The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 303

and as
some of our towns are visibly and vastly grown in bulk, I dare not
suppose, as judicious men have done, that England is less peopled
than heretofore.

This growth of our towns is the effect of a change of manners, and
improvement of arts, common to all Europe; and though it is not
imagined, that it has lessened the country growth of necessaries,
it has evidently, by introducing a greater consumption of them, (an
infallible consequence of a nation's dwelling in towns) counteracted
the effects of our prodigious advances in the arts.

But however frugality may supply the place, or prodigality counteract
the effects, of the natural or acquired subsistence of a country,
industry is, beyond doubt, a more efficacious cause of plenty than
any natural advantage of extent or fertility. I have mentioned
instances of frugality and industry united with extent and fertility.
In Spain and Asia Minor, we see frugality joined to extent and
fertility, without industry; in Ireland, we once saw the same;
Scotland had then none of them but frugality. The change in these
two countries is obvious to every one, and it is owing to industry
not yet very widely diffused in either. The effects of industry and
frugality in England are surprising; both the rent and the value of
the inheritance of land depend on them greatly more than on nature,
and this, though there is no considerable difference in the prices of
our markets. Land of equal goodness lets for double the rent of other
land lying in the same county, and there are many years purchase
difference between different counties, where rents are equally well
paid and secure.

Thus manners operate upon the number of inhabitants, but of their
silent effects upon a civil constitution, history, and even our
own experience, yields us abundance of proofs, though they are
not uncommonly attributed to external causes: their support of a
government against external force is so great, that it is a common
maxim among the advocates of liberty, that no free government was
ever dissolved, or overcome, before the manners of its subjects were

The superiority of Greece over Persia was singly owing to their
difference of manners; and that, though all natural advantages were
on the side of the latter, to which I might add the civil ones; for
though the greatest of all civil advantages, liberty, was on the
side of Greece, yet that added no political strength to her, than
as it operated on her manners, and, when they were corrupted, the
restoration of their liberty by the Romans, overturned the remains of
their power.

Whether the manners of ancient

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