ports of the Mediterranean, and some 
trade of the same kind carried on by British 
merchants between the different parts 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