stock is likely to go from any other profession 
to the improvement of land in the way of 
farming. More does, perhaps, in Great Britain 
than in any other country, though even 
there the great stocks which are in some places 
employed in farming, have generally been acquired 
by farming, the trade, perhaps, in which, 
of all others, stock is commonly acquired most 
slowly. After small proprietors, however, 
rich and great farmers are in every country 
the principal improvers. There are more such, 
perhaps, in England than in any other European 
monarchy. In the republican governments 
of Holland, and of Berne in Switzerland, 
the farmers are said to be not inferior to those 
of England
The ancient policy of Europe was, over and 
above all this, unfavourable to the improvement 
and cultivation of land, whether carried 
on by the proprietor or by the farmer; first, 
by the general prohibition of the exportation 
of corn, without a special licence, which seems 
to have been a very universal regulation; and, 
secondly, by the restraints which were laid upon 
the inland commerce, not only of corn, but 
of almost every other part of the produce of 
the farm, by the absurd laws against engrossers, 
regraters, and forestallers, and by the privileges 
of fairs and markets. It has already 
been observed in what manner the prohibition 
of the exportation of corn, together with some 
encouragement given to the importation of foreign 
corn, obstructed the cultivation of ancient 
Italy, naturally the most fertile country 
in Europe, and at that time the seat of the 
greatest empire in the world. To what degree 
such restraints upon the inland commerce 
of this commodity, joined to the general prohibition 
of exportation, must have discouraged 
the cultivation of countries less fertile, and 
less favourably circumstanced, it is not, perhaps, 
very easy to imagine. 
The inhabitants of cities and towns were, after 
the fall of the Roman empire, not more 
favoured than those of the country. They 
consisted, indeed, of a very different order of 
people from the first inhabitants of the ancient 
republics of Greece and Italy. These 
last were composed chiefly of the proprietors 
of lands, among whom the public territory 
was originally divided, and who found it convenient 
to build their houses in the neighbourhood 
of one another, and to surround 
them with a wall, for the sake of common defence. 
After the fall of the Roman empire, 
on the contrary, the proprietors of land seem 
generally to have lived in fortified castles on 
their own estates, and in the midst of their 
own tenants and dependents. The towns were 
chiefly inhabited by tradesmen and mechanics, 
who seem, in those days, to have been of servile
or very nearly of servile condition. The 
privileges which we find granted by ancient 
charters to the inhabitants of some of the principal 
towns in Europe, sufficiently show what 
they were before those grants. The people 
to whom it is granted as a privilege, that they 
might give away their own daughters in marriage 
without the consent of their lord, that 
upon their death their own children, and not 
their lord, should succeed to their goods, and 
that they might dispose of their own effects by 
will, must, before those grants, have been either 
altogether, or very nearly, in the same 
state of villanage with the occupiers of land 
in the country
They seem, indeed, to have been a very 
poor, mean set of people, who seemed to travel 
about with their goods from place to place 
and from fair to fair, like the hawkers and 
pedlars of the present times. In all the different 
countries of Europe then, in the same 
manner as in several of the Tartar governments 
of Asia at present, taxes used to be levied 
upon the persons and goods of travellers, 
when they passed through certain manors
when they went over certain bridges, when 
they carried about their goods from place to 
place in a fair, when they erected in it a booth 
or stall to sell them in. These different taxes 
were known in England by the names of passage, 
pontage, lastage, and stallage. Sometimes 
the king, sometimes a great lord, who 
had, it seems, upon some occasions, authority 
to do this, would grant to particular traders, 
to such particularly as lived in their own demesnes, 
a general exemption from such taxes
Such traders, though in other respects of servile
or very nearly of servile condition, were 
upon this account called free traders. They, 
in return, usually paid to their protector
sort of annual poll-tax. In those days protection 
was seldom granted without a valuable 
consideration, and this tax might perhaps 
be considered as compensation for what their 
patrons might lose by their exemption from 
other taxes. At first, both those poll-taxes 
and those exemptions seem to have been altogether 
personal, and to have affected only particular 
individuals, during either their lives, or 
the pleasure of their protectors. In the very 
imperfect accounts which have been published 
from Doomsday-book, of several of the towns 
of England, mention is frequently made, sometimes 
of the tax which particular burghers 
paid, each of them, either to the king, or to 
some other great lord, for this sort of protection