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BOOK" fhall judge of the remaining cafes according I. "to what is above written, having a refpect to "the price of corn."
Thirdly, They feem to have been mifled too by the very low price at which wheat was fometimes fold in very ancient times; and to have imagined, that as its lowest price was then much lower than in later times, its ordinary price muft likewife have been much lower. They might have found, however, that in thofe ancient times, its highest price was fully as much above, as its lowest price was below any thing that had ever been known in later times. Thus, in 1270, Fleetwood gives us two prices of the quarter of wheat. The one is four pounds fixteen fhillings of the money of thofe times, equal to fourteen pounds eight fhillings of that of the prefent; the other is fix pounds eight fhillings, equal to nineteen pounds four fhillings of our prefent money. No price can be found in the end of the fifteenth, or beginning of the fixteenth century, which approaches to the extravagance of thefe. The price of corn, though at all times liable to variation, varies moft in thofe turbulent and dif orderly focieties, in which the interruption of all commerce and communication hinders the plenty of one part of the country from relieving the fcarcity of another. In the diforderly state of England under the Plantagenets, who governed it from about the middle of the twelfth, till towards the end of the fifteenth century, one diftrict might be in plenty, while another at no great distance, by having its crop deftroyed
either by fome accident of the seasons, or by the C H A P. incurfion of fome neighbouring baron, might be fuffering all the horrors of a famine; and the lands of fome hoftile lord were interpofed between them, the one might not be able to give the least affistance to the other. Under the vigorous adminiftration of the Tudors, who governed England during the latter part of the fifteenth, and through the whole of the fixteenth century, no baron was powerful enough to dare to disturb the public fecurity.
The reader will find at the end of this chapter all the prices of wheat which have been collected by Fleetwood from 1202 to 1597, both inclufive, reduced to the money of the present times, and digested according to the order of time, into feven divifions of twelve years each.
At the end of each divifion too, he will find the average price of the twelve years of which it confifts. In that long period of time, Fleetwood has been able to collect the prices of no more than eighty years, fo that four years are wanting to make out the last twelve years. I have added, therefore, from the accounts of Eton College, the prices of 1598, 1599, 1600, and 1601. It is the only addition which I have made. The reader will fee, that from the beginning of the thirteenth, till after the middle of the fixteenth century, the average price of each twelve years grows gradually lower and lower; and that towards the end of the fixteenth century it begins to rife again. The prices, indeed, which Fleetwood has been able to collect, feem to have been those chiefly which
BOOK which were remarkable for extraordinary dearI. nefs or cheapnefs; and I do not pretend that any very certain conclufion can be drawn from them. So far, however, as they prove any thing at all, they confirm the account which I have been endeavouring to give. Fleetwood himfelf, however, feems, with moft other writers, to have believed, that during all this period the value of filver, in confequence of its increafing abundance, was continually diminishing. The prices of corn which he himfelf has collected, certainly do not agree with this opinion. They agree perfectly with that of Mr. Duprè de St. Maur, and with that which I have been endeavouring to explain. Bishop Fleetwood and Mr. Duprè de St. Maur are the two authors who feem to have collected, with the greateft diligence and fidelity, the prices of things in ancient times. It is fomewhat curious that, though their opinions are fo very dif ferent, their facts, fo far as they relate to the price of corn at leaft, fhould coincide fo very exactly.
It is not, however, so much from the low price of corn, as from that of fome other parts of the. rude produce of land, that the most judicious writers have inferred the great value of filver in thofe very ancient times. Corn, it has been faid, being a fort of manufacture, was, in those rude ages, much dearer in proportion than the greater part of other commodities; it is meant, I fuppofe, than the greater part of unmanufactured commodities; fuch as cattle, poultry, game of all kinds, &c. That in thofe times of poverty and barbarifm these were proportion
ably much cheaper than corn, is undoubtedly CHA P. true. But this cheapnefs was not the effect of the high value of filver, but of the low value of thofe commodities. It was not because filver would in fuch times purchafe or reprefent a greater quantity of labour, but because fuch commodities would purchase or reprefent a much finaller quantity than in times of more opulence and improvement. Silver muft certainly be cheaper in Spanish America than in Europe; in the country where it is produced, than in the country to which it is brought at the expence of a long carriage both by land and by fea, of a freight and an infurance. One-and-twenty pence halfpenny fterling, however, we are told by Ulloa, was, not many years ago, at Buenos Ayres, the price of an ox chofen from a herd of three or four hundred. Sixteen fhillings fterling, we are told by Mr. Byron, was the price of a good horfe in the capital of Chili. In a country naturally fertile, but of which the far greater part is altogether uncultivated, cattle, poultry, game of all kinds, &c. as they can be acquired with a very finall quantity of labour, fo they will purchase or command but a very small quantity. The low money price for which they may be fold, is no proof that the real value of filver is there very high, but that the real value of thofe commodities is very low.
Labour, it must always be remembered, and not any particular commodity or fet of commodities, is the real measure of the value both of filver and of all other commodities.
BOOK But in countries almoft wafte, or but thinly inhabited, cattle, poultry, game of all kinds, &c. as they are the fpontaneous productions of nature, fo the frequently produces them in much greater quantities than the confumption of the inhabitants requires. In fuch a ftate of things. the fupply commonly exceeds the demand. In different ftates of fociety, in different ftages of improvement, therefore, fuch commodities will reprefent, or be equivalent to, very different quantities of labour.
In every state of fociety, in every stage of improvement, corn is the production of human induftry. But the average produce of every fort of industry is always fuited, more or lefs exactly, to the average confumption; the average fupply to the average demand. In every different ftage of improvement, befides, the raifing of equal quantities of corn in the fame foil and climate, will, at an average, require nearly equal quantities of labour; or what comes to the fame thing, the price of nearly equal quantities; the continual increafe of the productive powers of labour in an improved ftate of cultivation, being more or lefs counterbalanced by the continually increasing price of cattle, the principal inftruments of agriculture. Upon all thefe accounts, therefore, we may reft affured, that equal quantities of corn will, in every ftate of fociety, in every stage of improvement, more nearly reprefent, or be equivalent to, equal quantities of labour, than equal quantities of any other part of the rude produce of land. Corn, accordingly,