continued, without interruption, in the hands 
of the same family since the times of feudal 
anarchy. Compare the present condition of 
those estates with the possessions of the small 
proprietors in their neighbourhood, and you 
will require no other argument to convince 
you how unfavourable such extensive property 
is to improvement
If little improvement was to be expected 
from such great proprietors, still less was to 
be hoped for from those who occupied the land 
under them. In the ancient state of Europe
the occupiers of land were all tenants at will. 
They were all, or almost all, slaves, but their 
slavery was of a milder kind than that known 
among the ancient Greeks and Romans, or 
even in our West Indian colonies. They were 
supposed to belong more directly to the land 
than to their master. They could, therefore, 
be sold with it, but not separately. They could 
marry, provided it was with the consent of 
their master; and he could not afterwards 
dissolve the marriage by selling the man and 
wife to different persons. If he maimed or 
murdered any of them, he was liable to some 
penalty, though generally but to a small one. 
They were not, however, capable of acquiring 
property. Whatever they acquired was acquired 
to their master, and he could take it 
from them at pleasure. Whatever cultivation 
and improvement could be carried on by means 
of such slaves, was properly carried on by their 
master. It was at his expense. The seed, the 
cattle, and the instruments of husbandry, were 
all his. It was for his benefit. Such slaves 
could acquire nothing but their daily maintenance. 
It was properly the proprietor himself, 
therefore, that in this case occupied his 
own lands, and cultivated them by his own 
bondmen. This species of slavery still subsists 
in Russia, Poland, Hungary, Bohemia
Moravia, and other parts of Germany. It is 
only in the western and south-western provinces 
of Europe that it has gradually been 
abolished altogether. 
But if great improvements are seldom to 
be expected from great proprietors, they are 
least of all to be expected when they employ 
slaves for their workmen. The experience of 
all ages and nations, I believe, demonstrates 
that the work done by slaves, though it appears 
to cost only their maintenance, is in the 
end the dearest of any. A person who can acquire 
no property can have no other interest 
but to eat as much and to labour as little as 
possible. Whatever work he does beyond what 
is sufficient to purchase his own maintenance, 
can be squeezed out of him by violence only, 
and not by any interest of his own. In ancient 
Italy, how much the cultivation of corn 
degenerated, how unprofitable it became to 
the master, when is fell under the management 
of slaves, is remarked both by Pliny and 
Columella. In the time of Aristotle, it had 
not been much better in ancient Greece
Speaking of the ideal republic described in the 
laws of Plato, to maintain 5000 idle men (the 
number of warriors supposed necessary for its 
defence), together with their women and servants, 
would require, he says, a territory of 
boundless extent and fertility, like the plains 
of Babylon
The pride of man makes him love to domineer
and nothing mortifies him to much as 
to be obliged to condescend to persuade his 
inferiors. Wherever the law allows it, and 
the nature of the work can afford it, therefore, 
he will generally prefer the service of 
slaves to that of freemen. The planting of 
sugar and tobacco can afford the expense of 
slave cultivation. The raising of corn, it 
seems, in the present times, cannot. In the 
English colonies, of which the principal produce 
is corn, the far greater part of the work 
is done by freemen. The late resolution of 
the Quakers in Pennsylvania, to set at liberty 
all their negro slaves, may satisfy us that 
their number cannot be very great. Had they 
made any considerable part of their property
such a resolution could never have been agreed 
to. In our sugar colonies, on the contrary
the whole work is done by slaves, and in our 
tobacco colonies a very great part of it. The 
profits of a sugar plantation in any of our 
West Indian colonies, are generally much 
greater than those of any other cultivation that 
is known either in Europe or America; and 
the profits of a tobacco plantation, though inferior 
to those of sugar, are superior to those 
of corn, as has already been observed. Both 
can afford the expense of slave cultivation
but sugar can afford it still better than tobacco
The number of negroes, accordingly, is 
much greater, in proportion to that of whites
in our sugar than in our tobacco colonies
To the slave cultivators of ancient times, gradually 
succeeded a species of farmers, known 
at present in France by the name of metayers. 
They are called in Latin Coloni Partiarii. 
They have been so long in disuse in England
that at present I know no English name for 
them. The proprietor furnished them with 
the seed, cattle, and instruments of husbandry
the whole stock, in short, necessary for cultivating 
the farm. The produce was divided 
equally between the proprietor and the farmer
after setting aside what was judged necessary 
for keeping up the stock, which was 
restored to the proprietor, when the farmer 
either quitted or was turned out of the farm
Land occupied by such tenants is properly 
cultivated at the expense of the proprietors, as 
much as that occupied by slaves. There is, 
however, one very essential difference between 
them. Such tenants being freemen, are capable 
of acquiring property; and having a 
certain proportion of the produce of the land
they have a plain interest that the whole produce 
should be as great as possible, in order 
that their own proportion may be so. A slave