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otherwise would be in the actual state of tillage; yet, as in the
course of this century, the bounty has had full time to produce all
the good effects commonly imputed to it to encourage tillage, and
thereby to increase the quantity of corn in the home market, it may,
upon the principles of a system which I shall explain and examine
hereafter, be supposed to have done something to lower the price of
that commodity the one way, as well as to raise it the other. It is by
many people supposed to have done more. In the sixty-four years of the
present century, accordingly, the average price of the quarter of nine
bushels of the best wheat, at Windsor market, appears, by the accounts
of Eton college, to have been 2:0:6 10/32, which is about ten
shillings and sixpence, or more than five-and-twenty percent. cheaper
than it had been during the sixty-four last years of the last century;
and about nine shillings and sixpence cheaper than it had been during
the sixteen years preceding 1636, when the discovery of the abundant
mines of America may be supposed to have produced its full effect; and
about one shilling cheaper than it had been in the twenty-six years
preceding 1620, before that discovery can well be supposed to have
produced its full effect. According to this account, the average price
of middle wheat, during these sixty-four first years of the present
century, comes out to have been about thirty-two shillings the quarter
of eight bushels.

The value of silver, therefore, seems to have risen somewhat in
proportion to that of corn during the course of the present century,
and it had probably begun to do so even some time before the end of
the last.


In 1687, the price of the quarter of nine bushels of the best wheat,
at Windsor market, was 1:5:2, the lowest price at which it had ever
been from 1595.

In 1688, Mr Gregory King, a man famous for his knowledge in matters of
this kind, estimated the average price of wheat, in years of moderate
plenty, to be to the grower 3s. 6d. the bushel, or eight-and-twenty
shillings the quarter. The grower's price I understand to be the same
with what is sometimes called the contract price, or the price at
which a farmer contracts for a certain number of years to deliver a
certain quantity of corn to a dealer. As a contract of this kind saves
the farmer the expense and trouble of marketing, the contract price is
generally lower than what is supposed to be the average market price.
Mr King had judged eight-and-twenty shillings the quarter to be at
that time the ordinary contract price in years of moderate plenty.
Before the scarcity occasioned by the late extraordinary course of bad
seasons, it was, I have been assured, the ordinary contract price in
all common years.

In 1688 was granted the parliamentary bounty upon the exportation of
corn. The country gentlemen, who then composed a still greater
proportion of the legislature than they do at present, had felt that
the money price of corn was falling. The bounty was an expedient to
raise it artificially to the high price at which it had frequently
been sold in the times of Charles I. and II. It was to take place,
therefore, till wheat was so high as fortyeight shillings the quarter;
that is, twenty shillings, or 5-7ths dearer than Mr King had, in that
very year, estimated the grower's price to be in times of moderate
plenty. If his calculations deserve any part of the reputation which
they have obtained very universally, eight-and-forty shillings the
quarter was a price which, without some such expedient as the bounty,
could not at that time be expected, except in years of extraordinary
scarcity. But the government of King William was not then fully
settled. It was in no condition to refuse anything to the country
gentlemen, from whom it was, at that very time, soliciting the first
establishment of the annual land-tax,

The value of silver, therefore, in proportion to that of corn, had
probably risen somewhat before the end of the last century; and it
seems to have continued to do so during the course of the greater part
of the present, though the necessary operation of the bounty must have
hindered that rise from being so sensible as it otherwise would have
been in the actual state of tillage.

In plentiful years, the bounty, by occasioning an extraordinary
exportation, necessarily raises the price of corn above what it
otherwise would be in those years. To encourage tillage, by keeping up
the price of corn, even in the most plentiful years, was the avowed
end of the institution.

In years of great scarcity, indeed, the bounty has generally been
suspended. It must, however, have had some effect upon the prices of
many of those years. By the extraordinary exportation which it
occasions in years of plenty, it must frequently hinder the plenty of
one year from compensating the scarcity of another.

Both in years of plenty and in years of scarcity, therefore, the
bounty raises the price of corn above what it naturally would be in
the actual state of tillage. If during the sixty-four first years of
the present century, therefore, the average price has been lower than
during the sixty-four last years of the last century, it must, in the
same state of tillage, have been much more so, had it not been for
this operation of the bounty.

But, without the bounty, it may be said the state of tillage would not
have been the same. What may have been the effects of this institution
upon the agriculture of the country, I shall endeavour to explain
hereafter, when I come to treat particularly of bounties. I shall only
observe at present, that this rise in the value of silver, in
proportion to that of corn, has not been peculiar to England. It has
been observed to have taken place in France during the same period,
and nearly in the same proportion, too, by three very faithful,
diligent, and laborious collectors of the prices of corn, Mr Dupr de
St Maur, Mr Messance, and the author of the Essay on the Police of
Grain. But in France, till 1764, the exportation of grain was by law
prohibited; and it is somewhat difficult to suppose, that nearly the
same diminution of price which took place in one country,
notwithstanding this prohibition, should, in another, be owing to the
extraordinary encouragement given to exportation.

It would be more proper, perhaps, to consider this variation in the
average money price of corn as the effect rather of some gradual rise
in the real value of silver in the European market, than of any fall
in the real average value of corn. Corn, it has already been observed,
is, at distant periods of time, a more accurate measure of value than
either silver or, perhaps, any other commodity. When, after the
discovery of the abundant mines of America, corn rose to three and
four times its former money price, this change was universally
ascribed, not to any rise in the real value of corn, but to a fall in
the real value of silver. If, during the sixty-four first years of the
present century, therefore, the average money price of corn has fallen
somewhat below what it had been during the greater part of the last
century, we should, in the same manner, impute this change, not to any
fall in the real value of corn, but to some rise in the real value of
silver in the European market.

The high price of corn during these ten or twelve years past, indeed,
has occasioned a suspicion that the real value of silver still
continues to fall in the European market. This high price of corn,
however, seems evidently to have been the effect of the extraordinary
unfavourableness of the seasons, and ought, therefore, to be regarded,
not as a permanent, but as a transitory and occasional event. The
seasons, for these ten or twelve years past, have been unfavourable
through the greater part of Europe; and the disorders of Poland have
very much increased the scarcity in all those countries, which, in
dear years, used to be supplied from that market. So long a course of
bad seasons, though not a very common event, is by no means a singular
one; and whoever has inquired much into the history of the prices of
corn in former times, will be at no loss to recollect several other
examples of the same kind. Ten years of extraordinary scarcity,
besides, are not more wonderful than ten years of extraordinary
plenty. The low price of corn, from 1741 to 1750, both inclusive, may
very well be set in opposition to its high price during these last
eight or ten years. From 1741 to 1750, the average price of the
quarter of nine bushels of the best wheat, at Windsor market, it
appears from the accounts of Eton college, was only 1:13:9 4/5,
which is nearly 6s.3d. below the average price of the sixty-four first
years of the present century. The average price of the quarter of
eight bushels of middle wheat comes out, according to this account, to
have been, during these ten years, only 1:6:8.

Between 1741 and 1750, however, the bounty must have hindered the
price of corn from falling so low in the home market as it naturally
would have done. During these ten years, the quantity of all sorts of
grain exported, it appears from the custom-house books, amounted to no
less than 8,029,156 quarters, one bushel. The bounty paid for this
amounted to 1,514,962:17:4 1/2. In 1749, accordingly, Mr Pelham, at
that time prime minister, observed to the house of commons, that, for
the three years preceding, a very extraordinary sum had been paid as
bounty for the exportation of corn. He had good reason to make this
observation, and in the following year he might have had still better.
In that single year, the bounty paid amounted to no less than
324,176:10:6. {See Tracts on the Corn Trade, Tract 3,} It is
unnecessary to observe how much this forced exportation must have
raised the price of corn above what it otherwise would have been in
the home market.

At the end of the accounts annexed to this chapter the reader will
find the particular account of those ten years separated from the
rest. He will find there, too, the particular account of the preceding
ten years, of which the average is likewise below, though not so much
below, the general average of the sixty-four first years of the
century. The year 1740, however, was a year of extraordinary scarcity.
These twenty years preceding 1750 may very well be set in opposition
to the twenty preceding 1770. As the former were a good deal below the
general average of the century, notwithstanding the intervention of
one or two dear years; so the latter have been a good deal above it,
notwithstanding the intervention of one or two cheap ones, of 1759,
for example. If the former have not been as much below the general
average as the latter have been above it, we ought probably to impute
it to the bounty. The change has evidently been too sudden to be
ascribed to any change in the value of silver, which is always slow
and gradual. The suddenness of the effect can be accounted for only by
a cause which can operate suddenly, the accidental variations of the
seasons.

The money price of labour in Great Britain has, indeed, risen during
the course of the present century. This, however, seems to be the
effect, not so much of any diminution in the value of silver in the
European market, as of an increase in the demand for labour in Great
Britain, arising from the great, and almost universal prosperity of
the country. In France, a country not altogether so prosperous, the
money price of labour has, since the middle of the last century, been
observed to sink gradually with the average money price of corn. Both
in the last century and in the present, the day wages of common labour
are there said to have been pretty uniformly about the twentieth part
of the average price of the septier of wheat; a measure which contains
a little more than four Winchester bushels. In Great Britain, the real
recompence of labour, it has already been shewn, the real quantities
of the necessaries and conveniencies of life which are given to the
labourer, has increased considerably during the course of the present
century. The rise in its money price seems to have been the effect,
not of any diminution of the value of silver in the general market of
Europe, but of a rise in the real price of labour, in the particular
market of Great Britain, owing to the peculiarly happy circumstances
of the country.

For some time after the first discovery of America, silver would
continue to sell at its former, or not much below its former price.
The profits of mining would for some time be very great, and much
above their natural rate. Those who imported that metal into Europe,
however, would soon find that the whole annual importation could not
be disposed of at this high price. Silver would gradually exchange for
a smaller and a smaller quantity of goods. Its price would sink
gradually lower and lower, till it fell to its natural price; or to
what was just sufficient to pay, according to their natural rates, the
wages of the labour, the profits of the stock, and the rent of the
land, which must be paid in order to bring it from the mine to the
market. In the greater part of the silver mines of Peru, the tax of
the king of Spain, amounting to a tenth of the gross produce, eats up,
it has already been observed, the whole rent of the land. This tax was
originally a half; it soon afterwards fell to a third, then to a
fifth, and at last to a tenth, at which late it still continues. In
the greater part of the silver mines of Peru, this, it seems, is all
that remains, after replacing the stock of the undertaker of the work,
together with its ordinary profits; and it seems to be universally
acknowledged that these profits, which were once very high, are now as
low as they can well be, consistently with carrying on the works.

The tax of the king of Spain was reduced to a fifth of the registered
silver in 1504 {Solorzano, vol, ii.}, one-and-forty years before 1545,
the date of the discovery of the mines of Potosi. In the course of
ninety years, or before 1636, these mines, the most fertile in all
America, had time sufficient to produce their full effect, or to
reduce the value of silver in the European market as low as it could
well fall, while it continued to pay this tax to the king of Spain.
Ninety years is time sufficient to reduce any commodity, of which
there is no monopoly, to its natural price, or to the lowest price at
which, while it pays a particular tax, it can continue to be sold for
any considerable time together.

The price of silver in the European market might, perhaps, have fallen
still lower, and it might have become necessary either to reduce the
tax upon it, not only to one-tenth, as in 1736, but to one twentieth,
in the same manner as that upon gold, or to give up working the
greater part of the American mines which are now wrought. The gradual
increase of the demand for silver, or the gradual enlargement of the
market for the produce of the silver mines of America, is probably the
cause which has prevented this from happening, and which has not only
kept up the value of silver in the European market, but has perhaps
even raised it somewhat higher than it was about the middle of the
last century.

Since the first discovery of America, the market for the produce of
its silver mines has been growing gradually more and more extensive.

First, the market of Europe has become gradually more and more
extensive. Since the discovery of America, the greater part of Europe
has been much improved. England, Holland, France, and Germany; even
Sweden, Denmark, and Russia, have all advanced considerably, both in
agriculture and in manufactures. Italy seems not to have gone
backwards. The fall of Italy preceded the conquest of Peru. Since that
time it seems rather to have recovered a little. Spain and Portugal,
indeed, are supposed to have gone backwards. Portugal, however, is but
a very small part of Europe, and the declension of Spain is not,
perhaps, so great as is commonly imagined. In the beginning of the
sixteenth century, Spain was a very poor country, even in comparison
with France, which has been so much improved since that time. It was
the well known remark of the emperor Charles V. who had travelled so
frequently through both countries, that every thing abounded in
France, but that every thing was wanting in Spain. The increasing
produce of the agriculture and manufactures of Europe must necessarily
have required a gradual increase in the quantity of silver coin to
circulate it; and the increasing number of wealthy individuals must
have required the like increase in the quantity of their plate and
other ornaments of silver.

Secondly, America is itself a new market, for the produce of its own
silver mines; and as its advances in agriculture, industry, and
population, are much more rapid than those of the most thriving
countries in Europe, its demand must increase much more rapidly. The
English colonies are altogether a new market, which, partly for coin,
and partly for plate, requires a continual augmenting supply of silver
through a great continent where there never was any demand before. The
greater part, too, of the Spanish and Portuguese colonies, are
altogether new markets. New Granada, the Yucatan, Paraguay, and the
Brazils, were, before discovered by the Europeans, inhabited by savage
nations, who had neither arts nor agriculture. A considerable degree
of both has now been introduced into all of them. Even Mexico and
Peru, though they cannot be considered as altogether new markets, are
certainly much more extensive ones than they ever were before. After
all the wonderful tales which have been published concerning the
splendid state of those countries in ancient times, whoever reads,
with any degree of sober judgment, the history of their first
discovery and conquest, will evidently discern that, in arts,
agriculture, and commerce, their inhabitants were much more ignorant
than the Tartars of the Ukraine are at present. Even the Peruvians,
the more civilized nation of the two, though they made use of gold and
silver as ornaments, had no coined money of any kind. Their whole
commerce was carried on by barter, and there was accordingly scarce
any division of labour among them. Those who cultivated the ground,
were obliged to build their own houses, to make their own household
furniture, their own clothes, shoes, and instruments of agriculture.
The few artificers among them are said to have been all maintained by
the sovereign, the nobles, and the priests, and were probably their
servants or slaves. All the ancient arts of Mexico and Peru have never
furnished one single manufacture to Europe. The Spanish armies, though
they scarce ever exceeded five hundred men, and frequently did not
amount to half that number, found almost everywhere great difficulty
in procuring subsistence. The famines which they are said to have
occasioned almost wherever they went, in countries, too, which at the
same time are represented as very populous and well cultivated,
sufficiently demonstrate that the story of this populousness and high
cultivation is in a great measure fabulous. The Spanish colonies are
under a government in many respects less favourable to agriculture,
improvement, and population, than that of the English colonies. They
seem, however, to be advancing in all those much more rapidly than any
country in Europe. In a fertile soil and happy climate, the great
abundance and cheapness of land, a circumstance common to all new
colonies, is, it seems, so great an advantage, as to compensate many
defects in civil government. Frezier, who visited Peru in 1713,
represents Lima as containing between twenty-five and twenty-eight
thousand inhabitants. Ulloa, who resided in the same country between
1740 and 1746, represents it as containing more than fifty thousand.
The difference in their accounts of the populousness of several other
principal towns of Chili and Peru is nearly the same; and as there
seems to be no reason to doubt of the good information of either, it
marks an increase which is scarce inferior to that of the English
colonies. America, therefore, is a new market for the produce of its
own silver mines, of which the demand must increase much more rapidly
than that of the most thriving country in Europe.

Thirdly, the East Indies is another market for the produce of the
silver mines of America, and a market which, from the time of the
first discovery of those mines, has been continually taking off a
greater and a greater quantity of silver. Since that time, the direct
trade between America and the East Indies, which is carried on by
means of the Acapulco ships, has been continually augmenting, and the
indirect intercourse by the way of Europe has been augmenting in a
still greater proportion. During the sixteenth century, the Portuguese
were the only European nation who carried on any regular trade to the
East Indies. In the last years of that century, the Dutch began to
encroach upon this monopoly, and in a few years expelled them from
their principal settlements in India. During the greater part of the
last century, those two nations divided the most considerable part of
the East India trade between them; the trade of the Dutch continually
augmenting in a still greater proportion than that of the Portuguese
declined. The English and French carried on some trade with India in
the last century, but it has been greatly augmented in the course of
the present. The East India trade of the Swedes and Danes began in the
course of the present century. Even the Muscovites now trade regularly
with China, by a sort of caravans which go over land through Siberia
and Tartary to Pekin. The East India trade of all these nations, if we
except that of the French, which the last war had well nigh
annihilated, has been almost continually augmenting. The increasing
consumptions of East India goods in Europe is, it seems, so great, as
to afford a gradual increase of employment to them all. Tea, for
example, was a drug very little used in Europe, before the middle of
the last century. At present, the value of the tea annually imported
by the English East India company, for the use of their own
countrymen, amounts to more than a million and a half a year; and even
this is not enough; a great deal more being constantly smuggled into
the country from the ports of Holland, from Gottenburgh in Sweden, and
from the coast of France, too, as long as the French East India
company was in prosperity. The consumption of the porcelain of China,
of the spiceries of the Moluccas, of the piece goods of Bengal, and of
innumerable other articles, has increased very nearly in a like
proportion. The tonnage, accordingly, of all the European shipping
employed in the East India trade, at any one time during the last
century, was not, perhaps, much greater than that of the English East
India company before the late reduction of their shipping.

But in the East Indies, particularly in China and Indostan, the value
of the precious metals, when the Europeans first began to trade to
those countries, was much higher than in Europe; and it still
continues to be so. In rice countries, which generally yield two,
sometimes three crops in the year, each of them more plentiful than
any common crop of corn, the abundance of food must be much greater
than in any corn country of equal extent. Such countries are
accordingly much more populous. In them, too, the rich, having a
greater superabundance of food to dispose of beyond what they
themselves can consume, have the means of purchasing a much greater
quantity of the labour of other people. The retinue of a grandee in
China or Indostan accordingly is, by all accounts, much more numerous
and splendid than that of the richest subjects in Europe. The same
superabundance of food, of which they have the disposal, enables them
to give a greater quantity of it for all those singular and rare
productions which nature furnishes but in very small quantities; such
as the precious metals and the precious stones, the great objects of
the competition of the rich. Though the mines, therefore, which
supplied the Indian market, had been as abundant as those which
supplied the European, such commodities would naturally exchange for a
greater quantity of food in India than in Europe. But the mines which
supplied the Indian market with the precious metals seem to have been
a good deal less abundant, and those which supplied it with the
precious stones a good deal more so, than the mines which supplied the
European. The precious metals, therefore, would naturally exchange in
India for a somewhat greater quantity of the precious stones, and for
a much greater quantity of food than in Europe. The money price of
diamonds, the greatest of all superfluities, would be somewhat lower,
and that of food, the first of all necessaries, a great deal lower in
the one country than in the other. But the real price of labour, the
real quantity of the necessaries of life which is given to the
labourer, it has already been observed, is lower both in China and
Indostan, the two great markets of India, than it is through the
greater part of Europe. The wages of the labourer will there purchase
a smaller quantity of food: and as the money price of food is much
lower in India than in Europe, the money price of labour is there
lower upon a double account; upon account both of the small quantity
of food which it will purchase, and of the low price of that food. But
in countries of equal art and industry, the money price of the greater
part of manufactures will be in proportion to the money price of
labour; and in manufacturing art and industry, China and Indostan,
though inferior, seem not to be much inferior to any part of Europe.
The money price of the greater part of manufactures, therefore, will
naturally be much lower in those great empires than it is anywhere in
Europe. Through the greater part of Europe, too, the expense of
land-carriage increases very much both the real and nominal price of
most manufactures. It costs more labour, and therefore more money, to
bring first the materials, and afterwards the complete manufacture to
market. In China and Indostan, the extent and variety of inland
navigations save the greater part of this labour, and consequently of
this money, and thereby reduce still lower both the real and the
nominal price of the greater part of their manufactures. Upon all
these accounts, the precious metals are a commodity which it always
has been, and still continues to be, extremely advantageous to carry
from Europe to India. There is scarce any commodity which brings a
better price there; or which, in proportion to the quantity of labour
and commodities which it costs in Europe, will purchase or command a
greater quantity of labour and commodities in India. It is more
advantageous, too, to carry silver thither than gold; because in
China, and the greater part of the other markets of India, the
proportion between fine silver and fine gold is but as ten, or at most
as twelve to one; whereas in Europe it is as fourteen or fifteen to
one. In China, and the greater part of the other markets of India,
ten, or at most twelve ounces of silver, will purchase an ounce of
gold; in Europe, it requires from fourteen to fifteen ounces. In the
cargoes, therefore, of the greater part of European ships which sail
to India, silver has generally been one of the most valuable articles.
It is the most valuable article in the Acapulco ships which sail to
Manilla. The silver of the new continent seems, in this manner, to be
one of the principal commodities by which the commerce between the two
extremities of the old one is carried on; and it is by means of it, in
a great measure, that those distant parts of the world are connected
with one another.

In order to supply so very widely extended a market, the quantity of
silver annually brought from the mines must not only be sufficient to
support that continued increase, both of coin and of plate, which is
required in all thriving countries; but to repair that continual waste
and consumption of silver which takes place in all countries where
that metal is used.

The continual consumption of the precious metals in coin by wearing,
and in plate both by wearing and cleaning, is very sensible; and in
commodities of which the use is so very widely extended, would alone
require a very great annual supply. The consumption of those metals in
some particular manufactures, though it may not perhaps be greater
upon the whole than this gradual consumption, is, however, much more
sensible, as it is much more rapid. In the manufactures of Birmingham
alone, the quantity of gold and silver annually employed in gilding
and plating, and thereby disqualified from ever afterwards appearing
in the shape of those metals, is said to amount to more than fifty
thousand pounds sterling. We may from thence form some notion how
great must be the annual consumption in all the different parts of the
world, either in manufactures of the same kind with those of
Birmingham, or in laces, embroideries, gold and silver stuffs, the
gilding of books, furniture, etc. A considerable quantity, too, must
be annually lost in transporting those metals from one place to
another both by sea and by land. In the greater part of the
governments of Asia, besides, the almost universal custom of
concealing treasures in the bowels of the earth, of which the
knowledge frequently dies with the person who makes the concealment,
must occasion the loss of a still greater quantity.

The quantity of gold and silver imported at both Cadiz and Lisbon
(including not only what comes under register, but what may be
supposed to be smuggled) amounts, according to the best accounts, to
about six millions sterling a-year.

According to Mr Meggens {Postscript to the Universal Merchant p. 15
and 16. This postscript was not printed till 1756, three years after
the publication of the book, which has never had a second edition. The
postscript is, therefore, to be found in few copies; it corrects
several errors in the book.}, the annual importation of the precious
metals into Spain, at an average of six years, viz. from 1748 to 1753,
both inclusive, and into Portugal, at an average of seven years, viz.
from 1747 to 1753, both inclusive, amounted in silver to 1,101,107
pounds weight, and in gold to 49,940 pounds weight. The silver, at
sixty two shillings the pound troy, amounts to 3,413,431:10s.
sterling. The gold, at forty-four guineas and a half the pound troy,
amounts to 2,333,446:14s. sterling. Both together amount to
5,746,878:4s. sterling. The account of what was imported under
register, he assures us, is exact. He gives us the detail of the
particular places from which the gold and silver were brought, and of
the particular quantity of each metal, which, according to the
register, each of them afforded. He makes an allowance, too, for the
quantity of each metal which, he supposes, may have been smuggled. The
great experience of this judicious merchant renders his opinion of
considerable weight.

According to the eloquent, and sometimes well-informed, author of the
Philosophical and Political History of the Establishment of the
Europeans in the two Indies, the annual importation of registered gold
and silver into Spain, at an average of eleven years, viz. from 1754
to 1764, both inclusive, amounted to 13,984,185 3/5 piastres of ten
reals. On account of what may have been smuggled, however, the whole
annual importation, he supposes, may have amounted to seventeen
millions of piastres, which, at 4s. 6d. the piastre, is equal to
3,825,000 sterling. He gives the detail, too, of the particular places
from which the gold and silver were brought, and of the particular
quantities of each metal, which according to the register, each of
them afforded. He informs us, too, that if we were to judge of the
quantity of gold annually imported from the Brazils to Lisbon, by the
amount of the tax paid to the king of Portugal, which it seems, is
one-fifth of the standard metal, we might value it at eighteen
millions of cruzadoes, or forty-five millions of French livres, equal
to about twenty millions sterling. On account of what may have been
smuggled, however, we may safely, he says, add to this sum an eighth
more, or 250,000 sterling, so that the whole will amount to
2,250,000 sterling. According to this account, therefore, the whole
annual importation of the precious metals into both Spain and
Portugal, mounts to about 6,075,000 sterling.

Several other very well authenticated, though manuscript accounts, I
have been assured, agree in making this whole annual importation
amount, at an average, to about six millions sterling; sometimes a
little more, sometimes a little less.

The annual importation of the precious metals into Cadiz and Lisbon,
indeed, is not equal to the whole annual produce of the mines of
America. Some part is sent annually by the Acapulco ships to Manilla;
some part is employed in a contraband trade, which the Spanish
colonies carry on with those of other European nations; and some part,
no doubt, remains in the country. The mines of America, besides, are
by no means the only gold and silver mines in the world. They, are,
however, by far the most abundant. The produce of all the other mines
which are known is insignificant, it is acknowledged, in comparison
with their's; and the far greater part of their produce, it is
likewise acknowledged, is annually imported into Cadiz and Lisbon. But
the consumption of Birmingham alone, at the rate of fifty thousand
pounds a-year, is equal to the hundred-and-twentieth part of this
annual importation, at the rate of six millions a-year. The whole
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

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