Lectures on Justice, Police, Revenue, and Arms (1763)

Recommended edition: Edited by Edwin Cannan (Oxford, 1896).


“It is to be observed in general that the situation of a country, and the degree of improvement of which it is susceptible, not only in the cultivation of the land, but in other branches of trade, is favourable to the introduction of a republican government. There is little probability that any such government will ever be introduced into Tartary or Arabia, because the situation of their country is such that it cannot be improved. The most part of these is hills and deserts which cannot be cultivated, and is only fit for pasturage. Besides, they are generally dry, and have not any considerable rivers 1 . The contrary of this is the case in those countries where republican governments have been established, and particularly in Greece. Two-thirds of Attica are surrounded by sea, and the other side by a ridge of high mountains. By this means they have a communication with their neighbouring countries by sea, and at the same [time] are secured from the inroads of their neighbours. Most of the European countries have most part of the same advantages. They are divided by rivers and branches of the sea, and are naturally fit for the cultivation of the soil and other arts. We shall now see how favour able this is to the reception of a republican government. We may suppose the progress of government in Attica in the infancy of the society to have been much the same with that in Tartary and the other countries we have mentioned, and we find in reality that at the time of the Trojan war it was much in the same situation, for then there was little or no cultivation of the ground, and cattle was the principal part of their property. All the contests about property in Homer regard cattle.”