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fomewhat more than ordinary beauty, and to CHA P. confider them as juft worth the picking up, but not worth the refufing to any body who afked them. They gave them to their new guests at the first request, without feeming to think that they had made them any very valuable present. They were astonished to obferve the rage of the Spaniards to obtain them; and had no notion that there could any-where be a country in which many people had the difpofal of fo great a fuperfluity of food, fo fcanty always among themfelves, that for a very small quantity of those glittering baubles they would willingly give as much as might maintain a whole family for many years. Could they have been made to underftand this, the paffion of the Spaniards would not have furprised them.
Of the Variations in the Proportion between the respective Values of that Sort of Produce which always affords Rent, and of that which fometimes does and fometimes does not afford Rent.
HE increasing abundance of food, in confequence of increafing improvement and cultivation, must neceffarily increase the demand for every part of the produce of land which is not food, and which can be applied either to ufe or to ornament. In the whole progrefs of improvement, it might therefore be expected, there fhould be only one variation in the comparative
BOOK parative values of thofe two different forts of produce. The value of that fort which fometimes does and fometimes does not afford rent, fhould conftantly rife in proportion to that which always affords fome rent. As art and industry advance, the materials of cloathing and lodging, the useful foffils and minerals of the earth, the precious metals and the precious ftones fhould gradually come to be more and more in demand, fhould gradually exchange for a greater and a greater quantity of food, or in other words, fhould gradually become dearer and dearer. This accordingly has been the cafe with most of thefe things upon moft occafions, and would have been the cafe with all of them upon all occafions, if particular accidents had not upon fome occafions increased the supply of fome of them in a ftill greater proportion than the demand.
The value of a free-ftone quarry, for example, will neceffarily increase with the increafing improvement and population of the country round about it; especially if it fhould be the only one in the neighbourhood. But the value of a filver mine, even though there fhould not be another within a thousand miles of it, will not neceffarily increase with the improvement of the country in which it is fituated. The market for the produce of a free-fione quarry can feldom extend more than a few miles round about it, and the demand must generally be in proportion to the improvement and population of that small diftrict. But the market for the produce of a
filver mine may extend over the whole known CHA P. world. Unless the world in general, therefore, be advancing in improvement and population, the demand for filver might not be at all increafed by the improvement even of a large country in the neighbourhood of the mine. Even though the world in general were improving, yet if, in the course of its improvement, new mines fhould be discovered, much more fertile than any which had been known before, though the demand for filver would neceffarily increase, yet the fupply might increase in fo much a greater proportion, that the real price of that metal might gradually fall; that is, any given quantity, a pound weight of it, for example, might gradually purchafe or command a smaller and a smaller quantity of labour, or exchange for a fimaller and a smaller quantity of corn, the principal part of the fubfiftence of the labourer.
The great market for filver is the commercial and civilized part of the world.
If, by the general progrefs of improvement, the demand of this market fhould increase, while at the fame time the fupply did not increase in the fame proportion, the value of filver would gradually rife in proportion to that of corn. Any given quantity of filver would exchange for a greater and a greater quantity of corn; or, in other words, the average money price of corn would gradually become cheaper and cheaper.
If, on the contrary, the supply, by fome accident fhould increafe for many years together in a greater
BOOK greater proportion than the demand, that metal would gradually become cheaper and cheaper; or, in other words, the average money price of corn would, in fpite of all improvements, gra. dually become dearer and dearer.
But if, on the other hand, the supply of the metal fhould increafe nearly in the fame propor tion as the demand, it would continue to pur chafe or exchange for nearly the fame quantity of corn, and the average money price of corn would, in fpite of all improvements, continue very nearly the fame.
These three feem to exhauft all the poffible combinations of events which can happen in the progrefs of improvement; and during the courfe of the four centuries preceding the prefent, if we may judge by what has happened both in France and Great Britain, each of thofe three different combinations feem to have taken place in the European market, and nearly in the fame order too in which I have here fet them down.
Digreffion concerning the Variations in the Value of Silver during the Courfe of the Four last Centuries.
IN 1350, and for fome time before, the aver age price of the quarter of wheat in England feems not to have been estimated lower than four ounces of filver, Tower-weight, equal to about twenty fhillings of our prefent money. From
this price it feems to have fallen gradually to CHA P. two ounces of filver, equal to about ten fhillings of our prefent money, the price at which we find it eftimated in the beginning of the fixteenth century, and at which it feems to have continued to be estimated till about 1570.
In1350, being the 25th of Edward III.,was enacted what is called, The Statute of Labourers. In the preamble it complains much of the infolence of fervants, who endeavoured to raise their wages upon their mafters. It therefore ordains, that all fervants and labourers fhould for the future be contented with the fame wages and liveries (liveries in those times fignified, not only cloaths, but provifions) which they had been accustomed to receive in the 20th year of the King, and the four preceding years; that upon this account their livery wheat fhould no-where be eftimated higher than ten-pence a bufhel, and that it should always be in the option of the mafter to deliver them either the wheat or the money. Ten-pence a bufhel, therefore, had, in the 25th of Edward III., been reckoned a very moderate price of wheat, fince it required a particular ftatute to oblige fervants to accept of it in exchange for their ufual livery of provifions; and it had been reckoned a reasonable price ten years before that, or in the 16th year of the King, the term to which the ftatute refers. But in the 16th year of Edward III., ten-pence contained about half an ounce of filver, Tower-weight, and was nearly equal to half a crown, of our prefent money. Four ounces of filver, Tower-weight, therefore,