« AnteriorContinuar »
BOOK cultivated country, have fome tendency to raise the price of butcher's meat. The price both of the great and small cattle, which are fed on improved and cultivated land, must be fufficient to pay the rent which the landlord, and the profit which the farmer, has reafon to expect from improved and cultivated land. If it is not, they will foon ceafe to feed them. Whatever part of this price, therefore, is not paid by the wool and the hide, must be paid by the carcafe. The lefs there is paid for the one, the more must be paid for the other. In what manner this price is to be divided upon the different parts of the beast, is indifferent to the landlords and farmers, provided it is all paid to them. In an improved and cultivated country, therefore, their intereft as landlords and farmers cannot be much affected by fuch regulations, though their interest as confumers may, by the rife in the price of provifions. It would be quite otherwife, however, in an unimproved and uncultivated country, where the greater part of the lands could be applied to no other purpose but the feeding of cattle, and where the wool and the hide made the principal part of the value of those cattle. Their intereft as landlords and farmers would in this cafe be very deeply affected by fuch regulations, and their interest as confumers very little. The fall in the price of wool and the hide, would not in this cafe raife the price of the carcafe; because the greater part of the lands of the country being applicable to no other purpose but the feeding of cattle, the fame number would
ftill continue to be fed. The fame quantity of c HA P. butcher's-meat would ftill come to market. The XI. demand for it would be no greater than before. Its price, therefore, would be the fame as before. The whole price of cattle would fall, and along with it both the rent and the profit of all thofe lands of which cattle was the principal produce, that is, of the greater part of the lands of the country. The perpetual prohibition of the exportation of wool, which is commonly, but very falfely, afcribed to Edward III., would, in the then circumftances of the country, have been the most deftructive regulation which could well have been thought of. It would not only have reduced the actual value of the greater part of the lands of the kingdom, but by reducing the price of the most important species of small cattle, it would have retarded very much its fubfequent improvement.
The wool of Scotland fell very confiderably in its price in confequence of the union with England, by which it was excluded from the great market of Europe, and confined to the narrow one of Great Britain. The value of the greater part of the lands in the fouthern counties of Scotland, which are chiefly a sheep country, would have been very deeply affected by this event, had not the rife in the price of butcher'smeat fully compenfated the fall in the price of wool.
As the efficacy of human induftry, in increafing the quantity either of wool or of raw hides, is limited, fo far as it depends upon the produce
BOOK produce of the country where it is exerted; fo it is uncertain fo far as it depends upon the produce of other countries. It fo far depends, not fo much upon the quantity which they produce, as upon that which they do not manufacture; and upon the restraints which they may or may not think proper to impose upon the exportation of this fort of rude produce. Thefe circumftances, as they are altogether independent of domestic industry, fo they neceffarily render the efficacy of its efforts more or lefs uncertain. In multiplying this fort of rude produce, therefore, the efficacy of human industry is not only limited, but uncertain.
In multiplying another very important fort of rude produce, the quantity of fish that is brought to market, it is likewife both limited and uncertain. It is limited by the local fituation of the country, by the proximity or distance of its different provinces from the fea, by the number of its lakes and rivers, and by what may be called the fertility or barrennefs of thofe feas, lakes and rivers, as to this fort of rude produce, As population increases, as the annual produce of the land and labour of the country grows greater and greater, there come to be more buyers of fish, and thofe buyers too have a greater quantity and variety of other goods, or, what is the fame thing, the price of a greater quantity and variety of other goods, to buy with. But it will generally be impoffible to fupply the great and extended market without employing a quantity of labour greater than in proportion to what
what had been requifite for fupplying the narrow CHA P. and confined one. A market which, from requiring only one thousand, comes to require annually ten thousand ton of fish, can seldom be supplied without employing more than ten times the quantity of labour which had before been fufficient to fupply it. The fish muft generally be fought for at a greater diftance, larger veffels must be employed, and more extenfive machinery of every kind made use of. The real price of this commodity, therefore, naturally rifes in the progress of improvement. It has accordingly done fo, I believe, more or less in every country.
Though the fuccefs of a particular day's fishing may be a very uncertain matter, yet, the local fituation of the country being fuppofed, the general efficacy of induftry in bringing a certain quantity of fish to market, taking the courfe of a year, or of several years together, it may perhaps be thought, is certain enough ; and it, no doubt, is fo. As it depends more, however, upon the local fituation of the country, than upon the state of its wealth and industry; as upon this account it may in different countries be the fame in very different periods of improvement, and very different in the fame period; its connection with the ftate of improvement is uncertain, and it is of this fort of uncertainty that I am here speaking.
In increafing the quantity of the different minerals and metals which are drawn from the bowels of the earth, that of the more precious
BOOK ones particularly, the efficacy of human industry feems not to be limited, but to be altogether uncertain.
The quantity of the precious metals which is to be found in any country is not limited by any thing in its local fituation, fuch as the fertility or barrenness of its own mines. Those metals frequently abound in countries which poffefs no mines. Their quantity in every particular country feems to depend upon two different circumstances; firft, upon its power of purchasing, upon the state of its industry, upon the annual produce of its land and labour, in confequence of which it can afford to employ a greater or a smaller quantity of labour and fubfiftence in bringing or purchafing fuch fuperfluities as gold and filver, either from its own mines or from thofe of other countries; and, fecondly, upon the fertility or barrennefs of the mines which may happen at any particular time to fupply the commercial world with those metals. The quantity of those metals in the countries moft remote from the mines, must be more or lefs affected by this fertility or barrennefs, on account of the eafy and cheap transportation of thofe metals, of their fmall bulk and great value. Their quantity in China and Indoftan must have been more or lefs affected by the abundance of the mines of America.
So far as their quantity in any particular country depends upon the former of thofe two circumstances (the power of purchafing), their real price, like that of all other luxuries and fuperfluities, is likely to rife with the wealth and im