« AnteriorContinuar »
BOOK what is fufficient to pay the labour, and replace,
together with its ordinary profits, the ftock which must be employed in bringing them to market. Whether it is or is not fuch, depends upon different circumstances.
Whether a coal-mine, for example, can afford any rent, depends partly upon its fertility, and partly upon its fituation.
A mine of any kind may be faid to be either fertile or barren, according as the quantity of mineral which can be brought from it by a certain quantity of labour, is greater or less than what can be brought by an equal quantity from the greater part of other mines of the fame kind.
Some coal-mines advantageously fituated, cannot be wrought on account of their barrennefs. The produce does not pay the expence. They can afford neither profit nor rent.
There are fome of which the produce is barely fufficient to pay the labourer, and replace, together with its ordinary profits, the ftock employed in working them. They afford fome profit to the undertaker of the work, but no rent to the landlord. They can be wrought advantageously by nobody but the landlord, who being himself undertaker of the work, gets the ordinary profit of the capital which he employs in it. Many coal-mines in Scotland are wrought in this manner, and can be wrought in no other. The landlord will allow nobody elfe to work them without paying fome rent, and nobody can afford to pay any.
Other coal-mines in the fame country fuffi- c H A P. ciently fertile, cannot be wrought on account of their fituation. A quantity of mineral fufficient to defray the expence of working, could be brought from the mine by the ordinary, or even lefs than the ordinary quantity of labour: But in an inland country, thinly inhabited, and without either good roads or water-carriage, this quantity could not be fold.
Coals are a lefs agreeable fewel than wood: they are faid too to be lefs wholefome. The expence of coals, therefore, at the place where they are confumed, muft generally be fomewhat lefs than that of wood.
The price of wood again varies with the ftate of agriculture, nearly in the fame manner, and exactly for the fame reason, as the price of cattle. In its rude beginnings the greater part of every country is covered with wood, which is then a mere incumbrance of no value to the landlord, who would gladly give it to any body for the cutting. As agriculture advances, the woods are partly cleared by the progrefs of tillage, and partly go to decay in confequence of the increafed number of cattle. Thefe, though they do not increase in the fame proportion as corn, which is altogether the acquifition of human induftry, yet multiply under the care and protection of men; who store up in the season of plenty what may maintain them in that of scarcity, who through the whole year furnish them with a greater quantity of food than uncultivated nature provides for them, and who, by deftroy.
BOOK ing and extirpating their enemies, fecure them I. in the free enjoyment of all that the provides. Numerous herds of cattle, when allowed to wander through the woods, though they do not deftroy the old trees, hinder any young ones from coming up, so that in the course of a century or two the whole foreft goes to ruin. The fcarcity of wood then raifes its price. It affords a good rent, and the landlord fometimes finds that he can fcarce employ his beft lands more advantageously than in growing barren timber, of which the greatnefs of the profit often compenfates the latenefs of the returns. This feems in the present times to be nearly the ftate of things in feveral parts of Great Britain, where the profit of planting is found to be equal to that, of either corn or pafture. The advantage which the landlord derives from planting, can nowhere exceed, at leaft for any confiderable time, the rent which thefe could afford him; and in an inland country which is highly cultivated, it will frequently not fall much fhort of this rent. Upon the fea-coaft of a well-improved country, indeed, if coals can conveniently be had for fewel, it may fometimes be cheaper to bring barren timber for building from lefs cultivated foreign countries, than to raise it at home. In the new town of Edinburgh, built within these few years, there is not, perhaps, a fingle stick of Scotch timber.
Whatever may be the price of wood, if that of coals is fuch that the expence of a coal-fire is nearly equal to that of a wood one, we may be
affured, that at that place, and in these circum- CHA P. ftances, the price of coals is as high as it can be. It seems to be fo in fome of the inland parts of England, particularly in Oxfordshire, where it is ufual, even in the fires of the common people, to mix coals and wood together, and where the difference in the expence of thofe two forts of fewel cannot, therefore, be very great.
Coals, in the coal countries, are every-where much below this higheft price. If they were not, they could not bear the expence of a diftant carriage, either by land or by water. A fmall quantity only could be fold, and the coal maf ters and coal proprietors find it more for their intereft to fell a great quantity at a price fomewhat above the lowest, than a fmall quantity at the higheft. The most fertile coal-mine too, regulates the price of coals at all the other mines in its neighbourhood. Both the proprietor and the undertaker of the work find, the one that he can get a greater rent, the other that he can get a greater profit, by fomewhat underfelling all their neighbours. Their neighbours are foon obliged to fell at the fame price, though they cannot fo well afford it, and though it always diminishes, and fometimes takes away altogether both their rent and their profit. Some works are abandoned altogether; others can afford no rent, and can be wrought only by the proprietor.
The lowest price at which coals can be fold for any confiderable time, is, like that of all other commodities, the price which is barely fuf
BOOK ficient to replace, together with its ordinary profits, the ftock which must be employed in bringing them to market. At a coal-mine for which the landlord can get no rent, but which he must either work himself or let it alone altogether, the price of coals must generally be nearly about this price.
Rent, even where coals afford one, has generally a fmaller fhare in their price than in that of most other parts of the rude produce of land. The rent of an estate above ground, commonly amounts to what is fuppofed to be a third of the grofs produce; and it is generally a rent certain and independent of the occafional variations in the crop. In coal-mines a fifth of the grofs produce is a very great rent; a tenth the common rent, and it is feldom a rent certain, but depends upon the occafional variations in the produce. Thefe are fo great, that in a country where thirty years purchafe is confidered as a moderate price for the property of a landed eftate, ten years purchase is regarded as a good price for that of a coal-mine.
The value of a coal-mine to the proprietor fre quently depends as much upon its fituation as upon its fertility. That of a metallic mine depends more upon its fertility, and lefs upon its fituation. The coarfe, and ftill more the precious metals, when feparated from the ore, are fo valuable that they can generally bear the expence of a very long land, and of the most dif tant fea carriage. Their market is not confined to the countries in the neighbourhood of the