the reigns of the Abassides. Such, too,
was Egypt till it was conquered by the Turks, some part of the coast
of Barbary, and all those provinces of Spain which were under the
government of the Moors.

The cities of Italy seem to have been the first in Europe which were
raised by commerce to any considerable degree of opulence. Italy lay
in the centre of what was at that time the improved and civilized part
of the world. The crusades, too, though, by the great waste of stock
and destruction of inhabitants which they occasioned, they must
necessarily have retarded the progress of the greater part of Europe,
were extremely favourable to that of some Italian cities. The great
armies which marched from all parts to the conquest of the Holy Land,
gave extraordinary encouragement to the shipping of Venice, Genoa, and
Pisa, sometimes in transporting them thither, and always in supplying
them with provisions. They were the commissaries, if one may say so,
of those armies; and the most destructive frenzy that ever befel the
European nations, was a source of opulence to those republics.

The inhabitants of trading cities, by importing the improved
manufactures and expensive luxuries of richer countries, afforded some
food to the vanity of the great proprietors, who eagerly purchased
them with great quantities of the rude produce of their own lands. The
commerce of a great part of Europe in those times, accordingly,
consisted chiefly in the exchange of their own rude, for the
manufactured produce of more civilized nations. Thus the wool of
England used to be exchanged for the wines of France, and the fine
cloths of Flanders, in the same manner as the corn in Poland is at
this day, exchanged for the wines and brandies of France, and for the
silks and velvets of France and Italy.

A taste for the finer and more improved manufactures was, in this
manner, introduced by foreign commerce into countries where no such
works were carried on. But when this taste became so general as to
occasion a considerable demand, the merchants, in order to save the
expense of carriage, naturally endeavoured to establish some
manufactures of the same kind in their own country. Hence the origin
of the first manufactures for distant sale, that seem to have been
established in the western provinces of Europe, after the fall of the
Roman empire.

No large country, it must be observed, ever did or could subsist
without some sort of manufactures being carried on in it; and when it
is said of any such country that it has no manufactures, it must
always be understood of the finer and more improved, or of such as are
fit for distant sale. In every large country both the clothing and
household furniture or the far greater part of the people, are the
produce of their own industry. This is even more universally the case
in those poor countries which are commonly said to have no
manufactures, than in those rich ones that are said to abound in them.
In the latter you will generally find, both in the clothes and
household furniture of the lowest rank of people, a much greater
proportion of foreign productions than in the former.

Those manufactures which are fit for distant sale, seem to have been
introduced into different countries in two different ways.


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