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I fhall endeavour to explain, as fully and CHA P. diftinctly as I can, thofe three subjects in the three following chapters, for which I must very earnestly entreat both the patience and attention of the reader: his patience in order to examine a detail which may perhaps in fome places appear unneceffarily tedious; and his attention in order to understand what may, perhaps, after the fulleft explication which I am capable of giving of it, appear ftill in fome degree obfcure. I am always willing to run some hazard of being tedious in order to be fure that I am perfpicuous; and after taking the utmost pains that I can to be perfpicuous, fome obfcurity may ftill appear to remain upon a fubject in its own nature extremely abftracted,
Of the real and nominal Price of Commodities, or of their Price in Labour, and their Price in Money.
VERY man is rich or poor according to CHA P. the degree in which he can afford to enjoy the neceffaries, conveniencies, and amusements of human life. But after the divifion of labour has once thoroughly taken place, it is but a very small part of these with which a man's own labour can fupply him. The far greater part of them he muft derive from the labour, of other people,
BOOK people, and he must be rich or poor according
to the quantity of that labour which he can command, or which he can afford to purchase. The value of any commodity, therefore, to the perfon who poffeffes it, and who means not to ufe or confume it himself, but to exchange it for other commodities, is equal to the quantity of labour which it enables him to purchase or command. Labour, therefore, is the real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities.
The real price of every thing, what every thing really cofts to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it. What every thing is really worth to the man who has acquired it, and who wants to difpofe of it or exchange it for fomething élfe, is the toil and trouble which it can fave to himself, and which it can impose upon other people. What is bought with money or with goods is purchased by labour, as much as what we acquire by the toil of our own body. That money or thofe goods indeed fave us this toil. They contain the value of a certain quantity of labour which we exchange for what is supposed at the time to contain the value of an equal quantity. Labour was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by filver, but by labour, that all the wealth of the world was originally purchased; and its value, to those who poffefs it, and who want to exchange it for fome new productions, is precifely equal to the quantity of labour which it can enable them to purchase or comntand,
Wealth, as Mr. Hobbes fays, is power. But c HA P. the person who either acquires, or fucceeds to a great fortune, does not neceffarily acquire or fucceed to any political power, either civil or military. His fortune may, perhaps, afford him the means of acquiring both, but the mere poffeffion of that fortune does not neceffarily convey to him either. The power which that poffeffion immediately and directly conveys to him, is the power of purchafing; a certain command over all the labour, or over all the produce of labour which is then in the market. His fortune is greater or lefs, precifely in proportion to the extent of this power; or to the quantity either of other men's labour, or, what is the fame thing, of the produce of other men's labour, which it enables him to purchase or command. The exchangeable value of every thing must always be precifely equal to the extent of this power which it conveys to its owner.
But though labour be the real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities, it is not that by which their value is commonly eftimated. It is often difficult to ascertain the proportion between two different quantities of labour. The time spent in two different forts of work will not always alone determine this proportion. The different degrees of hardship endured, and of ingenuity exercised, must likewife be taken into account. There may be more labour in an hour's hard work than in two hours eafy bufinefs; or in an hour's application to a trade which it coft ten years labour to learn,
BOOK than in a month's industry at an ordinary and obvious employment. employment. But it is not easy to find any accurate measure either of hardship or ingenuity. In exchanging indeed the different productions of different forts of labour for one another, fome allowance is commonly made for both. It is adjusted, however, not by any accurate measure, but by the higgling and bargaining of the market, according to that fort of rough equality which, though not exact, is fufficient for carrying on the bufinefs of common life.
Every commodity befides, is more frequently exchanged for, and thereby compared with, other commodities than with labour. It is more natural therefore, to estimate its exchangeable value by the quantity of fome other commodity than by that of the labour which it can purchase. The greater part of people too understand better what is meant by a quantity of a particular commodity, than by a quantity of labour. The one is a plain palpable object; the other an abstract notion, which, though it can be made fufficiently intelligible, is not altogether fo natural and obvious.
But when barter ceafes, and money has become the common inftrument of commerce, every particular commodity is more frequently exchanged for money than for any other commodity. The butcher feldom carries his beef or his mutton to the baker, or the brewer, in order to exchange them for bread or for beer; but he carries them to the market, where he exchanges them for money, and afterwards exchanges that
money for bread and for beer. The quantity CHA P. of money which he gets for them regulates too the quantity of bread and beer which he can afterwards purchase. It is more natural and obvious to him, therefore, to estimate their value by the quantity of money, the commodity for which he immediately exchanges them, than by that of bread and beer, the commodities for which he can exchange them only by the intervention of another commodity; and rather to fay that his butcher's meat is worth threepence or fourpence a pound, than that it is worth three or four pounds of bread, or three or four quarts of small beer. Hence it comes to pass, that the exchangeable value of every commodity is more frequently estimated by the quantity of money, than by the quantity either of labour or any other commodity which can be had in exchange for it.
Gold and filver, however, like every other commodity, vary in their value, are fometimes cheaper and fometimes dearer, fometimes of eafier and fometimes of more difficult purchase. The quantity of labour which any particular quantity of them can purchase or command, or the quantity of other goods which it will exchange for, depends always upon the fertility or barrennefs of the mines which happen to be known about the time when fuch exchanges are made. The discovery of the abundant mines of America reduced, in the fixteenth century, the value of gold and filver in Europe to about a third of what it had been before. As it cofts lefs labour