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the price of the quarter of eight bufhels comes c HAP. out to have been 1l. 16s. 10d. And from this fum, neglecting likewife the fraction, and deducting a ninth, or 4s. 1d., for the difference between the price of the beft wheat and that of the middle wheat, the price of the middle wheat comes out to have been about 1l. 128. 8d., or about fix ounces and one-third of an ounce of filver.
From 1621 to 1636, both inclufive, the average price of the fame measure of the beft wheat at the fame market, appears, from the fame accounts, to have been 27. 10s.; from which, making the like deductions as in the foregoing cafe, the average price of the quarter of eight bufhels of middle wheat comes out to have been 17. 198. 6d., or about feven ounces and twothirds of an ounce of filver.
BETWEEN 1630 and 1640, or about 1636, the effect of the difcovery of the mines of America in reducing the value of filver, appears to have been completed, and the value of that metal feems never to have funk lower in proportion to that of corn than it was about that time. It feems to have rifen fomewhat in the courfe of the prefent century, and it had probably begun to do fo even fome time before the end of the last. From 1637 to 1700, both inclufive, being the fixty-four laft years of the laft century, the ave
BOOK rage price of the quarter of nine bushels of the I. best wheat at Windfor market, appears, from the fame accounts, to have been 2l. 118. od.; which is only 1s. old. dearer than it had been during the fixteen years before. But in the courfe of thefe fixty-four years there happened two events which muft have produced a much greater fcarcity of corn than what the course of the feafons would otherwife have occafioned, and which, therefore, without fuppofing any further reduction in the value of filver, will much more than account for this very finall enhancement of price.
The first of thefe events was the civil war, which, by difcouraging tillage and interrupting commerce, muft have raifed the price of corn much above what the courfe of the feafons would otherwife have occafioned. It must have had this effect more or lefs at all the different markets in the kingdom, but particularly at thofe in the neighbourhood of London, which require to be fupplied from the greatest distance. In 1648, accordingly, the price of the beft wheat at Windfor market, appears, from the fame accounts, to have been 47. 5s. and in 1649 to have been 41. the quarter of nine bufhels. The ex cefs of thofe two years above 2l. 10s. (the ave rage price of the fixteen years preceding 1637) is 31. 58.; which divided among the fixty-four laft years of the laft century, will alone very nearly account for that fmall enhancement of price which feems to have taken place in them. Thefe, however, though the higheft, are by no
means the only high prices which feem to have CHAP. been occafioned by the civil wars.
The fecond event was the bounty upon the exportation of corn, granted in 1688. The bounty, it has been thought by many people, by encouraging tillage, may, in a long courfe of years, have occafioned a greater abundance, and confequently a greater cheapnefs of corn in the home-market, than what would otherwife have taken place there. How far the bounty could produce this effect at any time, I fhall examine hereafter; I shall only observe at prefent, that between 1688 and 1700, it had not time to produce any fuch effect. During this fhort period its only effect must have been, by encouraging the exportation of the furplus produce of every year, and thereby hindering the abundance of one year from compenfating the fcarcity of another, to raise the price in the home-market, The fearcity which prevailed in England from 1693 to 1699, both inclufive, though no doubt principally owing to the badness of the feafons, and, therefore, extending through a confiderable part of Europe, must have been fomewhat enhanced by the bounty. In 1699, accordingly, the further exportation of corn was prohibited for nine months.
There was a third event which occurred in the course of the fame period, and which, though it could not occafion any fcarcity of corn, nor, perhaps, any augmentation in the real quantity of filver which was ufually paid for it, muft neceffarily have occafioned fome augmentation in
BOOK the nominal fum. This event was the great de. I. basement of the filver coin, by clipping and wearing. This evil had begun in the reign of Charles II. and had gone on continually increafing till 1695; at which time, as we may learn from Mr. Lowndes, the current filver coin was, at an average, near five-and-twenty per cent. below its ftandard value. But the nominal fum which constitutes the market-price of every commodity is neceffarily regulated, not fo much by the quantity of filver, which, according to the ftandard, ought to be contained in it, as by that which, it is found by experience, actually is contained in it. This nominal fum, therefore, is neceffarily higher when the coin is much debased by clipping and wearing, than when near to its ftandard value.
In the course of the prefent century, the filver coin has not at any time been more below its ftandard weight than it is at prefent. But though very much defaced, its value has been kept up by that of the gold coin for which it is exchanged. For though before the late re-coinage, the gold coin was a good deal defaced too, i: was lefs fo than the filver. In 1695, on the contrary, the value of the filver coin was not kept up by the gold coin; a guinea then commonly exchanging for thirty fhillings of the worn and clipt filver. Before the late re-coinage of the gold, the price of filver bullion was feldom higher than five fhillings and seven-pence an ounce, which is but five-pence above the mint price. But in 1695, the common price of filver bullion was fix fhil
lings and five-pence an ounce*, which is fifteen- CHA P. pence above the mint price. Even before the late re-coinage of the gold, therefore, the coin, gold and filver together, when compared with filver bullion, was not fuppofed to be more than eight per cent. below its ftandard value. In 1695, on the contrary, it had been fuppofed to be near five-and-twenty per cent. below that value. But in the beginning of the prefent century, that is, immediately after the great re coinage in King William's time, the greater part of the current filver coin must have been still nearer to its standard weight than it is at prefent. In the course of the prefent century too there has been no great public calamity, fuch as the civil war, which could either difcourage tillage, or interrupt the interior commerce of the country. And though the bounty which has taken place through the greater part of this century, must always raise the price of corn fomewhat higher than it otherwife would be in the actual state of tillage; yet as, in the course of this century, the bounty has had full time to produce all the good effects commonly imputed to it, to encourage tillage, and thereby to increase the quantity of corn in the home market, it may, upon the principles of a fyftem which I fhall explain and examine hereafter, be fuppofed to have done fomething to lower the price of that commodity the one way, as well as to raise it the other. It is by many people fuppofed to have done more.
* Lowndes's Effay on the Silver Coin, p. 68.