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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 course 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 fhall only obferve 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 fcarcity which prevailed in England from 1693 to 1699, both inclufive, though no doubt principally owing to the badness of the seasons, 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, must neceffarily have occafioned fome augmentation in
BOOK the nominal fum. This event was the great de
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 standard, 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 debafed 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 standard 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, it 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 seldom higher than five fhillings and feven-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- CHAP. 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 cen tury, that is, immediately after the great recoinage in King William's time, the greater part of the current filver coin muft have been ftill nearer to its ftandard 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 discourage 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 of the Silver Coin, p. 68.
BOOK In the fixty-four years of the prefent century accordingly, the average price of the quarter of nine bufhels of the best wheat at Windfor market, appears, by the accounts of Eton College, to have been 27. os. 62d., which is about ten fhillings and fixpence, or more than five-and-twenty per cent. cheaper than it had been during the fixty-four laft years of the last century; and about nine fhillings and fixpence cheaper than it had been during the fixteen years preceding 1636, when the difcovery of the abundant mines of America may be fuppofed to have produced its full effect; and about one fhilling cheaper than it had been in the twentyfix years preceding 1620, before that discovery can well be fuppofed to have produced its full effect. According to this account, the average price of middle wheat, during these fixty-four firft years of the prefent century, comes out to have been about thirty-two fhillings the quarter of eight bufhels.
The value of filver, therefore, feems to have rifen fomewhat in proportion to that of corn during the courfe of the prefent century, and it had probably begun to do fo even fome time before the end of the laft.
In 1687, the price of the quarter of nine bufhels of the beft wheat at Windfor market was 1l. 58. 2d. the lowest price at which it had ever been from 1595.
In 1688, Mr. Gregory King, a man famous for his knowledge in matters of this kind, eftimated the average price of wheat in years of moderate
moderate plenty to be to the grower 3s. 6d. the CHA P. bufhel, or eight-and-twenty thillings the quarter. The grower's price I understand to be the fame with what is fometimes called the contract price, or the price at which a farmer contracts for a certain number of years to deliver a certain quantity of corn to a dealer. As a contract of this kind faves the farmer the expence and trouble of marketing, the contract price is generally lower than what is fuppofed to be the average market price. Mr. King had judged eightand-twenty fhillings the quarter to be at that time the ordinary contract price in years of moderate plenty. Before the fcarcity occafioned by the late extraordinary course of bad seasons, it was, I have been affured, the ordinary contract price in all common years.
In 1688 was granted the parliamentary bounty upon the exportation of corn. The country gentlemen, who then compofed a still greater proportion of the legislature than they do at prefent, had felt that the money price of corn was falling. The bounty was an expedient to raise it artificially to the high price at which it had frequently been fold in the times of Charles I. and II. It was to take place, therefore, till wheat was fo high as forty-eight fhillings the quarter; that is twenty fhillings, or 4ths dearer than Mr. King had in that very year estimated the grower's price to be in times of moderate plenty. If his calculations deferve any part of the reputation which they have obtained very univerfally, eight-and-forty fhillings the quarter