on the contrary, who can acquire nothing but 
his maintenance, consults his own ease, by 
making the land produce as little as possible 
over and above that maintenance. It is probable 
that it was partly upon account of this 
advantage, and partly upon account of the encroachments 
which the sovereigns, always jealous 
of the great lords, gradually encouraged 
their villains to make upon their authority
and which seem, at least, to have been such as 
rendered this species of servitude altogether 
inconvenient, that tenure in villanage gradually 
wore out through the greater part of Europe
The time and manner, however, in 
which so important a revolution was brought 
about, is one of the most obscure points in 
modern history. The church of Rome claims 
great merit in it; and it is certain, that so early 
as the twelfth century, Alexander III. published 
a bull for the general emancipation of 
slaves. It seems, however, to have been rather 
a pious exhortation, than a law to which 
exact obedience was required from the faithful
Slavery continued to take place almost 
universally for several centuries afterwards, 
till it was gradually abolished by the joint operation 
of the two interests above mentioned; 
that of the proprietor on the one hand, and 
that of the sovereign on the other. A villain
enfranchised, and at the same time allowed to 
continue in possession of the land, having no 
stock of his own, could cultivate it only by 
means of what the landlord advanced to him, 
and must therefore have been what the French 
call a metayer
It could never, however, be the interest 
even of this last species of cultivators, to lay 
out, in the further improvement of the land
any part of the little stock which they might 
save from their own share of the produce; because 
the landlord, who laid out nothing, was 
to get one half of whatever it produced. The 
tithe, which is but a tenth of the produce, is 
found to be a very great hindrance to improvement
A tax, therefore, which amounted to 
one half, must have been an effectual bar to it. 
It might be the interest of a metayer to make 
the land produce as much as could be brought 
out of it by means of the stock furnished by 
the proprietor; but it could never be his interest 
to mix any part of his own with it. In 
France, where five parts out of six of the 
whole kingdom are said to be still occupied by 
this species of cultivators, the proprietors complain
that their metayers take every opportunity 
of employing their master's cattle rather 
in carriage than in cultivation; because, in the 
one case, they get the whole profits to themselves, 
in the other they share them with their 
landlord. This species of tenants still subsists 
in some parts of Scotland. They are 
called steel-bow tenants. Those ancient English 
tenants, who are said by Chief-Baron Gilbert 
and Dr Blackstone to have been rather 
bailiffs of the landlord than farmers, properly 
so called, were probably of the same kind. 
To this species of tenantry succeeded, though 
by very slow degrees, farmers, properly so called, 
who cultivated the land with their own 
stock, paying a rent certain to the landlord
When such farmers have a lease for a term of 
years, they may sometimes find it for their interest 
to lay out part of their capital in the further 
improvement of the farm; because they 
may sometimes expect to recover it, with a 
large profit, before the expiration of the lease
The possession, even of such farmers, however, 
was long extremely precarious, and still 
is so in many parts of Europe. They could, 
before the expiration of their term, be legally 
ousted of their leases by a new purchaser
in England, even, by the fictitious action of 
a common recovery. If they were turned out 
illegally by the violence of their master, the 
action by which they obtained redress was extremely 
imperfect. It did not always reinstate 
them in the possession of the land, but 
gave them damages, which never amounted to 
a real loss. Even in England, the country, 
perhaps of Europe, where the yeomanry has 
always been most respected, it was not till about 
the 14th of Henry VII. that the action 
of ejectment was invented, by which the tenant 
recovers, not damages only, but possession
and in which his claim is not necessarily concluded 
by the uncertain decision of a single assize. 
This action has been found so effectual 
a remedy, that, in the modern practice, when 
the landlord has occasion to sue for the possession 
of the land, he seldom makes use of 
the actions which properly belong to him as a 
landlord, the writ of right or the writ of entry
but sues in the name of his tenant, by the 
writ of ejectment. In England, therefore 
the security of the tenant is equal to that of 
the proprietor. In England, besides, a lease 
for life of forty shillings a-year value is a freehold
and entitles the lessee to a vote for a 
member of parliament; and as a great part of 
the yeomanry have freeholds of this kind, the 
whole order becomes respectable to their landlords
on account of the political consideration 
which this gives them. There is, I believe, 
nowhere in Europe, except in England, any 
instance of the tenant building upon the land 
of which he had no lease, and trusting that the 
honour of his landlord would take no advantage 
of so important an improvement. Those 
laws and customs, so favourable to the yeomanry
have perhaps contributed more to the 
present grandeur of England, than all their 
boasted regulations of commerce taken together. 
The law which secures the longest leases against 
successors of every kind, is, so far as I 
know, peculiar to Great Britain. It was introduced 
into Scotland so early as 1449, by a 
law of James II. Its beneficial influence,