Sir James Steuart (1767)

An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy


Chap. V In what Manner, and according to what Principles, and political Causes, does Agriculture augment Population?

I have already shewn, how the spontaneous fruits of the earth provide a fund of nourishment for a determinate number of men, and have slightly touched upon the consequences of adding labour to the natural activity of the soil.

Let me now carry this inquiry a little farther. Let me suppose a country fertile in spontaneous productions, capable of improvements of every kind, inhabited by a people living under a free government, and in the most refined simplicity, without trade, without the luxurious arts, and without ambition. Let me here suppose a statesman, who shall inspire a taste for agriculture and for labour into those who formerly consumed the spontaneous fruits of the earth in ease and idleness. What will become of this augmentation of food produced by this additional labour?

The sudden increase of food, such as that here supposed, will immediately diffuse vigour into all; and if the additional quantity be not very great, no superfluity will be found. No sooner will the inhabitants be fully nourished, but they will begin to multiply a-new: then they will come to divide with their children, and food will become scarce again.

Thus much is necessary for the illustration of one principle; but the effects, which we have been pointing out, will not be produced barely by engaging those who lived by hunting (I suppose) to quit that trade, and turn farmers. The statesman must also find out a method to make the produce of this new branch of industry circulate downwards, so as to relieve the wants of the most necessitous: Otherwise, the plenty produced, remaining in the hands of those who produced it, will become to them an absolute superfluity; which, had they any trade with a neighbouring state, they would sell, or exchange, and leave their fellow-citizens to starve. And as we suppose no trade at all, this superfluity will perish like their cherries, in a year of plenty; and consequently the farmers will immediately give over working.

If, to prevent this inconveniency, the statesman shall force certain classes to labour the soil, and, with discretion, distribute the produce of it to all that have occasion for subsistence, taking in return their services for the public benefit; this will prove an infallible way of multiplying inhabitants, of making them laborious, and of preserving a simplicity of manners; but it is also the picture of ancient slavery, and is therefore excluded from the supposition.

If he acts consistently with that spirit of liberty, which we have supposed to animate his subjects, he has no method left, but to contrive different employments for the hands of the necessitous, that, by their labour, they may produce an equivalent which may be acceptable to the farmers, in lieu of this superfluity; for these last certainly will not raise it, if they cannot dispose of it; nor will they dispose of it, but for a proper equivalent. This is the only method (in a free state) of procuring additional food, and of distributing it through the society, as the price of those hours which before were spent in idleness: and, as this will prove a more certain and more extensive fund of subsistence, than the precarious productions of spontaneous fruits, which cannot be increased at discretion, and in proportion to demand, it will greatly increase numbers; but, on the other hand, it must evidently destroy that simplicity of manners which naturally reigns among nations who do not labour.

A people, therefore, who have an industrious turn, will multiply in proportion to the superfluity produced by their farmers; because the labour of the necessitous will prove an equivalent for it.

Now this additional number of inhabitants, being raised and fed with the superfluity actually produced by the farmers, can never be supposed necessary for providing this quantity, which (though relatively to the farmers it be called a superfluity) is merely a sufficiency relatively to the whole society. and, therefore, if it be found necessary to employ the new inhabitants also in farming, it must be with a view only to a still greater multiplication.

Farther, we may lay it down as a principle, that a farmer will not labour to produce a superfluity of grain relatively to his own consumption, unless he finds some want which may be supplied by means of that superfluity'. neither will other industrious persons work to supply the wants of the farmer for any other reason than to procure subsistence, which they cannot otherwise so easily obtain. These are the reciprocal wants which the statesman must create, in order to bind the society together. Here, then, is one principle: Agriculture among a free people will augment population, in proportion only as the necessitous are put in a situation to purchase subsistence with their labour.

If, in any country which actually produces nourishment for its inhabitants, according to the progression above-mentioned, a plan is set on foot for the extension of agriculture; the augmentation must be made to bear a due proportion to the progress of industry and wants of the people, or else an outlet must be provided for disposing of the superfluity. And if, at setting out, a foreign consumption cannot be procured for the produce of husbandry, the greatest caution must be had to keep the improvement of the soil within proper bounds: for, without this, the plan intended for an improvement will, by over-doing, turn out to the detriment of agriculture. This will be the case, if the fruits of the earth be made to increase faster than the numbers and the industry of those who are to consume them. For if the whole be not consumed, the regorging plenty will discourage the industry of the farmer.

But if, together with an encouragement to agriculture, a proper outlet be found for the superfluity, until the numbers and industry of the people, by increasing, shall augment the home-consumption, which again by degrees will diminish the quantity of exportation, then the spring will easily overcome the resistance; it will dilate; that is, numbers will continue to increase.

From this may be derived another principle: That agriculture, when encouraged for the sake of multiplying inhabitants, must keep pace with the progress of industry; or else an outlet must be provided for all superfluity.

In the foregoing example, I have supposed no exportation, the more to simplify the supposition: I was, therefore, obliged to throw in a circumstance, in order to supply the want of it; to wit, an augmentation of inland demand from the suspension of hunting; and I have supposed those who formerly supported themselves by this, to consume the superfluous food of the farmers for the price of their labour. This may do well enough as a supposition, and has been made use of merely to explain principles. but the manners of a people are not so easily changed; and therefore I have a little anticipated the supposition of trade, to shew only how it must concur with industry, in the advancement of agriculture and multiplication.

Let me next consider the consequences of an augmentation of agriculture in a country where the inhabitants are lazy; or where they live in such simplicity of manners, as to have few wants which labour and industry can supply. In this case, I say, the scheme of agriculture will not succeed; and, if set on foot, a part of the grounds will soon become again uncultivated.

The laziest part of the farmers, disgusted with a labour which produces a plenty superfluous to themselves, which they cannot dispose of for any equivalent, will give over working, and return to their ancient simplicity. The more laborious will not furnish food to the necessitous for nothing: such therefore who cannot otherwise subsist, will naturally serve the industrious, and thereby sell their service for food. Thus by the diminution of labour, a part of the country, proportional to the quantity of food which the farmers formerly found superfluous, will again become uncultivated.

Here then will be found a country, the population of which must stop for want of food; and which, by the supposition, is abundantly able to produce more. Experience every where shews the possible existence of such a case, since no country in Europe is cultivated to the utmost: and that there are many still, where cultivation, and consequently multiplication, is at a stop. These nations I consider as in a moral incapacity of multiplying: the incapacity would be physical, if there was an actual impossibility of their procuring an augmentation of food by any means whatsoever.

These principles seem to be confirmed by experience; whether we compare them with the manner of living among the free American savages, or among the free, industrious, and laborious Europeans. We find the productions of all countries, generally speaking, in proportion to the number of their inhabitants; and, on the other hand, the inhabitants are most commonly in proportion to the food.

I beg that this may not be looked upon as a quibble, or what is called a vicious circle. I have qualified the general proposition by subjoining that it is found true most commonly; and from what is to follow, we shall better discover both the truth and meaning of what is here advanced. While certain causes operate, food will augment, and mankind will increase in proportion; when these causes cease, procreation will not augment numbers; then the general proposition will take place; numbers and food will remain the same, and balance one another. This I imagine to be so in fact; and I hope to shew that it is rational also. Let me now put an end to this chapter, by drawing some conclusions from what has been laid down, in order to enlarge our ideas, and to enable us to extend our plan.

First, One consequence of a fruitful soil, possessed by a free people, given to agriculture, and inclined to industry, will be the production of a superfluous quantity of food, over and above what is necessary to feed the farmers. Inhabitants will multiply; and, according to their increase, a certain number of the whole, proportional to such superfluity of nourishment produced, will apply themselves to industry and to the supplying of other wants.

Secondly, From this operation produced by industry, we find the people distributed into two classes. The first is that of the farmers who produce the subsistence, and who are necessarily employed in this branch of business; the other I shall call free hands; because their occupation being to procure themselves subsistence out of the superfluity of the farmers, and by a labour adapted to the wants of the society, may vary according to these wants, and these again according to the spirit of the times.

Thirdly, If, in the country we are treating of, both money and the luxurious arts be supposed to be unknown, then the superfluity of the farmers will be in proportion to the number of those whose labour will be found sufficient to provide for all the other necessities of the inhabitants; and, so soon as this is accomplished, the consumption and produce becoming equally balanced, the inhabitants will increase no more, or at least very precariously, unless their wants be multiplied.

Chap. VI How the Wants of Mankind promote their Multiplication

If the country we were treating of in the former chapter be supposed of a considerable extent and fruitfulness, and if the inhabitants have turn for industry, in a short time luxury, and the use of money (or of something participating of the nature of money), will infallibly be introduced.

By LUXURY, I understand the consumption of any thing produced by the labour or ingenuity of man, which flatters our senses or taste of living, and which is neither necessary for our being well fed, well clothed, well defended against the injuries of the weather, or for securing us against every thing which can hurt us.

By MONEY, I understand any commodity, which purely in itself is of no material use to man for the purposes above-mentioned, but which acquires such an estimation from his opinion of it, as to become the universal measure of what is called value, and an adequate equivalent for any thing alienable.

Here a new scene opens. This money must be found in the hands of some of the inhabitants; naturally, of such as have had the wit to invent it, and the address to make their countrymen fond of it, by representing it as an equivalent value for food and necessaries; that is to say, the means of procuring, without work or toil, not only the labour of others, but food itself.

Here then is produced a new object of want. Every person becomes fond of having money; but how to get it is the question. The proprietors will not give it for nothing, and, by our former supposition, every one within the society was understood to be abundantly supplied with food and necessaries; the farmers, from their labouring the ground; the free hands, by the return of their own ingenuity, in furnishing necessaries. The proprietors therefore of this money have all their wants supplied, and still are possessors of this new kind of riches, which we now suppose to be coveted by all.

The natural consequence here will be, that those who have the money will cease to labour, and yet will consume; and they will not consume for nothing, for they will pay with money.

Here then is a number of inhabitants, who live and consume the produce of the earth without labouring; food will soon become scarce; demand for it will rise, and that will be paid with money, this is the best equivalent of all; many will run to the plough; the superfluity of the farmers will augment; the rich will call for superfluities; the free hands will supply them, and demand food in their turn. These will, the rich, who not be found a burden on the husbandman, as formerly hired of them their labour or service, must pay them with money, and this money in their hands will serve as an equivalent for the superfluity of nourishment produced by additional agriculture.

When once this imaginary wealth (money) becomes well introduced into a country, luxury will very naturally follow; and when money becomes the object of our wants, mankind become industrious, in turning their labour towards every object which may engage the rich to part with it; and thus the inhabitants of any country may increase in numbers, until the ground refuses farther nourishment. The consequences of this will make the subject of another chapter.

Before we proceed, something must be said, in order a little to restrain these general assertions.

We have supposed a very rapid progress of industry, and a very sudden augmentation of inhabitants, from the introduction of money. But it must be observed, that many circumstances have concurred with the money to produce this effect.

We have supposed a country capable of improvement, a laborious people, a taste for refinement and luxury in the rich, an ambition to become so, and an application to labour and ingenuity in the lower classes of men. According to the greater or less degree of force, or concurrence of these and like circumstances, will the country in question become more or less cultivated, and consequently peopled.

If the soil be vastly rich, situated in a warm climate, and naturally watered, the productions of the earth will be almost spontaneous: this will make the inhabitants lazy. Laziness is the greatest of all obstacles to labour and industry. Manufactures will never flourish here. The rich, with all their money, will not become luxurious with delicacy and refinement; for I do not mean by luxury the gratification of the animal appetites, nor the abuse of riches, but an elegance of taste and in living, which has for its object the labour and ingenuity of man; and as the ingenuity of workmen begets a taste in the rich, so the allurement of riches kindles an ambition, and encourages an application to works of ingenuity, in the poor.

Riches therefore will here be adored as a god, but not made subservient to the uses of man; and it is by the means of swift circulation only (as shall be observed in its proper place) that they become productive of the effects mentioned above.

When money does not circulate, it is the same thing as if it did not exist; and as the treasures found in countries where the inhabitants are lazy do not circulate, they are rather ornamental than useful.

It is not therefore in the most fruitful countries of the world, nor in those which are the best calculated for nourishing great multitudes, that we find the most inhabitants. It is in climates less favoured by nature, and where the soil produces to those only who labour, and in proportion to the industry of every one, where we may expect to find great multitudes; and even these multitudes will be found greater or less, in proportion as the turn of the inhabitants is directed to ingenuity and industry.

In such countries where industry is made to flourish, the free hands (of whom we have spoken above) will be employed in useful manufactures, which, being refined upon by the ingenious, will determine what is called the standard of taste; this taste will increase consumption, which again will multiply workmen, and these will encourage the production of food for their nourishment.

Let it therefore never be said, that there are too many manufacturers employed in a country; it is the same as if it were said, there are too few idle persons, too few beggars, and too many husbandmen.

We have more than once endeavoured to shew, that these manufacturers never can be fed but out of the superfluity of the farmers. It is a contradiction, I think, to say, that those who are fed upon the surplus of those who cultivate the soil are necessary for producing a sufficiency to themselves. For if even this surplus were to diminish, the manufacturers, not the labourers, would be the first to be extinguished for want of nourishment.

The importance of the distributive proportion of mankind into labourers and free hands appears so great, and has so intimate a connection with this subject, that it engages me to seek for an illustration of the principles I have been laying down, in an example drawn from facts, as they are found to stand in one of the greatest and most flourishing nations in Europe. But before I proceed farther in this part of my subject, I must examine the consequences of slavery with regard to the subject we are now upon. Relations here are so many and so various, that it is necessary to have sometimes recourse to transitions, of which I give notice to my reader, that he may not lose the connection.

Chap. VII The Effects of Slavery upon the Multiplication and Employment of Mankind

Before I go on to follow the consequences of the above reasoning, I must stop to consider a difference of no small importance between ancient and modern times, which will serve to illustrate the nature of slavery, with regard to population and the employment of mankind.

We have endeavoured to lay down the principles which seem to influence this question, supposing all to be free. In this case, I imagine the human species will multiply pretty much in proportion to their industry; their industry will increase according to their wants, and these again will be diversified according to the spirit of the times.

From this I conclude, that the more free and simple the manners of any country are, caeteris paribus, the fewer inhabitants will be found in it. This is proved by experience every where. The Tartars, who freely wander up and down a country of vast extent, multiply but little; the savages in America, who live upon hunting, in a state of great independence; the inhabitants of several mountainous countries in Europe, where there are few manufactures, and where the inhabitants do not leave the country; in all such places mankind do not multiply. What is the reason of this? One would imagine, where there is a great extent of ground capable of producing food, that mankind should multiply until the soil refused to give more. I imagine the answer may be easily discovered from the principles above laid down.

Where mankind have few wants, the number of free hands necessary to supply them is very small, consequently very little surplus from the farmers is sufficient to maintain them. When therefore it happens, that any poor family in the class of free hands is very numerous, division there comes to be carried to its utmost extent, and the greatest part become quite idle, because there is no demand for their work. As long as they can be fed by the division of the emoluments arising from the labour of their parents, or by the charity of others, they live; when these resources fail, they become miserable. In so wretched a situation it is not easy to find bread. The farmers will not double their diligence from a charitable disposition. Those who have land will not allow those indigent people a liberty to raise grain in it for nothing; and although they should, the poor are not in a capacity to provide what is necessary for doing it. All other work is fully stocked, the wretched die, or extinguish without multiplying.

To make this more evident, let us suppose the wants of mankind, in any polite nation of Europe, which lives and flourishes in our days upon the produce of its own soil, reduced all at once to the simplicity of the ancient patriarchs, or even to that of the old Romans. Suppose all the hands now employed in the luxurious arts, and in every branch of modern manufactures, to become quite idle, and all foreign trade to be cut off, how could they be subsisted? What oeconomy could be set on foot, able to preserve so many lives useful to the state? Yet it is plain by the supposition, that the farmers of the country are capable of maintaining them, since they actually do so. It would be absurd to propose to employ them in agriculture, since there are enough employed in this, to provide food for the whole.

If it be certain that such people would die for want without any resource; must it not follow that, unless their parents had found the means of maintaining them when children, and they themselves the means of afterwards subsisting by their industry in supplying wants, they could not have existed beyond their first infancy?

This seems to strike deep against the populousness of the old world, where we know that the wants of mankind, with regard to trades and manufactures, were so few.

But in those days the wants of mankind were of a different nature. At present, there is a demand for the ingenuity of man; then, there was a demand for his person and service. Now, provided there be a demand for man, whatever use he be put to, the species will multiply; for those who stand in need of them will always feed them, and, as long as food is to be found, numbers will increase.

In the present times food cannot, in general, be found, but by labour, and that cannot be found but to supply wants. Nobody will feed a free man, more than he will feed the wild birds or beasts of the field, unless he has occasion for the labour of the one or flesh of the other.

In the old world the principles were the same, but the spirit of nations was different. Princes wanted to have numerous armies. Free states sought for power in the number of their citizens. The wants of Mankind being few, and a simplicity of manners established, to have encouraged industry, excepting in agriculture, which in all ages has been the foundation of population, would have been an inconsistency. To make mankind labour beyond their wants, to make one part of a state work to maintain the other gratuitously, could only be brought about by slavery, and slavery was therefore introduced universally. Slavery was then as necessary towards multiplication, as it would now be destructive of it. The reason is plain. If mankind be not forced to labour, they will labour for themselves only; and if they have few wants, there will be little labour. But when states come to be formed, and have occasion for idle hands to defend them against the violence of their enemies, food at any rate must be procured for those who do not labour; and, as by the supposition, the wants of the labourers are small, a method must be found to increase their labour above the proportion of their wants.

For this purpose slavery was calculated: it had two excellent effects with respect to population. The first, that, in unpolished nations, living upon the spontaneous fruits of the earth, and almost continually in war, lives were preserved for the sake of making slaves of the captives. These, sold to private people, or different states, were sure of being fed; whereas, remaining in their own country, they occupied a place only, which, by the force of the generative faculty, as has been observed, was soon to be filled up by propagation: for it must not be forgot, that when numbers are swept off, by any sudden calamity, which does not proportionally diminish subsistence, a new multiplication immediately takes place. Thus we perceive the hurt done by plagues, by war, and by other devastations, either among men, or cattle, repaired in a few years, even in those countries where the standard number of both is seldom found to increase. What immense quantities of cattle are yearly slaughtered ! Does any body imagine that if all were allowed to live, numbers would increase in proportion? The same is true of men.

The second advantage of slavery was, that in countries where a good police prevailed, and where the people had fewer wants by far than are felt in modern times, the slaves were forced to labour the soil which fed both them and the idle freemen, as was the case in Sparta; or they filled all the servile places which freemen fill now, and they were likewise employed, as in Greece and in Rome, in supplying with manufactures those whose service was necessary for the state.

Here then was a violent method making mankind laborious in raising food; and provided this be accomplished, (by any means whatever,) numbers will increase.

Trade, industry, and manufactures, tend only to multiply the numbers of men, by encouraging agriculture. If it be therefore supposed, that two states are equally extended, equally fruitful, and equally cultivated, and the produce consumed at home, I believe they will be found equally peopled. But suppose the one laboured by free men, the other by slaves, what difference will be found in making war? In the first, the free hands must, by their industry and labour, purchase their food, and a day lost is in a manner a day of fasting: in the last, the slaves produce the food, they are first fed, and the rest costs nothing to the body of free men, who may be all employed in war, without the smallest prejudice to industry.

From these principles it appears, that slavery in former times had the same effect in peopling the world that trade and industry have now. Men were then forced to labour because they were slaves to others; men are now forced to labour because they are slaves to their own wants.

I do not, however, pretend, that in fact slavery in ancient times did every where contribute to population, any more than I can affirm that the spirit of industry in the Dutch is common to all free nations in our days. All that is necessary for my purpose is, to set forth the two principles, and to shew the natural effects of the one and the other, with respect to the multiplication of mankind and advancement of agriculture, the principal objects of our attention throughout this book.

I shall at present enlarge no farther upon this matter, but return to where I left off in the preceding chapter, and take up the farther examination of the fundamental distribution of inhabitants into labourers and free hands.

Chap. VII What Proportion of Inhabitants is necessary for Agriculture, and what Proportion may be usefully employed in every other Occupation?

I have proposed this question, not with an intention to answer it fully, but to point out, how, with the proper lights given, it may be answered.

As I write under circumstances not the most favourable for having recourse to books, I must employ those I have. The article Political Arithmetic, of Mr Chambers's Cyclopedia, furnishes me with some extracts from Sir William Petty, and Dr Davenant, which I here intend to employ, towards pointing out a solution of the question proposed. These authors consider the state of England as it appeared to them, and what they say is conclusive with respect to that state only.

Sir William Petty supposes the inhabitants of England to be six millions, the value of grain yearly consumed by them ten millions sterling, the bushel of wheat reckoned at 5s., and that of barley at 2s. 6d. If we cast the two together, and reckon upon an average, this will make the quarter, or eight bushels of grain, worth 1l. 10s.: but in regard, the barley cannot amount to one half of all the grain consumed, especially as there is a good quantity of rye made use of, which is worth more than the barley, though less than the wheat; let us suppose the grain worth 32s. per quarter, at a medium; then ten millions sterling will purchase six millions of quarters of grain, or thereabouts; which, used for nourishment, in bread and beer, gives the mean quantity of one quarter, or 512 pounds troy of grain for every inhabitant, including the nourishment of his proportional part of animals; supposing that Sir William attended to this circumstance, for it is not mentioned by Chambers. And I must observe, by-the-bye, that this computation may hold good as to England, where people eat so little bread; but would not answer in France, nor in almost any other country I have seen.

Dr Davenant, correcting Sir William's calculation, makes the inhabitants 5,545,000. These, according to Sir William's prices and proportions, would consume to the amount of 8,872,000l. sterling. but the Dr carries it, with reason, a little higher, and states it at 9,075,000l. sterling; the difference, however, is inconsiderable. From this he concludes the gross produce of the corn-fields to be about 9,075,000l. sterling. I make no criticism upon this computation.

Next, as to the value of other lands; I find Sir William reckons the gross produce of them in butter, cheese, milk, wool, horses yearly bred, flesh for food, tallow, hides, hay, and timber, to amount to 12,000,000l. sterling: The amount therefore of the gross produce of all the lands in England must be equal to these two sums added together, that is, to 21,075,000l. sterling.

From these data, the Dr values the yearly rent of corn-lands at two million sterling, and those of pasture, &c. at seven millions; in all, nine millions.

From this it appears, that the land-rents of England are to the gross produce, as nine is to twenty-one, or thereabouts.

Let me now examine some other proportions.

The rents of the corn-lands are to the gross produce of them, as two is to nine; those of pasture, as seven to twelve.

Now it is very certain, that all rents are in a pretty just proportion to the gross produce, after deducting three principal articles.

First, The nourishment of the farmer, his family, and servants.

Secondly, The necessary expences of his family, for manufactures, and instruments for cultivating the ground.

Thirdly, His reasonable profits, according to the custom of every country.

Of these three articles, let us distinguish what part implies the direct consumption of the pure produce, from what does not.

Of the first sort are the nourishment of men and cattle, wool and flax for clothing, firing, and other smaller articles.

Of the second are all manufactures bought, servants' wages, the hire of labourers occasionally, and profits, either spent in luxury, (that is, superfluity,) lent, or laid up.

The three articles above mentioned (which we have distributed under two heads) being deducted from the gross produce, the remaining value shews the land-rent.

This being the case, I am next to examine the cause of the great disproportion between the rents of corn-lands, and those of pasture, when compared with the gross produce, in order to draw some conclusion, which may lead to the solution of the question here proposed.

This difference must proceed from the greater proportion of labouring and other inhabitants employed in consequence of tillage; which makes the expence of it far greater than that of pasture. And since, in the one and the other, every article of necessary expence or consumption ought naturally to be proportionally equal among those concerned in both, that is, proportional to the number of labouring inhabitants; it follows, that the proportion of people employed in agriculture, and upon the account of it, in different countries, is nearly in the ratio of the gross produce, to the land-rent; or, in other words, in the proportion of the consumption made by the farmers, and by those employed necessarily by them, to the net produce, which is the same thing.

Now as the consumption upon corn-farms is 7/9, and that upon pasture 5/12, the proportion of these two fractions must mark the ratio between the populousness of pasture-lands, and those in tillage; that is to say, tillage-lands in England were, at that time, peopled in proportion to pasture-lands, as 84 is to 45, or as 28 to 15.

This point being settled, I proceed to another: to wit, the application of this net produce or surplus of the quantity of food and necessaries remaining over and above the nourishment, consumption, and expence, of the inhabitants employed in agriculture; and which we have observed above to be equal to the land-rents of England, that is to say, to nine millions yearly.

Must not this of necessity be employed in the nourishment, and for the use of those whom we have called the free hands; who may be employed in manufactures, trades, or in any other way, according to the taste of the times?

Now the numbers of a people, I take to be very nearly in the proportion of the quantity of food they consume; especially when a society is taken thus, in such accumulative proportion, and when all are supposed to be under the same circumstances as to the plenty of the year.

The whole gross produce of England we have said to be 21,000,000 l. sterling, of which 9 millions have remained for those not employed in agriculture; the farmers, therefore, and their attendants, must annually consume 12 millions; consequently the last class is to the first as 12 is to 9. If, therefore, according to Dr Davenant, there be 5,545,000 people in that kingdom, there must be about 3,168,571 employed or dependent upon agriculture, and 2,376,429 free hands for every other occupation. But this proportion of farmers will be found far less, if we reflect, that we have reckoned for them the total amount of the three articles above mentioned, that is to say, the total consumption they make, as well in manufactures, profits upon their labour, &c. as for food and necessaries: whereas there has been nothing reckoned for the free hands, but the land-rent; consequently there should be added to the number of the latter as many as are employed in supplying with all sorts of manufactures the whole of the farmers of England, and all those who depend upon them; and this number must be taken from one and added to the other class. If this number be supposed to amount to four hundred thousand, it will do more than cast the balance upon the opposite side.

From these matters of fact (so far as they are so) we may conclude:

First, That the raising of the rents of lands shows the increase of industry, as it swells the fund of subsistence consumed by the industrious; that is, by those who buy it.

Secondly, That it may denote either an increase of inhabitants, or the depopulation of the land, in order to assemble the superfluous mouths in villages, towns, &c, where they may exercise their industry with greater convenience.

While the land-rents of Europe were very low, numbers of the inhabitants appeared to be employed in agriculture; but were really no more than idle consumers of the produce of it. This shall be further illustrated in the subsequent chapters.

Thirdly, The more a country is in tillage, the more it is inhabited, and the smaller is the proportion of free hands for all the services of the state. The more a country is in pasture, the less it is inhabited, but the greater is the proportion of free hands.

I do not pretend, as I have said above, that there is any calculation to be depended on in this chapter; I have only endeavoured to point out how a calculation might be made, when the true state of England comes to be known.

This question not being of a nature to enter into the chain of our reasoning, may be considered rather as incidental than essential; I have therefore treated it superficially and chiefly for the sake of the conclusions.

Our next inquiry will naturally be into the principles which determine the residence of inhabitants, in order to discover why, in all flourishing states, cities are now found to be every where on the growing hand.

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