of the king, and to weaken that of the 
great proprietors, it could not do either sufficiently 
for establishing order and good government 
among the inhabitants of the country
because it could not alter sufficiently 
that state of property and manners from which 
the disorders arose. The authority of government 
still continued to be, as before, too weak 
in the head, and too strong in the inferior 
members; and the excessive strength of the 
inferior members was the cause of the weakness 
of the head. After the institution of feudal 
subordination, the king was as incapable 
of restraining the violence of the great lords 
as before. They still continued to make war 
according to their own discretion, almost continually 
upon one another, and very frequently 
upon the king; and the open country still 
continued to be a scene of violence, rapine
and disorder
But what all the violence of the feudal institutions 
could never have effected, the silent 
and insensible operation of foreign commerce 
and manufactures gradually brought about. 
These gradually furnished the great proprietors 
with something for which they could exchange 
the whole surplus produce of their 
lands, and which they could consume themselves, 
without sharing it either with tenants 
or retainers. All for ourselves, and nothing 
for other people, seems, in every age of the 
world, to have been the vile maxim of the 
masters of mankind. As soon, therefore, as 
they could find a method of consuming the 
whole value of their rents themselves, they 
had no disposition to share them with any 
other persons. For a pair of diamond buckles, 
perhaps, or for something as frivolous and 
useless, they exchanged the maintenance, or, 
what in the same thing, the price of the maintenance 
of 1000 men for a year, and with it 
the whole weight and authority which it could 
give them. The buckles, however, were to be 
all their own, and no other human creature 
was to have any share of them; whereas, in 
the more ancient method of expense, they 
must have shared with at least 1000 people
With the judges that were to determine the 
preference, this difference was perfectly decisive; 
and thus, for the gratification of the 
most childish, the meanest, and the most sordid 
of all vanities they gradually bartered 
their whole power and authority
In a country where there is no foreign commerce, 
nor any of the finer manufactures, a man 
of L.10,000 a-year cannot well employ his revenue 
in any other way than in maintaining
perhaps, 1000 families, who are all of them 
necessarily at his command. In the present 
state of Europe, a man of L.10,000 a-year 
can spend his whole revenue, and he generally 
does so, without directly maintaining twenty 
people, or being able to command more than 
ten footmen, not worth the commanding. Indirectly
perhaps, he maintains as great, or 
even a greater number of people, than he 
could have done by the ancient method of expense. 
For though the quantity of precious 
productions for which he exchanges his whole 
revenue be very small, the number of workmen 
employed in collecting and preparing it 
must necessarily have been very great. Its 
great price generally arises from the wages of 
their labour, and the profits of all their immediate 
employers. By paying that price, he 
indirectly pays all those wages and profits
and thus indirectly contributes to the maintenance 
of all the workmen and their employers
He generally contributes, however, but a very 
small proportion to that of each; to a very 
few, perhaps, not a tenth, to many not a hundredth, 
and to some not a thousandth, or even 
a ten thousandth part of their whole annual 
maintenance. Though he contributes, therefore, 
to the maintenance of them all, they are 
all more or less independent of him, because 
generally they can all be maintained without 
When the great proprietors of land spend 
their rents in maintaining their tenants and 
retainers, each of them maintains entirely all 
his own tenants and all his own retainers
But when they spend them in maintaining 
tradesmen and artificers, they may, all of them 
taken together, perhaps maintain as great, or, 
on account of the waste which attends rustic 
hospitality, a greater number of people than 
before. Each of them, however, taken singly, 
contributes often but a very small share to the 
maintenance of any individual of this greater 
number. Each tradesman or artificer derives 
his subsistence from the employment, not of 
one, but of a hundred or a thousand different 
customers. Though in some measure obliged 
to them all, therefore, he is not absolutely dependent 
upon any one of them. 
The personal expense of the great proprietors 
having in this manner gradually increased, 
it was impossible that the number of their 
retainers should not as gradually diminish
till they were at last dismissed altogether. 
The same cause gradually led them to dismiss 
the unnecessary part of their tenants. Farms 
were enlarged, and the occupiers of land, notwithstanding 
the complaints of depopulation
reduced to the number necessary for cultivating 
it, according to the imperfect state of 
cultivation and improvement in those times
By the removal of the unnecessary mouths
and by exacting from the farmer the full value 
of the farm, a greater surplus, or, what is 
the same thing, the price of a greater surplus
was obtained for the proprietor, which the 
merchants and manufacturers soon furnished 
him with a method of spending upon his own 
person, in the same manner as he had done 
the rest. The cause continuing to operate
he was desirous to raise his rents above what 
his lands, in the actual state of their improvement, 
could afford. His tenants could agree