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the luxury which accompanies it increase, the c H A P.
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 fame, or nearly the fame, while the competir tion to purchase them is continually increasing, their price may rife to any degree of extravagance, and seems not to be limited by any certain boundary. If woodcocks should become so fashionable as to fell 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 sishes, 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 some time 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 eight-pence sterling, the peck; and this had probably been reckoned the moderate and reasonable, that is, the ordinary or average contract price of thole times; it is equal to about one-and-twenty shilbngs the quarter. Eightand-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 fells 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 fame quantity of labour and commodities which four ounces will do at present. When we read in PUny, therefore, that Seius * bought a white nightingale, as a present for the Empress Agrippina, at the price of six thousand sestertii, equal to about sifty pounds of our present money; and that Asinius Celer t purchased a surmullet at the price of eight thousand sestertii, equal to about sixty-six pounds thirteen shillings and four-pence 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 f-han their nominal price is apt to express to us
* Lib.x. c.39. f Lib.ix. c. tjx
in the present times. Seius gave for the nightin- Chap. gale the command of a quantity of labour and H; subsistence equal to what 66/. 135. ^d. would purchase in the present times; and Asinius Celer gave for the surmullet the command of a quantity equal to what 88/. 175. 9-J-6?., 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 fame quantity of labour and subsistence would have procured to them in the present times.
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 prositable produce. During a long period in the progress of improvement, the quantity of these is continually diminishing, while at the fame 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
z 4 high
high as to render them as prositable 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 prositable 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 thecountiy naturally produces without labour or cultivation, and by increasing the number of those who have either corn, or, what comes to the fame thing, the price of corn, to give in exchange for it, increases the demand. The price of butcher's-meat, therefore, and confequentiy of cattle, must gradually rife till it gets so high, that it becomes as prositable 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 Scot. land before the union. Had the Scotch cattle
been been always consined to the market of Scotland, Chap. in a country in which the quantity of land, which . x*' 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 sb high as to render it prositable to cultivate land for the fake 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 to it through the greater part of the remoter counties; in some of which, perhaps, it may scarce yet have got to it. Of all the difterent substances, however, which compose this second sort of rude produce, cattle is, perhaps, that of which the price, in the progress of improvement, fu st rises to this height.
Till the price of cattle, indeed, has got to this height, it seems scarce poffible 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