Imágenes de páginas

Scotch corn which comes to market in competi- c HA P. tion with it.

THE difference between the money price of labour in China and in Europe, is ftill greater than that between the money price of fubfiftence; because the real recompence of labour is higher in Europe than in China, the greater part of Europe being in an improving state, while China feems to be ftanding ftill. The money price of labour is lower in Scotland than in England, because the real recompence of labour is much lower; Scotland, though advancing to greater wealth, advancing much more flowly than England. The frequency of emigration from Scotland, and the rarity of it from England, fufficiently prove that the demand for labour is very different in the two countries. The proportion between the real recompence of labour in different countries, it must be remembered, is naturally regulated, not by their actual wealth or poverty, but by their advancing, stationary, or declining condition.

GOLD and filver, as they are naturally of the greatest value among the richeft, fo they are naturally of the least value among the poorest nations. Among favages, the poorest of all nations, they are of scarce any value.

IN great towns corn is always dearer than in remote parts of the country. This, however, is the effect, not of the real cheapnefs of filver, but of the real dearnefs of corn. It does not cost lefs labour to bring filver to the great town than to the remote parts of the country; but it cofts a great deal more to bring corn.





IN fome very rich and commercial countries, fuch as Holland and the territory of Genoa, corn is dear for the fame reafon that it is dear in great towns. They do not produce enough to maintain their inhabitants. They are rich in the industry and skill of their artificers and manufacturers; in every fort of machinery which can facilitate and abridge labour; in fhipping, and in all the other inftruments and means of carriage and commerce: but they are poor in corn, which, as it must be brought to them from diftant countries, muft, by an addition to its price, pay for the carriage from thofe countries, It does not coft lefs labour to bring filver to Amfterdam than to Dantzick; but it costs a great deal more to bring corn. The real coft of filver must be nearly the fame in both places; but that of corn must be very different. Diminish the real opulence either of Holland or of the territory of Genoa, while the number of their inhabitants remains the fame: diminish their power of fupplying themselves from diftant countries; and the price of corn, inftead of finking with that diminution in the quantity of their filver, which muft neceffarily accompany this declenfion either as its caufe or as its effect, will rife to the price of a famine. When we are in want of neceffaries we must part with all fuperfluities, of which the value, as it rifes in times of opulence and profperity, fo it finks in times of poverty and diftrefs. It is otherwife with neceffaries. Their real price, the quantity of labour which they can purchase or command, rifes in times of poverty



and distress, and finks in times of opulence and CHA P. profperity, which are always times of great abundance; for they could not otherwife be times of opulence and profperity. Corn is a neceffary, filver is only a fuperfluity.

WHATEVER, therefore, may have been the increase in the quantity of the precious metals, which, during the period between the middle of the fourteenth and that of the fixteenth century, arofe from the increase of wealth and improvement, it could have no tendency to diminish their value either in Great Britain, or in any other part of Europe. If those who have col lected the prices of things in ancient times, therefore, had, during this period, no reason to infer the diminution of the value of filver, from any obfervations which they had made upon the prices either of corn or of other commodities, they had ftill less reason to infer it from any suppofed increase of wealth and improvement.



UT how various foever may have been the opinions of the learned concerning the progrefs of the value of filver during this firft period, they are unanimous concerning it during the fecond.

FROM about 1570 to about 1640, during a period of about feventy years, the variation in the proportion between the value of filver and that of corn, held a quite oppofite course. Sil



ver funk in its real value, or would exchange for a smaller quantity of labour than before; and corn rose in its nominal price, and instead of being commonly fold for about two ounces of filver the quarter, or about ten llings of our prefent money, came to be fold for fix and eight ounces of filver the quarter, or about thirty and forty fhillings of our prefent money.

THE discovery of the abundant mines of America, feems to have been the fole caufe of this diminution in the value of filver in proportion to that of corn. It is accounted for accordingly in the fame manner by every body; and there never has been any dispute either about the fact, or about the cause of it. The greater part of Europe was, during this period, advancing in induftry and improvement, and the demand for filver must confequently have been increafing. But the increase of the fupply had, it feems, fo far exceeded that of the demand, that the value of that metal funk confiderably. The difcovery of the mines of America, it is to be observed, does not seem to have had any very fenfible effect upon the prices of things in England till after 1570; though even the mines of Potofi had been discovered more than twenty years before.

FROM 1595 to 1620, both inclufive, the average price of the quarter of nine bufhels of the beft wheat at Windfor market, appears from the accounts of Eton College, to have been 21. 1 s. 6 d. 13. From which fum, neglecting the fraction, and deducting a ninth, or 4 s. 7 d.,




the price of the quarter of eight bufhels comes out CHA P. to have been 1. 16s. 10d. . And from this fum, neglecting likewife the fraction, and deducting a ninth, or 4s. 1 d., for the difference between the price of the beft wheat and that of the middle wheat, the price of the middle wheat comes out to have been about 17. 12s. 8 d. or about fix ounces and one-third of an ounce of filver.

[ocr errors]


FROM 1621 to 1636, both inclufive, the average price of the fame measure of the best wheat at the fame market, appears, from the fame accounts, to have been 27. 10s.; from which making the like deductions as in the foregoing cafe, the average price of the quarter of eight bufhels of middle wheat comes out to have been Il. 195. 6d. or about feven ounces and twothirds of an ounce of filver.


BETWEEN 1630 and 1640, or about 1636, the effect of the discovery of the mines of America in reducing the value of filver, appears to have been completed, and the value of that metal feems never to have funk lower in proportion to that of corn than it was about that time. It seems to have rifen fomewhat in the course of the prefent century, and it had probably begun to do fo even fome time before the end of the last. FROM 1637 to 1700, both inclufive, being the fixty-four laft years of the last century, the ave


« AnteriorContinuar »