Imágenes de páginas

it is evident, cannot be communicated to the CHA P. lands at a distance.


Particular circumstances have fometimes rendered fome countries fo populous, that the whole territory, like the lands in the neighbourhood of a great town, has not been fufficient to produce both the grafs and the corn neceffary for the fubfiftence of their inhabitants. Their lands, therefore, have been principally employed in the production of grafs, the more bulky commodity, and which cannot be fo eafily brought from a great distance; and corn, the food of the great body of the people, has been chiefly imported from foreign countries. Holland is at present in this fituation, and a confiderable part of ancient Italy feems to have been fo during the profperity of the Romans. To feed well, old Cato faid, as we are told by Cicero, was the first and most profitable thing in the management of a private estate; to feed tolerably well, the fecond; and to feed ill, the third. To plough, he ranked only in the fourth place of profit and advantage. Tillage, indeed, in that part of ancient Italy which lay in the neighbourhood of Rome, muft have been very much difcouraged by the diftributions of corn which were frequently made to the people, either gratuitously, or at a very low price. This corn was brought from the conquered provinces, of which feveral, inftead of taxes, were obliged to furnish a tenth part of their produce at a stated price, about fixpence a peck, to the republic. The low price at which this corn was diftri



BOOK buted to the people, muft neceffarily have funk the price of what could be brought to the Roman market from Latium, or the ancient territory of Rome, and must have discouraged its cultivation in that country.

In an open country too, of which the principal produce is corn, a well-enclofed piece of grafs will frequently rent higher than any cornfield in its neighbourhood. It is convenient for the maintenance of the cattle employed in the cultivation of the corn, and its high rent is, in this cafe, not fo properly paid from the value of its own produce, as from that of the corn lands which are cultivated by means of it. It is likely to fall, if ever the neighbouring lands are completely enclosed. The prefent high rent of enclofed land in Scotland feems owing to the fcarcity of enclosure, and will probably last no longer than that fcarcity. The advantage of enclosure is greater for pafture than for corn, It faves the labour of guarding the cattle, which feed better too when they are not liable to be disturbed by their keeper or his dog.

But where there is no local advantage of this kind, the rent and profit of corn, or whatever elfe is the common vegetable food of the people, must naturally regulate, upon the land which is fit for producing it, the rent and profit of pasture.

The use of the artificial graffes, of turnips, carrots, cabbages, and the other expedients which have been fallen upon to make an equal quantity of land feed a greater number of cattle


eattle than when in natural grafs, fhould fome- c H A P. what reduce, it might be expected, the fuperiority which, in an improved country, the price of butcher's meat naturally has over that of bread. It feems accordingly to have done fo; and there is fome reason for believing that, at least in the London market, the price of butcher's meat in proportion to the price of bread, is a good deal lower in the prefent times than it was in the beginning of the laft century.

In the appendix to the Life of Prince Henry, Doctor Birch has given us an account of the prices of butcher's meat as commonly paid by that prince, It is there faid, that the four quarters of an ox weighing fix hundred pounds ufually coft him nine pounds ten fhillings or thereabouts; that is, thirty-one fhillings and eight-pence per hundred pounds weight. Prince Henry died on the 6th of November 1612, in the nineteenth year of his age.

In March 1764, there was a parliamentary inquiry into the causes of the high price of provifions at that time. It was then, among other proof to the fame purpofe, given in evidence by a Virginia merchant, that in March 1763, he had victualled his fhips for twenty-four or twenty-five fhillings the hundred weight of beef, which he confidered as the ordinary price; whereas, in that dear year, he had paid twentyfeven fhillings for the fame weight and fort. This high price in 1764 is, however, four fhil, lings and eight-pence cheaper than the ordinary


BOO K price paid by Prince Henry; and it is the best beef only, it must be obferved, which is fit to be falted for thofe diftant voyages.


The price paid by Prince Henry amounts to 34d. per pound weight of the whole carcafe, coarse and choice pieces taken together; and at that rate the choice pieces could not have been fold by retail for lefs than 4 d. or 5d. the pound.

In the parliamentary inquiry in 1764, the witneffes ftated the price of the choice pieces of the best beef to be to the confumer 4d. and 44d. the pound; and the coarse pieces in general to be from seven farthings to 2 d. and 24d.; and this they faid was in general one half-penny dearer than the fame fort of pieces had ufually been fold in the month of March. But even this high price is still a good deal cheaper than what we can well fuppofe the ordinary retail price to have been in the time of Prince Henry.

During the twelve first years of the last century, the average price of the best wheat at the Windfor market was 17. 18s. 3 d. the quarter of nine Winchester bufhels.

But in the twelve years preceding 1764, including that year, the average price of the fame measure of the beft wheat at the fame market was 27. 18. 91d.

In the twelve first years of the last century, therefore, wheat appears to have been a good deal cheaper, and butcher's meat a good deal dearer, than in the twelve years preceding 1764, including that year.


In all great countries the greater part of the CHA P. cultivated lands are employed in producing either food for men or food for cattle. The rent and profit of thefe regulate the rent and profit of all other cultivated land. If any particular produce afforded lefs, the land would foon be turned into corn or pafture; and if any afforded more, fome part of the lands in corn or pasture would foon be turned to that produce.

Thofe productions, indeed, which require either a greater original expence of improvement, or a greater annual expence of cultivation, in order to fit the land for them, appear commonly to afford, the one a greater rent, the other a greater profit than corn or pafture. This fuperiority, however, will feldom be found to amount to more than a reasonable intereft or compenfation for this fuperior expence.

In a hop garden, a fruit garden, a kitchen garden, both the rent of the landlord, and the profit of the farmer, are generally greater than in a corn or grafs field. But to bring the ground into this condition requires more expence. Hence a greater rent becomes due to the landlord. It requires too a more attentive and skilful management. Hence a greater profit becomes due to the farmer. The crop too, at leaft in the hop and fruit garden, is more precarious. Its price, therefore, befides compenfating all occafional loffes, muft afford fomething like the profit of infurance. The circumstances of gardeners, generally mean, and always moderate, may fatisfy us that their great ingenuity is


« AnteriorContinuar »