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BOOK to be, according as the prices of thofe two forts


of grain fhould gradually rife above this lowest price. But the tranfcribers of thofe ftatutes feem frequently to have thought it fufficient to copy the regulation as far as the three or four firft and lowest prices; faving in this manner their own labour, and judging, I fuppofe, that this was enough to show what proportion ought to be obferved in all higher prices.

Thus, in the affize of bread and ale of the 51ft of Henry III., the price of bread was regulated according to the different prices of wheat, from one fhilling to twenty fhillings the quarter of the money of thofe times. But in the manu. fcripts from which all the different editions of the ftatutes, preceding that of Mr. Ruff head, were printed, the copiers had never tranfcribed this regulation beyond the price of twelve fhillings. Several writers, therefore, being mifled by this faulty tranfcription, very naturally concluded that the middle price, or fix fhillings the quarter, equal to about eighteen fhillings of our prefent money, was the ordinary or average price of wheat at that time.

In the statute of Tumbrel and Pillory, enacted nearly about the fame time, the price of ale is regulated according to every fixpence rife in the price of barley, from two fhillings to four fhillings the quarter. That four fhillings, however, was not confidered as the highest price to which barley might frequently rife in thofe times, and that these prices were only given as an example of the proportion which ought to be obferved in



all other prices, whether higher or lower, we may CHA P. infer from the last words of the ftatute; " et fic "deinceps crefcetur vel diminuetur per fex de"narios." The expreffion is very flovenly, but the meaning is plain enough; "That the price

"of ale is in this manner to be increased or di"minished according to every fixpence rife or "fall in the price of barley." In the compofition of this ftatute the legislature itself feems to have been as negligent as the copiers were in the transcription of the other.


In an ancient manufcript of the Regiam Majeftatem, an old Scotch law book, there is a statute of afsize, in which the price of bread is regulated according to all the different prices of wheat, from ten-pence to three fhillings the Scotch boll, equal to about half an English quarter. Three fhillings Scotch, at the time when this affize is fuppofed to have been enacted, were equal to about nine fhillings fterling of our prefent money. Mr. Ruddiman seems to conclude from this, that three fhillings was the highest price to which wheat ever rofe in those times, and that ten-pence, a fhilling, or at most two fhillings, were the ordinary prices. Upon confulting the manufcript, however, it appears evidently that all these prices are only fet down as examples of the proportion which ought to be obferved between the respective prices of wheat and bread. The laft words of the ftatute are, "reliqua judicabis fecundum præfcripta ha"bendo refpectum ad pretium bladi.”

* See his preface to Anderson's Diplomata Scotia.





BOOK" fhall judge of the remaining cafes according "to what is above written, having a refpect to "the price of corn."

Thirdly, They feem to have been misled too by the very low price at which wheat was fometimes fold in very ancient times; and to have imagined, that as its lowest price was then much lower than in later times, its ordinary price muft likewife have been much lower. They might have found, however, that in thofe ancient times, its highest price was fully as much above, as its lowest price was below any thing that had ever been known in later times. Thus, in 1270, Fleetwood gives us two prices of the quarter of wheat. The one is four pounds fixteen fhillings of the money of thofe times, equal to fourteen pounds eight fhillings of that of the prefent; the other is fix pounds eight fhillings, equal to nineteen pounds four fhillings of our prefent money. No price can be found in the end of the fifteenth, or beginning of the fixteenth century, which approaches to the extravagance of these. The price of corn, though at all times liable to variation, varies moft in those turbulent and dif orderly focieties, in which the interruption of all commerce and communication hinders the plen ty of one part of the country from relieving the fcarcity of another. In the disorderly state of England under the Plantagenets, who governed it from about the middle of the twelfth, till towards the end of the fifteenth century, one district might be in plenty, while another at no great distance, by having its crop destroyed


either by fome accident of the seasons, or by the CHA P. incurfion of fome neighbouring baron, might be fuffering all the horrors of a famine; and yet if the lands of fome hoftile lord were interpofed between them, the one might not be able to give the least affiftance to the other. Under the vigorous adminiftration of the Tudors, who governed England during the latter part of the fif teenth, and through the whole of the fixteenth century, no baron was powerful enough to dare to disturb the public fecurity.

The reader will find at the end of this chapter all the prices of wheat which have been collected by Fleetwood from 1202 to 1597, both inclufive, reduced to the money of the present times, and digefted according to the order of time, into feven divifions of twelve years each. At the end of each divifion too, he will find the average price of the twelve years of which it confifts. In that long period of time, Fleetwood has been able to collect the prices of no more than eighty years, fo that four years are wanting to make out the last twelve years. I have added, therefore, from the accounts of Eton College, the prices of 1598, 1599, 1600, and 1601. It is the only addition which I have made. The reader will fee, 'that from the beginning of the thirteenth, till after the middle of the fixteenth century, the average price of each twelve years grows gradually lower and lower; and that towards the end of the fixteenth century it begins to rife again. The prices, indeed, which Fleetwood has been able to collect, feem to have been thofe chiefly which




BOOK which were remarkable for extraordinary dear. nefs or cheapnefs; and I do not pretend that any very certain conclufion can be drawn from them. So far, however, as they prove any thing at all, they confirm the account which I have been endeavouring to give. Fleetwood himself, however, feems, with moft other writers, to have believed, that during all this period the value of filver, in confequence of its increafing abundance, was continually diminishing. The prices of corn which he himself has collected, certainly do not agree with this opinion. They agree perfectly with that of Mr. Duprè de St. Maur, and with that which I have been endeavouring to explain. Bishop Fleetwood and Mr. Duprè de St. Maur are the two authors who feem to have collected with the greatest diligence and fidelity, the prices of things in ancient times. It is fomewhat curious that, though their opinions are fo very dif ferent, their facts, fo far as they relate to the price of corn at least, fhould coincide fo very exactly.

It is not, however, fo much from the low price of corn, as from that of fome other parts of the rude produce of land, that the most judicious writers, have inferred the great value of filver in thofe very ancient times. Corn, it has been faid, being a fort of manufacture, was, in those rude ages, much dearer in proportion than the greater part of other commodities; it is meant, I fuppofe, than the greater part of unmanufac tured commodities; fuch as cattle, poultry, game of all kinds, &c. That in thofe times of poverty and barbarism these were proportion


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