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BOOK In some very rich and commercial countries, 1.
such as Holland and the territory of Genoa, corn is dear for the fame reafon that it is dear in great towns. They do not produce enough to maintain their inhabitants. They are rich in the industry and skill of their artificers and manufacturers; in every fort of machinery which can facilitate and abridge labour ; in shipping, and in all the other instruments and means of carriage and commerce : but they are poor in corn, which, as it must be brought to them from diftant countries, must, by an addition to its price, pay for the carriage from those countries. It does not cost less labour to bring silver to Am. sterdam than to Dantzick; but it costs a great deal more to bring corn. The real cost of silver must be nearly the same in both places ; but that of corn must be very different. Diminish the real opulence either of Holland or of the territory of Genoa, while the number of their inhabitants remains the fame : diminish their power of supplying themselves from diftant coun. tries; and the price of corn, instead of sinking with that diminution in the quantity of their filver, which must necessarily accompany this declension either as its cause or as its effect, will rise to the price of a famine. When we are in want of neceffaries we must part with all superfluities, of which the value, as it rises in times of opulence and prosperity, so it finks in times of poverty and distress. It is otherwise with necefsaries. Their real price, the quantity of labour which they can purchase or command, rises in
times of poverty and distress, and sinks in times c HA P. of opulence and prosperity, which are always times of great abundance; for they could not otherwise be times of opulence and prosperity. Corn is a necessary, silver is only a superfluity.
Whatever, therefore, may have been the increase in the quantity of the precious metals, which, during the period between the middle of the fourteenth and that of the sixteenth century, arose from the increase of wealth and improvement, it could have no tendency to diminish their value either in Great Britain, or in any other part of Europe. If those who have collected the prices of things in ancient times, therefore, had, during this period, no reason to infer the diminution of the value of silver, from any observations which they had made upon the prices either of corn or of other commodities, they had still less reason to infer it from any supposed increase of wealth and improvement.
But how various foever may have been the opinions of the learned concerning the progress of the value of silver during this first period, they are unanimous concerning it during the second.
From about 1570 to about 1640, during a period of about seventy years, the variation in the proportion between the value of filver and that of corn, held a quite opposite course. Sil
BO O K ver funk in its real value, or would exchange
for a smaller quantity of labour than before ; and corn rose in its nominal price, and instead of being commonly fold for about two ounces of filver the quarter, or about ten shillings of our present money, came to be fold for fix and eight ounces of silver the quarter, or about thirty and forty shillings of our present money.
The discovery of the abundant mines of America, seems to have been the sole cause of this diminution in the value of filver in proportion to that of corn. It is accounted for accordingly in the same manner by every body; and there never has been any dispute either about the fact, or about the cause of it. The greater part of Europe was, during this period, advancing in industry and improvement, and the demand for filver must consequently have been increasing. But the increase of the supply had, it feems, so far exceeded that of the demand, that the value of that metal funk considerably. The discovery of the mines of America, it is to be observed, does not seem to have had any very sensible effect upon
the prices of things in England till after 1570; though even the mines of Potofi had been discovered more than twenty years before.
From 1595 to 1620, both inclusive, the average price of the quarter of nine bushels of the best wheat at Windfor market, appears from the accounts of Eton College, to have been 2l. 18. 61, d. From which fum, neglecting the fraction, and deducting a ninth, or 45.7d.
the price of the quarter of eight bushels comes CHAP. out to have been 1l. 165. 10 d. And from this sum, neglecting likewise the fraction, and deducting a ninth, or 48. 14d., for the difference between the price of the best wheat and that of the middle wheat, the price of the middle wheat comes out to have been about il. 128. 8 d., or about fix ounces and one-third of an ounce of filver,
From 1621 to 1636, both inclusive, the average price of the same measure of the beft wheat at the fame market, appears, from the same accounts, to have been 21. 1os. ; from which, making the like deductions as in the foregoing case, the average price of the quarter of eight bushels of middle wheat comes out to have been il. 195. 6d., or about seven ounces and twothirds of an ounce of filver.
BETWEEN 1630 and 1640, or about 1636, the effect of the discovery of the mines of America in reducing the value of filver, appears to have been completed, and the value of that metal seems never to have funk lower in proportion to that of corn than it was about that time. It seems to have risen somewhat in the course of the present century, and it had probably begun to do so even some time before the end of the last.
From 1637 to 1700, both inclusive, being the fixty-four last years of the last century, the ave.
BOO K rage price of the quarter of nine bushels of the
best wheat at Windsor market, appears, from the same accounts, to have been 21. 11S. O d.; which is only 15. O d. dearer than it had been during the fixteen years before. But in the course of these fixty-four years there happened two events which must have produced a much greater scarcity of corn than what the course of the seasons would otherwise have occasioned, and which, therefore, without supposing any further reduction in the value of filver, will much more than account for this very small enhancement of price.
The first of these events was the civil war, which, by discouraging tillage and interrupting commerce, must have raised the price of corn much-above what the course of the seafons would otherwise have occasioned. It must have had this effect more or less at all the different markets in the kingdom, but particularly at those in the neighbourhood of London, which require to be supplied from the greatest distance. In 1648, accordingly, the price of the best wlieat at Windfor market, appears, from the same accounts, to have been 41. 58. and in 1649 to have been 4l. the quarter of nine bushels. The excess of those two years above al. 10$. (the average price of the fixteen years preceding 1637) is 31. 55. ; which divided among the fixty-four last years of the last century, will alone very nearly account for that small enhancement of price which seems to have taken place in them. These, however, though the highest, are by no