Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Xi.

fomewhat more than ordinary beauty, and to @ HA P. consider them as juft worth the picking up, but not worth the refusing to any body who asked them. They gave them to their new guests at the first request, without feeming to think that they had made them any very valuable present. They were astonished to observe the rage of the Spaniards to obtain them; and had no notion that there could any-where be a country in which many people had the disposal of so great a su. perfluity of food, fo fcanty always among themselves, that for a very small quantity of those glittering baubles they would willingly give as much as might maintain a whole family for many years. Could they have been made to under. ftand this, the passion of the Spaniards would not have surprised them.

PART III.

Of the Variations in the Proportion between the respective

Values of that Sort of Produce which always affords Rent, and of that which sometimes does and sometimes does not

afford Rent. TH

HE increasing abundance of food, in con

fequence of increasing improvement and cultivation, must neceffarily increase the demand for every part of the produce of land which is not food, and which can be applied either to use or to ornament. In the whole progress of improvement, it might therefore be expeeted, there should be only one variation in the comVOL, II.

parative

T

BO O K parative values of those two different forts of I.

produce. The value of that fort which fometimes does and sometimes does not afford rent, fhould constantly rise in proportion to that which always affords some rent. As art and industry advance, the materials of cloathing and lodging, the useful fossils and minerals of the earth, the precious metals and the precious stones should gradually come to be more and more in demand, should gradually exchange for a greater and a greater quantity of food, or in other words, should gradually become dearer and dearer. This accordingly has been the case with most of these things upon most occasions, and would have been the case with all of them upon all occasions, if particular accidents had not upon fome occasions increased the supply of some of them in a ftill greater proportion than the demand.

The value of a free-stone quarry, for example, will necessarily increase with the increasing improvement and population of the country round about it; especially if it should be the only one in the neighbourhood. But the value of a filver mine, even though there should not be another within a thousand miles of it, will not neceffarily increase with the improvement of the country in which it is situated. The market for the produce of a free-stone quarry can seldom extend more than a few miles round about it, and the demand must generally be in proportion to the improvement and population of that small district. But the market for the produce of a

XI.

filver mine may extend over the whole known C HA P. world. Unless the world in general, therefore, be advancing in improvement and population, the demand for filver might not be at all increased by the improvement even of a large country in the neighbourhood of the mine. Even though the world in general were improvu ing, yet if, in the course of its improvement, new mines should be discovered, much more fertile than any which had been known before, though the demand for silver would necessarily increase, yet the supply might increase in fo much a greater proportion, that the real price of that metal might gradually fall; that is, any given quantity, a pound weight of it, for example, might gradually purchase or command a smaller and a smaller quantity of labour, or exchange for a smaller and a smaller quantity of corn, the principal part of the fubfiftence of the labourer.

The great market for silver is the commercial and civilized part of the world.

If, by the general progress of improvement, the demand of this market should increase, while at the same time the supply did not increase in the same proportion, the value of silver would gradually rise in proportion to that of corn. Any given quantity of filver would exchange for a greater and a greater quantity of corn"; or, in other words, the average money price of corn would gradually become cheaper and cheaper.

If, on the contrary, the supply, by some acci. dent should increase for many years together in a

greater

T 2

I.

BOO K greater proportion than the demand, that metal

would gradually become cheaper and cheaper ; or, in other words, the average money price of corn would, in spite of all improvements, gradually become dearer and dearer.

But if, on the other hand, the supply of the metal should increase nearly in the same proportion as the demand, it would continue to purchase or exchange for nearly the same quantity of corn, and the average money price of corn would, in spite of all improvements, continue very nearly the fame.

These three seem to exhauft all the possible combinations of events which can happen in the progress of improvement; and during the course of the four centuries preceding the present, if we may judge by what has happened both in France and Great Britain, each of thofe three different combinations seem to have taken place in the European market, and nearly in the fame order too in which I have here set them down.

Digreffion concerning the Variations in the Value of Silver

during the Course of the Four last Centuries:

FIRST PERIOD.

IN 1350, and for some time before, the average price of the quarter of wheat in England feems not to have been estimated lower than four ounces of filver, Tower-weight, equal to about twenty shillings of our prefent money. From

XI.

this price it seems to have fallen gradually to C HA P. two ounces of filver, equal to about ten shillings of our present money, the price at which we find it estimated in the beginning of the sixteenth century, and at which it seems to have conti, nued to be estimated till about 1570.

In 1350, being the 25th of Edward III., was enacted what is called, The Statute of Labourers. In the preamble it complains much of the info. lence of servants, who endeavoured to raise their wages upon their masters. It therefore ordains, that all servants and labourers should for the fu, ture be contented with the same wages and liveries (liveries in those times fignified, not only cloaths, but provisions) which they had been accustomed to receive in the 20th year of the King, and the four preceding years ; that upon this account their livery wheat should no-where be estimated higher than ten-pence a bulhel, and that it should always be in the option of the master to deliver them either the wheat or the money. Ten-pence a bushel, therefore, had, in the 25th of Edward III., been reckoned a very moderate price of wheat, fince it required a particular statute to oblige servants to accept of it in exchange for their usual livery of provisions; and it had been reckoned a reasonable price ten years before that, or in the 16th year of the King, the term to which the statute refers. But in the 16th year of Edward III., ten-pence contained about half an ounce of filver, Tower-weight, and was nearly equal to half a crown, of our present money. Four ounces of filver, Tower-weight,

T3

therefore,

« AnteriorContinuar »