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fomewhat more than ordinary beauty, and to CHA P. consider them as juft worth the picking up, but
XI. not worth the refusing to any body who asked them. They gave them to their new guests at the first request, without seeming 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 fo great a fu. perfluity of food, fo fcanty always among them. selves, that for a very finall 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 understand this, the paflion of the Spaniards would not have surprised them.
Of the Variations in the Proportion between the respective
Values of that Sort of Produce which always affords Rent,
fequence of increasing improvement and cultivation, must neceflarily 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 im. provement, it might therefore be expected, there should be only one variation in the com. VOL. II.
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 fupply 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 fpite of all improvements, continue very nearly the same.
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 those 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,
Digression concerning the Variations in the Value of Silver
during the Course of the Four last Centuries.
and for fome time before, the aver. age price of the quarter of wheat in England seems not to have been estimated lower than four ounces of silver, Tower-weight, equal to about twenty fhillings of our present money. From
this price it seems to have fallen gradually to C HA P. two ounces of silver, equal to about ten shillings of our present money, the price at which we find it estimated in the beginning of the fixteenth 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 en. acted what is called, The Statute of Labourers. In the preamble it complains much of the infolence 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 bushel, 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, since it required a par. ticular statute to oblige fèrvants 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 Alver, Tower-weight,
BO O K therefore, equal to fix shillings and eight-pence I.
of the money of those times, and to near twenty shillings of that of the present, must have been reckoned a moderate price for the quarter of eight bushels.
This statute is surely a better evidence of what was reckoned in those times a moderate price of grain, than the prices of some particular years which have generally been recorded by hiftorians and other writers on account of their extraordinary dearness or cheapness, and from which, therefore, it is difficult to form any judgment concerning what may have been the ordinary price. There are, besides, other reasons for believing that in the beginning of the fourteenth century, and for some time before, the common price of wheat was not less than four ounces of filver the quarter, and that of other grain in proportion,
In 1309, Ralph de Born, Prior of St. Auguftine's, Canterbury, gave a feaft upon his installation-day, of which William Thorn has preserved, not only the bill of fare, but the prices of many particulars. In that feast were consumed, ift, Fifty-three quarters of wheat, which cost nineteen pounds, or seven shillings and two-pence a quarter, equal to about one-and-twenty fhillings and fix-pence of our present money; 2dly, Fifty-eight quarters of malt, which coft feventeen pounds ten shillings, or fix shillings a quarter, equal to about eighteen shillings of our present money ; 3dly, Twenty quarters of oats, which cost four pounds, or four shillings a quar
ter, equal to about twelve shillings of our present c HA P. money. The prices of malt and oats seem here to be higher than their ordinary proportion to the price of wheat.
These prices are not recorded on account of their extraordinary dearness or cheapness, but are mentioned accidentally as the prices actually paid for large quantities of grain consumed at a feast which was famous for its magnificence.
In 1262, being the gift of Henry III, was revived an ancient statute called, The Asize of Bread and Ale, which, the King says in the preamble, had been made in the times of his progenitors, sometime kings of England. It is probably, therefore, as old at least as the time of his grandfather Henry II., and may have been as old as the conqueft. It regulates the price of bread according as the prices of wheat may happen to be, from one shilling to twenty shillings the quarter of the money of those times.
of those times. But fta. tutes of this kind are generally presumed to provide with equal care for all deviations from the middle price, for those below it as well as for those above it. Ten shillings, therefore, containing fix ounces of filver, Tower-weight, and equal to about thirty shillings of our present money, must, upon this fuppofition, have been reckoned the middle price of the quarter of wheat when this statute was first enacted, and must have continued to be so in the gift of Henry II). We cannot therefore be very wrong in supposing that the middle price was not less than one-third of the highest price at which this