BOO K imposed upon the coinage, and the French coin, 1.

when exported, is said to return home again of its own accord.

The occasional fluctuations in the market price of gold and silver bullion arise from the same causes as the like fluctuations in that of all other commodities. The frequent loss of those metals from various accidents by sea and by land, the continual waste of them in gilding and plating, in lace and embroidery, in the wear and tear of coin, and in that of plate; require, in all countries which poffefs no mines of their own, a continual importation, in order to repair this lofs and this waste. The merchant importers, like all other merchants, we may believe, endeavour, as well as they can, to suit their occasional im. portations to what, they judge, is likely to be the immediate demand. With all their attention, however, they sometimes over-do the business, and sometimes under-do it. When they import more bullion than is wanted, rather than incur the risk and trouble of exporting it again, they are sometimes willing to sell a part of it for something less than the ordinary or average price. When, on the other hand, they import less than is wanted, they get something more than this price. But when, under all those occasional fluctuations, the market price either of gold or silver bullion continues for several years together steadily and constantly, either more or less above, or more or less below the mint price: we may be assured that this steady and constant, either fuperiority or inferiority of price, is the



effect of something in the state of the coin, CHAP.
which, at that time, renders a certain quantity of V.,
coin either of more value or of less value than
the precise quantity of bullion which it ought to
.contain. The constancy and steadiness of the
effect, fuppofes a proportionable constancy and
steadiness in the cause.

The money of any particular country is, at any particular time and place, more or less an accurate measure of value according as the cur. rent coin is more or less exactly agreeable to its standard, or contains more or less exactly the precise quantity of pure gold or pure silver which it ought to contain. If in England, for exam. ple, forty-four guineas and a half contained exactly a pound weight of standard gold, or eleven ounces of fine gold and one ounce of alloy, the gold coin of England would be as accurate a measure of the actual value of goods at any par. ticular time and place as the nature of the thing would admit. But if, by rubbing and wearing, forty-four guineas and a half generally contain less than a pound weight of standard gold ; the diminution, however, being greater in some pieces than in others; the measure of value comes to be liable to the same fort of uncertainty to which all other weights and measures are com. monly exposed. As it rarely happens that these are exactly agreeable to their standard, the mer, chant adjusts the price of his goods, as well as he can, not to what those weights and measures ought to be, but to what, upon an average, he finds by experience they actually are. In conse


F 3

AND NOMINAL PRICE, &c. BOOK quence of a like disorder in the coin, the price of 1.

goods comes, in the same manner, to be ad. justed, not to the quantity of pure gold or silver which the coin ought to contain, but to that which, upon an average, it is found by experience it actually does contain,

By the money-price of goods, it is to be observed, I understand always the quantity of pure gold or silver for which they are sold, without any regard to the denomination of the coin. Six shillings and eight-pence, for example, in the time of Edward I., I consider as the same mo. ney-price with a pound sterling in the present times ; because it contained, as nearly as we can judge, the same quantity of pure silver.

Of the component Parts of the Price of Commodities.

CHA P. IN that early and rude state of society which VI.

I precedes both the accumulation of stock and the appropriation of land, the proportion between the quantities of labour necessary for acquiring different objects seems to be the only circumstance which can afford any rule for exchanging them for one another. If among a nation of hunters, for example, it usually costs twice the labour to kill a beaver which it does to kill a deer, one beaver should naturally ex.


[ocr errors]

PARTS, &c. change for or be worth two deer. It is natural CH A P. that what is usually the produce of two days or two hours labour, should be worth double of what is usually the produce of one day's or one hour's labour.

If the one fpecies of labour should be more fevere than the other, some allowance will natu. rally be made for this superior hardship; and the produce of one hour's labour in the one way may frequently exchange for that of two hours labour in the other.

Or if the one species of labour requires an uncommon degree of dexterity and ingenuity, the esteem which men have for such talents, will naturally give a value to their produce, superior to what would be due to the time employed about it. Such talents can seldom be acquired but in consequence of long application, and the superior value of their produce may frequently be no more than a reasonable compensation for the time and labour which must be spent in ac. quiring them. In the advanced state of society, allowances of this kind, for fuperior hardship and superior skill, are commonly made in the wages of labour ; and something of the same kind must probably have taken placein its earliest and rudest period.

In this state of things, the whole produce of labour belongs to the labourer; and the quantity of labour commonly employed in acquiring or producing any commodity, is the only circumAtance which can regulate the quantity of la, F 4


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

BOO K bour which it ought commonly to purchase, comb , mand, or exchange for.

As soon as stock has accumulated in the hands of particular persons, some of them will naturally employ it in setting to work industrious people, whom they will supply with materials and subfistence, in order to make a profit by the sale of their work, or by what their labour adds to the value of the materials. In exchanging the complete manufacture either for money, for labour, or for other goods, over and above what may be sufficient to pay the price of the materials, and the wages of the workmen, something must be given for the profits of the undertaker of the work who hazards his stock in this adventure. The value which the workmen add to the materials, therefore, refolves itself in this case into two parts, of which the one pays their wages, the other the profits of their employer upon the whole stock of materials and wages which he advanced. He could have no interest to employ them, unless he expected from the sale of their work fomething more than what was sufficient to replace his stock to him; and he could have no interest to employ a great stock rather than a small one, unless his profits were to bear some proportion to the extent of his stock.

The profits of stock, it may perhaps be thought, are only a diferent name for the wages of a particular fort of labour, the labour of infpection and direction. They are, however, altogether different, are regulated by quite differ


« ForrigeFortsett »