Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

XI.

that of the English East India Company before CH A P. the late reduction of their shipping.

But in the East Indies, particularly in China and Indoftan, the value of the precious metals, when the Europeans first began to trade to those countries, was much higher than in Europe; and it still continues to be so. In rice countries, which generally yield two, sometimes three crops in the year, each of them more plentiful than any common crop

of corn, the abundance of food must be much greater than in any corn country of equal extent. Such countries are accord. ingly much more populous. In them too the rich, having a greater fuper-abundance of food to dispose of beyond what they themselves can consume, have the means of purchasing a much greater quantity of the labour of other people. The retinue of a grandee in China or Indoftan accordingly is, by all accounts, much more numerous and splendid than that of the richest subjects in Europe. The fame superabundance of food, of which they have the difposal, enables them to give a greater quantity of it for all those fingular and rare productions which nature furnishes but in

very
small

quantities; such as the precious metals and the precious stones, the great objects of the competition of the rich. Though the mines, therefore, which supplied the Indian market had been as abundant as those which supplied the European, such commodities would naturally exchange for a greater quantity of food in India than in Eu. rope. But the mines which supplied the Indian

market

VOL. II.

Y

BOO K market with the precious metals seem to have I.

been a good deal less abundant, and those which supplied it with the precious stones a good deal more so, than the mines which supplied the European The precious metals, therefore, would naturally exchange in India for somewhat a greater quantity of the precious stones, and for a much greater quantity of food than in Europe. The money price of diamonds, the greatest of all superfluities, would be somewhat lower, and that of food, the first of all necessaries, a great deal lower in the one country than in the other. But the real price of labour, the real quantity of the necessaries of life which is given to the labourer, it has already been observed, is lower both in China and Indoftan, the two great markets of India, than it is through the greater part of Europe. The wages of the labourer will there purchase a smaller quantity of food ; and as the money price of food is much lower in India than in Europe, the money price of labour is there lower upon a double account; upon account both of the small quantity of food which it will purchase, and of the low price of that food. But in countries of equal art and industry, the money price of the greater part of manufactures will be in proportion to the money price of labour; and in manufacturing art and industry, China and Indoftan, though inferior, seem not to be much inferior to any part of Europe. The money price of the greater part of manufactures, there. fore, will naturally be much lower in those great empires than it is any-where in Europe. Through

the

XI.

the greater part of Europe too the expence of c H A P. land-carriage increases very much both the real and nominal price of most manufactures. It costs more labour, and therefore more money, to bring first the materials, and afterwards the complete manufacture to market. In China and In: doftan the extent and variety of inland navigations fave the greater part of this labour, and consequently of this money, and thereby reduce still lower both the real and the nominal price of the greater part of their manufactures. Upon all these accounts, the precious metals are a commodity which it always has been, and still continues to be, extremely advantageous to carry from Europe to India. There is scarce any commodity which brings a better price there; or which, in proportion to the quantity of labour and commodities which it costs in Europe, will purchase or command a greater quantity of Jabour and commodities in India. It is more advantageous too to carry filver thither than gold; because in China, and the greater part of the other markets of India, the proportion between fine silver and fine gold is but as ten, or at most as twelve, to one; whereas in Europe it is as fourteen or fifteen to one. In China, and the greater part of the other markets of India, ten, or at most twelve, ounces of silver will purchase an ounce of gold: in Europe it requires from fourteen to fifteen ounces. In the cargoes, therefore, of the greater part of European fhips which fail to India, silver has generally been one of the most valuable articles. It is the most valuable article

1.

BOOK in the Acapulco ships which fail to Manilla. The

filver of the new continent seems in this manner to be one of the principal commodities by which the commerce between the two extremities of the old one is carried on, and it is by means of it, in a great measure, that those diftant parts of the world are connected with one another.

In order to supply so very widely extended a market, the quantity of silver annually brought from the mines must not only be sufficient to support that continual increase both of coin and of plate which is required in all thriving countries; but to repair that continual waste and confumption of silver which takes place in all countries where that metal is used.

The continual consumption of the precious metals in coin by wearing, and in plate both by wearing and cleaning, is very sensible; and in commodities of which the use is so very widely extended, would alone require a very great annual supply. The consumption of those metals in some particular manufactures, though it may not perhaps be greater upon the whole than this gradual consumption, is, however, much more fensible, as it is much more rapid. In the manufactures of Birmingham alone, the quantity of gold and silver annually employed in gilding and plating, and thereby disqualified from ever afterwards appearing in the shape of those metals, is said to amount to more than fifty thousand pounds sterling. We may from thence form fome notion how great must be the annual consumption in all the different parts of the world,

either

4

either in manufactures of the fame kind with CHAP those of Birmingham, or in laces, embroideries,

XI. gold and silver stuffs, the gilding of books, furniture, &c. A considerable quantity too must be annually lost in transporting those metals from one place to another both by sea and by land. In the greater part of the governments of Asia, besides, the almost universal custom of concealing treasures in the bowels of the earth, of which the knowledge frequently dies with the person who makes the concealment, must occafion the loss of a still greater quantity.

The quantity of gold and silver imported at both Cadiz and Lisbon (including not only what comes under register, but what may be supposed to be fmuggled) amounts, according to the best accounts, to about fix millions sterling a year.

According to Mr. Meggens * the annual importation of the precious metals into Spain, at an average of fix years ; viz. from 1748 to 1753, both inclusive; and into Portugal, at an average of seven years; viz. from 1747 to 1753, both inclusive ; amounted in filver to 1,101,107 pounds weight; and in gold to 49,940 pounds weight. The filver at fixty-two shillings the pound Troy, amounts to 3,413,431l. 108. sterling. The gold, at forty-four guineas and a

Postscript to the Universal Merchant, p. 15 and 16. This Postscript was not printed till 1956, three years after the publication of the book, which has never had a second edition. The postscript is, therefore, to be found in few copies : It corrects several errors in the book.

[blocks in formation]
« ForrigeFortsett »