« AnteriorContinuar »
BOOK feem all to have derived their great opulence 1. from this inland navigation.
ALL the inland parts of Africa, and all that part of Afia which lies any confiderable way north of the Euxine and Cafpian feas, the antient Scythia, the modern Tartary and Siberia, feem in all ages of the world to have been in the fame barbarous and uncivilized ftate in which we find them at prefent. The fea of Tartary is the frozen ocean which admits of no navigation, and though fome of the greatest rivers in the world run through that country, they are at too great a distance from one another to carry commerce and communication through the greater part of it. There are in Africa none of those great inlets, fuch as the Baltic and Adriatic feas in Europe, the Mediterranean and Euxine feas in both Europe and Afia, and the gulphs of Arabia, Perfia, India, Bengal, and Siam, in Afia, to carry maritime commerce into the interior parts of that great continent: and the great rivers of Africa are at too great a distance from one another to give occafion to any confiderable inland navigation. The commerce befides which any nation can carry on by means of a river which does not break itfelf into any great number of branches or canals, and which runs into another territory before it reaches the fea, can never be very confiderable; because it is always in the power of the nations who poffefs that other territory to obftruct the communication between the upper country and the fea. The navigation of the Danube is of very little ufe to the different ftates
states of Bavaria, Auftria and Hungary, in com- CHAP. parison of what it would be if any of them poffeffed the whole of its courfe till it falls into the Black Sea.
Of the Origin and Use of Money.
HEN the divifion of labour has been
once thoroughly established, it is but a very small part of a man's wants which the produce of his own labour can fupply. He fupplies the far greater part of them by exchanging that furplus part of the produce of his own labour, which is over and above his own confumption, for fuch parts of the produce of other men's labour as he has occafion for. Every man thus lives by exchanging, or becomes in fome meafure a merchant, and the fociety itself grows to be what is properly a commercial fociety.
BUT when the divifion of labour first began to take place, this power of exchanging must frequently have been very much clogged and embarraffed in its operations. One man, we fhall suppose, has more of a certain commodity than he himself has occafion for, while another has lefs. The former confequently would be glad to difpofe of, and the latter to purchase, a part of this fuperfluity. But if this latter fhould chance to have nothing that the former ftands in need of, no exchange can be made between them. VOL. I.
BOOK The butcher has more meat in his shop than he
himself can confume, and the brewer and the
MANY different commodities, it is probable, were fucceffively both thought of and employed for this purpose. In the rude ages of fociety, cattle are faid to have been the common instrument of commerce; and, though they must have been a moft inconvenient one, yet in old times we find things were frequently valued according to the number of cattle which had been given in exchange for them. The armour of Diomede, fays Homer, coft only nine oxen; but that of Glaucus coft an hundred oxen. Salt is faid to
be the common inftrument of commerce and ex- CHAP. changes in Abyffinia; a fpecies of fhells in fome parts of the coaft of India; dried cod at Newfoundland; tobacco in Virginia; fugar in fome of our Weft India colonies; hides or dreffed leather in fome other countries; and there is at this day a village in Scotland where it is not uncom mon, I am told, for a workman to carry nails inftead of money to the baker's fhop or the alehouse.
In all countries, however, men feem at last to have been determined by irrefiftible reafons to give the preference, for this employment, to metals above every other commodity. Metals can not only be kept with as little lofs as any other commodity, scarce any thing being lefs perishable than they are, but they can likewife, without any lofs, be divided into any number of parts, as by fufion thofe parts can easily be re ́united again; a quality which no other equally durable commodities poffefs, and which more than any other quality renders them fit to be the inftruments of commerce and circulation. The man who wanted to buy falt, for example, and had nothing but cattle to give in exchange for it, muft have been obliged to buy falt to the value of a whole ox, or a whole sheep, at a time. He could feldom buy lefs than this, because what he was to give for it could feldom be divided without lofs; and if he had a mind to buy more, he muft, for the fame reasons, have been obliged to buy double or triple the quantity, the value, to wit, of two or three oxen, or
BOOK of two or three fheep. If, on the contrary, in
stead of sheep or oxen, he had metals to give in exchange for it, he could eafily proportion the quantity of the metal to the precife quantity of the commodity which he had immediate occafion for.
DIFFERENT metals have been made ufe of by different nations for this purpose. Iron was the common instrument of commerce among the antient Spartans; copper among the antient Romans; and gold and filver among all rich and commercial nations.
THOSE metals feem originally to have been made use of for this purpose in rude bars, without any ftamp or coinage. Thus we are told by Pliny , upon the authority of Timæus, an antient hiftorian, that, till the time of Servius Tullius, the Romans had no coined money, but made use of unftamped bars of copper, to purchafe whatever they had occafion for. Thefe rude bars, therefore, performed at this time the function of money.
THE ufe of metals in this rude ftate was attended with two very confiderable inconveniencies; firft, with the trouble of weighing; and, fecondly, with that of affaying them. In the precious metals, where a fmall difference in the quantity makes a great difference in the value, even the business of weighing, with proper exactnefs, requires at least very accurate weights and fcales. The weighing of gold in particular is an
*Plin. Hift. Nat. lib. 33. cap. 3.