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The rents which have been referved in corn CHA P. have preferved their value much better than those which have been referved in money, even where the denomination of the coin has not been altered. By the 18th of Elizabeth it was enacted, That a third of the rent of all college leafes fhould be referved in corn, to be paid, either in kind, or according to the current prices at the nearest public market. The money arifing from this corn rent, though originally but a third of the whole, is in the prefent times, according to Doctor Blackftone, commonly near double of what arifes from the other two-thirds. The old money rents of colleges muft, according to this account, have funk almost to a fourth part of their ancient value; or are worth little more than a fourth part of the corn which they were formerly worth. But fince the reign of Philip and Mary the denomination of the English coin has undergone little or no alteration, and the fame number of pounds, fhillings and pence have contained very nearly the fame quantity of pure filver. This degradation, therefore, in the value of the money rents of colleges, has arifen altogether from the degradation in the value of filver.
When the degradation in the value of filver is combined with the diminution of the quantity of it contained in the coin of the fame denomination, the lofs is frequently ftill greater. In Scotland, where the denomination of the coin has undergone much greater alterations than it ever did in England, and in France, where it has under
BOOK undergone ftill greater than it ever did in Scotland, fome ancient rents, originally of confiderable value, have in this manner been reduced almost to nothing.
Equal quantities of labour will at diftant times be purchased more nearly with equal quantities of corn, the fubfiftence of the labourer, than with equal quantities of gold and filver, or perhaps of any other commodity. Equal quantities of corn, therefore, will, at diftant times, be more nearly of the fame real value, or enable the poffeffor to purchase or command more nearly the fame quantity of the labour of other people. They will do this, I fay, more nearly than equal quantities of almost any other commodity; for even equal quantities of corn will not do it exactly. The fubfiftence of the labourer, or the real price of labour, as I fhall endeavour to fhow hereafter, is very different upon different occafions; more liberal in a fociety advancing to opulence, than in one that is ftanding ftill; and in one that is standing still, than in one that is going backwards. other commodity, however, will at any particular time purchase a greater or fmaller quantity of labour in proportion to the quantity of fubfift. ence which it can purchase at that time. rent therefore reserved in corn is liable only to the variations in the quantity of labour which a certain quantity of corn can purchase. But a rent referved in any other commodity is liable, not only to the variations in the quantity of labour which any particular quantity of corn can purchase,
purchase, but to the variations in the quantity of CHA P. corn which can be purchased by any particular quantity of that commodity.
Though the real value of a corn rent, it is to be obferved however, varies much lefs from century to century than that of a money rent, it varies much more from year to year. The money price of labour, as I fhall endeavour to fhow hereafter, does not fluctuate from year to year with the money price of corn, but feems to be every where accommodated, not to the temporary or occafional, but to the average or ordinary price of that neceffary of life. The average or ordinary price of corn again is regulated, as I fhall likewife endeavour to fhow hereafter, by the value of filver, by the richness or barrenness of the mines which fupply the market with that metal, or by the quantity of labour which must be employed, and confequently of corn which must be confumed, in order to bring any parti cular quantity of filver from the mine to the market. But the value of filver, though it fometimes varies greatly from century to century, feldom varies much from year to year, but frequently continues the fame, or very nearly the fame, for half a century or a century together. The ordinary or average money price of corn, therefore, may, during fo long a period, continue the fame or very nearly the same too, and along with it the money price of labour, provided, at least, the fociety continues, in other refpects, in the fame or nearly in the fame condition. In the mean time the temporary and
BOOK occafional price of corn may frequently be dou I. ble, one year, of what it had been the year before, or fluctuate, for example, from five and twenty to fifty fhillings the quarter. But when corn is at the latter price, not only the nominal, but the real value of a corn rent will be double of what it is when at the former, or will command double the quantity either of labour or of the greater part of other commodities; the money price of labour, and along with it that of most other things, continuing the fame during all these fluctuations.
Labour, therefore, it appears evidently, is the only univerfal, as well as the only accurate measure of value, or the only standard by which we can compare the values of different commodities at all times and at all places. We cannot eftimate, it is allowed, the real value of different commodities from century to century by the quantities of filver which were given for them. We cannot estimate it from year to year by the quantities of corn. By the quantities of labour we can, with the greatest accuracy, estimate it both from century to century and from year to year. From century to century, corn is a better measure than filver, because, from century to century, equal quantities of corn will command the fame quantity of labour more nearly than equal quantities of filver. From year to year, on the contrary, filver is a better measure than corn, because equal quantities of it will more nearly command the fame quantity of labour,
But though in establishing perpetual rents, C HA P. or even in letting very long leafes, it may be of ufe to diftinguish between the real and nominal price; it is of none in buying and felling, the more common and ordinary tranfactions of human life.
At the fame time and place the real and the nominal price of all commodities are exactly in proportion to one another. The more or lefs money you get for any commodity, in the London market, for example, the more or less labour it will at that time and place enable you to purchase or command. At the fame time and place, therefore, money is the exact measure of the real exchangeable value of all commodities. It is fo, however, at the fame time and place only.
Though at diftant places, there is no regular proportion between the real and the money price of commodities, yet the merchant who carries goods from the one to the other has nothing to confider but their money price, or the difference between the quantity of filver for which he buys them, and that for which he is likely to fell them. Half an ounce of filver at Canton in China may command a greater quantity both of labour and of the neceffaries and conveniences of life, than an ounce at London. A commodity, therefore, which fells for half an ounce of filver at Canton may there be really dearer, of more real importance to the man who poffeffes it there, than a commodity which fells for an ounce at London is to the man who poffeffes it at London,