An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations
Adam Smith

Part 14 out of 19

Scythians united, has been verified by the experience of all ages. The
inhabitants of the extensive, but defenceless plains of Scythia or
Tartary, have been frequently united under the dominion of the chief
of some conquering horde or clan; and the havock and devastation of
Asia have always signalized their union. The inhabitants of the
inhospitable deserts of Arabia, the other great nation of shepherds,
have never been united but once, under Mahomet and his immediate
successors. Their union, which was more the effect of religious
enthusiasm than of conquest, was signalized in the same manner. If the
hunting nations of America should ever become shepherds, their
neighbourhood would be much more dangerous to the European colonies
than it is at present.

In a yet more advanced state of society, among those nations of
husbandmen who have little foreign commerce, and no other manufactures
but those coarse and household ones, which almost every private family
prepares for its own use, every man, in the same manner, either is a
warrior, or easily becomes such. Those who live by agriculture
generally pass the whole day in the open air, exposed to all the
inclemencies of the seasons. The hardiness of their ordinary life
prepares them for the fatigues of war, to some of which their
necessary occupations bear a great analogy. The necessary occupation
of a ditcher prepares him to work in the trenches, and to fortify a
camp, as well as to inclose a field. The ordinary pastimes of such
husbandmen are the same as those of shepherds, and are in the same
manner the images of war. But as husbandmen have less leisure than
shepherds, they are not so frequently employed in those pastimes. They
are soldiers but soldiers not quite so much masters of their exercise.
Such as they are, however, it seldom costs the sovereign or
commonwealth any expense to prepare them for the field.

Agriculture, even in its rudest and lowest state, supposes a
settlement, some sort of fixed habitation, which cannot be abandoned
without great loss. When a nation of mere husbandmen, therefore, goes
to war, the whole people cannot take the field together. The old men,
the women and children, at least, must remain at home, to take care of
the habitation. All the men of the military age, however, may take the
field, and in small nations of this kind, have frequently done so. In
every nation, the men of the military age are supposed to amount to
about a fourth or a fifth part of the whole body of the people. If the
campaign, too, should begin after seedtime, and end before harvest,
both the husbandman and his principal labourers can be spared from the
farm without much loss. He trusts that the work which must be done in
the mean time, can be well enough executed by the old men, the women,
and the children. He is not unwilling, therefore, to serve without pay
during a short campaign; and it frequently costs the sovereign or
commonwealth as little to maintain him in the field as to prepare him
for it. The citizens of all the different states of ancient Greece
seem to have served in this manner till after the second Persian war;
and the people of Peloponnesus till after the Peloponnesian war. The
Peloponnesians, Thucydides observes, generally left the field in the
summer, and returned home to reap the harvest. The Roman people, under
their kings, and during the first ages of the republic, served in the
same manner. It was not till the seige of Veii, that they who staid at
home began to contribute something towards maintaining those who went
to war. In the European monarchies, which were founded upon the ruins
of the Roman empire, both before, and for some time after, the
establishment of what is properly called the feudal law, the great
lords, with all their immediate dependents, used to serve the crown at
their own expense. In the field, in the same manner as at home, they
maintained themselves by their own revenue, and not by any stipend or
pay which they received from the king upon that particular occasion.

In a more advanced state of society, two different causes contribute
to render it altogether impossible that they who take the field should
maintain themselves at their own expense. Those two causes are, the
progress of manufactures, and the improvement in the art of war.

Though a husbandman should be employed in an expedition, provided it
begins after seedtime, and ends before harvest, the interruption of
his business will not always occasion any considerable diminution of
his revenue. Without the intervention of his labour, Nature does
herself the greater part of the work which remains to be done. But the
moment that an artificer, a smith, a carpenter, or a weaver, for
example, quits his workhouse, the sole source of his revenue is
completely dried up. Nature does nothing for him; he does all for
himself. When he takes the field, therefore, in defence of the public,
as he has no revenue to maintain himself, he must necessarily be
maintained by the public. But in a country, of which a great part of
the inhabitants are artificers and manufacturers, a great part of the
people who go to war must be drawn from those classes, and must,
therefore, be maintained by the public as long as they are employed in
its service,

When the art of war, too, has gradually grown up to be a very
intricate and complicated science; when the event of war ceases to be
determined, as in the first ages of society, by a single irregular
skirmish or battle; but when the contest is generally spun out through
several different campaigns, each of which lasts during the greater
part of the year; it becomes universally necessary that the public
should maintain those who serve the public in war, at least while they
are employed in that service. Whatever, in time of peace, might be the
ordinary occupation of those who go to war, so very tedious and
expensive a service would otherwise be by far too heavy a burden upon
them. After the second Persian war, accordingly, the armies of Athens
seem to have been generally composed of mercenary troops, consisting,
indeed, partly of citizens, but partly, too, of foreigners; and all of
them equally hired and paid at the expense of the state. From the time
of the siege of Veii, the armies of Rome received pay for their
service during the time which they remained in the field. Under the
feudal governments, the military service, both of the great lords, and
of their immediate dependents, was, after a certain period,
universally exchanged for a payment in money, which was employed to
maintain those who served in their stead.

The number of those who can go to war, in proportion to the whole
number of the people, is necessarily much smaller in a civilized than
in a rude state of society. In a civilized society, as the soldiers
are maintained altogether by the labour of those who are not soldiers,
the number of the former can never exceed what the latter can
maintain, over and above maintaining, in a manner suitable to their
respective stations, both themselves and the other officers of
government and law, whom they are obliged to maintain. In the little
agrarian states of ancient Greece, a fourth or a fifth part of the
whole body of the people considered the themselves as soldiers, and
would sometimes, it is said, take the field. Among the civilized
nations of modern Europe, it is commonly computed, that not more than
the one hundredth part of the inhabitants of any country can be
employed as soldiers, without ruin to the country which pays the
expense of their service.

The expense of preparing the army for the field seems not to have
become considerable in any nation, till long after that of maintaining
it in the field had devolved entirely upon the sovereign or
commonwealth. In all the different republics of ancient Greece, to
learn his military exercises, was a necessary part of education
imposed by the state upon every free citizen. In every city there
seems to have been a public field, in which, under the protection of
the public magistrate, the young people were taught their different
exercises by different masters. In this very simple institution
consisted the whole expense which any Grecian state seems ever to have
been at, in preparing its citizens for war. In ancient Rome, the
exercises of the Campus Martius answered the same purpose with those
of the Gymnasium in ancient Greece. Under the feudal governments, the
many public ordinances, that the citizens of every district should
practise archery, as well as several other military exercises, were
intended for promoting the same purpose, but do not seem to have
promoted it so well. Either from want of interest in the officers
entrusted with the execution of those ordinances, or from some other
cause, they appear to have been universally neglected; and in the
progress of all those governments, military exercises seem to have
gone gradually into disuse among the great body of the people.

In the republics of ancient Greece and Rome, during the whole period
of their existence, and under the feudal governments, for a
considerable time after their first establishment, the trade of a
soldier was not a separate, distinct trade, which constituted the sole
or principal occupation of a particular class of citizens; every
subject of the state, whatever might be the ordinary trade or
occupation by which he gained his livelihood, considered himself, upon
all ordinary occasions, as fit likewise to exercise the trade of a
soldier, and, upon many extraordinary occasions, as bound to exercise

The art of war, however, as it is certainly the noblest of all arts,
so, in the progress of improvement, it necessarily becomes one of the
most complicated among them. The state of the mechanical, as well as
some other arts, with which it is necessarily connected, determines
the degree of perfection to which it is capable of being carried at
any particular time. But in order to carry it to this degree of
perfection, it is necessary that it should become the sole or
principal occupation of a particular class of citizens; and the
division of labour is as necessary for the improvement of this, as of
every other art. Into other arts, the division of labour is naturally
introduced by the prudence of individuals, who find that they promote
their private interest better by confining themselves to a particular
trade, than by exercising a great number. But it is the wisdom of the
state only, which can render the trade of a soldier a particular
trade, separate and distinct from all others. A private citizen, who,
in time of profound peace, and without any particular encouragement
from the public, should spend the greater part of his time in military
exercises, might, no doubt, both improve himself very much in them,
and amuse himself very well; but he certainly would not promote his
own interest. It is the wisdom of the state only, which can render it
for his interest to give up the greater part of his time to this
peculiar occupation; and states have not always had this wisdom, even
when their circumstances had become such, that the preservation of
their existence required that they should have it.

A shepherd has a great deal of leisure; a husbandman, in the rude state
of husbandry, has some; an artificer or manufacturer has none at all.
The first may, without any loss, employ a great deal of his time in
martial exercises; the second may employ some part of it; but the last
cannot employ a single hour in them without some loss, and his
attention to his own interest naturally leads him to neglect them
altogether. Those improvements in husbandry, too, which the progress
of arts and manufactures necessarily introduces, leave the husbandman
as little leisure as the artificer. Military exercises come to be as
much neglected by the inhabitants of the country as by those of the
town, and the great body of the people becomes altogether unwarlike.
That wealth, at the same time, which always follows the improvements
of agriculture and manufactures, and which, in reality, is no more
than the accumulated produce of those improvements, provokes the
invasion of all their neighbours. An industrious, and, upon that
account, a wealthy nation, is of all nations the most likely to be
attacked; and unless the state takes some new measure for the public
defence, the natural habits of the people render them altogether
incapable of defending themselves.

In these circumstances, there seem to be but two methods by which the
state can make any tolerable provision for the public defence.

It may either, first, by means of a very rigorous police, and in spite
of the whole bent of the interest, genius, and inclinations of the
people, enforce the practice of military exercises, and oblige either
all the citizens of the military age, or a certain number of them, to
join in some measure the trade of a soldier to whatever other trade or
profession they may happen to carry on.

Or, secondly, by maintaining and employing a certain number of
citizens in the constant practice of military exercises, it may render
the trade of a soldier a particular trade, separate and distinct from
all others.

If the state has recourse to the first of those two expedients, its
military force is said to consist in a militia; if to the second, it
is said to consist in a standing army. The practice of military
exercises is the sole or principal occupation of the soldiers of a
standing army, and the maintenance or pay which the state affords them
is the principal and ordinary fund of their subsistence. The practice
of military exercises is only the occasional occupation of the
soldiers of a militia, and they derive the principal and ordinary fund
of their subsistence from some other occupation. In a militia, the
character of the labourer, artificer, or tradesman, predominates over
that of the soldier; in a standing army, that of the soldier
predominates over every other character; and in this distinction seems
to consist the essential difference between those two different
species of military force.

Militias have been of several different kinds. In some countries, the
citizens destined for defending the state seem to have been exercised
only, without being, if I may say so, regimented; that is, without
being divided into separate and distinct bodies of troops, each of
which performed its exercises under its own proper and permanent
officers. In the republics of ancient Greece and Rome, each citizen,
as long as he remained at home, seems to have practised his exercises,
either separately and independently, or with such of his equals as he
liked best; and not to have been attached to any particular body of
troops, till he was actually called upon to take the field. In other
countries, the militia has not only been exercised, but regimented. In
England, in Switzerland, and, I believe, in every other country of
modern Europe, where any imperfect military force of this kind has
been established, every militiaman is, even in time of peace, attached
to a particular body of troops, which performs its exercises under its
own proper and permanent officers.

Before the invention of fire-arms, that army was superior in which the
soldiers had, each individually, the greatest skill and dexterity in
the use of their arms. Strength and agility of body were of the
highest consequence, and commonly determined the fate of battles. But
this skill and dexterity in the use of their arms could be acquired
only, in the same manner as fencing is at present, by practising, not
in great bodies, but each man separately, in a particular school,
under a particular master, or with his own particular equals and
companions. Since the invention of fire-arms, strength and agility of
body, or even extraordinary dexterity and skill in the use of arms,
though they are far from being of no consequence, are, however, of
less consequence. The nature of the weapon, though it by no means puts
the awkward upon a level with the skilful, puts him more nearly so
than he ever was before. All the dexterity and skill, it is supposed,
which are necessary for using it, can be well enough acquired by
practising in great bodies.

Regularity, order, and prompt obedience to command, are qualities
which, in modern armies, are of more importance towards determining
the fate of battles, than the dexterity and skill of the soldiers in
the use of their arms. But the noise of fire-arms, the smoke, and the
invisible death to which every man feels himself every moment exposed,
as soon as he comes within cannon-shot, and frequently a long time
before the battle can be well said to be engaged, must render it very
difficult to maintain any considerable degree of this regularity,
order, and prompt obedience, even in the beginning of a modern battle.
In an ancient battle, there was no noise but what arose from the human
voice; there was no smoke, there was no invisible cause of wounds or
death. Every man, till some mortal weapon actually did approach him,
saw clearly that no such weapon was near him. In these circumstances,
and among troops who had some confidence in their own skill and
dexterity in the use of their arms, it must have been a good deal less
difficult to preserve some degree of regularity and order, not only in
the beginning, but through the whole progress of an ancient battle,
and till one of the two armies was fairly defeated. But the habits of
regularity, order, and prompt obedience to command, can be acquired
only by troops which are exercised in great bodies.

A militia, however, in whatever manner it may be either disciplined or
exercised, must always be much inferior to a well disciplined and well
exercised standing army.

The soldiers who are exercised only once a week, or once a-month, can
never be so expert in the use of their arms, as those who are
exercised every day, or every other day; and though this circumstance
may not be of so much consequence in modern, as it was in ancient
times, yet the acknowledged superiority of the Prussian troops, owing,
it is said, very much to their superior expertness in their exercise,
may satisfy us that it is, even at this day, of very considerable

The soldiers, who are bound to obey their officer only once a-week, or
once a-month, and who are at all other times at liberty to manage
their own affairs their own way, without being, in any respect,
accountable to him, can never be under the same awe in his presence,
can never have the same disposition to ready obedience, with those
whose whole life and conduct are every day directed by him, and who
every day even rise and go to bed, or at least retire to their
quarters, according to his orders. In what is called discipline, or in
the habit of ready obedience, a militia must always be still more
inferior to a standing army, than it may sometimes be in what is
called the manual exercise, or in the management and use of its arms.
But, in modern war, the habit of ready and instant obedience is of
much greater consequence than a considerable superiority in the
management of arms.

Those militias which, like the Tartar or Arab militia, go to war under
the same chieftains whom they are accustomed to obey in peace, are by
far the best. In respect for their officers, in the habit of ready
obedience, they approach nearest to standing armies The Highland
militia, when it served under its own chieftains, had some advantage
of the same kind. As the Highlanders, however, were not wandering, but
stationary shepherds, as they had all a fixed habitation, and were
not, in peaceable times, accustomed to follow their chieftain from
place to place; so, in time of war, they were less willing to follow
him to any considerable distance, or to continue for any long time in
the field. When they had acquired any booty, they were eager to return
home, and his authority was seldom sufficient to detain them. In point
of obedience, they were always much inferior to what is reported of
the Tartars and Arabs. As the Highlanders, too, from their stationary
life, spend less of their time in the open air, they were always less
accustomed to military exercises, and were less expert in the use of
their arms than the Tartars and Arabs are said to be.

A militia of any kind, it must be observed, however, which has served
for several successive campaigns in the field, becomes in every
respect a standing army. The soldiers are every day exercised in the
use of their arms, and, being constantly under the command of their
officers, are habituated to the same prompt obedience which takes
place in standing armies. What they were before they took the field,
is of little importance. They necessarily become in every respect a
standing army, after they have passed a few campaigns in it. Should
the war in America drag out through another campaign, the American
militia may become, in every respect, a match for that standing army,
of which the valour appeared, in the last war at least, not inferior
to that of the hardiest veterans of France and Spain.

This distinction being well understood, the history of all ages, it
will be found, hears testimony to the irresistible superiority which a
well regulated standing army has over a militia.

One of the first standing armies, of which we have any distinct
account in any well authenticated history, is that of Philip of
Macedon. His frequent wars with the Thracians, Illyrians, Thessalians,
and some of the Greek cities in the neighbourhood of Macedon,
gradually formed his troops, which in the beginning were probably
militia, to the exact discipline of a standing army. When he was at
peace, which he was very seldom, and never for any long time together,
he was careful not to disband that army. It vanquished and subdued,
after a long and violent struggle, indeed, the gallant and well
exercised militias of the principal republics of ancient Greece; and
afterwards, with very little struggle, the effeminate and ill
exercised militia of the great Persian empire. The fall of the Greek
republics, and of the Persian empire was the effect of the
irresistible superiority which a standing arm has over every other
sort of militia. It is the first great revolution in the affairs of
mankind of which history has preserved any distinct and circumstantial

The fall of Carthage, and the consequent elevation of Rome, is the
second. All the varieties in the fortune of those two famous republics
may very well be accounted for from the same cause.

From the end of the first to the beginning of the second Carthaginian
war, the armies of Carthage were continually in the field, and
employed under three great generals, who succeeded one another in the
command; Amilcar, his son-in-law Asdrubal, and his son Annibal: first
in chastising their own rebellious slaves, afterwards in subduing the
revolted nations of Africa; and lastly, in conquering the great
kingdom of Spain. The army which Annibal led from Spain into Italy
must necessarily, in those different wars, have been gradually formed
to the exact discipline of a standing army. The Romans, in the
meantime, though they had not been altogether at peace, yet they had
not, during this period, been engaged in any war of very great
consequence; and their military discipline, it is generally said, was
a good deal relaxed. The Roman armies which Annibal encountered at
Trebi, Thrasymenus, and Cannae, were militia opposed to a standing
army. This circumstance, it is probable, contributed more than any
other to determine the fate of those battles.

The standing army which Annibal left behind him in Spain had the like
superiority over the militia which the Romans sent to oppose it; and,
in a few years, under the command of his brother, the younger
Asdrubal, expelled them almost entirely from that country.

Annibal was ill supplied from home. The Roman militia, being
continually in the field, became, in the progress of the war, a well
disciplined and well exercised standing army; and the superiority of
Annibal grew every day less and less. Asdrubal judged it necessary to
lead the whole, or almost the whole, of the standing army which he
commanded in Spain, to the assistance of his brother in Italy. In this
march, he is said to have been misled by his guides; and in a country
which he did not know, was surprised and attacked, by another standing
army, in every respect equal or superior to his own, and was entirely

When Asdrubal had left Spain, the great Scipio found nothing to oppose
him but a militia inferior to his own. He conquered and subdued that
militia, and, in the course of the war, his own militia necessarily
became a well disciplined and well exercised standing army. That
standing army was afterwards carried to Africa, where it found nothing
but a militia to oppose it. In order to defend Carthage, it became
necessary to recal the standing army of Annibal. The disheartened and
frequently defeated African militia joined it, and, at the battle of
Zama, composed the greater part of the troops of Annibal. The event of
that day determined the fate of the two rival republics.

From the end of the second Carthaginian war till the fall of the Roman
republic, the armies of Rome were in every respect standing armies.
The standing army of Macedon made some resistance to their arms. In
the height of their grandeur, it cost them two great wars, and three
great battles, to subdue that little kingdom, of which the conquest
would probably have been still more difficult, had it not been for the
cowardice of its last king. The militias of all the civilized nations
of the ancient world, of Greece, of Syria, and of Egypt, made but a
feeble resistance to the standing armies of Rome. The militias of some
barbarous nations defended themselves much better. The Scythian or
Tartar militia, which Mithridates drew from the countries north of the
Euxine and Caspian seas, were the most formidable enemies whom the
Romans had to encounter after the second Carthaginian war. The
Parthian and German militias, too, were always respectable, and upon
several occasions, gained very considerable advantages over the Roman
armies. In general, however, and when the Roman armies were well
commanded, they appear to have been very much superior; and if the
Romans did not pursue the final conquest either of Parthia or Germany,
it was probably because they judged that it was not worth while to add
those two barbarous countries to an empire which was already too
large. The ancient Parthians appear to have been a nation of Scythian
or Tartar extraction, and to have always retained a good deal of the
manners of their ancestors. The ancient Germans were, like the
Scythians or Tartars, a nation of wandering shepherds, who went to war
under the same chiefs whom they were accustomed to follow in peace.
'Their militia was exactly of the same kind with that of the Scythians
or Tartars, from whom, too, they were probably descended.

Many different causes contributed to relax the discipline of the Roman
armies. Its extreme severity was, perhaps, one of those causes. In the
days of their grandeur, when no enemy appeared capable of opposing
them, their heavy armour was laid aside as unnecessarily burdensome,
their laborious exercises were neglected, as unnecessarily toilsome.
Under the Roman emperors, besides, the standing armies of Rome, those
particularly which guarded the German and Pannonian frontiers, became
dangerous to their masters, against whom they used frequently to set
up their own generals. In order to render them less formidable,
according to some authors, Dioclesian, according to others,
Constantine, first withdrew them from the frontier, where they had
always before been encamped in great bodies, generally of two or three
legions each, and dispersed them in small bodies through the different
provincial towns, from whence they were scarce ever removed, but when
it became necessary to repel an invasion. Small bodies of soldiers,
quartered in trading and manufacturing towns, and seldom removed from
those quarters, became themselves trades men, artificers, and
manufacturers. The civil came to predominate over the military
character; and the standing armies of Rome gradually degenerated into
a corrupt, neglected, and undisciplined militia, incapable of
resisting the attack of the German and Scythian militias, which soon
afterwards invaded the western empire. It was only by hiring the
militia of some of those nations to oppose to that of others, that the
emperors were for some time able to defend themselves. The fall of the
western empire is the third great revolution in the affairs of
mankind, of which ancient history has preserved any distinct or
circumstantial account. It was brought about by the irresistible
superiority which the militia of a barbarous has over that of a
civilized nation; which the militia of a nation of shepherds has over
that of a nation of husbandmen, artificers, and manufacturers. The
victories which have been gained by militias have generally been, not
over standing armies, but over other militias, in exercise and
discipline inferior to themselves. Such were the victories which the
Greek militia gained over that of the Persian empire; and such, too,
were those which, in later times, the Swiss militia gained over that
of the Austrians and Burgundians.

The military force of the German and Scythian nations, who established
themselves upon ruins of the western empire, continued for some time
to be of the same kind in their new settlements, as it had been in
their original country. It was a militia of shepherds and husbandmen,
which, in time of war, took the field under the command of the same
chieftains whom it was accustomed to obey in peace. It was, therefore,
tolerably well exercised, and tolerably well disciplined. As arts and
industry advanced, however, the authority of the chieftains gradually
decayed, and the great body of the people had less time to spare for
military exercises. Both the discipline and the exercise of the feudal
militia, therefore, went gradually to ruin, and standing armies were
gradually introduced to supply the place of it. When the expedient of
a standing army, besides, had once been adopted by one civilized
nation, it became necessary that all its neighbours should follow the
example. They soon found that their safety depended upon their doing
so, and that their own militia was altogether incapable of resisting
the attack of such an army.

The soldiers of a standing army, though they may never have seen an
enemy, yet have frequently appeared to possess all the courage of
veteran troops, and, the very moment that they took the field, to have
been fit to face the hardiest and most experienced veterans. In 1756,
when the Russian army marched into Poland, the valour of the Russian
soldiers did not appear inferior to that of the Prussians, at that
time supposed to be the hardiest and most experienced veterans in
Europe. The Russian empire, however, had enjoyed a profound peace for
near twenty years before, and could at that time have very few
soldiers who had ever seen an enemy. When the Spanish war broke out in
1739, England had enjoyed a profound peace for about eight-and-twenty
years. The valour of her soldiers, however, far from being corrupted
by that long peace, was never more distinguished than in the attempt
upon Carthagena, the first unfortunate exploit of that unfortunate
war. In a long peace, the generals, perhaps, may sometimes forget
their skill; but where a well regulated standing army has been kept
up, the soldiers seem never to forget their valour.

When a civilized nation depends for its defence upon a militia, it is
at all times exposed to be conquered by any barbarous nation which
happens to be in its neighbourhood. The frequent conquests of all the
civilized countries in Asia by the Tartars, sufficiently demonstrates
the natural superiority which the militia of a barbarous has over that
of a civilized nation. A well regulated standing army is superior to
every militia. Such an army, as it can best be maintained by an
opulent and civilized nation, so it can alone defend such a nation
against the invasion of a poor and barbarous neighbour. It is only by
means of a standing army, therefore, that the civilization of any
country can be perpetuated, or even preserved, for any considerable

As it is only by means of a well regulated standing army, that a
civilized country can be defended, so it is only by means of it that a
barbarous country can be suddenly and tolerably civilized. A standing
army establishes, with an irresistible force, the law of the sovereign
through the remotest provinces of the empire, and maintains some
degree of regular government in countries which could not otherwise
admit of any. Whoever examines with attention, the improvements which
Peter the Great introduced into the Russian empire, will find that
they almost all resolve themselves into the establishment of a well
regulated standing army. It is the instrument which executes and
maintains all his other regulations. That degree of order and internal
peace, which that empire has ever since enjoyed, is altogether owing
to the influence of that army.

Men of republican principles have been jealous of a standing army, as
dangerous to liberty. It certainly is so, wherever the interest of the
general, and that of the principal officers, are not necessarily
connected with the support of the constitution of the state. The
standing army of Caesar destroyed the Roman republic. The standing
army of Cromwell turned the long parliament out of doors. But where
the sovereign is himself the general, and the principal nobility and
gentry of the country the chief officers of the army; where the
military force is placed under the command of those who have the
greatest interest in the support of the civil authority, because they
have themselves the greatest share of that authority, a standing army
can never be dangerous to liberty. On the contrary, it may, in some
cases, be favourable to liberty. The security which it gives to the
sovereign renders unnecessary that troublesome jealousy, which, in
some modern republics, seems to watch over the minutest actions, and
to be at all times ready to disturb the peace of every citizen. Where
the security of the magistrate, though supported by the principal
people of the country, is endangered by every popular discontent;
where a small tumult is capable of bringing about in a few hours a
great revolution, the whole authority of government must be employed
to suppress and punish every murmur and complaint against it. To a
sovereign, on the contrary, who feels himself supported, not only by
the natural aristocracy of the country, but by a well regulated
standing army, the rudest, the most groundless, and the most
licentious remonstrances, can give little disturbance. He can safely
pardon or neglect them, and his consciousness of his own superiority
naturally disposes him to do so. That degree of liberty which
approaches to licentiousness, can be tolerated only in countries where
the sovereign is secured by a well regulated standing army. It is in
such countries only, that the public safety does not require that the
sovereign should be trusted with any discretionary power, for
suppressing even the impertinent wantonness of this licentious

The first duty of the sovereign, therefore, that of defending the
society from the violence and injustice of other independent
societies, grows gradually more and more expensive, as the society
advances in civilization. The military force of the society, which
originally cost the sovereign no expense, either in time of peace, or
in time of war, must, in the progress of improvement, first be
maintained by him in time of war, and afterwards even in time of

The great change introduced into the art of war by the invention of
fire-arms, has enhanced still further both the expense of exercising
and disciplining any particular number of soldiers in time of peace,
and that of employing them in time of war. Both their arms and their
ammunition are become more expensive. A musket is a more expensive
machine than a javelin or a bow and arrows; a cannon or a mortar, than
a balista or a catapulta. The powder which is spent in a modern review
is lost irrecoverably, and occasions a very considerable expense. The
javelins and arrows which were thrown or shot in an ancient one, could
easily be picked up again, and were, besides, of very little value.
The cannon and the mortar are not only much dearer, but much heavier
machines than the balista or catapulta; and require a greater expense,
not only to prepare them for the field, but to carry them to it. As
the superiority of the modern artillery, too, over that of the
ancients, is very great; it has become much more difficult, and
consequently much more expensive, to fortify a town, so as to resist,
even for a few weeks, the attack of that superior artillery. In modern
times, many different causes contribute to render the defence of the
society more expensive. The unavoidable effects of the natural
progress of improvement have, in this respect, been a good deal
enhanced by a great revolution in the art of war, to which a mere
accident, the invention of gunpowder, seems to have given occasion.

In modern war, the great expense of firearms gives an evident
advantage to the nation which can best afford that expense; and,
consequently, to an opulent and civilized, over a poor and barbarous
nation. In ancient times, the opulent and civilized found it difficult
to defend themselves against the poor and barbarous nations. In modern
times, the poor and barbarous find it difficult to defend themselves
against the opulent and civilized. The invention of fire-arms, an
invention which at first sight appears to be so pernicious, is
certainly favourable, both to the permanency and to the extension of


Of the Expense of Justice

The second duty of the sovereign, that of protecting, as far as
possible, every member of the society from the injustice or oppression
of every other member of it, or the duty of establishing an exact
administration of justice, requires two very different degrees of
expense in the different periods of society.

Among nations of hunters, as there is scarce any property, or at least
none that exceeds the value of two or three days labour; so there is
seldom any established magistrate, or any regular administration of
justice. Men who have no property, can injure one another only in
their persons or reputations. But when one man kills, wounds, beats,
or defames another, though he to whom the injury is done suffers, he
who does it receives no benefit. It is otherwise with the injuries to
property. The benefit of the person who does the injury is often equal
to the loss of him who suffers it. Envy, malice, or resentment, are
the only passions which can prompt one man to injure another in his
person or reputation. But the greater part of men are not very
frequently under the influence of those passions; and the very worst
men are so only occasionally. As their gratification, too, how
agreeable soever it may be to certain characters, is not attended with
any real or permanent advantage, it is, in the greater part of men,
commonly restrained by prudential considerations. Men may live
together in society with some tolerable degree of security, though
there is no civil magistrate to protect them from the injustice of
those passions. But avarice and ambition in the rich, in the poor the
hatred of labour and the love of present ease and enjoyment, are the
passions which prompt to invade property; passions much more steady in
their operation, and much more universal in their influence. Wherever
there is a great property, there is great inequality. For one very
rich man, there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence
of the few supposes the indigence of the many. The affluence of the
rich excites the indignation of the poor, who are often both driven by
want, and prompted by envy to invade his possessions. It is only under
the shelter of the civil magistrate, that the owner of that valuable
property, which is acquired by the labour of many years, or perhaps of
many successive generations, can sleep a single night in security. He
is at all times surrounded by unknown enemies, whom, though he never
provoked, he can never appease, and from whose injustice he can be
protected only by the powerful arm of the civil magistrate,
continually held up to chastise it. The acquisition of valuable and
extensive property, therefore, necessarily requires the establishment
of civil government. Where there is no property, or at least none that
exceeds the value of two or three days labour, civil government is not
so necessary.

Civil government supposes a certain subordination. But as the
necessity of civil government gradually grows up with the acquisition
of valuable property; so the principal causes, which naturally
introduce subordination, gradually grow up with the growth of that
valuable property.

The causes or circumstances which naturally introduce subordination,
or which naturally and antecedent to any civil institution, give some
men some superiority over the greater part of their brethren, seem to
be four in number.

The first of those causes or circumstances, is the superiority of
personal qualifications, of strength, beauty, and agility of body; of
wisdom and virtue; of prudence, justice, fortitude, and moderation of
mind. The qualifications of the body, unless supported by those of the
mind, can give little authority in any period of society. He is a very
strong man, who, by mere strength of body, can force two weak ones to
obey him. The qualifications of the mind can alone give very great
authority They are however, invisible qualities; always disputable,
and generally disputed. No society, whether barbarous or civilized,
has ever found it convenient to settle the rules of precedency of rank
and subordination, according to those invisible qualities; but
according to something that is more plain and palpable.

The second of those causes or circumstances, is the superiority of
age. An old man, provided his age is not so far advanced as to give
suspicion of dotage, is everywhere more respected than a young man of
equal rank, fortune, and abilities. Among nations of hunters, such as
the native tribes of North America, age is the sole foundation of rank
and precedency. Among them, father is the appellation of a superior;
brother, of an equal; and son, of an inferior. In the most opulent and
civilized nations, age regulates rank among those who are in every
other respect equal; and among whom, therefore, there is nothing else
to regulate it. Among brothers and among sisters, the eldest always
takes place; and in the succession of the paternal estate, every thing
which cannot be divided, but must go entire to one person, such as a
title of honour, is in most cases given to the eldest. Age is a plain
and palpable quality, which admits of no dispute.

The third of those causes or circumstances, is the superiority of
fortune. The authority of riches, however, though great in every age
of society, is, perhaps, greatest in the rudest ages of society, which
admits of any considerable inequality of fortune. A Tartar chief, the
increase of whose flocks and herds is sufficient to maintain a
thousand men, cannot well employ that increase in any other way than
in maintaining a thousand men. The rude state of his society does not
afford him any manufactured produce any trinkets or baubles of any
kind, for which he can exchange that part of his rude produce which is
over and above his own consumption. The thousand men whom he thus
maintains, depending entirely upon him for their subsistence, must
both obey his orders in war, and submit to his jurisdiction in peace.
He is necessarily both their general and their judge, and his
chieftainship is the necessary effect of the superiority of his
fortune. In an opulent and civilized society, a man may possess a much
greater fortune, and yet not be able to command a dozen of people.
Though the produce of his estate may be sufficient to maintain, and
may, perhaps, actually maintain, more than a thousand people, yet, as
those people pay for every thing which they get from him, as he gives
scarce any thing to any body but in exchange for an equivalent, there
is scarce anybody who considers himself as entirely dependent upon
him, and his authority extends only over a few menial servants. The
authority of fortune, however, is very great, even in an opulent and
civilized society. That it is much greater than that either of age or
of personal qualities, has been the constant complaint of every period
of society which admitted of any considerable inequality of fortune.
The first period of society, that of hunters, admits of no such
inequality. Universal poverty establishes their universal equality;
and the superiority, either of age or of personal qualities, are the
feeble, but the sole foundations of authority and subordination. There
is, therefore, little or no authority or subordination in this period
of society. The second period of society, that of shepherds, admits of
very great inequalities of fortune, and there is no period in which
the superiority of fortune gives so great authority to those who
possess it. There is no period, accordingly, in which authority and
subordination are more perfectly established. The authority of an
Arabian scherif is very great; that of a Tartar khan altogether

The fourth of those causes or circumstances, is the superiority of
birth. Superiority of birth supposes an ancient superiority of fortune
in the family of the person who claims it. All families are equally
ancient; and the ancestors of the prince, though they may be better
known, cannot well be more numerous than those of the beggar.
Antiquity of family means everywhere the antiquity either of wealth,
or of that greatness which is commonly either founded upon wealth, or
accompanied with it. Upstart greatness is everywhere less respected
than ancient greatness. The hatred of usurpers, the love of the family
of an ancient monarch, are in a great measure founded upon the
contempt which men naturally have for the former, and upon their
veneration for the latter. As a military officer submits, without
reluctance, to the authority of a superior by whom he has always been
commanded, but cannot bear that his inferior should be set over his
head; so men easily submit to a family to whom they and their
ancestors have always submitted; but are fired with indignation when
another family, in whom they had never acknowledged any such
superiority, assumes a dominion over them.

The distinction of birth, being subsequent to the inequality of
fortune, can have no place in nations of hunters, among whom all men,
being equal in fortune, must likewise be very nearly equal in birth.
The son of a wise and brave man may, indeed, even among them, be
somewhat more respected than a man of equal merit, who has the
misfortune to be the son of a fool or a coward. The difference,
however will not be very great; and there never was, I believe, a
great family in the world, whose illustration was entirely derived
from the inheritance of wisdom and virtue.

The distinction of birth not only may, but always does, take place
among nations of shepherds. Such nations are always strangers to every
sort of luxury, and great wealth can scarce ever be dissipated among
them by improvident profusion. There are no nations, accordingly, who
abound more in families revered and honoured on account of their
descent from a long race of great and illustrious ancestors; because
there are no nations among whom wealth is likely to continue longer in
the same families.

Birth and fortune are evidently the two circumstances which
principally set one man above another. They are the two great sources
of personal distinction, and are, therefore, the principal causes
which naturally establish authority and subordination among men. Among
nations of shepherds, both those causes operate with their full force.
The great shepherd or herdsman, respected on account of his great
wealth, and of the great number of those who depend upon him for
subsistence, and revered on account of the nobleness of his birth, and
of the immemorial antiquity or his illustrious family, has a natural
authority over all the inferior shepherds or herdsmen of his horde or
clan. He can command the united force of a greater number of people
than any of them. His military power is greater than that of any of
them. In time of war, they are all of them naturally disposed to
muster themselves under his banner, rather than under that of any
other person; and his birth and fortune thus naturally procure to him
some sort of executive power. By commanding, too, the united force of
a greater number of people than any of them, he is best able to compel
any one of them, who may have injured another, to compensate the
wrong. He is the person, therefore, to whom all those who are too weak
to defend themselves naturally look up for protection. It is to him
that they naturally complain of the injuries which they imagine have
been done to them; and his interposition, in such cases, is more
easily submitted to, even by the person complained of, than that of
any other person would be. His birth and fortune thus naturally
procure him some sort of judicial authority.

It is in the age of shepherds, in the second period of society, that
the inequality of fortune first begins to take place, and introduces
among men a degree of authority and subordination, which could not
possibly exist before. It thereby introduces some degree of that civil
government which is indispensably necessary for its own preservation;
and it seems to do this naturally, and even independent of the
consideration of that necessity. The consideration of that necessity
comes, no doubt, afterwards, to contribute very much to maintain and
secure that authority and subordination. The rich, in particular, are
necessarily interested to support that order of things, which can alone
secure them in the possession of their own advantages. Men of inferior
wealth combine to defend those of superior wealth in the possession of
their property, in order that men of superior wealth may combine to
defend them in the possession of theirs. All the inferior shepherds
and herdsmen feel, that the security of their own herds and flocks
depends upon the security of those of the great shepherd or herdsman;
that the maintenance of their lesser authority depends upon that of
his greater authority; and that upon their subordination to him
depends his power of keeping their inferiors in subordination to them.
They constitute a sort of little nobility, who feel themselves
interested to defend the property, and to support the authority, of
their own little sovereign, in order that he may be able to defend
their property, and to support their authority. Civil government, so
far as it is instituted for the security of property, is, in reality,
instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those
who have some property against those who have none at all.

The judicial authority of such a sovereign, however, far from being a
cause of expense, was, for a long time, a source of revenue to him.
The persons who applied to him for justice were always willing to pay
for it, and a present never failed to accompany a petition. After the
authority of the sovereign, too, was thoroughly established, the
person found guilty, over and above the satisfaction which he was
obliged to make to the party, was like-wise forced to pay an
amercement to the sovereign. He had given trouble, he had disturbed,
he had broke the peace of his lord the king, and for those offences an
amercement was thought due. In the Tartar governments of Asia, in the
governments of Europe which were founded by the German and Scythian
nations who overturned the Roman empire, the administration of justice
was a considerable source of revenue, both to the sovereign, and to
all the lesser chiefs or lords who exercised under him any particular
jurisdiction, either over some particular tribe or clan, or over some
particular territory or district. Originally, both the sovereign and
the inferior chiefs used to exercise this jurisdiction in their own
persons. Afterwards, they universally found it convenient to delegate
it to some substitute, bailiff, or judge. This substitute, however,
was still obliged to account to his principal or constituent for the
profits of the jurisdiction. Whoever reads the instructions (They are
to be found in Tyrol's History of England) which were given to the
judges of the circuit in the time of Henry II will see clearly that
those judges were a sort of itinerant factors, sent round the country
for the purpose of levying certain branches of the king's revenue. In
those days, the administration of justice not only afforded a certain
revenue to the sovereign, but, to procure this revenue, seems to have
been one of the principal advantages which he proposed to obtain by
the administration of justice.

This scheme of making the administration of justice subservient to the
purposes of revenue, could scarce fail to be productive of several
very gross abuses. The person who applied for justice with a large
present in his hand, was likely to get something more than justice;
while he who applied for it with a small one was likely to get
something less. Justice, too, might frequently be delayed, in order
that this present might be repeated. The amercement, besides, of the
person complained of, might frequently suggest a very strong reason
for finding him in the wrong, even when he had not really been so.
That such abuses were far from being uncommon, the ancient history of
every country in Europe bears witness.

When the sovereign or chief exercises his judicial authority in his
own person, how much soever he might abuse it, it must have been
scarce possible to get any redress; because there could seldom be any
body powerful enough to call him to account. When he exercised it by a
bailiff, indeed, redress might sometimes be had. If it was for his own
benefit only, that the bailiff had been guilty of an act of injustice,
the sovereign himself might not always be unwilling to punish him, or
to oblige him to repair the wrong. But if it was for the benefit of
his sovereign; if it was in order to make court to the person who
appointed him, and who might prefer him, that he had committed any act
of oppression; redress would, upon most occasions, be as impossible as
if the sovereign had committed it himself. In all barbarous
governments, accordingly, in all those ancient governments of Europe
in particular, which were founded upon the ruins of the Roman empire,
the administration of justice appears for a long time to have been
extremely corrupt; far from being quite equal and impartial, even
under the best monarchs, and altogether profligate under the worst.

Among nations of shepherds, where the sovereign or chief is only the
greatest shepherd or herdsman of the horde or clan, he is maintained
in the same manner as any of his vassals or subjects, by the increase
of his own herds or flocks. Among those nations of husbandmen, who are
but just come out of the shepherd state, and who are not much advanced
beyond that state, such as the Greek tribes appear to have been about
the time of the Trojan war, and our German and Scythian ancestors,
when they first settled upon the ruins of the western empire; the
sovereign or chief is, in the same manner, only the greatest landlord
of the country, and is maintained in the same manner as any other
landlord, by a revenue derived from his own private estate, or from
what, in modern Europe, was called the demesne of the crown. His
subjects, upon ordinary occasions, contribute nothing to his support,
except when, in order to protect them from the oppression of some of
their fellow-subjects, they stand in need of his authority. The
presents which they make him upon such occasions constitute the whole
ordinary revenue, the whole of the emoluments which, except, perhaps,
upon some very extraordinary emergencies, he derives from his dominion
over them. When Agamemnon, in Homer, offers to Achilles, for his
friendship, the sovereignty of seven Greek cities, the sole advantage
which he mentions as likely to be derived from it was, that the people
would honour him with presents. As long as such presents, as long as
the emoluments of justice, or what may be called the fees of court,
constituted, in this manner, the whole ordinary revenue which the
sovereign derived from his sovereignty, it could not well be expected,
it could not even decently be proposed, that he should give them up
altogether. It might, and it frequently was proposed, that he should
regulate and ascertain them. But after they had been so regulated and
ascertained, how to hinder a person who was all-powerful from
extending them beyond those regulations, was still very difficult, not
to say impossible. During the continuance of this state of things,
therefore, the corruption of justice, naturally resulting from the
arbitrary and uncertain nature of those presents, scarce admitted of
any effectual remedy.

But when, from different causes, chiefly from the continually
increasing expense of defending the nation against the invasion of
other nations, the private estate of the sovereign had become
altogether insufficient for defraying the expense of the sovereignty;
and when it had become necessary that the people should, for their own
security, contribute towards this expense by taxes of different kinds;
it seems to have been very commonly stipulated, that no present for
the administration of justice should, under any pretence, be accepted
either by the sovereign, or by his bailiffs and substitutes, the
judges. Those presents, it seems to have been supposed, could more
easily be abolished altogether, than effectually regulated and
ascertained. Fixed salaries were appointed to the judges, which were
supposed to compensate to them the loss of whatever might have been
their share of the ancient emoluments of justice; as the taxes more
than compensated to the sovereign the loss of his. Justice was then
said to be administered gratis.

Justice, however, never was in reality administered gratis in any
country. Lawyers and attorneys, at least, must always be paid by the
parties; and if they were not, they would perform their duty still
worse than they actually perform it. The fees annually paid to lawyers
and attorneys, amount, in every court, to a much greater sum than the
salaries of the judges. The circumstance of those salaries being paid
by the crown, can nowhere much diminish the necessary expense of a
law-suit. But it was not so much to diminish the expense, as to
prevent the corruption of justice, that the judges were prohibited
from receiving my present or fee from the parties.

The office of judge is in itself so very honourable, that men are
willing to accept of it, though accompanied with very small
emoluments. The inferior office of justice of peace, though attended
with a good deal of trouble, and in most cases with no emoluments at
all, is an object of ambition to the greater part of our country
gentlemen. The salaries of all the different judges, high and low,
together with the whole expense of the administration and execution of
justice, even where it is not managed with very good economy, makes,
in any civilized country, but a very inconsiderable part of the whole
expense of government.

The whole expense of justice, too, might easily be defrayed by the
fees of court; and, without exposing the administration of justice to
any real hazard of corruption, the public revenue might thus be
entirely discharged from a certain, though perhaps but a small
incumbrance. It is difficult to regulate the fees of court
effectually, where a person so powerful as the sovereign is to share
in them and to derive any considerable part of his revenue from them.
It is very easy, where the judge is the principal person who can reap
any benefit from them. The law can very easily oblige the judge to
respect the regulation though it might not always be able to make the
sovereign respect it. Where the fees of court are precisely regulated
and ascertained where they are paid all at once, at a certain period
of every process, into the hands of a cashier or receiver, to be by
him distributed in certain known proportions among the different
judges after the process is decided and not till it is decided; there
seems to be no more danger of corruption than when such fees are
prohibited altogether. Those fees, without occasioning any
considerable increase in the expense of a law-suit, might be rendered
fully sufficient for defraying the whole expense of justice. But not
being paid to the judges till the process was determined, they might
be some incitement to the diligence of the court in examining and
deciding it. In courts which consisted of a considerable number of
judges, by proportioning the share of each judge to the number of
hours and days which he had employed in examining the process, either
in the court, or in a committee, by order of the court, those fees
might give some encouragement to the diligence of each particular
judge. Public services are never better performed, than when their
reward comes only in consequence of their being performed, and is
proportioned to the diligence employed in performing them. In the
different parliaments of France, the fees of court (called epices and
vacations) constitute the far greater part of the emoluments of the
judges. After all deductions are made, the neat salary paid by the
crown to a counsellor or judge in the parliament of Thoulouse, in rank
and dignity the second parliament of the kingdom, amounts only to 150
livres, about 6:11s. sterling a-year. About seven years ago, that sum
was in the same place the ordinary yearly wages of a common footman.
The distribution of these epices, too, is according to the diligence of
the judges. A diligent judge gains a comfortable, though moderate
revenue, by his office; an idle one gets little more than his salary.
Those parliaments are, perhaps, in many respects, not very convenient
courts of justice; but they have never been accused; they seem never
even to have been suspected of corruption.

The fees of court seem originally to have been the principal support
of the different courts of justice in England. Each court endeavoured
to draw to itself as much business as it could, and was, upon that
account, willing to take cognizance of many suits which were not
originally intended to fall under its jurisdiction. The court of
king's bench, instituted for the trial of criminal causes only, took
cognizance of civil suits; the plaintiff pretending that the
defendant, in not doing him justice, had been guilty of some trespass
or misdemeanour. The court of exchequer, instituted for the levying of
the king's revenue, and for enforcing the payment of such debts only
as were due to the king, took cognizance of all other contract debts;
the planitiff alleging that he could not pay the king, because the
defendant would not pay him. In consequence of such fictions, it came,
in many cases, to depend altogether upon the parties, before what
court they would choose to have their cause tried, and each court
endeavoured, by superior dispatch and impartiality, to draw to itself
as many causes as it could. The present admirable constitution of the
courts of justice in England was, perhaps, originally, in a great
measure, formed by this emulation, which anciently took place between
their respective judges: each judge endeavouring to give, in his own
court, the speediest and most effectual remedy which the law would
admit, for every sort of injustice. Originally, the courts of law gave
damages only for breach of contract. The court of chancery, as a court
of conscience, first took upon it to enforce the specific performance
of agreements. When the breach of contract consisted in the
non-payment of money, the damage sustained could be compensated in no
other way than by ordering payment, which was equivalent to a specific
performance of the agreement. In such cases, therefore, the remedy of
the courts of law was sufficient. It was not so in others. When the
tenant sued his lord for having unjustly outed him of his lease, the
damages which he recovered were by no means equivalent to the
possession of the land. Such causes, therefore, for some time, went
all to the court of chancery, to the no small loss of the courts of
law. It was to draw back such causes to themselves, that the courts of
law are said to have invented the artificial and fictitious writ of
ejectment, the most effectual remedy for an unjust outer or
dispossession of land.

A stamp-duty upon the law proceedings of each particular court, to be
levied by that court, and applied towards the maintenance of the
judges, and other officers belonging to it, might in the same manner,
afford a revenue sufficient for defraying the expense of the
administration of justice, without bringing any burden upon the
general revenue of the society. The judges, indeed, might in this
case, be under the temptation of multiplying unnecessarily the
proceedings upon every cause, in order to increase, as much as
possible, the produce of such a stamp-duty. It has been the custom in
modern Europe to regulate, upon most occasions, the payment of the
attorneys and clerks of court according to the number of pages which
they had occasion to write; the court, however, requiring that each
page should contain so many lines, and each line so many words. In
order to increase their payment, the attorneys and clerks have
contrived to multiply words beyond all necessity, to the corruption of
the law language of, I believe, every court of justice in Europe. A
like temptation might, perhaps, occasion a like corruption in the form
of law proceedings.

But whether the administration of justice be so contrived as to defray
its own expense, or whether the judges be maintained by fixed salaries
paid to them from some other fund, it does not seen necessary that the
person or persons entrusted with the executive power should be charged
with the management of that fund, or with the payment of those
salaries. That fund might arise from the rent of landed estates, the
management of each estate being entrusted to the particular court
which was to be maintained by it. That fund might arise even from the
interest of a sum of money, the lending out of which might, in the
same manner, be entrusted to the court which was to be maintained by
it. A part, though indeed but a small part of the salary of the judges
of the court of session in Scotland, arises from the interest of a sum
of money. The necessary instability of such a fund seems, however, to
render it an improper one for the maintenance of an institution which
ought to last for ever.

The separation of the judicial from the executive power, seems
originally to have arisen from the increasing business of the society,
in consequence of its increasing improvement. The administration of
justice became so laborious and so complicated a duty, as to require
the undivided attention of the person to whom it was entrusted. The
person entrusted with the executive power, not having leisure to
attend to the decision of private causes himself, a deputy was
appointed to decide them in his stead. In the progress of the Roman
greatness, the consul was too much occupied with the political affairs
of the state, to attend to the administration of justice. A praetor,
therefore, was appointed to administer it in his stead. In the
progress of the European monarchies, which were founded upon the ruins
of the Roman empire, the sovereigns and the great lords came
universally to consider the administration of justice as an office
both too laborious and too ignoble for them to execute in their own
persons. They universally, therefore, discharged themselves of it, by
appointing a deputy, bailiff or judge.

When the judicial is united to the executive power, it is scarce
possible that justice should not frequently be sacrificed to what is
vulgarly called politics. The persons entrusted with the great
interests of the state may even without any corrupt views, sometimes
imagine it necessary to sacrifice to those interests the rights of a
private man. But upon the impartial administration of justice depends
the liberty of every individual, the sense which he has of his own
security. In order to make every individual feel himself perfectly
secure in the possession of every right which belongs to him, it is
not only necessary that the judicial should be separated from the
executive power, but that it should be rendered as much as possible
independent of that power. The judge should not be liable to be
removed from his office according to the caprice of that power. The
regular payment of his salary should not depend upon the good will, or
even upon the good economy of that power.


Of the Expense of public Works and public Institutions.

The third and last duty of the sovereign or commonwealth, is that of
erecting and maintaining those public institutions and those public
works, which though they may be in the highest degree advantageous to
a great society, are, however, of such a nature, that the profit could
never repay the expense to any individual, or small number of
individuals; and which it, therefore, cannot be expected that any
individual, or small number of individuals, should erect or maintain.
The performance of this duty requires, too, very different degrees of
expense in the different periods of society.

After the public institutions and public works necessary for the
defence of the society, and for the administration of justice, both of
which have already been mentioned, the other works and institutions of
this kind are chiefly for facilitating the commerce of the society,
and those for promoting the instruction of the people. The
institutions for instruction are of two kinds: those for the education
of the youth, and those for the instruction of people of all ages. The
consideration of the manner in which the expense of those different
sorts of public works and institutions may be most properly defrayed
will divide this third part of the present chapter into three
different articles.

ARTICLE I. -- Of the public Works and Institutions for facilitating the
Commerce of the Society.

And, first, of those which are necessary for facilitating Commerce in

That the erection and maintenance of the public works which facilitate
the commerce of any country, such as good roads, bridges, navigable
canals, harbours, etc. must require very different degrees of expense
in the different periods of society, is evident without any proof. The
expense of making and maintaining the public roads of any country must
evidently increase with the annual produce of the land and labour of
that country, or with the quantity and weight of the goods which it
becomes necessary to fetch and carry upon those roads. The strength of
a bridge must be suited to the number and weight of the carriages
which are likely to pass over it. The depth and the supply of water
for a navigable canal must be proportioned to the number and tonnage
of the lighters which are likely to carry goods upon it; the extent of
a harbour, to the number of the shipping which are likely to take
shelter in it.

It does not seem necessary that the expense of those public works
should be defrayed from that public revenue, as it is commonly called,
of which the collection and application are in most countries,
assigned to the executive power. The greater part of such public works
may easily be so managed, as to afford a particular revenue,
sufficient for defraying their own expense without bringing any burden
upon the general revenue of the society.

A highway, a bridge, a navigable canal, for example, may, in most
cases, be both made add maintained by a small toll upon the carriages
which make use of them; a harbour, by a moderate port-duty upon the
tonnage of the shipping which load or unload in it. The coinage,
another institution for facilitating commerce, in many countries, not
only defrays its own expense, but affords a small revenue or a
seignorage to the sovereign. The post-office, another institution for
the same purpose, over and above defraying its own expense, affords,
in almost all countries, a very considerable revenue to the sovereign.

When the carriages which pass over a highway or a bridge, and the
lighters which sail upon a navigable canal, pay toll in proportion to
their weight or their tonnage, they pay for the maintenance of those
public works exactly in proportion to the wear and tear which they
occasion of them. It seems scarce possible to invent a more equitable
way of maintaining such works. This tax or toll, too, though it is
advanced by the carrier, is finally paid by the consumer, to whom it
must always be charged in the price of the goods. As the expense of
carriage, however, is very much reduced by means of such public works,
the goods, notwithstanding the toll, come cheaper to the consumer than
they could otherwise have done, their price not being so much raised
by the toll, as it is lowered by the cheapness of the carriage. The
person who finally pays this tax, therefore, gains by the application
more than he loses by the payment of it. His payment is exactly in
proportion to his gain. It is, in reality, no more than a part of that
gain which he is obliged to give up, in order to get the rest. It
seems impossible to imagine a more equitable method of raising a tax.

When the toll upon carriages of luxury, upon coaches, post-chaises,
etc. is made somewhat higher in proportion to their weight, than upon
carriages of necessary use, such as carts, waggons, etc. the indolence
and vanity of the rich is made to contribute, in a very easy manner,
to the relief of the poor, by rendering cheaper the transportation of
heavy goods to all the different parts of the country.

When high-roads, bridges, canals, etc. are in this manner made and
supported by the commerce which is carried on by means of them, they
can be made only where that commerce requires them, and, consequently,
where it is proper to make them. Their expense, too, their grandeur
and magnificence, must be suited to what that commerce can afford to
pay. They must be made, consequently, as it is proper to make them. A
magnificent high-road cannot be made through a desert country, where
there is little or no commerce, or merely because it happens to lead
to the country villa of the intendant of the province, or to that of
some great lord, to whom the intendant finds it convenient to make his
court. A great bridge cannot be thrown over a river at a place where
nobody passes, or merely to embellish the view from the windows of a
neighbouring palace; things which sometimes happen in countries, where
works of this kind are carried on by any other revenue than that which
they themselves are capable of affording.

In several different parts of Europe, the toll or lock-duty upon a
canal is the property of private persons, whose private interest
obliges them to keep up the canal. If it is not kept in tolerable
order, the navigation necessarily ceases altogether, and, along with
it, the whole profit which they can make by the tolls. If those tolls
were put under the management of commissioners, who had themselves no
interest in them, they might be less attentive to the maintenance of
the works which produced them. The canal of Languedoc cost the king of
France and the province upwards of thirteen millions of livres, which
(at twenty-eight livres the mark of silver, the value of French money
in the end of the last century) amounted to upwards of nine hundred
thousand pounds sterling. When that great work was finished, the most
likely method, it was found, of keeping it in constant repair, was to
make a present of the tolls to Riquet, the engineer who planned and
conducted the work. Those tolls constitute, at present, a very large
estate to the different branches of the family of that gentleman, who
have, therefore, a great interest to keep the work in constant repair.
But had those tolls been put under the management of commissioners,
who had no such interest, they might perhaps, have been dissipated in
ornamental and unnecessary expenses, while the most essential parts of
the works were allowed to go to ruin.

The tolls for the maintenance of a highroad cannot, with any safety,
be made the property of private persons. A high-road, though entirely
neglected, does not become altogether impassable, though a canal does.
The proprietors of the tolls upon a high-road, therefore, might
neglect altogether the repair of the road, and yet continue to levy
very nearly the same tolls. It is proper, therefore, that the tolls
for the maintenance of such a work should be put under the management
of commissioners or trustees.

In Great Britain, the abuses which the trustees have committed in the
management of those tolls, have, in many cases, been very justly
complained of. At many turnpikes, it has been said, the money levied
is more than double of what is necessary for executing, in the
completest manner, the work, which is often executed in a very
slovenly manner, and sometimes not executed at all. The system of
repairing the high-roads by tolls of this kind, it must be observed,
is not of very long standing. We should not wonder, therefore, if it
has not yet been brought to that degree of perfection of which it
seems capable. If mean and improper persons are frequently appointed
trustees; and if proper courts of inspection and account have not yet
been established for controlling their conduct, and for reducing the
tolls to what is barely sufficient for executing the work to be done
by them; the recency of the institution both accounts and apologizes
for those defects, of which, by the wisdom of parliament, the greater
part may, in due time, be gradually remedied.

The money levied at the different turnpikes in Great Britain, is
supposed to exceed so much what is necessary for repairing the roads,
that the savings which, with proper economy, might be made from it,
have been considered, even by some ministers, as a very great
resource, which might, at some time or another, be applied to the
exigencies of the state. Government, it has been said, by taking the
management of the turnpikes into its own hands, and by employing the
soldiers, who would work for a very small addition to their pay, could
keep the roads in good order, at a much less expense than it can be
done by trustees, who have no other workmen to employ, but such as
derive their whole subsistence from their wages. A great revenue, half
a million, perhaps {Since publishing the two first editions of this
book, I have got good reasons to believe that all the turnpike tolls
levied in Great Britain do not produce a neat revenue that amounts to
half a million; a sum which, under the management of government, would
not be sufficient to keep, in repair five of the principal roads in
the kingdom}, it has been pretended, might in this manner be gained,
without laying any new burden upon the people; and the turnpike roads
might be made to contribute to the general expense of the state, in
the same manner as the post-office does at present.

That a considerable revenue might be gained in this manner, I have no
doubt, though probably not near so much as the projectors of this plan
have supposed. The plan itself, however, seems liable to several very
important objections.

First, If the tolls which are levied at the turnpikes should ever be
considered as one of the resources for supplying the exigencies of the
state, they would certainly be augmented as those exigencies were
supposed to require. According to the policy of Great Britain,
therefore, they would probably he augmented very fast. The facility
with which a great revenue could be drawn from them, would probably
encourage administration to recur very frequently te this resource.
Though it may, perhaps, be more than doubtful whether half a million
could by any economy be saved out of the present tolls, it can
scarcely be doubted, but that a million might be saved out of them, if
they were doubled; and perhaps two millions, if they were tripled {I
have now good reason to believe that all these conjectural sums are by
much too large.}. This great revenue, too, might be levied without the
appointment of a single new officer to collect and receive it. But the
turnpike tolls, being continually augmented in this manner, instead of
facilitating the inland commerce of the country, as at present, would
soon become a very great incumbrance upon it. The expense of
transporting all heavy goods from one part of the country to another,
would soon be so much increased, the market for all such goods,
consequently, would soon be so much narrowed, that their production
would be in a great measure discouraged, and the most important
branches of the domestic industry of the country annihilated

Secondly, A tax upon carriages, in proportion to their weight, though
a very equal tax when applied to the sole purpose of repairing the
roads, is a very unequal one when applied to any other purpose, or to
supply the common exigencies of the state. When it is applied to the
sole purpose above mentioned, each carriage is supposed to pay exactly
for the wear and tear which that carriage occasions of the roads. But
when it is applied to any other purpose, each carriage is supposed to
pay for more than that wear and tear, and contributes to the supply of
some other exigency of the state. But as the turnpike toll raises the
price of goods in proportion to their weight and not to their value,
it is chiefly paid by the consumers of coarse and bulky, not by those
of precious and light commodities. Whatever exigency of the state,
therefore, this tax might be intended to supply, that exigency would
be chiefly supplied at the expense of the poor, not of the rich; at
the expense of those who are least able to supply it, not of those who
are most able.

Thirdly, If government should at any time neglect the reparation of
the high-roads, it would be still more difficult, than it is at
present, to compel the proper application of any part of the turnpike
tolls. A large revenue might thus be levied upon the people, without
any part of it being applied to the only purpose to which a revenue
levied in this manner ought ever to be applied. If the meanness and
poverty of the trustees of turnpike roads render it sometimes
difficult, at present, to oblige them to repair their wrong; their
wealth and greatness would render it ten times more so in the case
which is here supposed.

In France, the funds destined for the reparation of the high-roads are
under the immediate direction of the executive power. Those funds
consist, partly in a certain number of days labour, which the country
people are in most parts of Europe obliged to give to the reparation
of the highways; and partly in such a portion of the general revenue
of the state as the king chooses to spare from his other expenses.

By the ancient law of France, as well as by that of most other parts
of Europe, the labour of the country people was under the direction of
a local or provincial magistracy, which had no immediate dependency
upon the king's council. But, by the present practice, both the labour
of the country people, and whatever other fund the king may choose to
assign for the reparation of the high-roads in any particular province
or generality, are entirely under the management of the intendant; an
officer who is appointed and removed by the king's council who
receives his orders from it, and is in constant correspondence with
it. In the progress of despotism, the authority of the executive power
gradually absorbs that of every other power in the state, and assumes
to itself the management of every branch of revenue which is destined
for any public purpose. In France, however, the great post-roads, the
roads which make the communication between the principal towns of the
kingdom, are in general kept in good order; and, in some provinces,
are even a good deal superior to the greater part of the turnpike
roads of England. But what we call the cross roads, that is, the far
greater part of the roads in the country, are entirely neglected, and
are in many places absolutely impassable for any heavy carriage. In
some places it is even dangerous to travel on horseback, and mules are
the only conveyance which can safely be trusted. The proud minister of
an ostentatious court, may frequently take pleasure in executing a
work of splendour and magnificence, such as a great highway, which is
frequently seen by the principal nobility, whose applauses not only
flatter his vanity, but even contribute to support his interest at
court. But to execute a great number of little works, in which nothing
that can be done can make any great appearance, or excite the smallest
degree of admiration in any traveller, and which, in short, have
nothing to recommend them but their extreme utility, is a business
which appears, in every respect, too mean and paltry to merit the
attention of so great a magistrate. Under such an administration
therefore, such works are almost always entirely neglected.

In China, and in several other governments of Asia, the executive
power charges itself both with the reparation of the high-roads, and
with the maintenance of the navigable canals. In the instructions
which are given to the governor of each province, those objects, it is
said, are constantly recommended to him, and the judgment which the
court forms of his conduct is very much regulated by the attention
which he appears to have paid to this part of his instructions. This
branch of public police, accordingly, is said to be very much attended
to in all those countries, but particularly in China, where the
high-roads, and still more the navigable canals, it is pretended,
exceed very much every thing of the same kind which is known in
Europe. The accounts of those works, however, which have been
transmitted to Europe, have generally been drawn up by weak and
wondering travellers; frequently by stupid and lying missionaries. If
they had been examined by more intelligent eyes, and if the accounts
of them had been reported by more faithful witnesses, they would not,
perhaps, appear to be so wonderful. The account which Bernier gives of
some works of this kind in Indostan, falls very short of what had been
reported of them by other travellers, more disposed to the marvellous
than he was. It may too, perhaps, be in those countries, as it is in
France, where the great roads, the great communications, which are
likely to be the subjects of conversation at the court and in the
capital, are attended to, and all the rest neglected. In China,
besides, in Indostan, and in several other governments of Asia, the
revenue of the sovereign arises almost altogether from a land tax or
land rent, which rises or falls with the rise and fall of the annual
produce of the land. The great interest of the sovereign, therefore,
his revenue, is in such countries necessarily and immediately
connected with the cultivation of the land, with the greatness of its
produce, and with the value of its produce. But in order to render
that produce both as great and as valuable as possible, it is
necessary to procure to it as extensive a market as possible, and
consequently to establish the freest, the easiest, and the least
expensive communication between all the different parts of the
country; which can be done only by means of the best roads and the
best navigable canals. But the revenue of the sovereign does not, in
any part of Europe, arise chiefly from a land tax or land rent. In all
the great kingdoms of Europe, perhaps, the greater part of it may
ultimately depend upon the produce of the land: but that dependency is
neither so immediate nor so evident. In Europe, therefore, the
sovereign does not feel himself so directly called upon to promote the
increase, both in quantity and value of the produce of the land, or,
by maintaining good roads and canals, to provide the most extensive
market for that produce. Though it should be true, therefore, what I
apprehend is not a little doubtful, that in some parts of Asia this
department of the public police is very properly managed by the
executive power, there is not the least probability that, during the
present state of things, it could be tolerably managed by that power
in any part of Europe.

Even those public works, which are of such a nature that they cannot
afford any revenue for maintaining themselves, but of which the
conveniency is nearly confined to some particular place or district,
are always better maintained by a local or provincial revenue, under
the management of a local and provincial administration, than by the
general revenue of the state, of which the executive power must always
have the management. Were the streets of London to be lighted and
paved at the expense of the treasury, is there any probability that
they would be so well lighted and paved as they are at present, or
even at so small an expense? The expense, besides, instead of being
raised by a local tax upon the inhabitants of each particular street,
parish, or district in London, would, in this case, be defrayed out of
the general revenue of the state, and would consequently be raised by
a tax upon all the inhabitants of the kingdom, of whom the greater
part derive no sort of benefit from the lighting and paving of the
streets of London.

The abuses which sometimes creep into the local and provincial
administration of a local and provincial revenue, how enormous soever
they may appear, are in reality, however, almost always very trifling
in comparison of those which commonly take place in the administration
and expenditure of the revenue of a great empire. They are, besides,
much more easily corrected. Under the local or provincial
administration of the justices of the peace in Great Britain, the six
days labour which the country people are obliged to give to the
reparation of the highways, is not always, perhaps, very judiciously
applied, but it is scarce ever exacted with any circumstance of
cruelty or oppression. In France, under the administration of the
intendants, the application is not always more judicious, and the
exaction is frequently the most cruel and oppressive. Such corvees, as
they are called, make one of the principal instruments of tyranny by
which those officers chastise any parish or communeaute, which has had
the misfortune to fall under their displeasure.

Of the public Works and Institution which are necessary for
facilitating particular Branches of Commerce.

The object of the public works and institutions above mentioned, is to
facilitate commerce in general. But in order to facilitate some
particular branches of it, particular institutions are necessary,
which again require a particular and extraordinary expense.

Some particular branches of commerce which are carried on with
barbarous and uncivilized nations, require extraordinary protection.
An ordinary store or counting-house could give little security to the
goods of the merchants who trade to the western coast of Africa. To
defend them from the barbarous natives, it is necessary that the place
where they are deposited should be in some measure fortified. The
disorders in the government of Indostan have been supposed to render a
like precaution necessary, even among that mild and gentle people; and
it was under pretence of securing their persons and property from
violence, that both the English and French East India companies were
allowed to erect the first forts which they possessed in that country.
Among other nations, whose vigorous government will suffer no
strangers to possess any fortified place within their territory, it
may be necessary to maintain some ambassador, minister, or consul, who
may both decide, according to their own customs, the differences
arising among his own countrymen, and, in their disputes with the
natives, may by means of his public character, interfere with more
authority and afford them a more powerful protection than they could
expect from any private man. The interests of commerce have frequently
made it necessary to maintain ministers in foreign countries, where
the purposes either of war or alliance would not have required any.
The commerce of the Turkey company first occasioned the establishment
of an ordinary ambassador at Constantinople. The first English
embassies to Russia arose altogether from commercial interests. The
constant interference with those interests, necessarily occasioned
between the subjects of the different states of Europe, has probably
introduced the custom of keeping, in all neighbouring countries,
ambassadors or ministers constantly resident, even in the time of
peace. This custom, unknown to ancient times, seems not to be older
than the end of the fifteenth, or beginning of the sixteenth century;
that is, than the time when commerce first began to extend itself to
the greater part of the nations of Europe, and when they first began
to attend to its interests.

It seems not unreasonable, that the extraordinary expense which the
protection of any particular branch of commerce may occasion, should
be defrayed by a moderate tax upon that particular branch; by a
moderate fine, for example, to be paid by the traders when they first
enter into it; or, what is more equal, by a particular duty of so much
per cent. upon the goods which they either import into, or export out
of, the particular countries with which it is carried on. The
protection of trade, in general, from pirates and freebooters, is said
to have given occasion to the first institution of the duties of
customs. But, if it was thought reasonable to lay a general tax upon
trade, in order to defray the expense of protecting trade in general,
it should seem equally reasonable to lay a particular tax upon a
particular branch of trade, in order to defray the extraordinary
expense of protecting that branch.

The protection of trade, in general, has always been considered as
essential to the defence of the commonwealth, and, upon that account,
a necessary part of the duty of the executive power. The collection
and application of the general duties of customs, therefore, have
always been left to that power. But the protection of any particular
branch of trade is a part of the general protection of trade; a part,
therefore, of the duty of that power; and if nations always acted
consistently, the particular duties levied for the purposes of such
particular protection, should always have been left equally to its
disposal. But in this respect, as well as in many others, nations have
not always acted consistently; and in the greater part of the
commercial states of Europe, particular companies of merchants have
had the address to persuade the legislature to entrust to them the
performance of this part of the duty of the sovereign, together with
all the powers which are necessarily connected with it.

These companies, though they may, perhaps, have been useful for the
first introduction of some branches of commerce, by making, at their
own expense, an experiment which the state might not think it prudent
to make, have in the long-run proved, universally, either burdensome
or useless, and have either mismanaged or confined the trade.

When those companies do not trade upon a joint stock, but are obliged
to admit any person, properly qualified, upon paying a certain fine,
and agreeing to submit to the regulations of the company, each member
trading upon his own stock, and at his own risk, they are called
regulated companies. When they trade upon a joint stock, each member
sharing in the common profit or loss, in proportion to his share in
this stock, they are called joint-stock companies. Such companies,
whether regulated or joint-stock, sometimes have, and sometimes have
not, exclusive privileges.

Regulated companies resemble, in every respect, the corporation of
trades, so common in the cities and towns of all the different
countries of Europe; and are a sort of enlarged monopolies of the same
kind. As no inhabitant of a town can exercise an incorporated trade,
without first obtaining his freedom in the incorporation, so, in most
cases, no subject of the state can lawfully carry on any branch of
foreign trade, for which a regulated company is established, without
first becoming a member of that company. The monopoly is more or less
strict, according as the terms of admission are more or less
difficult, and according as the directors of the company have more or
less authority, or have it more or less in their power to manage in
such a manner as to confine the greater part of the trade to
themselves and their particular friends. In the most ancient regulated
companies, the privileges of apprenticeship were the same as in other
corporations, and entitled the person who had served his time to a
member of the company, to become himself a member, either without
paying any fine, or upon paying a much smaller one than what was
exacted of other people. The usual corporation spirit, wherever the
law does not restrain it, prevails in all regulated companies. When
they have been allowed to act according to their natural genius, they
have always, in order to confine the competition to as small a number
of persons as possible, endeavoured to subject the trade to many
burdensome regulations. When the law has restrained them from doing
this, they have become altogether useless and insignificant.

The regulated companies for foreign commerce which at present subsist
in Great Britain, are the ancient merchant-adventurers company, now
commonly called the Hamburgh company, the Russia company, the Eastland
company, the Turkey company, and the African company.

The terms of admission into the Hamburgh company are now said to be
quite easy; and the directors either have it not in their power to
subject the trade to any troublesome restraint or regulations, or, at
least, have not of late exercised that power. It has not always been
so. About the middle of the last century, the fine for admission was
fifty, and at one time one hundred pounds, and the conduct of the
company was said to be extremely oppressive. In 1643, in 1645, and in
1661, the clothiers and free traders of the west of England complained
of them to parliament, as of monopolists, who confined the trade, and
oppressed the manufactures of the country. Though those complaints
produced no act of parliament, they had probably intimidated the
company so far, as to oblige them to reform their conduct. Since that
time, at least, there have been no complaints against them. By the
10th and 11th of William III. c.6, the fine for admission into the
Russia company was reduced to five pounds; and by the 25th of Charles
II. c.7, that for admission into the Eastland company to forty
shillings; while, at the same time, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, all
the countries on the north side of the Baltic, were exempted from
their exclusive charter. The conduct of those companies had probably
given occasion to those two acts of parliament. Before that time, Sir
Josiah Child had represented both these and the Hamburgh company as
extremely oppressive, and imputed to their bad management the low
state of the trade, which we at that time carried on to the countries
comprehended within their respective charters. But though such
companies may not, in the present times, be very oppressive, they are
certainly altogether useless. To be merely useless, indeed, is
perhaps, the highest eulogy which can ever justly be bestowed upon a
regulated company; and all the three companies above mentioned seem,
in their present state, to deserve this eulogy.

The fine for admission into the Turkey company was formerly
twenty-five pounds for all persons under twenty-six years of age, and
fifty pounds for all persons above that age. Nobody but mere merchants
could be admitted; a restriction which excluded all shop-keepers and
retailers. By a bye-law, no British manufactures could be exported to
Turkey but in the general ships of the company; and as those ships
sailed always from the port of London, this restriction confined the
trade to that expensive port, and the traders to those who lived in
London and in its neighbourhood. By another bye-law, no person living
within twenty miles of London, and not free of the city, could be
admitted a member; another restriction which, joined to the foregoing,
necessarily excluded all but the freemen of London. As the time for
the loading and sailing of those general ships depended altogether
upon the directors, they could easily fill them with their own goods,
and those of their particular friends, to the exclusion of others,
who, they might pretend, had made their proposals too late. In this
state of things, therefore, this company was, in every respect, a
strict and oppressive monopoly. Those abuses gave occasion to the act
of the 26th of George II. c. 18, reducing the fine for admission to
twenty pounds for all persons, without any distinction of ages, or any
restriction, either to mere merchants, or to the freemen of London;
and granting to all such persons the liberty of exporting, from all
the ports of Great Britain, to any port in Turkey, all British goods,
of which the exportation was not prohibited, upon paying both the
general duties of customs, and the particular duties assessed for
defraying the necessary expenses of the company; and submitting, at
the same time, to the lawful authority of the British ambassador and
consuls resident in Turkey, and to the bye-laws of the company duly
enacted. To prevent any oppression by those bye-laws, it was by the
same act ordained, that if any seven members of the company conceived
themselves aggrieved by any bye-law which should be enacted after the
passing of this act, they might appeal to the board of trade and
plantations (to the authority of which a committee of the privy
council has now succeeded), provided such appeal was brought within
twelve months after the bye-law was enacted; and that, if any seven
members conceived themselves aggrieved by any bye-law which had been
enacted before the passing of this act, they might bring a like
appeal, provided it was within twelve months after the day on which
this act was to take place. The experience of one year, however, may
not always be sufficient to discover to all the members of a great
company the pernicious tendency of a particular bye-law; and if
several of them should afterwards discover it, neither the board of
trade, nor the committee of council, can afford them any redress. The
object, besides, of the greater part of the bye-laws of all regulated
companies, as well as of all other corporations, is not so much to
oppress those who are already members, as to discourage others from
becoming so; which may be done, not only by a high fine, but by many
other contrivances. The constant view of such companies is always to
raise the rate of their own profit as high as they can; to keep the
market, both for the goods which they export, and for those which they
import, as much understocked as they can; which can be done only by
restraining the competition, or by discouraging new adventurers from
entering into the trade. A fine, even of twenty pounds, besides,
though it may not, perhaps, be sufficient to discourage any man from
entering into the Turkey trade, with an intention to continue in it,
may be enough to discourage a speculative merchant from hazarding a
single adventure in it. In all trades, the regular established
traders, even though not incorporated, naturally combine to raise
profits, which are noway so likely to be kept, at all times, down to
their proper level, as by the occasional competition of speculative
adventurers. The Turkey trade, though in some measure laid open by
this act of parliament, is still considered by many people as very far
from being altogether free. The Turkey company contribute to maintain
an ambassador and two or three consuls, who, like other public
ministers, ought to be maintained altogether by the state, and the
trade laid open to all his majesty's subjects. The different taxes
levied by the company, for this and other corporation purposes, might
afford a revenue much more than sufficient to enable a state to
maintain such ministers.

Regulated companies, it was observed by Sir Josiah Child, though they
had frequently supported public ministers, had never maintained any
forts or garrisons in the countries to which they traded; whereas
joint-stock companies frequently had. And, in reality, the former seem
to be much more unfit for this sort of service than the latter. First,
the directors of a regulated company have no particular interest in
the prosperity of the general trade of the company, for the sake of
which such forts and garrisons are maintained. The decay of that
general trade may even frequently contribute to the advantage of their
own private trade; as, by diminishing the number of their competitors,
it may enable them both to buy cheaper, and to sell dearer. The
directors of a joint-stock company, on the contrary, having only their
share in the profits which are made upon the common stock committed to
their management, have no private trade of their own, of which the
interest can be separated from that of the general trade of the
company. Their private interest is connected with the prosperity of
the general trade of the company, and with the maintenance of the
forts and garrisons which are necessary for its defence. They are more
likely, therefore, to have that continual and careful attention which
that maintenance necessarily requires. Secondly, The directors of a
joint-stock company have always the management of a large capital, the
joint stock of the company, a part of which they may frequently
employ, with propriety, in building, repairing, and maintaining such
necessary forts and garrisons. But the directors of a regulated
company, having the management of no common capital, have no other
fund to employ in this way, but the casual revenue arising from the
admission fines, and from the corporation duties imposed upon the
trade of the company. Though they had the same interest, therefore, to
attend to the maintenance of such forts and garrisons, they can seldom
have the same ability to render that attention effectual. The
maintenance of a public minister, requiring scarce any attention, and
but a moderate and limited expense, is a business much more suitable
both to the temper and abilities of a regulated company.

Long after the time of Sir Josiah Child, however, in 1750, a regulated
company was established, the present company of merchants trading to
Africa; which was expressly charged at first with the maintenance of
all the British forts and garrisons that lie between Cape Blanc and
the Cape of Good Hope, and afterwards with that of those only which
lie between Cape Rouge and the Cape of Good Hope. The act which
establishes this company (the 23rd of George II. c.51 ), seems to have
had two distinct objects in view; first, to restrain effectually the
oppressive and monopolizing spirit which is natural to the directors
of a regulated company; and, secondly, to force them, as much as
possible, to give an attention, which is not natural to them, towards
the maintenance of forts and garrisons.

For the first of these purposes, the fine for admission is limited to
forty shillings. The company is prohibited from trading in their
corporate capacity, or upon a joint stock; from borrowing money upon
common seal, or from laying any restraints upon the trade, which may
be carried on freely from all places, and by all persons being British
subjects, and paying the fine. The government is in a committee of
nine persons, who meet at London, but who are chosen annually by the
freemen of the company at London, Bristol, and Liverpool; three from
each place. No committeeman can be continued in office for more than
three years together. Any committee-man might be removed by the board
of trade and plantations, now by a committee of council, after being
heard in his own defence. The committee are forbid to export negroes
from Africa, or to import any African goods into Great Britain. But as
they are charged with the maintenance of forts and garrisons, they
may, for that purpose export from Great Britain to Africa goods and
stores of different kinds. Out of the moneys which they shall receive
from the company, they are allowed a sum, not exceeding eight hundred
pounds, for the salaries of their clerks and agents at London,
Bristol, and Liverpool, the house-rent of their offices at London, and
all other expenses of management, commission, and agency, in England.
What remains of this sum, after defraying these different expenses,
they may divide among themselves, as compensation for their trouble,
in what manner they think proper. By this constitution, it might have
been expected, that the spirit of monopoly would have been effectually
restrained, and the first of these purposes sufficiently answered. It
would seem, however, that it had not. Though by the 4th of George III.
c.20, the fort of Senegal, with all its dependencies, had been
invested in the company of merchants trading to Africa, yet, in the
year following (by the 5th of George III. c.44), not only Senegal and
its dependencies, but the whole coast, from the port of Sallee, in
South Barbary, to Cape Rouge, was exempted from the jurisdiction of
that company, was vested in the crown, and the trade to it declared
free to all his majesty's subjects. The company had been suspected of
restraining the trade and of establishing some sort of improper
monopoly. It is not, however, very easy to conceive how, under the
regulations of the 23d George II. they could do so. In the printed
debates of the house of commons, not always the most authentic records
of truth, I observe, however, that they have been accused of this. The
members of the committee of nine being all merchants, and the
governors and factors in their different forts and settlements being
all dependent upon them, it is not unlikely that the latter might have
given peculiar attention to the consignments and commissions of the
former, which would establish a real monopoly.

For the second of these purposes, the maintenance of the forts and
garrisons, an annual sum has been allotted to them by parliament,
generally about 13,000. For the proper application of this sum, the
committee is obliged to account annually to the cursitor baron of
exchequer; which account is afterwards to be laid before parliament.
But parliament, which gives so little attention to the application of
millions, is not likely to give much to that of 13,000 a-year; and
the cursitor baron of exchequer, from his profession and education, is
not likely to be profoundly skilled in the proper expense of forts and
garrisons. The captains of his majesty's navy, indeed, or any other
commissioned officers, appointed by the board of admiralty, may
inquire into the condition of the forts and garrisons, and report
their observations to that board. But that board seems to have no
direct jurisdiction over the committee, nor any authority to correct
those whose conduct it may thus inquire into; and the captains of his
majesty's navy, besides, are not supposed to be always deeply learned
in the science of fortification. Removal from an office, which can be
enjoyed only for the term of three years, and of which the lawful
emoluments, even during that term, are so very small, seems to be the
utmost punishment to which any committee-man is liable, for any fault,
except direct malversation, or embezzlement, either of the public
money, or of that of the company; and the fear of the punishment can
never be a motive of sufficient weight to force a continual and
careful attention to a business to which he has no other interest to
attend. The committee are accused of having sent out bricks and stones
from England for the reparation of Cape Coast Castle, on the coast of
Guinea; a business for which parliament had several times granted an
extraordinary sum of money. These bricks and stones, too, which had
thus been sent upon so long a voyage, were said to have been of so bad
a quality, that it was necessary to rebuild, from the foundation, the
walls which had been repaired with them. The forts and garrisons which
lie north of Cape Rouge, are not only maintained at the expense of the
state, but are under the immediate government of the executive power;
and why those which lie south of that cape, and which, too, are, in
part at least, maintained at the expense of the state, should be under
a different government, it seems not very easy even to imagine a good
reason. The protection of the Mediterranean trade was the original
purpose or pretence of the garrisons of Gibraltar and Minorca; and the
maintenance and government of those garrisons have always been, very
properly, committed, not to the Turkey company, but to the executive
power. In the extent of its dominion consists, in a great measure, the
pride and dignity of that power; and it is not very likely to fail in
attention to what is necessary for the defence of that dominion. The
garrisons at Gibraltar and Minorca, accordingly, have never been
neglected. Though Minorca has been twice taken, and is now probably
lost for ever, that disaster has never been imputed to any neglect in
the executive power. I would not, however, be understood to insinuate,
that either of those expensive garrisons was ever, even in the
smallest degree, necessary for the purpose for which they were
originally dismembered from the Spanish monarchy. That dismemberment,
perhaps, never served any other real purpose than to alienate from
England her natural ally the king of Spain, and to unite the two
principal branches of the house of Bourbon in a much stricter and more
permanent alliance than the ties of blood could ever have united them.

Joint-stock companies, established either by royal charter, or by act
of parliament, are different in several respects, not only from
regulated companies, but from private copartneries.

First, In a private copartnery, no partner without the consent of the
company, can transfer his share to another person, or introduce a new
member into the company. Each member, however, may, upon proper
warning, withdraw from the copartnery, and demand payment from them of
his share of the common stock. In a joint-stock company, on the
contrary, no member can demand payment of his share from the company;
but each member can, without their consent, transfer his share to
another person, and thereby introduce a new member. The value of a
share in a joint stock is always the price which it will bring in the
market; and this may be either greater or less in any proportion, than
the sum which its owner stands credited for in the stock of the

Secondly, In a private copartnery, each partner is bound for the debts
contracted by the company, to the whole extent of his fortune. In a
joint-stock company, on the contrary, each partner is bound only to
the extent of his share.

The trade of a joint-stock company is always managed by a court of
directors. This court, indeed, is frequently subject, in many
respects, to the control of a general court of proprietors. But the
greater part of these proprietors seldom pretend to understand any
thing of the business of the company; and when the spirit of faction
happens not to prevail among them, give themselves no trouble about
it, but receive contentedly such halfyearly or yearly dividend as the
directors think proper to make to them. This total exemption front
trouble and front risk, beyond a limited sum, encourages many people
to become adventurers in joint-stock companies, who would, upon no
account, hazard their fortunes in any private copartnery. Such
companies, therefore, commonly draw to themselves much greater stocks,
than any private copartnery can boast of. The trading stock of the
South Sea company at one time amounted to upwards of thirty-three
millions eight hundred thousand pounds. The divided capital of the
Bank of England amounts, at present, to ten millions seven hundred and
eighty thousand pounds. The directors of such companies, however,
being the managers rather of other people's money than of their own,
it cannot well be expected that they should watch over it with the
same anxious vigilance with which the partners in a private copartnery
frequently watch over their own. Like the stewards of a rich man, they
are apt to consider attention to small matters as not for their
master's honour, and very easily give themselves a dispensation from
having it. Negligence and profusion, therefore, must always prevail,
more or less, in the management of the affairs of such a company. It
is upon this account, that joint-stock companies for foreign trade
have seldom been able to maintain the competition against private
adventurers. They have, accordingly, very seldom succeeded without an
exclusive privilege; and frequently have not succeeded with one.
Without an exclusive privilege, they have commonly mismanaged the
trade. With an exclusive privilege, they have both mismanaged and
confined it.

The Royal African company, the predecessors of the present African
company, had an exclusive privilege by charter; but as that charter
had not been confirmed by act of parliament, the trade, in consequence
of the declaration of rights, was, soon after the Revolution, laid
open to all his majesty's subjects. The Hudson's Bay company are, as
to their legal rights, in the same situation as the Royal African
company. Their exclusive charter has not been confirmed by act of
parliament. The South Sea company, as long as they continued to be a
trading company, had an exclusive privilege confirmed by act of
parliament; as have likewise the present united company of merchants
trading to the East Indies.

The Royal African company soon found that they could not maintain the
competition against private adventurers, whom, notwithstanding the
declaration of rights, they continued for some time to call
interlopers, and to persecute as such. In 1698, however, the private
adventurers were subjected to a duty of ten per cent. upon almost all
the different branches of their trade, to be employed by the company
in the maintenance of their forts and garrisons. But, notwithstanding
this heavy tax, the company were still unable to maintain the
competition. Their stock and credit gradually declined. In 1712, their
debts had become so great, that a particular act of parliament was
thought necessary, both for their security and for that of their
creditors. It was enacted, that the resolution of two-thirds of these
creditors in number and value should bind the rust, both with regard
to the time which should be allowed to the company for the payment of
their debts, and with regard to any other agreement which it might be
thought proper to make with them concerning those debts. In 1730,
their affairs were in so great disorder, that they were altogether
incapable of maintaining their forts and garrisons, the sole purpose
and pretext of their institution. From that year till their final
dissolution, the parliament judged it necessary to allow the annual
sum of 10,000 for that purpose. In 1732, after having been for many
years losers by the trade of carrying negroes to the West Indies, they
at last resolved to give it up altogether; to sell to the private
traders to America the negroes which they purchased upon the coast;
awl to employ their servants in a trade to the inland parts of Africa
for gold dust, elephants teeth, dyeing drugs, etc. But their success
in this more confined trade was not greater than in their former
extensive one. Their affairs continued to go gradually to decline,
till at last, being in every respect a bankrupt company, they were
dissolved by act of parliament, and their forts and garrisons vested
in the present regulated company of merchants trading to Africa.
Before the erection of the Royal African company, there had been three
other joint-stock companies successively established, one after
another, for the African trade. They were all equally unsuccessful.
They all, however, had exclusive charters, which, though not confirmed
by act of parliament, were in those days supposed to convey a real
exclusive privilege.

The Hudson's Bay company, before their misfortunes in the late war,
had been much more fortunate than the Royal African company. Their
necessary expense is much smaller. The whole number of people whom
they maintain in their different settlements and habitations, which
they have honoured with the name of forts, is said not to exceed a
hundred and twenty persons. This number, however, is sufficient to
prepare beforehand the cargo of furs and other goods necessary for
loading their ships, which, on account of the ice, can seldom remain
above six or eight weeks in those seas. This advantage of having a
cargo ready prepared, could not, for several years, be acquired by
private adventurers; and without it there seems to be no possibility
of trading to Hudson's Bay. The moderate capital of the company,
which, it is said, does not exceed one hundred and ten thousand
pounds, may, besides, be sufficient to enable them to engross the
whole, or almost the whole trade and surplus produce, of the miserable
though extensive country comprehended within their charter. No private
adventurers, accordingly, have ever attempted to trade to that country
in competition with them. This company, therefore, have always enjoyed
an exclusive trade, in fact, though they may have no right to it in
law. Over and above all this, the moderate capital of this company is
said to be divided among a very small number of proprietors. But a
joint-stock company, consisting of a small number of proprietors, with
a moderate capital, approaches very nearly to the nature of a private
copartnery, and may be capable of nearly the same degree of vigilance
and attention. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, if, in
consequence of these different advantages, the Hudson's Bay company
had, before the late war, been able to carry on their trade with a
considerable degree of success. It does not seem probable, however,
that their profits ever approached to what the late Mr Dobbs imagined
them. A much more sober and judicious writer, Mr Anderson, author of
the Historical and Chronological Deduction of Commerce, very justly
observes, that upon examining the accounts which Mr Dobbs himself has
given for several years together, of their exports and imports, and
upon making proper allowances for their extraordinary risk and
expense, it does not appear that their profits deserve to be envied,
or that they can much, if at all, exceed the ordinary profits of

The South Sea company never had any forts or garrisons to maintain,
and therefore were entirely exempted from one great expense, to which
other joint-stock companies for foreign trade are subject; but they
had an immense capital divided among an immense number of proprietors.
It was naturally to be expected, therefore, that folly, negligence,
and profusion, should prevail in the whole management of their
affairs. The knavery and extravagance of their stock-jobbing projects
are sufficiently known, and the explication of them would be foreign
to the present subject. Their mercantile projects were not much better
conducted. The first trade which they engaged in, was that of
supplying the Spanish West Indies with negroes, of which (in
consequence of what was called the Assiento Contract granted them by
the treaty of Utrecht) they had the exclusive privilege. But as it was


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