to this upon one condition only, that they 
should be secured in their possession for such 
a term of years as might give them time to 
recover, with profit, whatever they should lay 
out in the further improvement of the land
The expensive vanity of the landlord made 
him willing to accept of this condition; and 
hence the origin of long leases
Even a tenant at will, who pays the full 
value of the land, is not altogether dependent 
upon the landlord. The pecuniary advantages 
which they receive from one another are mutual 
and equal, and such a tenant will expose 
neither his life nor his fortune in the service 
of the proprietor. But if he has a lease for 
a long term of years, he is altogether independent
and his landlord must not expect 
from him even the most trifling service, beyond 
what is either expressly stipulated in the 
lease, or imposed upon him by the common 
and known law of the country
The tenants having in this manner become 
independent, and the retainers being dismissed, 
the great proprietors were no longer capable 
of interrupting the regular execution of 
justice, or of disturbing the peace of the country
Having sold their birth-right, not like 
Esau, for a mess of pottage in time of hunger 
and necessity, but, in the wantonness of plenty, 
for trinkets and baubles, fitter to be the 
playthings of children than the serious pursuits 
of men, they became as insignificant as 
any substantial burgher or tradesmen in a 
city. A regular government was established 
in the country as well as in the city, nobody 
having sufficient power to disturb its operations 
in the one, any more than in the other. 
It does not, perhaps, relate to the present 
subject, but I cannot help remarking it, that 
very old families, such as have possessed some 
considerable estate from father to son for 
many successive generations, are very rare in 
commercial countries. In countries which 
have little commerce, on the contrary, such as 
Wales, or the Highlands of Scotland, they are 
very common. The Arabian histories seem 
to be all full of genealogies; and there is a 
history written by a Tartar Khan, which has 
been translated into several European languages, 
and which contains scarce any thing 
else; a proof that ancient families are very 
common among those nations. In countries 
where a rich man can spend his revenue in no 
other way than by maintaining as many people 
as it can maintain, he is apt to run out, 
and his benevolence, it seems, is seldom so 
violent as to attempt to maintain more than 
he can afford. But where he can spend the 
greatest revenue upon his own person, he frequently 
has no bounds to his expense, because 
he frequently has no bounds to his vanity, or 
to his affection for his own person. In commercial 
countries, therefore, riches, in spite 
of the most violent regulations of law to prevent 
their dissipation, very seldom remain long 
in the same family. Among simple nations, 
on the contrary, they frequently do, without 
any regulations of law; for among nations of 
shepherds, such as the Tartars and Arabs, 
the consumable nature of their property necessarily 
renders all such regulations impossible. 
A revolution of the greatest importance to 
the public happiness, was in this manner 
brought about by two different orders of people
who had not the least intention to serve 
the public. To gratify the most childish vanity 
was the sole motive of the great proprietors
The merchants and artificers, much less 
ridiculous, acted merely from a view to their 
own interest, and in pursuit of their own 
pedlar principle of turning a penny wherever 
a penny was to be got. Neither of them had 
either knowledge or foresight of that great 
revolution which the folly of the one, and the 
industry of the other, was gradually bringing 
It was thus, that, through the greater part 
of Europe, the commerce and manufactures 
of cities, instead of being the effect, have been 
the cause and occasion of the improvement 
and cultivation of the country
This order, however, being contrary to the 
natural course of things, is necessarily both 
slow and uncertain. Compare the slow progress 
of those European countries of which 
the wealth depends very much upon their 
commerce and manufactures, with the rapid 
advances of our North American colonies, of 
which the wealth is founded altogether in agriculture
Through the greater part of Europe
the number of inhabitants is not supposed 
to double in less than five hundred 
years. In several of our North American colonies, 
it is found to double in twenty or five-and-twenty 
years. In Europe, the law of 
primogeniture, and perpetuities of different 
kinds, prevent the division of great estates
and thereby hinder the multiplication of small 
proprietors. A small proprietor, however, 
who knows every part of his little territory
views it with all the affection which property
especially small property, naturally inspires
and who upon that account takes pleasure
not only in cultivating, but in adorning it, is 
generally of all improvers the most industrious
the most intelligent, and the most successful. 
The same regulations, besides, keep 
so much land out of the market, that there 
are always more capitals to buy than there is 
land to sell, so that what is sold always sells 
at a monopoly price. The rent never pays 
the interest of the purchase money, and is, besides, 
burdened with repairs and other occasional 
charges, to which the interest of money 
is not liable. To purchase land, is, everywhere 
in Europe, a most unprofitable employment 
of a small capital. For the sake of the 
superior security, indeed, a man of moderate 
circumstances, when he retires from business,