to be suitable to his skill and his trust; and it 
arises generally from the price at which he 
sells his drugs. But the whole drugs which 
the best employed apothecary in a large market-town
will sell in a year, may not perhaps 
cost him above thirty or forty pounds. Though 
he should sell them, therefore, for three or 
four hundred, or at a thousand per cent, profit
this may frequently be no more than the 
reasonable wages of his labour, charged, in 
the only way in which he can charge them, 
upon the price of his drugs. The greater part 
of the apparent profit is real wages disguised 
in the garb of profit
In a small sea-port town, a little grocer will 
make forty or fifty per cent. upon a stock of 
a single hundred pounds, while a considerable 
wholesale merchant in the same place will 
scarce make eight or ten per cent. upon a 
stock of ten thousand. The trade of the 
grocer may be necessary for the conveniency 
of the inhabitants, and the narrowness of the 
market may not admit the employment of a 
larger capital in the business. The man, 
however, must not only live by his trade, but 
live by it suitably to the qualifications which 
it requires. Besides possessing a little capital, 
he must be able to read, write, and account, 
and must be a tolerable judge, too, of 
perhaps fifty or sixty different sorts of goods
their prices, qualities, and the markets where 
they are to be had cheapest. He must 
have all the knowledge, in short, that is necessary 
for a great merchant, which nothing 
hinders him from becoming but the want of a 
sufficient capital. Thirty or forty pounds a-year 
cannot be considered as too great a recompence 
for the labour of a person so accomplished
Deduct this from the seemingly 
great profits of his capital, and little more will 
remain, perhaps, than the ordinary profits of 
stock. The greater part of the apparent profit 
is, in this case too, real wages
The difference between the apparent profit 
of the retail and that of the wholesale trade
is much less in the capital than in small towns 
and country villages. Where ten thousand 
pounds can be employed in the grocery trade
the wages of the grocer's labour must be a 
very trifling addition to the real profits of so 
great a stock. The apparent profits of the 
wealthy retailer, therefore, are there more 
nearly upon a level with these of the wholesale 
merchant. It is upon this account that 
goods sold by retail are generally 
and frequently much cheaper, in the capital 
than in small towns and country villages
Grocery goods, for example, are generally 
much cheaper; bread and butchers' meat frequently 
as cheap. It costs no more to bring 
grocery goods to the great town than to the 
country village; but it costs a great deal more 
to bring corn and cattle, as the greater part of 
them must be brought from a much greater 
distance. The prime cost of grocery goods
therefore, being the same in both places, they 
are cheapest where the least profit is charged 
upon them. The prime cost of bread and 
butchers' meat is greater in the great town 
than in the country village; and though the 
profit is less, therefore they are not always 
cheaper there, but often equally cheap. In 
such articles as bread and butchers' meat, the 
the same cause which diminishes apparent profit
increases prime cost. The extent of the market
by giving employment to greater stocks
diminishes apparent profit; but by requiring 
supplies from a greater distance, it increases 
prime cost. This diminution of the one and 
increase of the other, seem, in most cases, 
nearly to counterbalance one another, which 
is probably the reason that, though the prices 
of corn and cattle are commonly very different 
in different parts of the kingdom, those of 
bread and butchers' meat are generally very 
nearly the same through the greater part of 
Though the profits of stock, both in the 
wholesale and retail trade, are generally less 
in the capital than in small towns and country 
villages, yet great fortunes are frequently 
acquired from small beginnings in the former, 
and scarce ever in the latter. In small towns 
and country villages, on account of the narrowness 
of the market, trade cannot always 
be extended as stock extends. In such places
therefore, though the rate of a particular person's 
profits may be very high, the sum or amount 
of them can never be very great, nor 
consequently that of his annual accumulation
In great towns, on the contrary, trade can be 
extended as stock increases, and the credit of 
a frugal and thriving man increases much 
faster than his stock. His trade is extended 
in proportion to the amount of both; and the 
sum or amount of his profits is in proportion 
to the extent of his trade, and his annual accumulation 
in proportion to the amount of 
his profits. It seldom happens, however, that 
great fortunes are made, even in great towns
by any one regular, established, and well-known 
branch of business, but in consequence 
of a long life of industry, frugality, and attention. 
Sudden fortunes, indeed, are sometimes 
made in such places, by what is called 
the trade of speculation. The speculative 
merchant exercises no one regular, established
or well-known branch of business. He is a 
corn merchant this year, and a wine merchant 
the next, and a sugar, tobacco, or tea merchant 
the year after. He enters into every 
trade, when he foresees that it is likely to be 
more than commonly profitable, and he quits 
it when he foresees that its profits are likely 
to return to the level of other trades. His 
profits and losses, therefore, can bear no regular 
proportion to those of any one established 
and well-known branch of business. A bold 
adventurer may sometimes acquire a considerable 
fortune by two or three successful speculations,