Front Page Titles (by Subject) [V.i.e] Of the Publick Works and Institutions which are necessary for facilitating particular Branches of Commerce - Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence Vol. 2b An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Vol. 2
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[V.i.e] Of the Publick Works and Institutions which are necessary for facilitating particular Branches of Commerce - Adam Smith, Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence Vol. 2b An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Vol. 2 
An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Vol. I and II, ed. R. H. Campbell and A. S. Skinner, vol. II of the Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1981).
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[V.i.e] a–aOf the Publick Works and Institutions which are necessary for facilitating particular Branches of Commerce
1The object of the publick 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 expence.
2Some 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 publick 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.1 The commerce of the Turkey Company first occasioned the establishment of an ordinary ambassador at Constantinople.2 The first English embassies to Russia arose altogether from commercial interests.3 The constant interference which 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 antient 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.
3It seems not unreasonable, that the extraordinary expence, 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 expence 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 expence of protecting that branch.
4The 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 perswade 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.4
5These companies, though they may, perhaps, have been useful for the first introduction of some branches of commerce, by making, at their own expence, 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.5
6When 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.
7Regulated companies resemble, in every respect, the corporations 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.6 As no inhabitant of a town can exercise an incorporated trade, without first obtaining his freedom in the corporation, 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 antient regulated companies the privileges of apprenticeship were the same as in other corporations;7 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.
8The regulated companies for foreign commerce, which at present subsist in Great Britain are, the antient merchant adventurers company, now commonly called the Hamburgh Company, the bRussiab Company, the Eastland Company, the Turkey Company, and the African Company.
9The 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 burdensome crestraintsc 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,8 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.9 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 dhasd been no complaints against them. By the 10th and 11th of William III. c. 6.10 the fine for admission into the Russian Company was reduced to five pounds; and by the 25th of Charles II. c. 7.11 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 Baltick, 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 Child12 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.
10The fine for admission into the Turky 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 Turky 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 eexpensivee 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. 18.13 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 of Turky, all British goods of which the exportation was not prohibited; and of importing from thence all Turkish goods, of which the importation was not prohibited, upon paying both the general duties of customs, and the particular duties assessed for defraying the necessary expences of the company; and submitting, at the same time, to the lawful authority of the British ambassador and consuls resident in Turky, 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 Turky 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 no–way so likely to be kept, at all times, down to their proper level, as by the occasional competition of speculative adventurers.14 The Turky 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 Turky 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 the state to maintain such ministers.
11Regulated companies, it was observed by Sir Josiah Child,15 though they had frequently supported publick 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.16 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 publick minister requiring scarce any attention, and but a moderate and limited expence, is a business much more suitable both to the temper and abilities of a regulated company.
12Long 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 23d of George II. c. 31.)17 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.
13For 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 committee–man 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 monies 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 office at London, and allf other expences of management, commission and agency in England. What remains of this sum, after defraying these different expences, 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. 20.18 the fort of Senegal, with all its dependencies, had been vested in the company of merchants trading to Africa, yet in the year following, (by the 5th of George III. c. 44.)19 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.
14For 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 l. 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 l. a–year; and the Cursitor Baron of Exchequer, from his profession and education, is not likely to be profoundly skilled in the proper expence of forts and garrisons. The captains of his majesty’s navy, indeed, or any other commissioned officers, appointed by the Board of Admiralty, may enquire 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 enquire 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 publick money, or of that of the company; and the fear of that 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 expence 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 expence 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,20 and the maintenance and government of those garrisons has always been, very properly, committed, not to the Turky 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 was never even 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.21
15Joint stock companies, established either by royal charter or by act of parliament, differ in several respects, not only from regulated companies, but from private copartneries.22
16First, 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 company.
17Secondly, 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.23
18The trade of a joint stock company is always managed by a court of directors. The court, indeed, is frequently subject, in many respects, to the controul of a general court of proprietors. But the greater part of gthoseg 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 half yearly or yearly dividend, as the directors think proper to make to them. This total exemption from trouble and from 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.24 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.25 The divided capital of the Bank of England amounts, at present, to ten millions seven hundred and eighty thousand pounds.26 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.27 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.
19The royal African Company, the predecessors of the present African Company, had an exclusive privilege by charter;28 but as that charter had not been confirmed by act of parliament, the trade, in consequence of the declaration of rights,29 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.
20The Royal African Company soon found that they could not maintain the competition against private adventures, 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 garrisons30 . 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.31 It was enacted, that the resolution of two–thirds of these creditors in number and value, should bind the rest, 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 ten thousand pounds for that purpose.32 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; and to employ their servants in a trade to the inland parts of Africa for gold dust, elephants teeth, dying drugs, &c. 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.33 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.34 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.35
21The Hudson’s Bay Company, before their misfortunes in the late war, had been much more fortunate than the Royal African Company. Their necessary expence 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,36 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.37 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.38 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 expence, it does not appear that their profits deserve to be envied, or that they can much, if at all, exceed the ordinary profits of trade.39
22The South Sea Company never had any forts or garrisons to maintain, and therefore were entirely exempted from one great expence, 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.40 But as it was not expected that much profit could be made by this trade, both the Portugueze and French companies, who had enjoyed it upon the same terms before them, having been ruined by it, they were allowed, as compensation, to send annually a ship of a certain burden to trade directly to the Spanish West Indies. Of the ten voyages which this annual ship was allowed to make, they are said to have gained considerably by one, that of the Royal Caroline in 1731, and to have been losers, more or less, by almost all the rest. Their ill success was imputed, by their factors and agents, to the extortion and oppression of the Spanish government; but was, perhaps, principally owing to the profusion and depredations of those very factors and agents; some of whom are said to have acquired great fortunes even in one year.41 In 1734, the company petitioned the king, that they might be allowed to dispose of the trade and tunnage of their annual ship, on account of the little profit which they made by it, and to accept of such equivalent as they could obtain from the king of Spain.42
23In 1724, this company had undertaken the whale–fishery. Of this, indeed, they had no monopoly; but as long as they carried it on, no other British subjects appear to have engaged in it. Of the eight voyages which their ships made to Greenland, they were gainers by one, and losers by all the rest. After their eighth and last voyage, when they had sold their ships, stores, and utensils, they found that their whole loss, upon this branch, capital and interest included, amounted to upwards of two hundred and thirty–seven thousand pounds.43
24In 1722, this company petitioned the parliament to be allowed to divide their immense capital of more than thirty–three millions eight hundred thousand pounds, the whole of which had been lent to government, into two equal parts: The one half, or upwards of sixteen millions nine hundred thousand pounds, to be put upon the same footing with other government annuities, and not to be subject to the debts contracted, or losses incurred, by the directors of the company, in the prosecution of their mercantile projects; the other half to remain, as before, a trading stock, and to be subject to those debts and losses. The petition was too reasonable not to be granted.44 In 1733, they again petitioned the parliament, that three–fourths of their trading stock might be turned into annuity stock, and only one–fourth remain as trading stock, or exposed to the hazards arising from the bad management of their directors.45 Both their annuity and trading stocks had, by this time, been reduced more than two millions each, by several different payments from government; so that this fourth amounted only to 3,662,784l. 8s. 6d.46 In 1748, all the demands of the company upon the king of Spain, in consequence of the Assiento contract, were, by the treaty of Aix–la–Chapelle, given up for what was supposed an equivalent.47 An end was put to their trade with the Spanish West Indies, the remainder of their trading stock was turned into an annuity stock, and the company ceased in every respect to be a trading company.48
25It ought to be observed, that in the trade which the South Sea Company carried on by means of their annual ship, the only trade by which it ever was expected that they could make any considerable profit, they were not without competitors, either in the foreign or in the home market. At Carthagena, Porto Bello, and La Vera Cruz, they had to encounter the competition of the Spanish merchants, who brought from Cadiz, to those markets, European goods, of the same kind with the outward cargo of their ship; and in England they had to encounter that of the English merchants, who imported from Cadiz goods of the Spanish West Indies, of the same kind with the inward cargo. The goods both of the Spanish and English merchants, indeed, were, perhaps, subject to higher duties. But the loss occasioned by the negligence, profusion, and malversation of the servants of the company, had probably been a tax much heavier than all those duties. That a joint stock company should be able to carry on successfully any branch of foreign trade, when private adventurers can come into any sort of open and fair competition with them, seems contrary to all experience.
26The old English East India Company was established in 1600, by a charter from Queen Elizabeth. In the first twelve voyages which they fitted out for India, they appear to have traded as a regulated company, with separate stocks, though only in the general ships of the company. In 1612, they united into a joint stock.49 Their charter was exclusive, and though not confirmed by act of parliament, was in those days supposed to convey a real exclusive privilege. For many years, therefore, they were not much disturbed by interlopers. Their capital, which never exceeded seven hundred and forty–four thousand pounds,50 and of which fifty pounds was a share, was not so exorbitant, nor their dealings so extensive, as to afford either a pretext for gross negligence and profusion, or a cover to gross malversation. Notwithstanding some extraordinary losses, occasioned partly by the malice of the Dutch East India Company, and partly by other accidents, they carried on for many years a successful trade. But in process of time, when the principles of liberty were better understood, it became every day more and more doubtful how far a royal charter, not confirmed by act of parliament, could convey an exclusive privilege. Upon this question the decisions of the courts of justice were not uniform, but varied with the authority of government and the humours of the times. Interlopers multiplied upon them; and towards the end of the reign of Charles II. through the whole of that of James II. and during a part of that of William III. reduced them to great distress.51 In 1698, a proposal was made to parliament of advancing two millions to government at eight per cent. provided the subscribers were erected into a new East India Company with exclusive privileges. The old East India Company offered seven hundred thousand pounds, nearly the amount of their capital,52 at four per cent. upon the same conditions. But such was at that time the state of publick credit, that it was more convenient for government to borrow two millions at eight per cent. than seven hundred thousand pounds at four. The proposal of the new subscribers was accepted, and a new East India Company established in consequence.53 The old East India Company, however, had a right to continue their trade till 1701. They had, at the same time, in the name of their treasurer, subscribed, very artfully, three hundred and fifteen thousand pounds into the stock of the new. By a negligence in the expression of the act of parliament, which vested the East India trade in the subscribers to this loan of two millions, it did not appear evident that they were all obliged to unite into a joint stock. A few private traders, whose subscriptions amounted only to seven thousand two hundred pounds, insisted upon the privilege of trading separately upon their own stocks and at their own risk.54 The old East India Company had a right to a separate trade upon their old stock till 1701; and they had likewise, both before and after that period, a right, like that of other private traders, to a separate trade upon the three hundred and fifteen thousand pounds, which they had subscribed into the stock of the new company. The competition of the two companies with the private traders, and with one another, is said to have well nigh ruined both. Upon a subsequent occasion, in 1730, when a proposal was made to parliament for putting the trade under the management of a regulated company, and thereby laying it in some measure open, the East India Company, in opposition to this proposal, represented in very strong terms, what had been, at this time, the miserable effects, as they thought them, of this competition. In India, they said, it raised the price of goods so high, that they were not worth the buying; and in England, by over–stocking the market, it sunk their price so low, that no profit could be made by them. That by a more plentiful supply, to the great advantage and conveniency of the publick, it must have reduced, very much, the price of India goods in the English market, cannot well be doubted; but that it should have raised very much their price in the Indian market, seems not very probable, as all the extraordinary demand which that competition could occasion, must have been but as a drop of water in the immense ocean of Indian commerce. The increase of demand, besides, though in the beginning it may sometimes raise the price of goods, never fails to lower it in the long run. It encourages production, and thereby increases the competition of the producers, who, in order to undersell one another, have recourse to new divisions of labour and new improvements of art, which might never otherwise have been thought of.55 The miserable effects of which the company complained, were the cheapness of consumption and the encouragement given to production, precisely the two effects which it is the great business of political œconomy to promote. The competition, however, of which they gave this doleful account, had not been allowed to be of long continuance. In 1702, the two companies were, in some measure, united by an indenture tripartite, to which the queen was the third party; and in 1708, they were, by act of parliament56 perfectly consolidated into one company by their present name of The United Company of Merchants trading to the East Indies. Into this act it was thought worth while to insert a clause, allowing the separate traders to continue their trade till Michaelmas 1711, but at the same time empowering the directors, upon three years notice, to redeem their little capital of seven thousand two hundred pounds, and thereby to convert the whole stock of the company into a joint–stock. By the same act, the capital of the company, in consequence of a new loan to government, was augmented from two millions, to three millions two hundred thousand pounds. In 1743, the company advanced another million to government.57 But this million being raised, not by a call upon the proprietors, but by selling annuities and contracting bond–debts, it did not augment the stock upon which the proprietors could claim a dividend. It augmented, however, their trading stock, it being equally liable with the other three millions two hundred thousand pounds, to the losses sustained and debts contracted, by the company in prosecution of their mercantile projects. From 1708, or at least from 1711, this company, being delivered from all competitors, and fully established in the monopoly of the English commerce to the East Indies, carried on a successful trade, and from their profits made annually a moderate dividend to their proprietors.58 During the French war, which began in 1741, the ambition of Mr. Dupleix, the French governor of Pondicherry, involved them in the wars of the Carnatic, and in the politics of the Indian princes. After many signal successes, and equally signal losses, they at last lost Madras, at that time their principal settlement in India. It was restored to them by the treaty of Aix–la–Chapelle; and about this time the spirit of war and conquest seems to have taken possession of their servants in India, and never since to have left them. During the French war, which began in 1755, their arms partook of the general good fortune of those of Great Britain. They defended Madras, took Pondicherry, recovered Calcutta, and acquired the revenues of a rich and extensive territory, amounting, it was then said, to upwards of three millions a–year. They remained for several years in quiet possession of this revenue: But in 1767, administration laid claim to their territorial acquisitions, and the revenue arising from them, as of right belonging to the crown; and the company, in compensation for this claim, agreed to pay to government four hundred thousand pounds a–year. They had before this gradually augmented their dividend from about six to ten per cent.; that is, upon their capital of three millions two hundred thousand pounds, they had increased it by a hundred and twenty–eight thousand pounds, or had raised it from one hundred and ninety–two thousand, to three hundred and twenty thousand pounds a–year. They were attempting about this time to raise it still further, to twelve and a half per cent. which would have made their annual payments to their proprietors equal to what they had agreed to pay annually to government, or to four hundred thousand pounds a–year. But during the two years in which their agreement with government was to take place, they were restrained from any further increase of dividend by two successive acts of parliament,59 of which the object was to enable them to make a speedier progress in the payment of their debts, which were at this time estimated at upwards of six or seven millions sterling. In 1769, they renewed their agreement with government for five years more, and stipulated, that during the course of that period they should be allowed gradually to increase their dividend to twelve and a half per cent.; never increasing it, however, more than one per cent. in one year.60 This increase of dividend, therefore, when it had risen to its utmost height, could augment their annual payments, to their proprietors and government together, but by six hundred and eight thousand pounds, beyond what they had been before their late territorial acquisitions. What the gross revenue of those territorial acquisitions was supposed to amount to, has already been mentioned; and by an account brought by the Cruttenden East Indiaman in 1768, the nett revenue, clear of all deductions and military charges, was stated at two millions forty–eight thousand seven hundred and forty–seven pounds. They were said at the same time to possess another revenue, arising partly from lands, but chiefly from the customs established at their different settlements, amounting to four hundred and thirty–nine thousand pounds. The profits of their trade too, according to the evidence of their chairman before the House of Commons, amounted at this time to at least four hundred thousand pounds a–year; according to that of their accomptant, to at least five hundred thousand; according to the lowest account, at least equal to the highest dividend that was to be paid to their proprietors. So great a revenue might certainly have afforded an augmentation of six hundred and eight thousand pounds in their annual payments; and at the same time have left a large sinking fund sufficient for the speedy reduction of their debts. In 1773, however, their debts, instead of being reduced, were augmented by an arrear to the treasury in the payment of the four hundred thousand pounds, by another to the custom–house for duties unpaid, by a large debt to the bank for money borrowed, and by a fourth for bills drawn upon them from India, and wantonly accepted, to the amount of upwards of twelve hundred thousand pounds.61 The distress which these accumulated claims brought upon them, obliged them, not only to reduce all at once their dividend to six per cent.62 but to throw themselves upon the mercy of government, and to supplicate, first, a release from the further payment of the stipulated four hundred thousand pounds a–year; and, secondly, a loan of fourteen hundred thousand, to save them from immediate bankruptcy. The great increase of their fortune had, it seems, only served to furnish their servants with a pretext for greater profusion, and a cover for greater malversation, than in proportion even to that increase of fortune. The conduct of their servants in India, and the general state of their affairs both in India and in Europe, became the hsubjectsh of a parliamentary inquiry;63 in consequence of which several very important alterations were made in the constitution of their government, both at home and abroad.64 In India, their principal settlements of Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta, which had before been altogether independent of one another, were subjected to a governor–general, assisted by a council of four assessors, parliament assuming to itself the first nomination of this governor and council who were to reside at Calcutta; that city having now become, what Madras was before, the most important of the English settlements in India. The court of the mayor of Calcutta, originally instituted for the trial of mercantile causes, which arose in the city and neighbourhood, had gradually extended its jurisdiction with the extension of the empire. It was now reduced and confined to the original purpose of its institution. Instead of it a new supreme court of judicature was established, consisting of a chief justice and three judges to be appointed by the crown. In Europe, the qualification necessary to entitle a proprietor to vote at their general courts was raised, from five hundred pounds, the original price of a share in the stock of the company, to a thousand pounds. In order to vote upon this qualification too, it was declared necessary that he should have possessed it, if acquired by his own purchase, and not by inheritance, for at least one year, instead of six months, the term requisite before. The court of twenty–four directors had before been chosen annually; but it was now enacted that each director should, for the future, be chosen for four years; six of them, however, to go out of office by rotation every year, and not to be capable of being re–chosen at the election of the six new directors for the ensuing year. In consequence of these alterations, the courts, both of the proprietors and directors, it was expected, would be likely to act with more dignity and steadiness than they had usually done before. But it seems impossible, by any alterations, to render those courts, in any respect, fit to govern, or even to share in the government of a great empire; because the greater part of their members must always have too little interest in the prosperity of that empire, to give any serious attention to what may promote it. Frequently a man of great, sometimes even a man of small fortune, is willing to purchase a thousand pounds share in India stock, merely for the influence which he expects to acquire by a vote in the court of proprietors. It gives him a share, though not in the plunder, yet in the appointment of the plunderers of India; the court of directors, though they make that appointment, being necessarily more or less under the influence of the proprietors, who not only elect those directors, but sometimes over–rule the appointments of their servants in India. Provided he can enjoy this influence for a few years, and thereby provide for a certain number of his friends, he frequently cares little about the dividend; or even about the value of the stock upon which his vote is founded. About the prosperity of the great empire, in the government of which that vote gives him a share, he seldom cares at all. No other sovereigns ever were, or, from the nature of things, ever could be, so perfectly indifferent about the happiness or misery of their subjects, the improvement or waste of their dominions, the glory or disgrace of their administration; as, from irresistible moral causes, the greater part of the proprietors of such a mercantile company are, and necessarily must be.65 This indifference too was more likely to be increased than diminished by some of the new regulations, which were made in consequence of the parliamentary inquiry. By a resolution of the House of Commons, for example, it was declared, that when the fourteen hundred thousand pounds lent to the company by government should be paid, and their bond–debts be reduced to fifteen hundred thousand pounds, they might then, and not till then, divide eight per cent. upon their capital; and that whatever remained of their revenues and ineati profits at home, should be divided into four parts; three of them to be paid into the exchequer for the use of the publick, and the fourth to be reserved as a fund, either for the further reduction of their bond–debts, or for the discharge of other contingent exigencies, which the company might labour under.66 But if the company were bad stewards, and bad sovereigns, when the whole of their nett revenue and profits belonged to themselves, and were at their own disposal, they were surely not likely to be better, when three–fourths of them were to belong to other people, and the other fourth, though to be laid out for the benefit of the company, yet to be so, under the inspection, and with the approbation, of other people.
27It might be more agreeable to the company that their own servants and dependants should have either the pleasure of wasting, or the profit of embezzling whatever surplus might remain, after paying the proposed dividend of eight per cent., than that it should come into the hands of a set of people with whom those resolutions could scarce fail to set them, in some measure, at variance. The interest of those servants and dependants might so far predominate in the court of proprietors, as sometimes to dispose it to support the authors of depredations which had been committed, in direct violation of its own authority. With the majority of proprietors, the support even of the authority of their own court might sometimes be a matter of less consequence, than the support of those who had set that authority at defiance.
28The regulations of 1773, accordingly, did not put an end to the disorders of the company’s government in India. Notwithstanding that, during a momentary fit of good conduct, they had at one time collected, into the treasury of Calcutta, more than three millions sterling; notwithstanding that they had afterwards extended, either their dominion, or their depredations, over a vast accession of some of the richest and most fertile countries in India; all was wasted and destroyed. They found themselves altogether unprepared to stop or resist the incursion of Hyder Ali; and, in consequence of those disorders, the company is now (1784) in greater distress than ever; and, in order to prevent immediate bankruptcy, is once more reduced to supplicate the assistance of government.67 Different plans have been proposed by the different parties in parliament, for the better management of its affairs. And all those plans seem to agree in supposing, what was indeed always abundantly evident, that it is altogether unfit to govern its territorial possessions. Even the company itself seems to be convinced of its own incapacity so far, and seems, upon that account, willing to give them up to government.
29With the right of possessing forts and garrisons, in distant and barbarous countries, is necessarily connected the right of making peace and war in those countries. The joint stock companies which have had the one right, have constantly exercised the other, and have frequently had it expressly conferred upon them. How unjustly, how capriciously, how cruelly they have commonly exercised it, is too well known from recent experience.
30When a company of merchants undertake, at their own risk and expence, to establish a new trade with some remote and barbarous nation, it may not be unreasonable to incorporate them into a joint stock company, and to grant them, in case of their success, a monopoly of the trade for a certain number of years. It is the easiest and most natural way in which the state can recompense them for hazarding a dangerous and expensive experiment, of which the publick is afterwards to reap the benefit.68 A temporary monopoly of this kind may be vindicated upon the same principles upon which a like monopoly of a new machine is granted to its inventor, and that of a new book to its author.69 But upon the expiration of the term, the monopoly ought certainly to determine; the forts and garrisons, if it was found necessary to establish any, to be taken into the hands of government, their value to be paid to the company, and the trade to be laid open to all the subjects of the state. By a perpetual monopoly, all the other subjects of the state are taxed very absurdly in two different ways; first, by the high price of goods, which, in the case of a free trade, they could buy much cheaper; and, secondly, by their total exclusion from a branch of business, which it might be both convenient and profitable for many of them to carry on. It is for the most worthless of all purposes too that they are taxed in this manner.70 It is merely to enable the company to support the negligence, profusion, and malversation of their own servants, whose disorderly conduct seldom allows the dividend of the company to exceed the ordinary rate of profit in trades which are altogether free, and very frequently makes it fall even a good deal short of that rate. Without a monopoly, however, a joint stock company, it would appear from experience, cannot long carry on any branch of foreign trade. To buy in one market, in order to sell, with profit, in another, when there are many competitors in both; to watch over, not only the occasional variations in the demand, but the much greater and more frequent variations in the competition, or in the supply which that demand is likely to get from other people, and to suit with dexterity and judgment both the quantity and quality of each assortment of goods to all these circumstances, is a species of warfare of which the operations are continually changing, and which can scarce ever be conducted successfully, without such an unremitting exertion of vigilance and attention, as cannot long be expected from the directors of a joint stock company. The East India Company, upon the redemption of their funds, and the expiration of their exclusive privilege, have a right, by act of parliament, to continue a corporation with a joint stock, and to trade in their corporate capacity to the East Indies in common with the rest of their fellow–subjects. But in this situation, the superior vigilance and attention of private adventurers would, in all probability, soon make them weary of the trade.
31An eminent French author, of great knowledge in matters of political oeconomy, the Abbé Morellet,71 gives a list of fifty–five joint stock companies for foreign trade, which have been established in different parts of Europe since the year 1600, and which, according to him, have all failed from mismanagement, notwithstanding they had exclusive privileges. He has been misinformed with regard to the history of two or three of them, which were not joint stock companies and have not failed. But, in compensation, there have been several joint stock companies which have failed, and which he has omitted.
32 The only trades which it seems possible for a joint stock company to carry on successfully, without an exclusive privilege, are those, of which all the operations are capable of being reduced to what it called a Routine, or to such a uniformity of method as admits of little or no variation. Of this kind is, first, the banking trade; secondly, the trade of insurance from fire, and from sea risk and capture in time of war; thirdly, the trade of making and maintaining a navigable cut or canal; and, fourthly, the similar trade of bringing water for the supply of a great city.72
33Though the principles of the banking trade may appear somewhat abstruse, the practice is capable of being reduced to strict rules. To depart upon any occasion from those rules, in consequence of some flattering speculation of extraordinary gain, is almost always extremely dangerous, and frequently fatal to the banking company which attempts it: But the constitution of joint stock companies renders them in general more tenacious of established rules than any private copartnery.73 Such companies, therefore, seem extremely well fitted for this trade. The principal banking companies in Europe, accordingly, are joint stock companies, many of which manage their trade very successfully without any exclusive privilege. The Bank of England has no other exclusive privilege, except that no other banking company in England shall consist of more than six persons.74 The two banks of Edinburgh are joint stock companies without any exclusive privilege.75
34 The value of the risk, either from fire, or from loss by sea, or by capture, though it cannot, perhaps, be calculated very exactly, admits, however, of such a gross estimation as renders it, in some degree, reducible to strict rule and method. The trade of insurance, therefore, may be carried on successfully by a joint stock company, without any exclusive privilege. Neither the London Assurance, nor the Royal Exchange Assurance companies, have any such privilege.76
35When a navigable cut or canal has been once made, the management of it becomes quite simple and easy, andj is reducible to strict rule and method. Even the making of it is so, as it may be contracted for with undertakers at so much a mile, and so much a lock. The same thing may be said of a canal, an aqueduct, or a great pipe for bringing water to supply a great city. Such undertakings, therefore, may be, and accordingly frequently are, very successfully managed by joint stock companies without any exclusive privilege.
36To establish a joint stock company, however, for any undertaking, merely because such a company might be capable of managing it successfully; or to exempt a particular set of dealers from some of the general laws which take place with regard to all their neighbours, merely because they might be capable of thriving if they had such an exemption, would certainly not be reasonable. To render such an establishment perfectly reasonable, with the circumstance of being reducible to strict rule and method, two other circumstances ought to concur. First, it ought to appear with the clearest evidence, that the undertaking is of greater and more general utility than the greater part of common trades; and secondly, that it requires a greater capital than can easily be collected into a private copartnery. If a moderate capital kwask sufficient, the great utility of the undertaking would not be a sufficient reason for establishing a joint stock company; because, in this case, the demand for what it was to produce would readily and easily be supplied by private adventurers. In the four trades abovementioned, both those circumstances concur.
37The great and general utility of the banking trade, when prudently managed, has been fully explained in the second book of this inquiry.77 But a publick bank which is to support publick credit, and upon particular emergencies to advance to government the whole produce of a tax, to the amount, perhaps, of several millions, a year or two before it comes in, requires a greater capital than can easily be collected into any private copartnery.
38The trade of insurance gives great security to the fortunes of private people, and by dividing among a great many that loss which would ruin an individual, makes it fall light and easy upon the whole society. In order to give this security, however, it is necessary that the insurers should have a very large capital. Before the establishment of the two joint stock companies for insurance in London, a list, it is said, was laid before the attorney–general, of one hundred and fifty private insurers who had failed in the course of a few years.
39 That navigable cuts and canals, and the works are which sometimes necessary for supplying a great city with water, are of great and general utility; while at the same time they frequently require a greater expence, than suits the fortunes of private people, is sufficiently obvious.
40Except the four trades above mentioned, I have not been able to recollect any other in which all the three circumstances, requisite for rendering reasonable the establishment of a joint stock company, concur. The English copper company of London, the lead smelting company, the glass grinding company, have not even the pretext of any great or singular utility in the object which they pursue; nor does the pursuit of that object seem to require any expence unsuitable to the fortunes of many private men. Whether the trade which those companies carry on, is reducible to such strict rule and method as to render it fit for the management of a joint stock company, or whether they have any reason to boast of their extraordinary profits, I do not pretend to know. The mine–adventurers company has been long ago bankrupt. A share in the stock of the British Linen Company of Edinburgh78 sells, at present, very much below par, though less so that it did some years ago. The joint stock companies, which are established for the publick spirited purpose of promoting some particular manufacture, over and above managing their own affairs ill, to the diminution of the general stock of the society, can in other respects scarce ever fail to do more harm than good. Notwithstanding the most upright intentions, the unavoidable partiality of their directors to particular branches of the manufacture, of which the undertakers mislead and impose upon them, is a real discouragement to the rest, and necessarily breaks, more or less, that natural proportion which would otherwise establish itself between judicious industry and profit, and which, to the general industry of the country, is of all encouragements the greatest and the most effectual.79
[V.i.f] article ii
1The institutions for the education of the youth may, in the same manner, furnish a revenue sufficient for defraying their own expence. The fee or honorary which the scholar pays to the master naturally constitutes a revenue of this kind.
2Even where the reward of the master does not arise altogether from this natural revenue, it still is not necessary that it should be derived from that general revenue of the society, of which the collection and application bisb , in most countries, assigned to the executive power. Through the greater part of Europe, accordingly, the endowment of schools and colleges makes either no charge upon that general revenue, or but a very small one. It every where arises chiefly from some local or provincial revenue, from the rent of some landed estate, or from the interest of some sum of money allotted and put under the management of trustees for this particular purpose, sometimes by the sovereign himself, and sometimes by some private donor.
3 Have those publick endowments contributed in general to promote the end of their institution? Have they contributed to encourage the diligence, and to improve the abilities of the teachers? Have they directed the course of education towards objects more useful, both to the individual and to the publick, than those to which it would naturally have gone of its own accord? It should not seem very difficult to give at least a probable answer to each of those questions.
4In every profession, the exertion of the greater part of those who exercise it, is always in proportion to the necessity they are under of making that exertion.2 This necessity is greatest with those to whom the emoluments of their profession are the only source from which they expect their fortune, or even their ordinary revenue and subsistence. In order to acquire this fortune, or even to get this subsistence, they must, in the course of cac year, execute a certain quantity of work of a known value; and, where the competition is free, the rivalship of competitors, who are all endeavouring to justle one another out of employment, obliges every man to endeavour to execute his work with a certain degree of exactness. The greatness of the objects which are to be acquired by success in some particular professions may, no doubt, sometimes animate the exertion of a few men of extraordinary spirit and ambition. Great objects, however, are evidently not necessary in order to occasion the greatest exertions. Rivalship and emulation render excellency, even in mean professions, an object of ambition, and frequently occasion the very greatest exertions. Great objects, on the contrary, alone and unsupported by the necessity of application, have seldom been sufficient to occasion any considerable exertion. In England, success in the profession of the law leads to some very great objects of ambition; and yet how few men, born to easy fortunes, have ever in this country been eminent in that profession!
5The endowments of schools and colleges have necessarily diminished more or less the necessity of application in the teachers. Their subsistence, so far as it arises from their salaries, is evidently derived from a fund altogether independent of their success and reputation in their particular professions.3
6In some universities the salary makes but a part, and frequently but a small part of the emoluments of the teacher, of which the greater part arises from the honoraries or fees of his pupils.4 The necessity of application, though always more or less diminished, is not in this case entirely taken away. Reputation in his profession is still of some importance to him, and he still has some dependency upon the affection, gratitude, and favourable report of those who have attended upon his instructions; and these favourable sentiments he is likely to gain in no way so well as by deserving them, that is, by the abilities and diligence with which he discharges every part of his duty.5
7In other universities the teacher is prohibited from receiving any honorary or fee from his pupils, and his salary constitutes the whole of the revenue which he derives from his office. His interest is, in this case, set as directly in opposition to his duty as it is possible to set it. It is the interest of every man to live as much at his ease as he can; and if his emoluments are to be precisely the same, whether he does, or does not perform some very laborious duty, it is certainly his interest, at least as interest is vulgarly understood, either to neglect it altogether, or, if he is subject to some authority which will not suffer him to do this, to perform it in as careless and slovenly a manner as that authority will permit. If he is naturally active and a lover of labour, it is his interest to employ that activity in any way, from which he can derive some advantage, rather than in the performance of his duty, from which he can derive none.
8If the authority to which he is subject resides in the body corporate, the college, or university, of which he himself is a member, and in which the greater part of the other members are, like himself, persons who either are, or ought to be teachers; they are likely to make a common cause, to be all very indulgent to one another, and every man to consent that his neighbour may neglect his duty, provided he himself is allowed to neglect his own. In the university of Oxford, the greater part of the publick professors have, for these many years, given up altogether even the pretence of teaching.6
9If the authority to which he is subject resides, not so much in the body corporate of which he is a member, as in some other extraneous persons, in the bishop of the diocese for example; in the governor of the province; or, perhaps, in some minister of state; it is not indeed in this case very likely that he will be suffered to neglect his duty altogether. All that such superiors, however, can force him to do, is to attend upon his pupils a certain number of hours, that is, to give a certain number of lectures in the week or in the year. What those lectures shall be, must still depend upon the diligence of the teacher; and that diligence is likely to be proportioned to the motives which he has for exerting it. An extraneous jurisdiction of this kind, besides, is liable to be exercised both ignorantly and capriciously. In its nature it is arbitrary and discretionary, and the persons who exercise it, neither attending upon the lectures of the teacher themselves, nor perhaps understanding the sciences which it is his business to teach, are seldom capable of exercising it with judgment. From the insolence of office too they are frequently indifferent how they exercise it, and are very apt to censure or deprive him of his office wantonly, and without any just cause. The person subject to such jurisdiction is necessarily degraded by it, and, instead of being one of the most respectable, is rendered one of the meanest and most contemptible persons in the society. It is by powerful protection only that he can effectually guard himself against the bad usage to which he is at all times exposed; and this protection he is most likely to gain, not by ability or diligence in his profession, but by obsequiousness to the will of his superiors, and by being ready, at all times, to sacrifice to that will the rights, the interest, and the honour of the body corporate of which he is a member. Whoever has attended for any considerable time to the administration of a French university, must have had occasion to remark the effects which naturally result from an arbitrary and extraneous jurisdiction of this kind.
10Whatever forces a certain number of students to any college or university, independent of the merit or reputation of the teachers, tends more or less to diminish the necessity of that merit or reputation.
11The privileges of graduates in arts, in law,d physick and divinity, when they can be obtained only by residing a certain number of years in certain universities, necessarily force a certain number of students to such universities, independent of the merit or reputation of the teachers. The privileges of graduates are a sort of statutes of apprenticeship, which have contributed to the improvement of education, just as ethee other statutes of apprenticeship have to that of arts and manufactures.7
12The charitable foundations of scholarships, exhibitions, bursaries, &c. necessarily attach a certain number of students to certain colleges,8 independent altogether of the merit of those particular colleges. Were the students upon such charitable foundations left free to chuse what college they liked best, such liberty might perhaps contribute to excite some emulation among different colleges. A regulation, on the contrary, which prohibited even the independent members of every particular college from leaving it, and going to any other, without leave first asked and obtained of that which they meant to abandon, would tend very much to extinguish that emulation.
13If in each college the tutor or teacher, who was to instruct each student in all arts and sciences, should not be voluntarily chosen by the student, but appointed by the head of the college; and if, in case of neglect, inability, or bad usage, the student should not be allowed to change him for another, without leave first asked and obtained; such a regulation would not only tend very much to extinguish all emulation among the different tutors of the same college, but to diminish very much in all of them the necessity of diligence and of attention to their respective pupils. Such teachers, though very well paid by their students, might be as much disposed to neglect them, as those who are not paid by them at all, or who have no other recompence but their salary.
14If the teacher happens to be a man of sense, it must be an unpleasant thing to him to be conscious, while he is lecturing his students, that he is either speaking or reading nonsense, or what is very little better than nonsense. It must too be unpleasant to him to observe that the greater part of his students desert his lectures; or perhaps attend upon them with plain enough marks of neglect, contempt, and derision. If he is obliged, therefore, to give a certain number of lectures, these motives alone, without any other interest, might dispose him to take some pains to give tolerably good ones. Several different expedients, however, may be fallen upon which will effectually blunt the edge of all those incitements to diligence. The teacher, instead of explaining to his pupils himself, the science in which he proposes to instruct them, may read some book upon it; and if this book is written in a foreign and dead language, by interpreting it to them into their own; or, what would give him still less trouble, by making them interpret it to him, and by now and then making an occasional remark upon it, he may flatter himself that he is giving a lecture. The slightest degree of knowledge and application will enable him to do this without exposing himself to contempt or derision, or saying any thing that is really foolish, absurd, or ridiculous. The discipline of the college, at the same time, may enable him to force all his pupils to the most regular attendance upon this sham–lecture, and to maintain the most decent and respectful behaviour during the whole time of the performance.
15The discipline of colleges and universities is in general contrived, not for the benefit of the students, but for the interest, or more properly speaking, for the ease of the masters. Its object is, in all cases, to maintain the authority of the master, and whether he neglects or performs his duty, to oblige the students in all cases to behave to him as if he performed it with the greatest diligence and ability. It seems to presume perfect wisdom and virtue in the one order, and the greatest weakness and folly in the other. Where the masters, however, really perform their duty, there are no examples, I believe, that the greater part of the students ever neglect theirs. No discipline is ever requisite to force attendance upon lectures which are really worth the attending, as is well known wherever any such lectures are given. Force and restraint may, no doubt, be in some degree requisite in order to oblige children, or very young boys, to attend to those parts of education which it is thought necessary for them to acquire during that early period of life; but after twelve or thirteen years of age, provided the master does his duty, force or restraint can scarce ever be necessary to carry on any part of education. Such is the generosity of the greater part of young men, that, so far from being disposed to neglect or despise the instructions of their master, provided he shows some serious intention of being of use to them, they are generally inclined to pardon a great deal of incorrectness in the performance of his duty, and sometimes even to conceal from the publick a good deal of gross negligence.
16Those parts of education, it is to be observed, for the teaching of which there are no publick institutions, are generally the best taught. When a young man goes to a fencing or a dancing school, he does not, indeed, always learn to fence or to dance very well; but he seldom fails of learning to fence or to dance. The good effects of the riding school are not commonly so evident. The expence of a riding school is so great, that in most places it is a publick institution. The three most essential parts of literary education, to read, write, and account, it still continues to be more common to acquire in private than in publick schools; and it very seldom happens that any body fails of acquiring them to the degree in which it is necessary to acquire them.
17In England the publick schools are much less corrupted than the universities. In the schools the youth are taught, or at least may be taught, Greek and Latin, that is, every thing which the masters pretend to teach, or which, it is expected, they should teach. In the universities the youth neither are taught, nor always can find any proper means of being taught, the sciences, which it is the business of those incorporated bodies to teach. The reward of the schoolmaster in most cases depends principally, in some cases almost entirely, upon the fees or honoraries of his scholars. Schools have no exclusive privileges. In order to obtain the honours of graduation, it is not necessary that a person should bring a certificate of his having studied a certain number of years at a publick school. If upon examination he appears to understand what is taught there, no questions are asked about the place where he learnt it.
18The parts of education which are commonly taught in universities, it may, perhaps, be said are not very well taught. But had it not been for those institutions they would not have been commonly taught at all, and both the individual and the publick would have suffered a good deal from the want of those important parts of education.
19The present universities of Europe were originally, the greater part of them, ecclesiastical corporations; instituted for the education of churchmen. They were founded by the authority of the pope, and were so entirely under his immediate protection, that their members, whether masters or students, had all of them what was then called the benefit off clergy,9 that is, were exempted from the civil jurisdiction of the countries in which their respective universities were situated, and were amenable only to the ecclesiastical tribunals. What was taught in the greater part of those universities was, suitable to the end of their institution, either theology, or something that was merely preparatory to theology.10
20When christianity was first established by law, a corrupted Latin had become the common language of all the western parts of Europe. The service of the church accordingly, and the translation of the Bible which was read in churches, were both in that corrupted Latin, that is, in the common language of the country. After the irruption of the barbarous nations who overturned the Roman empire, Latin gradually ceased to be the language of any part of Europe. But the reverence of the people naturally preserves the established forms and ceremonies of religion, long after the circumstances which first introduced and rendered them reasonable are no more.11 Though Latin, therefore, was no longer understood any where by the great body of the people, the whole service of the church still continued to be performed in that language. Two different languages were thus established in Europe, in the same manner as in antient Egypt; a language of the priests, and a language of the people; a sacred and a profane; a learned and an unlearned language. But it was necessary that the priests should understand something of that sacred and learned language in which they were to officiate; and the study of the Latin language therefore made, from the beginning, an essential part of university education.
21It was not so with that either of the Greek, or of the Hebrew language. The infallible decrees of the church had pronounced the Latin translation of the Bible, commonly called the Latin Vulgate, to have been equally dictated by divine inspiration, and therefore of equal authority with the Greek and Hebrew originals. The knowledge of those two languages, therefore, not being indispensably requisite to a churchman, the study of them did not for a long time make a necessary part of the common course of university education. There are some Spanish universities, I am assured, in which the study of the Greek language has never yet made any part of that course. The first reformers found the Greek text of the new testament, and even the Hebrew text of the old, more favourable to their opinions than the vulgate translation, which, as might naturally be supposed, had been gradually accommodated to support the doctrines of the catholick church. They set themselves, therefore, to expose the many errors of that translation, which the Roman catholick clergy were thus put under the necessity of defending or explaining. But this could not well be done without some knowledge of the original languages, of which the study was therefore gradually introduced into the greater part of universities; both of those which embraced, and of those which rejected, the doctrines of the reformation. The Greek language was connected with every part of that classical learning, which, though at first principally cultivated by catholicks and Italians, happened to come into fashion much about the same time that the doctrines of the reformation were set on foot. In the greater part of universities, therefore, that language was taught previous to the study of philosophy, and as soon as the student had made some progress in the Latin. The Hebrew language having no connection with classical learning, and, except the holy scriptures, being the language of not a single book in any esteem, the study of it did not commonly commence till after that of philosophy, and when the student had entered upon the study of theology.
22Originally the first rudiments both of the Greek and Latin languages were taught in universities, and gin some universities they still continue to be so.g In others it is expected that the student should have previously acquired at least the rudiments of one or both of those languages, of which the study continues to make every where a very considerable part of university education.
23The antient Greek philosophy was divided into three great branches; physicks, or natural philosophy; ethicks, or moral philosophy; and logick. This general division seems perfectly agreeable to the nature of things.
24The great phenomena of nature, the hrevolutionsh of the heavenly bodies, eclipses, comets, thunder, lightning, and other extraordinary meteors; the generation, the life, growth, and dissolution of plants and animals; are objects which, as they inecessarilyi excite the wonder, so they jnaturallyj call forth the curiosity of mankind to enquire into their causes.12 Superstition first attempted to satisfy this curiosity by referring all those wonderful appearances to the immediate agency of the gods.13 Philosophy afterwards endeavoured to account for them, from more familiar causes, or from such as mankind were better acquainted with, than the agency of the gods. As those great phenomena are the first objects of human curiosity, so the science which pretends to explain them must naturally have been the first branch of philosophy that was cultivated.14 The first philosophers, accordingly, of whom history has preserved any account, appear to have been natural philosophers.
25In every age and country of the world men must have attended to the characters, designs, and actions of one another, and many reputable rules and maxims for the conduct of human life, must have been laid down and approved of by common consent.15 As soon as writing came into fashion, wise men, or those who fancied themselves such, would naturally endeavour to increase the number of those eatablished and respected maxims, and to express their own sense of what was either proper or improper conduct, sometimes in the more artificial form of apologues, like what are called the fables of Æsop; and sometimes in the more simple one of apophthegms, or wise sayings, like the Proverbs of Solomon, the verses of Theognis and Phocyllides, and some part of the works of Hesiod. They might continue in this manner for a long time merely to multiply the number of those maxims of prudence and morality, without even attempting to arrange them in any very distinct or methodical order, much less to connect them together by one or more general principles, from which they were all deducible, like effects from their natural causes. The beauty of a systematical arrangement16 of different observations connected by a few common principles, was first seen in the rude essays of those antient times towards a system of natural philosophy.17 Something of the same kind was afterwards attempted in morals. The maxims of common life were arranged in some methodical order, and connected together by a few common principles, in the same manner as they had attempted to arrange and connect the phenomena of nature. The science which pretends to investigate and explain those connecting principles, is what is properly called moral philosophy.18
26 Different authors gave different systems both of natural and moral philosophy. But the arguments by which they supported those different systems, far from being always demonstrations, were frequently at best but very slender probabilities, and sometimes mere sophisms, which had no other foundation but the inaccuracy and ambiguity of common language. Speculative systems have in all ages of the world been adopted for reasons too frivolous to have determined the judgment of any man of common sense, in a matter of the smallest pecuniary interest.19 Gross sophistry has scarce ever had any influence upon the opinions of mankind, except in matters of philosophy and speculation; and in these it has frequently had the greatest. The patrons of each system of natural and moral philosophy naturally endeavoured to expose the weakness of the arguments adduced to support the systems which were opposite to their own.20 In examining those arguments, they were necessarily led to consider the difference between a probable and a demonstrative argument, between a fallacious and a conclusive one; and Logick, or the science of the general principles of good and bad reasoning, necessarily arose out of the observations which a scrutiny of this kind gave occasion to. Though in its origin posterior both to physicks and to ethicks, it was commonly taught, not indeed in all, but in the greater part of the antient schools of philosophy, previously to either of those sciences. The student, it seems to have been thought, ought to understand well the difference between good and bad reasoning, before he was led to reason upon subjects of so great importance.
27This antient division of philosophy into three parts was in the greater part of the universities of Europe, changed for another into five.
28In the antient philosophy, whatever was taught concerning the nature either of the human mind or of the Deity, made a part of the system of physicks.21 Those beings, in whatever their essence might be supposed to consist, were parts of the great system of the universe, and parts too productive of the most important effects. Whatever human reason could either conclude, or conjecture, concerning them, made, as it were, two chapters, though no doubt two very important ones, of the science which pretended to give an account of the origin and revolutions of the great system of the universe. But in the universities of Europe, where philosophy was taught only as subservient to theology, it was natural to dwell longer upon kthesek two chapters than upon any other of the science. Theyl were gradually more and more extended, and were divided into many inferior chapters, till at last the doctrine of spirits, of which so little can be known, came to take up as much room in the system of philosophy as the doctrine of bodies, of which so much can be known. The doctrines concerning those two subjects were considered as making two distinct sciences. What marem called Metaphysicks or Pneumaticks nweren set in opposition to Physicks, and owereo cultivated not only as the more sublime, but, for the purposes of a particular profession, as the more useful science of the two. The proper subject of experiment and observation, a subject in which a careful attention is capable of making so many useful discoveries, was almost entirely neglected. The subject in which, after a few very simple and almost obvious truths, the most careful attention can discover nothing but obscurity and uncertainty, and can consequently produce nothing but subtleties and sophisms, was greatly cultivated.
29When those two sciences had thus been set in opposition to one another, the comparison between them naturally gave birth to a third, to what was called Ontology, or the science which treated of the qualities and attributes which were common to both the subjects of the other two sciences. But if subtleties and sophisms composed the greater part of the Metaphysicks or Pneumaticks of the schools, they composed the whole of this cobweb science of Ontology, which was likewise sometimes called Metaphysicks.
30Wherein consisted the happiness and perfection of a man, considered not only as an individual, but as the member of a family, of a state, and of the great society of mankind, was the object which the ancient moral philosophy proposed to investigate. In that philosophy the duties of human life were treated of as subservient to the happiness and perfection of human life. But when moral, as well as natural philosophy, came to be taught only as subservient to theology, the duties of human life were treated of as chiefly subservient to the happiness of a life to come. In the antient philosophy the perfection of virtue was represented as necessarily productive, to the person who possessed it, of the most perfect happiness in this life. In the modern philosophy it was frequently represented as generally, or rather as almost always inconsistent with any degree of happiness in this life; and heaven was to be earned only by penance and mortification, by the austerities and abasement of a monk; not by the liberal, generous, and spirited conduct of a man.22 Casuistry and an ascetic morality made up, in most cases, the greater part of the moral philosophy of the schools. By far the most important of all the different branches of philosophy, became in this manner by far the most corrupted.
31Such, therefore, was the common course of philosophical education in the greater part of the universities pinp Europe. Logick was taught first: Ontology came in the second place: Pneumatology, comprehending the doctrine concerning the nature of the human soul and of the Deity, in the third: In the fourth followed a debased system of moral philosophy, which was considered as immediately connected with the doctrines of Pneumatology, with the immortality of the human soul, and with the rewards and punishments which, from the justice of the Deity, were to be expected in a life to come: A short and superficial system of Physicks usually concluded the course.
32The alterations which the universities of Europe thus introduced into the antient course of philosophy, were all meant for the education of ecclesiasticks, and to render it a more proper introduction to the study of theology. But the additional quantity of subtlety and sophistry; the casuistry and the ascetic morality which those alterations introduced into it, certainly did not render it more proper for the education of gentlemen or men of the world, or more likely either to improve the understanding, or to mend the heart.
33This course of philosophy is what still continues to be taught in the greater part of the universities of Europe; with more or less diligence, according as the constitution of each particular university happens to render diligence more or less necessary to the teachers. In some of the richest and best endowed universities, the tutors content themselves with teaching a few unconnected shreds and parcels of this corrupted course; and even these they commonly teach very negligently and superficially.
34The improvements which, in modern times, have been made in several different branches of philosophy, have not, the greater part of them, been made in universities; though some no doubt have. The greater part of universities have not even been very forward to adopt those improvements, after they were made;23 and several of those learned societies have chosen to remain, for a long time, the sanctuaries in which exploded systems and obsolete prejudices found shelter and protection, after they had been hunted out of every other corner of the world. In general, the richest and best endowed universities have been the slowest in adopting those improvements, and the most averse to permit any considerable change in the established plan of education. Those improvements were more easily introduced into some of the poorer universities, in which the teachers, depending upon their reputation for the greater part of their subsistence, were obliged to pay more attention to the current opinions of the world.24
35But though the publick schools and universities of Europe were originally intended only for the education of a particular profession, that of churchmen; and though they were not always very diligent in instructing their pupils even in the sciences which were supposed necessary for that profession, yet they gradually drew to themselves the education of almost all other people, particularly of almost all gentlemen and men of fortune. No better method, it seems, could be fallen upon of spending, with any advantage, the long interval between infancy and that period of life at which men begin to apply in good earnest to the real business of the world, the business which is to employ them during the remainder of their days. The greater part of what is taught in schools and universities, however, does not seem to be the most proper preparation for that business.
36In England, it becomes every day more and more the custom to send young people to travel in foreign countries immediately upon their leaving school, and without sending them to any university.25 Our young people, it is said, generally return home much improved by their travels. A young man who goes abroad at seventeen or eighteen, and returns home at one and twenty, returns three or four years older than he was when he went abroad; and at that age it is very difficult not to improve a good deal in three or four years. In the course of his travels, he generally acquires some knowledge of one or two foreign languages; a knowledge, however, which is seldom sufficient to enable him either to speak or write them with propriety. In other respects he commonly returns home more conceited, more unprincipled, more dissipated, and more incapable of any serious application either to study or to business, then he could well have become in so short a time, had he lived at home. By travelling so very young, by spending in the most frivolous dissipation the most precious years of his life, at a distance from the inspection and controul of his parents and relations, every useful habit, which the earlier parts of his education might have had some tendency to form in him, instead of being rivetted and confirmed, is almost necessarily either weakened or effaced. Nothing but the discredit into which the universities are allowing themselves to fall, could ever have brought into repute so very absurd a practice as that of travelling at this early period of life. By sending his son abroad, a father delivers himself, at least for some time, from so disagreeable an object as that of a son unemployed, neglected, and going to ruin before his eyes.
37 Such have been the effects of some of the modern institutions for education.
38Different plans and different institutions for education seem to have taken place in other ages and nations.
39In the republicks of antient Greece, every free citizen was instructed, under the direction of the publick magistrate, in gymnastic exercises and in musick. By gymnastic exercises it was intended to harden his body, to sharpen his courage, and to prepare him for the fatigues and dangers of war;26 and as the Greek militia was, by all accounts, one of the best that ever was in the world, this part of their publick education must have answered completely the purpose for which it was intended. By the other part, musick, it was proposed, at least by the philosophers and historians who have given us an account of those institutions, to humanize the mind, to soften the temper, and to dispose it for performing all the social and moral duties both of publick and private life.27
40In antient Rome the exercises of the Campus Martius answered the same purpose as those of the Gymnazium in antient Greece, and they seem to have answered it equally well.28 But among the Romans there was nothing which corresponded to the musical education of the Greeks. The morals of the Romans, however, both in private and publick life, seem to have been, not only equal, but upon the whole, a good deal superior to those of the Greeks. That they were superior in private life, we have the express testimony of Polybius29 and of Dionysius of Halicarnassus,30 two authors well acquainted with both nations; and the whole tenor of the Greek and Roman history bears witness to the superiority of the publick morals of the Romans. The good temper and moderation of contending factions seems to be the most essential circumstance in the publick morals of a free people. But the factions of the Greeks were almost always violent and sanguinary; whereas, till the time of the Gracchi, no blood had ever been shed in any Roman faction, and from the time of the Gracchi the Roman republick may be considered as in reality dissolved. Notwithstanding, therefore, the very respectable authority of Plato,31 Aristotle,32 and Polybius,33 and notwithstanding the very ingenious reasons by which Mr. Montesquieu34 endeavours to support that authority, it seems probable that the musical education of the Greeks had no great effect in mending their morals, since, without any such education, those of the Romans were upon the whole superior. The respect, of those antient sages for the institutions of their ancestors, had probably disposed them to find much political wisdom in what was, perhaps, merely an antient custom, continued, without interruption, from the earliest period of those societies, to the times in which they had arrived at a considerable degree of refinement. Musick and dancing are the great amusements of almost all barbarous nations, and the great accomplishments which are supposed to fit any man for entertaining his society. It is so at this day among the negroes on the coast of Africa. It was so among the antient Celtes, among the antient Scandinavians, and, as we may learn from Homer, among the antient Greeks in the times preceding the Trojan war.35 When the Greek tribes had formed themselves into little republicks, it was natural that the study of those accomplishments should, for a long time, make a part of the publick and common education of the people.
41The masters who instructed the young people either in musick or in military exercises, do not seem to have been paid, or even appointed by the state, either in Rome or even in Athens, the Greek republick of whose laws and customs we are the best informed. The state required that every free citizen should fit himself for defending it in war, and should, upon that account, learn his military exercises. But it left him to learn them of such masters as he could find, and it seems to have advanced nothing for this purpose, but a publick field or place of exercise, in which he should practice and perform them.
42In the early ages both of the Greek and Roman republicks, the other parts of education seem to have consisted in learning to read, write, and account according to the arithmetick of the times. These accomplishments the richer citizens seem frequently to have acquired at home, by the assistance of some domestic pedagogue who was generally, either a slave, or a freed–man; and the poorer citizens, in the schools of such masters as made a trade of teaching for hire. Such parts of education, however, were abandoned altogether to the care of the parents or guardians of each individual. It does not appear that the state ever assumed any inspection or direction of them.36 By a law of Solon, indeed, the children were acquitted from maintaining qthose parents in their old ageq who had neglected to instruct them in some profitable trade or business.37
43In the progress of refinement, when philosophy and rhetorick came into fashion, the better sort of people used to send their children to the schools of philosophers and rhetoricians, in order to be instructed in rtheser fashionable sciences.38 But those schools were not supported by the publick. They were for a long time barely tolerated by it. The demand for philosophy and rhetorick was for a long time so small, that the first professed teachers of either could not find constant employment in any one city, but were obliged to travel about from place to place. In this manner lived Zeno of Elea, Protagoras, Gorgias, Hippias, and many others. As the demand increased, the schools both of philosophy and rhetorick became stationary; first in Athens, and afterwards in several other cities. The state, however, seems never to have encouraged them further than by assigning to some of them a particular place to teach in, which was sometimes done too by private donors. The state seems to have assigned the Academy to Plato, the Lyceum to Aristotle, and the Portico to Zeno of Citta the founder of the Stoics. But Epicurus bequeathed his gardens to his own school. Till about the time of Marcus Antoninus, however, no teacher appears to have had any salary from the publick, or to have had any other emoluments, but what arose from the honoraries or fees of his scholars.39 The bounty which that philosophical emperor, as we learn from Lucian,40 bestowed upon sone ofs the teachers of philosophy, probably lasted no longer than his own life. There was nothing equivalent to the privileges of graduation, and to have attended any of those schools was not necessary, in order to be permitted to practise any particular trade or profession. If the opinion of their own utility could not draw scholars to them, the law neither forced any body to go to them, nor rewarded any body for having gone to them. The teachers had no jurisdiction over their pupils, nor any other authority besides that natural authority, which superior virtue and abilities never fail to procure from young people, towards those who are entrusted with any part of their education.
44At Rome, the study of the civil law made a part of the education, not of the greater part of the citizens, but of some particular families. The young people, however, who wished to acquire knowledge in the law, had no publick school to go to, and had no other method of studying it, than by frequenting the company of such of their relations and friends, as were supposed to understand it. It is perhaps worth while to remark, that though the laws of the twelve tables were, many of them, copied from those of some antient Greek republicks, yet law never seems to have grown up to be a science in any republick of antient Greece. In Rome it became a science very early, and gave a considerable degree of illustration to those citizens who had the reputation of understanding it. In the republicks of antient Greece, particularly in Athens, the ordinary courts of justice consisted of numerous and, therefore, disorderly bodies of people, who frequently decided almost at random, or ast clamour, faction and party spirit happened to determine.41 The ignominy of an unjust decision, when it was to be divided among five hundred, a thousand, or fifteen hundred people (for some of their courts were so very numerous), could not fall very heavy upon any individual. At Rome, on the contrary, the principal courts of justice consisted either of a single judge, or of a small number of judges, whose characters, especially as they deliberated always in publick, could not fail to be very much affected by any rash or unjust decision. In doubtful cases, such courts, from their anxiety to avoid blame, would naturally endeavour to shelter themselves under the example, or precedent, of the judges who had sat before them, either in the same, or in some other court. This attention, to practice and precedent, necessarily formed the Roman law into that regular and orderly system in which it has been delivered down to us; and the like attention has had the like effects upon the laws of every other country where such attention has taken place. The superiority of character in the Romans over that of the Greeks, so much remarked by Polybius and Dionysius of Halicarnassus,42 was probably more owing to the better constitution of their courts of justice, than to any of the circumstances to which those authors ascribe it. The Romans are said to have been particularly distinguished for their superior respect to an oath. But the people who were accustomed to make oath only before some diligent and well–informed court of justice, would naturally be much more attentive to what they swore, than they who were accustomed to do the same thing before mobbish and disorderly assemblies.
45The abilities, both civil and military, of the Greeks and Romans, will readily be allowed to have been, at least, equal to those of any modern nation. Our prejudice is perhaps rather to over rate them. But except in what related to military exercises, the state seems to have been at no pains to form those great abilities: for I cannot be induced to believe that the musical education of the Greeks could be of much consequence in forming them. Masters, however, had been found, it seems, for instructing the better sort of people among those nations in every art and science in which the circumstances of their society rendered it necessary or convenient for them to be instructed. The demand for such instruction produced, what it always produces, the talent for giving it; and the emulation which an unrestrained competition never fails to excite, appears to have brought that talent to a very high degree of perfection.43 In the attention which the antient philosophers excited, in the empire which they acquired over the opinions and principles of their auditors, in the faculty which they possessed of giving a certain tone and character to the conduct and conversation of those auditors; they appear to have been much superior to any modern teachers. In modern times, the diligence of publick teachers is more or less corrupted by the circumstances, which render them more or less independent of their success and reputation in their particular professions.44 Their salaries too put the private teacher, who would pretend to come into competition with them, in the same state with a merchant who attempts to trade without a bounty, in competition with those who trade with a considerable one. If he sells his goods at nearly the same price, he cannot have the same profit, and poverty and beggary at least, if not bankruptcy and ruin, will infallibly be his lot. If he attempts to sell them much dearer, he is likely to have so few customers that his circumstances will not be much mended. The privileges of graduation, besides, are in many countries necessary, or at least extremely convenient to most men of learned professions, that is, to the far greater part of those who have occasion for a learned education. But those privileges can be obtained only by attending the lectures of the publick teachers. The most careful attendance upon the ablest instructions of any private teacher, cannot always give any title to demand them. It is from these different causes that the private teacher of any of the sciences which are commonly taught in universities, is in modern times generally considered as in the very lowest order of men of letters. A man of real abilities can scarce find out a more humiliating or a more unprofitable employment to turn them to. The endowments of schools and colleges have, in this manner, not only corrupted the diligence of publick teachers, but have rendered it almost impossible to have any good private ones.
46Were there no publick institutions for education, no system, no science would be taught for which there was not some demand; or which the circumstances of the times did not render it, either necessary, or convenient, or at least fashionable to learn. A private teacher could never find his account in teaching, either an exploded and antiquated system of a science acknowledged to be useful,45 or a science universally believed to be a mere useless and pedantick heap of sophistry and nonsense. Such systems, such sciences, can subsist no where, but in those incorporated societies for education whose prosperity and revenue are in a great measure independent of their reputation, and altogether independent of their industry. Were there no publick institutions for education, a gentleman, after going through, with application and abilities, the most complete course of education, which the circumstances of the times were supposed to afford, could not come into the world completely ignorant of every thing which is the common subject of conversation among gentlemen and men of the world.
47 There are no publick institutions for the education of women, and there is accordingly nothing useless, absurd, or fantastical in the common course of their education. They are taught what their parents or guardians judge it necessary or useful for them to learn; and they are taught nothing else. Every part of their education tends evidently to some useful purpose; either to improve the natural attractions of their person, or to form their mind to reserve, to modesty, to chastity, and to œconomy: to render them both likely to become the mistresses of a family, and to behave properly when they have become such. In every part of her life a woman feels some conveniency or advantage from every part of her education. It seldom happens that a man, in any part of his life, derives any conveniency or advantage from some of the most laborious and troublesome parts of his education.
48Ought the publick, therefore, to give no attention, it may be asked, to the education of the people? Or if it ought to give any, what are the different parts of education which it ought to attend to in the different orders of the people? and in what manner ought it to attend to them?
49In some cases the state of utheu society necessarily places the greater part of individuals in such situations as naturally form in them, without any attention of government, almost all the abilities and virtues which that state requires, or perhaps can admit of. In other cases the state of the society does not place the greater part of individuals in such situations, and some attention of government is necessary in order to prevent the almost entire corruption and degeneracy of the great body of the people.
50In the progress of the division of labour, the employment of the far greater part of those who live by labour, that is, of the great body of the people, comes to be confined to a vfew veryv simple operations; frequently to one or two. But the understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments.46 The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects too are, perhaps, always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding, or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.47 The torpor of his mind renders him, not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life. Of the great and extensive interests of his country, he is altogether incapable of judging; and unless very particular pains have been taken to render him otherwise, he is equally incapable of defending his country in war.48 The uniformity of his stationary life naturally corrupts the courage of his mind, and makes him regard with abhorrence the irregular, uncertain, and adventurous life of a soldier. It corrupts even the activity of his body, and renders him incapable of exerting his strength with vigour and perseverance, in any other employment than that to which he has been bred. His dexterity at his own particular trade seems, in this manner, to be acquired at the expence of his intellectual, social, and martial virtues. But in every improved and civilized society this is the state into which the labouring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it.49
51It is otherwise in the barbarous societies, as they are commonly called, of hunters, of shepherds, and even of husbandmen in that rude state of husbandry which precedes the improvement of manufactures, and the extension of foreign commerce. In such societies the varied occupations of every man oblige every man to exert his capacity, and to invent expedients for removing difficulties which are continually occurring.50 Invention is kept alive, and the wmind isw not suffered to fall into that drowsy stupidity, which, in a civilized society, seems to benumb the understanding of almost all the inferior ranks of people.51 In those barbarous societies, as they are called, every man, it has already been observed, is a warrior. Every man too is in some measure a statesman, and can form a tolerable judgment concerning the interest of the society, and the conduct of those who govern it. How far their chiefs are good judges in peace, or good leaders in war, is obvious to the observation of almost every single man among them. In such a society indeed, no man can well acquire that improved and refined understanding, which a few men sometimes possess in a more civilized state. Though in a rude society there is a good deal of variety in the occupations of every individual, there is not a great deal in those of the whole society. Every man does, or is capable of doing, almost every thing which any other man does, or is capable of doing. Every man has a considerable degree of knowledge, ingenuity, and invention; but scarce any man has a great degree. The degree, however, which is commonly possessed, is generally sufficient for conducting the whole simple business of the society. In a civilized state, on the contrary, though there is little variety in the occupations of the greater part of individuals, there is an almost infinite variety in those of the whole society. These varied occupations present an almost infinite variety of objects to the contemplation of those few, who, being attached to no particular occupation themselves, have leisure and inclination to examine the occupations of other people. The contemplation of so great a variety of objects necessarily exercises their minds in endless comparisons and combinations, and renders their understandings, in an extraordinary degree, both acute and comprehensive. Unless those few, however, happen to be placed in some very particular situations, their great abilities, though honourable to themselves, may contribute very little to the good government or happiness of their society.52 Notwithstanding the great abilities of those few, all the nobler parts of the human character may be, in a great measure, obliterated and extinguished in the great body of the people.53
52The education of the common people requires, perhaps, in a civilized and commercial society, the attention of the publick more than that of people of some rank and fortune. People of some rank and fortune are generally eighteen or nineteen years of age before they enter upon that particular business, profession, or trade, by which they propose to distinguish themselves in the world. They have before that full time to acquire, or at least to fit themselves for afterwards acquiring, every accomplishment which can recommend them to the publick esteem, or render them worthy of it. Their parents or guardians are generally sufficiently anxious that they should be so accomplished, and are, in most cases, willing enough to lay out the expence which is necessary for that purpose. If they are not always properly educated, it is seldom from the want of expence laid out upon their education; but from the improper application of that expence. It is seldom from the want of masters; but from the negligence and incapacity of the masters who are to be had, and from the difficulty, or rather from the impossibility which there is, in the present state of things, of finding any better. The employments too in which people of some rank or fortune spend the greater part of their lives, are not, like those of the common people, simple and uniform. They are almost all of them extremely complicated, and such as exercise the head more than the hands. The understandings of those who are engaged in such employments can seldom grow torpid xforx want of exercise. The employments of people of some rank and fortune, besides, are seldom such as harass them from morning to night. They generally have a good deal of leisure, during which they may perfect themselves in every branch either of useful or ornamental knowledge of which they may have laid the foundation, or for which they may have acquired some taste in the earlier part of life.
53It is otherwise with the common people. They have little time to spare for education. Their parents can scarce afford to maintain them even in infancy. As soon as they are able to work, they must apply to some trade by which they can earn their subsistence.54 That trade too is generally so simple and uniform as to give little exercise to the understanding; while, at the same time, their labour is both so constant and so severe, that it leaves them little leisure and less inclination to apply to, or even to think of any thing else.
54But though the common people cannot, in any civilized society, be so well instructed as people of some rank and fortune, the most essential parts of education, however, to read, write, and account, can be acquired at so early a period of life, that the greater part even of those who are to be bred to the lowest occupations, have time to acquire them before they can be employed in those occupations.55 For a very small expence the publick can facilitate, can encourage, and can even impose upon almost the whole body of the people, the necessity of acquiring those most essential parts of education.
55The publick can facilitate this acquisition by establishing in every parish or district a little school, where children may be taught for a reward so moderate, that even a common labourer may afford it; the master being partly, but not wholly paid by the publick; because if he was wholly, or even principally paid by it, he would soon learn to neglect his business. In Scotland the establishment of such parish schools has taught almost the whole common people to read, and a very great proportion of them to write and account. In England the establishment of charity schools has had an effect of the same kind, though not so universally, because the establishment is not so universal. If in those little schools the books, by which the children are taught to read, were a little more instructive than they commonly are: and if, instead of vav little smattering of Latin; which the children of the common people are sometimes taught there, and which can scarce ever be of any use to them: they were instructed in the elementary parts of geometry and mechanicks, the literary education of this rank of people would perhaps be as complete as it zcan bez There is scarce a common trade which does not afford some opportunities of applying to it the principles of geometry and mechanicks, and which would not therefore gradually exercise and improve the common people in those principles, the necessary introduction to the most sublime as well as to the most useful sciences.56
56The publick can encourage the acquisition of those most essential parts of education by giving small premiums, and little badges of distinction, to the children of the common people who excel in them.57
57The publick can impose upon almost the whole body of the people the necessity of acquiring those most essential parts of education, by obliging every man to undergo an examination or probation in them before he can obtain the freedom in any corporation, or be allowed to set up any trade either in a village or town corporate.58
58It was in this manner, by facilitating the acquisition of their military and gymnastic exercises, by encouraging it, and even by imposing upon the whole body of the people the necessity of learning those exercises, that the Greek and Roman republicks maintained the martial spirit of their respective citizens.59 They facilitated the acquisition of those exercises by appointing a certain place for learning and practising them, and by granting to certain masters the privilege of teaching in that place. Those masters do not appear to have had either salaries or exclusive privileges of any kind. Their reward consisted altogether in what they got from their scholars; and a citizen who had learnt his exercises in the publick Gymnasia, had no sort of legal advantage over one who had learnt them privately, provided the latter had learnt them equally well. Those republicks encouraged the acquisition of those exercises, by bestowing little premiums and badges of distinction upon those who excelled in them. To have gained a prize in the Olympic, Isthmian or Nemaean games, gave illustration, not only to the person who gained it, but to his whole family and kindred. The obligation which every citizen was under to serve a certain number of years, if called upon, in the armies of the republick, sufficiently imposed the necessity of learning those exercises without which he could not be fit for that service.
59That in the progress of improvement the practice of military exercises, unless government takes proper pains to support it, goes gradually to decay, and, together with it, the martial spirit of the great body of the people, the example of modern Europe sufficiently demonstrates.60 But the security of every society must always depend, more or less, upon the martial spirit of the great body of the people. In the present times, indeed, that martial spirit alone, and unsupported by a well–disciplined standing army, would not, perhaps, be sufficient for the defence and security of any society. But where every citizen had the spirit of a soldier, a smaller standing army would surely be requisite. That spirit, besides, would necessarily diminish very much the dangers to liberty, whether real or imaginary, which are commonly apprehended from a standing army.61 As it would very much facilitate the operations of that army against a foreign invader, so it would obstruct them as much if unfortunately they should ever be directed against the constitution of the state.
60The antient institutions of Greece and Rome seem to have been much more effectual, for maintaining the martial spirit of the great body of the people, than the establishment of what are called the militias of modern times. They were much more simple. When they were once established, they executed themselves, and it required little or no attention from government to maintain them in the most perfect vigour. Whereas to maintain even in tolerable execution the complex regulations of any modern militia, requires the continual and painful attention of government, without which they are constantly falling into total neglect and disuse. The influence, besides, of the antient institutions was much more universal. By means of them the whole body of the people was compleatly instructed in the use of arms. Whereas it is but a very small part of them who can ever be so instructed by the regulations of any modern militia; except, perhaps, that of Switzerland. But a coward, a man incapable either of defending or of revenging himself, evidently wants one of the most essential parts of the character of a man. He is as much mutilated and deformed in his mind, as another is in his body, who is either deprived of some of its most essential members, or has lost the use of athema . He is evidently the more wretched and miserable of the two; because happiness and misery, which reside altogether in the mind, must necessarily depend more upon the healthful or unhealthful, the mutilated or entire state of the mind, than upon that of the body. Even though the martial spirit of the people were of no use towards the defence of the society, yet to prevent that sort of mental mutilation, deformity and wretchedness, which cowardice necessarily involves in it, from spreading themselves through the great body of the people, would still deserve the most serious attention of government; in the same manner as it would deserve its most serious attention to prevent a leprosy or any other loathsome and offensive disease, though neither mortal nor dangerous, from spreading itself among them; though, perhaps, no other publick good might result from such attention besides the prevention of so great a publick evil.
61The same thing may be said of the gross ignorance and stupidity which, in a civilized society, seem so frequently to benumb the understandings of all the inferior ranks of people. A man, without the proper use of the intellectual faculties of a man, is, if possible, more contemptible than even a coward, and seems to be mutilated and deformed in a still more essential part of the character of human nature. Though the state was to derive no advantage from the instruction of the inferior ranks of people, it would still deserve its attention that they should not be altogether uninstructed. The state, however, derives no inconsiderable advantage from their instruction. The more they are instructed, the less liable they are to the delusions of enthusiasm and superstition, which, among ignorant nations, frequently occasion the most dreadful disorders. An instructed and intelligent people besides are always more decent and orderly than an ignorant and stupid one. They feel themselves, each individually, more respectable, and more likely to obtain the respect of their lawful superiors, and they are therefore more disposed to respect those superiors. They are more disposed to examine, and more capable of seeing through, the interested complaints of faction and sedition, and they are, upon that account, less apt to be misled into any wanton or unnecessary opposition to the measures of government. In free countries, where the safety of government depends very much upon the favourable judgment which the people may form of its conduct, it must surely be of the highest importance that they should not be disposed to judge rashly or capriciously concerning it.
[V.i.g] article iii
Of the Expence of the Institutions for the Instruction of People of all Ages
1The institutions for the instruction of people of all ages are chiefly those for religious instruction. This is a species of instruction of which the object is not so much to render the people good citizens in this world, as to prepare them for another and a better world in a life to come. The teachers of the doctrine which contains this instruction, in the same manner as other teachers, may either depend altogether for their subsistence upon the voluntary contributions of their hearers; or they may derive it from some other fund to which the law of their country may entitle them; such as a landed estate, a tythe or land tax, an established salary or stipend. Their exertion, their zeal and industry, are likely to be much greater in the former situation than in the latter. In this respect the teachers of new religions have always had a considerable advantage in attacking those antient and established systems of which the clergy, reposing themselves upon their benefices, had neglected to keep up the fervour of faith and devotion in the great body of the people;1 and having given themselves up to indolence, were become altogether incapable of making any vigorous exertion in defence even of their own establishment. The clergy of an established and well–endowed religion frequently become men of learning and elegance, who possess all the virtues of gentlemen, or which can recommend them to the esteem of gentlemen; but they are apt gradually to lose the qualities, both good and bad, which gave them authority and influence with the inferior ranks of people, and which had perhaps been the original causes of the success and establishment of their religion. Such a clergy, when attacked by a set of popular and bold, though perhaps stupid and ignorant enthusiasts, feel themselves as perfectly defenceless as the indolent, effeminate, and full fed nations of the southern parts of Asia, when they were invaded by the active, hardy, and hungry Tartars of the North.2 Such a clergy, upon such an emergency, have commonly no other resource than to call upon the civil magistrate to persecute, destroy, or drive out their adversaries, as disturbers of the public peace. It was thus that the Roman catholic clergy called upon the civil magistrate to persecute the protestants; and the church of England, to persecute the dissenters; and that in general every religious sect, when it has once enjoyed for a century or two the security of a legal establishment, has found itself incapable of making any vigorous defence against any new sect which chose to attack its doctrine or discipline. Upon such occasions the advantage in point of learning and good writing may sometimes be on the side of the established church. But the arts of popularity, all the arts of gaining proselytes, are constantly on the side of its adversaries. In England those arts have been long neglected by the well–endowed clergy of the established church, and are at present chiefly cultivated by the dissenters and by the methodists. The independent provisions, however, which in many places have been made for dissenting teachers, by means of voluntary subscriptions, of trust rights, and other evasions of the law, seem very much to have abated the zeal and activity of those teachers. They have many of them become very learned, ingenious, and respectable men; but they have in general ceased to be very popular preachers. The methodists, without half the learning of the dissenters, are much more in vogue.
2 In the church of Rome, the industry and zeal of the inferior clergy aisa kept more alive by the powerful motive of self–interest, than perhaps in any established protestant church. The parochial clergy derive, many of them, a very considerable part of their subsistence from the voluntary oblations of the people; a source of revenue which confession gives them many opportunities of improving. The mendicant orders derive their whole subsistence from such oblations. It is with them, as with the hussars and light infantry of some armies; no plunder, no pay. The parochial clergy are like those teachers whose reward depends partly upon their salary, and partly upon the fees or honoraries which they get from their pupils, and these must always depend more or less upon their industry and reputation.3 The mendicant orders are like those teachers whose subsistence depends altogether upon their industry. They are obliged, therefore, to use every art which can animate the devotion of the common people. The establishment of the two great mendicant orders of St. Dominick and St. Francis, it is observed by Machiavel, revived, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the languishing faith and devotion of the catholick church.4 In Roman catholick countries the spirit of devotion is supported altogether by the monks and by the poorer parochial clergy. The great dignitaries of the church, with all the accomplishments of gentlemen and men of the world, and sometimes with those of men of learning, are careful enough to maintain the necessary discipline over their inferiors, but seldom give themselves any trouble about the instruction of the people.
3“Most of the arts and professions in a state,” says by far the most illustrious philosopher and historian of the present age, “are of such a nature, that, while they promote the interests of the society, they are also useful or agreeable to some individuals; and in that case, the constant rule of the magistrate, except, perhaps, on the first introduction of any art, is, to leave the profession to itself, and trust its encouragement to the individuals who reap the benefit of it.5 The artizans finding their profits to rise by the favour of their customers, increase, as much as possible, their skill and industry; and as matters are not disturbed by any injudicious tampering, the commodity is always sure to be at all times nearly proportioned to the demand.
4“But there are also some callings, which, though useful and even necessary in a state, bring no advantage or pleasure to any individual, and the supreme power is obliged to alter its conduct with regard to the retainers of those professions. It must give them publick encouragement in order to their subsistence; and it must provide against that negligence to which they will naturally be subject, either by annexing particular honours to the profession, by establishing a long subordination of ranks and a strict dependance, or by some other expedient. The persons employed in the finances, fleets,6 and magistracy, are instances of this order of men.
5“It may naturally be thought, at first sight, that the ecclesiasticks belong to the first class, and that their encouragement, as well as that of lawyers and physicians, may safely be entrusted to the liberality of individuals, who are attached to their doctrines, and who find benefit or consolation from their spiritual ministry and assistance. Their industry and vigilance will, no doubt, be whetted by such an additional motive; and their skill in the profession, as well as their address in governing the minds of the people, must receive daily increase, from their increasing practice, study, and attention.
6“But if we consider the matter more closely, we shall find, that this interested diligence of the clergy is what every wise legislator will study to prevent; because, in every religion except the true, it is highly pernicious, and it has even a natural tendency to pervert the true, by infusing into it a strong mixture of superstitition, folly, and delusion. Each ghostly practitioner, in order to render himself more precious and sacred in the eyes of his retainers, will inspire them with the most violent abhorrence of all other sects, and continually endeavour, by some novelty, to excite the languid devotion of his audience. No regard will be paid to truth, morals, or decency in the doctrines inculcated. Every tenet will be adopted that best suits the disorderly affections of the human frame. Customers will be drawn to each conventicle by new industry and address in practising on the passions and credulity of the populace. And in the end, the civil magistrate will find, that he has dearly paid for his pretended frugality, in saving a fixed establishment for the priests; and that in reality the most decent and advantageous composition, which he can make with the spiritual guides, is to bribe their indolence, by assigning stated salaries to their profession, and rendering it superfluous for them to be farther active, than merely to prevent their flock from straying in quest of new pastures. And in this manner ecclesiastical establishments, though commonly they arose at first from religious views, prove in the end advantageous to the political interests of society.”7
7But whatever may have been the good or bad effects of the independent provision of the clergy; it has, perhaps, been very seldom bestowed upon them from any view to those effects. Times of violent religious controversy have generally been times of equally violent political faction. Upon such occasions, each political party has either found it, or imagined it, for its interest, to league itself with some one or other of the contending religious sects. But this could be done only by adopting, or at least by favouring, the tenets of that particular sect. The sect which had the good fortune to be leagued with the conquering party, necessarily shared in the victory of its ally, by whose favour and protection it was soon enabled in some degree to silence and subdue all its adversaries. Those adversaries had generally leagued themselves with the enemies of the conquering party, and were therefore the enemies of that party. The clergy of this particular sect having thus become complete masters of the field, and their influence and authority with the great body of the people being in its highest vigour, they were powerful enough to over–awe the chiefs and leaders of their own party, and to oblige the civil magistrate to respect their opinions and inclinations. Their first demand was generally, that he should silence and subdue all their adversaries; and their second, that he should bestow an independent provision on themselves. As they had generally contributed a good deal to the victory, it seemed not unreasonable that they should have some share in the spoil. They were weary, besides, of humouring the people, and of depending upon their caprice for a subsistence. In making this demand therefore they consulted their own ease and comfort, without troubling themselves about the effect which it might have in future times upon the influence and authority of their order. The civil magistrate, who could comply with bthisb demand only by giving them something which he would have chosen much rather to take, or to keep to himself, was seldom very forward to grant it. Necessity, however, always forced him to submit at last, though frequently not till after many delays, evasions, and affected excuses.
8But if politicks had never called in the aid of religion, had the conquering party never adopted the tenets of one sect more than those of another, when it had gained the victory, it would probably have dealt equally and impartially with all the different sects, and have allowed every man to chuse his own priest and his own religion as he thought proper. There would in this case, no doubt, have been a great multitude of religious sects. Almost every different congregation might probably have made a little sect by itself, or have entertained some peculiar tenets of its own. Each teacher would no doubt have felt himself under the necessity of making the utmost exertion, and of using every art both to preserve and to increase the number of his disciples. But as every other teacher would have felt himself under the same necessity, the success of no one teacher, or sect of teachers, could have been very great. The interested and active zeal of religious teachers can be dangerous and troublesome only where there is, either but one sect tolerated in the society, or where the whole of a large society is divided into two or three great sects; the teachers of eachc acting by concert, and under a regular discipline and subordination. But that zeal must be altogether innocent where the society is divided into two or three hundred, or perhaps into as many thousand small sects, of which no one could be considerable enough to disturb the publick tranquillity. The teachers of each sect, seeing themselves surrounded on all sides with more adversaries than friends, would be obliged to learn that candour and moderation which is so seldom to be found among the teachers of those great sects, whose tenets being supported by the civil magistrate, are held in veneration by almost all the inhabitants of extensive kingdoms and empires, and who therefore see nothing round them but followers, disciples, and humble admirers. The teachers of each little sect, finding themselves almost alone, would be obliged to respect those of almost every other sect, and the concessions which they would mutually find it both convenient and agreeable to make to one another, might in time probably reduce the doctrine of the greater part of them to that pure and rational religion, free from every mixture of absurdity, imposture, or fanaticism, such as wise men have in all ages of the world wished to see established; but such as positive law has perhaps never yet established,8 and probably never will establish in any country: because, with regard to religion, positive law always has been, and probably always will be, more or less influenced by popular superstition and enthusiasm.9 This plan of ecclesiastical government, or more properly of no ecclesiastical government, was what the sect called Independents, a sect no doubt of very wild enthusiasts, proposed to establish in England towards the end of the civil war.10 If it had been established, though of a very unphilosophical origin, it would probably by this time have been productive of the most philosophical good temper and moderation with regard to every sort of religious principle. It has been established in Pensylvania, where, though the Quakers happen to be the most numerousd , the law in reality favours no one sect more than another, and it is there said to have been productive of this philosophical good temper and moderation.
9But though this equality of treatment should not be productive of this good temper and moderation in all, or even in the greater part of the religious sects of a particular country; yet provided those sects were sufficiently numerous, and each of them consequently too small to disturb the publick tranquillity, the excessive zeal of eache for its particular tenets could not well be productive of any very hurtful effects, but, on the contrary, of several good ones: and if the government was perfectly decided both to let them all alone, and to oblige them all to let alone one another, there is little danger that they would not of their own accord subdivide themselves fast enough, so as soon to become sufficiently numerous.
10In every civilized society, in every society where the distinction of ranks has once been completely established, there have been always two different schemes or systems of morality current at the same time; of which the one may be called the strict or austere; the other the liberal, or, if you will, the loose system. The former is generally admired and revered by the common people: The latter is commonly more esteemed and adopted by what are called people of fashion. The degree of disapprobation with which we ought to mark the vices of levity, the vices which are apt to arise from great prosperity, and from the excess of gaiety and good humour, seems to constitute the principal distinction between those two opposite schemes or systems. In the liberal or loose system, luxury, wanton and even disorderly mirth, the pursuit of pleasure to some degree of intemperance, the breach of chastity, at least in one of the two sexes, &c. provided they are not accompanied with gross indecency, and do not lead to falsehood or injustice, are generally treated with a good deal of indulgence, and are casily either excused or pardoned altogether. In the austere system, on the contrary, those excesses are regarded with the utmost abhorrence and detestation. The vices of levity are always ruinous to the common people, and a single week’s thoughtlessness and dissipation is often sufficient to undo a poor workman for ever, and to drive him through despair upon committing the most enormous crimes. The wiser and better sort of the common people, therefore, have always the utmost abhorrence and detestation of such excesses, which their experience tells them are so immediately fatal to people of their condition. The disorder and extravagance of several years, on the contrary, will not always ruin a man of fashion, and people of that rank are very apt to consider the power of indulging in some degree of excess as one of the advantages of their fortune, and the liberty of doing so without censure or reproach, as one of the privileges which belong to their station. In people of their own station, therefore, they regard such excesses with but a small degree of disapprobation, and censure them either very slightly or not at all.
11 Almost all religious sects have begun among the common people, from whom they have generally drawn their earliest, as well as their most numerous proselytes. The austere system of morality has, accordingly, been adopted by those sects almost constantly, or with very few exceptions; for there have been some. It was the system by which they could best recommend themselves to that order of people to whom they first proposed their plan of reformation upon what had been before established. Many of them, perhaps the greater part of them, have even endeavoured to gain credit by refining upon this austere system, and by carrying it to some degree of folly and extravagance; and this excessive rigour has frequently recommended them more than any thing else to the respect and veneration of the common people.11
12A man of rank and fortune is by his station the distinguished member of a great society, who attend to every part of his conduct, and who thereby oblige him to attend to every part of it himself. His authority and consideration depend very much upon the respect which this society bears to him. He dare not do any thing which would disgrace or discredit him in it, and he is obliged to a very strict observation of that species of morals, whether liberal or austere, which the general consent of this society prescribes to persons of his rank and fortune. A man of low condition, on the contrary, is far from being a distinguished member of any great society. While he remains in a country village his conduct may be attended to, and he may be obliged to attend to it himself. In this situation, and in this situation only, he may have what is called a character to lose. But as soon as he comes into a great city, he is sunk in obscurity and darkness.12 His conduct is observed and attended to by nobody, and he is therefore very likely to neglect it himself, and to abandon himself to every sort of low profligacy and vice.13 He never emerges so effectually from this obscurity, his conduct never excites so much the attention of any respectable society, as by his becoming the member of a small religious sect. He from that moment acquires a degree of consideration which he never had before. All his brother sectaries are, for the credit of the sect, interested to observe his conduct, and if he gives occasion to any scandal, if he deviates very much from those austere morals which they almost always require of one another, to punish him by what is always a very severe punishment, even where no civil effects attend it, expulsion or excommunication from the sect. In little religious sects, accordingly, the morals of the common people have been almost always remarkably regular and orderly; generally much more so than in the established church. The morals of those little sects, indeed, have frequently been rather disagreeably rigorous and unsocial.14
13There are two very easy and effectual remedies, however, by whose joint operation the state might, without violence, correct whatever was unsocial or disagreeably rigorous in the morals of all the little sects into which the country was divided.
14 The first of those remedies is the study of science and philosophy, which the state might render almost universal among all people of middling or more than middling rank and fortune; not by giving salaries to teachers in order to make them negligent and idle, but by instituting some sort of probation, even in the higher and more difficult sciences, to be undergone by every person before he was permitted to exercise any liberal profession, or before he could be received as a candidate for any honourable office of trust or profit. If the state imposed upon this order of men the necessity of learning, it would have no occasion to give itself any trouble about providing them with proper teachers.15 They would soon find better teachers for themselves than any whom the state could provide for them. Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition; and where all the superior ranks of people were secured from it, the inferior ranks could not be much exposed to it.
15The second of those remedies is the frequency and gaiety of publick diversions. The state, by encouraging, that is by giving entire liberty to all those who for their own interest would attempt, without scandal or indecency, to amuse and divert the people by painting, poetry, musick, dancing;16 by all sorts of dramatic representations and exhibitions, would easily dissipate, in the greater part of them, that melancholy and gloomy humour which is almost always the nurse of popular superstition and enthusiasm. Publick diversions have always been the objects of dread and hatred, to all the fanatical promoters of those popular frenzies. The gaiety and good humour which those diversions inspire were altogether inconsistent with that temper of mind, which was fittest for their purpose, or which they could best work upon. Dramatick representations besides, frequently exposing their artifices to publick ridicule, and sometimes even to publick execration, were upon that account, more than all other diversions, the objects of their peculiar abhorrence.
16In a country where the law favoured the teachers of no one religion more than those of another, it would not be necessary that any of them should have any particular or immediate dependency upon the sovereign or executive power; or that he should have any thing to do, either in appointing, or in dismissing them from their offices. In such a situation he would have no occasion to give himself any concern about them, further than to keep the peace among them, in the same manner as among the rest of his subjects; that is, to hinder them from persecuting, abusing, or oppressing one another. But it is quite otherwise in countries where there is an established or governing religion. The sovereign can in this case never be secure, unless he has the means of influencing in a considerable degree the greater part of the teachers of that religion.
17The clergy of every established church constitute a great incorporation. They can act in concert, and pursue their interest upon one plan and with one spirit, as much as if they were under the direction of one man; and they are frequently too under such direction. Their interest as an incorporated body is never the same with that of the sovereign, and is sometimes directly opposite to it. Their great interest is to maintain their authority with the people; and this authority depends upon the supposed certainty and importance of the whole doctrine which they inculcate, and upon the supposed necessity of adopting every part of it with the most implicit faith, in order to avoid eternal misery. Should the sovereign have the imprudence to appear either to deride or doubt himself of the most trifling part of their doctrine, or from humanity attempt to protect those who did either the one or the other, the punctilious honour of a clergy who have no sort of dependency upon him, is immediately provoked to proscribe him as a profane person, and to employ all the terrors of religion in order to oblige the people to transfer their allegiance to some more orthodox and obedient prince. Should he oppose any of their pretensions or usurpations, the danger is equally great. The princes who have dared in this manner to rebel against the church, over and above this crime of rebellion, have generally been charged too with the additional crime of heresy, notwithstanding their solemn protestations of their faith and humble submission to every tenet which she thought proper to prescribe to them. But the authority of religion is superior to every other authority. The fears which it suggests conquer all other fears. When the authorised teachers of religion propagate through the great body of the people doctrines subversive of the authority of the sovereign, it is by violence only, or by the force of a standing army, that he can maintain his authority. Even a standing army cannot in this case give him any lasting security; because if the soldiers are not foreigners, which can seldom be the case, but drawn from the great body of the people, which must almost always be the case, they are likely to be soon corrupted by those very doctrines. The revolutions which the turbulence of the Greek clergy was continually occasioning at Constantinople, as long as the eastern empire subsisted; the convulsions which, during the course of several centuries, the turbulence of the Roman clergy was continually occasioning in every part of Europe, sufficiently demonstrate how precarious and insecure must always be the situation of the sovereign who has no proper means of influencing the clergy of the established and governing religion of his country.
18Articles of faith, as well as all other spiritual matters, it is evident enough, are not within the proper department of a temporal sovereign, who, though he may be very well qualified for protecting, is seldom supposed to be so for instructing the people. With regard to such matters, therefore, his authority can seldom be sufficient to counterbalance the united authority of the clergy of the established church. The publick tranquillity, however, and his own security, may frequently depend upon the doctrines which they may think proper to propagate concerning such matters. As he can seldom directly oppose their decision, therefore, with proper weight and authority, it is necessary that he should be able to influence it; and he can influence it only by the fears and expectations which he may excite in the greater part of the individuals of the order. Those fears and expectations may consist in the fear of deprivation or other punishment, and in the expectation of further preferment.
19In all christian churches the benefices of the clergy are a sort of freeholds which they enjoy, not during pleasure, but during life, or good behaviour. If they held them by a more precarious tenure, and were liable to be turned out upon every slight disobligation either of the sovereign or of his ministers, it would perhaps be impossible for them to maintain their authority with the people, who would then consider them as mercenary dependents upon the court, in the sincerity of whose instructions they could no longer have any confidence. But should the sovereign attempt irregularly, and by violence to deprive any number of clergymen of their freeholds on account, perhaps, of their having propagated, with more than ordinary zeal, some factious or seditious doctrine, he would only render, by such persecution, both them and their doctrine ten times more popular, and therefore ten times more troublesome and dangerous than they had been before. Fear is in almost all cases a wretched instrument of government, and ought in particular never to be employed against any order of men who have the smallest pretensions to independency. To attempt to terrify them, serves only to irritate their bad humour, and to confirm them in an opposition which more gentle usage perhaps might easily induce them, either to soften, or to lay aside altogether. The violence which the French government usually employed in order to oblige all their parliaments, or sovereign courts of justice, to enregister any unpopular edict, very seldom succeeded. The means commonly employed, however, the imprisonment of all the refractory members, one would think were forcible enough. The princes of the house of Stewart sometimes employed the like means in order to influence some of the members of the parliament of England; and they generally found them equally intractable. The parliament of England is now managed in another manner; and a very small experiment which the duke of Choiseul made about twelve years ago upon the parliament of Paris, demonstrated sufficiently that all the parliaments of France might have been managed still more easily in the same manner. That experiment was not pursued. For though management and persuasion are always the easiest and the safest instruments of government, as force and violence are the worst and the most dangerous, yet such, it seems, is the natural insolence of man, that he almost always disdains to use the good instrument, except when he cannot or dare not use the bad one. The French government could and durst use force, and therefore disdained to use management and persuasion. But there is no order of men, it appears, I believe, from the experience of all ages, upon whom it is so dangerous, or rather so perfectly ruinous, to employ force and violence, as upon the respected clergy of fanyf established church. The rights, the privileges, the personal liberty of every individual ecclesiastic, who is upon good terms with his own order, are, even in the most despotic governments, more respected than those of any other person of nearly equal rank and fortune. It is so in every gradation of despotism, from that of the gentle and mild government of Paris, to that of the violent and furious government of Constantinople. But though this order of men can scarce ever be forced, they may be managed as easily as any other; and the security of the sovereign, as well asg the publick tranquillity, seems to depend very much upon the means which he has of managing them; and those means seem to consist altogether in the preferment which he has to bestow upon them.
20In the antient constitution of the hChristianh church, the bishop of each diocese was elected by the joint votes of the clergy and of the people of the episcopal city. The people did not long retain their right of election; and while they did retain it, they almost always acted under the influence of the clergy, who in such spiritual matters appeared to be their natural guides. The clergy, however, soon grew weary of the trouble of managing them, and found it easier to elect their own bishops themselves. The abbot, in the same manner, was elected by the monks of the monastery, at least in the greater part of abbacies. All the inferior ecclesiastical benefices comprehended within the diocese were collated by the bishop, who bestowed them upon such ecclesiastics as he thought proper. All church preferments were in this manner in the disposal of the church. The sovereign, though he might have some indirect influence in those elections, and though it was sometimes usual to ask both his consent to elect, and his approbation of the election, yet had no direct or sufficient means of managing the clergy. The ambition of every clergyman naturally led him to pay court, not so much to his sovereign, as to his own order, from which only he could expect preferment.
21Through the greater part of Europe the Pope gradually drew to himself first the collation of almost all bishopricks and abbacies, or of what were called Consistorial benefices, and afterwards, by various machinations and pretences, of the greater part of inferior benefices comprehended within each diocese; little more being left to the bishop than what was barely necessary to give him a decent authority with his own clergy. By this arrangement, the condition of the sovereign was still worse than it had been before. The clergy of all the different countries of Europe were thus formed into a sort of spiritual army, dispersed in different quarters, indeed, but of which all the movements and operations could now be directed by one head, and conducted upon one uniform plan. The clergy of each particular country might be considered as a particular detachment of that army, of which the operations could easily be supported and seconded by all the other detachments quartered in the different countries round about. Each detachment was not only independent of the sovereign of the country in which it was quartered, and by which it was maintained, but dependent upon a foreign sovereign, who could at any time turn its arms against the sovereign of that particular country, and support them by the arms of all the other detachments.17
22Those arms were the most formidable that can well be imagined. In the antient state of Europe, before the establishment of arts and manufactures, the wealth of the clergy gave them the same sort of influence over the common people, which that of the great barons gave them over their respective vassals, tenants, and retainers. In the great landed estates, which the mistaken piety both of princes and private persons had bestowed upon the church, jurisdictions were established of the same kind with those of the great barons; and for the same reason.18 In those great landed estates, the clergy, or their bailiffs, could easily keep the peace without the support or assistance either of the king or of any other person; and neither the king nor any other person could keep the peace there without the support and assistance of the clergy. The jurisdictions of the clergy, therefore, in their particular baronies or manors, were equally independent, and equally exclusive of the authority of the king’s courts, as those of the great temporal lords. The tenants of the clergy were, like those of the great barons, almost all tenants at will, entirely dependent upon their immediate lords, and therefore liable to be called out at pleasure, in order to fight in any quarrel in which the clergy might think proper to engage them. Over and above the rents of those estates, the clergy possessed, in the tythes, a very large portion of the rents of all the other estates in every kingdom of Europe.19 The revenues arising from both those species of rents were, the greater part of them, paid in kind, in corn, wine, cattle, poultry, &c. The quantity exceeded greatly what the clergy could themselves consume; and there were neither arts nor manufactures for the produce of which they could exchange the surplus. The clergy could derive advantage from this immense surplus in no other way than by employing it, as the great barons employed the like surplus of their revenues, in the most profuse hospitality, and in the most extensive charity.20 Both the hospitality and the charity of the antient clergy, accordingly, are said to have been very great. They not only maintained almost the whole poor of every kingdom, but many knights and gentlemen had frequently no other means of subsistence than by travelling about from monastery to monastery, under pretence of devotion, but in reality to enjoy the hospitality of the clergy. The retainers of some particular prelates were often as numerous as those of the greatest lay–lords; and the retainers of all the clergy taken together were, perhaps, more numerous than those of all the lay–lords. There was always much more union among the clergy than among the lay–lords. The former were under a regular discipline and subordination to the papal authority. The latter were under no regular discipline or subordination, but almost always equally jealous of one another, and of the king.21 Though the tenants and retainers of the clergy, therefore, had both together been less numerous than those of the great lay–lords, and their tenants were probably much less numerous, yet their union would have rendered them more formidable. The hospitality and charity of the clergy too, not only gave them the command of a great temporal force, but increased very much the weight of their spiritual weapons. Those virtues procured them the highest respect and veneration among all the inferior ranks of people, of whom many were constantly, and almost all occasionally, fed by them. Every thing belonging or related to so popular an order, its possessions, its privileges, its doctrines, necessarily appeared sacred in the eyes of the common people, and every violation of them, whether real or pretended, the highest act of sacriligious wickedness and profaneness. In this state of things, if the sovereign frequently found it difficult to resist the confederacy of a few of the great nobility, we cannot wonder that he should find it still more so to resist the united force of the clergy of his own dominions, supported by that of the clergy of all the neighbouring dominions. In such circumstances the wonder is, not that he was sometimes obliged to yield, but that he ever was able to resist.
23 The privileges of the clergy in those antient times (which to us who live in the present times appear the most absurd) their total exemption from the secular jurisdiction, for example, or what in England was called the benefit of clergy; were the natural or rather the necessary consequences of this state of things.22 How dangerous must it have been for the sovereign to attempt to punish a clergyman for any crime whatever, if his own order were disposed to protect him, and to represent either the proof as insufficient for convicting so holy a man, or the punishment as too severe to be inflicted upon one whose person had been rendered sacred by religion. The sovereign could, in such circumstances, do no better than leave him to be tried by the ecclesiastical courts, who, for the honour of their own order, were interested to restrain, as much as possible, every member of it from committing enormous crimes, or even from giving occasion to such gross scandal as might disgust the minds of the people.
24In the state in which things were through the greater part of Europe during the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, and for some time both before and after that period, the constitution of the church of Rome may be considered as the most formidable combination that ever was formed against the authority and security of civil government, as well as against the liberty, reason, and happiness of mankind, which can flourish only where civil government is able to protect them.23 In that constitution the grossest delusions of superstition were supported in such a manner by the private interests of so great a number of people as put them out of all danger from any assault of human reason: because though human reason might perhaps have been able to unveil, even to the eyes of the common people, some of the delusions of superstition; it could never have dissolved the ties of private interest. Had this constitution been attacked by no other enemies but the feeble efforts of human reason, it must have endured forever. But that immense and well–built fabric, which all the wisdom and virtue of man could never have shaken, much less have overturned, was by the natural course of things, first weakened, iandi afterwards in part destroyed, and is now likely, in the course of a few centuries more, perhaps, to crumble into ruins altogether.
25The gradual improvements of arts, manufactures, and commerce, the same causes which destroyed the power of the great barons, destroyed in the same manner, through the greater part of Europe, the whole temporal power of the clergy. In the produce of arts, manufactures, and commerce, the clergy, like the great barons, found something for which they could exchange their rude produce, and thereby discovered the means of spending their whole revenues upon their own persons, without giving any considerable share of them to other people. Their charity became gradually less extensive, their hospitality less liberal or less profuse. Their retainers became consequently less numerous, and by degrees dwindled away altogether. The clergy, too, like the great barons, wished to get a better rent from their landed estates, in order to spend it, in the same manner, upon the gratification of their own private vanity and folly. But this increase of rent could be got only by granting leases to their tenants, who thereby became in a great measure independent of them.24 The ties of interest, which bound the inferior ranks of people to the clergy, were in this manner gradually broken and dissolved. They were even broken and dissolved sooner than those which bound the same ranks of people to the great barons: because the benefices of the church being, the greater part of them, much smaller than the estates of the great barons, the possessor of each benefice was much sooner able to spend the whole of its revenue upon his own person. During the greater part of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the power of the great barons was, through the greater part of Europe, in full vigour. But the temporal power of the clergy, the absolute command which they had once had over the great body of the people, was very much decayed. The power of the church was by that time very nearly reduced through the greater part of Europe to what arose from her spiritual authority; and even that spiritual authority was much weakened when it ceased to be supported by the charity and hospitality of the clergy. The inferior ranks of people no longer looked upon that order, as they had done before, as the comforters of their distress, and the relievers of their indigence. On the contrary, they were provoked and disgusted by the vanity, luxury, and expence of the richer clergy, who appeared to spend upon their own pleasures what had always before been regarded as the patrimony of the poor.
26In this situation of things, the sovereigns in the different states of Europe endeavoured to recover the influence which they had once had in the disposal of the great benefices of the church, by procuring to the deans and chapters of each diocese the restoration of their antient right of electing the bishop, and to the monks of each abbacy that of electing the abbot.25 The re–establishing of this ancient order was the object of several statutes enacted in England during the course of the fourteenth century, jparticularly of what is called the statute of provisors;j and of the pragmatick sanction established in France in the fifteenth century. In order to render the election valid, it was necessary that the sovereign should both consent to it before–hand, and afterwards approve of the person elected; and though the election was still supposed to be free, he had, however, all the indirect means which his situation necessarily afforded him, of influencing the clergy in his own dominions. Other regulations of a similar tendency were established in other parts of Europe. But the power of the pope in the collation of the great benefices of the church seems, before the reformation, to have been no where so effectually and so universally restrained as in France and England. The Concordat afterwards, in the sixteenth century, gave to the kings of France the absolute right of presenting to all the greatk, or what are called thek consistorial benefices of the Gallican church.
27Since the establishment of the Pragmatic sanction and of the Concordat, the clergy of France have in general shown less respect to the decrees of the papal court than the clergy of any other catholick country. In all the disputes which their sovereign has had with the pope, they have almost constantly taken party with the former. This independency of the clergy of France upon the court of Rome, seems to be principally founded upon the Pragmatic sanction and the Concordat. In the earlier periods of the monarchy, the clergy of France appear to have been as much devoted to the pope as those of any other country. When Robert, the second prince of the Capetian race, was most unjustly excommunicated by the court of Rome, his own servants, it is said, threw the victuals which came from his table to the dogs, and refused to taste any thing themselves which had been polluted by the contact of a person in his situation. They were taught to do so, it may very safely be presumed, by the clergy of his own dominions.
28The claim of collating to the great benefices of the church, a claim in defence of which the court of Rome had frequently shaken, and sometimes overturned the thrones of some of the greatest sovereigns in Christendom, was in this manner either restrained or modified, or given up altogether, in many different parts of Europe, even before the time of the reformation. As the clergy had now less influence over the people, so the state had more influence over the clergy. The clergy therefore had both less power and less inclination to disturb the state.
29The authority of the church of Rome was in this state of declension, when the disputes which gave birth to the reformation, began in Germany, and soon spread themselves through every part of Europe. The new doctrines were every where received with a high degree of popular favour. They were propagated with all that enthusiastic zeal which commonly animates the spirit of party, when it attacks established authority.26 The teachers of those doctrines, though perhaps in other respects not more learned than many of the divines who defended the established church, seem in general to have been better acquainted with ecclesiastical history, and with the origin and progress of that system of opinions upon which the authority of the church was established, and they had thereby some advantage in almost every dispute. The austerity of their manners gave them authority with the common people, who contrasted the strict regularity of their conduct with the disorderly lives of the greater part of their own clergy.27 They possessed too in a much higher degree than their adversaries, all the arts of popularity and of gaining proselytes, arts which the lofty and dignified sons of the church had long neglected, as being to them in a great measure useless.28 The reason of the new doctrines recommended them to some, their novelty to many; the hatred and contempt of the established clergy to a still greater number; but the zealous, passionate and fanatical, though frequently coarse and rustick eloquence with which they were almost every where inculcated, recommended them to by far the greatest number.
30The success of the new doctrines was almost every where so great, that the princes who at that time happened to be on bad terms with the court of Rome, were by means of them easily enabled, in their own dominions, to overturn the church, which, having lost the respect and veneration of the inferior ranks of people, could make scarce any resistance. The court of Rome had disobliged some of the smaller princes in the northern parts of Germany, whom it had probably considered as too insignificant to be worth the managing. They universally, therefore, established the reformation in their own dominions. The tyranny of Christiern II. and of Troll archbishop of Upsal, enabled Gustavus Vasa to expel them both from Sweden. The pope favoured the tyrant and the archbishop, and Gustavus Vasa found no difficulty in establishing the reformation in Sweden. Christiern II. was afterwards deposed from the throne of Denmark, where his conduct had rendered him as odious as in Sweden. The pope, however, was still disposed to favour him, and Frederick of Holstein, who had mounted the throne in his stead, revenged himself by following the example of Gustavus Vasa. The magistrates of Berne and Zurich, who had no particular quarrel with the pope, established with great ease the reformation in their respective cantons, where just before some of the clergy had, by an imposture somewhat grosser than ordinary, rendered the whole order both odious and contemptible.
31In this critical situation of its affairs, the papal court was at sufficient pains to cultivate the friendship of the powerful sovereigns of France and Spain, of whom the latter was at that time emperor of Germany. With their assistance it was enabled, though not without great difficulty and much bloodshed, either to suppress altogether, or to obstruct very much the progress of the reformation in their dominions. It was well enough inclined too to be complaisant to the king of England. But from the circumstances of the times, it could not be so without giving offence to a still greater sovereign, Charles V. king of Spain and emperor of Germany. Henry VIII. accordingly, though he did not embrace himself the greater part of the doctrines of the reformation, was yet enabled, by ltheir general prevalencel , to suppress all the monasteries, and to abolish the authority of the church of Rome in his dominions. That he should go so far, though he went no further, gave some satisfaction to the patrons of the reformation, who having got possession of the government in the reign of his son and successor, completed without any difficulty the work which Henry VIII. had begun.
32In some countries, as in Scotland, where the government was weak, unpopular, and not very firmly established, the reformation was strong enough to overturn, not only the church, but the state likewise for attempting to support the church.
33Among the followers of the reformation, dispersed in all the different countries of Europe, there was no general tribunal, which, like that of the court of Rome, or an œcumenical council, could settle all disputes among them, and with irresistible authority prescribe to all of them the precise limits of orthodoxy. When the followers of the reformation in one country, therefore, happened to differ from their brethren in another, as they had no common judge to appeal to, the dispute could never be decided; and many such disputes arose among them. Those concerning the government of the church, and the right of conferring ecclesiastical benefices, were perhaps the most interesting to the peace and welfare of civil society. They gave birth accordingly to the two principal parties or sects among the followers of the reformation, the Lutheran and Calvinistic sects, the only sects among them, of which the doctrine and discipline have ever yet been established by law in any part of Europe.
34The followers of Luther, together with what is called the church of England, preserved more or less of the episcopal government, established subordination among the clergy, gave the sovereign the disposal of all the bishopricks, and other consistorial benefices within his dominions, and thereby rendered him the real head of the church; and without depriving the bishop of the right of collating to the smaller benefices within his diocese, they, even to those benefices, not only admitted, but favoured the right of presentation both in the sovereign and in all other lay–patrons. This system of church government was from the beginning favourable to peace and good order, and to submission to the civil sovereign. It has never, accordingly, been the occasion of any tumult or civil commotion in any country in which it has once been established. The church of England in particular has always valued herself, with great reason, upon the unexceptionable loyalty of her principles. Under such a government the clergy naturally endeavour to recommend themselves to the sovereign, to the court, and to the nobility and gentry of the country, by whose influence they chiefly expect to obtain preferment. They pay court to those patrons, sometimes, no doubt, by the vilest flattery and assentation, but frequently too by cultivating all those arts which best deserve, and which are therefore most likely to gain them the esteem of people of rank and fortune; by their knowledge in all the different branches of useful and ornamental learning, by the decent liberality of their manners, by the social good humour of their conversation, and by their avowed contempt of those absurd and hypocritical austerities which fanatics inculcate and pretend to practise, in order to draw upon themselves the veneration, and upon the greater part of men of rank and fortune, who avow that they do not practise them, the abhorrence of the common people. Such a clergy, however, while they pay their court in this manner to the higher ranks of life, are very apt to neglect altogether the means of maintaining their influence and authority with the lower. They are listened to, esteemed and respected by their superiors; but before their inferiors they are frequently incapable of defending, effectually and to the conviction of such hearers, their own sober and moderate doctrines against the most ignorant enthusiast who chuses to attack them.
35The followers of Zuinglius, or more properly those of Calvin, on the contrary, bestowed upon the people of each parish, whenever the church became vacant, the right of electing their own pastor; and established at the same time the most perfect equality among the clergy. The former part of this institution, as long as it remained in vigour, seems to have been productive of nothing but disorder and confusion, and to have tended equally to corrupt the morals both of the clergy and of the people. The latter part seems never to have had any effects but what were perfectly agreeable.
36As long as the people of each parish preserved the right of electing their own pastors, they acted almost always under the influence of the clergy, and generally of the most factious and fanatical of the order. The clergy, in order to preserve their influence in those popular elections, became, or affected to become, many of them, fanatics themselves, encouraged fanaticism among the people, and gave the preference almost always to the most fanatical candidate. So small a matter as the appointment of a parish priest occasioned almost always a violent contest, not only in one parish, but in all the neighbouring parishes, who seldom failed to take mpartm in the quarrel. When the parish happened to be situated in a great city, it divided all the inhabitants into two parties; and when that city happened either to constitute itself a little republick, or to be the head and capital of a little republick, as is the case with many of the considerable cities in Switzerland and Holland, every paltry dispute of this kind, over and above exasperating the animosity of all their other factions, threatened to leave behind it both a new schism in the church, and a new faction in the state. In those small republicks, therefore, the magistrate very soon found it necessary, for the sake of preserving the publick peace, to assume to himself the right of presenting to all vacant benefices. In Scotland, the most extensive country in which this presbyterian form of church government has ever been established, the rights of patronage were in effect abolished by the act which established presbytery in the beginning of the reign of William III. That act at least put it in the power of certain classes of people in each parish, to purchase, for a very small price, the right of electing their own pastor. The constitution which this act established was allowed to subsist for about two and twenty years, but was abolished by the 10th of queen Ann, ch. 12.29 on account of the confusions and disorders which this more popular mode of election had almost every where occasioned. In so extensive a country as Scotland, however, a tumult in a remote parish was not so likely to give disturbance to government, as in a smaller state. The 10th of queen Ann restored the rights of patronage. But though in Scotland the law gives the benefice without any exception to the person presented by the patron; yet the church requires sometimes (for she has not in this respect been very uniform in her decisions) a certain concurrence of the people, before she will confer upon the presentee what is called the cure of souls, or the ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the parish. She sometimes at least, from an affected concern for the peace of the parish, delays the settlement till this concurrence can be procured. The private tampering of some of the neighbouring clergy, sometimes to procure, but more frequently to prevent this concurrence, and the popular arts which they cultivate in order to enable them upon such occasions to tamper more effectually, are perhaps the causes which principally keep up whatever remains of the old fanatical spirit, either in the clergy or in the people of Scotland.
37The equality which the presbyterian form of church government establishes among the clergy, consists, first, in the equality of authority or ecclesiastical jurisdiction; and, secondly, in the equality of benefice. In all presbyterian churches the equality of authority is perfect: that of benefice is not so. The difference, however, between one benefice and another, is seldom so considerable as commonly to tempt the possessor even of the small nonen to pay court to his patron, by the vile arts of flattery and assentation, in order to get a better. In all the presbyterian churches, where the rights of patronage are thoroughly established, it is by nobler and better arts that the established clergy in general endeavour to gain the favour of their superiors; by their learning, by the irreproachable regularity of their life, and by the faithful and diligent discharge of their duty. Their patrons even frequently complain of the independency of their spirit, which they are apt to construe into ingratitude for past favours, but which at worst, perhaps, is seldom any more than that indifference which naturally arises from the consciousness that no further favours of the kind are ever to be expected. There is scarce perhaps to be found any where in Europe a more learned, decent, independent, and respectable set of men, than the greater part of the presbyterian clergy of Holland, Geneva, Switzerland, and Scotland.
38Where the church benefices are all nearly equal, none of them can be very great, and this mediocrity of benefice, though it may no doubt be carried too far, has, however, some very agreeable effects. Nothing but the most exemplary morals can give dignity to a man of small fortune. The vices of levity and vanity necessarily render him ridiculous, and are, besides, almost as ruinous to him as they are to the common people. In his own conduct, therefore, he is obliged to follow that system of morals which the common people respect the most. He gains their esteem and affection by that plan of life which his own interest and situation would lead him to follow. The common people look upon him with that kindness with which we naturally regard one who approaches somewhat to our own condition, but who, we think, ought to be in a higher. Their kindness naturally provokes his kindness. He becomes careful to instruct them, and attentive to assist and relieve them. He does not even despise the prejudices of people who are disposed to be so favourable to him, and never treats them with those contemptuous and arrogant airs which we so often meet with in the proud dignitaries of opulent and well–endowed churches. The presbyterian clergy, accordingly, have more influence over the minds of the common people than perhaps the clergy of any other established church. It is accordingly in presbyterian countries only that we ever find the common people converted, without persecution, compleatly, and almost to a man, to the established church.
39In countries where church benefices are the greater part of them very moderate, a chair in a university is generally a better establishment than a church benefice. The universities have, in this case, the picking and chusing of their members from all the churchmen of the country, who, in every country, constitute by far the most numerous class of men of letters. Where church benefices, on the contrary, are many of them very considerable, the church naturally draws from the universities the greater part of their eminent men of letters; who generally find some patron who does himself honour by procuring them church preferment. In the former situation we are likely to find the universities filled with the most eminent men of letters that are to be found in the country. In the latter we are likely to find few eminent men among them, and those few among the youngest members of the society, who are likely too to be drained away from it, before they can have acquired experience and knowledge enough to be of much use to it. It is observed by Mr. de Voltaire, that father Porrée, a jesuit of no great eminence in the republick of letters, was the only professor they had ever had in France whose works were worth the reading.30 In a country which has produced so many eminent men of letters, it must appear somewhat singular that scarce one of them should have been a professor in a university. The famous Gassendi was, in the beginning of his life, a professor in the university of Aix. Upon the first dawning of his genius, it was represented to him, that by going into the church he could easily find a much more quiet and comfortable subsistence, as well as a better situation for pursuing his studies; and he immediately followed the advice. The observation of Mr. de Voltaire may be applied, I believe, not only to France, but to all other Roman catholick countries. We very rarely find, in any of them, an eminent man of letters who is a professor in a university, except, perhaps, in the professions of law and physick; professions from which the church is not so likely to draw them. After the church of Rome, that of England is by far the richest and best endowed church in Christendom. In England, accordingly, the church is continually draining the universities of all their best and ablest members; and an old college tutor, who is known and distinguished in Europe as an eminent man of letters, is as rarely to be found there as in any Roman catholick country.31 In Geneva, on the contrary, in the protestant cantons of Switzerland, in the protestant countries of Germany, in Holland, in Scotland, in Sweden, and Denmark, the most eminent men of letters whom those countries have produced, have, not all indeed, but the far greater part of them, been professors in universities. In those countries the universities are continually draining the church of all its most eminent men of letters.
40It may, perhaps, be worth while to remark, that, if we except the poets, a few orators, and a few historians, the far greater part of the other eminent men of letters, both of Greece and Rome, appear to have been either publick or private teachers; generally either of philosophy or of rhetorick.32 This remark will be found to hold true from the days of Lysias33 and Isocrates, of Plato and Aristotle, down to those of Plutarch and Epictetus, of Suetonius and Quintilian.o To impose upon any man the necessity of teaching, year after year, any particular branch of science, seems, in reality, to be the most effectual method for rendering him compleatly master of it himself. By being obliged to go every year over the same ground, if he is good for any thing, he necessarily becomes, in a few years, well acquainted with every part of it: and if upon any particular point he should form too hasty an opinion one year, when he comes in the course of his lectures to re–consider the same subject the year thereafter, he is very likely to correct it. As to be a teacher of science is certainly the natural employment of a mere man of letters; so is it likewise, perhaps, the education which is most likely to render him a man of solid learning and knowledge. The mediocrity of church benefices naturally tends to draw the greater part of men of letters, in the country where it takes place, to the employment in which they can be the most useful to the publick, and, at the same time, to give them the best education, perhaps, they are capable of receiving. It tends to render their learning both as solid as possible, and as useful as possible.
41The revenue of every established church, such parts of it excepted as may arise from particular lands or manors, is a branch, it ought to be observed, of the general revenue of the state, which is thus diverted to a purpose very different from the defence of the state. The tythe, for example, is a real land–tax, which puts it out of the power of the proprietors of land to contribute so largely towards the defence of the state as they otherwise might be able to do.34 The rent of land, however, is, according to some, the sole fund, and, according to others, the principal fund, from which, in all great monarchies, the exigencies of the state must be ultimately supplied.35 The more of this fund that is given to the church, the less, it is evident, can be spared to the state. It may be laid down as a certain maxim, that, all other things being supposed equal, the richer the church, the poorer must necessarily be, either the sovereign on the one hand, or the people on the other; and, in all cases, the less able must the state be to defend itself. In several protestant countries, particularly in all the protestant cantons of Switzerland, the revenue which antiently belonged to the Roman catholick church, the tythes and church lands, has been found a fund sufficient, not only to afford competent salaries to the established clergy, but to defray with little or no addition, all the other expences of the state. The magistrates of the powerful canton of Berne, in particular, have accumulated out of the savings from this fund a very large sum, supposed to amount to several millions, part of which is deposited in a publick treasure, and part is placed at interest in what are called the publick funds of the different indebted nations of Europe, chiefly in those of France and Great Britain.36 What may be the amount of the whole expence which the church, either of Berne, or of any other protestant canton, costs the state, I do not pretend to know. By a very exact account it appears, that, in 1755, the whole revenue of the clergy of the church of Scotland, including their glebe or church lands, and the rent of their manses or dwelling houses, estimated according to a reasonable valuation, amounted only to 68,514l. 1s. 5d.1/12. This very moderate revenue affords a decent subsistence to nine hundred and forty–four ministers. The whole expence of the church, including what is occasionally laid out for the building and reparation of churches, and of the manses of ministers, cannot well be supposed to exceed eighty or eighty–five thousand pounds a–year. The most opulent church in Christendom does not maintain better the uniformity of faith, the fervour of devotion, the spirit of order, regularity, and austere morals in the great body of the people, than this very poorly endowed church of Scotland. All the good effects, both civil and religious, which an established church can be supposed to produce, are produced by it as compleatly as by any other. The greater part of the protestant churches of Switzerland, which in general are not better endowed than the church of Scotland, produce those effects in a still higher degree. In the greater part of the protestant cantons, there is not a single person to be found who does not profess himself to be of the established church. If he professes himself to be of any other, indeed, the law obliges him to leave the canton. But so severe, or rather indeed so oppressive a law, could never have been executed in such free countries, had not the diligence of the clergy before–hand converted to the established church the whole body of the people, with the exception of, perhaps, a few individuals only. In some parts of Switzerland, accordingly, where, from the accidental union of a protestant and Roman catholick country, the conversion has not been so compleat, both religions are not only tolerated but established by law.
42The proper performance of every service seems to require that its pay or recompence should be, as exactly as possible, proportioned to the nature of the service. If any service is very much under–paid, it is very apt to suffer by the meanness and incapacity of the greater part of those who are employed in it. If it is very much over–paid, it is apt to suffer, perhaps, still more by their negligence and idleness.37 A man of a large revenue, whatever may be his profession, thinks he ought to live like other men of large revenues; and to spend a great part of his time in festivity, in vanity, and in dissipation. But in a clergyman this train of life not only consumes the time which ought to be employed in the duties of his function, but in the eyes of the common people destroys almost entirely that sanctity of character which can alone enable him to perform those duties with proper weight and authority.38
[V.i.h] part iv
Of the Expence of supporting the Dignity of the Sovereign
1Over and above the aexpencea necessary for enabling the sovereign to perform his several duties, a certain expence is requisite for the support of his dignity. This expence varies both with the different periods of improvement, and with the different forms of government.
2In an opulent and improved society, where all the different orders of people are growing every day more expensive in their houses, in their furniture, in their tables, in their dress, and in their equipage; it cannot well be expected that the sovereign should alone hold out against the fashion. He naturally, therefore, or rather necessarily becomes more expensive in all those different articles too. His dignity even seems to require that he should become so.1
3As in point of dignity, a monarch is more raised above his subjects than the chief magistrate of any republick is ever supposed to be above his fellowcitizens; so a greater expence is necessary for supporting that higher dignity. We naturally expect more splendor in the court of a king, than in the mansion–house of a doge or burgo–master.
[V.i.i] Conclusion of the Chapter
1The expence of defending the society, and that of supporting the dignity of the chief magistrate, are both laid out for the general benefit of the whole society. It is reasonable, therefore, that they should be defrayed by the general contribution of the whole society, all the different members contributing, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities.
2The expence of the administration of justice too, may, no doubt, be considered as laid out for the benefit of the whole society. There is no impropriety, therefore, in its being defrayed by the general contribution of the whole society. The persons, however, who give occasion to this expence are those who, by their injustice in one way or another, make it necessary to seek redress or protection from the courts of justice. The persons again most immediately benefited by this expence, are those whom the courts of justice either restore to their rights, or maintain in their rights. The expence of the administration of justice, therefore, may very properly be defrayed by the particular contribution of one or other, or both of those two different sets of persons, according as different occasions may require, that is, by the fees of court. It cannot be necessary to have recourse to the general contribution of the whole society, except for the conviction of those criminals who have not themselves any estate or fund sufficient for paying those fees.
3Those local or provincial expences of which the benefit is local or provincial (what is laid out, for example, upon the police of a particular town or district) ought to be defrayed by a local or provincial revenue, and ought to be no burden upon the general revenue of the society. It is unjust that the whole society should contribute towards an expence of which the benefit is confined to a part of the society.
4The expence of maintaining good roads and communications is, no doubt, beneficial to the whole society, and may, therefore, without any injustice, be defrayed by the general contribution of the whole society. This expence, however, is most immediately and directly beneficial to those who travel or carry goods from one place to another, and to those who consume such goods. The turnpike tolls in England, and the duties called peages in other countries,1 lay it altogether upon those two different sets of people, and thereby discharge the general revenue of the society from a very considerable burden.
5The expence of the institutions for education and religious instruction, is likewise, no doubt, beneficial to the whole society, and may, therefore, without injustice, be defrayed by the general contribution of the whole society. This expence, however, might perhaps with equal propriety, and even with some advantage, be defrayed altogether by those who receive the immediate benefit of such education and instruction, or by the voluntary contribution of those who think they have occasion for either the one or the other.
6When the institutions or publick works which are beneficial to the whole society, either cannot be maintained altogether, or are not maintained altogether by the contribution of such particular members of the society as are most immediately benefited by them, the deficiency must in most cases be made up by the general contribution of the whole society. The general revenue of the society, over and above defraying the expence of defending the society, and of supporting the dignity of the chief magistrate, must make up for the deficiency of many particular branches of revenue. The sources of this general or publick revenue, I shall endeavour to explain in the following chapter.
Of the Sources of the general or publick Revenue of the Society
1The revenue which must defray, not only the expence of defending the society and of supporting the dignity of the chief magistrate, but all the other necessary expences of government, for which the constitution of the state has not provided any particular revenue, may be drawn, either, first, from some fund which peculiarly belongs to the sovereign or commonwealth, and which is independent of the revenue of the people; or, secondly, from the revenue of the people.
Of the Funds or Sources of Revenue which may peculiarly belong to the Sovereign or Commonwealth
1The funds or sources of revenue which may peculiarly belong to the sovereign or commonwealth must consist, either in stock, or in land.
2 The sovereign, like any other owner of stock, may derive a revenue from it, either by employing it himself, or by lending it. His revenue is in the one case profit, in the other interest.
3The revenue of a Tartar or Arabian chief consists in profit. It arises principally from the milk and increase of his own herds and flocks, of which he himself superintends the management, and is the principal shepherd or herdsman of his own horde or tribe. It is, however, in this earliest and rudest state of civil government only that profit has ever made the principal part of the publick revenue of a monarchical state.1
4Small republicks have sometimes derived a considerable revenue from the profit of mercantile projects. The republick of Hamburgh is said to do so from the profits of a publick wine cellar and apothecary’s shop* .2 The state cannot be very great of which the sovereign has leisure to carry on the trade of a wine merchant or apothecary. The profit of a publick bank has been a source of revenue to more considerable states. It has been so not only to Hamburgh, but to Venice and Amsterdam.3 A revenue of this kind has even by some people been thought not below the attention of so great an empire as that of Great Britain. Reckoning the ordinary dividend of the bank of England at five and a half per cent.4 and its capital at ten millions seven hundred and eighty thousand pounds,5 the neat annual profit, after paying the expence of management, must amount, it is said, to five hundred and ninety–two thousand nine hundred pounds. Government, it is pretended, could borrow this capital at three per cent. interest, and by taking the management of the bank into its own hands, might make a clear profit of two hundred and sixty–nine thousand five hundred pounds a year. The orderly, vigilant, and parsimonious administration of such aristocracies as those of Venice and Amsterdam, is extremely proper, it appears from experience, for the management of a mercantile project of this kind. But whether such a government as that of England; which, whatever may be its virtues, has never been famous for good œconomy; which, in time of peace, has generally conducted itself with the slothful and negligent profusion that is perhaps natural to monarchies; and in time of war has constantly acted with all the thoughtless extravagance that democracies are apt to fall into; could be safely trusted with the management of such a project must at least be a good deal more doubtful.6
5The post office is properly a mercantile project.7 The government advances the expence of establishing the different offices, and of buying or hiring the necessary horses or carriages, and is repaid with a large profit by the duties upon what is carried. It is perhaps the only mercantile project which has been successfully managed by, I believe, every sort of government. The capital to be advanced is not very considerable. There is no mystery in the business. The returns are not only certain, but immediate.
6Princes, however, have frequently engaged in many other mercantile projects, and have been willing, like private persons, to mend their fortunes by becoming adventurers in the common branches of trade. They have scarce ever succeeded. The profusion with which the affairs of princes are always managed, renders it almost impossible that they should. The agents of a prince regard the wealth of their master as inexhaustible; are careless at what price they buy; are careless at what price they sell; are careless at what expence they transport his goods from one place to another. Those agents frequently live with the profusion of princes, and sometimes too, in spite of that profusion, and by a proper method of making up their accounts, acquire the fortunes of princes. It was thus, as we are told by Machiavel, that the agents of Lorenzo of Medicis, not a prince of mean abilities, carried on his trade. The republick of Florence was several times obliged to pay the debt into which their extravagance had involved him. He found it convenient, accordingly, to give up the business of merchant, the business to which his family had originally owed their fortune, and in the latter part of his life to employ both what remained of that fortune, and the revenue of the state of which he had the disposal, in projects and expences more suitable to his station.8
7No two characters seem more inconsistent than those of trader and sovereign. If the trading spirit of the English East India company renders them very bad sovereigns; the spirit of sovereignty seems to have rendered them equally bad traders. While they were traders only, they managed their trade successfully, and were able to pay from their profits a moderate dividend to the proprietors of their stock. Since they became sovereigns, with a revenue which, it is said, was originally more than three millions sterling, they have been obliged to beg the extraordinary assistance of government in order to avoid immediate bankruptcy. In their former situation, their servants in India considered themselves as the clerks of merchants: In their present situation, those servants consider themselves as the ministers of sovereigns.9
8A state may sometimes derive some part of its publick revenue from the interest of money, as well as from the profits of stock. If it has amassed a treasure, it may lend a part of that treasure, either to foreign states, or to its own subjects.10
9The canton of Berne derives a considerable revenue by lending a part of its treasure to foreign states; that is, by placing it in the publick funds of the different indebted nations of Europe, chiefly in those of France and England.11 The security of this revenue must depend, first, upon the security of the funds in which it is placed, or upon the good faith of the government which has the management of them; and, secondly, upon the certainty or probability of the continuance of peace with the debtor nation. In the case of a war, the very first act of hostility, on the part of the debtor nation, might be the forfeiture of the funds of its creditor. This policy of lending money to foreign states is, so far as I know, peculiar to the canton of Berne.
10The city of Hamburgh* has established a sort of publick pawn–shop, which lends money to the subjects of the state upon pledges at six per cent. interest. This pawn–shop or Lombard, as it is called, affords a revenue, it is pretended, to the state of a hundred and fifty thousand crowns, which, at four–and–sixpence the crown, amounts to 33,750l. sterling.
11The government of Pensylvania, without amassing any treasure, invented a method of lending, not money indeed, but what is equivalent to money, to its subjects. By advancing to private people, at interest, and upon land security to double the value, paper bills of credit to be redeemed fifteen years after their date, and in the mean time made transferable from hand to hand like bank notes, and declared by act of assembly to be a legal tender in all payments from one inhabitant of the province to another, it raised a moderate revenue, which went a considerable way towards defraying an annual expence of about 4,500l. the whole ordinary expence of that frugal and orderly government.12 The success of an expedient of this kind must have depended upon three different circumstances; first, upon the demand for some other instrument of commerce, besides gold and silver money; or upon the demand for such a quantity of consumable stock, as could not be had without sending abroad the greater part of their gold and silver money, in order to purchase it; secondly, upon the good credit of the government which made use of this expedient; and, thirdly, upon the moderation with which it was used, the whole value of the paper bills of credit never exceeding that of the gold and silver money which would have been necessary for carrying on their circulation, had there been no paper bills of credit. The same expedient was upon different occasions adopted by several other American colonies: but, from want of this moderation, it produced, in the greater part of them, much more disorder than conveniency.
12The unstable and perishable nature of stock and credit, however, render them unfit to be trusted to, as the principal funds of that sure, steady and permanent revenue, which can alone give security and dignity to government. The government of no great nation, that was advanced beyond the shepherd state, seems ever to have derived the greater part of its publick revenue from such sources.
13 Land is a fund of a more stable and permanent nature; and the rent of publick lands, accordingly, has been the principal source of the publick revenue of many a great nation that was much advanced beyond the shepherd state.13 From the produce or rent of the publick lands, the ancient republicks of Greece and Italy derived, for a long time, the greater part of that revenue which defrayed the necessary expences of the commonwealth. The rent of the crown lands constituted for a long time the greater part of the revenue of the ancient sovereigns of Europe.
14War and the preparation for war, are the two circumstances which in modern times occasion the greater part of the necessary expence of all great states. But in the ancient republicks of Greece and Italy every citizen was a soldier, who both served and prepared himself for service at his own expence. Neither of those two circumstances, therefore, could occasion any very considerable expence to the state.14 The rent of a very moderate landed estate might be fully sufficient for defraying all the other necessary expences of government.15
15In the ancient monarchies of Europe, the manners and customs of the times sufficiently prepared the great body of the people for war;16 and when they took the field, they were, by the condition of their feudal tenures, to be maintained, either at their own expence, or at that of their immediate lords, without bringing any new charge upon the sovereign. The other expences of government were, the greater part of them, very moderate. The administration of justice, it has been shown, instead of being a cause of expence, was a source of revenue.17 The labour of the country people, for three days before and for three days after harvest, was thought a fund sufficient for making and maintaining all the bridges, highways, and other publick works which the commerce of the country was supposed to require. In those days the principal expence of the sovereign seems to have consisted in the maintenance of his own family and houshold. The officers of his houshold, accordingly, were then the great officers of state. The lord treasurer received his rents. The lord steward and lord chamberlain looked after the expence of his family. The care of his stables was committed to the lord constable and the lord marshal. His houses were all built in the form of castles, and seem to have been the principal fortresses which he possessed. The keepers of those houses or castles might be considered as a sort of military governors. They seem to have been the only military officers whom it was necessary to maintain in time of peace. In these circumstances the rent of a great landed estate might, upon ordinary occasions, very well defray all the necessary expences of government.18
16In the present state of the greater part of the civilized monarchies of Europe, the rent of all the lands in the country, managed as they probably would be if they all belonged to one proprietor, would scarce perhaps amount to the ordinary revenue which they levy upon the people even in peaceable times. The ordinary revenue of Great Britain, for example, including not only what is necessary for defraying the current expence of the year, but for paying the interest of the publick debts, and for sinking a part of the capital of those debts, amounts to upwards of ten millions a year. But the land–tax, at four shillings in the pound, falls short of two millions a year.19 This land–tax, as it is called, however, is supposed to be one–fifth, not only of the rent of all the land, but of that of all the houses, and of the interest of all the capital stock of Great Britain, that part of it only excepted which is either lent to the publick, or employed as farming stock in the cultivation of land. A very considerable part of the produce of this tax arises from the rent of houses, and the interest of capital stock. The land–tax of the city of London, for example, at four shillings in the pound, amounts to 123,399l. 6s. 7d. That of the city of Westminster, to 63,092l. 1s. 5d. That of the palaces of Whitehall and St. James’s, to 30,754l. 6s. 3d. A certain proportion of the land–tax is in the same manner assessed upon all the other cities and towns corporate in the kingdom, and arises almost altogether, either from the rent of houses, or from what is supposed to be the interest of trading and capital stock. According to the estimation, therefore, by which Great Britain is rated to the land–tax, the whole mass of revenue arising from the rent of all the lands, from that of all the houses, and from the interest of all the capital stock, that part of it only excepted which is, either lent to the publick, or employed in the cultivation of land, does not exceed ten millions sterling a year, the ordinary revenue which government levies upon the people even in peaceable times. The estimation by which Great Britain is rated to the land–tax is, no doubt, taking the whole kingdom at an average, very much below the real value; though in several particular counties and districts it is said to be nearly equal to that value. The rent of the lands alone, exclusive of that of houses, and of the interest of stock, has by many people been estimated at twenty millions, an estimation made in a great measure at random, and which, I apprehend, is as likely to be above as below the truth.20 But if the lands of Great Britain, in the present state of their cultivation, do not afford a rent of more than twenty millions a year, they could not well afford the half, most probably not the fourth part of that rent, if they all belonged to a single proprietor, and were put under the negligent, expensive, and oppressive management of his factors and agents. The crown lands of Great Britain do not at present afford the fourth part of the rent, which could probably be drawn from them, if they were the property of private persons. If the crown lands were more extensive, it is probable, they would be still worse managed.
17The revenue which the great body of the people derives from land is in proportion, not to the rent, but to the produce of the land. The whole annual produce of the land of every country, if we except what is reserved for seed, is either annually consumed by the great body of the people, or exchanged for something else that is consumed by them. Whatever keeps down the produce of the land below what it would otherwise rise to, keeps down the revenue of the great body of the people, still more than it does that of the proprietors of land. The rent of land, that portion of the produce which belongs to the proprietors, is scarce any where in Great Britain supposed to be more than a third part of the whole produce. If the land, which in one state of cultivation affords a rent of ten millions sterling a year, would in another afford a rent of twenty millions; the rent being, in both cases, supposed a third part of the produce;21 the revenue of the proprietors would be less than it otherwise might be by ten millions a year only; but the revenue of the great body of the people would be less than it otherwise might be by thirty millions a year, deducting only what would be necessary for seed. The population of the country would be less by the number of people which thirty millions a year, deducting always the seed, could maintain, according to the particular mode of living and expence which might take place in the different ranks of men among whom the remainder was distributed.
18Though there is not at present, in Europe, any civilized state of any kind which derives the greater part of its publick revenue from the rent of lands which are the property of the state; yet, in all the great monarchies of Europe, there are still many large tracts of land which belong to the crown. They are generally forest; and sometimes forest where, after travelling several miles, you will scarce find a single tree; a mere waste and loss of country in respect both of produce and population. In every great monarchy of Europe the sale of the crown lands would produce a very large sum of money, which, if applied to the payment of the publick debts, would deliver from mortgage a much greater revenue than any which those lands have ever afforded to the crown. In countries where lands, improved and cultivated very highly, and yielding at the time of sale as great a rent as can easily be got from them, commonly sell at thirty years purchase; the unimproved, uncultivated, and low–rented crown lands might well be expected to sell at forty, fifty, or sixty years purchase. The crown might immediately enjoy the revenue which this great price would redeem from mortgage. In the course of a few years it would probably enjoy another revenue. When the crown lands had become private property, they would, in the course of a few years, become well–improved and well–cultivated.22 The increase of their produce would increase the population of the country, by augmenting the revenue and consumption of the people. But the revenue which the crown derives from the duties of customs and excise, would necessarily increase with the revenue and consumption of the people.
19The revenue which, in any civilized monarchy, the crown derives from the crown lands, though it appears to cost nothing to individuals, in reality costs more to the society than perhaps any other equal revenue which the crown enjoys. It would, in all cases, be for the interest of the society to replace this revenue to the crown by some other equal revenue, and to divide the lands among the people, which could not well be done better, perhaps, than by exposing them to publick sale.
20Lands, for the purposes of pleasure and magnificence, parks, gardens, publick walks, &c. possessions which are every where considered as causes of expence, not as sources of revenue, seem to be the only lands which, in a great and civilized monarchy, ought to belong to the crown.
21Public stock and publick lands, therefore, the two sources of revenue which may peculiarly belong to the sovereign or commonwealth, being both improper and insufficient funds for defraying the necessary expence of any great and civilized state; it remains that this expence must, the greater part of it, be defrayed by taxes of one kind or another; the people contributing a part of their own private revenue in order to make up a publick revenue to the sovereign or commonwealth.
1The private revenue of individuals, it has been shewn in the first book of this inquiry, arises ultimately from three different sources; Rent, Profit, and Wages.1 Every tax must finally be paid from some one or other of those three different sorts of revenue, or from all of them indifferently. I shall endeavour to give the best account I can, first, of those taxes which, it is intended, should fall upon rent; secondly, of those which, it is intended, should fall upon profit; thirdly, of those which, it is intended, should fall upon wages; and, fourthly, of those which, it is intended, should fall indifferently upon all those three different sources of private revenue. The particular consideration of each of these four different sorts of taxes will divide the second part of the present chapter into four articles, three of which will require several other subdivisions. Many of those taxes, it will appear from the following review, are not finally paid from the fund, or source of revenue, upon which it was intended they should fall.
2Before I enter upon the examination of particular taxes, it is necessary to premise the four following maxims with regard to taxes in general.
3I. The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state. The expence of government to the individuals of a great nation, is like the expence of management to the joint tenants of a great estate, who are all obliged to contribute in proportion to their respective interests in the estate. In the observation or neglect of this maxim consists, what is called the equality or inequality of taxation. Every tax, it must be observed once for all, which falls finally upon one only of the three sorts of revenue above–mentioned, is necessarily unequal, in so far as it does not affect the other two. In the following examination of different taxes I shall seldom take much further notice of this sort of inequality, but shall, in most cases, confine my observations to that inequality which is occasioned by a particular tax falling unequally even upon that particular sort of private revenue which is affected by it.
4II. The tax which each individual is bound to pay ought to be certain, and not arbitrary. The time of payment, the manner of payment, the quantity to be paid, ought all to be clear and plain to the contributor, and to every other person. Where it is otherwise, every person subject to the tax is put more or less in the power of the tax–gatherer, who can either aggravate the tax upon any obnoxious contributor, or extort, by the terror of such aggravation, some present or perquisite to himself. The uncertainty of taxation encourages the insolence and favours the corruption of an order of men who are naturally unpopular, even where they are neither insolent nor corrupt. The certainty of what each individual ought to pay is, in taxation, a matter of so great importance, that a very considerable degree of inequality, it appears, I believe, from the experience of all nations, is not near so great an evil as a very small degree of uncertainty.
5III. Every tax ought to be levied at the time, or in the manner in which it is most likely to be convenient for the contributor to pay it. A tax upon the rent of land or of houses, payable at the same term at which such rents are usually paid, is levied at the time when it is most likely to be convenient for the contributor to pay; or, when he is most likely to have wherewithal to pay. Taxes upon such consumable goods as are articles of luxury, are all finally paid by the consumer, and generally in a manner that is very convenient for him. He pays them by little and little, as he has occasion to buy the goods. As he is at liberty too, either to buy, or not to buy as he pleases, it must be his own fault if he ever suffers any considerable inconveniency from such taxes.2
6IV. Every tax ought to be so contrived as both to take out and to keep out of the pockets of the people as little as possible, over and above what it brings into the publick treasury of the state. A tax may either take out or keep out of the pockets of the people a great deal more than it brings into the publick treasury, in the four following ways. First, the levying of it may require a great number of officers, whose salaries may eat up the greater part of the produce of the tax, and whose perquisites may impose another additional tax upon the people. Secondly, it may obstruct the industry of the people, and discourage them from applying to certain branches of business which might give maintenance and employment to great multitudes. While it obliges the people to pay, it may thus diminish, or perhaps destroy some of the funds, which might enable them more easily to do so. Thirdly, by the forfeitures and other penalties which those unfortunate individuals incur who attempt unsuccessfully to evade the tax, it may frequently ruin them, and thereby put an end to the benefit which the community might have received from the employment of their capitals. An injudicious tax offers a great temptation to smuggling.3 But the penalties of smuggling must rise in proportion to the temptation. The law, contrary to all the ordinary principles of justice, first creates the temptation, and then punishes those who yield to it; and it commonly enhances the punishment too in proportion to the very circumstance which ought certainly to alleviate it, the temptation to commit the crime* . Fourthly, by subjecting the people to the frequent visits, and the odious examination of the tax–gatherers,4 it may expose them to much unnecessary trouble, vexation, and oppression; and though vexation is not, strictly speaking, expence, it is certainly equivalent to the expence at which every man would be willing to redeem himself from it. It is in some one or other of these four different ways that taxes are frequently so much more burdensome to the people than they are beneficial to the sovereign.
7The evident justice and utility of the foregoing maxims have recommended them more or less to the attention of all nations. All nations have endeavoured, to the best of their judgment, to render their taxes as equal aas they could contrive;a as certain, as convenient to the contributor, both in the time and in the mode of payment, and, in proportion to the revenue which they brought to the prince, as little burdensome to the peopleb . The following short review of some of the principal taxes which have taken place in different ages and countries will show that the endeavours of all nations have not in this respect been equally successful.
Taxes upon Rent; Taxes upon the Rent of land
1A tax upon the rent of land may either be imposed according to a certain canon, every district being valued at a certain rent, which valuation is not afterwards to be altered; or it may be imposed in such a manner as to vary with every variation in the real rent of the land, and to rise or fall with the improvement or declension of its cultivation.
2A land tax which, like that of Great Britain, is aassessed upon each districta according to a certain invariable canon, though it should be equal at the time of its first establishment, necessarily becomes unequal in process of time, according to the unequal degrees of improvement or neglect in the cultivation of the different parts of the country. In England, the valuation according to which the different counties and parishes were assessed to the land–tax by the 4th of William and Mary1 was very unequal even at its first establishment. This tax, therefore, so far offends against the first of the four maxims above–mentioned. It is perfectly agreeable to the other three. It is perfectly certain. The time of payment for the tax, being the same as that for the rent, is as convenient as it can be to the contributor. Though the landlord is in all cases the real contributor, the tax is commonly advanced by the tenant, to whom the landlord is obliged to allow it in the payment of the rent.2 This tax is levied by a much smaller number of officers than any other which affords nearly the same revenue.3 As the tax bupon each districtb does not rise with the rise of the rent,4 the sovereign does not share in the profits of the landlord’s improvements. cdThose improvements sometimesd contribute, indeed, to the discharge of the other landlords of the district. But the aggravation of the tax, which this may sometimes occasion upon a particular estate, is always so very small, that it never canc discourage those improvements, nor keep down the produce of the land below what it would otherwise rise to. As it has no tendency to diminish the quantity, it can have none to raise the price of that produce. It does not obstruct the industry of the people. It subjects the landlord to no other inconveniency besides the unavoidable one of paying the tax.
3 The advantage, however, which the landlord has derived from the invariable constancy of the valuation by which all the lands of Great Britain are rated to the land–tax, has been principally owing to some circumstances altogether extraneous to the nature of the tax.
4It has been owing in part to the great prosperity of almost every part of the country, the rents of almost all the estates of Great Britain having, since the time when this valuation was first established, been continually rising, and scarce any of them having fallen. The landlords, therefore, have almost all gained the difference between the tax which they would have paid, according to the present rent of their estates, and that which they actually pay according to the ancient valuation. Had the state of the country been different, had rents been gradually falling in consequence of the declension of cultivation, the landlords would almost all have lost this difference. In the state of things which has happened to take place since the revolution, the constancy of the valuation has been advantageous to the landlord and hurtful to the sovereign. In a different state of things it might have been advantageous to the sovereign and hurtful to the landlord.
5As the tax is made payable in money, so the valuation of the land is expressed in money. Since the establishment of this valuation the value of silver has been pretty uniform, and there has been no alteration in the standard of the coin either as to weight or fineness. Had silver risen considerably in its value, as it seems to have done in the course of the two centuries which preceded the discovery of the mines of America,5 the constancy of the valuation might have proved very oppressive to the landlord. Had silver fallen considerably in its value, as it certainly did for about a century at least after the discovery of those mines,6 the same constancy of valuation would have reduced very much this branch of the revenue of the sovereign. Had any considerable alteration been made in the standard of the money, either by sinking the same quantity of silver to a lower denomination, or by raising it to a higher; had an ounce of silver, for example, instead of being coined into five shillings and two–pence, been coined, either into pieces which bore so low a denomination as two shillings and seven–pence, or into pieces which bore so high a one as ten shillings and four–pence, it would in the one case have hurt the revenue of the proprietor, in the other that of the sovereign.
6In circumstances, therefore, somewhat different from those which have actually taken place, this constancy of valuation might have been a very great inconveniency, either to the contributors, or to the commonwealth. In the course of ages such circumstances, however, must, at some time or other, happen. But though empires, like all the other works of men, have all hitherto proved mortal, yet every empire aims at immortality. Every constitution, therefore, which it is meant should be as permanent as the empire itself, ought to be convenient, not in certain circumstances only, but in all circumstances; or ought to be suited, not to those circumstances which are transitory, occasional, or accidental, but to those which are necessary and therefore always the same.
7A tax upon the rent of land which varies with every variation of the rent, or which rises and falls according to the improvement or neglect of cultivation, is recommended by that sect of men of letters in France, who call themselves the œconomists,7 as the most equitable of all taxes.8 All taxes, they pretend, fall ultimately upon the rent of land, and ought therefore to be imposed equally upon the fund which must finally pay them. That all taxes ought to fall as equally as possible upon the fund which must finally pay them, is certainly true. But without entering into the disagreeable discussion of the metaphysical arguments by which they support their very ingenious theory, it will sufficiently appear from the following review, what are the taxes which fall finally upon the rent of the land, and what are those which fall finally upon some other fund.
8In the Venetian territory all the arable lands which are given in lease to farmers are taxed at a tenth of the rent* . The leases are recorded in a publick register which is kept by the officers of revenue in each province or district. When the proprietor cultivates his own lands, they are valued according to an equitable estimation and he is allowed a deduction of one–fifth of the tax, so that for such lands he pays only eight instead of ten per cent. of the supposed rent.
9 A land–tax of this kind is certainly more equal than the land tax of England. It might not, perhaps, be altogether so certain, and the assessment of the tax might frequently occasion a good deal more trouble to the landlord. It might too be a good deal more expensive in the levying.
10Such a system of administration, however, might perhaps be contrived as would, in a great measure, both prevent this uncertainty and moderate this expence.
11The landlord and tenant, for example, might jointly be obliged to record their lease in a publick register. Proper penalties might be enacted against concealing or misrepresenting any of the conditions; and if part of those penalties ewase to be paid to either of the two parties who informed against and convicted the other of such concealment or misrepresentation, it would effectually deter them from combining together in order to defraud the publick revenue. All the conditions of the lease might be sufficiently known from such a record.
12Some landlords, instead of raising the rent, take a fine for the renewal of the lease. This practice is in most cases the expedient of a spendthrift, who for a sum of ready money sells a future revenue of much greater value.9 It is in most cases, therefore, hurtful to the landlord. It is frequently, hurtful to the tenant, and it is always hurtful to the community. It frequently takes from the tenant so great a part of his capital, and thereby diminishes so much his ability to cultivate the land, that he finds it more difficult to pay a small rent than it would otherwise have been to pay a great one. Whatever diminishes his ability to cultivate, necessarily keeps down, below what it would otherwise have been, the most important part of the revenue of the community. By rendering the tax upon such fines a good deal heavier than upon the ordinary rent, this hurtful practice might be discouraged, to the no small advantage of all the different parties concerned, of the landlord, of the tenant, of the sovereign, and of the whole community.
13Some leases prescribe to the tenant a certain mode of cultivation, and a certain succession of crops during the whole continuance of the lease. This condition, which is generally the effect of the landlord’s conceit of his own superior knowledge (a conceit in most cases very ill founded), ought always to be considered as an additional rent; as a rent in service instead of a rent in money. In order to discourage the practice, which is generally a foolish one, this species of rent might be valued rather high, and consequently taxed somewhat higher than common money rents.10
14Some landlords, instead of a rent in money, require a rent in kind, in corn, cattle, poultry, wine, oil, &c. others again require a rent in service. Such rents are always more hurtful to the tenant than beneficial to the landlord. They either take more or keep more out of the pocket of the former, than they put into that of the latter. In every country where they take place, the tenants are poor and beggarly, pretty much according to the degree in which they take place. By valuing, in the same manner, such rents rather high, and consequently taxing them somewhat higher than common money rents, a practice which is hurtful to the whole community might perhaps be sufficiently discouraged.11
15When the landlord chose to occupy himself a part of his own lands, the rent might be valued according to an equitable arbitration of the farmers and landlords in the neighbourhood, and a moderate abatement of the tax might be granted to him, in the same manner as in the Venetian territory; provided the rent of the lands which he occupied did not exceed a certain sum. It is of importance that the landlord should be encouraged to cultivate a part of his own land. His capital is generally greater than that of the tenant, and with less skill he can frequently raise a greater produce. The landlord can afford to try experiments, and is generally disposed to do so. His unsuccessful experiments occasion only a moderate loss to himself. His successful ones contribute to the improvement and better cultivation of the whole country.12 It might be of importance, however, that the abatement of the tax should encourage him to cultivate to a certain extent only. If the landlords should, the greater part of them, be tempted to farm the whole of their own lands, the country (instead of sober and industrious tenants, who are bound by their own interest to cultivate as well as their capital and skill will allow them) would be filled with idle and profligate bailiffs, whose abusive management would soon degrade the cultivation, and reduce the annual produce of the land, to the diminution, not only of the revenue of their masters, but of the most important part of that of the whole society.
16Such a system of administration might, perhaps, free a tax of this kind from any degree of uncertainty which could occasion either oppression or inconveniency to the contributor; and might at the same time serve to introduce into the common management of land such a plan or policy, as might contribute a good deal to the general improvement and good cultivation of the country.
17The expence of levying a land–tax, which varied with every variation of the rent, would no doubt be somewhat greater than that of levying one which was always rated according to a fixed valuation. Some additional expence would necessarily be incurred both by the different register offices which it would be proper to establish in the different districts of the country, and by the different valuations which might occasionally be made of the lands which the proprietor chose to occupy himself. The expence of all this, however, might be very moderate, and much below what is incurred in the levying of many other taxes, which afford a very inconsiderable revenue in comparison of what might easily be drawn from a tax of this kind.
18 The discouragement which a variable land–tax of this kind might give to the improvement of land, seems to be the most important objection which can be made to it.13 The landlord would certainly be less disposed to improve, when the sovereign, who contributed nothing to the expence, was to share in the profit of the improvement.14 Even this objection might perhaps be obviated by allowing the landlord, before he began his improvement, to ascertain, in conjunction with the officers of revenue, the actual value of his lands, according to the equitable arbitration of a certain number of landlords and farmers in the neighbourhood, equally chosen by both parties; and by rating him according to this valuation for such a number of years, as might be fully sufficient for his complete indemnification. To draw the attention of the sovereign towards the improvement of the land, from a regard to the increase of his own revenue, is one of the principal advantages proposed by this species of land–tax. The term, therefore, allowed for the indemnification of the landlord, ought not to be a great deal longer than what was necessary for that purpose; lest the remoteness of the interest should discourage too much this attention. It had better, however, be somewhat too long than in any respect too short. No incitement to the attention of the sovereign can ever counterbalance the smallest discouragement to that of the landlord. The attention of the sovereign can be at best but a very general and vague consideration of what is likely to contribute to the better cultivation of the greater part of his dominions. The attention of the landlord is a particular and minute consideration of what is likely to be the most advantageous application of every inch of ground upon his estate. The principal attention of the sovereign ought to be to encourage, by every means in his power, the attention both of the landlord and of the farmer; by allowing both to pursue their own interest in their own way, and according to their own judgment; by giving to both the most perfect security that they shall enjoy the full recompence of their own industry; and by procuring to both the most extensive market for every part of their produce, in consequence of establishing the easiest and safest communications both by land and by water, through every part of his own dominions, as well as the most unbounded freedom of exportation to the dominions of all other princes.
19If by such a system of administration a tax of this kind could be so managed as to give, not only no discouragement, but, on the contrary, some encouragement to the improvement of land, it does not appear likely to occasion any other inconveniency to the landlord, except always the unavoidable one of being obliged to pay the tax.
20In all the variations of the state of the society, in the improvement and in the declension of agriculture; in all the variations in the value of silver, and in all those in the standard of the coin, a tax of this kind would, of its own accord and without any attention of government, readily suit itself to the actual situation of things; and would be equally just and equitable in all those different changes. It would, therefore, be much more proper to be established as a perpetual and unalterable regulation, or as what is called a fundamental law of the commonwealth, than any tax which was always to be levied according to a certain valuation.
21Some states, instead of the simple and obvious expedient of a register of leases, have had recourse to the laborious and expensive one of an actual survey and valuation of all the lands in the country. They have suspected, probably, that the lessor and lessee, in order to defraud the publick revenue, might combine to conceal the real terms of the lease. Doomsday–book seems to have been the result of a very accurate survey of this kind.15
22In the antient dominions of the king of Prussia, the land–tax is assessed according to an actual survey and valuation, which is reviewed and altered from time to time* . According to that valuation, the lay proprietors pay from twenty to twenty–five per cent. of their revenue. Ecclesiastics from forty to forty–five per cent. The survey and valuation of Silesia was made by order of the present king; it is said with great accuracy. According to that valuation the lands belonging to the bishop of Breslaw are taxed at twenty–five per cent. of their rent. The other revenues of the ecclesiastics of both religions, at fifty per cent. The commanderies of the Teutonic order, and of that of Malta, at forty per cent. Lands held by a noble tenure, at thirty–eight and one third per cent. Lands held by a base tenure, at thirty–five and one third per cent.16
23The survey and valuation of Bohemia is said to have been the work of more than a hundred years. It was not perfected till after the peace of 1748, by the orders of the present empress queen* . The survey of the dutchy of Milan, which was begun in the time of Charles VI., was not perfected till after 1760. It is esteemed one of the most accurate that has ever been made. The survey of Savoy and Piedmont was executed under the orders of the late king of Sardinia† .
24In the dominions of the king of Prussia the revenue of the church is taxed much higher than that of lay proprietors. The revenue of the church is, the greater part of it, a burden upon the rent of land. It seldom happens that any part of it is applied towards the improvement of land; or is so employed as to contribute in any respect towards increasing the revenue of the great body of the people. His Prussian majesty had probably, upon that account, thought it reasonable that it should contribute a good deal more towards relieving the exigencies of the state.17 In some countries the lands of the church are exempted from all taxes. In others they are taxed more lightly than other lands. In the dutchy of Milan, the lands which the church possessed before 1575, are rated to the tax at a third only of their value.18
25In Silesia, lands held by a noble tenure are taxed three per cent. higher than those held by a base tenure.19 The honours and privileges of different kinds annexed to the former, his Prussian majesty had probably imagined, would sufficiently compensate to the proprietor a small aggravation of the tax; while at the same time the humiliating inferiority of the latter would be in some measure alleviated by being taxed somewhat more lightly. In other countries, the system of taxation, instead of alleviating, aggravates this inequality. In the dominions of the king of Sardinia, and in those provinces of France which are subject to what is called the Real or predial taille, the tax falls altogether upon the lands held by a base tenure. Those held by a noble one are exempted.20
26A land–tax assessed according to a general survey and valuation, how equal soever it may be at first, must, in the course of a very moderate period of time, become unequal. To prevent its becoming so would require the continual and painful attention of government to all the variations in the state and produce of every different farm in the country. The governments of Prussia, of Bohemia, of Sardinia, and of the dutchy of Milan, actually exert an attention of this kind; an attention so unsuitable to the nature of government, that is not likely to be of long continuance, and which, if it is continued, will probably in the long–run occasion much more trouble and vexation than it can possibly bring relief to the contributors.21
27In 1666, the generality of Montauban was assessed to the Real or predial ftaillef according, it is said, to a very exact survey and valuation* . By 1727, this assessment had become altogether unequal. In order to remedy this inconveniency, government has found no better expedient than to impose upon the whole generality an additional tax of a hundred and twenty thousand livres. This additional tax is rated upon all the different districts subject to the taille according to the old assessment. But it is levied only upon those which in the actual state of things are by that assessment under–taxed, and it is applied to the relief of those which by the same assessment are over–taxed. Two districts, for example, one of which ought in the actual state of things to be taxed at nine hundred, the other at eleven hundred livres, are by the old assessment both taxed at a thousand livres. Both these districts are by the additional tax rated at eleven hundred livres each. But this additional tax is levied only upon the district under–charged, and it is applied altogether to the relief of that over–charged, which consequently pays only nine hundred livres. The government neither gains nor loses by the additional tax, which is applied galtogetherg to remedy the inequalities arising from the old assessment. The application is pretty much regulated according to the discretion of the intendant of the generality, and must, therefore, be in a great measure arbitrary.
[a–a]2A–6 [This includes the whole of V.i.e. In Letter 222 addressed to Thomas Cadell, dated 7 December 1782, Smith indicated that among the additions to the second edition there was ‘a short, but I flatter myself, a compleat History of all the trading companies in Great Britain’, Smith also refers to the additions in Letter 227 addressed to Strahan, dated 22 May 1783, and comments on his projected ‘short History, and, I presume, a full exposition of the Absurdity and hurtfulness of almost all our chartered trading companies’.]
[1 ]It is pointed out in LJ (B) 353, ed. Cannan 276, that permanent ambassadors only became necessary with the growth of commerce and that the first king to employ one was Ferdinand of Spain at the beginning of the seventeenth century.
[2 ]A. Anderson, Origin of Commerce (1764), i.470, quoting T. Rymer, Foedera.
[3 ]Ibid. ii.6 and 15, quoting Rymer.
[4 ]The point is frequently emphasized, see for example I.xi.p.10, and n. 12.
[5 ]LJ (A) vi.88 argues that ‘all companies, such as the East Indian, Turky and Hudson’s bay, diminish the opulence with regard to these commodities . . .’ In LJ (B) 232, ed. Cannan 179, it is stated with regard to these companies that the people engaged in them make what price they please. However, see below, § 30, where Smith defends ‘temporary’ monopolies, and cf. Steuart, Principles, II.xxx, question 8.
[6 ]See above, I.x.c.5.
[7 ]See above, I.x.c.7.
[8 ]Raised to £100 for Londoners and £50 for others in 1643. A. Anderson, Origin of Commerce (1764), ii.75.
[9 ]‘Many and loud Complaints had been made by the Merchants and Clothiers of Exeter and other Parts of the West of England, who, not being free of the Company of Merchant Adventurers of England, were by that Company stiled Interlopers; as particularly, in the Year 1638, to the House of Commons, and also in the Years 1643 and 1645. They were again complained of in Parliament in this Year 1661, by them; who, in their Remonstrance, termed that Company Monopolizers, and Obstructors of the Sale of our Woollen Goods.’ (Ibid. ii.116–18.) Details of the complaints and answers are given.
[10 ]10 William III, c. 6 (1698) in Statutes of the Realm, vii.462–3; 10 and 11 William III, c. 6 in Ruffhead’s edition.
[11 ]25 Charles II, c. 7 (1672).
[12 ]Sir Josiah Child, New Discourse of Trade (1694), chapter iii.
[13 ]26 George II, c. 18 (1753).
[14 ]But see above, II.iv.15 and note 17.
[15 ]Sir Josiah Child, New Discourse of Trade, 109.
[16 ]See below, § 18.
[17 ]23 George II, c. 31 (1749). See below § 20 for a description of the legislation governing the Royal African Company.
[18 ]4 George III, c. 20 (1764).
[19 ]5 George III, c. 44 (1765).
[20 ]Smith refers to Minorca in the course of criticizing Hume’s ‘utility’ thesis in TMS IV.i.2.11: ‘There is many an honest Englishman, who, in his private station, would be more seriously disturbed by the loss of a guinea, than by the national loss of Minorca, who yet, had it been in his power to defend that fortress, would have sacrificed his life a thousand times rather than, through his fault, have let it fall into the hands of the enemy.’
[21 ]In Letter 221 addressed to Sir John Sinclair, dated 14 October 1782, Smith remarked that it was to our possession of ‘the barren rock of Gibralter’ that ‘we owe the union of France and Spain, contrary to the natural interests and inveterate prejudices of both countries, the important enmity of Spain, and the futile and expensive friendship of Portugal’.
[22 ]Most of the information on the trading companies given in subsequent paragraphs is from A. Anderson, Origin of Commerce (1764). Apart from some specific references, a general note is given at the end of most paragraphs.
[23 ]Joint stock companies incorporated by Royal Charter or Act of Parliament were often assumed to have limited liability even when a strict legal interpretation may have led to a different conclusion. See H. A. Shannon, ‘The Coming of General Limited Liability’, Economic History, ii (1931) and R. H. Campbell, ‘The Law and the Joint–Stock Company in Scotland’, in P. L. Payne, Studies in Scottish Business History (London, 1967), chapter 6.
[24 ]This may provide some qualification to the doctrine that the ‘chance of loss is frequently undervalued’ as stated at I.x.b.28.
[25 ]A. Anderson, Origin of Commerce (1764), ii.309. It was £37,802,203 in 1720.
[26 ]Ibid. ii.379. See below, V.ii.a.4.
[27 ]See above, § 11.
[28 ]Passed the Great Seal, 1672. C. T. Carr, Select Charters of Trading Companies (Selden Society, xxviii), 186–92.
[29 ]In this paragraph Smith draws on Anderson, Origin of Commerce, ii. 148, 154, 225. On 2 William and Mary, c. 2, An Act declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown, Anderson states (ii.148) that if this Act had ‘not limited the Prerogative in the Case of exclusive Charters of Privileges, this Company would doubtless be absolute in those immense Territories. But the Case, to our great Happiness, is now quite otherwise; and, since that great Establishment of our Liberties, neither the Hudson Bay, nor any other Company, not confirmed by Act of Parliament, has any exclusive right at all.’ In practice the contrast between the companies may have been less clear than Smith implies. 9 Anne, c. 15 (1710) in Statutes of the Realm, ix.428–447; 9 Anne, c. 21 in Ruffhead’s edition authorized the grant of a monopoly of trade, which was embodied in the charter of 1711, to the South Sea Company. 6 Anne, c. 71 (1707) in Statutes of the Realm, viii.824–9; 6 Anne, c. 17 in Ruffhead’s edition incorporated the East India Company. The positions of the Royal African Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company were less clear. Various statutes implied parliamentary recognition of the charters even after the Bill of Rights, e.g. 4 William and Mary, c. 15 (1692) levied duties on the stocks of the East India, African and Hudson’s Bay Companies and states that their charters will be void if the duties are not paid; and 9 William III, c. 26 (1697) settled the maintenance of forts on the Royal African Company. Modern commentators do not draw Smith’s distinction. See W. R. Scott, English, Scottish and Irish Joint Stock Companies ii.232 and K. G. Davies, The Royal African Company (London, 1957), 122–35.
[30 ]9 William III, c. 26 (1697).
[31 ]10 Anne, c. 34 (1711) in Statutes of the Realm, ix. 703. 10 Anne, c. 27 in Ruffhead’s edition.
[32 ]‘In 1744 [the sum] was increased to £20,000, but in the following year reduced to the original figure; after 1746 it was withheld entirely.’ K. G. Davies, The Royal Africa Company, 345.
[33 ]23 George II, c. 31 (1749) and 25 George II, c. 40 (1751). See above, §§ 12 and 13.
[34 ]Senegal Adventurers, 1588; Company of Adventurers of London trading to Guinea and Benin, 1618; Royal Adventurers into Africa, 1660.
[35 ]For information on the Royal African Company in this paragraph see Anderson, Origin of Commerce, ii.225, 326, 347.
[36 ]The capital was increased to £103,950 in 1720 and remained at that level until 1825. Full details are in D. MacKay, The Honourable Company (Toronto, 1938), appendix D.
[37 ]Dobbs, not the most reliable source, held that ‘. . . their Charter . . . now is confined to eight or nine private Merchants, who have ingrossed nine Tenths of the Company’s Stock, and by that Means are perpetual Directors.’ (An Account of the Countries adjoining to Hudson’s Bay in the North–West Part of America . . . with an Abstract of Captain Middleton’s Journal (London, 1744), 58.) D. MacKay states that there were 109 proprietors in 1770, The Honourable Company, 338.
[38 ]‘. . . the exorbitant Gain they take upon their Goods from the Natives of near 2,000 per Cent. Profit, taking a Beaver Skin, worth from eight to nine shillings in England, for a Quart of English Spirits, mixed with a Third Water, which probably may cost them a Groat; they also in Exchange value three Martins or Sable Skins at one Beaver, when the French give as much for a Martin as for a Beaver; so that the Natives carry all their best Furs to the French, and leave them the Refuse.’ (Dobbs, An Account of the Countries adjoining to Hudson’s Bay, 56.) But, according to William Douglass, Dobbs ‘runs much into the novel; he seems to be a wild projector, and notoriously credulous’ (British Settlements in North America, i.275).
[39 ]‘Their Gains are little to be envied.’ Anderson, Origin of Commerce ii.370. W. R. Scott considered the distribution in the half century before 1720 to be ‘only a fraction higher than economic interest’, though undivided profits were distributed as a stock bonus in 1690 and 1720. (English, Scottish and Irish Joint Stock Companies, ii.236). For information on the Hudson’s Bay Company in this paragraph, see A. Anderson, ii.147, 370, 371.
[40 ]Operated under contract by the African Company in 1713 and 1714. K. G. Davies, The Royal African Company, 152.
[41 ]The situation was more complex. See New Cambridge Modern History, vii (1957), 515–16.
[42 ]For information on the South Sea Company used in this paragraph see Anderson, Origin of Commerce, ii.262, 311, 334, 339, 347, 352.
[43 ]Anderson, Origin of Commerce, ii.339, states that the company lost considerably in all eight years.
[44 ]By 9 George I, c. 6 (1722).
[45 ]Granted by 6 George II, c. 28 (1732).
[46 ]The trading capital was reduced by two–thirds, not by three–quarters, leaving £3,662,784. P. G. M. Dickson, The Financial Revolution in England (London, 1967), 208.
[47 ]Of £100,000 in 1751.
[48 ]For information on the South Sea Company used in this paragraph see Anderson, Origin of Commerce, ii.309, 316, 331, 333, 338, 346, 349, 388, 394.
[49 ]Previously the capital for each voyage was raised separately, but in 1613 it was resolved to raise capital for four voyages and describe it as the ‘First Joint Stock’. Scott, English, Scottish and Irish Joint Stock Companies, ii.101.
[50 ]The nominal stock in 1693, when an equivalent sum was added.
[51 ]‘Although the English East–India Company’s Affairs were said at this Time to have been so prosperous, that its Profits in nine Years Time, viz. from 1676 to 1685, amounted to £963,639 yet, as Things on Earth are unstable, a Reverse of Fortune happened at this very Time.’ (Anderson, Origin of Commerce, ii.184.)
[52 ]After their existing capital of £1,574,608 had been written down to £787,304. Scott, English, Scottish and Irish Joint Stock Companies, ii.163–4.
[53 ]9 William III, c. 44 (1697).
[54 ]Subscribers of £23,000 of the £2,000,000 did not join either old or new joint–stock companies. The Company purchased their loan stock until the account outstanding was reduced to £7,200 in 1708. Scott, English, Scottish and Irish Joint Stock Companies, ii.166 and 191. They were allowed to continue trading by 6 Anne, c. 71 (1707) in Statutes of the Realm, viii.824–9; 6 Anne, c. 17 in Ruffhead’s edition.
[55 ]Cf. I.xi.o.4, I.viii.57.
[56 ]6 Anne, c. 71 (1707) in Statutes of the Realm, viii.824–9; 6 Anne, c. 17 in Ruffhead’s edition. Details of the tripartite indenture of 1702 are given in para. XI of the Act, Statutes of the Realm, viii.825–6.
[57 ]By 17 George II, c. 17 (1743), payment had to be by 29 September 1744.
[58 ]For information on the East India Company used in the paragraph see Anderson, Origin of Commerce, i.488, ii.160, 199, 174, 184, 221–4, 230, 236–8, 246, 323–6, 372–3.
[59 ]7 George III, c. 49 (1767) and 8 George III, c. 11 (1768).
[60 ]9 George III, c. 24 (1769).
[61 ]In 1771 the sum was £1,578,000. L. S. Sutherland, The East India Company in Eighteenth Century Politics (Oxford, 1952), 226.
[62 ]Which automatically relieved the Company from paying £400,000 to the government.
[63 ]The printed series Reports of Committees of the House of Commons (First Series) iii and iv are largely devoted to the inquiry of 1772–3. The activities of the East India Company are described above, IV.vii.c.101–8. In a different connection it is perhaps interesting to note that Smith was among those mentioned as a possible adviser to the East India Company. In Letter 132 addressed to William Pulteney, dated 3 September 1772, Smith wrote: ‘I think myself very much honoured and obliged to you for having mentioned me to the east India Directors as a person who could be of any use to them.’ It would appear, however, that the Company invited Sir James Steuart to advise them on the currency problems of Bengal. Principles, ed. Skinner xlix. Steuart’s report was published in 1772 as the Principles of Money Applied to the Present State of the Coin in Bengal and is reprinted in his Collected Works, v (London, 1805). For comment, see S. R. Sen, The Economics of Sir James Steuart (London, 1957), ch. 10.
[64 ]By 13 George III, c. 63 (1772).
[65 ]See above, IV.vii.c.105, 107, where Smith comments on the point that the servants of the company naturally acted as their circumstances dictated.
[i–i]nett 2A, 6
[66 ]Anderson, Origin of Commerce (1789), iv.164.
[67 ]By 22 George III, c. 51 (1782), 23 George III, c. 36 (1783), and 23 George III, c. 83 (1783).
[68 ]While deploring monopoly, Pufendorf also pointed out that it was defensible where the establishing of commercial relations with distant countries was expensive, and at the outset open to risk: ‘But in granting such privileges, a prudent government should see to it that they are allowed only in the case of commodities which are imported from very remote places, and over paths fraught with danger, and which concern not so much the necessities of life as its adornment and case.’ (De Jure, V.v.7.)
[69 ]Smith comments on the usefulness of temporary monopolies at V.i.e.5, IV.vii.c.95. It is pointed out in LJ (A) ii.31–3 that under British law the author of a new book, like the inventor of a new machine, enjoyed the fruits of his labour for a period of 14 years and that while exclusive privileges were generally detrimental, these could be defended on the ground of equity: ‘For if the legislature should appoint pecuniary rewards for the inventors of new machines, etc., they would hardly ever be so precisely proportiond to the merit of the invention as this is. For here, if the invention be good and such as is profitable to mankind, he will probably make a fortune by it; but if it be of no value he will also reap no benefit.’ Similarly with new books, Smith argued that the exclusive privilege could be regarded as ‘an encouragement to the labours of learned men’ and as beneficial since ‘if the book be a valuable one the demand for it in that time will probably be a considerable addition to his fortune. But if it is of no value the advantage he can reap from it will be very small.’ See also LJ (A) i.20 and LJ (B) 175, ed. Cannan 130.
[70 ]See above, IV.vii.c.91.
[71 ]Smith wrote to Morellet on 1 May 1786 (Letter 259). See above, IV.ix.2, n. 1.
[72 ]The trade of insurance is discussed above, I.x.b.28.
[73 ]The constitution of the joint stock company is described at V.i.e.15ff.
[74 ]6 Anne c. 50 (1707) in Statutes of the Realm, viii.772–5; 6 Anne, c. 22 in Ruffhead’s edition. See above, II.ii.79ff., where Smith considers the history of the Bank of England.
[75 ]The Bank of Scotland was incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1695. Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, ix.494–5 (1695). The Royal Bank of Scotland was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1727. See above, II.ii.41.
[76 ]They were granted a monopoly of marine insurance for 31 years against other jointstock companies (except tht East India and the South Sea Companies) but not against individuals or partnerships without a joint–stock. Charters were issued in 1720 following the passing of 6 George I, c. 18 (1719). Scott, English, Scottish and Irish Joint Stock Companies, iii.402.
[77 ]See generally II.ii, esp. 27–46.
[78 ]Still not functioning as a bank in 1776.
[79 ]For information used in this paragraph, see Anderson, Origin of Commerce, i.366, ii.197, 242–3, 250, 253. See above, IV.vii.c.61, where Smith describes the problems which arise when this ‘judicious’ balance is broken.
[1 ]Many of the views first expressed in this section appeared in Letter 143 addressed to William Cullen, dated 20 September 1774, where Smith commented on the current practice of some Scottish Universities with regard to the granting (and sale!) of medical degrees. It would appear from this letter that the organization of university education had already attracted Smith’s attention: ‘I have thought a great deal upon this subject, and have enquired very carefully into the constitution and history of several of the principal Universities of Europe: . . . ’
[2 ]See below, V.i.g.42, and above, V.i.b.20, where the point is illustrated by reference to the courts. Piece–work is discussed at I.viii.44 in connection with the problems of overexertion. In the Sixth Dialogue, Cleo. remarks that: ‘you never saw Men so entirely devote themselves to their Calling, and pursue Business with that Eagerness, Dispatch and Perserverance in any Office or Preferment, in which the yearly Income is certain and unalterable, as they often do in those Professions, where the Reward continually accompanies the Labour, and the Fee immediately, either precedes the Service they do to others, as it is with the Lawyers, or follows it, as it is with the Physicians.’ (The Fable of the Bees, pt.ii.430, ed. Kaye ii.355.)
[3 ]A related point is made below, § 34. It is remarked at V.i.g.39 that the situation was worsened in some countries by the fact that high levels of Church benefices drew off the best men of letters.
[4 ]As was the case in the Scottish universities.
[5 ]‘Professors should, besides their Stipends allowed ‘em by the Publick, have Gratifications from every Student they teach, that Self–Interest as well as Emulation and the Love of Glory might spur them on to Labour and Assiduity . . . Universities should be publick Marts for all manner of Literature . . .’ (Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees, pt.i.335, ed. Kaye i.293–4.)
[6 ]See the Index s.v. ‘Oxford’: ‘the professorships there, sinecures’. In Letter 1 addressed to William Smith, dated 24 August 1740, Smith commented that ‘it will be his own fault if anyone should endanger his health at Oxford by excessive study’. In Letter 27 addressed to Smith, dated 14 November 1758, Sir Gilbert Elliot wrote with reference to the education of Lord Fitzmaurice’s brother and commented that ‘I find every thinking man here begins to discover the very absurd constitution of the English Universitys.’ Elliot went on: ‘I have very little doubt, but you might even draw a good many of the youth of this part of the world to pass a winter or two at Glasgow, notwithstanding the distance & disadvantage of the dialect . . .’ See also Letter 32 addressed to Smith, dated 26 April 1759, wherein Lord Shelburne expressed his satisfaction with the regimen which Smith had imposed upon his son, and stated that: ‘The great fault I find with Oxford & Cambridge, is that Boys sent thither, instead of being Governed, become the Governors of the Colleges, & that Birth & Fortune there are more respected than Literary Merit: . . .’ In contrast, Smith believed that ‘In the present state of the Scotch Universities, I do most sincerely look upon them as, in spite of all their faults, without exception the best seminaries of learning that are to be found any where in Europe.’ (Letter 143). William Thom, a Glasgow minister, disagreed with Smith’s assessment of the Scottish Universities, and of Glasgow in particular, in his Defects of an University Education, and its Unsuitableness to a Commercial People (Glasgow, 1762). The alleged defects of university education at this time were associated with the rise of the academy movement in Scotland.
[7 ]The statute of apprenticeship is discussed at I.x.c.7–14. In Letter 143 addressed to Cullen, dated 20 September 1774, Smith wrote:
[8 ]See above, I.x.c.34. In his letter to Cullen (143) Smith gave two reasons to explain the ‘present state of degradation and contempt’ into which most universities and university teachers had fallen: first, the large salaries paid irrespective of industry or competence, which render them ‘altogether independent of their diligence and success in their professions’, and secondly ‘the great number of students who, in order to get degrees or to be admitted to exercise certain professions or who, for the sake of bursaries, exhibitions, scholarships, fellowships, &c., are obliged to resort to certain societies of this kind, whether the instructions which they are likely to receive there are or are not worth the receiving.’
[9 ]See below, V.i.g.23.
[10 ]In Letter 143 addressed to Cullen, Smith stated that ‘All universities being ecclesiastical establishments, under the immediate protection of the Pope, a degree from one of them gave, all over Christendom, very nearly the same privileges which a degree from any other could have given; and the respect which is to this day paid to foreign degrees, even in Protestant countries, must be considered as a remnant of Popery.’
[11 ]Smith makes a related point at III.ii.4.
[g–g]they still continue to be so in some universities. 1
[12 ]Cf. Astronomy, IV.1.: ‘Of all phænomena of nature, the celestial appearances are, by their greatness and beauty, the most universal objects of the curiosity of mankind.’ In LRBL the ‘grand’ and the ‘beautiful’ are cited as the ‘two sorts of objects that excite our attention’ and Smith notes at ii.v.18–v.19 ed. Lothian 87, that:
[13 ]‘Hence the origin of Polytheism, and of that vulgar superstition which ascribes all the irregular events of nature to the favour or displeasure of intelligent, though invisible beings . . . For it may be observed, that in all Polytheistic religions . . . it is the irregular events of nature only that are ascribed to the agency and power of their gods. Fire burns, and water refreshes; heavenly bodies descend, and lighter substances fly upwards, by the necessity of their own nature; nor was the invisible hand of Jupiter ever apprehended to be employed in those matters. But thunder and lightning, storms and sunshine, those more irregular events, were ascribed to his favour, or his anger.’ (Astronomy, III.2.) In TMS III.5.4 Smith argued that in ‘the ignorance and darkness of pagan superstition, mankind seem to have formed the ideas of their divinities with so little delicacy, that they ascribed to them, indiscriminately, all the passions of human nature, those not excepted which do the least honour to our species, . . . ’
[14 ]Although Smith argued that the development of knowledge represents a response to the needs of the imagination, without any necessarily practical purpose, he did come closer to D’Alembert’s general position as outlined in his ‘Discours préliminaire’ to the Encyclopédie of Diderot in remarking that all the arts are subservient to the natural wants of man:
[15 ]A similar point is made in LRBL i.133, ed. Lothian 51, where it is stated that “all the Rules of Criticism and morality, when traced to their foundation, turn out to be some principles of Common Sence which every one assents to.’ Smith also argues with regard to the development of language that after it has made some progress, ‘it was natural to imagine that men would form some rules according to which they should regulate their language.’ In the First Formation of Languages, 16, it is suggested that ‘The general rule would establish itself insensibly, and by slow degrees, in consequence of that love of analogy and similarity of sound, which is the foundation of by far the greater part of the rules of grammar.’ Cf. § 25. One of the main features of the TMS is the interest shown in the question of the way in which we form judgements concerning what is fit and proper to be done or to be avoided. Smith went on from this basis to argue that our ability to form judgements in particular cases enables us to form some notion of general rules of morality. Smith indicated that the content of general rules was a function of experience, and that they would be found in all societies. See TMS III, especially 4 and 5.
[16 ]Systematic arrangement, stemming in part from a perception of its beauty, was something of a feature of Smith’s own thought. Dugald Stewart often noted his ‘love of system’ (see, for example, Stewart, III.15), and went so far as to claim that ‘it may be doubted, with respect to Mr. Smith’s Inquiry, if there exists any book beyond the circle of the mathematical and physical sciences, which is at once so agreeable . . . to the rules of sound logic, and so accessible to the examination of ordinary readers’ (IV.22). The systematic character of the WN was also noted by Hugh Blair, in Letter 151 addressed to Smith, dated 3 April 1776; by Joseph Black, in Letter 152 addressed to Smith, dated April 1776; by William Robertson, in Letter 153, dated 8 April 1776; and by Edward Gibbon, in Letter 187 addressed to Smith, dated 26 November 1777. In the opening paragraph of his Letter, Pownall refers to the ‘plan and superstructure’ of the WN as having given ‘a compleat idea of that system, which I had long wished to see the publick in possession of. A system, that might fix some first principles in the most important of sciences, the knowledge of the human community, and its operations. That might become principia to the knowledge of politick operations; as Mathematicks are to Mechanicks, Astronomy, and the other Sciencies.’ He also refers to the WN (Letter, 23) as an ‘Institute of the Principia of those laws of motion, by which the operations of the community are directed and regulated, and by which they should be examined’. Indeed, Pownall expressed the hope (Letter, 48) that Smith’s work, no doubt duly corrected, might be taken up by ‘some understanding Tutor in our Universities’ as a ‘basis of lectures on this subject’.
[17 ]Two approaches to scientific discourse, the Aristotelian and the Newtonian, are mentioned in LRBL ii.133–4, ed. Lothian 140. In the former ‘method’ a principle, ‘commonly a new one’ is used in explaining each problem, whereas in the latter case:
[18 ]In his Short Introduction, Hutcheson commented on the ‘multiplicity of natural desires’ to which man was subject, and added: ‘This complex view, I say, must at first make human nature appear a strange chaos, or a confused combination of jarring principles, until we can discover by a closer attention, some natural connexion or order among them, some governing principles naturally fitted to regulate all the rest. To discover this is the main business of Moral Philosophy, and to show how all these parts are to be ranged in order . . .’ (36).
[19 ]Cf. the remark of Cicero, quoted at V.ii.k.14.
[20 ]In TMS VII.ii.4.14 Smith drew attention to an interesting difference between systems of natural and moral philosophy with regard to their plausibility: ‘A system of natural philosophy may appear very plausible, and be for a long time very generally received in the world, and yet have no foundation in nature, nor yet any sort of resemblance to the truth. The vortices of Descartes were regarded by a very ingenious nation, for near a century together, as a most satisfactory account of the revolutions of the heavenly bodies . . . But it is otherwise with systems of moral philosophy, and an author who pretends to account for the origin of our moral sentiments, cannot deceive us so grossly, nor depart so very far from all resemblance to the truth.’
[21 ]Smith ascribes the origin of theism to the development of science in classical times: ‘The unity of the system . . . suggested the idea of the unity of that principle, by whose art it was formed; and thus, as ignorance begot superstition, science gave birth to the first theism that arose among those nations, who were not enlightened by divine Revelation.’ (Ancient Physics, 9.)
[l]Those two chapters 1
[22 ]This doctrine is severely criticized in TMS III.2.35: ‘To compare . . . the futile mortifications of a monastery, to the ennobling hardships and hazards of war; to suppose that one day, or one hour, employed in the former should, in the eye of the great Judge of the world, have more merit than a whole life spent honourably in the latter, is surely contrary to all our moral sentiments.’ He added, however, that it is this spirit which ‘while it has reserved the celestial regions for monks and friars, or for those whose conduct and conversation resembled those of monks and friars, has condemned to the infernal all the heroes, all the statesmen and lawgivers, all the poets and philosophers of former ages; all those who have invented, improved, or excelled in the arts which contribute to the subsistence, to the conveniency, or to the ornament of human life’.
[23 ]Cf. LRBL ii.215, ed. Lothian 176: ‘Antiquity is necessary to give anything a very high reputation as a matter of deep knowledge. One who reads a number of modern books, altho they be very excellent, will not get thereby the Character of a learned man: the acquaintaince of the ancients will alone procure him that name.’ It is also suggested at i.61, ed. Lothian 24–5, that ‘we are apt to think everything that is ancient is venerable, whether it is so or not.’
[24 ]See above, V.i.f.6. In Letter 151 addressed to Smith, dated 3 April 1776, Blair wrote that ‘There is so much good Sense & Truth in your doctrine about Universities, and it is so fit that your Doctrine should be preached to the World’, that the want of this section would have been a matter for regret. Blair was less confident about Smith’s treatment of the American colonies and Church affairs.
[25 ]TMS VI.ii.1.10 also comments that: ‘The education of boys at distant great schools, of young men at distant colleges, of young ladies in distant nunneries and boarding schools, seems, in the higher ranks of life, to have hurt most essentially the domestic morals, and consequently the domestic happiness, both of France and England . . . Surely no acquirement, which can possibly be derived from what is called a public education, can make any sort of compensation for what is almost certainly and necessarily lost by it. Domestic education is the institution of nature; public education the contrivance of man. It is surely unnecessary to say, which is likely to be the wisest.’
[26 ]It is pointed out at IV.ix.47 that the citizens were excluded from the practice of mechanic arts in case it affected their military bearing.
[27 ]It is stated in LRBL ii.117, ed. Lothian 132, that ‘music was added to correct the bad effects’ of military education and that ‘These two made the whole of the education of the youth, even in Athens’. Smith added that games were instituted and prizes given to those excelling in athletics and poetry, and that at these games ‘Herodotus read his History and Isocrates his orations (at least had them read by another, for his voice was so bad that he never read himself)’ (ii.120, ed. Lothian 133). Smith considers Herodotus as a historian on LRBL ii.47–9, ed. Lothian 101, and Isocrates at ii.121–2, ed. Lothian 134. The earnings of the latter are calculated in I.x.c. 39 and Vi.g.40.
[28 ]See above, V.i.a.12 and below, § 58.
[29 ]‘The laws and customs relating to the acquisition of wealth are better in Rome than at Carthage. At Carthage nothing which results in profit is regarded as disgraceful; at Rome nothing is considered more so than to accept bribes and seek gain from improper channels. . . . Among the Greeks, apart from other things, members of the government, if they are entrusted with no more than a talent, though they have ten copyists and as many seals and twice as many witnesses, cannot keep their faith; whereas among the Romans those who as magistrates and legates are dealing with large sums of money maintain correct conduct just because they have pledged their faith by oath.’ (Polybius, History, vi. 56, translated by W. R. Paton in Loeb Classical Library (1927), iii.394–5 and 396–7.) In LRBL ii.54–5, ed. Lothian 104 Polybius is described as the first writer ‘who enters into the civill history of the nations he treats of’ and as both ‘instructing and agreable’ in view of the ‘distinctness and accuracy with which he has related a series of events.’
[30 ]Dionysius attributes to Romulus ‘that good discipline . . . by the observance of which the Romans have kept their commonwealth flourishing for many generations; for he established many good and useful laws’. Later he contrasts Roman practice with the ‘lax manners of the Greeks’. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities, II.xxiv–xxvii. translated by E. Spelman, revised by E. Cary in Loeb Classical Library (1937), i.377–89. In LRBL ii.57, ed. Lothian 105, Livy is mentioned as having provided a particular account of the Roman constitution and Dion as one who wrote for ‘Greeks unacquainted with these matters’. Dionysius is described at ii.229, ed. Lothian 182, as a ‘critick of great penetration’ and is among the most frequently quoted authorities in these lectures, particularly with regard to Smith’s lectures on the history of historians (lecture 19).
[31 ]‘Then good speech and good music, and grace and good rhythm, follow good nature, not that silliness which we call good nature in compliment, but the mind that is really well and nobly constituted in character.’ (Plato, Republic, iii.400, tranlated by A. D. Lindsay in Everyman Library (1935), 83–4.)
[32 ]‘It is evident what an influence music has over the disposition of the mind, and how variously it can fascinate it: and if it can do this, most certainly it is what youth ought to be instructed in.’ (Aristotle, Politics, 1340b, translated by W. Ellis in Everyman Library (1912), 247.)
[33 ]‘The practice of music . . . is beneficial to all men, but to Arcadians it is a necessity.’ (Polybius, History, iv.20, translated by W. R. Paton in Loeb Classical Library (1925), ii. 348–9.)
[34 ]‘That judicious writer, Polybius, informs us that music was necessary to soften the manners of the Arcadians, who lived in a cold, gloomy country . . . Plato is not afraid to affirm that there is no possibility of making a change in music without altering the frame of government. Aristotle, who seems to have written his ‘Politics’ only in order to contradict Plato, agrees with him, notwithstanding, in regard to the power and influence of music over the manners of the people. . . . Esprit, IV.viii.1. He went on: ‘Thus in the Greek republics the magistrates were extremely embarrassed. They would not have the citizens apply themselves to trade, to agriculture, or to the arts, and yet they would not have them idle. They found, therefore, employment for them in gymnic and military exercises; and none else were allowed by their institution. Hence the Greeks must be considered as a society of wrestlers and boxers. Now these exercises having a natural tendency to render people hardy and fierce, there was a necessity for tempering them with others that might soften their manners. For this purpose, music, which influences the mind by means of the corporeal organs, was extremely proper. It is a kind of medium between manly exercises, which harden the body, and speculative sciences, which are apt to render us unsociable and sour. It cannot be said that music inspired virtue, for this would be inconceivable: but it prevented the effects of a savage institution, and enabled the soul to have such a share in the education as it could never have had without the assistance of harmony.’ (Montesquieu, Esprit, IV.viii.5.)
[35 ]For example: ‘Then Odysseus of many wiles answered him and said: “Then will I tell thee what seems to me to be the best way. First bathe yourselves, and put on your tunics, and bid the handmaids in the halls to take their raiment. But let the divine minstrel with his clear–toned lyre in hand be our leader in the gladsome dance, that any man who hears the sound from without, whether a passer–by or one of those who dwell around, may say that it is a wedding feast; and so the rumour of the slaying of the wooers shall not be spread abroad throughout the city before we go forth to our well–wooded farm. There shall we afterwards devise whatever advantage the Olympians may vouchsafe us” . . . So he spoke, and they all readily hearkened and obeyed. First they bathed, and put on their tunics, and the women arrayed themselves, and the divine minstrel took the hollow lyre and aroused in them the desire of sweet song and goodly dance. So the great hall resounded all about with the tread of dancing men and of fair–girdled women.’ (Homer, Odyssey, xxiii.129–48, translated by A. T. Murray in Loeb Classical Library (1935), ii.382–5. ‘Therein fashioned he also two cities of mortal men exceeding fair. In the one there were marriages and feastings, and by the light of the blazing torches they were leading the brides from their bowers through the city, and loud rose the bridal song. And young men were whirling in the dance, and in their midst flutes and lyres sounded continually; and there the women stood each before her door and marvelled.’ (Homer, Iliad, xviii.490–6, translated by A. T. Murray, in the Loeb Classical Library (1937), ii.334–5.)
[36 ]The same phrase is used above, I.vi.6.
[q–q]in their old age those parents 1
[37 ]‘He enacted a law that no son who had not been taught a trade should be compelled to support his father.’ (Plutarch, Life of Solon, xxii, translated by B. Perrin, Plutarch’s Lives, Loeb Classical Library (1914), i.465. See also: ‘An Athenian law obliged children to provide for their fathers when fallen into poverty; it excepted those who were born of a courtesan, those whose chastity had been infamously prostituted by their father, and those to whom he had not given any means of gaining a livelihood.’ (Montesquieu, Esprit, XXVI.v.1, 2.) ‘At Athens all Children were forced to assist their Parents, if they came to Want: But Solon made a Law, that no Son should be oblig’d to relieve his Father, who had not bred him up to any Calling.’ (Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees, pt.i.46, ed. Kaye i.59.)
[38 ]Cf. Astronomy, IV.18: ‘Philosophers, long before the age of Hipparchus, seem to have abandoned the study of nature, to employ themselves chiefly in ethical, rhetorical, and dialectical questions.’ LRBL ii.213–14, ed. Lothian 175, comments: ‘Whatever branch of Philosophy has been most cultivated and has made the greatest progress will necessarily be most agreable in the prosecution. This, therefore, will be the fashionable science, and a knowledge in it will give a man the Character of a deep philosopher and a man of great knowledge . . . Rhetorick and Logick or Dialectick were those undoubtedly which had made the greatest progress amongst the ancients. . .’ A similar point is made with regard to Rome at ii.237, ed. Lothian 187.
[39 ]Smith discusses the emoluments of classical teachers at I.x.c.39. See also V.i.g.40, where it is remarked that the greater part of the eminent men of letters were public or private teachers.
[40 ]‘. . . the Emperor has established, as you know, an allowance, not inconsiderable, for the philosophers according to sect—the Stoics, I mean, the Platonics, and the Epicureans; also those of the Walk, the same amount for each of these. It was stipulated that when one of them died another should be appointed in his stead, after being approved by vote of the first citizens. And the prize was not a shield of hide or a victim as the poet has it [Homer, Iliad, xxii.159], but a matter of ten thousand drachmas a year, for instructing boys.’ (Lucian, Eunuchus, iii, translated by A. M. Harmon in Loeb Classical Library (1936), v.333. Smith comments on the excellence of Lucian’s work as a writer in LRBL 9.
[41 ]In LJ (B) 26, ed. Cannan 19, Smith commented on the powers of the chieftains in the early period of society and stated that ‘They would be afraid to trust matters of importance to a few, and accordingly we find that at Athens, there were 500 judges at the same time.’ The same number is mentioned in LJ (A) iv.17; in LRBL 29 Smith examines the relationship between forms of judicial oratory and the structure of the courts and concluded that in Athens, the orators ‘managed the Courts of Judicature in the same manner as the managers of a play–house do the pit. They place some of their friends in different parts of the pit, and as they clap or hiss the performers the rest join in.’ (ii.207–8, ed. Lothian 173.) He added at ii.200–01, ed. Lothian 169, that: ‘judges, when few in number, will be much more anxious to proceed according to equity than where there is a great number; the blame there is not so easily laid upon any particular person; they are in very little fear of censure.’ In this connection Smith compared the equitable decisions of the House of Lords with those reached by Parliament or the Parlement of Paris; the performance of the praetor at Rome with that of the 500 at Athens. In Rome, with the emergence of the office of judge as a separate employment, the incumbents ‘would be at much greater pains to gain honour and reputation by it. Having less power they would be more timid. They would be at pains even to strengthen their conduct by the authority of their predecessors . . . Whatever, therefore, had been practised by other judges would obtain authority with them, and be received in time as Law. This is the case in England.’ (ii.200, ed. Lothian 168–9.)
[42 ]See above, V.i.f.40.
[43 ]See above, V.i.f.4, where Smith discusses the link between emulation and excellence.
[44 ]See above, V.i.f.7–9.
[45 ]Smith also refers to ‘exploded systems’ at § 34, above.
[v–v]very few 1
[46 ]Cf. LJ (B) 329, ed. Cannan 256: ‘It is remarkable that in every commercial nation the low people are exceedingly stupid. The Dutch vulgar are eminently so, and the English are more so than the Scotch.’ Smith also observed in the same place that the division of labour had adversely affected education by affording an opportunity for employing people very young.
[47 ]The limitation on the division of labour in agriculture is mentioned above, I.i.4, and the variety of knowledge and superior understanding thus required of the agricultural worker at I.x.c.23–4. Cf. I.xi.p.8, where Smith describes the indolence of landlords.
[48 ]Kames also noted that ‘Constant application . . . to a single operation, confines the mind to a single object, and excludes all thought and invention . . . the operator becomes dull and stupid, like a beast of burden.’ (Sketches, V.i.) Adam Ferguson, however, provided what has become perhaps the best–known example in remarking: ‘It may even be doubted, whether the measure of national capacity increases with the advancement of arts. Many mechanical arts, indeed, require no capacity; they succeed best under a total supression of sentiment and reason; and ignorance is the mother of industry as well as of superstition. Reflection and fancy are subject to err; but a habit of moving the hand, or the foot, is independent of either. Manufactures, accordingly, prosper most, where the mind is least consulted, and where the workshop may, without any great effort of imagination, be considered as an engine, the parts of which are men.’ (History of Civil Society, IV.i., ed. Forbes (Edinburgh, 1966), 182–3.)
[49 ]This qualifies the advantages claimed for the division of labour in I.i. See especially I.i.8, where it is claimed the invention reflected the activities of the common workman.
[50 ]Cf. ED 2.14. In TMS V.i.2.8–9 Smith noted a related point with regard to the manners of savage and civilized nations in remarking that the former ‘by the necessity of his situation is inured to every sort of hardship’ and therefore accustomed to ‘give way to none of the passions which . . . distress is apt to excite’. By contrast, ‘The general security and happiness which prevail in ages of civility and politeness, afford little exercise to the contempt of danger, to patience in enduring labour, hunger, and pain.’
[w–w]minds of men are 1
[51 ]See above, I.xi.p.8, where Smith establishes a link between intellectual indolence and security in the case of the landlords as a class.
[52 ]See above, I.ii.4,5.
[53 ]LJ (B) 328–33, ed. Cannan 255–9, reviews the disadvantages of the commercial state and concluded by remarking that ‘The minds of men are contracted, and rendered incapable of elevation, education is despised, or at least neglected, and heroic spirit is almost utterly extinguished. To remedy these defects would be an object worthy of serious attention.’ This form of argument may be related to views which were advanced in the Astronomy. For example, Smith there pointed out that we do not naturally speculate even about complex processes where these are performed in the course of everyday work (II.11) and that the ‘indolent imagination’ does not tend to find exercise in cases where the appearances observed follow an accustomed pattern (II.7). It was essential to Smith’s position that only the unusual encourages thought—exactly the sort of conditions which would be absent in the case of the labourer described in the text.
[54 ]See above, I.viii.23 and n. 17. Cf LJ (B) 329–30, ed. Cannan 256: ‘A boy of 6 or 7 years of age at Birmingham can gain his 3 pence or sixpence a day, and parents find it to be their interest to set them soon to work; thus their education is neglected.’ In the same place, Smith ascribed the superior education of the lower orders in Scotland, not to a different attitude to education, but to the relatively backward condition of the economy: ‘In this country indeed, where the division of labour is not so far advanced, even the meanest porter can read and write, because the price of education is cheap, and because a parent can employ his child no other way at 6 or 7 years of age.’
[55 ]However, Smith noted in TMS VI.iii.49 that people ‘whom nature has formed a good deal below the common level, seem sometimes to rate themselves still more below it than they really are. This humility appears sometimes to sink them into idiotism.’ Smith went on to note that such people, even as adults, may find difficulty in learning ‘notwithstanding that, in their advanced age, they have had spirit enough to attempt to learn what their early education had not taught them’.
[z–z]is capable of being 1
[56 ]LJ (B) 330, ed. Cannan 256, adverts to ‘the benefit of country schools, and, however much neglected, must acknowledge them to be an excellent institution’. In both sets of lectures, Smith associated geometry with its practical uses.
[57 ]See above, IV.v.a.39, where Smith defends the use of premiums designed to encourage particular artists and manufacturers.
[58 ]See below, V.i.g.14, where Smith refers to a rather similar plan for imposing educational requirements on the higher classes.
[59 ]Military training in Greece and Rome is also discussed at V.i.a.12.
[60 ]See above, V.i.a.15.
[61 ]Standing armies as a danger to liberty are mentioned at V.i.a.41.
[a–a]those members 1
[1 ]See above, V.i.f.4, and below, § 42.
[2 ]See above, V.i.a.5, for comment on the Tartars.
[3 ]See above, V.i.f.5 and 55, with regard to instruction in schools and universities.
[4 ]‘For had not this religion of ours been brought back to its original condition by Saint Francis and Saint Dominick, it must soon have been utterly extinguished.’ (N. Machiavelli, Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius, III.i, translated by N. H. Thomson (London, 1883), 331.) It is stated in LRBL ii.70, ed. Lothian 110–11, that ‘Machiavel is of all modern Historians the only one who has contented himself with that which is the chief purpose of History, to relate events and connect them with their causes, without becoming a party on either side.’
[5 ]The original reads ‘for those who reap the benefit of it’.
[6 ]The original reads ‘finances, armies, fleets’.
[7 ]Hume, History of England (1778), iii.30–1.
[8 ]In Letter 151 addressed to Smith, dated 3 April 1776, Blair commented: ‘Independency was at no time a popular or practicable System. The little Sects you Speak of, would for many reasons, have Combined together into greater bodies, & done much Mischief to Society. You are, I think, too favourable by much to Presbytery.’
[9 ]See above, IV.v.b.40, where the laws governing subsistence are likened to those of religion.
[10 ]‘The independents rejected all ecclesiastical establishments, and would admit of no church–courts, no government among pastors, no interposal of the magistrate in spiritual concerns, no fixed encouragement annexed to any system of doctrines or opinions.’ (Hume, History of England (1778), vii.19.)
[11 ]See below, V.i.g.29.
[12 ]Smith also comments on the problems of large manufactories at I.viii.48. He says in TMS I.iii.2.1. that men are more disposed to admire riches rather than sympathize with poverty, and that ‘to feel that we are taken no notice of, necessarily damps the most agreeable hope, and disappoints the most ardent desire, of human nature. The poor man goes out and comes in unheeded, and when in the midst of a crowd is in the same obscurity as if shut up in his own hovel.’ Adam Ferguson also referred to the fact that great numbers confined in cities ‘are exposed to corruption, become profligate, licentious, seditious, and incapable of government or public affections’ (Institutes of Moral Philosophy (Edinburgh, 1772; 3rd ed. 1785), 262). See also Kames, Sketches, II.xi, and cf. Steuart, Principles, I.x.
[13 ]Hume also remarked in his essay ‘Of the Populousness of Ancient Nations’ that enormous cities are ‘destructive to society’, and that they ‘beget vice and disorder of all kinds’ (Essays Moral, Political, and Literary, ed. Green and Grose, i.398). In LJ (B) 330, ed. Cannan 257, Smith refers to the problem of the modern worker who lacks ideas to amuse himself, so that when away from his work ‘he must therefore betake himself to drunkeness and riot’, citing the example of the commercial part of England where the work of one half of the week is sufficient to maintain the labourer, with the remainder passed in riot and debauchery: ‘So it may very justly be said that the people who cloathe the whole world are in rags themselves.’
[14 ]The problem of faction attracted a good deal of attention in the TMS. See for example III.i.3.43, where it is asserted that ‘Of all the corrupters of moral sentiments . . . faction and fanaticism have always been by far the greatest’. Smith also expressed concern over the influence exerted by ‘false notions of religion’ at III.i.6.12. See especially chapter 6.
[15 ]Smith refers to the capacity to impose educational standards on the poor at V.i.f.57.
[16 ]Persons practising such arts are described as unproductive at II.iii.2. It will be observed, however, that in the present context such people emerge as being indirectly productive of benefit to society.
[h–h]Roman Catholic 1
[17 ]In LJ (B) 353–4, ed. Cannan 276–7, Smith also noted that the Pope had residents or legates in all the courts of Europe: ‘The very same reason that makes embassies now so frequent induced the Pope formerly to fall upon this method. He had business in all the countries of Europe and a great part of his revenue was collected from them, and as they were continualy attempting to infringe the right he claimed, he found it necessary to have a person constantly residing at their courts to see that his priviledges were preserved.’ Smith added that the fact that the Pope had representatives in all the courts of Europe made them ‘more nearly connected, and he obliged them to treat one another with more humanity’.
[18 ]In LJ (A) v.30 Smith refers to the advantages which the clergy derived from having the ‘directions of the consciences of dying persons’. LJ (A) i.108 mentions an additional source of benefit arising from the Bishops’ position of trust (as holy men) in the distribution of inheritances. Smith states that the law was changed in the time of Edward I in order to avoid such abuses.
[19 ]Tithes are stated to be very unequal taxes and a great discouragement to agriculture at V.ii.d.2,3.
[20 ]Similar points are made regarding the power of the barons at III.iv.5.
[21 ]See above, III.iv.9
[22 ]See above, V.i.f.19. LJ (A) ii.111–13 and LJ (B) 187–8, ed. Cannan 140–1, refer to the benefit of clergy and its application to capital cases, indicating that the test of ability to read was introduced in order to restrict the application of the benefit; a qualification dispensed with by a statute of Queen Anne. LJ (A) ii.51 also points out that in Scotland, anciently, the people regarded the clergy with reverence and as the chief support of the peoples’ rights in administering the Canon or Ecclesiastical Law: ‘Thus an ecclesiasticall court, which in a country where the regulations of the civill government are arriv’d to a considerable perfection is one of the greatest nuisances imaginable, may be of very great benefit in a state where the civil government is baddly regulated; just in the same way as corporations may be very advantageous in a low state of the arts tho of the greatest detriment where they are carried to a considerable length.’
[23 ]LJ (A) v.66 mentions Elizabeth, Henry VIII and Edward VI as being in ‘continuall danger from the plots and conspiracies of the bigotted Papists, spurred on by their Priests’. The same point is made at v.79, where it is remarked that at the times of John and Henry III the country was ‘little more than a fief of the Holy See’, thus making it necessary to curb the Pope’s power. As a result, it became a criminal offence to bring over Papal bulls, to magnify the Pope’s power or convert to his religion. Smith suggests at LJ (A) v.68 that such statutes might now be repealed, although ‘altogether reasonable at that time’ and added at v.73–4 that: ‘The zeal of that religion is greatly abated in many points, and tho it might be reasonable to discourage it by imposing double taxes or such like penalties, it can hardly be reasonable to punish as treason the weakness of anyone who was so silly as to prefer the Roman Catholick to the Protestant religion.’
[24 ]It is remarked in LJ (A) iii.121 that the clergy encouraged the relaxation of the authority of the great proprietors over their villeins as a means of reducing their power and that: ‘They saw too perhaps that their lands were but very ill cultivated when under the management of these villains. They therefore thought it would be more for their own advantage to emancipate their villains and enter into an agreement with them with regard to the cultivation of their lands. In this manner slavery came to be abollished.’ See also III.iii, where Smith discusses the causes of decline in the power of the temporal lords.
[25 ]See above, § 20–1.
[26 ]‘These two species of religion, the superstitious and fanatical, stand in diametrical opposition to each other; and a large portion of the latter must necessarily fall to his share, who is so couragious as to control authority, and so assuming as to obtrude his own innovations upon the world.’ (Hume, History of England (1754), i.7.)
[27 ]See above, V.i.g.11.
[28 ]Hume commented on Scotland: ‘And tho’ the new preachers acquired a mighty influence over the people, it was not merely by their priestly rank or office, but by the seeming austerity of their lives, and the eloquence of their zealous lectures.’ (History of England (1754), i.60–1.)
[l–l]the general prevalence of those doctrines 1
[29 ]10 Anne, c.21 (1711) in Statutes of the Realm, ix.680–1; 10 Anne, c.12 in Ruffhead’s edition.
[30 ]‘Porée (Charles), né en Normandie en 1675, jésuite; du petit nombre de professeurs qui ont eu de la célébrité chez les gens du monde; éloquent dans le goût de Sénèque; poëte, et très bel esprit. Son plus grand mérite fut de faire aimer les lettres et la vertu à ses disciples.’ (Voltaire, Siècle de Louis XIV, in Oeuvres (Paris, 1878), i.116–17.) In the concluding paragraph of his Letter to the Edinburgh Review, Smith refers to ‘Mr Voltaire, the most universal genius perhaps which France has ever produced’. Smith greatly admired Voltaire, and it is known that while in France as tutor to Buccleuch he made a journey to Geneva in order to see him. Rae, Life, 189.
[31 ]See above, V.i.f.5, ff. where Smith considers the additional problem presented by large endowments of schools and colleges.
[32 ]See above, V.i.f.43. The emoluments of such teachers are considered at I.x.c.39.
[33 ]In LRBL ii.218, ed. Lothian 177, Lysias is described as ‘the most ancient of all the Orators whose works have come to our hands’. Smith considers the demonstrative eloquence of Plato, Isocrates, and Lysias in lecture 23.
[o]Several of those whom we do not know with certainty to have been public teachers, appear to have been private tutors. Polybius, we know, was private tutor to Scipio Æmilianus. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, there are some probable reasons for believing, was so to the children of Marcus and Quintus Cicero. 2
[34 ]Tithes are considered below, V.ii.d.
[35 ]This is probably a reference to the physiocrats; see below, V.ii.c.7.
[36 ]See below, V.ii.a.9, and above, I.ix.10. Hume stated that the canton of Berne had £300,000 lent at interest and ‘above six times as much in their treasury’, citing the authority of Stanian. ‘Of the Balance of Trade’, Essays Moral, Political, and Literary, ed. Green and Grose, i.342.
[37 ]Cf. V.i.f.4.
[38 ]See above, V.i.g.1,29.
[1 ]See below, V.iii.3.
[1 ]Peages are considered below, V.ii.k.56.
[1 ]The constitution of the Tartar state is described in V.i.b.7.
[* ]See Memoires concernant les Droits & Impositions en Europe: tome i. page 73. This work was compiled by the order of the court for the use of a commission employed for some years past in considering the proper means for reforming the finances of France. The account of the French taxes, which takes up three volumes in quarto, may be regarded as perfectly authentic. That of those of other European nations was compiled from such informations as the French ministers at the different courts could procure. It is much shorter, and probably not quite so exact as that of the French taxes.
[2 ]‘La Cave de ville & l’Apothicairerie forment encore un objet de revenu tres considerable’. De Beaumont, Mémoires, i.73.
[3 ]The Bank of Amsterdam is described above, IV.iii.b.
[4 ]The same figure is cited at II.ii.84.
[5 ]The same figure is cited at V.i.e.18.
[6 ]On the extravagance of government, a frequent theme, see for example II.iii.31, 36, V.iii.8, 49, 58.
[7 ]See above, V.i.d.3.
[8 ]‘In his commercial affairs he [Lorenzo de Medici] was very unfortunate, from the improper conduct of his agents, who in all their proceedings assumed the deportment of princes rather than of private persons; so that in many places, much of his property was wasted, and he had to be relieved by his country with large sums of money. To avoid similar inconvenience, he withdrew from mercantile pursuits, and invested his property in land and houses, as being less liable to vicissitude.’ (N. Machiavelli, History of Florence, book VIII, translated (London, 1851), 400–1.)
[9 ]On this point see IV.vii.b.11 and generally IV.vii.c.101–8, V.i.e.26–30.
[10 ]See above, IV.i.25, where it is pointed out that treasures are of little importance in modern times.
[11 ]De Beaumont, Mémoires, i.155. See above, V.i.g.41 and below, V.iii.3 where Smith comments on the treasure amassed by the canton. Smith also mentioned Dutch holdings in English and French funds at I.ix.10.
[* ]See aMemoires concernant les Droits & Impositiones en Europe; tome i. p. 73a [‘Par ce moyen elle procure à ses point onéreuses, & elle se ménage un gain considérable, qui passeroit aux usuriers qui, avant cet établissement, exigeoient des intérêts outrés, tels que Soixante ou Quatre–vingt pour cent.’ (De Beaumont, Mémoires, i.73.)]
[12 ]The issue of colonial paper money is discussed above, II.ii.102, V.iii.81. See generally II.ii. The same figure for the expence of colonial government is cited at IV.vii.b.20.
[13 ]The point is made with reference to Bengal at IV.vii.c.102.
[14 ]The expence of war in the modern, as compared to the classical state, is discussed at V.i.a.12–14 and 43. See generally V.i.a.
[15 ]The example of Greece is given in LJ (B) 309, ed. Cannan 238, and the comment made that: ‘In all barbarous countries we find lands appropriated to the purposes of sovereignty, and therefore little occasion for taxes and customs. We shall shew that this is a bad police, and one cause of the slow progress of opulence.’
[16 ]See above, V.i.a.6.
[17 ]Above, V.i.b.13.
[18 ]Smith also comments on the limited expence of such government at V.iii.2.
[19 ]In the year ended 10 October 1776, the land and assessed taxes, and duties on pensions, offices, and personal estates yielded net income of £1,875,057 13s. Public Income and Expenditure, Part I, 174. British Parliamentary Papers, 1868–69. XXV.
[20 ]In LJ (B) 289, 309, ed. Cannan 224 and 238, the land rent of England is given as 24 millions. The expenses of government are stated to be 3 millions at p. 309 and the conclusion reached that ‘a land rent to serve all these purposes would be the most improper thing in the world’ (310, ed. Cannan 239).
[21 ]The same figure is cited above, II.iii.9, I.xi.c.20.
[22 ]See above, III.iv.3. In commenting on the inadequacy of the land tax to meet Britain’s fiscal needs, Smith remarked that the crown lands were unlikely to be even ‘half as well cultivated as the rest’ (LJ (B) 309, ed. Cannan 239).
[1 ]Above, I.vi.16, 17.
[2 ]Montesquieu also commented that taxes on merchandise were least felt by the people, since they tended to confound them with the price. XIII.vii.5. See also XIII.xiv.3, where it is pointed out that where such taxes prevail, and the liberty of the subject is secure, the merchant in effect advances money to the government by paying the duties which he has to collect subsequently through the sale of his commodities.
[3 ]See below, V.ii.k.27, 49, 64, 75.
[* ]See Sketches of the History of Man, page 474. & seq. [By Henry Home, Lord Kames (Edinburgh, 1774). Kames provided in this place the following six rules regarding taxation.
While citing Kames’s authority, in fact Smith’s discussion of taxation as contained in LJ (B) illustrates many of the canons above mentioned; for example, equality 310, ed. Cannan 240; economy 311–12, ed. Cannan 240–1; and convenience 314–15, ed. Cannan 242–3. He also emphasized the importance of levying taxes in such a way as to avoid infringing the liberty of the subject at 313(241). In LJ (A) vi.34 Smith refers to the ‘insolence and oppression’ of the officers who collect taxes as being ‘still more insupportable’ than the tax itself. Hutcheson would also appear to have anticipated at least the canons of conveniency, economy, and equity: ‘As to taxes for defraying the publick expences, these are most convenient which are laid on matters of luxury and splendour, rather than the necessaries of life; on foreign products and manufactures, rather than domestick; and such as can be easily raised without many expensive offices for collecting them. But above all, a just proportion to the wealth of people should be observed in whatever is raised from them, otherways than by duties upon foreign products and manufactures, for such duties are often necessary to encourage industry at home, tho’ there were no publick expences.’ (System, ii.340–1.) Sir James Steuart also grasped the importance of convenience, economy, certainty, and equity in discussing the canons of taxation. See for example, Principles, V.iv–v.]
[4 ]See below, V.ii.k.65, V.iii.55. Montesquieu also comments on the taxgatherer ‘rummaging and searching’ in the houses of the people in stating that ‘nothing is more contrary than this to liberty’. Esprit, XIII.vii.7.
[b]as they could contrive 1
[1 ]4 William and Mary, c. 1 (1692).
[2 ]LJ (B) 312, ed. Cannan 241, states that the land–tax ‘does not tend to raise the price of commodities, . . . If the tenant pays the tax he pays just so much less rent.’
[3 ]Cf. LJ (B) 311, ed. Cannan 240: ‘Taxes upon land possessions have this great advantage, that they are levied without any great expence. The whole land–tax of England does not cost the government above 8 or 10,000 pounds.’ This is in contrast to the customs and excise which required ‘legions of officers’. See below, V.ii.k.62.
[4 ]Cf. LJ (B) 317, ed. Cannan 244: ‘The land–tax in England is permanent and uniform and does not rise with the rent, which is regulated by the improvement of the land.’
[c–c]The tax, therefore, does not 1
[5 ]See above, I.xi.e.15, where Smith discusses the more popular and contrary view with respect to the value of silver.
[6 ]See above, I.xi.f, and cf. IV.i.32 for a discussion of this point.
[7 ]See above, IV.ix.38, and generally, IV.ix.
[8 ]See above, IV.ix.7.
[* ]Memoires concernant les Droits, p. 240, 241. [‘Les Impositions territoriales consistent principalement dans une dixme générale, ou dans un droit de Dix pour cent du revenu des terres labourables, qui sont toutes décrites dans des registres ou cadastres qui sont dans les archives des Gouverneurs des revenus. Cette dixme, quant aux terres qui sont affermées, se lève sur le prix du bail; lorsque le Propriétaire fait valoir par luimême, la dixme se perçoit par estimation; on fait remise au Propriétaire d’un cinquième, au moyen de quoi il ne paye que Huit pour cent du revenu.’ (De Beaumont, Mémoires, i.240.)]
[9 ]As Smith stated in TMS IV.i.2.8 (see above, II.iii): ‘The pleasure which we are to enjoy ten years hence interests us so little in comparison with that which we may enjoy today; . . . ’ Smith comments on the ignorance of landlords at I.xi.a.1 and on the origin of long lesses at III.iv.13.
[10 ]A reflection of Smith’s view that the landlord was unlikely to be a successful improver. See above, III.ii.7 and III.iv.3, 13.
[11 ]It will be observed in these two cases that Smith defends the use of taxation as a means to control the activities of individuals as distinct from merely raising revenue. This constitutes an interesting qualification perhaps to the general position stated at IV.ix.51. Cf. V.ii.k.7, 50.
[12 ]Cf. III.ii.7.
[13 ]The same principle appears at III.ii.13 in the discussion of the historical development of leases, and see below, V.ii.d.3.
[14 ]Cf. LJ (B) 317, ed. Cannan 244: ‘When we know that the produce is to be divided with those who lay out nothing, it hinders us from laying out what we would otherwise do upon the improvement of our lands.’
[15 ]The Domesday Book is also mentioned at III.iii.2.
[* ]Memoires concernant les Droits, &c. tome i. p. 114, 115, 116, &c. [‘Les terres sont distribuées en différentes classes, selon la qualité du terrain, sa situation, ses avantages pour le commerce; & de temps en temps, ou fait la révision de cette distribution des terres.’ ‘Les Propriétaires payent environ Vingt ou Vingt–cinq pour cent de leur revenu, c’est–à–dire à peu–près le quart; & les Ecclesiastiques payent Quarante ou Quarantecinq pour cent, c’est–à–dire près de moitié.’ (De Beaumont, Mémoires, i.114 and 115.)]
[16 ]‘Les impositions territoriales ont été fixées & déterminées d’après un cadastre, qui a été formé depuis quelques années avec la plus grande attention, & dans lequel les différentes natures de biens & leur produit annuel, sont distingués avec la plus grande exactitude.’ (De Beaumont, Mémoires, i.117.) Details of the rates of taxes are given in i.119.
[* ]Memoires concernant les Droits, &c. tome i. p. 83, 84. [Details of the cadastral survey of Bohemia and of the methods of assessment are in De Beaumont, Mémoires, i.79 and 83–85.]
[† ]Id. p. 280, &c. also p. 287, &c. to 316. [‘Les inexactitudes [etc.] . . . ces circonstances engagèrent l’Empereur Charles VI, à reprendre les moyens qui furent jugés les plus propres à parvenir par la voie d’un cadastre général à une imposition réelle; mais ce n’a été qu’en 1760 que cet ouvrage a été conduit à son entière perfection par les soins de l’Impératrice–Reine. Le base de cette operation a été un plan figuré & topographique de tout le territoire de Milan . . . ’ (De Beaumont, Mémoires, i.280–1.)]
[17 ]Ibid., i.115. See above, V.ii.c.22.
[18 ]Ibid. i.282.
[19 ]Ibid., i.119.
[20 ]De Beaumont comments on Sardinia: ‘Sous prétexte des priviléges, les Nobles & les Ecclesiastiques, ainsi que les Châtelains, les principaux Fermiers, les Praticiens & autres gens riches, s’exemptoient de payer les portions de taille qu’ils devoient supporter; les communantés n’osant les y contraindre, par la crainte des mauvais traitemens, on d’être constitués dans de grandes, dépenses par la longeur des procès.’ (Mémoires, i.291.) For France see below V.ii.g.7 and note.
[21 ]See below, V.iii.70, where Smith mentions the accurate surveys recently undertaken by the governments of Milan, Austria, Prussia and Sardinia. See also below, V.ii.g.6.
[f–f][misspelt ‘tallie’ here and 6 lines lower down in 2–5; also in the index under the article ‘Montauban’.]
[* ]Memories concernant les Droits, &c. tome ii, p. 139, &c. [cf. particularly, ii.145–7.]
[* ]See aMemoires concernant les Droits & Impositiones en Europe; tome i. p. 73a [‘Par ce moyen elle procure à ses point onéreuses, & elle se ménage un gain considérable, qui passeroit aux usuriers qui, avant cet établissement, exigeoient des intérêts outrés, tels que Soixante ou Quatre–vingt pour cent.’ (De Beaumont, Mémoires, i.73.)]