Of The Expenses Of The Sovereign Or Commonwealth

PART I. Of the Expense of Defence.

The first duty of the sovereign, that of protecting the society from the

violence and invasion of other independent societies, can be performed

only by means of a military force. But the expense both of preparing

this military force in time of peace, and of employing it in time

of war, is very different in the different states of society, in the

different periods of impr

Among nations of hunters, the lowest and rudest state of society, such

as we find it among the native tribes of North America, every man is a

warrior, as well as a hunter. When he goes to war, either to defend his

society, or to revenge the injuries which have been done to it by other

societies, he maintains himself by his own labour, in the same manner as

when he lives at home. His society (for in this state of things there is

properly neither sovereign nor commonwealth) is at no sort of expense,

either to prepare him for the field, or to maintain him while he is in


Among nations of shepherds, a more advanced state of society, such as we

find it among the Tartars and Arabs, every man is, in the same manner, a

warrior. Such nations have commonly no fixed habitation, but live either

in tents, or in a sort of covered waggons, which are easily transported

from place to place. The whole tribe, or nation, changes its situation

according to the different seasons of the year, as well as according to

other accidents. When its herds and flocks have consumed the forage

of one part of the country, it removes to another, and from that to a

third. In the dry season, it comes down to the banks of the rivers; in

the wet season, it retires to the upper country. When such a nation goes

to war, the warriors will not trust their herds and flocks to the feeble

defence of their old men, their women and children; and their old men,

their women and children, will not be left behind without defence, and

without subsistence. The whole nation, besides, being accustomed to a

wandering life, even in time of peace, easily takes the field in time

of war. Whether it marches as an army, or moves about as a company of

herdsmen, the way of life is nearly the same, though the object proposed

by it be very different. They all go to war together, therefore, and

everyone does as well as he can. Among the Tartars, even the women have

been frequently known to engage in battle. If they conquer, whatever

belongs to the hostile tribe is the recompence of the victory; but if

they are vanquished, all is lost; and not only their herds and flocks,

but their women and children become the booty of the conqueror. Even the

greater part of those who survive the action are obliged to submit

to him for the sake of immediate subsistence. The rest are commonly

dissipated and dispersed in the desert.

The ordinary life, the ordinary exercise of a Tartar or Arab, prepares

him sufficiently for war. Running, wrestling, cudgel-playing, throwing

the javelin, drawing the bow, etc. are the common pastimes of those

who live in the open air, and are all of them the images of war. When a

Tartar or Arab actually goes to war, he is maintained by his own herds

and flocks, which he carries with him, in the same manner as in peace.

His chief or sovereign (for those nations have all chiefs or sovereigns)

is at no sort of expense in preparing him for the field; and when he is

in it, the chance of plunder is the only pay which he either expects or


An army of hunters can seldom exceed two or three hundred men. The

precarious subsistence which the chace affords, could seldom allow a

greater number to keep together for any considerable time. An army of

shepherds, on the contrary, may sometimes amount to two or three hundred

thousand. As long as nothing stops their progress, as long as they can

go on from one district, of which they have consumed the forage, to

another, which is yet entire; there seems to be scarce any limit to

the number who can march on together. A nation of hunters can never be

formidable to the civilized nations in their neighbourhood; a nation of

shepherds may. Nothing can be more contemptible than an Indian war in

North America; nothing, on the contrary, can be more dreadful than a

Tartar invasion has frequently been in Asia. The judgment of Thucydides,

that both Europe and Asia could not resist the Scythians united, has

been verified by the experience of all ages. The inhabitants of the

extensive, but defenceless plains of Scythia or Tartary, have been

frequently united under the dominion of the chief of some conquering

horde or clan; and the havock and devastation of Asia have always

signalized their union. The inhabitants of the inhospitable deserts of

Arabia, the other great nation of shepherds, have never been united but

once, under Mahomet and his immediate successors. Their union, which was

more the effect of religious enthusiasm than of conquest, was signalized

in the same manner. If the hunting nations of America should ever become

shepherds, their neighbourhood would be much more dangerous to the

European colonies than it is at present.

In a yet more advanced state of society, among those nations of

husbandmen who have little foreign commerce, and no other manufactures

but those coarse and household ones, which almost every private family

prepares for its own use, every man, in the same manner, either is a

warrior, or easily becomes such. Those who live by agriculture generally

pass the whole day in the open air, exposed to all the inclemencies of

the seasons. The hardiness of their ordinary life prepares them for the

fatigues of war, to some of which their necessary occupations bear a

great analogy. The necessary occupation of a ditcher prepares him to

work in the trenches, and to fortify a camp, as well as to inclose a

field. The ordinary pastimes of such husbandmen are the same as those

of shepherds, and are in the same manner the images of war. But as

husbandmen have less leisure than shepherds, they are not so frequently

employed in those pastimes. They are soldiers but soldiers not quite

so much masters of their exercise. Such as they are, however, it seldom

costs the sovereign or commonwealth any expense to prepare them for the


Agriculture, even in its rudest and lowest state, supposes a settlement,

some sort of fixed habitation, which cannot be abandoned without great

loss. When a nation of mere husbandmen, therefore, goes to war, the

whole people cannot take the field together. The old men, the women and

children, at least, must remain at home, to take care of the habitation.

All the men of the military age, however, may take the field, and in

small nations of this kind, have frequently done so. In every nation,

the men of the military age are supposed to amount to about a fourth

or a fifth part of the whole body of the people. If the campaign, too,

should begin after seedtime, and end before harvest, both the husbandman

and his principal labourers can be spared from the farm without much

loss. He trusts that the work which must be done in the mean time, can

be well enough executed by the old men, the women, and the children.

He is not unwilling, therefore, to serve without pay during a short

campaign; and it frequently costs the sovereign or commonwealth as

little to maintain him in the field as to prepare him for it. The

citizens of all the different states of ancient Greece seem to have

served in this manner till after the second Persian war; and the people

of Peloponnesus till after the Peloponnesian war. The Peloponnesians,

Thucydides observes, generally left the field in the summer, and

returned home to reap the harvest. The Roman people, under their kings,

and during the first ages of the republic, served in the same manner.

It was not till the seige of Veii, that they who staid at home began to

contribute something towards maintaining those who went to war. In the

European monarchies, which were founded upon the ruins of the Roman

empire, both before, and for some time after, the establishment of

what is properly called the feudal law, the great lords, with all their

immediate dependents, used to serve the crown at their own expense. In

the field, in the same manner as at home, they maintained themselves

by their own revenue, and not by any stipend or pay which they received

from the king upon that particular occasion.

In a more advanced state of society, two different causes contribute

to render it altogether impossible that they who take the field should

maintain themselves at their own expense. Those two causes are, the

progress of manufactures, and the improvement in the art of war.

Though a husbandman should be employed in an expedition, provided it

begins after seedtime, and ends before harvest, the interruption of his

business will not always occasion any considerable diminution of his

revenue. Without the intervention of his labour, Nature does herself the

greater part of the work which remains to be done. But the moment that

an artificer, a smith, a carpenter, or a weaver, for example, quits his

workhouse, the sole source of his revenue is completely dried up. Nature

does nothing for him; he does all for himself. When he takes the field,

therefore, in defence of the public, as he has no revenue to maintain

himself, he must necessarily be maintained by the public. But in a

country, of which a great part of the inhabitants are artificers and

manufacturers, a great part of the people who go to war must be drawn

from those classes, and must, therefore, be maintained by the public as

long as they are employed in its service.

When the art of war, too, has gradually grown up to be a very intricate

and complicated science; when the event of war ceases to be determined,

as in the first ages of society, by a single irregular skirmish or

battle; but when the contest is generally spun out through several

different campaigns, each of which lasts during the greater part of the

year; it becomes universally necessary that the public should maintain

those who serve the public in war, at least while they are employed

in that service. Whatever, in time of peace, might be the ordinary

occupation of those who go to war, so very tedious and expensive a

service would otherwise be by far too heavy a burden upon them. After

the second Persian war, accordingly, the armies of Athens seem to have

been generally composed of mercenary troops, consisting, indeed, partly

of citizens, but partly, too, of foreigners; and all of them equally

hired and paid at the expense of the state. From the time of the siege

of Veii, the armies of Rome received pay for their service during the

time which they remained in the field. Under the feudal governments,

the military service, both of the great lords, and of their immediate

dependents, was, after a certain period, universally exchanged for a

payment in money, which was employed to maintain those who served in

their stead.

The number of those who can go to war, in proportion to the whole number

of the people, is necessarily much smaller in a civilized than in a rude

state of society. In a civilized society, as the soldiers are maintained

altogether by the labour of those who are not soldiers, the number of

the former can never exceed what the latter can maintain, over and above

maintaining, in a manner suitable to their respective stations, both

themselves and the other officers of government and law, whom they are

obliged to maintain. In the little agrarian states of ancient Greece,

a fourth or a fifth part of the whole body of the people considered the

themselves as soldiers, and would sometimes, it is said, take the field.

Among the civilized nations of modern Europe, it is commonly computed,

that not more than the one hundredth part of the inhabitants of any

country can be employed as soldiers, without ruin to the country which

pays the expense of their service.

The expense of preparing the army for the field seems not to have become

considerable in any nation, till long after that of maintaining it in

the field had devolved entirely upon the sovereign or commonwealth. In

all the different republics of ancient Greece, to learn his military

exercises, was a necessary part of education imposed by the state upon

every free citizen. In every city there seems to have been a public

field, in which, under the protection of the public magistrate, the

young people were taught their different exercises by different masters.

In this very simple institution consisted the whole expense which any

Grecian state seems ever to have been at, in preparing its citizens for

war. In ancient Rome, the exercises of the Campus Martius answered the

same purpose with those of the Gymnasium in ancient Greece. Under the

feudal governments, the many public ordinances, that the citizens

of every district should practise archery, as well as several other

military exercises, were intended for promoting the same purpose, but

do not seem to have promoted it so well. Either from want of interest in

the officers entrusted with the execution of those ordinances, or from

some other cause, they appear to have been universally neglected; and in

the progress of all those governments, military exercises seem to have

gone gradually into disuse among the great body of the people.

In the republics of ancient Greece and Rome, during the whole period of

their existence, and under the feudal governments, for a considerable

time after their first establishment, the trade of a soldier was not

a separate, distinct trade, which constituted the sole or principal

occupation of a particular class of citizens; every subject of the

state, whatever might be the ordinary trade or occupation by which he

gained his livelihood, considered himself, upon all ordinary occasions,

as fit likewise to exercise the trade of a soldier, and, upon many

extraordinary occasions, as bound to exercise it.

The art of war, however, as it is certainly the noblest of all arts, so,

in the progress of improvement, it necessarily becomes one of the most

complicated among them. The state of the mechanical, as well as some

other arts, with which it is necessarily connected, determines the

degree of perfection to which it is capable of being carried at any

particular time. But in order to carry it to this degree of perfection,

it is necessary that it should become the sole or principal occupation

of a particular class of citizens; and the division of labour is as

necessary for the improvement of this, as of every other art. Into other

arts, the division of labour is naturally introduced by the prudence of

individuals, who find that they promote their private interest better by

confining themselves to a particular trade, than by exercising a great

number. But it is the wisdom of the state only, which can render the

trade of a soldier a particular trade, separate and distinct from all

others. A private citizen, who, in time of profound peace, and without

any particular encouragement from the public, should spend the greater

part of his time in military exercises, might, no doubt, both improve

himself very much in them, and amuse himself very well; but he certainly

would not promote his own interest. It is the wisdom of the state only,

which can render it for his interest to give up the greater part of his

time to this peculiar occupation; and states have not always had

this wisdom, even when their circumstances had become such, that the

preservation of their existence required that they should have it.

A shepherd has a great deal of leisure; a husbandman, in the rude state

of husbandry, has some; an artificer or manufacturer has none at all.

The first may, without any loss, employ a great deal of his time in

martial exercises; the second may employ some part of it; but the last

cannot employ a single hour in them without some loss, and his attention

to his own interest naturally leads him to neglect them altogether.

Those improvements in husbandry, too, which the progress of arts and

manufactures necessarily introduces, leave the husbandman as little

leisure as the artificer. Military exercises come to be as much

neglected by the inhabitants of the country as by those of the town, and

the great body of the people becomes altogether unwarlike. That wealth,

at the same time, which always follows the improvements of agriculture

and manufactures, and which, in reality, is no more than the accumulated

produce of those improvements, provokes the invasion of all their

neighbours. An industrious, and, upon that account, a wealthy nation,

is of all nations the most likely to be attacked; and unless the state

takes some new measure for the public defence, the natural habits of the

people render them altogether incapable of defending themselves.

In these circumstances, there seem to be but two methods by which the

state can make any tolerable provision for the public defence.

It may either, first, by means of a very rigorous police, and in spite

of the whole bent of the interest, genius, and inclinations of the

people, enforce the practice of military exercises, and oblige either

all the citizens of the military age, or a certain number of them, to

join in some measure the trade of a soldier to whatever other trade or

profession they may happen to carry on.

Or, secondly, by maintaining and employing a certain number of citizens

in the constant practice of military exercises, it may render the trade

of a soldier a particular trade, separate and distinct from all others.

If the state has recourse to the first of those two expedients, its

military force is said to consist in a militia; if to the second, it is

said to consist in a standing army. The practice of military exercises

is the sole or principal occupation of the soldiers of a standing army,

and the maintenance or pay which the state affords them is the principal

and ordinary fund of their subsistence. The practice of military

exercises is only the occasional occupation of the soldiers of a

militia, and they derive the principal and ordinary fund of their

subsistence from some other occupation. In a militia, the character of

the labourer, artificer, or tradesman, predominates over that of the

soldier; in a standing army, that of the soldier predominates over every

other character; and in this distinction seems to consist the essential

difference between those two different species of military force.

Militias have been of several different kinds. In some countries, the

citizens destined for defending the state seem to have been exercised

only, without being, if I may say so, regimented; that is, without

being divided into separate and distinct bodies of troops, each of which

performed its exercises under its own proper and permanent officers. In

the republics of ancient Greece and Rome, each citizen, as long as

he remained at home, seems to have practised his exercises, either

separately and independently, or with such of his equals as he liked

best; and not to have been attached to any particular body of troops,

till he was actually called upon to take the field. In other countries,

the militia has not only been exercised, but regimented. In England, in

Switzerland, and, I believe, in every other country of modern Europe,

where any imperfect military force of this kind has been established,

every militiaman is, even in time of peace, attached to a particular

body of troops, which performs its exercises under its own proper and

permanent officers.

Before the invention of fire-arms, that army was superior in which the

soldiers had, each individually, the greatest skill and dexterity in

the use of their arms. Strength and agility of body were of the highest

consequence, and commonly determined the fate of battles. But this skill

and dexterity in the use of their arms could be acquired only, in

the same manner as fencing is at present, by practising, not in great

bodies, but each man separately, in a particular school, under a

particular master, or with his own particular equals and companions.

Since the invention of fire-arms, strength and agility of body, or even

extraordinary dexterity and skill in the use of arms, though they are

far from being of no consequence, are, however, of less consequence.

The nature of the weapon, though it by no means puts the awkward upon a

level with the skilful, puts him more nearly so than he ever was before.

All the dexterity and skill, it is supposed, which are necessary for

using it, can be well enough acquired by practising in great bodies.

Regularity, order, and prompt obedience to command, are qualities which,

in modern armies, are of more importance towards determining the fate

of battles, than the dexterity and skill of the soldiers in the use of

their arms. But the noise of fire-arms, the smoke, and the invisible

death to which every man feels himself every moment exposed, as soon

as he comes within cannon-shot, and frequently a long time before the

battle can be well said to be engaged, must render it very difficult to

maintain any considerable degree of this regularity, order, and prompt

obedience, even in the beginning of a modern battle. In an ancient

battle, there was no noise but what arose from the human voice; there

was no smoke, there was no invisible cause of wounds or death. Every

man, till some mortal weapon actually did approach him, saw clearly that

no such weapon was near him. In these circumstances, and among troops

who had some confidence in their own skill and dexterity in the use of

their arms, it must have been a good deal less difficult to preserve

some degree of regularity and order, not only in the beginning, but

through the whole progress of an ancient battle, and till one of the

two armies was fairly defeated. But the habits of regularity, order, and

prompt obedience to command, can be acquired only by troops which are

exercised in great bodies.

A militia, however, in whatever manner it may be either disciplined or

exercised, must always be much inferior to a well disciplined and well

exercised standing army.

The soldiers who are exercised only once a week, or once a-month, can

never be so expert in the use of their arms, as those who are exercised

every day, or every other day; and though this circumstance may not be

of so much consequence in modern, as it was in ancient times, yet the

acknowledged superiority of the Prussian troops, owing, it is said, very

much to their superior expertness in their exercise, may satisfy us that

it is, even at this day, of very considerable consequence.

The soldiers, who are bound to obey their officer only once a-week, or

once a-month, and who are at all other times at liberty to manage their

own affairs their own way, without being, in any respect, accountable to

him, can never be under the same awe in his presence, can never have

the same disposition to ready obedience, with those whose whole life and

conduct are every day directed by him, and who every day even rise

and go to bed, or at least retire to their quarters, according to

his orders. In what is called discipline, or in the habit of ready

obedience, a militia must always be still more inferior to a standing

army, than it may sometimes be in what is called the manual exercise, or

in the management and use of its arms. But, in modern war, the habit

of ready and instant obedience is of much greater consequence than a

considerable superiority in the management of arms.

Those militias which, like the Tartar or Arab militia, go to war under

the same chieftains whom they are accustomed to obey in peace, are

by far the best. In respect for their officers, in the habit of ready

obedience, they approach nearest to standing armies. The Highland

militia, when it served under its own chieftains, had some advantage

of the same kind. As the Highlanders, however, were not wandering, but

stationary shepherds, as they had all a fixed habitation, and were not,

in peaceable times, accustomed to follow their chieftain from place to

place; so, in time of war, they were less willing to follow him to any

considerable distance, or to continue for any long time in the field.

When they had acquired any booty, they were eager to return home,

and his authority was seldom sufficient to detain them. In point of

obedience, they were always much inferior to what is reported of the

Tartars and Arabs. As the Highlanders, too, from their stationary

life, spend less of their time in the open air, they were always less

accustomed to military exercises, and were less expert in the use of

their arms than the Tartars and Arabs are said to be.

A militia of any kind, it must be observed, however, which has served

for several successive campaigns in the field, becomes in every respect

a standing army. The soldiers are every day exercised in the use of

their arms, and, being constantly under the command of their officers,

are habituated to the same prompt obedience which takes place in

standing armies. What they were before they took the field, is of little

importance. They necessarily become in every respect a standing army,

after they have passed a few campaigns in it. Should the war in America

drag out through another campaign, the American militia may become,

in every respect, a match for that standing army, of which the valour

appeared, in the last war at least, not inferior to that of the hardiest

veterans of France and Spain.

This distinction being well understood, the history of all ages, it will

be found, hears testimony to the irresistible superiority which a well

regulated standing army has over a militia.

One of the first standing armies, of which we have any distinct account

in any well authenticated history, is that of Philip of Macedon. His

frequent wars with the Thracians, Illyrians, Thessalians, and some of

the Greek cities in the neighbourhood of Macedon, gradually formed

his troops, which in the beginning were probably militia, to the exact

discipline of a standing army. When he was at peace, which he was very

seldom, and never for any long time together, he was careful not to

disband that army. It vanquished and subdued, after a long and violent

struggle, indeed, the gallant and well exercised militias of the

principal republics of ancient Greece; and afterwards, with very little

struggle, the effeminate and ill exercised militia of the great Persian

empire. The fall of the Greek republics, and of the Persian empire was

the effect of the irresistible superiority which a standing arm has over

every other sort of militia. It is the first great revolution in the

affairs of mankind of which history has preserved any distinct and

circumstantial account.

The fall of Carthage, and the consequent elevation of Rome, is the

second. All the varieties in the fortune of those two famous republics

may very well be accounted for from the same cause.

From the end of the first to the beginning of the second Carthaginian

war, the armies of Carthage were continually in the field, and employed

under three great generals, who succeeded one another in the command;

Amilcar, his son-in-law Asdrubal, and his son Annibal: first in

chastising their own rebellious slaves, afterwards in subduing the

revolted nations of Africa; and lastly, in conquering the great

kingdom of Spain. The army which Annibal led from Spain into Italy must

necessarily, in those different wars, have been gradually formed to the

exact discipline of a standing army. The Romans, in the meantime, though

they had not been altogether at peace, yet they had not, during this

period, been engaged in any war of very great consequence; and their

military discipline, it is generally said, was a good deal relaxed.

The Roman armies which Annibal encountered at Trebi, Thrasymenus, and

Cannae, were militia opposed to a standing army. This circumstance, it

is probable, contributed more than any other to determine the fate of

those battles.

The standing army which Annibal left behind him in Spain had the like

superiority over the militia which the Romans sent to oppose it; and,

in a few years, under the command of his brother, the younger Asdrubal,

expelled them almost entirely from that country.

Annibal was ill supplied from home. The Roman militia, being continually

in the field, became, in the progress of the war, a well disciplined and

well exercised standing army; and the superiority of Annibal grew every

day less and less. Asdrubal judged it necessary to lead the whole, or

almost the whole, of the standing army which he commanded in Spain, to

the assistance of his brother in Italy. In this march, he is said to

have been misled by his guides; and in a country which he did not know,

was surprised and attacked, by another standing army, in every respect

equal or superior to his own, and was entirely defeated.

When Asdrubal had left Spain, the great Scipio found nothing to oppose

him but a militia inferior to his own. He conquered and subdued that

militia, and, in the course of the war, his own militia necessarily

became a well disciplined and well exercised standing army. That

standing army was afterwards carried to Africa, where it found nothing

but a militia to oppose it. In order to defend Carthage, it became

necessary to recal the standing army of Annibal. The disheartened and

frequently defeated African militia joined it, and, at the battle of

Zama, composed the greater part of the troops of Annibal. The event of

that day determined the fate of the two rival republics.

From the end of the second Carthaginian war till the fall of the Roman

republic, the armies of Rome were in every respect standing armies.

The standing army of Macedon made some resistance to their arms. In the

height of their grandeur, it cost them two great wars, and three great

battles, to subdue that little kingdom, of which the conquest would

probably have been still more difficult, had it not been for the

cowardice of its last king. The militias of all the civilized nations of

the ancient world, of Greece, of Syria, and of Egypt, made but a

feeble resistance to the standing armies of Rome. The militias of some

barbarous nations defended themselves much better. The Scythian or

Tartar militia, which Mithridates drew from the countries north of

the Euxine and Caspian seas, were the most formidable enemies whom the

Romans had to encounter after the second Carthaginian war. The Parthian

and German militias, too, were always respectable, and upon several

occasions, gained very considerable advantages over the Roman armies.

In general, however, and when the Roman armies were well commanded, they

appear to have been very much superior; and if the Romans did not pursue

the final conquest either of Parthia or Germany, it was probably because

they judged that it was not worth while to add those two barbarous

countries to an empire which was already too large. The ancient

Parthians appear to have been a nation of Scythian or Tartar extraction,

and to have always retained a good deal of the manners of their

ancestors. The ancient Germans were, like the Scythians or Tartars, a

nation of wandering shepherds, who went to war under the same chiefs

whom they were accustomed to follow in peace. 'Their militia was exactly

of the same kind with that of the Scythians or Tartars, from whom, too,

they were probably descended.

Many different causes contributed to relax the discipline of the Roman

armies. Its extreme severity was, perhaps, one of those causes. In the

days of their grandeur, when no enemy appeared capable of opposing them,

their heavy armour was laid aside as unnecessarily burdensome, their

laborious exercises were neglected, as unnecessarily toilsome. Under the

Roman emperors, besides, the standing armies of Rome, those particularly

which guarded the German and Pannonian frontiers, became dangerous to

their masters, against whom they used frequently to set up their own

generals. In order to render them less formidable, according to some

authors, Dioclesian, according to others, Constantine, first withdrew

them from the frontier, where they had always before been encamped in

great bodies, generally of two or three legions each, and dispersed them

in small bodies through the different provincial towns, from whence

they were scarce ever removed, but when it became necessary to repel

an invasion. Small bodies of soldiers, quartered in trading and

manufacturing towns, and seldom removed from those quarters, became

themselves trades men, artificers, and manufacturers. The civil came to

predominate over the military character; and the standing armies of

Rome gradually degenerated into a corrupt, neglected, and undisciplined

militia, incapable of resisting the attack of the German and Scythian

militias, which soon afterwards invaded the western empire. It was only

by hiring the militia of some of those nations to oppose to that of

others, that the emperors were for some time able to defend themselves.

The fall of the western empire is the third great revolution in the

affairs of mankind, of which ancient history has preserved any distinct

or circumstantial account. It was brought about by the irresistible

superiority which the militia of a barbarous has over that of a

civilized nation; which the militia of a nation of shepherds has over

that of a nation of husbandmen, artificers, and manufacturers. The

victories which have been gained by militias have generally been,

not over standing armies, but over other militias, in exercise and

discipline inferior to themselves. Such were the victories which the

Greek militia gained over that of the Persian empire; and such, too,

were those which, in later times, the Swiss militia gained over that of

the Austrians and Burgundians.

The military force of the German and Scythian nations, who established

themselves upon ruins of the western empire, continued for some time to

be of the same kind in their new settlements, as it had been in their

original country. It was a militia of shepherds and husbandmen, which,

in time of war, took the field under the command of the same chieftains

whom it was accustomed to obey in peace. It was, therefore, tolerably

well exercised, and tolerably well disciplined. As arts and industry

advanced, however, the authority of the chieftains gradually decayed,

and the great body of the people had less time to spare for military

exercises. Both the discipline and the exercise of the feudal militia,

therefore, went gradually to ruin, and standing armies were gradually

introduced to supply the place of it. When the expedient of a standing

army, besides, had once been adopted by one civilized nation, it became

necessary that all its neighbours should follow the example. They soon

found that their safety depended upon their doing so, and that their

own militia was altogether incapable of resisting the attack of such an


The soldiers of a standing army, though they may never have seen an

enemy, yet have frequently appeared to possess all the courage of

veteran troops, and, the very moment that they took the field, to have

been fit to face the hardiest and most experienced veterans. In 1756,

when the Russian army marched into Poland, the valour of the Russian

soldiers did not appear inferior to that of the Prussians, at that time

supposed to be the hardiest and most experienced veterans in Europe. The

Russian empire, however, had enjoyed a profound peace for near twenty

years before, and could at that time have very few soldiers who had

ever seen an enemy. When the Spanish war broke out in 1739, England had

enjoyed a profound peace for about eight-and-twenty years. The valour of

her soldiers, however, far from being corrupted by that long peace, was

never more distinguished than in the attempt upon Carthagena, the

first unfortunate exploit of that unfortunate war. In a long peace, the

generals, perhaps, may sometimes forget their skill; but where a well

regulated standing army has been kept up, the soldiers seem never to

forget their valour.

When a civilized nation depends for its defence upon a militia, it is at

all times exposed to be conquered by any barbarous nation which happens

to be in its neighbourhood. The frequent conquests of all the civilized

countries in Asia by the Tartars, sufficiently demonstrates the

natural superiority which the militia of a barbarous has over that of

a civilized nation. A well regulated standing army is superior to every

militia. Such an army, as it can best be maintained by an opulent and

civilized nation, so it can alone defend such a nation against the

invasion of a poor and barbarous neighbour. It is only by means of a

standing army, therefore, that the civilization of any country can be

perpetuated, or even preserved, for any considerable time.

As it is only by means of a well regulated standing army, that a

civilized country can be defended, so it is only by means of it that a

barbarous country can be suddenly and tolerably civilized. A standing

army establishes, with an irresistible force, the law of the sovereign

through the remotest provinces of the empire, and maintains some degree

of regular government in countries which could not otherwise admit of

any. Whoever examines with attention, the improvements which Peter the

Great introduced into the Russian empire, will find that they almost all

resolve themselves into the establishment of a well regulated standing

army. It is the instrument which executes and maintains all his other

regulations. That degree of order and internal peace, which that empire

has ever since enjoyed, is altogether owing to the influence of that


Men of republican principles have been jealous of a standing army, as

dangerous to liberty. It certainly is so, wherever the interest of

the general, and that of the principal officers, are not necessarily

connected with the support of the constitution of the state. The

standing army of Caesar destroyed the Roman republic. The standing

army of Cromwell turned the long parliament out of doors. But where the

sovereign is himself the general, and the principal nobility and gentry

of the country the chief officers of the army; where the military force

is placed under the command of those who have the greatest interest in

the support of the civil authority, because they have themselves the

greatest share of that authority, a standing army can never be dangerous

to liberty. On the contrary, it may, in some cases, be favourable

to liberty. The security which it gives to the sovereign renders

unnecessary that troublesome jealousy, which, in some modern republics,

seems to watch over the minutest actions, and to be at all times

ready to disturb the peace of every citizen. Where the security of the

magistrate, though supported by the principal people of the country, is

endangered by every popular discontent; where a small tumult is capable

of bringing about in a few hours a great revolution, the whole authority

of government must be employed to suppress and punish every murmur and

complaint against it. To a sovereign, on the contrary, who feels himself

supported, not only by the natural aristocracy of the country, but by a

well regulated standing army, the rudest, the most groundless, and

the most licentious remonstrances, can give little disturbance. He

can safely pardon or neglect them, and his consciousness of his own

superiority naturally disposes him to do so. That degree of liberty

which approaches to licentiousness, can be tolerated only in countries

where the sovereign is secured by a well regulated standing army. It is

in such countries only, that the public safety does not require that

the sovereign should be trusted with any discretionary power, for

suppressing even the impertinent wantonness of this licentious liberty.

The first duty of the sovereign, therefore, that of defending the

society from the violence and injustice of other independent societies,

grows gradually more and more expensive, as the society advances in

civilization. The military force of the society, which originally cost

the sovereign no expense, either in time of peace, or in time of war,

must, in the progress of improvement, first be maintained by him in time

of war, and afterwards even in time of peace.

The great change introduced into the art of war by the invention of

fire-arms, has enhanced still further both the expense of exercising

and disciplining any particular number of soldiers in time of peace,

and that of employing them in time of war. Both their arms and their

ammunition are become more expensive. A musket is a more expensive

machine than a javelin or a bow and arrows; a cannon or a mortar, than a

balista or a catapulta. The powder which is spent in a modern review

is lost irrecoverably, and occasions a very considerable expense. The

javelins and arrows which were thrown or shot in an ancient one, could

easily be picked up again, and were, besides, of very little value.

The cannon and the mortar are not only much dearer, but much heavier

machines than the balista or catapulta; and require a greater expense,

not only to prepare them for the field, but to carry them to it. As the

superiority of the modern artillery, too, over that of the ancients,

is very great; it has become much more difficult, and consequently

much more expensive, to fortify a town, so as to resist, even for a

few weeks, the attack of that superior artillery. In modern times, many

different causes contribute to render the defence of the society

more expensive. The unavoidable effects of the natural progress of

improvement have, in this respect, been a good deal enhanced by a great

revolution in the art of war, to which a mere accident, the invention of

gunpowder, seems to have given occasion.

In modern war, the great expense of firearms gives an evident advantage

to the nation which can best afford that expense; and, consequently, to

an opulent and civilized, over a poor and barbarous nation. In ancient

times, the opulent and civilized found it difficult to defend themselves

against the poor and barbarous nations. In modern times, the poor and

barbarous find it difficult to defend themselves against the opulent and

civilized. The invention of fire-arms, an invention which at first

sight appears to be so pernicious, is certainly favourable, both to the

permanency and to the extension of civilization.

PART II. Of the Expense of Justice

The second duty of the sovereign, that of protecting, as far as

possible, every member of the society from the injustice or oppression

of every other member of it, or the duty of establishing an exact

administration of justice, requires two very different degrees of

expense in the different periods of society.

Among nations of hunters, as there is scarce any property, or at least

none that exceeds the value of two or three days labour; so there is

seldom any established magistrate, or any regular administration of

justice. Men who have no property, can injure one another only in

their persons or reputations. But when one man kills, wounds, beats, or

defames another, though he to whom the injury is done suffers, he

who does it receives no benefit. It is otherwise with the injuries to

property. The benefit of the person who does the injury is often equal

to the loss of him who suffers it. Envy, malice, or resentment, are the

only passions which can prompt one man to injure another in his person

or reputation. But the greater part of men are not very frequently under

the influence of those passions; and the very worst men are so only

occasionally. As their gratification, too, how agreeable soever it may

be to certain characters, is not attended with any real or permanent

advantage, it is, in the greater part of men, commonly restrained by

prudential considerations. Men may live together in society with some

tolerable degree of security, though there is no civil magistrate to

protect them from the injustice of those passions. But avarice and

ambition in the rich, in the poor the hatred of labour and the love

of present ease and enjoyment, are the passions which prompt to invade

property; passions much more steady in their operation, and much more

universal in their influence. Wherever there is a great property, there

is great inequality. For one very rich man, there must be at least five

hundred poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the

many. The affluence of the rich excites the indignation of the poor,

who are often both driven by want, and prompted by envy to invade his

possessions. It is only under the shelter of the civil magistrate, that

the owner of that valuable property, which is acquired by the labour

of many years, or perhaps of many successive generations, can sleep

a single night in security. He is at all times surrounded by unknown

enemies, whom, though he never provoked, he can never appease, and from

whose injustice he can be protected only by the powerful arm of the

civil magistrate, continually held up to chastise it. The acquisition

of valuable and extensive property, therefore, necessarily requires the

establishment of civil government. Where there is no property, or at

least none that exceeds the value of two or three days labour, civil

government is not so necessary.

Civil government supposes a certain subordination. But as the necessity

of civil government gradually grows up with the acquisition of

valuable property; so the principal causes, which naturally introduce

subordination, gradually grow up with the growth of that valuable


The causes or circumstances which naturally introduce subordination, or

which naturally and antecedent to any civil institution, give some men

some superiority over the greater part of their brethren, seem to be

four in number.

The first of those causes or circumstances, is the superiority of

personal qualifications, of strength, beauty, and agility of body; of

wisdom and virtue; of prudence, justice, fortitude, and moderation of

mind. The qualifications of the body, unless supported by those of the

mind, can give little authority in any period of society. He is a very

strong man, who, by mere strength of body, can force two weak ones

to obey him. The qualifications of the mind can alone give very great

authority. They are however, invisible qualities; always disputable, and

generally disputed. No society, whether barbarous or civilized, has

ever found it convenient to settle the rules of precedency of rank and

subordination, according to those invisible qualities; but according to

something that is more plain and palpable.

The second of those causes or circumstances, is the superiority of age.

An old man, provided his age is not so far advanced as to give suspicion

of dotage, is everywhere more respected than a young man of equal rank,

fortune, and abilities. Among nations of hunters, such as the native

tribes of North America, age is the sole foundation of rank and

precedency. Among them, father is the appellation of a superior;

brother, of an equal; and son, of an inferior. In the most opulent and

civilized nations, age regulates rank among those who are in every

other respect equal; and among whom, therefore, there is nothing else to

regulate it. Among brothers and among sisters, the eldest always takes

place; and in the succession of the paternal estate, every thing which

cannot be divided, but must go entire to one person, such as a title

of honour, is in most cases given to the eldest. Age is a plain and

palpable quality, which admits of no dispute.

The third of those causes or circumstances, is the superiority of

fortune. The authority of riches, however, though great in every age

of society, is, perhaps, greatest in the rudest ages of society, which

admits of any considerable inequality of fortune. A Tartar chief, the

increase of whose flocks and herds is sufficient to maintain a

thousand men, cannot well employ that increase in any other way than

in maintaining a thousand men. The rude state of his society does not

afford him any manufactured produce any trinkets or baubles of any kind,

for which he can exchange that part of his rude produce which is over

and above his own consumption. The thousand men whom he thus maintains,

depending entirely upon him for their subsistence, must both obey

his orders in war, and submit to his jurisdiction in peace. He is

necessarily both their general and their judge, and his chieftainship

is the necessary effect of the superiority of his fortune. In an opulent

and civilized society, a man may possess a much greater fortune, and

yet not be able to command a dozen of people. Though the produce of

his estate may be sufficient to maintain, and may, perhaps, actually

maintain, more than a thousand people, yet, as those people pay for

every thing which they get from him, as he gives scarce any thing to

any body but in exchange for an equivalent, there is scarce anybody

who considers himself as entirely dependent upon him, and his authority

extends only over a few menial servants. The authority of fortune,

however, is very great, even in an opulent and civilized society. That

it is much greater than that either of age or of personal qualities, has

been the constant complaint of every period of society which admitted

of any considerable inequality of fortune. The first period of society,

that of hunters, admits of no such inequality. Universal poverty

establishes their universal equality; and the superiority, either of age

or of personal qualities, are the feeble, but the sole foundations of

authority and subordination. There is, therefore, little or no authority

or subordination in this period of society. The second period of

society, that of shepherds, admits of very great inequalities of

fortune, and there is no period in which the superiority of fortune

gives so great authority to those who possess it. There is no period,

accordingly, in which authority and subordination are more perfectly

established. The authority of an Arabian scherif is very great; that of

a Tartar khan altogether despotical.

The fourth of those causes or circumstances, is the superiority of

birth. Superiority of birth supposes an ancient superiority of fortune

in the family of the person who claims it. All families are equally

ancient; and the ancestors of the prince, though they may be better

known, cannot well be more numerous than those of the beggar. Antiquity

of family means everywhere the antiquity either of wealth, or of that

greatness which is commonly either founded upon wealth, or accompanied

with it. Upstart greatness is everywhere less respected than ancient

greatness. The hatred of usurpers, the love of the family of an ancient

monarch, are in a great measure founded upon the contempt which men

naturally have for the former, and upon their veneration for the latter.

As a military officer submits, without reluctance, to the authority of a

superior by whom he has always been commanded, but cannot bear that his

inferior should be set over his head; so men easily submit to a family

to whom they and their ancestors have always submitted; but are

fired with indignation when another family, in whom they had never

acknowledged any such superiority, assumes a dominion over them.

The distinction of birth, being subsequent to the inequality of fortune,

can have no place in nations of hunters, among whom all men, being equal

in fortune, must likewise be very nearly equal in birth. The son of

a wise and brave man may, indeed, even among them, be somewhat more

respected than a man of equal merit, who has the misfortune to be the

son of a fool or a coward. The difference, however will not be very

great; and there never was, I believe, a great family in the world,

whose illustration was entirely derived from the inheritance of wisdom

and virtue.

The distinction of birth not only may, but always does, take place among

nations of shepherds. Such nations are always strangers to every sort

of luxury, and great wealth can scarce ever be dissipated among them

by improvident profusion. There are no nations, accordingly, who abound

more in families revered and honoured on account of their descent from

a long race of great and illustrious ancestors; because there are no

nations among whom wealth is likely to continue longer in the same


Birth and fortune are evidently the two circumstances which principally

set one man above another. They are the two great sources of personal

distinction, and are, therefore, the principal causes which naturally

establish authority and subordination among men. Among nations of

shepherds, both those causes operate with their full force. The great

shepherd or herdsman, respected on account of his great wealth, and

of the great number of those who depend upon him for subsistence, and

revered on account of the nobleness of his birth, and of the immemorial

antiquity or his illustrious family, has a natural authority over all

the inferior shepherds or herdsmen of his horde or clan. He can command

the united force of a greater number of people than any of them. His

military power is greater than that of any of them. In time of war,

they are all of them naturally disposed to muster themselves under his

banner, rather than under that of any other person; and his birth and

fortune thus naturally procure to him some sort of executive power. By

commanding, too, the united force of a greater number of people than any

of them, he is best able to compel any one of them, who may have injured

another, to compensate the wrong. He is the person, therefore, to whom

all those who are too weak to defend themselves naturally look up for

protection. It is to him that they naturally complain of the injuries

which they imagine have been done to them; and his interposition, in

such cases, is more easily submitted to, even by the person complained

of, than that of any other person would be. His birth and fortune thus

naturally procure him some sort of judicial authority.

It is in the age of shepherds, in the second period of society, that the

inequality of fortune first begins to take place, and introduces among

men a degree of authority and subordination, which could not possibly

exist before. It thereby introduces some degree of that civil government

which is indispensably necessary for its own preservation; and it seems

to do this naturally, and even independent of the consideration of

that necessity. The consideration of that necessity comes, no doubt,

afterwards, to contribute very much to maintain and secure that

authority and subordination. The rich, in particular, are necessarily

interested to support that order of things, which can alone secure

them in the possession of their own advantages. Men of inferior wealth

combine to defend those of superior wealth in the possession of their

property, in order that men of superior wealth may combine to defend

them in the possession of theirs. All the inferior shepherds and

herdsmen feel, that the security of their own herds and flocks depends

upon the security of those of the great shepherd or herdsman; that the

maintenance of their lesser authority depends upon that of his greater

authority; and that upon their subordination to him depends his power of

keeping their inferiors in subordination to them. They constitute a

sort of little nobility, who feel themselves interested to defend the

property, and to support the authority, of their own little sovereign,

in order that he may be able to defend their property, and to support

their authority. Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the

security of property, is, in reality, instituted for the defence of the

rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those

who have none at all.

The judicial authority of such a sovereign, however, far from being a

cause of expense, was, for a long time, a source of revenue to him. The

persons who applied to him for justice were always willing to pay

for it, and a present never failed to accompany a petition. After the

authority of the sovereign, too, was thoroughly established, the person

found guilty, over and above the satisfaction which he was obliged to

make to the party, was like-wise forced to pay an amercement to the

sovereign. He had given trouble, he had disturbed, he had broke the

peace of his lord the king, and for those offences an amercement was

thought due. In the Tartar governments of Asia, in the governments

of Europe which were founded by the German and Scythian nations who

overturned the Roman empire, the administration of justice was a

considerable source of revenue, both to the sovereign, and to all

the lesser chiefs or lords who exercised under him any particular

jurisdiction, either over some particular tribe or clan, or over some

particular territory or district. Originally, both the sovereign and the

inferior chiefs used to exercise this jurisdiction in their own persons.

Afterwards, they universally found it convenient to delegate it to

some substitute, bailiff, or judge. This substitute, however, was still

obliged to account to his principal or constituent for the profits of

the jurisdiction. Whoever reads the instructions (They are to be found

in Tyrol's History of England) which were given to the judges of the

circuit in the time of Henry II will see clearly that those judges were

a sort of itinerant factors, sent round the country for the purpose

of levying certain branches of the king's revenue. In those days, the

administration of justice not only afforded a certain revenue to the

sovereign, but, to procure this revenue, seems to have been one of the

principal advantages which he proposed to obtain by the administration

of justice.

This scheme of making the administration of justice subservient to the

purposes of revenue, could scarce fail to be productive of several very

gross abuses. The person who applied for justice with a large present

in his hand, was likely to get something more than justice; while he

who applied for it with a small one was likely to get something less.

Justice, too, might frequently be delayed, in order that this present

might be repeated. The amercement, besides, of the person complained

of, might frequently suggest a very strong reason for finding him in the

wrong, even when he had not really been so. That such abuses were far

from being uncommon, the ancient history of every country in Europe

bears witness.

When the sovereign or chief exercises his judicial authority in his

own person, how much soever he might abuse it, it must have been scarce

possible to get any redress; because there could seldom be any body

powerful enough to call him to account. When he exercised it by a

bailiff, indeed, redress might sometimes be had. If it was for his own

benefit only, that the bailiff had been guilty of an act of injustice,

the sovereign himself might not always be unwilling to punish him, or

to oblige him to repair the wrong. But if it was for the benefit of his

sovereign; if it was in order to make court to the person who appointed

him, and who might prefer him, that he had committed any act of

oppression; redress would, upon most occasions, be as impossible as if

the sovereign had committed it himself. In all barbarous governments,

accordingly, in all those ancient governments of Europe in

particular, which were founded upon the ruins of the Roman empire, the

administration of justice appears for a long time to have been extremely

corrupt; far from being quite equal and impartial, even under the best

monarchs, and altogether profligate under the worst.

Among nations of shepherds, where the sovereign or chief is only the

greatest shepherd or herdsman of the horde or clan, he is maintained in

the same manner as any of his vassals or subjects, by the increase of

his own herds or flocks. Among those nations of husbandmen, who are

but just come out of the shepherd state, and who are not much advanced

beyond that state, such as the Greek tribes appear to have been about

the time of the Trojan war, and our German and Scythian ancestors, when

they first settled upon the ruins of the western empire; the sovereign

or chief is, in the same manner, only the greatest landlord of the

country, and is maintained in the same manner as any other landlord, by

a revenue derived from his own private estate, or from what, in modern

Europe, was called the demesne of the crown. His subjects, upon ordinary

occasions, contribute nothing to his support, except when, in order to

protect them from the oppression of some of their fellow-subjects, they

stand in need of his authority. The presents which they make him upon

such occasions constitute the whole ordinary revenue, the whole of

the emoluments which, except, perhaps, upon some very extraordinary

emergencies, he derives from his dominion over them. When Agamemnon, in

Homer, offers to Achilles, for his friendship, the sovereignty of seven

Greek cities, the sole advantage which he mentions as likely to be

derived from it was, that the people would honour him with presents. As

long as such presents, as long as the emoluments of justice, or what

may be called the fees of court, constituted, in this manner, the whole

ordinary revenue which the sovereign derived from his sovereignty, it

could not well be expected, it could not even decently be proposed,

that he should give them up altogether. It might, and it frequently was

proposed, that he should regulate and ascertain them. But after they

had been so regulated and ascertained, how to hinder a person who was

all-powerful from extending them beyond those regulations, was still

very difficult, not to say impossible. During the continuance of

this state of things, therefore, the corruption of justice, naturally

resulting from the arbitrary and uncertain nature of those presents,

scarce admitted of any effectual remedy.

But when, from different causes, chiefly from the continually increasing

expense of defending the nation against the invasion of other nations,

the private estate of the sovereign had become altogether insufficient

for defraying the expense of the sovereignty; and when it had become

necessary that the people should, for their own security, contribute

towards this expense by taxes of different kinds; it seems to have been

very commonly stipulated, that no present for the administration of

justice should, under any pretence, be accepted either by the sovereign,

or by his bailiffs and substitutes, the judges. Those presents, it seems

to have been supposed, could more easily be abolished altogether, than

effectually regulated and ascertained. Fixed salaries were appointed

to the judges, which were supposed to compensate to them the loss

of whatever might have been their share of the ancient emoluments of

justice; as the taxes more than compensated to the sovereign the loss of

his. Justice was then said to be administered gratis.

Justice, however, never was in reality administered gratis in any

country. Lawyers and attorneys, at least, must always be paid by the

parties; and if they were not, they would perform their duty still worse

than they actually perform it. The fees annually paid to lawyers and

attorneys, amount, in every court, to a much greater sum than the

salaries of the judges. The circumstance of those salaries being paid

by the crown, can nowhere much diminish the necessary expense of a

law-suit. But it was not so much to diminish the expense, as to

prevent the corruption of justice, that the judges were prohibited from

receiving my present or fee from the parties.

The office of judge is in itself so very honourable, that men are

willing to accept of it, though accompanied with very small emoluments.

The inferior office of justice of peace, though attended with a good

deal of trouble, and in most cases with no emoluments at all, is an

object of ambition to the greater part of our country gentlemen. The

salaries of all the different judges, high and low, together with the

whole expense of the administration and execution of justice, even

where it is not managed with very good economy, makes, in any civilized

country, but a very inconsiderable part of the whole expense of


The whole expense of justice, too, might easily be defrayed by the fees

of court; and, without exposing the administration of justice to any

real hazard of corruption, the public revenue might thus be entirely

discharged from a certain, though perha