a share of it is apt to go to them of its own 
But though the judgment of sober reason 
and experience concerning such projects has 
always been extremely unfavourable, that of 
human avidity has commonly been quite otherwise. 
The same passion which has suggested 
to so many people the absurd idea of the philosopher's 
stone, has suggested to others the 
equally absurd one of immense rich mines of 
gold and silver. They did not consider that the 
value of those metals has, in all ages and nations
arisen chiefly from their scarcity, and that 
their scarcity has arisen from the very small 
quantities of them which nature has anywhere 
deposited in one place, from the hard and intractable 
substances with which she has almost 
everywhere surrounded those small quantities
and consequently from the labour and expense 
which are everywhere necessary in order to penetrate, 
and get at them. They flattered themselves 
that veins of those metals might in 
many places be found, as large and as abundant 
as those which are commonly found of 
lead, or copper, or tin, or iron. The dream 
of Sir Walter Raleigh, concerning the golden 
city and country of El Dorado, may satisfy 
us, that even wise men are not always exempt 
from such strange delusions. More than a 
hundred years after the death of that great 
man, the Jesuit Gumila was still convinced of 
the reality of that wonderful country, and expressed
with great warmth, and, I dare say, 
with great sincerity, how happy he should be 
to carry the light of the gospel to a people 
who could so well reward the pious labours of 
their missionary
In the countries first discovered by the 
Spaniards, no gold or silver mines are at 
present known which are supposed to be 
worth the working. The quantities of those 
metals which the first adventurers are said to 
have found there, had probably been very 
much magnified, as well as the fertility of the 
mines which were wrought immediately after 
the first discovery. What those adventurers 
were reported to have found, however, was 
sufficient to inflame the avidity of all their 
countrymen. Every Spaniard who sailed to 
America expected to find an El Dorado
Fortune, too, did upon this what she has done 
upon very few other occasions. She realized 
in some measure the extravagant hopes of her 
votaries; and in the discovery and conquest 
of Mexico and Peru (of which the one happened 
about thirty, and the other about forty
years after the first expedition of Columbus), 
she presented them with something not very 
unlike that profusion of the precious metals 
which they sought for. 
A project of commerce to the East Indies
therefore, gave occasion to the first discovery 
of the West. A project of conquest gave occasion 
to all the establishments of the Spaniards 
in those newly discovered countries. 
The motive which excited them to this conquest 
was a project of gold and silver mines
and a course of accidents which no human 
wisdom could foresee, rendered this project 
much more successful than the undertakers 
had any reasonable grounds for expecting
The first adventurers of all the other nations 
of Europe who attempted to make settlements 
in America, were animated by the 
like chimerical views; but they were not 
equally successful. It was more than a hundred 
years after the first settlement of the Brazils
before any silver, gold, or diamond mines
were discovered there. In the English, French, 
Dutch, and Danish colonies, none have ever 
yet been discovered, at least none that are at 
present supposed to be worth the working
The first English settlers in North America
however, offered a fifth of all the gold and silver 
which should be found there to the king
as a motive for granting them their patents. 
In the patents of Sir Walter Raleigh, to the 
London and Plymouth companies, to the council 
of Plymouth, &c. this fifth was accordingly 
reserved to the crown. To the expectation 
of finding gold and silver mines, those 
first settlers, too, joined that of discovering a 
north-west passage to the East Indies. They 
have hitherto been disappointed in both. 
Causes of the Prosperity of New Colonies
The colony of a civilized nation which takes 
possession either of a waste country, or of one 
so thinly inhabited that the natives easily give 
place to the new settlers, advances more rapidly 
to wealth and greatness than any other 
human society. 
The colonies carry out with them a knowledge 
of agriculture and of other useful arts
superior to what can grow up of its own accord
in the course of many centuries, among 
savage and barbarous nations. They carry 
out with them, too, the habit of subordination, 
some notion of the regular government which 
takes place in their own country, of the system 
of laws which support it, and of a regular 
administration of justice; and they naturally 
establish something of the same kind in 
the new settlement. But among savage and 
barbarous nations, the natural progress of law 
and government is still slower than the natural 
progress of arts, after law and government 
have been so far established as is necessary 
for their protection. Every colonist gets more 
land than he can possibly cultivate. He has 
no rent, and scarce any taxes, to pay. No landlord 
shares with him in its produce, and, the 
share of the sovereign is commonly but a trifle
He has every motive to render as great as possible 
a produce which is thus to be almost entirely 
his own. But his land is commonly so