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Of the Rent of Land.
RENT, confidered as the price paid for the CHA P.
ufe of land, is naturally the highest which
the tenant can afford to pay in the actual circumstances of the land. In adjusting the terms of the leafe, the landlord endeavours to leave him no greater fhare of the produce than what is fufficient to keep up the ftock from which he furnishes the feed, pays the labour, and purchases and maintains the cattle and other inftruments of husbandry, together with the ordinary profits of farming flock in the neighbourhood. This is evidently the smallest share with which the tenant can content himself without being a lofer, and the landlord feldom means to leave him any more. Whatever part of the produce, or, what is the fame thing, whatever part of its price, is over and above this share, he naturally endeavours to referve to himfelf as the rent of his land, which is evidently the highest the tenant can afford to pay in the actual circumftances of the land. Sometimes, indeed, the liberality, more frequently the ignorance, of the landlord, makes him accept of fomewhat lefs than this portion; and fometimes too, though more rarely, the ignorance of the tenant makes him undertake to pay fomewhat more, or to content himself with fomewhat lefs, than the ordinary profits of farming ftock in the neighbourhood. This por
BOOK tion, however, may ftill be confidered as the natural rent of land, or the rent for which it is naturally meant that land fhould for the most part be let.
The rent of land, it may be thought, is frequently no more than a reasonable profit or intereft for the stock laid out by the landlord upon its improvement. This, no doubt, may be partly the cafe upon fome occafions; for it can scarce ever be more than partly the cafe. The landlord demands a rent even for unimproved land, and the fuppofed intereft or profit upon the expence of improvement is generally an addition to this original rent. Those improvements, befides, are not always made by the stock of the landlord, but fometimes by that of the tenant. When the leafe comes to be renewed, however, the landlord commonly demands the fame augmentation of rent, as if they had been all made by his own.
He fometimes demands rent for what is altogether incapable of human improvement. Kelp is a fpecies of fea-weed, which, when burnt, yields an alkaline falt, ufeful for making glafs, foap, and for feveral other purposes. It grows in feveral parts of Great Britain, particularly in Scotland, upon fuch rocks only as lie within the high water-mark, which are twice every day covered with the fea, and of which the produce, therefore, was never augmented by human industry. The landlord, however, whofe eftate is bounded by a kelp fhore of this kind, demands a rent for it as much as for his corn fields.
The fea in the neighbourhood of the islands of Shetland is more than commonly abundant in
fish, which make a great part of the fubfiftence CHA P. of their inhabitants. But in order to profit by the produce of the water, they must have a habitation upon the neighbouring land. The rent of the landlord is in proportion, not to what the farmer can make by the land, but to what he can make both by the land and by the water. It is partly paid in fea-fish; and one of the very few inftances in which rent makes a part of the price of that commodity, is to be found in that country.
The rent of land, therefore, confidered as the price paid for the use of the land, is naturally a monopoly price. It is not at all proportioned to what the landlord may have laid out upon the improvement of the land, or to what he can afford to take; but to what the farmer can afford to give.
Such parts only of the produce of land can commonly be brought to market of which the ordinary price is fufficient to replace the ftock which must be employed in bringing them thither, together with its ordinary profits. If the ordinary price is more than this, the furplus part of it will naturally go to the rent of the land. If it is not more, though the commodity may be brought to market, it can afford no rent to the landlord. Whether the price is, or is not more, depends upon the demand.
There are fome parts of the produce of land for which the demand must always be fuch as to afford a greater price than what is fufficient to bring them to market; and there are others for
BOOK which it either may or may not be fuch as to I. afford this greater price. The former muft always afford a rent to the landlord. The latter fometimes may, and fometimes may not, according to different circumstances.
Rent, it is to be obferved, therefore, enters into the compofition of the price of commodities in a different way from wages and profit. High or low wages and profit are the caufes of high or low price; high or low rent is the effect of it. It is becaufe high or low wages and profit must be paid, in order to bring a particular commodity to market, that its price is high or low. But it is because its price is high or low ; a great deal more, or very little more, or no more, than what is fufficient to pay thofe wages and profit, that it affords a high rent, or a low rent, or no rent at all.
The particular confideration, first, of those parts of the produce of land which always afford fome rent; fecondly, of those which fometimes may and sometimes may not afford rent; and, thirdly, of the variations which, in the different periods of improvement, naturally take place, in the relative value of those two different forts of rude produce, when compared both with one another and with manufactured commodities, will divide this chapter into three parts.
Of the Produce of Land which always affords Rent.
AS men, like all other animals, naturally mul
tiply in proportion to the means of their fubfiftence, food is always, more or less, in demand. It can always purchase or command a greater or fmaller quantity of labour, and fomebody can always be found who is willing to do fomething in order to obtain it. The quantity of labour, indeed, which it can purchase, is not always equal to what it could maintain, if managed in the moft œconomical manner, on account of the high wages which are fometimes given to labour. But it can always purchase fuch a quantity of labour as it can maintain, according to the rate at which that fort of labour is commonly maintained in the neighbourhood.
But land, in almost any fituation, produces a greater quantity of food than what is fufficient to maintain all the labour neceffary for bringing it to market, in the most liberal way in which that labour is ever maintained. The furplus too is always more than fufficient to replace the stock which employed that labour, together with its profits. Something, therefore, always remains for a rent to the landlord.
The most defart moors in Norway and Scotland produce fome fort of pasture for cattle, of which the milk and the increase are always more