That part, too, is generally but a small 
one. It is his spare revenue only, of which 
productive labourers have seldom a great deal
They generally have some, however; and in 
the payment of taxes, the greatness of their 
number may compensate, in some measure, 
the smallness of their contribution. The rent 
of land and the profits of stock are everywhere, 
therefore, the principal sources from which 
unproductive hands derive their subsistence. 
These are the two sorts of revenue of which 
the owners have generally most to spare
They might both maintain indifferently, either 
productive or unproductive hands. They 
seem, however, to have some predilection for 
the latter. The expense of a great lord feeds 
generally more idle than industrious people. 
The rich merchant, though with his capital 
he maintains industrious people only, yet by 
his expense, that is, by the employment of his 
revenue, he feeds commonly the very same 
sort as the great lord
The proportion, therefore, between the productive 
and unproductive hands, depends very 
much in every country upon the proportion 
between that part of the annual produce
which, as soon as it comes either from the 
ground, or from the hands of the productive 
labourers, is destined for replacing a capital, 
and that which is destined for constituting
revenue, either as rent or as profit. This proportion 
is very different in rich from what it 
is in poor countries. 
Thus, at present, in the opulent countries 
of Europe, every large, frequently the largest
portion of the produce of the land, is destined 
for replacing the capital of the rich and independent 
farmer; the other for paying his profits, 
and the rent of the landlord. But anciently, 
during the prevalency of the feudal 
government, a very small portion of the produce 
was sufficient to replace the capital employed 
in cultivation. It consisted commonly 
in a few wretched cattle, maintained altogether 
by the spontaneous produce of uncultivated 
land, and which might, therefore, be 
considered as a part of that spontaneous produce
It generally, too, belonged to the landlord
and was by him advanced to the occupiers 
of the land. All the rest of the produce 
properly belonged to him too, either as rent 
for his land, or as profit upon this paltry capital
The occupiers of land were generally 
bondmen, whose persons and effects were 
equally his property. Those who were not 
bondmen were tenants at will; and though 
the rent which they paid was often nominally 
little more than a quit-rent, it really amounted 
to the whole produce of the land. Their 
lord could at all times command their labour 
in peace and their service in war. Though 
they lived at a distance from his house, they 
were equally dependent upon him as his retainers 
who lived in it. But the whole produce 
of the land undoubtedly belongs to him, 
who can dispose of the labour and service of 
all those whom it maintains. In the present 
state of Europe, the share of the landlord seldom 
exceeds a third, sometimes not a fourth 
part of the whole produce of the land. The 
rent of land, however, in all the improved 
parts of the country, has been tripled and quadrupled 
since those ancient times; and this 
third or fourth part of the annual produce is, 
it seems, three or four times greater than the 
whole had been before. In the progress of 
improvement, rent, though it increases in proportion 
to the extent, diminishes in proportion 
to the produce of the land
In the opulent countries of Europe, great 
capitals are at present employed in trade and 
manufactures. In the ancient state, the little 
trade that was stirring, and the few homely 
and coarse manufactures that were carried on, 
required but very small capitals. These, however, 
must have yielded very large profits
The rate of interest was nowhere less than ten 
per cent. and their profits must have been sufficient 
to afford this great interest. At present
the rate of interest, in the improved parts 
of Europe, is nowhere higher than six per 
cent.; and in some of the most improved, it 
is so low as four, three, and two per cent. 
Though that part of the revenue of the inhabitants 
which is derived from the profits of 
stock, is always much greater in rich than in 
poor countries, it is because the stock is much 
greater; in proportion to the stock, the profits 
are generally much less. 
That part of the annual produce, therefore, 
which, as soon as it comes either from the 
ground, or from the hands of the productive 
labourers, is destined for replacing a capital, 
is not only much greater in rich than in poor 
countries, but bears a much greater proportion 
to that which is immediately destined for 
constituting a revenue either as rent or as profit
The funds destined for the maintenance 
of productive labour are not only much greater 
in the former than in the latter, but bear a 
much greater proportion to those which, though 
they may be employed to maintain either productive 
or unproductive hands, have generally 
a predilection for the latter. 
The proportion between those different 
funds necessarily determines in every country 
the general character of the inhabitants as to 
industry or idleness. We are more industrious 
than our forefathers, because, in the present 
times, the funds destined for the maintenance 
of industry are much greater in proportion 
to those which are likely to be employed 
in the maintenance of idleness, than they were 
two or three centuries ago. Our ancestors 
were idle for want of a sufficient encouragement 
to industry. It is better, says the proverb
to play for nothing, than to work for nothing. 
In mercantile and manufacturing 
towns, where the inferior ranks of people are 
chiefly maintained by the employment of capital,