Whether a coal mine, for example, can afford 
any rent, depends partly upon its fertility
and partly upon its situation
A mine of any kind may be said to be either 
fertile or barren, according as the quantity of 
mineral which can be brought from it by a 
certain quantity of labour, as greater or less 
than what can be brought by an equal quantity 
from the greater part of other mines of 
the same kind
Some coal mines, advantageously situated
cannot be wrought on account of their barrenness
The produce does not pay the expense. 
They can afford neither profit nor rent
There are some, of which the produce is 
barely sufficient to pay the labour, and 
replace, together with its ordinary profits, the 
stock employed in working them. They afford 
some profit to the undertaker of the work, 
but no rent to the landlord. They can be 
wrought advantageously by nobody but the 
landlord, who, being himself the undertaker 
of the work, gets the ordinary profit of the 
capital which he employs in it. Many coal 
mines in Scotland are wrought in this manner
and can be wrought in no other. The landlord 
will allow nobody else to work them without 
paying some rent, and nobody can afford 
to pay any. 
Other coal mines in the same country, sufficiently 
fertile, cannot be wrought on account 
of their situation. A quantity of mineral
sufficient to defray the expense of working
could be brought from the mine by the ordinary
or even less than the ordinary quantity 
of labour: but in an inland country, thinly 
inhabited, and without either good roads or 
water-carriage, this quantity could not be sold
Coals are a less agreeable fuel than wood
they are said too to be less wholesome. The 
expense of coals, therefore, at the place where 
they are consumed, must generally be somewhat 
less than that of wood
The price of wood, again, varies with the 
state of agriculture, nearly in the same manner
and exactly for the same reason, as the 
price of cattle. In its rude beginnings, the 
greater part of every country is covered with 
wood, which is then a mere incumbrance, of 
no value to the landlord, who would gladly 
give it to any body for the cutting. As agriculture 
advances, the woods are partly cleared 
by the progress of tillage, and partly go to decay 
in consequence of the increased number 
of cattle. These, though they do not increase 
in the same proportion as corn, which is altogether 
the acquisition of human industry, yet 
multiply under the care and protection of men, 
who store up in the season of plenty what 
may maintain them in that of scarcity; who, 
through the whole year, furnish them with a 
greater quantity of food than uncultivated nature 
provides for them; and who, by destroying 
and extirpating their enemies, secure them 
in the free enjoyment of all that she provides. 
Numerous herds of cattle, when allowed to 
wander through the woods, though they do 
not destroy the old trees, hinder any young 
ones from coming up; so that, in the course 
of a century or two, the whole forest goes to 
ruin. The scarcity of wood then raises its 
price. It affords a good rent; and the landlord 
sometimes finds that he can scarce employ 
his best lands more advantageously than 
in growing barren timber, of which the greatness 
of the profit often compensates the lateness 
of the returns. This seems, in the present 
times, to be nearly the state of things in 
several parts of Great Britain, where the profit 
of planting is found to be equal to that of 
either corn or pasture. The advantage which 
the landlord derives from planting can nowhere 
exceed, at least for any considerable 
time, the rent which these could afford him; 
and in an inland country, which is highly cultivated
it will frequently not fall much short 
of this rent. Upon the sea-coast of a well-improved 
country, indeed, if coals can conveniently 
be had for fuel, it may sometimes be 
cheaper to bring barren timber for building 
from less cultivated foreign countries than to 
raise it at home. In the new town of Edinburgh, 
built within these few years, there is 
not, perhaps, a single stick of Scotch timber. 
Whatever may be the price of wood, if that 
of coals is such that the expense of a coal fire 
is nearly equal to that of a wood one, we may 
be assured, that at that place, and in these 
circumstances, the price of coals is as high as 
it can be. It seems to be so in some of the 
inland parts of England, particularly in Oxfordshire
where it is usual, even in the fires 
of the common people, to mix coals and wood 
together, and where the difference in the 
expense of those two sorts of fuel cannot, therefore, 
be very great. Coals, in the coal countries
are everywhere much below this highest 
price. If they were not, they could not bear 
the expense of a distant carriage, either by 
land or by water. A small quantity only could 
be sold; and the coal masters and the coal 
proprietors find it more for their interest to 
sell a great quantity at a price somewhat above 
the lowest, than a small quantity at the highest. 
The most fertile coal mine, too, regulates 
the price of coals at all the other mines 
in its neighbourhood. Both the proprietor 
and the undertaker of the work find, the one 
that he can get a greater rent, the other that 
he can get a greater profit, by somewhat underselling 
all their neighbours. Their neighbours 
are soon obliged to sell at the same 
price, though they cannot so well afford it, 
and though it always diminishes, and sometimes 
takes away altogether, both their rent 
and their profit. Some works are abandoned 
altogether; others can afford no rent, and can 
be wrought only by the proprietor
The lowest price at which coals can be sold 
for any considerable time, is, like that of all