« AnteriorContinuar »
in the present times. Seius gave for the nightin- CHA P. gale the command of a quantity of labour and fubfiftence equal to what 661. 138. 4d. would purchase in the prefent times; and Afinius Celer gave for the furmullet the command of a quantity equal to what 887. 178. 94d., would purchase. What occafioned the extravagance of thofe high prices was, not fo much the abundance of filver, as the abundance of labour and fubfiftence, of which thofe Romans had the difpofal, beyond what was neceffary for their own ufe. The quantity of filver, of which they had the difpofal, was a good deal lefs than what the command of the fame quantity of labour and fubfiftence would have procured to them in the present times.
The fecond fort of rude produce of which the price rifes in the progrefs of improveinent, is that which human industry can multiply in proportion to the demand. It confifts in thofe ufeful plants and animals, which, in uncultivated countries, nature produces with fuch profufe abundance, that they are of little or no value, and which, as cultivation, advances, are therefore forced to give place to fome more profitable produce. During a long period in the progrefs of improvement, the quantity of thefe is continually diminishing, while at the fame time the demand for them is continually increafing. Their real value, therefore, the real quantity of labour which they will purchase or command, gradually rises, till at last it gets fo
BOOK high as to render them as profitable a produce
as any thing else which human industry can raise
When the price of cattle, for example, rifes so high that it is as profitable to cultivate land in order to raise food for them, as in order to raife food for man, it cannot well go higher. If it did, more corn land would foon be turned into pafture. The extenfion of tillage, by diminishing the quantity of wild pafture, diminishes the quantity of butcher's-meat which the country naturally produces without labour or cultiva tion, and by increafing the number of thofe who have either corn, or, what comes to the fame thing, the price of corn, to give in exchange for it, increases the demand. The price of butcher's-meat, therefore, and confequently of cattle, must gradually rise till it gets fo high, that it becomes as profitable to employ the most fertile and beft cultivated lands in raifing food for them as in raifing corn. But it must always be late in the progrefs of improvement before tillage can be fo far extended as to raise the price of cattle to this height; and till it has got to this height, if the country is advancing at all, their price must be continually rifing. There are, perhaps, fome parts of Europe in which the price of cattle has not yet got to this height. It had not got to this height in any part of Scotland before the union. Had the Scotch cattle
been always confined to the market of Scotland, CHA P. in a country in which the quantity of land, which can be applied to no other purpofe but the feeding of cattle, is fo great in proportion to what can be applied to other purposes, it is fcarce poffible, perhaps, that their price could ever have rifen fo high as to render it profitable to cultivate land for the fake of feeding them. In England, the price of cattle, it has already been obferved, feems, in the neighbourhood of London, to have got to this height about the beginning of the last century; but it was much later probably before it got to it through the greater part of the remoter counties; in fome of which, perhaps, it may fcarce yet have got to it. Of all the different fubftances, however, which compofe this fecond fort of rude produce, cattle is, perhaps, that of which the price, in the progrefs of improvement, firft rifes to this height.
Till the price of cattle, indeed, has got to this height, it feems fcarce poffible that the greater part, even of thofe lands which are capable of the highest cultivation, can be completely cultivated. In all farms too diftant from any town to carry manure from it, that is, in the far greater part of those of every extenfive country, the quantity of well-cultivated land must be in proportion to the quantity of manure which the farm itself produces; and this again must be in proportion to the ftock of cattle which are maintained upon it. The land is manured either by pafturing the cattle upon it, or by feeding them in the ftable, and from thence
BOOK thence carrying out their dung to it. But unless
the price of the cattle be fufficient to pay both the rent and profit of cultivated land, the farmer cannot afford to pafture them upon it; and he can ftill lefs afford to feed them in the stable. It is with the produce of improved and cultivated land only, that cattle can be fed in the ftable; because to collect the scanty and fcattered produce of waste and unimproved lands would require too much labour and be too expensive. If the price of the cattle, therefore, is not fufficient to pay for the produce of improved and cultivated land, when they are allowed to pasture it, that price will be ftill less fufficient to pay for that produce when it must be collected with a good deal of additional labour, and brought into the ftable to them. In thefe circumstances, therefore, no more cattle can, with profit, be fed in the stable than what are neceffary for tillage. But thefe can never afford manure enough for keeping conftantly in good condition, all the lands which they are capable of cultivating. What they afford being infufficient for the whole farm, will naturally be referved for the lands to which it can be moft advantageoufly or conveniently applied; the moft fertile, or thofe, perhaps, in the neighbourhood of the farm-yard. Thefe, therefore, will be kept conftantly in goodcondition and fit for tillage. The reft will, the greater part of them, be allowed to lie wafte, producing fcarce any thing but fome miferable pasture, juft fufficient to keep alive a few ftraggling, half-ftarved cattle; the farm, though
much understocked in proportion to what would CHA P. be neceffary for its complete cultivation, being very frequently overstocked in proportion to its actual produce. A portion of this wafte land, however, after having been pastured in this wretched manner for fix or feven years together, may be ploughed up, when it will yield, perhaps, a poor crop or two of bad oats, or of fome other coarse grain, and then, being entirely exhausted, it must be refted and pastured again as before, and another portion ploughed up to be in the fame manner exhaufted and rested again in its turn. Such accordingly was the general fyftem of management all over the low country of Scotland before the union. The lands which were kept conftantly well manured and in good condition, feldom exceeded a third or a fourth part of the whole farm, and fometimes did not amount to a fifth or a fixth part of it. The reft were never manured, but a certain portion of them was in its turn, notwithstanding, regularly cultivated and exhaufted. Under this fyftem of management, it is evident, even that part of the lands of Scotland which is capable of good cultivation, could produce but little in comparison of what it may be capable of producing. But how disadvantageous foever this fyftem may appear, yet before the union the low price of cattle feems to have rendered it almost unavoidable. If, notwithstanding a great rife in their price, it still continues to prevail through a confiderable part of the country, it is owing, in many places, no doubt, to ignorance and attach