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In England, however, notwithstanding the C HAP. flourishing state of its woollen manufacture, the price of English wool has fallen very confiderably fince the time of Edward III. There are many authentic records which demonftrate that during the reign of that prince (towards the middle of the fourteenth century, or about 1339) what was reckoned the moderate and reasonable price of the tod or twenty-eight pounds of English wool, was not less than ten fhillings of the money of thofe times *, containing, at the rate of twentypence the ounce, fix ounces of filver Towerweight, equal to about thirty fhillings of our prefent money. In the prefent times, one-andtwenty fhillings the tod may be reckoned a good price for very good English wool. The moneyprice of wool, therefore, in the time of Edward III., was to its money-price in the prefent times as ten to feven. The fuperiority of its real price was ftill greater. At the rate of fix fhillings and eight-pence the quarter, ten fhillings was in those ancient times the price of twelve bushels of wheat. At the rate of twentyeight fhillings the quarter, one-and-twenty fhillings is in the prefent times the price of fix bufhels only. The proportion between the real prices of ancient and modern times, therefore, is as twelve to fix, or as two to one. In thofe ancient times a tod of wool would have purchafed twice the quantity of fubfiftence which it will purchase at prefent; and confequently twice
*See Smith's Memoirs of Wool, vol. i. c. 5, 6, and 7; alfo, vol. ii. c. 176.
BOOK the quantity of labour, if the real recompence of labour had been the fame in both periods.
This degradation both in the real and nominal value of wool could never have happened in confequence of the natural courfe of things. It has accordingly been the effect of violence and artifice: First, of the abfolute prohibition of exporting wool from England; Secondly, of the permiffion of importing it from Spain duty free; Thirdly, of the prohibition of exporting it from Ireland to any other country but England. In confequence of these regulations, the market for English wool, inftead of being fomewhat extended in confequence of the improvement of England, has been confined to the home market, where the wool of feveral other countries is allowed to come into competition with it, and where that of Ireland is forced into competition with it. As the woollen manufactures too of Ireland are fully as much discouraged as is confiftent with justice and fair dealing, the Irish can work up but a fmall part of their own wool at home, and are, therefore, obliged to fend a greater proportion of it to Great Britain, the only market they are allowed.
I have not been able to find any fuch authentic records concerning the price of raw hides in ancient times. Wool was commonly paid as a fubfidy to the king, and its valuation in that fubfidy afcertains, at least in fome degree, what was its ordinary price. But this feems not to have been the cafe with raw hides. Fleetwood, however, from an account in 1425, between the prior
of Burcefter Oxford and one of his canons, gives CHAP. us their price, at least as it was stated, upon that particular occafion, viz. five ox hides at twelve fhillings; five cow hides at feven fhillings and three-pence; thirty-fix sheep skins of two years old at nine fhillings; fixteen calves skins at two fhillings. In 1425, twelve fhillings contained about the fame quantity of filver as four-andtwenty fhillings of our present money. An ox hide, therefore, was in this account valued at the fame quantity of filver as 4s. 4ths of our prefent money. Its nominal price was a good deal lower than at prefent. But at the rate of fix fhillings and eight-pence the quarter, twelve fhillings would in thofe times have purchased fourteen bufhels and four-fifths of a bufhel of wheat, which, at three and fix-pence the bufhel, would in the prefent times coft 51s. 4d. An ox hide, therefore, would in those times have purchafed as much corn as ten fhillings and threepence would purchase at prefent. Its real value was equal to ten fhillings and three-pence of our prefent money. In those ancient times, when the cattle were half starved during the greater part of the winter, we cannot fuppofe that they were of a very large fize. An ox hide, which weighs four ftone of fixteen pounds avoirdupois, is not in the present times reckoned a bad one; and in those ancient times would probably have been reckoned a very good one. But at half a crown the ftone, which at this moment (February 1773) I understand to be the common price, fuch a hide would at prefent coft only ten fhillings.
BOOK fhillings. Though its nominal price, therefore, is higher in the present than it was in those ancient times, its real price, the real quantity of fubfiftence which it will purchase or command, is rather fomewhat lower. The price of cow hides, as ftated in the above account, is nearly in the common proportion to that of ox hides. That of fheep fkins is a good deal above it. They had probably been fold with the wool. That of calves skins, on the contrary, is greatly below it. In countries where the price of cattle is very low, the calves, which are not intended to be reared in order to keep up the ftock, are generally killed very young; as was the cafe in Scotland twenty or thirty years ago. It faves the milk, which their price would not pay for. Their skins, therefore, are commonly good for little.
The price of raw hides is a good deal lower at present than it was a few years ago; owing probably to the taking off the duty upon feal skins, and to the allowing, for a limited time, the importation of raw hides from Ireland and from the plantations, duty free, which was done in 1769. Take the whole of the prefent century at an average, their real price has probably been somewhat higher than it was in those ancient times. The nature of the commodity renders it not quite fo proper for being transported to diftant markets as wool. It fuffers more by keeping. A falted hide is reckoned inferior to a fresh one, and fells for a lower price. This circumftance muft neceffarily have fome tendency to fink the price of raw hides produced
in a country which does not manufacture them, CHA P. but is obliged to export them; and comparatively to raise that of thofe produced in a country which does manufacture them. It muft have fome tendency to fink their price in a barbarous, and to raise it in an improved and manufacturing country. It must have had fome tendency, therefore, to fink it in ancient, and to raise it in modern times. Our tanners, befides, have not been quite fo fuccefsful as our clothiers, in convincing the wisdom of the nation, that the fafety of the commonwealth depends upon the prosperity of their particular manufacture. They have accordingly been much less favoured. The exportation of raw hides has, indeed, been prohibited, and declared a nuifance: but their importation from foreign countries has been subjected to a duty; and though this duty has been taken off from thofe of Ireland and the plantations (for the limited time of five years only), yet Ireland has not been confined to the market of Great Britain for the fale of its furplus hides, or of those which are not manufactured at home. The hides of common cattle have but within these few years been put among the enumerated commodities which the plantations can send no where but to the mother country; neither has the commerce of Ireland been in this cafe oppreffed hitherto, in order to fupport the manufactures of Great Britain.
Whatever regulations tend to either of wool or raw hides naturally would be, muft, in an
fink the price below what it improved and