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I shall endeavour to explain, as fully and CHAP. diftinctly as I can, those three subjects in the
IV. three following chapters, for which I must very earnestly entreat both the patience and attention of the reader : his patience in order to examine a detail which may perhaps in some places appear unnecessarily tedious, and his attention in order to understand what may, perhaps, after the fullest explication which I am capable of giving of it, appear still in some degree obfcure. I am always willing to run some hazard of being tedious in order to be sure that I am perspicuous ; and after taking the utmost pains that I can to be perspicuous, fome obscurity may still
appear to remain upon a subject in its own nature extremely abstracted,
of their Price in Labour, and their Price in
E the degree in which he can afford to enjoy
the necessaries, conveniencies, and amusements of human life. But after the division of labour has once thoroughly taken place, it is but a very small part of these with which a man's own labour can supply him. The far greater part of them he must derive from the labour of other
BOOK people, and he must be rich or poor according
to the quantity of that labour which he can command, or which he can afford to purchase. The value of any commodity, therefore, to the person who poffeffes it, and who means not to use or consume it himself, but to exchange it for other commodities, is equal to the quantity of labour which it enables him to purchase or command. Labour, therefore, is the real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities.
The real price of every thing, what every thing really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it. What every thing is really worth to the man who has acquired it, and who wants to dispose of it or exchange it for something else, is the toil and trouble which it can save to himself, and which it can impofe upon other people. What is bought with money or with goods is purchased by labour, as much as what we acquire by the toil of our own body. That money or those goods indeed save us this toil. They contain the value of a certain quantity of labour which we exchange for what is supposed at the time to contain the value of an equal quantity. Labour was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by filver, but by labour, that all the wealth of the world was originally purchased; ‘and its value, to those who possess it, and who want to exchange it for some new productions, is precisely equal to the quantity of labour which it can enable them to purchase or comniand,
Wealth, as Mr. Hobbes fays, is power.
V. the person who either acquires, or succeeds to a great fortune, does not neceffarily acquire or fucceed to any political power, either civil or military. His fortune may, perhaps, afford him the means of acquiring both, but the mere poffeffion of that fortune does not necessarily convey to him either. The power which that poffeffion immediately and directly conveys to him, is the power of purchasing; a certain command over all the labour, or over all the produce of labour which is then in the market. His for. tune is greater or lefs, precisely in proportion to the extent of this power; or to the quantity either of other men's labour, or, what is the fame thing, of the produce of other men's labour, which it enables him to purchase or command. The exchangeable value of every thing must always be precisely equal to the extent of this power which it conveys to its owner.
But though labour be the real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities, it is not that by which their value is commonly estimated. It is often difficult to ascertain the proportion between two different quantities of labour. The time spent in two different forts of work will not always alone determine this proportion. The different degrees of hardship endured, and of ingenuity exercised, must likewise be taken into account.
There may be more labour in an hour's hard work than in two hours easy business; or in an hour's application to a trade which it cost ten years labour to learn,
BOO K than in a month's industry at an ordinary and
obvious employment. But it is not easy to find any accurate measure either of hardship or ingenuity. In exchanging indeed the different productions of different sorts of labour for one another, some allowance is commonly made for both. It is adjusted, however, not by any accurate measure, but by the higgling and bargaining of the market, according to that fort of rough equality which, though not exact, is sufficient for carrying on the business of common life.
Every commodity besides, is more frequently exchanged for, and thereby compared with, other commodities than with labour. It is more natural therefore, to estimate its exchangeable value by the quantity of some other commodity than by that of the labour which it can purchase. The greater part of people too understand bet. ter what is meant by a quantity of a particular commodity, than by a quantity of labour. The one is a plain palpable object; the other an abstract notion, which, though it can be made fufficiently intelligible, is not altogether fo natural and obvious.
But when barter ceases, and money has become the common instrument of commerce, every particular commodity is more frequently exchanged for money than for any other commodity. The butcher seldom carries his beef or his mutton to the baker, or the brewer, in order to exchange them for bread or for beer; but he carries them to the market, where he exchanges them for money, and afterwards exchanges that
money for bread and for beer. The quantity C HA P. of
money which he gets for them regulates too the quantity of bread and beer which he can afterwards purchase. It is more natural and obvious to him, therefore, to estimate their value by the quantity of money, the commodity for which he immediately exchanges them, than by that of bread and beer, the commodities for which he can exchange them only by the intervention of another commodity; and rather to say that his butcher's meat is worth threepence or fourpence a pound, than that it is worth three or four pounds of bread, or three or four quarts of small beer. Hence it comes to pass, that the exchangeable value of every commodity is more frequently estimated by the quantity of money, than by the quantity either of labour or of
any other commodity which can be had in exchange for it.
Gold and silver, however, like every other commodity, vary in their value, are sometimes cheaper and sometimes dearer, sometimes of easier and fometimes of more difficult purchase. The quantity of labour which any particular quantity of them can purchase or command, or the quantity of other goods which it will exchange for, depends always upon the fertility or barrenness of the mines which happen to be known about the time when such exchanges are made. The discovery of the abundant mines of America reduced, in the fixteenth century, the value of gold and filver in Europe to about a third of what it had been before. As it costs less labour