will sometimes choose to lay out his little capital 
in land. A man of profession, too, 
whose revenue is derived from another source
often loves to secure his savings in the same 
way. But a young man, who, instead of applying 
to trade or to some profession, should 
employ a capital of two or three thousand 
pounds in the purchase and cultivation of a 
small piece of land, might indeed expect to 
live very happily and very independently, but 
must bid adieu for ever to all hope of either 
great fortune or great illustration, which, by 
a different employment of his stock, he might 
have had the same chance of acquiring with 
other people. Such a person, too, though he 
cannot aspire at being a proprietor, will often 
disdain to be a farmer. The small quantity 
of land, therefore, which is brought to market
and the high price of what is brought 
thither, prevents a great number of capitals 
from being employed in its cultivation and 
improvement, which would otherwise have 
taken that direction. In North America, on 
the contrary, fifty or sixty pounds is often 
found a sufficient stock to begin a plantation 
with. The purchase and improvement of uncultivated 
land is there the most profitable employment 
of the smallest as well as of the 
greatest capitals, and the most direct road to 
all the fortune and illustration which can be 
acquired in that country. Such land, indeed, 
is in North America to be had almost for nothing, 
or at a price much below the value of 
the natural produce; a thing impossible in 
Europe, or indeed in any country where all 
lands have long been private property. If 
landed estates, however, were divided equally 
among all the children, upon the death of any 
proprietor who left a numerous family, the 
estate would generally be sold. So much land 
would come to market, that it could no longer 
sell at a monopoly price. The free rent of 
the land would go no nearer to pay the interest 
of the purchase-money, and a small capital 
might be employed in purchasing land 
as profitable as in any other way. 
England, on account of the natural fertility 
of the soil, of the great extent of the sea-coast 
in proportion to that of the whole country
and of the many navigable rivers which run 
through it, and afford the conveniency of water 
carriage to some of the most inland parts 
of it, is perhaps as well fitted by nature as 
any large country in Europe to be the seat of 
foreign commerce, of manufactures for distant 
sale, and of all the improvements which these 
can occasion. From the beginning of the 
reign of Elizabeth, too, the English legislature 
has been peculiarly attentive to the interest 
of commerce and manufactures, and in 
reality there is no country in Europe, Holland 
itself not excepted, of which the law is, 
upon the whole, more favourable to this sort 
of industry. Commerce and manufactures 
have accordingly been continually advancing 
during all this period. The cultivation and 
improvement of the country has, no doubt
been gradually advancing too; but it seems to 
have followed slowly, and at a distance, the 
more rapid progress of commerce and manufactures
The greater part of the country 
must probably have been cultivated before the 
reign of Elizabeth; and a very great part of 
it still remains uncultivated, and the cultivation 
of the far greater part much inferior to 
what it might be. The law of England, however, 
favours agriculture, not only indirectly
by the protection of commerce, but by several 
direct encouragements. Except in times of 
scarcity, the exportation of corn is not only free
but encouraged by a bounty. In times of moderate 
plenty, the importation of foreign corn is 
loaded with duties that amount to a prohibition
The importation of live cattle, except 
from Ireland, is prohibited at all times; and 
it is but of late that it was permitted from 
thence. Those who cultivate the land, therefore, 
have a monopoly against their countrymen 
for the two greatest and most important 
articles of land produce, bread and butcher's 
meat. These encouragements, though at bottom
perhaps, as I shall endeavour to show 
hereafter, altogether illusory, sufficiently demonstrate 
at least the good intention of the legislature 
to favour agriculture. But what is 
of much more importance than all of them, 
the yeomanry of England are rendered as secure
as independent, and as respectable, as 
law can make them. No country, therefore, 
in which the right of primogeniture takes 
place, which pays tithes, and where perpetuities, 
though contrary to the spirit of the law, 
are admitted in some cases, can give more encouragement 
to agriculture than England
Such, however, notwithstanding, is the state 
of its cultivation. What would it have been, 
had the law given no direct encouragement to 
agriculture besides what arises indirectly from 
the progress of commerce, and had left the 
yeomanry in the same condition as in most 
other countries of Europe? It is now more 
than two hundred years since the beginning 
of the reign of Elizabeth, a period as long as 
the course of human prosperity usually endures. 
France seems to have had a considerable 
share of foreign commerce, near a century 
before England was distinguished as a commercial 
country. The marine of France was 
considerable, according to the notions of the 
times, before the expedition of Charles VIII. 
to Naples. The cultivation and improvement 
of France, however, is, upon the whole, inferior 
to that of England. The law of the 
country has never given the same direct encouragement 
to agriculture
The foreign commerce of Spain and Portugal 
to the other parts of Europe, though 
chiefly carried on in foreign ships, is very considerable. 
That to their colonies is carried