Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

Part 5 out of 19

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 2.1 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

annual consumption of gold and silver, therefore, in all the different
countries of the world where those metals are used, may, perhaps, be
nearly equal to the whole annual produce. The remainder may be no more
than sufficient to supply the increasing demand of all thriving
countries. It may even have fallen so far short of this demand, as
somewhat to raise the price of those metals in the European market.

The quantity of brass and iron annually brought from the mine to the
market, is out of all proportion greater than that of gold and silver.
We do not, however, upon this account, imagine that those coarse
metals are likely to multiply beyond the demand, or to become
gradually cheaper and cheaper. Why should we imagine that the precious
metals are likely to do so? The coarse metals, indeed, though harder,
are put to much harder uses, and, as they are of less value, less care
is employed in their preservation. The precious metals, however, are
not necessarily immortal any more than they, but are liable, too, to
be lost, wasted, and consumed, in a great variety of ways.

The price of all metals, though liable to slow and gradual variations,
varies less from year to year than that of almost any other part of
the rude produce of land: and the price of the precious metals is even
less liable to sudden variations than that of the coarse ones. The
durableness of metals is the foundation of this extraordinary
steadiness of price. The corn which was brought to market last year
will be all, or almost all, consumed, long before the end of this
year. But some part of the iron which was brought from: the mine two
or three hundred years ago, may be still in use, and, perhaps, some
part of the gold which was brought from it two or three thousand years
ago. The different masses of corn, which, in different years, must
supply the consumption of the world, will always be nearly in
proportion to the respective produce of those different years. But the
proportion between the different masses of iron which may be in use in
two different years, will be very little affected by any accidental
difference in the produce of the iron mines of those two years; and
the proportion between the masses of gold will be still less affected
by any such difference in the produce of the gold mines. Though the
produce of the greater part of metallic mines, therefore, varies,
perhaps, still more from year to year than that of the greater part of
corn fields, those variations have not the same effect upon the price
of the one species of commodities as upon that of the other.

Variations in the Proportion between the respective Values of Gold and
Silver.

Before the discovery of the mines of America, the value of fine gold
to fine silver was regulated in the different mines of Europe, between
the proportions of one to ten and one to twelve; that is, an ounce of
fine gold was supposed to be worth from ten to twelve ounces of fine
silver. About the middle of the last century, it came to be regulated,
between the proportions of one to fourteen and one to fifteen; that
is, an ounce of fine gold came to be supposed worth between fourteen
and fifteen ounces of fine silver. Gold rose in its nominal value, or
in the quantity of silver which was given for it. Both metals sunk in
their real value, or in the quantity of labour which they could
purchase; but silver sunk more than gold. Though both the gold and
silver mines of America exceeded in fertility all those which had ever
been known before, the fertility of the silver mines had, it seems,
been proportionally still greater than that of the gold ones.

The great quantities of silver carried annually from Europe to India,
have, in some of the English settlements, gradually reduced the value
of that metal in proportion to gold. In the mint of Calcutta, an ounce
of fine gold is supposed to be worth fifteen ounces of fine silver, in
the same manner as in Europe. It is in the mint, perhaps, rated too
high for the value which it bears in the market of Bengal. In China,
the proportion of gold to silver still continues as one to ten, or one
to twelve. In Japan, it is said to be as one to eight.

The proportion between the quantities of gold and silver annually
imported into Europe, according to Mr Meggens' account, is as one to
twenty-two nearly; that is, for one ounce of gold there are imported a
little more than twenty-two ounces of silver. The great quantity of
silver sent annually to the East Indies reduces, he supposes, the
quantities of those metals which remain in Europe to the proportion of
one to fourteen or fifteen, the proportion of their values. The
proportion between their values, he seems to think, must necessarily
be the same as that between their quantities, and would therefore be
as one to twenty-two, were it not for this greater exportation of
silver.

But the ordinary proportion between the respective values of two
commodities is not necessarily the same as that between the quantities
of them which are commonly in the market. The price of an ox, reckoned
at ten guineas, is about three score times the price of a lamb,
reckoned at 3s. 6d. It would be absurd, however, to infer from thence,
that there are commonly in the market three score lambs for one ox;
and it would be just as absurd to infer, because an ounce of gold will
commonly purchase from fourteen or fifteen ounces of silver, that
there are commonly in the market only fourteen or fifteen ounces of
silver for one ounce of gold.

The quantity of silver commonly in the market, it is probable, is much
greater in proportion to that of gold, than the value of a certain
quantity of gold is to that of an equal quantity of silver. The whole
quantity of a cheap commodity brought to market is commonly not only
greater, but of greater value, than the whole quantity of a dear one.
The whole quantity of bread annually brought to market, is not only
greater, but of greater value, than the whole quantity of butcher's
meat; the whole quantity of butcher's meat, than the whole quantity of
poultry; and the whole quantity of poultry, than the whole quantity of
wild fowl. There are so many more purchasers for the cheap than for
the dear commodity, that, not only a greater quantity of it, but a
greater value can commonly be disposed of. The whole quantity,
therefore, of the cheap commodity, must commonly be greater in
proportion to the whole quantity of the dear one, than the value of a
certain quantity of the dear one, is to the value of an equal quantity
of the cheap one. When we compare the precious metals with one
another, silver is a cheap, and gold a dear commodity. We ought
naturally to expect, therefore, that there should always be in the
market, not only a greater quantity, but a greater value of silver
than of gold. Let any man, who has a little of both, compare his own
silver with his gold plate, and he will probably find, that not only
the quantity, but the value of the former, greatly exceeds that of the
latter. Many people, besides, have a good deal of silver who have no
gold plate, which, even with those who have it, is generally confined
to watch-cases, snuff-boxes, and such like trinkets, of which the
whole amount is seldom of great value. In the British coin, indeed,
the value of the gold preponderates greatly, but it is not so in that
of all countries. In the coin of some countries, the value of the two
metals is nearly equal. In the Scotch coin, before the union with
England, the gold preponderated very little, though it did somewhat
{See Ruddiman's Preface to Anderson's Diplomata, etc. Scotiae.}, as it
appears by the accounts of the mint. In the coin of many countries the
silver preponderates. In France, the largest sums are commonly paid in
that metal, and it is there difficult to get more gold than what is
necessary to carry about in your pocket. The superior value, however,
of the silver plate above that of the gold, which takes place in all
countries, will much more than compensate the preponderancy of the
gold coin above the silver, which takes place only in some countries.

Though, in one sense of the word, silver always has been, and probably
always will be, much cheaper than gold; yet, in another sense, gold
may perhaps, in the present state of the Spanish market, be said to be
somewhat cheaper than silver. A commodity may be said to be dear or
cheap not only according to the absolute greatness or smallness of its
usual price, but according as that price is more or less above the
lowest for which it is possible to bring it to market for any
considerable time together. This lowest price is that which barely
replaces, with a moderate profit, the stock which must be employed in
bringing the commodity thither. It is the price which affords nothing
to the landlord, of which rent makes not any component part, but which
resolves itself altogether into wages and profit. But, in the present
state of the Spanish market, gold is certainly somewhat nearer to this
lowest price than silver. The tax of the king of Spain upon gold is
only one-twentieth part of the standard metal, or five per cent.;
whereas his tax upon silver amounts to one-tenth part of it, or to ten
per cent. In these taxes, too, it has already been observed, consists
the whole rent of the greater part of the gold and silver mines of
Spanish America; and that upon gold is still worse paid than that upon
silver. The profits of the undertakers of gold mines, too, as they
more rarely make a fortune, must, in general, be still more moderate
than those of the undertakers of silver mines. The price of Spanish
gold, therefore, as it affords both less rent and less profit, must,
in the Spanish market, be somewhat nearer to the lowest price for
which it is possible to bring it thither, than the price of Spanish
silver. When all expenses are computed, the whole quantity of the one
metal, it would seem, cannot, in the Spanish market, be disposed of so
advantageously as the whole quantity of the other. The tax, indeed, of
the king of Portugal upon the gold of the Brazils, is the same with
the ancient tax of the king of Spain upon the silver of Mexico and
Peru; or one-fifth part of the standard metal. It may therefore be
uncertain, whether, to the general market of Europe, the whole mass of
American gold comes at a price nearer to the lowest for which it is
possible to bring it thither, than the whole mass of American silver.

The price of diamonds and other precious stones may, perhaps, be still
nearer to the lowest price at which it is possible to bring them to
market, than even the price of gold.

Though it is not very probable that any part of a tax, which is not
only imposed upon one of the most proper subjects of taxation, a mere
luxury and superfluity, but which affords so very important a revenue
as the tax upon silver, will ever be given up as long as it is
possible to pay it; yet the same impossibility of paying it, which, in
1736. made it necessary to reduce it from one-fifth to one-tenth, may
in time make it necessary to reduce it still further; in the same
manner as it made it necessary to reduce the tax upon gold to
one-twentieth. That the silver mines of Spanish America, like all
other mines, become gradually more expensive in the working, on
account of the greater depths at which it is necessary to carry on the
works, and of the greater expense of drawing out the water, and of
supplying them with fresh air at those depths, is acknowledged by
everybody who has inquired into the state of those mines.

These causes, which are equivalent to a growing scarcity of silver
(for a commodity may be said to grow scarcer when it becomes more
difficult and expensive to collect a certain quantity of it), must, in
time, produce one or other of the three following events: The increase
of the expense must either, first, be compensated altogether by a
proportionable increase in the price of the metal; or, secondly, it
must be compensated altogether by a proportionable diminution of the
tax upon silver; or, thirdly, it must be compensated partly by the one
and partly by the other of those two expedients. This third event is
very possible. As gold rose in its price in proportion to silver,
notwithstanding a great diminution of the tax upon gold, so silver
might rise in its price in proportion to labour and commodities,
notwithstanding an equal diminution of the tax upon silver.

Such successive reductions of the tax, however, though they may not
prevent altogether, must certainly retard, more or less, the rise of
the value of silver in the European market. In consequence of such
reductions, many mines may be wrought which could not be wrought
before, because they could not afford to pay the old tax; and the
quantity of silver annually brought to market, must always be somewhat
greater, and, therefore, the value of any given quantity somewhat
less, than it otherwise would have been. In consequence of the
reduction in 1736, the value of silver in the European market, though
it may not at this day be lower than before that reduction, is,
probably, at least ten per cent. lower than it would have been, had
the court of Spain continued to exact the old tax.

That, notwithstanding this reduction, the value of silver has, during
the course of the present century, begun to rise somewhat in the
European market, the facts and arguments which have been alleged
above, dispose me to believe, or more properly to suspect and
conjecture; for the best opinion which I can form upon this subject,
scarce, perhaps, deserves the name of belief. The rise, indeed,
supposing there has been any, has hitherto been so very small, that
after all that has been said, it may, perhaps, appear to many people
uncertain, not only whether this event has actually taken place, but
whether the contrary may not have taken place, or whether the value of
silver may not still continue to fall in the European market.

It must be observed, however, that whatever may be the supposed annual
importation of gold and silver, there must be a certain period at
which the annual consumption of those metals will be equal to that
annual importation. Their consumption must increase as their mass
increases, or rather in a much greater proportion. As their mass
increases, their value diminishes. They are more used, and less cared
for, and their consumption consequently increases in a greater
proportion than their mass. After a certain period, therefore, the
annual consumption of those metals must, in this manner, become equal
to their annual importation, provided that importation is not
continually increasing; which, in the present times, is not supposed
to be the case.

If, when the annual consumption has become equal to the annual
importation, the annual importation should gradually diminish, the
annual consumption may, for some time, exceed the annual importation.
The mass of those metals may gradually and insensibly diminish, and
their value gradually and insensibly rise, till the annual importation
becoming again stationary, the annual consumption will gradually and
insensibly accommodate itself to what that annual importation can
maintain.

Grounds of the suspicion that the Value of Silver still continues to
decrease.

The increase of the wealth of Europe, and the popular notion, that as
the quantity of the precious metals naturally increases with the
increase of wealth, so their value diminishes as their quantity
increases, may, perhaps, dispose many people to believe that their
value still continues to fall in the European market; and the still
gradually increasing price of many parts of the rude produce of land
may confirm them still farther in this opinion.

That that increase in the quantity of the precious metals, which
arises in any country from the increase of wealth, has no tendency to
diminish their value, I have endeavoured to shew already. Gold and
silver naturally resort to a rich country, for the same reason that
all sorts of luxuries and curiosities resort to it; not because they
are cheaper there than in poorer countries, but because they are
dearer, or because a better price is given for them. It is the
superiority of price which attracts them; and as soon as that
superiority ceases, they necessarily cease to go thither.

If you except corn, and such other vegetables as are raised altogether
by human industry, that all other sorts of rude produce, cattle,
poultry, game of all kinds, the useful fossils and minerals of the
earth, etc. naturally grow dearer, as the society advances in wealth
and improvement, I have endeavoured to shew already. Though such
commodities, therefore, come to exchange for a greater quantity of
silver than before, it will not from thence follow that silver has
become really cheaper, or will purchase less labour than before; but
that such commodities have become really dearer, or will purchase more
labour than before. It is not their nominal price only, but their real
price, which rises in the progress of improvement. The rise of their
nominal price is the effect, not of any degradation of the value of
silver, but of the rise in their real price.

Different Effects of the Progress of Improvement upon three different
sorts of rude Produce.

These different sorts of rude produce may be divided into three
classes. The first comprehends those which it is scarce in the power
of human industry to multiply at all. The second, those which it can
multiply in proportion to the demand. The third, those in which the
efficacy of industry is either limited or uncertain. In the progress
of wealth and improvement, the real price of the first may rise to any
degree of extravagance, and seems not to be limited by any certain
boundary. That of the second, though it may rise greatly, has,
however, a certain boundary, beyond which it cannot well pass for any
considerable time together. That of the third, though its natural
tendency is to rise in the progress of improvement, yet in the same
degree of improvement it may sometimes happen even to fall, sometimes
to continue the same, and sometimes to rise more or less, according as
different accidents render the efforts of human industry, in
multiplying this sort of rude produce, more or less successful.

First Sort. -- The first sort of rude produce, of which the price
rises in the progress of improvement, is that which it is scarce in
the power of human industry to multiply at all. It consists in those
things which nature produces only in certain quantities, and which
being of a very perishable nature, it is impossible to accumulate
together the produce of many different seasons. Such are the greater
part of rare and singular birds and fishes, many different sorts of
game, almost all wild-fowl, all birds of passage in particular, as
well as many other things. When wealth, and the luxury which
accompanies it, increase, the demand for these is likely to increase
with them, and no effort of human industry may be able to increase the
supply much beyond what it was before this increase of the demand. The
quantity of such commodities, therefore, remaining the same, or nearly
the same, while the competition to purchase them is continually
increasing, their price may rise to any degree of extravagance, and
seems not to be limited by any certain boundary. If woodcocks should
become so fashionable as to sell for twenty guineas a-piece, no effort
of human industry could increase the number of those brought to
market, much beyond what it is at present. The high price paid by the
Romans, in the time of their greatest grandeur, for rare birds and
fishes, may in this manner easily be accounted for. These prices were
not the effects of the low value of silver in those times, but of the
high value of such rarities and curiosities as human industry could
not multiply at pleasure. The real value of silver was higher at Rome,
for sometime before, and after the fall of the republic, than it is
through the greater part of Europe at present. Three sestertii equal
to about sixpence sterling, was the price which the republic paid for
the modius or peck of the tithe wheat of Sicily. This price, however,
was probably below the average market price, the obligation to deliver
their wheat at this rate being considered as a tax upon the Sicilian
farmers. When the Romans, therefore, had occasion to order more corn
than the tithe of wheat amounted to, they were bound by capitulation
to pay for the surplus at the rate of four sestertii, or eightpence
sterling the peck; and this had probably been reckoned the moderate
and reasonable, that is, the ordinary or average contract price of
those times; it is equal to about one-and-twenty shillings the
quarter. Eight-and-twenty shillings the quarter was, before the late
years of scarcity, the ordinary contract price of English wheat, which
in quality is inferior to the Sicilian, and generally sells for a
lower price in the European market. The value of silver, therefore, in
those ancient times, must have been to its value in the present, as
three to four inversely; that is, three ounces of silver would then
have purchased the same quantity of labour and commodities which four
ounces will do at present. When we read in Pliny, therefore, that
Seius {Lib. X, c. 29.} bought a white nightingale, as a present for
the empress Agrippina, at the price of six thousand sestertii, equal
to about fifty pounds of our present money; and that Asinius Celer
{Lib. IX, c. 17.} purchased a surmullet at the price of eight thousand
sestertii, equal to about sixty-six pounds thirteen shillings and
fourpence of our present money; the extravagance of those prices, how
much soever it may surprise us, is apt, notwithstanding, to appear to
us about one third less than it really was. Their real price, the
quantity of labour and subsistence which was given away for them, was
about one-third more than their nominal price is apt to express to us
in the present times. Seius gave for the nightingale the command of a
quantity of labour and subsistence, equal to what £ 66:13: 4d. would
purchase in the present times; and Asinius Celer gave for a surmullet
the command of a quantity equal to what £ 88:17: 9d. would purchase.
What occasioned the extravagance of those high prices was, not so much
the abundance of silver, as the abundance of labour and subsistence,
of which those Romans had the disposal, beyond what was necessary for
their own use. The quantity of silver, of which they had the disposal,
was a good deal less than what the command of the same quantity of
labour and subsistence would have procured to them in the present
times.

Second sort. --The second sort of rude produce, of which the price
rises in the progress of improvement, is that which human industry can
multiply in proportion to the demand. It consists in those useful
plants and animals, which, in uncultivated countries, nature produces
with such profuse abundance, that they are of little or no value, and
which, as cultivation advances, are therefore forced to give place to
some more profitable produce. During a long period in the progress of
improvement, the quantity of these is continually diminishing, while,
at the same time, the demand for them is continually increasing. Their
real value, therefore, the real quantity of labour which they will
purchase or command, gradually rises, till at last it gets so high as
to render them as profitable a produce as any thing else which human
industry can raise upon the most fertile and best cultivated land.
When it has got so high, it cannot well go higher. If it did, more
land and more industry would soon be employed to increase their
quantity.

When the price of cattle, for example, rises so high, that it is as
profitable to cultivate land in order to raise food for them as in
order to raise food for man, it cannot well go higher. If it did, more
corn land would soon be turned into pasture. The extension of tillage,
by diminishing the quantity of wild pasture, diminishes the quantity
of butcher's meat, which the country naturally produces without labour
or cultivation; and, by increasing the number of those who have either
corn, or, what comes to the same thing, the price of corn, to give in
exchange for it, increases the demand. The price of butcher's meat,
therefore, and, consequently, of cattle, must gradually rise, till it
gets so high, that it becomes as profitable to employ the most fertile
and best cultivated lands in raising food for them as in raising corn.
But it must always be late in the progress of improvement before
tillage can be so far extended as to raise the price of cattle to this
height; and, till it has got to this height, if the country is
advancing at all, their price must be continually rising. There are,
perhaps, some parts of Europe in which the price of cattle has not yet
got to this height. It had not got to this height in any part of
Scotland before the Union. Had the Scotch cattle been always confined
to the market of Scotland, in a country in which the quantity of land,
which can be applied to no other purpose but the feeding of cattle, is
so great in proportion to what can be applied to other purposes, it is
scarce possible, perhaps, that their price could ever have risen so
high as to render it profitable to cultivate land for the sake of
feeding them. In England, the price of cattle, it has already been
observed, seems, in the neighbourhood of London, to have got to this
height about the beginning of the last century; but it was much later,
probably, before it got through the greater part of the remoter
counties, in some of which, perhaps, it may scarce yet have got to it.
Of all the different substances, however, which compose this second
sort of rude produce, cattle is, perhaps, that of which the price, in
the progress of improvement, rises first to this height.

Till the price of cattle, indeed, has got to this height, it seems
scarce possible that the greater part, even of those lands which are
capable of the highest cultivation, can be completely cultivated. In
all farms too distant from any town to carry manure from it, that is,
in the far greater part of those of every extensive country, the
quantity of well cultivated land must be in proportion to the quantity
of manure which the farm itself produces; and this, again, must be in
proportion to the stock of cattle which are maintained upon it. The
land is manured, either by pasturing the cattle upon it, or by feeding
them in the stable, and from thence carrying out their dung to it. But
unless the price of the cattle be sufficient to pay both the rent and
profit of cultivated land, the farmer cannot afford to pasture them
upon it; and he can still less afford to feed them in the stable. It
is with the produce of improved and cultivated land only that cattle
can be fed in the stable; because, to collect the scanty and scattered
produce of waste and unimproved lands, would require too much labour,
and be too expensive. It the price of the cattle, therefore, is not
sufficient to pay for the produce of improved and cuitivated land,
when they are allowed to pasture it, that price will be still less
sufficient to pay for that produce, when it must be collected with a
good deal of additional labour, and brought into the stable to them.
In these circumstances, therefore, no more cattle can with profit be
fed in the stable than what are necessary for tillage. But these can
never afford manure enough for keeping constantly in good condition
all the lands which they are capable of cultivating. What they afford,
being insufficient for the whole farm, will naturally be reserved for
the lands to which it can be most advantageously or conveniently
applied; the most fertile, or those, perhaps, in the neighbourhood of
the farm-yard. These, therefore, will be kept constantly in good
condition, and fit for tillage. The rest will, the greater part of
them, be allowed to lie waste, producing scarce any thing but some
miserable pasture, just sufficient to keep alive a few straggling,
half-starved cattle; the farm, though much overstocked in proportion
to what would be necessary for its complete cultivation, being very
frequently overstocked in proportion to its actual produce. A portion
of this waste land, however, after having been pastured in this
wretched manner for six or seven years together, may be ploughed up,
when it will yield, perhaps, a poor crop or two of bad oats, or of
some other coarse grain; and then, being entirely exhausted, it must
be rested and pastured again as before, and another portion ploughed
up, to be in the same manner exhausted and rested again in its turn.
Such, accordingly, was the general system of management all over the
low country of Scotland before the Union. The lands which were kept
constantly well manured and in good condition seldom exceeded a third
or fourth part of the whole farm, and sometimes did not amount to a
fifth or a sixth part of it. The rest were never manured, but a
certain portion of them was in its turn, notwithstanding, regularly
cultivated and exhausted. Under this system of management, it is
evident, even that part of the lands of Scotland which is capable of
good cultivation, could produce but little in comparison of what it
may be capable of producing. But how disadvantageous soever this
system may appear, yet, before the Union, the low price of cattle
seems to have rendered it almost unavoidable. If, notwithstanding a
great rise in the price, it still continues to prevail through a
considerable part of the country, it is owing in many places, no
doubt, to ignorance and attachment to old customs, but, in most
places, to the unavoidable obstructions which the natural course of
things opposes to the immediate or speedy establishment of a better
system: first, to the poverty of the tenants, to their not having yet
had time to acquire a stock of cattle sufficient to cultivate their
lands more completely, the same rise of price, which would render it
advantageous for them to maintain a greater stock, rendering it more
difficult for them to acquire it; and, secondly, to their not having
yet had time to put their lands in condition to maintain this greater
stock properly, supposing they were capable of acquiring it. The
increase of stock and the improvement of land are two events which
must go hand in hand, and of which the one can nowhere much outrun the
other. Without some increase of stock, there can be scarce any
improvement of land, but there can be no considerable increase of
stock, but in consequence of a considerable improvement of land;
because otherwise the land could not maintain it. These natural
obstructions to the establishment of a better system, cannot be
removed but by a long course of frugality and industry; and half a
century or a century more, perhaps, must pass away before the old
system, which is wearing out gradually, can be completely abolished
through all the different parts of the country. Of all the commercial
advantages, however, which Scotland has derived from the Union with
England, this rise in the price of cattle is, perhaps, the greatest.
It has not only raised the value of all highland estates, but it has,
perhaps, been the principal cause of the improvement of the low
country.

In all new colonies, the great quantity of waste land, which can for
many years be applied to no other purpose but the feeding of cattle,
soon renders them extremely abundant; and in every thing great
cheapness is the necessary consequence of great abundance. Though all
the cattle of the European colonies in America were originally carried
from Europe, they soon multiplied so much there, and became of so
little value, that even horses were allowed to run wild in the woods,
without any owner thinking it worth while to claim them. It must be a
long time after the first establishment of such colonies, before it
can become profitable to feed cattle upon the produce of cultivated
land. The same causes, therefore, the want of manure, and the
disproportion between the stock employed in cultivation and the land
which it is destined to cultivate, are likely to introduce there a
system of husbandry, not unlike that which still continues to take
place in so many parts of Scotland. Mr Kalm, the Swedish traveller,
when he gives an account of the husbandry of some of the English
colonies in North America, as he found it in 1749, observes,
accordingly, that he can with difficulty discover there the character
of the English nation, so well skilled in all the different branches
of agriculture. They make scarce any manure for their corn fields, he
says; but when one piece of ground has been exhausted by continual
cropping, they clear and cultivate another piece of fresh land; and
when that is exhausted, proceed to a third. Their cattle are allowed
to wander through the woods and other uncultivated grounds, where they
are half-starved; having long ago extirpated almost all the annual
grasses, by cropping them too early in the spring, before they had
time to form their flowers, or to shed their seeds. {Kalm's Travels,
vol 1, pp. 343, 344.} The annual grasses were, it seems, the best
natural grasses in that part of North America; and when the Europeans
first settled there, they used to grow very thick, and to rise three
or four feet high. A piece of ground which, when he wrote, could not
maintain one cow, would in former times, he was assured, have
maintained four, each of which would have given four times the
quantity of milk which that one was capable of giving. The poorness of
the pasture had, in his opinion, occasioned the degradation of their
cattle, which degenerated sensibly from me generation to another. They
were probably not unlike that stunted breed which was common all over
Scotland thirty or forty years ago, and which is now so much mended
through the greater part of the low country, not so much by a change
of the breed, though that expedient has been employed in some places,
as by a more plentiful method of feeding them.

Though it is late, therefore, in the progress of improvement, before
cattle can bring such a price as to render it profitable to cultivate
land for the sake of feeding them; yet of all the different parts
which compose this second sort of rude produce, they are perhaps the
first which bring this price; because, till they bring it, it seems
impossible that improvement can be brought near even to that degree of
perfection to which it has arrived in many parts of Europe.

As cattle are among the first, so perhaps venison is among the last
parts of this sort of rude produce which bring this price. The price
of venison in Great Britain, how extravagant soever it may appear, is
not near sufficient to compensate the expense of a deer park, as is
well known to all those who have had any experience in the feeding of
deer. If it was otherwise, the feeding of deer would soon become an
article of common farming, in the same manner as the feeding of those
small birds, called turdi, was among the ancient Romans. Varro and
Columella assure us, that it was a most profitable article. The
fattening of ortolans, birds of passage which arrive lean in the
country, is said to be so in some parts of France. If venison
continues in fashion, and the wealth and luxury of Great Britain
increase as they have done for some time past, its price may very
probably rise still higher than it is at present.

Between that period in the progress of improvement, which brings to
its height the price of so necessary an article as cattle, and that
which brings to it the price of such a superfluity as venison, there
is a very long interval, in the course of which many other sorts of
rude produce gradually arrive at their highest price, some sooner and
some later, according to different circumstances.

Thus, in every farm, the offals of the barn and stable will maintain a
certain number of poultry. These, as they are fed with what would
otherwise be lost, are a mere save-all; and as they cost the farmer
scarce any thing, so he can afford to sell them for very little.
Almost all that he gets is pure gain, and their price can scarce be so
low as to discourage him from feeding this number. But in countries
ill cultivated, and therefore but thinly inhabited, the poultry, which
are thus raised without expense, are often fully sufficient to supply
the whole demand. In this state of things, therefore, they are often
as cheap as butcher's meat, or any other sort of animal food. But the
whole quantity of poultry which the farm in this manner produces
without expense, must always be much smaller than the whole quantity
of butcher's meat which is reared upon it; and in times of wealth and
luxury, what is rare, with only nearly equal merit, is always
preferred to what is common. As wealth and luxury increase, therefore,
in consequence of improvement and cultivation, the price of poultry
gradually rises above that of butcher's meat, till at last it gets so
high, that it becomes profitable to cultivate land for the sake of
feeding them. When it has got to this height, it cannot well go
higher. If it did, more land would soon be turned to this purpose. In
several provinces of France, the feeding of poultry is considered as a
very important article in rural economy, and sufficiently profitable
to encourage the farmer to raise a considerable quantity of Indian
corn and buckwheat for this purpose. A middling farmer will there
sometimes have four hundred fowls in his yard. The feeding of poultry
seems scarce yet to be generally considered as a matter of so much
importance in England. They are certainly, however, dearer in England
than in France, as England receives considerable supplies from France.
In the progress of improvements, the period at which every particular
sort of animal food is dearest, must naturally be that which
immediately precedes the general practice of cultivating land for the
sake of raising it. For some time before this practice becomes
general, the scarcity must necessarily raise the price. After it has
become general, new methods of feeding are commonly fallen upon, which
enable the farmer to raise upon the same quantity of ground a much
greater quantity of that particular sort of animal food. The plenty
not only obliges him to sell cheaper, but, in consequence of these
improvements, he can afford to sell cheaper; for if he could not
afford it, the plenty would not be of long continuance. It has been
probably in this manner that the introduction of clover, turnips,
carrots, cabbages, etc. has contributed to sink the common price of
butcher's meat in the London market, somewhat below what it was about
the beginning of the last century.

The hog, that finds his food among ordure, and greedily devours many
things rejected by every other useful animal, is, like poultry,
originally kept as a save-all. As long as the number of such animals,
which can thus be reared at little or no expense, is fully sufficient
to supply the demand, this sort of butcher's meat comes to market at a
much lower price than any other. But when the demand rises beyond what
this quantity can supply, when it becomes necessary to raise food on
purpose for feeding and fattening hogs, in the same manner as for
feeding and fattening other cattle, the price necessarily rises, and
becomes proportionably either higher or lower than that of other
butcher's meat, according as the nature of the country, and the state
of its agriculture, happen to render the feeding of hogs more or less
expensive than that of other cattle. In France, according to Mr
Buffon, the price of pork is nearly equal to that of beef. In most
parts of Great Britain it is at present somewhat higher.

The great rise in the price both of hogs and poultry, has, in Great
Britain, been frequently imputed to the diminution of the number of
cottagers and other small occupiers of land; an event which has in
every part of Europe been the immediate forerunner of improvement and
better cultivation, but which at the same time may have contributed to
raise the price of those articles, both somewhat sooner and somewhat
faster than it would otherwise have risen. As the poorest family can
often maintain a cat or a dog without any expense, so the poorest
occupiers of land can commonly maintain a few poultry, or a sow and a
few pigs, at very little. The little offals of their own table, their
whey, skimmed milk, and butter milk, supply those animals with a part
of their food, and they find the rest in the neighbouring fields,
without doing any sensible damage to any body. By diminishing the
number of those small occupiers, therefore, the quantity of this sort
of provisions, which is thus produced at little or no expense, must
certainly have been a good deal diminished, and their price must
consequently have been raised both sooner and faster than it would
otherwise have risen. Sooner or later, however, in the progress of
improvement, it must at any rate have risen to the utmost height to
which it is capable of rising; or to the price which pays the labour
and expense of cultivating the land which furnishes them with food, as
well as these are paid upon the greater part of other cultivated land.

The business of the dairy, like the feeding of hogs and poultry, is
originally carried on as a save-all. The cattle necessarily kept upon
the farm produce more milk than either the rearing of their own young,
or the consumption of the farmer's family requires; and they produce
most at one particular season. But of all the productions of land,
milk is perhaps the most perishable. In the warm season, when it is
most abundant, it will scarce keep four-and-twenty hours. The farmer,
by making it into fresh butter, stores a small part of it for a week;
by making it into salt butter, for a year; and by making it into
cheese, he stores a much greater part of it for several years. Part of
all these is reserved for the use of his own family; the rest goes to
market, in order to find the best price which is to be had, and which
can scarce be so low is to discourage him from sending thither
whatever is over and above the use of his own family. If it is very
low indeed, he will be likely to manage his dairy in a very slovenly
and dirty manner, and will scarce, perhaps, think it worth while to
have a particular room or building on purpose for it, but will suffer
the business to be carried on amidst the smoke, filth, and nastiness
of his own kitchen, as was the case of almost all the farmers' dairies
in Scotland thirty or forty years ago, and as is the case of many of
them still. The same causes which gradually raise the price of
butcher's meat, the increase of the demand, and, in consequence of the
improvement of the country, the diminution of the quantity which can
be fed at little or no expense, raise, in the same manner, that of the
produce of the dairy, of which the price naturally connects with that
of butcher's meat, or with the expense of feeding cattle. The increase
of price pays for more labour, care, and cleanliness. The dairy
becomes more worthy of the farmer's attention, and the quality of its
produce gradually improves. The price at last gets so high, that it
becomes worth while to employ some of the most fertile and best
cultivated lands in feeding cattle merely for the purpose of the
dairy; and when it has got to this height, it cannot well go higher.
If it did, more land would soon be turned to this purpose. It seems to
have got to this height through the greater part of England, where
much good land is commonly employed in this manner. If you except the
neighbourhood of a few considerable towns, it seems not yet to have
got to this height anywhere in Scotland, where common farmers seldom
employ much good land in raising food for cattle, merely for the
purpose of the dairy. The price of the produce, though it has risen
very considerably within these few years, is probably still too low to
admit of it. The inferiority of the quality, indeed, compared with
that of the produce of English dairies, is fully equal to that of the
price. But this inferiority of quality is, perhaps, rather the effect
of this lowness of price, than the cause of it. Though the quality was
much better, the greater part of what is brought to market could not,
I apprehend, in the present circumstances of the country, be disposed
of at a much better price; and the present price, it is probable,
would not pay the expense of the land and labour necessary for
producing a much better quality. Through the greater part of England,
notwithstanding the superiority of price, the dairy is not reckoned a
more profitable employment of land than the raising of corn, or the
fattening of cattle, the two great objects of agriculture. Through the
greater part of Scotland, therefore, it cannot yet be even so
profitable.

The lands of no country, it is evident, can ever be completely
cultivated and improved, till once the price of every produce, which
human industry is obliged to raise upon them, has got so high as to
pay for the expense of complete improvement and cultivation. In order
to do this, the price of each particular produce must be sufficient,
first, to pay the rent of good corn land, as it is that which
regulates the rent of the greater part of other cultivated land; and,
secondly, to pay the labour and expense of the farmer, as well as they
are commonly paid upon good corn land; or, in other words, to replace
with the ordinary profits the stock which he employs about it. This
rise in the price of each particular produce; must evidently be
previous to the improvement and cultivation of the land which is
destined for raising it. Gain is the end of all improvement; and
nothing could deserve that name, of which loss was to be the necessary
consequence. But loss must be the necessary consequence of improving
land for the sake of a produce of which the price could never bring
back the expense. If the complete improvement and cultivation of the
country be, as it most certainly is, the greatest of all public
advantages, this rise in the price of all those different sorts of
rude produce, instead of being considered as a public calamity, ought
to be regarded as the necessary forerunner and attendant of the
greatest of all public advantages.

This rise, too, in the nominal or money price of all those different
sorts of rude produce, has been the effect, not of any degradation in
the value of silver, but of a rise in their real price. They have
become worth, not only a greater quantity of silver, but a greater
quantity of labour and subsistence than before. As it costs a greater
quantity of labour and subsistence to bring them to market, so, when
they are brought thither they represent, or are equivalent to a
greater quantity.

Third Sort. -- The third and last sort of rude produce, of which the
price naturally rises in the progress of improvement, is that in which
the efficacy of human industry, in augmenting the quantity, is either
limited or uncertain. Though the real price of this sort of rude
produce, therefore, naturally tends to rise in the progress of
improvement, yet, according as different accidents happen to render
the efforts of human industry more or less successful in augmenting
the quantity, it may happen sometimes even to fall, sometimes to
continue the same, in very different periods of improvement, and
sometimes to rise more or less in the same period.

There are some sorts of rude produce which nature has rendered a kind
of appendages to other sorts; so that the quantity of the one which
any country can afford, is necessarily limited by that of the other.
The quantity of wool or of raw hides, for example, which any country
can afford, is necessarily limited by the number of great and small
cattle that are kept in it. The state of its improvement, and the
nature of its agriculture, again necessarily determine this number.

The same causes which, in the progress of improvement, gradually raise
the price of butcher's meat, should have the same effect, it may be
thought, upon the prices of wool and raw hides, and raise them, too,
nearly in the same proportion. It probably would be so, if, in the
rude beginnings of improvement, the market for the latter commodities
was confined within as narrow bounds as that for the former. But the
extent of their respective markets is commonly extremely different.

The market for butcher's meat is almost everywhere confined to the
country which produces it. Ireland, and some part of British America,
indeed, carry on a considerable trade in salt provisions; but they
are, I believe, the only countries in the commercial world which do
so, or which export to other countries any considerable part of their
butcher's meat.

The market for wool and raw hides, on the contrary, is, in the rude
beginnings of improvement, very seldom confined to the country which
produces them. They can easily be transported to distant countries;
wool without any preparation, and raw hides with very little; and as
they are the materials of many manufactures, the industry of other
countries may occasion a demand for them, though that of the country
which produces them might not occasion any.

In countries ill cultivated, and therefore but thinly inhabited, the
price of the wool and the hide bears always a much greater proportion
to that of the whole beast, than in countries where, improvement and
population being further advanced, there is more demand for butcher's
meat. Mr Hume observes, that in the Saxon times, the fleece was
estimated at two-fifths of the value of the whole sheep and that this
was much above the proportion of its present estimation. In some
provinces of Spain, I have been assured, the sheep is frequently
killed merely for the sake of the fleece and the tallow. The carcase
is often left to rot upon the ground, or to be devoured by beasts and
birds of prey. If this sometimes happens even in Spain, it happens
almost constantly in Chili, at Buenos Ayres, and in many other parts
of Spanish America, where the horned cattle are almost constantly
killed merely for the sake of the hide and the tallow. This, too, used
to happen almost constantly in Hispaniola, while it was infested by
the buccaneers, and before the settlement, improvement, and
populousness of the French plantations ( which now extend round the
coast of almost the whole western half of the island) had given some
value to the cattle of the Spaniards, who still continue to possess,
not only the eastern part of the coast, but the whole inland
mountainous part of the country.

Though, in the progress of improvement and population, the price of
the whole beast necessarily rises, yet the price of the carcase is
likely to be much more affected by this rise than that of the wool and
the hide. The market for the carcase being in the rude state of
society confined always to the country which produces it, must
necessarily be extended in proportion to the improvement and
population of that country. But the market for the wool and the hides,
even of a barbarous country, often extending to the whole commercial
world, it can very seldom be enlarged in the same proportion. The
state of the whole commercial world can seldom be much affected by the
improvement of any particular country; and the market for such
commodities may remain the same, or very nearly the same, after such
improvements, as before. It should, however, in the natural course of
things, rather, upon the whole, be somewhat extended in consequence of
them. If the manufactures, especially, of which those commodities are
the materials, should ever come to flourish in the country, the
market, though it might not be much enlarged, would at least be
brought much nearer to the place of growth than before; and the price
of those materials might at least be increased by what had usually
been the expense of transporting them to distant countries. Though it
might not rise, therefore, in the same proportion as that of butcher's
meat, it ought naturally to rise somewhat, and it ought certainly not
to fall.

In England, however, notwithstanding the flourishing state of its
woollen manufacture, the price of English wool has fallen very
considerably since the time of Edward III. There are many authentic
records which demonstrate 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 shillings
of the money of those times {See Smith's Memoirs of Wool, vol. i c.
5, 6, 7. also vol. ii.}, containing, at the rate of twenty-pence the
ounce, six ounces of silver, Tower weight, equal to about thirty
shillings of our present money. In the present times, one-and-twenty
shillings the tod may be reckoned a good price for very good English
wool. The money price of wool, therefore, in the time of Edward III.
was to its money price in the present times as ten to seven. The
superiority of its real price was still greater. At the rate of six
shillings and eightpence the quarter, ten shillings was in those
ancient times the price of twelve bushels of wheat. At the rate of
twenty-eight shillings the quarter, one-and-twenty shillings is in the
present times the price of six bushels only. The proportion between
the real price of ancient and modern times, therefore, is as twelve to
six, or as two to one. In those ancient times, a tod of wool would
have purchased twice the quantity of subsistence which it will
purchase at present, and consequently twice the quantity of labour, if
the real recompence of labour had been the same in both periods.

This degradation, both in the real and nominal value of wool, could
never have happened in consequence of the natural course of things. It
has accordingly been the effect of violence and artifice. First, of
the absolute prohibition of exporting wool from England: secondly, of
the permission of importing it from Spain, duty free: thirdly, of the
prohibition of exporting it from Ireland to another country but
England. In consequence of these regulations, the market for English
wool, instead of being somewhat extended, in consequence of the
improvement of England, has been confined to the home market, where
the wool of several 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 consistent with justice and fair
dealing, the Irish can work up but a smaller part of their own wool at
home, and are therefore obliged to send a greater proportion of it to
Great Britain, the only market they are allowed.

I have not been able to find any such authentic records concerning the
price of raw hides in ancient times. Wool was commonly paid as a
subsidy to the king, and its valuation in that subsidy ascertains, at
least in some degree, what was its ordinary price. But this seems not
to have been the case with raw hides. Fleetwood, however, from an
account in 1425, between the prior of Burcester Oxford and one of his
canons, gives us their price, at least as it was stated upon that
particular occasion, viz. five ox hides at twelve shillings; five cow
hides at seven shillings and threepence; thirtysix sheep skins of two
years old at nine shillings; sixteen calf skins at two shillings. In
1425, twelve shillings contained about the same quantity of silver as
four-and-twenty shillings of our present money. An ox hide, therefore,
was in this account valued at the same quantity of silver as 4s.
4/5ths of our present money. Its nominal price was a good deal lower
than at present. But at the rate of six shillings and eightpence the
quarter, twelve shillings would in those times have purchased fourteen
bushels and four-fifths of a bushel of wheat, which, at three and
sixpence the bushel, would in the present times cost 51s. 4d. An ox
hide, therefore, would in those times have purchased as much corn as
ten shillings and threepence would purchase at present. Its real value
was equal to ten shillings and threepence of our present money. In
those ancient times, when the cattle were half starved during the
greater part of the winter, we cannot suppose that they were of a very
large size. An ox hide which weighs four stone of sixteen pounds of
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 stone, which at this moment (February 1773) I
understand to be the common price, such a hide would at present cost
only ten shillings. Through its nominal price, therefore, is higher in
the present than it was in those ancient times, its real price, the
real quantity of subsistence which it will purchase or command, is
rather somewhat lower. The price of cow hides, as stated in the above
account, is nearly in the common proportion to that of ox hides. That
of sheep skins is a good deal above it. They had probably been sold
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 stock, are
generally killed very young, as was the case in Scotland twenty or
thirty years ago. It saves 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 seal
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 present 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
so proper for being transported to distant markets as wool. It suffers
more by keeping. A salted hide is reckoned inferior to a fresh one,
and sells for a lower price. This circumstance must necessarily have
some tendency to sink the price of raw hides produced in a country
which does not manufacture them, but is obliged to export them, and
comparatively to raise that of those produced in a country which does
manufacture them. It must have some tendency to sink their price in a
barbarous, and to raise it in an improved and manufacturing country.
It must have had some tendency, therefore, to sink it in ancient, and
to raise it in modern times. Our tanners, besides, have not been quite
so successful as our clothiers, in convincing the wisdom of the
nation, that the safety 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 nuisance; but their importation from
foreign countries has been subjected to a duty; and though this duty
has been taken off from those 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 sale of its surplus 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 nowhere but to the mother
country; neither has the commerce of Ireland been in this case
oppressed hitherto, in order to support the manufactures of Great
Britain.

Whatever regulations tend to sink the price, either of wool or of raw
hides, below what it naturally would he, must, in an improved and
cultivated country, have some tendency to raise the price of butcher's
meat. The price both of the great and small cattle, which are fed on
improved and cultivated land, must be sufficient to pay the rent which
the landlord, and the profit which the farmer, has reason to expect
from improved and cultivated land. If it is not, they will soon cease
to feed them. Whatever part of this price, therefore, is not paid by
the wool and the hide, must be paid by the carcase. The less there is
paid for the one, the more must be paid for the other. In what manner
this price is to be divided upon the different parts of the beast, is
indifferent to the landlords and farmers, provided it is all paid to
them. In an improved and cultivated country, therefore, their interest
as landlords and farmers cannot be much affected by such regulations,
though their interest as consumers may, by the rise in the price of
provisions. It would be quite otherwise, however, in an unimproved and
uncultivated country, where the greater part of the lands could be
applied to no other purpose but the feeding of cattle, and where the
wool and the hide made the principal part of the value of those
cattle. Their interest as landlords and farmers would in this case be
very deeply affected by such regulations, and their interest as
consumers very little. The fall in the price of the wool and the hide
would not in this case raise the price of the carcase; because the
greater part of the lands of the country being applicable to no other
purpose but the feeding of cattle, the same number would still
continue to be fed. The same quantity of butcher's meat would still
come to market. The demand for it would be no greater than before. Its
price, therefore, would be the same as before. The whole price of
cattle would fall, and along with it both the rent and the profit of
all those lands of which cattle was the principal produce, that is, of
the greater part of the lands of the country. The perpetual
prohibition of the exportation of wool, which is commonly, but very
falsely, ascribed to Edward III., would, in the then circumstances of
the country, have been the most destructive regulation which could
well have been thought of. It would not only have reduced the actual
value of the greater part of the lands in the kingdom, but by reducing
the price of the most important species of small cattle, it would have
retarded very much its subsequent improvement.

The wool of Scotland fell very considerably in its price in
consequence of the union with England, by which it was excluded from
the great market of Europe, and confined to the narrow one of Great
Britain. The value of the greater part of the lands in the southern
counties of Scotland, which are chiefly a sheep country, would have
been very deeply affected by this event, had not the rise in the price
of butcher's meat fully compensated the fall in the price of wool.

As the efficacy of human industry, in increasing the quantity either
of wool or of raw hides, is limited, so far as it depends upon the
produce of the country where it is exerted; so it is uncertain so far
as it depends upon the produce of other countries. It so far depends
not so much upon the quantity which they produce, as upon that which
they do not manufacture; and upon the restraints which they may or may
not think proper to impose upon the exportation of this sort of rude
produce. These circumstances, as they are altogether independent of
domestic industry, so they necessarily render the efficacy of its
efforts more or less uncertain. In multiplying this sort of rude
produce, therefore, the efficacy of human industry is not only
limited, but uncertain.

In multiplying another very important sort of rude produce, the
quantity of fish that is brought to market, it is likewise both
limited and uncertain. It is limited by the local situation of the
country, by the proximity or distance of its different provinces from
the sea, by the number of its lakes and rivers, and by what may be
called the fertility or barrenness of those seas, lakes, and rivers,
as to this sort of rude produce. As population increases, as the
annual produce of the land and labour of the country grows greater and
greater, there come to be more buyers of fish; and those buyers, too,
have a greater quantity and variety of other goods, or, what is the
same thing, the price of a greater quantity and variety of other
goods, to buy with. But it will generally be impossible to supply the
great and extended market, without employing a quantity of labour
greater than in proportion to what had been requisite for supplying
the narrow and confined one. A market which, from requiring only one
thousand, comes to require annually ten thousand ton of fish, can
seldom be supplied, without employing more than ten times the quantity
of labour which had before been sufficient to supply it. The fish must
generally be sought for at a greater distance, larger vessels must be
employed, and more expensive machinery of every kind made use of. The
real price of this commodity, therefore, naturally rises in the
progress of improvement. It has accordingly done so, I believe, more
or less in every country.

Though the success of a particular day's fishing maybe a very
uncertain matter, yet the local situation of the country being
supposed, the general efficacy of industry in bringing a certain
quantity of fish to market, taking the course of a year, or of several
years together, it may, perhaps, be thought is certain enough; and it,
no doubt, is so. As it depends more, however, upon the local situation
of the country, than upon the state of its wealth and industry; as
upon this account it may in different countries be the same in very
different periods of improvement, and very different in the same
period; its connection with the state of improvement is uncertain; and
it is of this sort of uncertainty that I am here speaking.

In increasing the quantity of the different minerals and metals which
are drawn from the bowels of the earth, that of the more precious ones
particularly, the efficacy of human industry seems not to be limited,
but to be altogether uncertain.

The quantity of the precious metals which is to be found in any
country, is not limited by any thing in its local situation, such as
the fertility or barrenness of its own mines. Those metals frequently
abound in countries which possess no mines. Their quantity, in every
particular country, seems to depend upon two different circumstances;
first, upon its power of purchasing, upon the state of its industry,
upon the annual produce of its land and labour, in consequence of
which it can afford to employ a greater or a smaller quantity of
labour and subsistence, in bringing or purchasing such superfluities
as gold and silver, either from its own mines, or from those of other
countries; and, secondly, upon the fertility or barrenness of the
mines which may happen at any particular time to supply the commercial
world with those metals. The quantity of those metals in the countries
most remote from the mines, must be more or less affected by this
fertility or barrenness, on account of the easy and cheap
transportation of those metals, of their small bulk and great value.
Their quantity in China and Indostan must have been more or less
affected by the abundance of the mines of America.

So far as their quantity in any particular country depends upon the
former of those two circumstances (the power of purchasing), their
real price, like that of all other luxuries and superfluities, is
likely to rise with the wealth and improvement of the country, and to
fall with its poverty and depression. Countries which have a great
quantity of labour and subsistence to spare, can afford to purchase
any particular quantity of those metals at the expense of a greater
quantity of labour and subsistence, than countries which have less to
spare.

So far as their quantity in any particular country depends upon the
latter of those two circumstances (the fertility or barrenness of the
mines which happen to supply the commercial world), their real price,
the real quantity of labour and subsistence which they will purchase
or exchange for, will, no doubt, sink more or less in proportion to
the fertility, and rise in proportion to the barrenness of those
mines.

The fertility or barrenness of the mines, however, which may happen at
any particular time to supply the commercial world, is a circumstance
which, it is evident, may have no sort of connection with the state of
industry in a particular country. It seems even to have no very
necessary connection with that of the world in general. As arts and
commerce, indeed, gradually spread themselves over a greater and a
greater part of the earth, the search for new mines, being extended
over a wider surface, may have somewhat a better chance for being
successful than when confined within narrower bounds. The discovery of
new mines, however, as the old ones come to be gradually exhausted, is
a matter of the greatest uncertainty, and such as no human skill or
industry can insure. All indications, it is acknowledged, are
doubtful; and the actual discovery and successful working of a new
mine can alone ascertain the reality of its value, or even of its
existence. In this search there seem to be no certain limits, either
to the possible success, or to the possible disappointment of human
industry. In the course of a century or two, it is possible that new
mines may be discovered, more fertile than any that have ever yet been
known; and it is just equally possible, that the most fertile mine
then known may be more barren than any that was wrought before the
discovery of the mines of America. Whether the one or the other of
those two events may happen to take place, is of very little
importance to the real wealth and prosperity of the world, to the real
value of the annual produce of the land and labour of mankind. Its
nominal value, the quantity of gold and silver by which this annual
produce could be expressed or represented, would, no doubt, be very
different; but its real value, the real quantity of labour which it
could purchase or command, would be precisely the same. A shilling
might, in the one case, represent no more labour than a penny does at
present; and a penny, in the other, might represent as much as a
shilling does now. But in the one case, he who had a shilling in his
pocket would be no richer than he who has a penny at present; and in
the other, he who had a penny would be just as rich as he who has a
shilling now. The cheapness and abundance of gold and silver plate
would be the sole advantage which the world could derive from the one
event; and the dearness and scarcity of those trifling superfluities,
the only inconveniency it could suffer from the other.

Conclusion of the Digression concerning the Variations in the Value of
Silver.

The greater part of the writers who have collected the money price of
things in ancient times, seem to have considered the low money price
of corn, and of goods in general, or, in other words, the high value
of gold and silver, as a proof, not only of the scarcity of those
metals, but of the poverty and barbarism of the country at the time
when it took place. This notion is connected with the system of
political economy, which represents national wealth as consisting in
the abundance and national poverty in the scarcity, of gold and
silver; a system which I shall endeavour to explain and examine at
great length in the fourth book of this Inquiry. I shall only observe
at present, that the high value of the precious metals can be no proof
of the poverty or barbarism of any particular country at the time when
it took place. It is a proof only of the barrenness of the mines which
happened at that time to supply the commercial world. A poor country,
as it cannot afford to buy more, so it can as little afford to pay
dearer for gold and silver than a rich one; and the value of those
metals, therefore, is not likely to be higher in the former than in
the latter. In China, a country much richer than any part of Europe,
the value of the precious metals is much higher than in any part of
Europe. As the wealth of Europe, indeed, has increased greatly since
the discovery of the mines of America, so the value of gold and silver
has gradually diminished. This diminution of their value, however, has
not been owing to the increase of the real wealth of Europe, of the
annual produce of its land and labour, but to the accidental discovery
of more abundant mines than any that were known before. The increase
of the quantity of gold and silver in Europe, and the increase of its
manufactures and agriculture, are two events which, though they have
happened nearly about the same time, yet have arisen from very
different causes, and have scarce any natural connection with one
another. The one has arisen from a mere accident, in which neither
prudence nor policy either had or could have any share; the other,
from the fall of the feudal system, and from the establishment of a
government which afforded to industry the only encouragement which it
requires, some tolerable security that it shall enjoy the fruits of
its own labour. Poland, where the feudal system still continues to
take place, is at this day as beggarly a country as it was before the
discovery of America. The money price of corn, however, has risen; the
real value of the precious metals has fallen in Poland, in the same
manner as in other parts of Europe. Their quantity, therefore, must
have increased there as in other places, and nearly in the same
proportion to the annual produce of its land and labour. This increase
of the quantity of those metals, however, has not, it seems, increased
that annual produce, has neither improved the manufactures and
agriculture of the country, nor mended the circumstances of its
inhabitants. Spain and Portugal, the countries which possess the
mines, are, after Poland, perhaps the two most beggarly countries in
Europe. The value of the precious metals, however, must be lower in
Spain and Portugal than in any other part of Europe, as they come from
those countries to all other parts of Europe, loaded, not only with a
freight and an insurance, but with the expense of smuggling, their
exportation being either prohibited or subjected to a duty. In
proportion to the annual produce of the land and labour, therefore,
their quantity must be greater in those countries than in any other
part of Europe; those countries, however, are poorer than the greater
part of Europe. Though the feudal system has been abolished in Spain
and Portugal, it has not been succeeded by a much better.

As the low value of gold and silver, therefore, is no proof of the
wealth and flourishing state of the country where it takes place; so
neither is their high value, or the low money price either of goods in
general, or of corn in particular, any proof of its poverty and
barbarism.

But though the low money price, either of goods in general, or of corn
in particular, be no proof of the poverty or barbarism of the times,
the low money price of some particular sorts of goods, such as cattle,
poultry, game of all kinds, etc. in proportion to that of corn, is a
most decisive one. It clearly demonstrates, first, their great
abundance in proportion to that of corn, and, consequently, the great
extent of the land which they occupied in proportion to what was
occupied by corn; and, secondly, the low value of this land in
proportion to that of corn land, and, consequently, the uncultivated
and unimproved state of the far greater part of the lands of the
country. It clearly demonstrates, that the stock and population of the
country did not bear the same proportion to the extent of its
territory, which they commonly do in civilized countries; and that
society was at that time, and in that country, but in its infancy.
From the high or low money price, either of goods in general, or of
corn in particular, we can infer only, that the mines, which at that
time happened to supply the commercial world with gold and silver,
were fertile or barren, not that the country was rich or poor. But
from the high or low money price of some sorts of goods in proportion
to that of others, we can infer, with a degree of probability that
approaches almost to certainty, that it was rich or poor, that the
greater part of its lands were improved or unimproved, and that it was
either in a more or less barbarous state, or in a more or less
civilized one.

Any rise in the money price of goods which proceeded altogether from
the degradation of the value of silver, would affect all sorts of
goods equally, and raise their price universally, a third, or a
fourth, or a fifth part higher, according as silver happened to lose a
third, or a fourth, or a fifth part of its former value. But the rise
in the price of provisions, which has been the subject of so much
reasoning and conversation, does not affect all sorts of provisions
equally. Taking the course of the present century at an average, the
price of corn, it is acknowledged, even by those who account for this
rise by the degradation of the value of silver, has risen much less
than that of some other sorts of provisions. The rise in the price of
those other sorts of provisions, therefore, cannot be owing altogether
to the degradation of the value of silver. Some other causes must be
taken into the account; and those which have been above assigned,
will, perhaps, without having recourse to the supposed degradation of
the value of silver, sufficiently explain this rise in those
particular sorts of provisions, of which the price has actually risen
in proportion to that of corn.

As to the price of corn itself, it has, during the sixty-four first
years of the present century, and before the late extraordinary course
of bad seasons, been somewhat lower than it was during the sixty-four
last years of the preceding century. This fact is attested, not only
by the accounts of Windsor market, but by the public fiars of all the
different counties of Scotland, and by the accounts of several
different markets in France, which have been collected with great
diligence and fidelity by Mr Messance, and by Mr Dupré de St Maur. The
evidence is more complete than could well have been expected in a
matter which is naturally so very difficult to be ascertained.

As to the high price of corn during these last ten or twelve years, it
can be sufficiently accounted for from the badness of the seasons,
without supposing any degradation in the value of silver.

The opinion, therefore, that silver is continually sinking in its
value, seems not to be founded upon any good observations, either upon
the prices of corn, or upon those of other provisions.

The same quantity of silver, it may perhaps be said, will, in the
present times, even according to the account which has been here
given, purchase a much smaller quantity of several sorts of provisions
than it would have done during some part of the last century; and to
ascertain whether this change be owing to a rise in the value of those
goods, or to a fall in the value of silver, is only to establish a
vain and useless distinction, which can be of no sort of service to
the man who has only a certain quantity of silver to go to market
with, or a certain fixed revenue in money. I certainly do not pretend
that the knowledge of this distinction will enable him to buy cheaper.
It may not, however, upon that account be altogether useless.

It may be of some use to the public, by affording an easy proof of the
prosperous condition of the country. If the rise in the price of some
sorts of provisions be owing altogether to a fall in the value of
silver, it is owing to a circumstance, from which nothing can be
inferred but the fertility of the American mines. The real wealth of
the country, the annual produce of its land and labour, may,
notwithstanding this circumstance, be either gradually declining, as
in Portugal and Poland; or gradually advancing, as in most other parts
of Europe. But if this rise in the price of some sorts of provisions
be owing to a rise in the real value of the land which produces them,
to its increased fertility, or, in consequence of more extended
improvement and good cultivation, to its having been rendered fit for
producing corn; it is owing to a circumstance which indicates, in the
clearest manner, the prosperous and advancing state of the country.
The land constitutes by far the greatest, the most important, and the
most durable part of the wealth of every extensive country. It may
surely be of some use, or, at least, it may give some satisfaction to
the public, to have so decisive a proof of the increasing value of by
far the greatest, the most important, and the most durable part of its
wealth.

It may, too, be of some use to the public, in regulating the pecuniary
reward of some of its inferior servants. If this rise in the price of
some sorts of provisions be owing to a fall in the value of silver,
their pecuniary reward, provided it was not too large before, ought
certainly to be augmented in proportion to the extent of this fall. If
it is not augmented, their real recompence will evidently be so much
diminished. But if this rise of price is owing to the increased value,
in consequence of the improved fertility of the land which produces
such provisions, it becomes a much nicer matter to judge, either in
what proportion any pecuniary reward ought to be augmented, or whether
it ought to be augmented at all. The extension of improvement and
cultivation, as it necessarily raises more or less, in proportion to
the price of corn, that of every sort of animal food, so it as
necessarily lowers that of, I believe, every sort of vegetable food.
It raises the price of animal food; because a great part of the land
which produces it, being rendered fit for producing corn, must afford
to the landlord anti farmer the rent and profit of corn land. It
lowers the price of vegetable food; because, by increasing the
fertility of the land, it increases its abundance. The improvements of
agriculture, too, introduce many sorts of vegetable food, which
requiring less land, and not more labour than corn, come much cheaper
to market. Such are potatoes and maize, or what is called Indian corn,
the two most important improvements which the agriculture of Europe,
perhaps, which Europe itself, has received from the great extension of
its commerce and navigation. Many sorts of vegetable food, besides,
which in the rude state of agriculture are confined to the
kitchen-garden, and raised only by the spade, come, in its improved
state, to be introduced into common fields, and to be raised by the
plough; such as turnips, carrots, cabbages, etc. If, in the progress
of improvement, therefore, the real price of one species of food
necessarily rises, that of another as necessarily falls; and it
becomes a matter of more nicety to judge how far the rise in the one
may be compensated by the fall in the other. When the real price of
butcher's meat has once got to its height (which, with regard to every
sort, except perhaps that of hogs flesh, it seems to have done through
a great part of England more than a century ago), any rise which can
afterwards happen in that of any other sort of animal food, cannot
much affect the circumstances of the inferior ranks of people. The
circumstances of the poor, through a great part of England, cannot
surely be so much distressed by any rise in the price of poultry,
fish, wild-fowl, or venison, as they must be relieved by the fall in
that of potatoes.

In the present season of scarcity, the high price of corn no doubt
distresses the poor. But in times of moderate plenty, when corn is at
its ordinary or average price, the natural rise in the price of any
other sort of rude produce cannot much affect them. They suffer more,
perhaps, by the artificial rise which has been occasioned by taxes in
the price of some manufactured commodities, as of salt, soap, leather,
candles, malt, beer, ale, etc.

Effects of the Progress of Improvement upon the real Price of
Manufactures.

It is the natural effect of improvement, however, to diminish
gradually the real price of almost all manufactures. That of the
manufacturing workmanship diminishes, perhaps, in all of them without
exception. In consequence of better machinery, of greater dexterity,
and of a more proper division and distribution of work, all of which
are the natural effects of improvement, a much smaller quantity of
labour becomes requisite for executing any particular piece of work;
and though, in consequence of the flourishing circumstances of the
society, the real price of labour should rise very considerably, yet
the great diminution of the quantity will generally much more than
compensate the greatest rise which can happen in the price.

There are, indeed, a few manufactures, in which the necessary rise in
the real price of the rude materials will more than compensate all the
advantages which improvement can introduce into the execution of the
work In carpenters' and joiners' work, and in the coarser sort of
cabinet work, the necessary rise in the real price of barren timber,
in consequence of the improvement of land, will more than compensate
all the advantages which can be derived from the best machinery, the
greatest dexterity, and the most proper division and distribution of
work.

But in all cases in which the real price of the rude material either
does not rise at all, or does not rise very much, that of the
manufactured commodity sinks very considerably.

This diminution of price has, in the course of the present and
preceding century, been most remarkable in those manufactures of which
the materials are the coarser metals. A better movement of a watch,
than about the middle of the last century could have been bought for
twenty pounds, may now perhaps be had for twenty shillings. In the
work of cutlers and locksmiths, in all the toys which are made of the
coarser metals, and in all those goods which are commonly known by the
name of Birmingham and Sheffield ware, there has been, during the same
period, a very great reduction of price, though not altogether so
great as in watch-work. It has, however, been sufficient to astonish
the workmen of every other part of Europe, who in many cases
acknowledge that they can produce no work of equal goodness for double
or even for triple the price. There are perhaps no manufactures, in
which the division of labour can be carried further, or in which the
machinery employed admits of' a greater variety of improvements, than
those of which the materials are the coarser metals.

In the clothing manufacture there has, during the same period, been no
such sensible reduction of price. The price of superfine cloth, I have
been assured, on the contrary, has, within these five-and-twenty or
thirty years, risen somewhat in proportion to its quality, owing, it
was said, to a considerable rise in the price of the material, which
consists altogether of Spanish wool. That of the Yorkshire cloth,
which is made altogether of English wool, is said, indeed, during the
course of the present century, to have fallen a good deal in
proportion to its quality. Quality, however, is so very disputable a
matter, that I look upon all information of this kind as somewhat
uncertain. In the clothing manufacture, the division of labour is
nearly the same now as it was a century ago, and the machinery
employed is not very different. There may, however, have been some
small improvements in both, which may have occasioned some reduction
of price.

But the reduction will appear much more sensible and undeniable, if we
compare the price of this manufacture in the present times with what
it was in a much remoter period, towards the end of the fifteenth
century, when the labour was probably much less subdivided, and the
machinery employed much more imperfect, than it is at present.

In 1487, being the 4th of Henry VII., it was enacted, that "whosoever
shall sell by retail a broad yard of the finest scarlet grained, or of
other grained cloth of the finest making, above sixteen shillings,
shall forfeit forty shillings for every yard so sold." Sixteen
shillings, therefore, containing about the same quantity of silver as
four-and-twenty shillings of our present money, was, at that time,
reckoned not an unreasonable price for a yard of the finest cloth; and
as this is a sumptuary law, such cloth, it is probable, had usually
been sold somewhat dearer. A guinea may be reckoned the highest price
in the present times. Even though the quality of the cloths,
therefore, should be supposed equal, and that of the present times is
most probably much superior, yet, even upon this supposition, the
money price of the finest cloth appears to have been considerably
reduced since the end of the fifteenth century. But its real price has
been much more reduced. Six shillings and eightpence was then, and
long afterwards, reckoned the average price of a quarter of wheat.
Sixteen shillings, therefore, was the price of two quarters and more
than three bushels of wheat. Valuing a quarter of wheat in the present
times at eight-and-twenty shillings, the real price of a yard of fine
cloth must, in those times, have been equal to at least three pounds
six shillings and sixpence of our present money. The man who bought it
must have parted with the command of a quantity of labour and
subsistence equal to what that sum would purchase in the present
times.

The reduction in the real price of the coarse manufacture, though
considerable, has not been so great as in that of the fine.

In 1463, being the 3rd of Edward IV. it was enacted, that "no servant
in husbandry nor common labourer, nor servant to any artificer
inhabiting out of a city or burgh, shall use or wear in their clothing
any cloth above two shillings the broad yard." In the 3rd of Edward
IV., two shillings contained very nearly the same quantity of silver
as four of our present money. But the Yorkshire cloth which is now
sold at four shillings the yard, is probably much superior to any that
was then made for the wearing of the very poorest order of common
servants. Even the money price of their clothing, therefore, may, in
proportion to the quality, be somewhat cheaper in the present than it
was in those ancient times. The real price is certainly a good deal
cheaper. Tenpence was then reckoned what is called the moderate and
reasonable price of a bushel of wheat. Two shillings, therefore, was
the price of two bushels and near two pecks of wheat, which in the
present times, at three shillings and sixpence the bushel, would be
worth eight shillings and ninepence. For a yard of this cloth the poor
servant must have parted with the power of purchasing a quantity of
subsistence equal to what eight shillings and ninepence would purchase
in the present times. This is a sumptuary law, too, restraining the
luxury and extravagance of the poor. Their clothing, therefore, had
commonly been much more expensive.

The same order of people are, by the same law, prohibited from wearing
hose, of which the price should exceed fourteen-pence the pair, equal
to about eight-and-twenty pence of our present money. But
fourteen-pence was in those times the price of a bushel and near two
pecks of wheat; which in the present times, at three and sixpence the
bushel, would cost five shillings and threepence. We should in the
present times consider this as a very high price for a pair of
stockings to a servant of the poorest and lowest order. He must
however, in those times, have paid what was really equivalent to this
price for them.

In the time of Edward IV. the art of knitting stockings was probably
not known in any part of Europe. Their hose were made of common cloth,
which may have been one of the causes of their dearness. The first
person that wore stockings in England is said to have been Queen
Elizabeth. She received them as a present from the Spanish ambassador.

Both in the coarse and in the fine woollen manufacture, the machinery
employed was much more imperfect in those ancient, than it is in the
present times. It has since received three very capital improvements,
besides, probably, many smaller ones, of which it may be difficult to
ascertain either the number or the importance. The three capital
improvements are, first, the exchange of the rock and spindle for the
spinning-wheel, which, with the same quantity of labour, will perform
more than double the quantity of work. Secondly, the use of several
very ingenious machines, which facilitate and abridge, in a still
greater proportion, the winding of the worsted and woollen yarn, or
the proper arrangement of the warp and woof before they are put into
the loom; an operation which, previous to the invention of those
machines, must have been extremely tedious and troublesome. Thirdly,
the employment of the fulling-mill for thickening the cloth, instead
of treading it in water. Neither wind nor water mills of any kind were
known in England so early as the beginning of the sixteenth century,
nor, so far as I know, in any other part of Europe north of the Alps.
They had been introduced into Italy some time before.

The consideration of these circumstances may, perhaps, in some
measure, explain to us why the real price both of the coarse and of
the fine manufacture was so much higher in those ancient than it is in
the present times. It cost a greater quantity of labour to bring the
goods to market. When they were brought thither, therefore, they must
have purchased, or exchanged for the price of, a greater quantity.

The coarse manufacture probably was, in those ancient times, carried
on in England in the same manner as it always has been in countries
where arts and manufactures are in their infancy. It was probably a
household manufacture, in which every different part of the work was
occasionally performed by all the different members of almost every
private family, but so as to be their work only when they had nothing
else to do, and not to be the principal business from which any of
them derived the greater part of their subsistence. The work which is
performed in this manner, it has already been observed, comes always
much cheaper to market than that which is the principal or sole fund
of the workman's subsistence. The fine manufacture, on the other hand,
was not, in those times, carried on in England, but in the rich and
commercial country of Flanders; and it was probably conducted then, in
the same manner as now, by people who derived the whole, or the
principal part of their subsistence from it. It was, besides, a
foreign manufacture, and must have paid some duty, the ancient custom
of tonnage and poundage at least, to the king. This duty, indeed,
would not probably be very great. It was not then the policy of Europe
to restrain, by high duties, the importation of foreign manufactures,
but rather to encourage it, in order that merchants might be enabled
to supply, at as easy a rate as possible, the great men with the
conveniencies and luxuries which they wanted, and which the industry
of their own country could not afford them.

The consideration of these circumstances may, perhaps, in some measure
explain to us why, in those ancient times, the real price of the
coarse manufacture was, in proportion to that of the fine, so much
lower than in the present times.

Conclusion of the Chapter.

I shall conclude this very long chapter with observing, that every
improvement in the circumstances of the society tends, either directly
or indirectly, to raise the real rent of land to increase the real
wealth of the landlord, his power of purchasing the labour, or the
produce of the labour of other people.

The extension of improvement and cultivation tends to raise it
directly. The landlord's share of the produce necessarily increases
with the increase of the produce.

That rise in the real price of those parts of the rude produce of
land, which is first the effect of the extended improvement and
cultivation, and afterwards the cause of their being still further
extended, the rise in the price of cattle, for example, tends, too, to
raise the rent of land directly, and in a still greater proportion.
The real value of the landlord's share, his real command of the labour
of other people, not only rises with the real value of the produce,
but the proportion of his share to the whole produce rises with it.

That produce, after the rise in its real price, requires no more
labour to collect it than before. A smaller proportion of it will,
therefore, be sufficient to replace, with the ordinary profit, the
stock which employs that labour. A greater proportion of it must
consequently belong to the landlord.

All those improvements in the productive powers of labour, which tend
directly to reduce the rent price of manufactures, tend indirectly to
raise the real rent of land. The landlord exchanges that part of his
rude produce, which is over and above his own consumption, or, what
comes to the same thing, the price of that part of it, for
manufactured produce. Whatever reduces the real price of the latter,
raises that of the former. An equal quantity of the former becomes
thereby equivalent to a greater quantity of the latter; and the
landlord is enabled to purchase a greater quantity of the
conveniencies, ornaments, or luxuries which he has occasion for.

Every increase in the real wealth of the society, every increase in
the quantity of useful labour employed within it, tends indirectly to
raise the real rent of land. A certain proportion of this labour
naturally goes to the land. A greater number of men and cattle are
employed in its cultivation, the produce increases with the increase
of the stock which is thus employed in raising it, and the rent
increases with the produce.

The contrary circumstances, the neglect of cultivation and
improvement, the fall in the real price of any part of the rude
produce of land, the rise in the real price of manufactures from the
decay of manufacturing art and industry, the declension of the real
wealth of the society, all tend, on the other hand, to lower the real
rent of land, to reduce the real wealth of the landlord, to diminish
his power of purchasing either the labour, or the produce of the
labour, of other people.

The whole annual produce of the land and labour of every country, or,
what comes to the same thing, the whole price of that annual produce,
naturally divides itself, it has already been observed, into three
parts; the rent of land, the wages of labour, and the profits of
stock; and constitutes a revenue to three different orders of people;
to those who live by rent, to those who live by wages, and to those
who live by profit. These are the three great, original, and
constituent, orders of every civilized society, from whose revenue
that of every other order is ultimately derived.

The interest of the first of those three great orders, it appears from
what has been just now said, is strictly and inseparably connected
with the general interest of the society. Whatever either promotes or
obstructs the one, necessarily promotes or obstructs the other. When
the public deliberates concerning any regulation of commerce or
police, the proprietors of land never can mislead it, with a view to
promote the interest of their own particular order; at least, if they
have any tolerable knowledge of that interest. They are, indeed, too
often defective in this tolerable knowledge. They are the only one of
the three orders whose revenue costs them neither labour nor care, but
comes to them, as it were, of its own accord, and independent of any
plan or project of their own. That indolence which is the natural
effect of the ease and security of their situation, renders them too
often, not only ignorant, but incapable of that application of mind,
which is necessary in order to foresee and understand the consequence
of any public regulation.

The interest of the second order, that of those who live by wages, is
as strictly connected with the interest of the society as that of the
first. The wages of the labourer, it has already been shewn, are never
so high as when the demand for labour is continually rising, or when
the quantity employed is every year increasing considerably. When this
real wealth of the society becomes stationary, his wages are soon
reduced to what is barely enough to enable him to bring up a family,
or to continue the race of labourers. When the society declines, they
fall even below this. The order of proprietors may perhaps gain more
by the prosperity of the society than that of labourers; but there is
no order that suffers so cruelly from its decline. But though the
interest of the labourer is strictly connected with that of the
society, he is incapable either of comprehending that interest, or of
understanding its connexion with his own. His condition leaves him no
time to receive the necessary information, and his education and
habits are commonly such as to render him unfit to judge, even though
he was fully informed. In the public deliberations, therefore, his
voice is little heard, and less regarded; except upon particular
occasions, when his clamour is animated, set on, and supported by his
employers, not for his, but their own particular purposes.

His employers constitute the third order, that of those who live by
profit. It is the stock that is employed for the sake of profit, which
puts into motion the greater part of the useful labour of every
society. The plans and projects of the employers of stock regulate and
direct all the most important operation of labour, and profit is the
end proposed by all those plans and projects. But the rate of profit
does not, like rent and wages, rise with the prosperity, and fall with
the declension of the society. On the contrary, it is naturally low in
rich, and high in poor countries, and it is always highest in the
countries which are going fastest to ruin. The interest of this third
order, therefore, has not the same connexion with the general interest
of the society, as that of the other two. Merchants and master
manufacturers are, in this order, the two classes of people who
commonly employ the largest capitals, and who by their wealth draw to
themselves the greatest share of the public consideration. As during
their whole lives they are engaged in plans and projects, they have
frequently more acuteness of understanding than the greater part of
country gentlemen. As their thoughts, however, are commonly exercised
rather about the interest of their own particular branch of business.
than about that of the society, their judgment, even when given with
the greatest candour (which it has not been upon every occasion), is
much more to be depended upon with regard to the former of those two
objects, than with regard to the latter. Their superiority over the
country gentleman is, not so much in their knowledge of the public
interest, as in their having a better knowledge of their own interest
than he has of his. It is by this superior knowledge of their own
interest that they have frequently imposed upon his generosity, and
persuaded him to give up both his own interest and that of the public,
from a very simple but honest conviction, that their interest, and not
his, was the interest of the public. The interest of the dealers,
however, in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always
in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the
public. To widen the market, and to narrow the competition, is always
the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be
agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but to narrow the
competition must always be against it, and can only serve to enable
the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would
be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of
their fellow-citizens. The proposal of any new law or regulation of
commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to
with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having
been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous,
but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men,
whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who
have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public,
and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and
oppressed it.

# PRICES OF WHEAT

Year Prices/Quarter Average of different Average prices of
in each year prices in one year each year in money
of 1776

£ s d £ s d £ s d
1202 0 12 0 1 16 0
1205 0 12 0
0 13 4 0 13 5 2 0 3
0 15 0
1223 0 12 0 1 16 0
1237 0 3 4 0 10 0
1243 0 2 0 0 6 0
1244 0 2 0 0 6 0
1246 0 16 0 2 8 0
1247 0 13 5 2 0 0
1257 1 4 0 3 12 0
1258 1 0 0
0 15 0 0 17 0 2 11 0
0 16 0
1270 4 16 0
6 8 0 5 12 0 16 16 0
1286 0 2 8
0 16 0 0 9 4 1 8 0
Total 35 9 3
Average 2 19 1¼

1287 0 3 4 0 10 0
1288 0 0 8
0 1 0
0 1 4
0 1 6
0 1 8 0 3 0¼ 0 9 1¾
0 2 0
0 3 4
0 9 4
1289 0 12 0
0 6 0
0 2 0 0 10 1½ 1 10 4½
0 10 8
1 0 0
1290 0 16 0 2 8 0
1294 0 16 0 2 8 0
1302 0 4 0 0 12 0
1309 0 7 2 1 1 6
1315 1 0 0 3 0 0
1316 1 0 0
1 10 0 1 10 6 4 11 6
1 12 0
2 0 0
1317 2 4 0
0 14 0
2 13 0 1 19 6 5 18 6
4 0 0
0 6 8
1336 0 2 0 0 6 0
1338 0 3 4 0 10 0
Total 23 4 11¼
Average 1 18 8

1339 0 9 0 1 7 0
1349 0 2 0 0 5 2
1359 1 6 8 3 2 2
1361 0 2 0 0 4 8
1363 0 15 0 1 15 0
1369 1 0 0
1 4 0 1 2 0 2 9 4
1379 0 4 0 0 9 4
1387 0 2 0 0 4 8
1390 0 13 4
0 14 0 0 14 5 1 13 7
0 16 0
1401 0 16 0 1 17 6
1407 0 4 4¾
0 3 4 0 3 10 0 8 10
1416 0 16 0 1 12 0
Total 15 9 4
Average 1 5 9½

1423 0 8 0 0
1425 0 4 0 0
1434 1 6 8 4
1435 0 5 4 8
1439 1 0 0
1 6 8 1 3 4 2 6 8
1440 1 4 0 2 8 0
1444 0 4 4 0 4 2 0 4 8
0 4 0
1445 0 4 6 0 9 0
1447 0 8 0 0 16 0
1448 0 6 8 0 13 4
1449 0 5 0 0 10 0
1451 0 8 0 0 16 0
Total 12 15 4
Average 1 1 3¹/³

1453 0 5 4 0 10 8
1455 0 1 2 0 2 4
1457 0 7 8 1 15 4
1459 0 5 0 0 10 0
1460 0 8 0 0 16 0
1463 0 2 0 0 1 10 0 3 8
0 1 8
1464 0 6 8 0 10 0
1486 1 4 0 1 17 0
1491 0 14 8 1 2 0
1494 0 4 0 0 6 0
1495 0 3 4 0 5 0
1497 1 0 0 1 11 0
Total 8 9 0
Average 0 14 1

1499 0 4 0 0 6 0
1504 0 5 8 0 8 6
1521 1 0 0 1 10 0
1551 0 8 0 0 8 0
1553 0 8 0 0 8 0
1554 0 8 0 0 8 0
1555 0 8 0 0 8 0
1556 0 8 0 0 8 0
1557 0 8 0
0 4 0 0 17 8½ 0 17 8½
0 5 0
2 13 4
1558 0 8 0 0 8 0
1559 0 8 0 0 8 0
1560 0 8 0 0 8 0
Total 6 0 2½
Average 0 10 0½

1561 0 8 0 0 8 0
1562 0 8 0 0 8 0
1574 2 16 0
1 4 0 2 0 0 2 0 0
1587 3 4 0 3 4 0
1594 2 16 0 2 16 0
1595 2 13 0 2 13 0
1596 4 0 0 4 0 0
1597 5 4 0
4 0 0 4 12 0 4 12 0
1598 2 16 8 2 16 8
1599 1 19 2 1 19 8
1600 1 17 8 1 17 8
1601 1 14 10 1 14 10
Total 28 9 4
Average 2 7 5½

PRICES OF THE QUARTER OF NINE BUSHELS OF THE BEST OR HIGHEST
PRICED WHEAT AT WINDSOR MARKET, ON LADY DAY AND MICHAELMAS,
FROM 1595 TO 1764 BOTH INCLUSIVE; THE PRICE OF EACH YEAR
BEING THE MEDIUM BETWEEN THE HIGHEST PRICES OF THESE TWO
MARKET DAYS.

£ s d
1595 2 0 0
1596 2 8 0
1597 3 9 6
1598 2 16 8
1599 1 19 2
1600 1 17 8
1601 1 14 10
1602 1 9 4
1603 1 15 4
1604 1 10 8
1605 1 15 10
1606 1 13 0
1607 1 16 8
1608 2 16 8
1609 2 10 0
1610 1 15 10
1611 1 18 8
1612 2 2 4
1613 2 8 8
1614 2 1 8½
1615 1 18 8
1616 2 0 4
1617 2 8 8
1618 2 6 8
1619 1 15 4
1620 1 10 4
26)54 0 6½
Average 2 1 6¾

1621 1 10 4
1622 2 18 8
1623 2 12 0
1624 2 8 0
1625 2 12 0
1626 2 9 4
1627 1 16 0
1628 1 8 0
1629 2 2 0
1630 2 15 8
1631 3 8 0
1632 2 13 4
1633 2 18 0
1634 2 16 0
1635 2 16 0
1636 2 16 8
16)40 0 0
Average 2 10 0

1637 2 13 0
1638 2 17 4
1639 2 4 10
1640 2 4 8
1641 2 8 0
1646 2 8 0
1647 3 13 0
1648 4 5 0
1649 4 0 0
1650 3 16 8
1651 3 13 4
1652 2 9 6
1653 1 15 6
1654 1 6 0
1655 1 13 4
1656 2 3 0
1657 2 6 8
1658 3 5 0
1659 3 6 0
1660 2 16 6
1661 3 10 0
1662 3 14 0
1663 2 17 0
1664 2 0 6
1665 2 9 4
1666 1 16 0
1667 1 16 0
1668 2 0 0
1669 2 4 4
1670 2 1 8
1671 2 2 0
1672 2 1 0
1673 2 6 8
1674 3 8 8
1675 3 4 8
1676 1 18 0
1677 2 2 0
1678 2 19 0
1679 3 0 0
1680 2 5 0
1681 2 6 8
1682 2 4 0
1683 2 0 0
1684 2 4 0
1685 2 6 8
1686 1 14 0
1687 1 5 2
1688 2 6 0
1689 1 10 0
1690 1 14 8
1691 1 14 0
1692 2 6 8
1693 3 7 8
1694 3 4 0
1695 2 13 0
1696 3 11 0
1697 3 0 0
1698 3 8 4
1699 3 4 0
1700 2 0 0
60) 153 1 8
Average 2 11 0¹/³

1701 1 17 8
1702 1 9 6
1703 1 16 0
1704 2 6 6
1705 1 10 0
1706 1 6 0
1707 1 8 6
1708 2 1 6
1709 3 18 6
1710 3 18 0
1711 2 14 0
1712 2 6 4
1713 2 11 0
1714 2 10 4
1715 2 3 0
1716 2 8 0
1717 2 5 8
1718 1 18 10
1719 1 15 0
1720 1 17 0
1721 1 17 6
1722 1 16 0
1723 1 14 8
1724 1 17 0
1725 2 8 6
1726 2 6 0
1727 2 2 0
1728 2 14 6
1729 2 6 10
1730 1 16 6
1731 1 12 10 1 12 10
1732 1 6 8 1 6 8
1733 1 8 4 1 8 4
1734 1 18 10 1 18 10
1735 2 3 0 2 3 0
1736 2 0 4 2 0 4
1737 1 18 0 1 18 0
1738 1 15 6 1 15 6
1739 1 18 6 1 18 6
1740 2 10 8 2 10 8
10) 18 12 8
1 17 3½

1741 2 6 8 2 6 8
1742 1 14 0 1 14 0
1743 1 4 10 1 4 10
1744 1 4 10 1 4 10
1745 1 7 6 1 7 6
1746 1 19 0 1 19 0
1747 1 14 10 1 14 10
1748 1 17 0 1 17 0
1749 1 17 0 1 17 0
1750 1 12 6 1 12 6
10) 16 18 2
1 13 9¾

1751 1 18 6

Book of the day: