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BOOK and linen cloth. All of them are equally meant to afcertain, by means of a public ftamp, the quantity and uniform goodness of thofe different commodities when brought to market.
The first public ftamps of this kind that were affixed to the current metals, feem in many cafes to have been intended to ascertain, what it was both moft difficult and moft important to afcertain, the goodness or fineness of the metal, and to have refembled the fterling mark which is at prefent affixed to plate and bars of filver, or the Spanish mark which is fometimes affixed to ingots of gold, and which being ftruck only upon one fide of the piece, and not covering the whole furface, ascertains the fineness, but not the weight of the metal. Abraham weighs to Ephron the four hundred fhekels of filver which he had agreed to pay for the field of Machpelah. They are faid however to be the current money of the merchant, and yet are received by weight and not by tale, in the fame manner as ingots of gold and bars of filver are at prefent. The revenues of the antient Saxon kings of England are said to have been paid, not in money but in kind, that is, in victuals and provifions of all forts. William the Conqueror introduced the cuftom of paying them in money. This money, however, was, for a long time, received at the exchequer, by weight and not by tale.
The inconveniency and difficulty of weighing those metals with exactness gave occafion to the inftitution of coins, of which the ftamp, covering entirely both fides of the piece and fometimes
the edges too, was fuppofed to afcertain not CHA P. only the fineness, but the weight of the metal. Such coins, therefore, were received by tale as at present, without the trouble of weighing.
The denominations of thofe coins feem originally to have expreffed the weight or quantity of metal contained in them. In the time of Servius Tullius, who firft coined money at Rome, the Roman As or Pondo contained a Roman pound of good copper. It was divided in the fame manner as our Troyes pound, into twelve ounces, each of which contained a real ounce of good copper. The English pound fterling in the time of Edward I. contained a pound, Tower weight, of filver of a known finenefs. The Tower pound feems to have been something more than the Roman pound, and fomething less than the Troyes pound. This laft was not introduced into the mint of England till the 18th of Henry VIII. The French livre contained in the time of Charlemagne a pound, Troyes weight, of filver of a known finenefs. The fair of Troyes in Champaign was at that time frequented by all the nations of Europe, and the weights and measures of fo famous a market were generally known and esteemed. The Scots money pound contained, from the time of Alexander the Firft to that of Robert Bruce, a pound of filver of the fame weight and fineness with the English pound fterling. English, French, and Scots pennies too, contained all of them originally a real pennyweight of filver, the twentieth part of an ounce, and the
BOOK the two-hundred-and-fortieth part of a pound, The fhilling too feems originally to have been the denomination of a weight. When wheat is at twelve shillings the quarter, fays an antient statute of Henry III. then wastel bread of a farthing Shall weigh eleven fhillings and four pence. The proportion, however, between the fhilling and either the penny on the one hand, or the pound on the other, feems not to have been fo constant and uniform as that between the penny and the pound. During the firft race of the kings of France, the French fou or fhilling appears upon different occafions to have contained five, twelve, twenty, and forty pennies. Among the antient Saxons a fhilling appears at one time to have contained only five pennies, and it is not improbable that it may have been as variable among them as among their neighbours, the antient Franks. From the time of Charlemagne among the French, and from that of William the Conqueror among the English, the proportion between the pound, the fhilling, and the penny, feems to have been uniformly the fame as at prefent, though the value of each has been very different. For in every country of the world, I believe, the avarice and injuftice of princes and fovereign ftates, abufing the confidence of their fubjects, have by degrees diminished the real quantity of metal, which had been originally contained in their coins. The Roman As, in the latter ages of the Republic, was reduced to the twenty-fourth part of its original value, and, inftead of weighing a pound, came to weigh only half
half an ounce. The English pound and penny CHA P. contain at present about a third only; the Scots pound and penny about a thirty-fixth; and the French pound and penny about a fixty-fixth part of their original value. By means of those operations the princes and fovereign ftates which performed them were enabled, in appearance, to their debts and to fulfil their engagements pay with a smaller quantity of filver than would otherwife have been requifite. It was indeed in appearance only; for their creditors were really defrauded of a part of what was due to them. All other debtors in the state were allowed the fame privilege, and might pay with the same nominal fum of the new and debased coin whatever they had borrowed in the old. Such operations, therefore, have always proved favourable to the debtor, and ruinous to the creditor, and have fometimes produced a greater and more univerfal revolution in the fortunes of private perfons, than could have been occafioned by a very great public calamity.
It is in this manner that money has become in all civilized nations the univerfal inftrument of commerce, by the intervention of which goods of all kinds are bought and fold, or exchanged for one another.
What are the rules which men naturally obferve in exchanging them either for money or for one another, I fhall now proceed to examine. Thefe rules determine what may be called the relative or exchangeable value of goods.
The word VALUE, it is to be observed, has two different meanings, and fometimes expreffes the utility of fome particular object, and fometimes the power of purchafing other goods which the poffeffion of that object conveys. The one may be called "value in ufe;" the other, "value "in exchange." The things which have the greatest value in ufe have frequently little or no value in exchange; and on the contrary, thofe which have the greatest value in exchange have frequently little or no value in ufe. Nothing is more useful than water: but it will purchase fcarce any thing; fcarce any thing can be had in exchange for it. A diamond, on the contrary, has scarce any value in ufe; but a very great quantity of other goods may frequently be had in exchange for it.
In order to investigate the principles which regulate the exchangeable value of commo'dities, I fhall endeavour to fhew,
Firft, what is the real measure of this exchangeable value; or, wherein confifts the real price of all commodities.
Secondly, what are the different parts of which this real price is compofed or made up.
And, laftly, what are the different circumftances which fometimes raife fome or all of thefe different parts of price above, and fometimes fink them below their natural or ordinary rate; or, what are the caufes which fometimes hinder the market price, that is, the actual price of commodities, from coinciding exactly with what may be called their natural price.