accumulation of riches, but to have left the 
country, at the end of the period, poorer than 
at the beginning, Thus, in the happiest and 
most fortunate period of them all, that which 
has passed since the Restoration, how many 
disorders and misfortunes have occurred, 
which, could they have been foreseen, not only 
the impoverishment, but the total ruin of the 
country would have been expected from them? 
The fire and the plague of London, the two 
Dutch wars, the disorders of the revolution, 
the war in Ireland, the four expensive French 
wars of 1688, 1701, 1742, and 1756, together 
with the two rebellions of 1715 and 1745. In 
the course of the four French wars, the nation 
has contracted more than L.145,000,000 of 
debt, over and above all the other extraordinary 
annual expense which they occasioned
so that the whole cannot be computed at less 
than L.200,000,000. So great a share of the 
annual produce of the land and labour of the 
country, has, since the Revolution, been employed 
upon different occasions, in maintaining 
an extraordinary number of unproductive 
hands. But had not those wars given this 
particular direction to so large a capital, the 
greater part of it would naturally have been 
employed in maintaining productive hands
whose labour would have replaced, with a profit
the whole value of their consumption. The 
value of the annual produce of the land and 
labour of the country would have been considerably 
increased by it every year, and every 
year's increase would have augmented still 
more that of the following year. More houses 
would have been built, more lands would have 
been improved, and those which had been improved 
before would have been better cultivated
more manufactures would have been 
established, and those which had been established 
before would have been more extended
and to what height the real wealth and revenue 
of the country might by this time have 
been raised, it is not perhaps very easy even 
to imagine. 
But though the profusion of government 
must undoubtedly have retarded the natural 
progress of England towards wealth and improvement
it has not been able to stop it. 
The annual produce of its land and labour is 
undoubtedly much greater at present than it 
was either at the Restoration or at the Revolution. 
The capital, therefore, annually employed 
in cultivating this land, and in maintaining 
this labour, must likewise be much 
greater. In the midst of all the exactions of 
government, this capital has been silently and 
gradually accumulated by the private frugality 
and good conduct of individuals, by their 
universal, continual, and uninterrupted effort 
to better their own condition. It is this effort
protected by law, and allowed by liberty to 
exert itself in the manner that is most advantageous
which has maintained the progress 
of England towards opulence and improvement 
in almost all former times, and which, 
it is to be hoped, will do so in all future 
times. England, however, as it has never 
been blessed with a very parsimonious government, 
so parsimony has at no time been 
the characteristic virtue of its inhabitants. It 
is the highest impertinence and presumption
therefore, in kings and ministers to pretend to 
watch over the economy of private people
and to restrain their expense, either by sumptuary 
laws, or by prohibiting the importation 
of foreign luxuries. They are themselves always, 
and without any exception, the greatest 
spendthrifts in the society. Let them look 
well after their own expense, and they may 
safely trust private people with theirs. If 
their own extravagance does not ruin the state, 
that of the subject never will. 
As frugality increases, and prodigality diminishes
the public capital, so the conduct of 
those whose expense just equals their revenue
without either accumulating or encroaching
neither increases nor diminishes it. Some 
modes of expense, however, seem to contribute 
more to the growth of public opulence 
than others. 
The revenue of an individual may be spent
either in things which are consumed immediately
and in which one day's expense can neither 
alleviate nor support that of another; or it 
may be spent in things more durable, which 
can therefore be accumulated, and in which 
every every day's expense may, as he chooses, either 
alleviate, or support and heighten, the effect 
of that of the following day. A man of fortune
for example, may either spend his revenue 
in a profuse and sumptuous table, and in 
maintaining a great number of menial servants, 
and a multitude of dogs and horses
or, contenting himself with a frugal table
and few attendants, he may lay out the greater 
part of it in adorning his house or his country 
villa, in useful or ornamental buildings
in useful or ornamental furniture, in collecting 
books, statues, pictures; or in things more 
frivolous, jewels, baubles, ingenious trinkets 
of different kinds; or, what is must trifling 
of all, in amassing a great wardrobe of fine 
clothes, like the favourite and minister of a 
great prince who died a few years ago. Were 
two men of equal fortune to spend their revenue
the one chiefly in the one way, the other 
in the other, the magnificence of the person 
whose expense had been chiefly in durable 
commodities, would be continually increasing, 
every day's expense contributing something 
to support and heighten the effect of that of 
the following day; that of the other, on the 
contrary, would be no greater at the end of 
the period than at the beginning. The former 
too would, at the end of the period, be 
the richer man of the two. He would have 
a stock of goods of some kind or other, which, 
though it might not be worth all that it cost
would always be worth something. No trace