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accounted for only by a caufe which can operate CHAP. fuddenly, the accidental variation of the feafons.
The money price of labour in Great Britain has, indeed, rifen during the courfe of the prefent century. This, however, feems to be the effect, not fo much of any diminution in the value of filver in the European market, as of an increase in the demand for labour in Great Britain, arifing from the great, and almost universal profperity of the country. In France, a country not altogether fo profperous, the money price of labour has, fince the middle of the last century, been obferved to fink gradually with the average money price of corn. Both in the last century and in the prefent, the day wages of common labour are there faid to have been pretty uniformly about the twentieth part of the average price of the feptier of wheat, a measure which contains a little more than four Winchester bufhels. In Great Britain the real recompence of labour, it has already been shown, the real quantities of the neceffaries and conveniencies of life which are given to the labourer, has increafed confiderably during the courfe of the prefent cen tury. The rife in its money price feems to have been the effect, not of any diminution of the value of filver in the general market of Europe, but of a rife in the real price of labour in the particular market of Great Britain, owing to the peculiarly happy circumftances of the country,
For fome time after the first discovery of America, filver would continue to fell at its
BOOK former, or not much below its former price. I. The profits of mining would for fome time be very great, and much above their natural rate. Those who imported that metal into Europe, however, would foon find that the whole annual importation could not be difpofed of at this high price. Silver would gradually exchange for a fmaller and a fmaller quantity of goods. Its price would fink gradually lower and lower, till it fell to its natural price; or to what was juft fufficient to pay, according to their natural rates, the wages of the labour,, the profits of the ftock, and the rent of the land, which must be
paid in order to bring it from the mine to the
market. In the greater part of the filver mines of Peru, the tax of the King of Spain, amounting to a tenth of the grofs produce, eats up, it has already been obferved, the whole rent of the land. This tax was originally a half; it foon afterwards fell to a third, then to a fifth, and at laft to a tenth, at which rate it ftill continues. In the greater part of the filver mines of Peru, this, it seems, is all that remains, after replacing the stock of the undertaker of the work, together with its ordinary profits; and it feems to be univerfally acknowledged that thefe profits, which were once very high, are now as low as they can well be, confiftently with carrying on their works.
The tax of the King of Spain was reduced to a fifth part of the registered filver in 1504*, one* Solorzano, vol. ii.
and-forty years before 1545, the date of the dif- CHAP. covery of the mines of Potofi. In the courfe of ninety years, or before 1636, these mines, the most fertile in all America, had time fufficient to produce their full effect, or to reduce the value of filver in the European market as low as it could well fall, while it continued to pay this tax to the King of Spain. Ninety years is time fufficient to reduce any commodity, of which there is no monopoly, to its natural price, or to the lowest price at which, while it pays a particular tax, it can continue to be fold for any confiderable time together.
The price of filver in the European market might perhaps have fallen ftill lower, and it might have become neceffary either to reduce the tax upon it, not only to one-tenth, as in 1736, but to one-twentieth, in the fame manner as that upon gold, or to give up working the greater part of the American mines which are now wrought. The gradual increase of the demand for filver, or the gradual enlargement of the market for the produce of the filver mines of America, is probably the cause which has prevented this from happening, and which has not only kept up the value of filver in the European market, but has perhaps even raised it fomewhat higher than it was about the middle of the laft century.
Since the first difcovery of America, the market for the produce of its filver mines has been growing gradually more and more extenfive.
Firft, The market of Europe has become gradually more and more extenfive. Since the difcovery of America, the greater part of Europe has been much improved. England, Holland, France and Germany; even Sweden, Denmark, and Ruffia, have all advanced confiderably, both in agriculture and in manufactures. Italy feems not to have gone backwards. The fall of Italy preceded the conqueft of Peru. Since that time it feems rather to have recovered a little. Spain and Portugal, indeed, are supposed to have gone backwards. Portugal, however, is but a very fmall part of Europe, and the declenfion of Spain is not, perhaps, fo great as is commonly imagined. In the beginning of the fixteenth century, Spain was a very poor country, even in comparison with France, which has been fo much improved fince that time. It was the well-known remark of the Emperor Charles V., who had travelled fo frequently through both countries, that every thing abounded in France, but that every thing was wanting in Spain. The increafing produce of the agriculture and manufactures of Europe muft neceffarily have required a gradual increase in the quantity of filver coin to circulate it; and the increasing number of wealthy individuals must have required the like increase in the quantity of their plate and other ornaments of filver.
Secondly, America is itself a new market for the produce of its own filver mines; and as its advances in agriculture, induftry, and population, are much more rapid than those of the moft thriving
thriving countries in Europe, its demand muft CHAP. increase much more rapidly. The English colonies are altogether a new market, which partly for coin and partly for plate, requires a conti nually augmenting fupply of filver through a great continent where there never was any de mand before. The greater part too of the Spanish and Portuguese colonies are altogether new markets. New Granada, the Yucatan, Paraguay, and the Brazils were, before discovered by the Europeans, inhabited by favage nations, who had neither arts nor agriculture. A confiderable degree of both has now been introduced into all of them. Even Mexico and Peru, though they cannot be confidered as altogether new markets, are certainly much more extenfive ones than they ever were before. After all the wonderful tales which have been published concerning the splendid state of thofe countries in ancient times, whoever reads, with any degree of Yober judgment, the hiftory of their first discovery and conqueft, will evidently difcern that, in arts, agriculture, and commerce, their inhabitants were much more ignorant than the Tartars of the Ukraine are at prefent. Even the Peruvians, the more civilized nation of the two, though they made ufe of gold and filver as ornaments, had no coined money of any kind. Their whole commerce was carried on by barter, and there was accordingly fcarce any divifion of labour among them. Those who cultivated the ground were obliged to build their own houses, to make their own houfhold furniture, their own