share which ought properly to belong to this 
productive class. Every such encroachment
every violation of that natural distribution
which the most perfect liberty would establish
must, according to this system, necessarily 
degrade, more or less, from one year to 
another, the value and sum total of the annual 
produce, and must necessarily occasion a gradual 
declension in the real wealth and revenue 
of the society; a declension, of which the 
progress must be quicker or slower, according 
to the degree of this encroachment, according 
as that natural distribution, which 
the most perfect liberty would establish, is 
more or less violated. Those subsequent formularies 
represent the different degrees of declension 
which, according to this system, correspond 
to the different degrees in which this 
natural distribution of things is violated
Some speculative physicians seem to have 
imagined that the health of the human body 
could be preserved only by a certain precise 
regimen of diet and exercise, of which every, 
the smallest violation, necessarily occasioned 
some degree of disease or disorder proportionate 
to the degree of the violation. Experience
however, would seem to shew, that the 
human body frequently preserves, to all appearance 
at least, the most perfect state of 
health under a vast variety of different regimens
even under some which are generally 
believed to be very far from being perfectly 
wholesome. But the healthful state of the 
human body, it would seem, contains in itself 
some unknown principle of preservation, capable 
either of preventing or of correcting, in 
many respects, the bad effects even of a very 
faulty regimen. Mr Quesnai, who was himself 
a physician, and a very speculative physician
seems to have entertained a notion of the same 
kind concerning the political body, and to 
have imagined that it would thrive and prosper 
only under a certain precise regimen, the 
exact regimen of perfect liberty and perfect 
justice. He seems not to have considered, that 
in the political body, the natural effort which 
every man is continually making to better his 
own condition, is a principle of preservation 
capable of preventing and correcting, in many 
respects, the bad effects of a political economy, 
in some degree both partial and oppressive
Such a political economy, though it no doubt 
retards more or less, is not always capable of 
stopping altogether, the natural progress of a 
nation towards wealth and prosperity, and still 
less of making it go backwards. If a nation 
could not prosper without the enjoyment of 
perfect liberty and perfect justice, there is not 
in the world a nation which could ever have 
prospered. In the political body, however, 
the wisdom of nature has fortunately made 
ample provision for remedying many of the 
bad effects of the folly and injustice of man
in the same manner as it has done in the natural 
body, for remedying those of his sloth 
and intemperance. 
The capital error of this system, however, 
seems to lie in its representing the class of artificers
manufacturers, and merchants, as altogether 
barren and unproductive. The following 
observations may serve to shew the impropriety 
of this representation:— 
First, this class, it is acknowledged, reproduces 
annually the value of its own annual 
consumption, and continues, at least, the existence 
of the stock or capital which maintains 
and employs it. But, upon this account 
alone, the denomination of barren or unproductive 
should seem to be very improperly 
applied to it. We should not call a marriage 
barren or unproductive, though it produced 
only a son and a daughter, to replace the father 
and mother, and though it did not increase 
the number of the human species, but 
only continued it as it was before. Farmers 
and country labourers, indeed, over and above 
the stock which maintains and employs them, 
reproduce annually a neat produce, a free 
rent to the landlord. As a marriage which 
affords three children is certainly more productive 
than one which affords only two, so 
the labour of farmers and country labourers 
is certainly more productive than that of merchants
artificers, and manufacturers. The 
superior produce of the one class, however, 
does not, render the other barren or unproductive
Secondly, it seems, on this account, altogether 
improper to consider artificers, manufacturers
and merchants, in the same light as 
menial servants. The labour of menial servants 
does not continue the existence of the 
fund which maintains and employs them. 
Their maintenance and employment is altogether 
at the expense of their masters, and 
the work which they perform is not of a nature 
to repay that expense. That work consists 
in services which perish generally in the 
very instant of their performance, and does 
not fix or realize itself in any vendible commodity, 
which can replace the value of their 
wages and maintenance. The labour, on the 
contrary, of artificers, manufacturers, and 
merchants, naturally does fix and realize itself 
in some such vendible commodity. It is upon 
this account that, in the chapter in which 
I treat of productive and unproductive labour
I have classed artificers, manufacturers, 
and merchants among the productive labourers
and menial servants among the barren or 
Thirdly, it seems, upon every supposition
improper to say, that the labour of artificers
manufacturers, and merchants, does not increase 
the real revenue of the society. Though 
we should suppose, for example, as it seems 
to be supposed in this system, that the value 
of the daily, monthly, and yearly consumption