Front Page Titles (by Subject) PART ONE - Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en Général
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
PART ONE - Richard Cantillon, Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en Général 
Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en General, edited with an English translation and other material by Henry Higgs, C.B. Reissued for The Royal Economic Society by Frank Cass and Co., LTD., London. 1959.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
This title is put online with the kind permission of the original copyright holders, the Royal Economic Society.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Part I, Chapter I
The Land is the Source or Matter from whence all Wealth is produced. The Labour of man is the Form which produces it: and Wealth in itself is nothing but the Maintenance, Conveniencies, and Superfluities of Life.
Land produces Herbage, Roots, Corn, Flax, Cotton, Hemp, Shrubs and Timber of several kinds, with divers sorts of Fruits, Bark, and Foliage like that of the Mulberry-tree for Silkworms; it supplies Mines and Minerals. To all this the Labour of man gives the form of Wealth.
Rivers and Seas supply Fish for the food of man, and many other things for his enjoyment. But these Seas and Rivers belong to the adjacent Lands or are common to all, and the Labour of man extracts from them the Fish and other advantages.
Part I, Chapter II
Of Human Societies
Which way soever a Society of Men is formed the ownership of the Land they inhabit will necessarily belong to a small number among them.
In wandering Societies like Hordes of Tartars and Camps of Indians who go from one place to another with their Animals and Families, it is necessary that the Captain or King who is their Leader should fix the boundaries of each Head of a Family and the Quarters of an Individual around the Camp. Otherwise there would always be disputes over the Quarters or Conveniencies, Woods, Herbage, Water, etc. but when the Quarters and Boundaries of each man are settled it is as good as ownership while they stay in that place.
In the more settled Societies: if a prince at the head of an Army has conquered a Country, he will distribute the Lands among his Officers or Favourites according to their Merit or his Pleasure (as was originally the case in France): he will then establish laws to vest the property in them and their Descendants: or he will reserve to himself the ownership of the Land and employ his Officers or Favourites to cultivate it: or will grant the Land to them on condition that they pay for it an annual Quit Rent or Due: or he will grant it to them while reserving his freedom to tax them every year according to his needs and their capacity. In all these cases these Officers or Favourites, whether absolute Owners or Dependents, whether Stewards or Bailiffs of the produce of the Land, will be few in number in proportion to all the Inhabitants.
Even if the Prince distribute the Land equally among all the Inhabitants it will ultimately be divided among a small number. One man will have several Children and cannot leave to each of them a portion of Land equal to his own; another will die without Children, and will leave his portion to some one who has Land already rather than to one who has none; a third will be lazy, prodigal, or sickly, and be obliged to sell his portion to another who is frugal and industrious, who will continually add to his Estate by new purchases and will employ upon it the Labour of those who having no Land of their own are compelled to offer him their Labour in order to live.
At the first settlement of Rome each Citizen had two Journaux1 of Land allotted to him. Yet there was soon after as great an inequality in the estates as that which we see today in all the countries of Europe. The Land was divided among a few owners.
Supposing then that the Land of a new country belongs to a small number of persons, each owner will manage his Land himself or let it to one or more Farmers: in this case it is essential that the Farmers and Labourers should have a living whether they cultivate the Land for the Owner or for the Farmer. The overplus of the Land is at the disposition of the Owner: he pays part of it to the Prince or the Government, or else the Farmer does so directly at the Owner's expense.
As for the use to which the Land should be put, the first necessity is to employ part of it for the Maintenance and Food of those who work upon it and make it productive: the rest depends principally upon the Humour and Fashion of Living of the Prince, the Lords, and the Owner: if these are fond of drink, vines must be cultivated; if they are fond of silks, mulberry-trees must be planted and silkworms raised, and moreover part of the Land must be employed to support those needed for these labours; if they delight in horses, pasture is needed, and so on.
If however we suppose that the Land belongs to no one in particular, it is not easy to conceive how a Society of men can be formed there: we see, for example, in the Village Commons a limit fixed to the number of animals that each of the Commoners may put upon them; and if the Land were left to the first occupier in a new conquest or discovery of a country it would always be necessary to fall back upon a law to settle Ownership in order to establish a Society, whether the law rested upon Force or upon Policy.
Part I, Chapter III
To whatever cultivation Land is put, whether Pasture, Corn, Vines, etc. the Farmers or Labourers who carry on the work must live near at hand; otherwise the time taken in going to their Fields and returning to their Houses would take up too much of the day. Hence the necessity for Villages established in all the country and cultivated Land, where there must also be enough Farriers and Wheelwrights for the Instruments, Ploughs, and Carts which are needed; especially when the Village is at a distance from the Towns. The size of a Village is naturally proportioned in number of inhabitants to what the Land dependent on it requires for daily work, and to the Artisans who find enough employment there in the service of the Farmers and Labourers: but these Artisans are not quite so necessary in the neighbourhood of Towns to which the Labourers can resort without much loss of time.
If one or more of the owners of the Land dependent on the Village reside there the number of inhabitants will be greater in proportion to the domestic servants and artisans drawn thither, and the inns which will be established there for the convenience of the domestic servants and workmen who are maintained by the Landlords.
If the Lands are only proper for maintaining Sheep, as in the sandy districts and moorlands, the Villages will be fewer and smaller since only a few shepherds are required on the land.
If the Lands only produce Woods in sandy soils where there is no grass for beasts, and if they are distant from Towns and Rivers which makes the timber useless for consumption as one sees in many cases in Germany, there will be only so many Houses and Villages as are needed to gather Acorns and feed Pigs in season: but if the Lands are altogether barren there will be neither Villages nor Inhabitants.
Part I, Chapter IV
Of Market Towns
There are some Villages where Markets have been established by the interest of some Proprietor or Gentleman at Court. These Markets, held once or twice a week, encourage several little Undertakers and Merchants to set themselves up there. They buy in the Market the products brought from the surrounding Villages in order to carry them to the large Towns for sale. In the large Towns they exchange them for Iron, Salt, Sugar and other merchandise which they sell on market-days to the Villagers. Many small Artisans also, like Locksmiths, Cabinet makers and others, settle down for the service of the Villagers who have none in their Villages, and at length these Villages become Market Towns. A Market Town being placed in the centre of the Villages, and at length these Villages become Market Towns. A Market Town being placed in the centre of the Villages whose people come to market, it is more natural and easy that the Villagers should bring their products thither for sale on market-days and buy the articles they need, than that the Merchants and Factors should transport them to the Villages in exchange for their products. (1) For the Merchants to go round the Villages would unnecessarily increase the cost of carriage. (2) The Merchants would perhaps be obliged to go to several Villages before finding the quality and quantity of produce which they wished to buy. (3) The Villagers would generally be in their fields when the Merchants arrived and not knowing what produce these needed would have nothing prepared and fit for sale. (4) It would be almost impossible to fix the price of the produce and the merchandise in the Villages, between the Merchants and the Villagers. In one Village the Merchant would refuse the price asked for produce, hoping to find it cheaper in another Village, and the Villager would refuse the price offered for his merchandise in the hope that another Merchant would come along and take it on better terms.
All these difficulties are avoided when the Villagers come to Town on Market-Days to sell their produce and to buy the things they need. Prices are fixed by the proportion between the produce exposed for sale and the money offered for it; this takes place in the same spot, under the eyes of all the Villagers of different Villages and of the Merchants or Undertakers of the Town. When the price has been settled between a few the others follow without difficulty and so the Market-price of the day is determined. The peasant goes back to his Village and resumes his work.
The size of the Market Town is naturally proportioned to the number of Farmers and Labourers needed to cultivate the Lands dependent on it, and to the number of artisans and small Merchants that the Villages bordering on the Market Town employ with their assistants and horses, and finally to the number of persons whom the Landowners resident there support.
When the Villages belonging to a Market Town (i.e. whose people ordinarily bring their produce to market there) are considerable and have a large output the Market Town will become considerable and large in proportion; but when the neighbouring Villages have little produce the Market Town also is poor and insignificant.
Part I, Chapter V
The Landlords who have only small estates usually reside in Market Towns and Villages near their Land and Farmers. The transport of the produce they derive from them into distant Cities would not enable them to live comfortably there. But the Landlords who have several large estates have the means to go and live at a distance from them to enjoy agreeable society with other Landowners and Gentlemen of the same condition.
If a Prince or Nobleman who has received large grants of Land on the conquest or discovery of a country fixes his residence in some pleasant spot, and several other Noblemen come to live there to be within reach of seeing each other frequently and enjoying agreeable society, this place will become a City. Great houses will be built there for the Noblemen in question, and an infinity of others for the Merchants, Artisans, and people of all sorts of professions whom the residence of these Noblemen will attract thither. For the service of these Noblemen, Bakers, Butchers, Brewers, Wine Merchants, Manufacturers of all kinds, will be needed. These will build houses in the locality or will rent houses built by others. There is no great Nobleman whose expense upon his house, his retinue and Servants, does not maintain Merchants and Artisans of all kinds, as may be seen from the detailed calculations which I have caused to be made in the Supplement2 of this Essay.
As all these Artisans and Undertakers serve each other as well as the Nobility it is overlooked that the upkeep of them all falls ultimately on the Nobles and Landowners. It is not perceived that all the little houses in a City such as we have described depend upon and subsist at the expense of the great houses. It will, however, be shown later that all the classes and inhabitants of a state live at the expense of the Proprietors of Land. The City in question will increase still further if the King or the Government establish in it Law Courts to which the people of the Market Towns and Villages of the province must have recourse. An increase of Undertakers and Artisans of every sort will be needed for the service of the legal officials and Lawyers.
If in this same City workshops and manufactories be set up apart from home consumption for export and sale abroad, the City will be large in proportion to the Workmen and Artisans who live there at the expense of the foreigner.
But if we put aside these considerations so as not to complicate our subject, we may say that the assemblage of several rich Landowners living together in the same place suffices to form what is called a City, and that many Cities in Europe, in the interior of the country, owe the number of their inhabitants to this assemblage: in which case the size of a City is naturally proportioned to the number of Landlords who live there, or rather to the produce of the Land which belongs to them after deduction of the cost of carriage to those whose Land is the furthest removed, and the part which they are obliged to furnish to the King or the Government, which is usually consumed in the Capital.
Part I, Chapter VI
Of Capital Cities
A Capital City is formed in the same way as a Provincial City with this difference that the largest Landowners in all the State reside in the Capital, that the king or supreme Government is fixed in it and spends there the government revenue, that the Supreme Courts of Justice are fixed there, that it is the centre of the fashions which all the provinces take for a model, that the Landowners who reside in the provinces do not fail to come occasionally to pass some time in the Capital and to send their children thither to be polished. Thus all the Lands in the State contribute more or less to maintain those who dwell in the Capital.
If a Sovereign quits a City to take up his abode in another the Nobility will not fail to follow him and to make its residence with him in the new City which will become great and important at the expense of the first. We have seen quite a recent example of this in the City of Petersburg to the disadvantage of Moscow, and one sees many old Cities which were important fall into ruin and others spring from their ashes. Great Cities are usually built on the seacoast or on the banks of large Rivers for the convenience of transport; because water carriage of the produce and merchandise necessary for the subsistence and comfort of the inhabitants is much cheaper than Carriages and Land Transport.
Part I, Chapter VII
The Labour of the Husbandman is of less Value than that of the Handicrafts-Man
A Labourer's Son at seven or twelve years of age begins to help his Father either in keeping the Flocks, digging the ground, or in other sorts of Country Labour which require no Art or Skill.
If his Father puts him to a Trade he loses his Assistance during the Time of his Apprenticeship and is necessitated to cloath him and to pay the expenses of his Apprenticeship for some years. The Son is thus an expense to this Father and his Labour brings in no advantage till the end of some years. The [working] life of Man is estimated but at 10 or 12 years, and as several are lost in learning a Trade most of which in England require seven years of Apprenticeship, a Husbandman would never be willing to have a Trade taught to his Son if the Mechanics did not earn more than the Husbandmen.
Those who employ Artisans or Craftsmen must needs therefore pay for their labour at a higher rate than for that of a Husbandman or common Labourer; and their labour will necessarily be dear in proportion to the time lost in learning the trade and the cost and risk incurred in becoming proficient.
The Craftsmen themselves do not make all their Children learn their own mystery: there would be too many of them for the needs of a City or a State; many would not find enough work; the work, however, is naturally better paid than that of Husbandmen.
Part I, Chapter VIII
Some Handicrafts-Men earn more, others less, according to the different Cases and Circumstances
Supposing two Tailors make all the cloaths of a Village, one may have more customers than the other, whether from his mode of attracting business, or because he works better or more durably than the other, or follows the fashions better in the cut of the garments.
If one dies, the other finding himself more pressed with work will be able to raise the price of his labour, giving some customers a preference in point of expedition to others, till the Villagers find it to their advantage to have their cloaths made in another Village, Town, or City losing the time spent in going and returning, or till some other Tailor comes to live in their Village and to share in the business of it.
The Crafts which require the most Time in training or most Ingenuity and Industry must necessarily be the best paid. A skillful Cabinet-Maker must receive a higher price for his work than an ordinary Carpenter, and a good Watchmaker more than a Farrier.
The Arts and Crafts which are accompanied by risks and dangers like those of Founders, Mariners, Silver miners, etc. ought to be paid in proportion to the risks. When over and above the dangers skill is needed they ought to be paid still more, e.g. Pilots, Divers, Engineers, etc. When Capacity and trustworthiness are needed the labour is paid still more highly, as in the case of Jewellers, Bookkeepers, Cashiers and others.
By these examples and a hundred others drawn from ordinary experience it is easily seen that the difference of price paid for daily work is based upon natural and obvious reasons.
Part I, Chapter IX
The Number of Labourers, Handicraftsmen and others, who work in a State is naturally proportioned to the Demand for them
If all the Labourers in a Village breed up several Sons to the same work there will be too many Labourers to cultivate the Lands belonging to the Village, and the surplus Adults must go to seek a livelihood elsewhere, which they generally do in Cities: if some remain with their Fathers, as they will not all find sufficient employment they will live in great poverty and will not marry for lack of means to bring up children, or if they marry, the children who come will soon die of starvation with their Parents, as we see every day in France.
Therefore if the Village continue in the same situation as regards employment, and derives its living from cultivating the same portion of Land, it will not increase in population in a thousand years.
The Women and Girls of this Village can, it is true, when they are not working in the fields, busy themselves in spinning, knitting or other work which can be sold in the Cities; but this rarely suffices to bring up the extra children, who leave the Village to seek their fortune elsewhere.
The same may be said of the Tradesmen of a Village. If a Tailor makes all the cloaths there and breeds up three Sons to the same trade, as there is but work enough for one successor to him the two others must go to seek their livelihood elsewhere: if they do not find enough employment in the neighbouring Town they must go further afield or change their occupations to get a living and become Lackeys, Soldiers, Sailors, etc.
By the same process of reasoning it is easy to conceive that the Labourers, Handicraftsmen and others who gain their living by work, must proportion themselves in number to the employment and demand for them in Market Towns and Cities.
But if four Tailors are enough to make all the cloaths for a Town and a fifth arrives he may attract some custom at the expense of the other four; so if the work is divided between the five Tailors neither of them will have enough employment, and each one will live more poorly.
It often happens that Labourers and Handicraftsmen have not enough employment when there are too many of them to share the business. It happens also that they are deprived of work by accidents and by variations in demand, or that they are overburdened with work according to circumstances. Be that as it may, when they have no work they quit the Villages, Towns or Cities where they live in such numbers that those who remain are always proportioned to the employment which suffices to maintain them; when there is a continuous increase of work there is gain to be made and enough others arrive to share in it.
From this it is easy to understand that the Charity-Schools in England and the proposals in France to increase the number of Handicraftsmen, are useless. If the King of France sent 100,000 of his Subjects at his expense into Holland to learn Seafaring, they would be of no use on their return if no more Vessels were sent to Sea than before. It is true that it would be a great advantage to a State to teach its Subjects to produce the Manufactures which are customarily drawn from abroad, and all the other articles bought there, but I am considering only at present a State in relation to itself.
As the Handicraftsmen earn more than the Labourers they are better able to bring up their children to Crafts; and there will never be a lack of Craftsmen in a State when there is enough work for their constant employment.
Part I, Chapter X
The Price and Intrinsic Value of a Thing in general is the measure of the Land and Labour which enter into its Production
One Acre of Land produces more Corn or feeds more Sheep than another. The work of one Man is dearer than that of another, as I have already explained, according to the superior Skill and Occurrences of the Times. If two Acres of Land are of equal goodness, one will feed as many Sheep and produce as much Wool as the other, supposing the Labour to be the same, and the Wool produced by one Acre will sell at the same Price as that produced by the other.
If the Wool of the one Acre is made into a suit of coarse Cloth and the Wool of the other into a suit of fine Cloth, as the latter will require more work and dearer workmanship it will be sometimes ten times dearer, though both contain the same quantity and quality of Wool. The quantity of the Produce of the Land and the quantity as well as the quality of the Labour, will of necessity enter into the Price.
A pound of Flax wrought into fine Brussels Lace requires the Labour of 14 persons for a year or of one person for 14 years, as may be seen from a calculation of the different processes in the Supplement, where we also see that the price obtained for the Lace suffices to pay for the maintenance of one person for 14 years as well as the profits of all the Undertakers and Merchants concerned.
The fine steel spring which regulates an English Watch is generally sold at a price which makes the proportion of material to Labour, or of Steel to Spring, one to one million3 so that in this case labour makes up nearly all the value of the spring. See the calculation in the Supplement.
On the other hand the price of the Hay in a Field, on the spot, or a Wood which it is proposed to cut down, is fixed by the matter or produce of the Land, according to its goodness.
The price of a pitcher of Seine Water is nothing, because there is an immense supply which does not dry up; but in the Streets of Paris people give a sol for it—the price or measure of the Labour of the Water-carrier.
By these examples and inductions it will, I think, be understood that the Price or intrinsic value of a thing is the measure of the quantity of Land and of Labour entering into its production, having regard to the fertility or produce of the Land and to the quality of the Labour.
But it often happens that many things which have actually this intrinsic value are not sold in the Market according to that value: that will depend on the Humours and Fancies of men and on their consumption.
If a gentleman cuts Canals and erects Terraces in his Garden, their intrinsic value will be proportionable to the Land and Labour; but the Price in reality will not always follow this proportion. If he offers to sell the Garden possibly no one will give him half the expense he has incurred. It is also possible that if several persons desire it he may be given double the intrinsic value, that is twice the value of the Land and the expense he has incurred.
If the Farmers in a State sow more corn than usual, much more than is needed for the year's consumption, the real and intrinsic value of the corn will correspond to the Land and Labour which enter into its production; but as there is too great an abundance of it and there are more sellers than buyers the Market Price of the Corn will necessarily fall below the intrinsic price or Value. If on the contrary the Farmers sow less corn than is needed for consumption there will be more buyers than sellers and the Market Price of corn will rise above its intrinsic value.
There is never a variation in intrinsic values, but the impossibility of proportioning the production of merchandise and produce in a State to their consumption causes a daily variation, and a perpetual ebb and flow in Market Prices. However in well organized Societies the Market Prices of articles whose consumption is tolerably constant and uniform do not vary much from the intrinsic value; and when there are no years of too scanty or too abundant production the Magistrates of the City are able to fix the Market Prices of many things, like bread and meat, without any on having cause to complain.
Land is the matter and Labour the form of all produce and Merchandise, and as those who labour must subsist on the produce of the Land it seems that some relation might be found between the value of Labour and that of the produce of the Land: this will form the subject of the next chapter.
Part I, Chapter XI
Of the Par or Relation between the Value of Land and Labour
It does not appear that Providence has given the Right of the Possession of Land to one Man preferably to another: the most ancient titles are founded on Violence and Conquest. The Lands of Mexico now belong to the Spaniards and those at Jerusalem to the Turks. But howsoever people come to the property and possession of Land we have already observed that it always falls into the hands of a few in proportion to the total inhabitants.
If the Proprietor of a great Estate keeps it in his own hands he will employ Slaves or free men to work upon it. If he has many Slaves he must have Overseers to keep them at work: he must likewise have Slave craftsmen to supply the needs and conveniencies of life for himself and his workers, and must have trades taught to others in order to carry on the work.
In this oeconomy he must allow his Labouring Slaves their subsistence and wherewithal to bring up their Children. The Overseers must allow Advantages proportionable to the confidence and authority which he gives them. The Slaves who have been taught a craft must be maintained without any return during the time of their Apprenticeship and the artisan Slaves and their Overseers who should be competent in the crafts must have a better subsistence than the labouring Slaves, etc. since the loss of an Artisan would be greater than that of a Labourer and more care must be taken of him having regard to the expense of training another to take his place.
On this assumption the labour of an adult Slave of the lowest class is worth at least as much as the quantity of Land which the Proprietor is obliged to allot for his food and necessaries and also to double the Land which serves to breed a Child up till he is of age fit for labour, seeing half the children that are born die before the age of 17, according to the calculations and observations of the celebrated Dr Halley. So that two children must be reared up to keep one of them till working age and it would seem that even this would not be enough to ensure a continuance of Labour since adult Men die at all ages.
It is true that the one half of the Children who die before 17 die faster in the first years after birth than in the following, since a good third of those who are born die in their first year. This seems to diminish the cost of raising a Child to working age, but as the Mothers lose much time in nursing their Children in illness and infancy and the Daughters even when grown up are not the equals of the Males in work and barely earn their living, it seems that to keep one of two Children to manhood or working age as much Land must be employed as for the subsistence of an adult Slave, whether the Proprietor raises them himself in his house or has the children raised there or that the Father brings them up in a House or Hamlet apart. Thus I conclude that the daily labour of the meanest Slave corresponds in value to double the produce of the Land required to maintain him, whether the Proprietor give it him for his subsistence and that of his Family or provides him and his Family subsistence in his own house. It does not admit of exact calculation, and exactitude is not very necessary; it suffices to be near enough to the truth.
If the Proprietor employ the Labour of Vassals or free Peasants he will probably maintain them upon a better foot than Slaves according to the custom of the place he lives in, yet in this case also the Labour of a free Labourer ought to correspond in value to double the produce of Land needed for his maintenance. But it will always be more profitable to the Proprietor to keep Slaves than to keep free Peasants, because when he has brought up a number too large for his requirements he can sell the surplus Slaves as he does his cattle and obtain for them a price proportionable to what he has spent in rearing them to manhood or working age, except in cases of old age or infirmity.
In the same way on may appraise the Labour of slave craftsmen at twice the produce of the Land which they consume. Overseers likewise, allowing for the favours and privileges given to them above those who work under them.
When the Artisans or Labourers have their double portion at their own disposal they employ one part of it for their own upkeep if they are married and the other for their Children. If they are unmarried they set aside a little of their double portion to enable them to marry and to make a little store for housekeeping; but most of them will consume the double portion for their own maintenance.
For example the married Labourer will content himself with Bread, Cheese, Vegetables, etc., will rarely eat meat, will drink little wine or beer, and will have only old and shabby clothes which he will wear as long as he can. The surplus of his double portion he will employ in raising and keeping his children, while the unmarried Labourer will eat meat as often as he can, will treat himself to new cloaths, etc. and employ his double portion on his own requirements. Thus he will consume twice as much personally of the produce of the Land as the married man.
I do not here take into account the expense of the Wife. I suppose that her Labour barely suffices to pay for her own living, and when one sees a large number of little Children in one of these poor families I suppose that charitable persons contribute somewhat to their maintenance, otherwise the Parents must deprive themselves of some of their necessaries to provide a living for their Children.
For the better understanding of this it is to be observed that a poor Labourer may maintain himself, at the lowest computation, upon the produce of an Acre and a half of Land if he lives on bread and vegetables, wears hempen garments, wooden shoes, etc., while if he can allow himself wine, meat, woollen cloaths, etc. he may without drunkenness or gluttony or excess of any kind consume the produce of 4 to 10 acres of Land of ordinary goodness, such as most of the Land in Europe taking part with another. I have caused some figures to be drawn up which will be found in the Supplement, to determine the amount of Land of which one man can consume the produce under each head of Food, Clothing, and other necessaries of life in a single year, according to the mode of living in Europe where the Peasants of divers countries are often nourished and maintained very differently.
For this reason I have not determined to how much Land the Labour of the meanest Peasant corresponds in Value when I laid down that it is worth double the produce of the Land which serves to maintain him: because this varies according to the mode of living in different countries. In some southern Provinces of France the Peasant keeps himself on the produce of one acre and a half of Land and the value of his Labour may be reckoned equal to the product of Three Acres. But in the County of Middlesex the Peasant usually spends the produce of 5 to 8 acres of Land and his Labour may be valued at twice as much as this.
In the country of the Iroquois where the inhabitants do not plough the Land and live entirely by Hunting, the meanest Hunter may consume the produce of 50 Acres of Land since it probably requires so much to support the animals he eats in one year, especially as these Savages have not the industry to grow grass by cutting down the trees but leave everything to nature. The Labour of this Hunter may then be reckoned equal in value to the product of 100 acres of Land. In the southern Provinces of China the Land yields Rice up to three crops in one year and a hundred times as much as is sown, owing to the great care which they have of Agriculture and the fertility of the soil which is never fallow. The Peasants who work there almost naked live only on Rice and drink only Rice water, and it appears that one Acre will support there more than 10 Peasants. It is not surprising, therefore, that the population is prodigious in number. In any case it seems from these examples that Nature is altogether indifferent whether the Earth produce grass, trees, or grain, or maintains a large or small number of Vegetables, Animals, or Men.
Farmers in Europe seem to correspond to Overseers of labouring Slaves in other Countries, and the Master Tradesmen who employ several Journeymen to the Overseers of Artisan Slaves. These Masters know pretty well how much work a journeyman Artisan can do in a day in each Craft, and often pay them in proportion to the work they do, so that the Journeymen work for their own interest as hard as they can without further inspection.
As the Farmers and Masters of Crafts in Europe are all Undertakers working at a risk, some get rich and gain more than a double subsistence, others are ruined and become bankrupt, as will be explained more in detail in treating of Undertakers; but the majority support themselves and their Families from day to day, and their Labour or Superintendence may be valued at about thrice the produce of the Land which serves for their maintenance.
Evidently these Farmers and Master Craftsmen, if they superintend the Labour of 10 Labourers or Journeymen, would be equally capable of superintending the Labour of 20, according to the size of their Farms or the number of their customers, and this renders uncertain the value of their Labour or Superintendence.
By these examples and others which might be added in the same sense, it is seen that the value of the day's work has a relation to the produce of the soil, and that the intrinsic value of any thing may be measured by the quantity of Land used in its production and the quantity of labour which enters into it, in other words by the quantity of Land of which the produce is allotted to those who have worked upon it; and as all the Land belongs to the Prince and the Landowners all things which have this intrinsic value have it only at their expense.
The Money or Coin which finds the proportion of Values in exchange is the most certain measure for judging of the Par between Land and labour and the relation of one to the other in different Countries where this Par varies according to the greater or less produce of the Land allotted to those who labour.
If, for example, one man earn an ounce of silver every day by his work, and another in the same place earn only half an ounce, one can conclude that the first has as much again of the produce of the Land to dispose of as the second.
Sir William Petty, in a little manuscript of the year 1685,4 considers this Par, or Equation between Land and Labour, as the most important consideration in Political Arithmetic, but the research which he has made into it in passing is fanciful and remote from natural laws, because he has attached himself not to causes and principles but only to effects, as Mr Locke, Mr Davenant and all the other English authors who have written on this subject have done after him.
Part I, Chapter XII
All Classes and Individuals in a State subsist or are enriched at the Expense of the Proprietors of Land
There are none but the Prince and the Proprietors of Land who live independent; all other Classes and Inhabitants are hired or are Undertakers. The proof and detail of this will be developed in the next Chapter.
If the Prince and Proprietors of Land close their Estates and will not suffer them to be cultivated it is clear that there would be neither Food nor Rayment for any of the Inhabitants; consequently all the Individuals are supported not only by the produce of the Land which is cultivated for the benefit of the Owners but also at the Expense of these same Owners from whose property they derive all that they have.
The Farmers have generally two thirds of the Produce of the Land, one for their costs and the support of their Assistants, the other for the Profit of their Undertaking: on these two thirds the Farmer provides generally directly or indirectly subsistence for all those who live in the Country, and also Mechanicks or Undertakers in the City in respect of the Merchandise of the City consumed in the Country.
The Proprietor has usually one third of the produce of his Land and on this third he maintains all the Mechanicks and others whom he employs in the City as well, frequently, as the Carriers who bring the Produce of the Country to the City.
It is generally calculated that one half of the Inhabitants of a kingdom subsist and make their Abode in Cities, and the other half live in the Country; on this supposition the Farmer who has two thirds or four sixths of the Produce of the Land, pays either directly or indirectly one sixth to the Citizens in exchange for the Merchandise which he takes from them. This sixth with the one third or two sixths which the Proprietor spends in the City makes three sixths or one Half of the Produce of the Land. This Calculation is only to convey a general Idea of the Proportion; but in fact, if half of the Inhabitants live in the Cities they consume more than half of the Land's Produce, as they live better than those who reside in the Country and spend more of the Produce of the Land being all Mechanicks or Dependents of the Proprietors and consequently better maintained than the Assistants and Dependents of the Farmers.
But let this Matter be how it will, if we examine the Means by which an Inhabitant is supported it will always appear in returning back to the Fountain-Head, that these Means arise from the Land of the Proprietor either in the two thirds reserved by the Farmer, or the one third which remains to the Landlord.
If a Proprietor had only the amount of Land which he lets out to one Farmer the Farmer would get a better living out of it than himself; but the Nobles and large Landowners in the Cities have sometimes several hundreds of Farmers and are themselves very few in number in proportion to all the Inhabitants of a state.
True there are often in the Cities several Undertakers and Mechanicks who live by Foreign Trade, and therefore at the Expense of Foreign Landowners: but at present I am considering only a State in regard to its own Produce and Industry, not to complicate my argument by accidental circumstances.
The Land belongs to the Proprietors but would be useless to them if it were not cultivated. The more labour is expended on it, other things being equal, the more it produces; and the more its products are worked up, other things being equal, the more value they have as Merchandize. Hence the Proprietors have need of the Inhabitants as these have of the Proprietors; but in this oeconomy it is for the Proprietors, who have the disposition and the direction of the Landed capital, to give the most advantageous turn and movement to the whole. Also everything in a State depends on the Fancy, Methods, and Fashions of life of the Proprietors of Land in especial, as I will endeavour to make clear later in this Essay.
It is need and necessity which enable Farmers, Mechanicks of every kind, Merchants, Officers, Soldiers, Sailors, Domestic Servants and all the other Classes who work or are employed in the State, to exist. All these working people serve not only the Prince and the Landowners but each other, so that there are many of them who do not work directly for the Landowners, and so it is not seen that they subsist on the capital of these Proprietors and live at their Expense. As for those who exercise Professions which are not essential, like Dancers, Actors, Painters, Musicians, etc. they are only supported in the State for pleasure or for ornament, and their number is always very small in proportion to the other Inhabitants.
Part I, Chapter XIII
The circulation and exchange of goods and merchandise as well as their production are carried on in Europe by Undertakers, and at a risk
The City consumes more than half the farmer's produce. He carries it to Market there or sells it in the Market of the nearest Town, or perhaps a few individuals set up as Carriers themselves. These bind themselves to pay the Farmer a fixed price for his produce, that of the market price of the day, to get in the City an uncertain price which should however defray the cost of carriage and leave them a profit. But the daily variation in the price of produce in the City, though not considerable, makes their profit uncertain.
The Undertaker or Merchant who carries the products of the Country to the City cannot stay there to sell them retail as they are consumed. No City family will burden itself with the purchase all at once of the produce it may need, each family being susceptible of increase or decrease in number and in consumption or at least varying in the choice of produce it will consume. Wine is almost the only article of consumption stocked in a family. In any case the majority of citizens who live from day to day and yet are the largest consumers cannot lay in a stock of country produce.
For this reason many people set up in a City as Merchants or Undertakers, to buy the country produce from those who bring it or to order it to be brought on their account. They pay a certain price following that of the place where they purchase it, to resell wholesale or retail at an uncertain price.
Such Undertakers are the wholesalers in Wool and Corn, Bakers, Butchers, Manufacturers and Merchants of all kinds who buy country produce and materials to work them up and resell them gradually as the Inhabitants require them.
These Undertakers can never know how great will be the demand in their City, nor how long their customers will buy of them since their rivals will try all sorts of means to attract customers from them. All this causes so much uncertainty among these Undertakers that every day one sees some of them become bankrupt.
The Manufacturer who has bought wool from the Merchant or direct from the Farmer cannot foretell the profit he will make in selling his cloths and stuffs to the Merchant Taylor. If the latter have not a reasonable sale he will not load himself with the cloths and stuffs of the Manufacturer, especially if those stuffs cease to be in the fashion.
The Draper is an Undertaker who buys cloths and stuffs from the Manufacturer at a certain price to sell them again at an uncertain price, because he cannot foresee the extent of the demand. He can of course fix a price and stand out against selling unless he gets it, but if his customers leave him to buy cheaper from another, he will be eaten up by expenses while waiting to sell at the price he demands, and that will ruin him as soon as or sooner than if he sold without profit.
Shopkeepers and retailers of every kind are Undertakers who buy at a certain price and sell in their Shops or the Markets at an uncertain price. What encourages and maintains these Undertakers in a State is that the Consumers who are their Customers prefer paying a little more to get what they want ready to hand in small quantities rather than lay in a stock and that most of them have not the means to lay in such a stock by buying at first hand.
All these Undertakers become consumers and customers one in regard to the other, the Draper of the Wine Merchant and vice versa. They proportion themselves in a State to the Customers or consumption. If there are too many Hatters in a City or in a street for the number of people who buy hats there, some who are least patronised must become bankrupt: if they be too few it will be a profitable Undertaking which will encourage new Hatters to open shops there and so it is that the Undertakers of all kinds adjust themselves to risks in a State.
All the other Undertakers like those who take charge of Mines, Theatres, Building, etc., the Merchants by sea and Land, etc., Cook-shop keepers, Pastry Cooks, Innkeepers, etc. as well as the Undertakers of their own labour who need no Capital to establish themselves, like Journeymen artisans, Copper-smiths, Needlewomen, Chimney Sweeps, Water Carriers, live at uncertainty and proportion themselves to their customers. Master Craftsmen like Shoemakers, Taylors, Carpenters, Wigmakers, etc. who employ Journeymen according to the work they have, live at the same uncertainty since their customers may foresake them from one day to another: the Undertakers of their own labour in Art and Science, like Painters, Physicians, Lawyers, etc. live in the like uncertainty. If one Attorney or Barrister earn 5000 pounds sterling yearly in the service of his Clients or in his practice and another earn only 500 they may be considered as having so much uncertain wages from those who employ them.
It may perhaps be urged that Undertakers seek to snatch all they can in their calling and to get the better of their customers, but this is outside my subject.
By all these inductions and many others which might be made in a topic relating to all the Inhabitants of a State, it may be laid down that expect the Prince and the Proprietors of Land, all the Inhabitants of a State are dependent; that they can be divided into two classes, Undertakers and Hired people; and that all the Undertakers are as it were on unfixed wages and the others on wages fixed so long as they receive them though their functions and ranks may be very unequal. The General who has his pay, the Courtier his pension and the Domestic servant who has wages all fall into this last class. All the rest are Undertakers, whether they set up with a capital to conduct their enterprise, or are Undertakers of their own labour without capital, and they may be regarded as living at uncertainty; the Beggars even and the Robbers are Undertakers of this class. Finally all the Inhabitants of a State derive their living and their advantages from the property of the Landowners and are dependent.
It is true, however, that if some person on high wages or some large Undertaker has saved capital or wealth, that is if he have stores of corn, wool, copper, gold, silver or some produce or merchandise in constant use or vent in a State, having an intrinsic or a real value, he may be justly considered independent so far as this capital goes. He may dispose of it to acquire a mortgage, and interest from Land and from Public loans secured upon Land: he may live still better than the small Landowners and even buy the Property of some of them.
But produce and merchandise, even gold and silver, are much more subject to accident and loss than the ownership of land; and however one may have gained or saved them they are always derived from the land of actual Proprietors either by gain or by saving of the wages destined for one's subsistence.
The number of Proprietors of money in a large State is often considerable enough; and though the value of all the money which circulates in the State barely exceeds the ninth or tenth part of the value of the produce drawn from the soil yet, as the Proprietors of money lend considerable amounts for which they receive interest either by mortgage or the produce and merchandise of the State, the sums due to them usually exceed all the money in the State, and they often become so powerful a body that they would in certain cases rival the Proprietors of Lands if these last were not often equally Proprietors of money, and if the owners of large sums of money did not always seek to become Landowners themselves.
It is nevertheless always true that all the sums gained or saved have been drawn from the Land of the actual Proprietors; but as many of these ruin themselves daily in a State and the others who acquire the property of their land take their place, the independence given by the ownership of Land applies only to those who keep the possession of it; and as all Land has always an actual Master or Owner, I presume that it is from their property that all the Inhabitants of the State derive their living and all their wealth. If these Proprietors confined themselves to living on their Rents it would be beyond question, and in that case it would be much more difficult for the other inhabitants to enrich themselves at their Expence.
I will then lay it down as a principle that the Proprietors of Land alone are naturally independent in a State: that all the other Classes are dependent whether Undertakers or hired, and that all the exchange and circulation of the State is conducted by the medium of these Undertakers.
Part I, Chapter XIV
The Fancies, the Fashions, and the Modes of Living of the Prince, and especially of the Landowners, determine the use to which Land is put in a State and cause the variations in the Market-prices of all things
If the Owner of a large Estate (which I wish to consider here as if there were no other in the world) has it cultivated himself he will follow his Fancy in the use of which he will put it. (1) He will necessarily use part of it for corn to feed the Labourers, Mechanicks and Overseers who work for him, another part to feed the Cattle, Sheep and other Animals necessary for their Clothing and Food or other commodities according to the way in which he wishes to maintain them. (2) He will turn part of the Land into Parks, Gardens, Fruit Trees or Vines as he feels inclined and into meadows for the Horses he will use for his pleasure, etc.
Let us now suppose that to avoid so much care and trouble he makes a bargain with the Overseers of the Labourers, gives them Farms or pieces of Land and leaves to them the responsibility for maintaining in the usual manner all the Labourers they supervise, so that the Overseers, now become Farmers or Undertakers, give the Labourers for working on the land or Farm another third of the Produce for their Food, Clothing and other requirements, such as they had when the Owner employed them; suppose further that the Owner makes a bargain with the Overseers of the Mechanicks for the Food and other things that he gave them, that he makes the Overseers become Master-Craftsmen, fixes a common measure, like silver, to settle the price at which the Farmers will supply them with wool and they will supply him with cloth, and that the prices are such as to give the Master-Craftsmen the same advantages and enjoyments as they had when Overseers, and the Journeymen Mechanicks also the same as before, the Labour of the Mechanicks will be settled by the day or by the piece: the merchandise which they have made, Hats, Stockings, Shoes, Cloaths, etc. will be sold to the Landowner, the Farmers, the Labourers, and the other Mechanicks reciprocally at a price which leaves to all of them the same advantages as before; and the Farmers will sell, at a proportionate price, their produce and raw material.
It will then come to pass that the Overseers become Undertakers, will be the absolute masters of those who work under them, and will have more care and satisfaction in working on their own account. We suppose then that after this change all the people on this large Estate live just as they did before, and so all the portions and Farms of this great Estate will be put to the same use as it formerly was.
For if some of the Farmers sowed more corn than usual they must feed fewer Sheep, and have less Wool and Mutton to sell. Then there will be too much Corn and too little Wool for the consumption of the Inhabitants. Wool will therefore be dear, which will force the Inhabitants to wear their clothes longer than usual, and there will be too much Corn and a surplus for the next year. As we suppose that the Landowner has stipulated for the payment in silver of the third of the produce of the Farm to be paid to him, the Farmers who have too much Corn and too little Wool, will not be able to pay him his Rent. If he excuses them they will take care the next year to have less corn and more Wool, for Farmers always take care to use their land for the production of those things which they think will fetch the best price at Market. If, however, next year they have too much Wool and too little Corn for the demand, they will not fail to change from year to year the use of the land till they arrive at proportioning their production pretty well to the consumption of the Inhabitants. So a farmer who has arrived at about the proportion of consumption will have part of his Farm in grass, for hay, another for Corn, Wool and so on, and he will not change his plan unless he sees some considerable change in the demand; but in this example we have supposed that all the People live in the same way as when the Landowner cultivated the Land for himself, and consequently the Farmers will employ the Land for the same purposes as before.
The Owner, who has at his disposal the third of the Produce of the Land, is the principal Agent in the changes which may occur in demand. Labourers and Mechanicks who live from day to day change their mode of living only from necessity. If a few Farmers, Master Craftsmen or other Undertakers in easy circumstances vary their expense and consumption they always take as their model the Lords and Owners of the Land. They imitate them in their Clothing, Meals, and mode of life. If the Landowners please to wear fine linen, silk, or lace, the demand for these merchandises will be greater than that of the Proprietors for themselves.
If a Lord or Owner who has let out all his lands to farm, take the fancy to change considerably his mode of living; if for instance he decreases the number of his domestic servants and increases the number of his Horses: not only will his Servants be forced to leave the Estate in question but also a proportionate number of Artisans and of Labourers who worked to maintain them. The portion of land which was used to maintain these Inhabitants will be laid down to grass for the new Horses, and if all Landowners in a State did the like they would soon increase the number of Horses and diminish the number of Men.
When a Landowner has dismissed a great number of Domestic Servants, and increased the number of his Horses, there will be too much Corn for the needs of the Inhabitants, and so the Corn will be cheap and the Hay dear. In consequence the Farmers will increase their grass land and diminish their Corn to proportion it to the demand. In this way the Fancies or Fashions of Landowners determine the use of the Land and bring about the variations of demand which cause the variations of Market prices. If all the Landowners of a State cultivated their own estates they would use them to produce what they want; and as the variations of demand are chiefly caused by their mode of living the prices which they offer in the Market decide the Farmers to all the changes which they make in the employment and use of the Land.
I do not consider here the variations in Market prices which may arise from the good or bad harvest of the year, or the extraordinary consumption which may occur from foreign troops or other accidents, so as not to complicate my subject, considering only a state in its natural and uniform condition.
Part I, Chapter XV
The Increase and Decrease of the Number of People in a State chiefly depend on the taste, the fashions, and the modes of living of the proprietors of land
Experience shews that Trees, Plants and other Vegetables can be increased to any Quantity which the Extent of Ground laid out for them can support.
The same Experience shews that all kinds of the Animal Creation are to be multiplied to any Quantity which the Land allotted to them can support. Horses, Cattle, Sheep can easily be multiplied up to the number that the Land will support. The fields which serve for this support may be improved by irrigation as in Milan. Hay may be saved and Cattle fed in sheds and raised in larger numbers than if they were left in the Fields. Sheep may be fed on Turnips, as in England, by which means an acre of land will go further for their nourishment than if it were pasture. In a word, we can multiply all sorts of Animals in such numbers as we wish to maintain even to infinity if we could find lands to infinity to nourish them; and the multiplication of Animals has no other bounds than the greater or less means allotted for their subsistence. It is not to be doubted that if all Land were devoted to the simple sustenance of Man the race would increase up to the number that the Land would support in the manner to be explained.
There is no Country where Population is carried to a greater Height than in China. The common people are supported by Rice and Rice Water; they work almost naked and in the southern Provinces they have three plentiful harvests of Rice yearly, thanks to their great attention to Agriculture. The Land is never fallow and yields a hundredfold every year. Those who are clothed have generally Clothing of Cotton, which needs so little Land for its production that an Acre of Land, it seems, is capable of producing a Quantity full sufficient for the Clothing of five hundred grown-up Persons. The Chinese by the Principles of their Religion are obliged to marry, and bring up as many Children as their Means of Subsistence will afford. They look upon it as a Crime to lay Land out in Pleasure-Gardens or Parks, defrauding the Public of Maintenance. They carry Travellers in sedan Chairs, and save the work of Horses upon all tasks which can be performed by Men. Their number is incredible if the Relation of Voyages is to be depended upon, yet they are forced to destroy many of their Children in the Cradle when they apprehend themselves not to be able to bring them up, keeping only the number they are able to support. By hard and indefatigable Labour they draw from the Rivers an extraordinary quantity of Fish and from the Land all that is possible.
Nevertheless when bad years come they starve in thousands in spite of the care of the Emperor who stores Rice for such contingencies. Numerous then as the people of China are, they are necessarily proportioned to their Means of Living and do not exceed the number the Country can support according to their standard of life; and on this footing a single Acre of Land will support many of them.
On the other hand there is no Country where the increase of Population is more limited than among the savages in the interior parts of America. They neglect Agriculture, live in Woods, and on the Wild Beasts they find there. As their Forests destroy the Sweetness and Substance of the Earth there is little pasture for Animals, and since an Indian eats several Animals in a year, 50 or 100 acres supply only enough food for a single Indian.
A small Tribe of these Indians will have 40 square leagues for its hunting ground. The wage regular and bitter wars over these boundaries, and always proportion their numbers to their means of support from the chase.
The European cultivate the Land and draw Corn from it for their subsistence. The Wool of their sheep provides them with Clothing. Wheat is the grain on which most of them are fed, but some Peasants make their Bread of Rye, and in the north of Barley and Oats. The food of the Peasants and the People is not the same in all Countries of Europe, and Land is often different in quality and fertility.
Most of the Land in Flanders and part of that in Lombardy yields 18 to 20 fold without lying idle; the Campagna of Naples yields still more. There are a few Properties in France, Spain, England and Germany which yield the same amount. Cicero tells us that the Land of Sicily in his time yielded tenfold, and the Elder Pliny says that the Leontine lands in Sicily yielded a hundred fold, those of Babylon a hundred and fifty, and some African lands a good deal more.
Today Land in Europe yields on the average six times what is sown, so that five times the seed remains for the consumption of the People. Land usually rests one year in three, producing wheat the first year and barley the second.
In the Supplement will be found estimates of the amount of Land required for the support of a Man according to the different assumptions of his Manner of Living. It will be seen that a Man who lives on Bread, Garlic and Roots, wears only hempen garments, coarse Linen, Wooden Shoes, and drinks only water, like many Peasants in the South of France, can live on the produce of an Acre and a half of Land of medium goodness, yielding a sixfold harvest and resting once in 3 years. On the other hand a grown-up Man who wears leather Shoes, Stockings, Woollen Cloth, who lives in a House and has a change of Linen, a Bed, Chairs, Table, and other necessaries, drinks moderately of Beer or Wine, eats every day Meat, Butter, Cheese, Bread, Vegetables, etc. sufficiently and yet moderately needs for all that the produce of 4 to 5 acres of land of medium quality. It is true that in these estimates nothing is allowed for the food of Horses except for the Plough and Carriage of Produce for ten Miles.
History records that the first Romans each maintained his family on two journaux of Land, equal to one Paris acre and 330 square feet or thereabouts. They were almost naked, had no Wine or Oil, lay in the Straw, and had hardly any Comforts, but as they cultivated intensely the Land, which is fairly good around Rome, they drew from it plenty of Corn and of Vegetables.
If the Proprietors of Land had at heart the increase of Population, if they encouraged the Peasants to marry young and bring up Children by promising to provide them with Subsistence, devoting their Land entirely to that purpose, they would doubtless increase the Population up to the point which the Land could support, according to the produce they allotted for each person whether an Acre and a Half or Four to Five Acres a head.
But if instead of that the Prince, or the Proprietors of Land, cause the Land to be used for other purposes than the upkeep of the People: if by the Prices they offer in the Market for produce and Merchandise they determine the Farmers to employ the Land for other purposes than the Maintenance of Man (for we have seen that the Prices they offer in the Market and their consumption determine the use made of the Land just as if they cultivated it themselves) the People will necessarily diminish in number. Some will be forced to leave the country for lack of employment, others not seeing the necessary means of raising Children, will not marry or will only marry late, after having put aside somewhat for the support of the household.
If the Proprietors of Land who live in the Country go to reside in the Cities far away from their Land, Horses must be fed for the transport into the City both of their food and that of all the Domestic Servants, Mechanicks and others whom their residence in the City attracts thither.
The carriage of Wine from Burgundy to Paris often costs more than the Wine itself costs in Burgundy; and consequently the Land employed for the upkeep of the cart horses and those who look after them is more considerable than the Land which produces the Wine and supports those who have taken part in its production. The more Horses there are in a State the less food will remain for the People. The upkeep of Carriage horses, Hunters, or Chargers, often takes three or four Acres of Land.
But when the Nobility and Proprietors of Land draw from Foreign Manufactures their Cloths, Silks, Laces, etc. and pay for them by sending to the Foreigner their native produce they diminish extraordinary the food of the People and increase that of Foreigners who often become Enemies of the State.
If a Proprietor or Nobleman in Poland, to whom his Farmers pay yearly a Rent equal to about one third of the Produce of his Land, pleases to use the Cloths, Linens, etc. of Holland, he will pay for these Mechandises one half of the rent he receives and perhaps use the other half for the subsistence of his Family on other Products and rough Manufactures of Poland: but half his rent, on our supposition, corresponds to the sixth part of the Produce of his Land, and this sixth part will be carried away by the Dutch to whom the Farmers of Poland will deliver it in Corn, Wool, Hemp and other produce. Here is then a sixth part of the Land of Poland withdrawn from its people, to say nothing of the feeding of the Cart horses, Carriage Horses and Chargers in Poland, maintained by the Manner of Living of the Nobility there. Further if out of the two thirds of the Produce of the Land allotted to the Farmers there last imitating their Masters consume foreign Manufactures which they will also pay Foreigners for in raw Produce of Poland, there will be a good third of the produce of the Land in Poland abstracted from the Food of the People, and, what is worse, mostly sent to the Foreigner and often serving to support the Enemies of the State. If the Proprietors of Land and the Nobility in Poland would consume only the Manufactures of their own State, bad as they might be at the outset, they would soon become better, and would keep a great Number of their own People to work there, instead of giving this advantage to Foreigners: and if all States had the like care not to be the dupes of other States in matters of Commerce, each State would be considerable only in proportion to its Produce and the Industry of its People.
If the Ladies of Paris are pleased to wear Brussels Lace, and if France pays for this Lace with Champagne wine, the product of a single Acre of Flax must be paid for with the product of 16,000 acres of land under vines, if my calculations are correct. This will be more fully explained elsewhere and the figures are shown in the Supplement. Suffice to say here that in this transaction a great amount of produce of the Land is withdrawn from the subsistence of the French, and that all the produce sent abroad, unless an equally considerable amount of produce be brought back in exchange, tends to diminish the number of People in the State.
When I said that the Proprietors of Land might multiply the Population as far as the Land would support them, I assumed that most Men desire nothing better than to marry if they are set in a position to keep their Families in the same style as they are content to live themselves. That is, if a Man is satisfied with the produce of an Acre and a half of Land he will marry if the is sure of having enough to keep his Family in the same way. But if he is only satisfied with the produce of 5 to 10 Acres he will be in no hurry to marry unless he thinks he can bring up his Family in the same manner.
In Europe the Children of the Nobility are brought up in affluence; and as the largest share of the Property is usually given to the Eldest sons, the younger Sons are in no hurry to marry. They usually live as Bachelors, either in the Army or in the Cloisters, but will seldom be fond unwilling to marry if they are offered Heiresses and Fortunes, or the means of supporting a Family on the footing which they have in view and without which they would consider themselves to make their Children wretched.
In the lower classes of the State also there are Men who from pride and from reasons similar to those of the Nobility, prefer to live in celibacy and to spend on themselves the little that they have rather than settle down in family life. But most of them would gladly set up a Family if they could count upon keeping it up as they would wish: they would consider themselves to do an injustice to their Children if they brought them up to fall into a lower Class than themselves. Only a few Men in a State avoid marriage from sheer flightiness. All the lower orders wish to live and bring up Children who can live like themselves. When Labourers and Mechanicks do not marry it is because they wait till they save something to enable them to set up a household or to find some young woman who brings a little capital for that purpose, since they see every day others like them who for lack of such precaution start housekeeping and fall into the most frightful poverty, being obliged to deprive themselves of their own food to nourish their Children.
From the observations of M. Halley, at Breslaw in Silesia, it is found that of all the Females capable of child-bearing, from 16 to 45 years of age, not one in six actually bears a child every year, while, says M. Halley, there ought to be at least 4 or 6 who should have children every year, without including those who are barren or have still-births. The reason why four Women out of six do not bear children every year is that they cannot marry because of the discouragements and difficulties in their way. A young Woman takes care not to become a Mother if she is not married; she cannot marry unless she finds a Man who is ready to run the risk of it. Most of the People in a State are hired or are Undertakers; most are dependent and live in uncertainty whether they will find by their Labour or their Undertakings the means of supporting their household on the footing they have in view. Therefore they do not all marry, or marry so late that of six Women, or at least four, who should produce a child every year there is actually only one in six who becomes a Mother.
If the Proprietors of Land help to support the Families, a single generation suffices to push the increase of population as far as the Produce of the Land will supply means of subsistence. Children do not require so much of this produce as grown-up persons. Both can live on more or less according to their consumption. The Northern People, where the Land produces little, have been known to live on so little produce that they have sent out Colonists and swarms of Men to invade the Lands of the South and destroy its Inhabitants to appropriate their Land. According to the different Manner of Living, 400,000 people might subsist on the same produce of the Land which ordinarily supports but 100,000. A Man who lives upon the Produce of an Acre and a half of Land, may be stronger and stouter than he who spends the Produce of five or ten Acres; it therefore seems pretty clear that the Number of Inhabitants of a State depends on the Means allotted them of obtaining their Support; and as this Means of Subsistence arises from the Method of cultivating the soil, and this Method depends chiefly on the Taste, Humours and Manner of Living of the Proprietors of Land, the Increase and Decrease of Population also stand on the same Foundation.
The Increase of Population can be carried furthest in the Countries where the people are content to live the most poorly and to consume the least produce of the soil. In Countries where all the Peasants and Labourers are accustomed to eat Meat and drink Wine, Beer, etc. so many Inhabitants cannot be supported.
Sir Wm Petty, and after him Mr Davenant, Inspector of the Customs in England, seem to depart from nature when they try to estimate the propagation of the race by progressive generations from Adam, the first Father. Their calculations seem to be purely imaginary and drawn up at hazard. On the basis of what they have seen of the actual birth rate in certain districts, how could they explain the Decrease of those innumerable People formerly found in Asia, Egypt, etc. and even in Europe? If seventeen centuries ago there were 26 millions of people in Italy, now reduced to 6 millions at most, how can it be determined by the progressions of Mr King that England which today contains 5 or 6 millions of Inhabitants will probably have 13 millions in a certain number of years? We see daily that Englishmen, in general, consume more of the produce of the Land than their Fathers did, and this is the real reason why there are fewer Inhabitants than in the past.
Men multiply like Mice in a barn if they have unlimited Means of Subsistence; and the English in the Colonies will become more numerous in proportion in three generations than they would be in thirty in England, because in the Colonies they find for cultivation new tracts of land from which they drive the Savages.
In all Countries at all times Men have waged wars for the Land and the Means of subsistence. When wars have destroyed or diminished the Population of a Country, the Savages and civilised Nations soon repopulate it in times of peace; especially when the Prince and the Proprietors of Land lend their encouragement.
A State which has conquered several Provinces may, by Tribute imposed on the vanquished, acquire an increase of subsistence for its own People. The Romans drew a great part of their subsistence from Egypt, Sicily and Africa and that is why Italy then contained so many Inhabitants.
A State where Mines are found, having Manufactures which do not require much of the produce of the land to send them into foreign Countries, and drawing from them in exchange plentiful merchandise and produce of the land, acquires an increased fund for the subsistence of its Subjects.
The Dutch exchange their Labour in Navigation, Fishing or Manufactures principally with Foreigners, for the products of their Land. Otherwise Holland could not support of itself half its Population. England buys from abroad considerable amounts of Timber, Hemp and other materials or products of the soil and consumes much Wine for which she pays in Minerals, Manufactures, etc. That saves the English a great quantity of the products of their soil. Without these advantages the People of England, on the footing of the expense of living there, could not be so numerous as they are. The Coal Mines save them several millions of Acres of Land which would otherwise be needed to grow timber.
But all these advantages are refinements and exceptional cases which I mention only incidentally. The natural and constant way of increasing Population in a State is to find employment for the People there, and to make the Land serve for the production of their Means of Support.
It is also a question outside of my subject whether it is better to have a great multitude of Inhabitants, poor and badly provided, than a smaller number, much more at their ease: a million who consume the produce of 6 acres per head or 4 millions who live on the product of an Acre and a half.
Part I, Chapter XVI
The more Labour there is in a State the more naturally rich the State is esteemed
In a long calculation worked out in the Supplement it is shewn that the Labour of 25 grown persons suffices to provide 100 others, also grown up, with all the necessaries of life according to the European standard. In these estimates it is true the Food, Clothing, Housing, etc. are coarse and rather elementary, but there is ease and plenty. It may be assumed that a good third of the People of a State are too young or too old for daily work and that another sixth are Proprietors of Land, Sick, or Undertakers of different sorts who do not by the Labour of their hands, contribute to the different needs of Men. That makes half the People without work, or at least without the work in question. So if 25 persons do all the work needed for the maintenance of a hundred others, there remain 25 persons out of the hundred who are capable of working but would have nothing to do.
The Soldiers, and the Domestic Servants in well-to-do families, will form part of these 25; and if all the others are busied in working up by additional labour the things necessary for life, like making fine linen, fine cloth, etc. the State will be deemed rich in proportion to this increase in work, though it add nothing to the quantity of things needed for the subsistence and maintenance of Man.
Labour gives an additional relish to food and drink. A fork, a knife, etc. nicely wrought, are more esteemed than those roughly and hastily made. The same may be said of a House, a Bed, a Table and everything needed for the comfort of life.
It is true that it is of little difference in a State whether People are accustomed to wear coarse or fine clothes if both are equally lasting, and whether People eat nicely or coarsely if they have enough and are in good health, since Drink, Food, Clothing, etc. are equally consumed whether fine or coarse, and that nothing is left in the State of this sort of wealth.
But it is always true to say that the States where fine Cloths, fine Linen, etc. are worn, and where the Feeding is dainty and delicate, are richer and more esteemed than those where these things are ruder, and even that the States where one sees more People living in the Manner of the first named are more highly esteemed than those where one sees fewer in Proportion.
But if the 25 persons in a hundred of whom we have spoken were employed to produce permanent commodities, to draw from the Mines Iron, Lead, Tin, Copper, etc. and work them up into Tools and Instruments for the use of Man, bowls, plates and other useful objects much more durable than earthenware, the State will not only appear to be richer for it but will be so in reality. It will be so especially if these people are employed in drawing from the Earth Gold and Silver which Metals are not only durable but so to speak permanent, which fire itself cannot destroy, which are generally accepted as the Measure of Value, and which can always be exchanged for any of the necessaries of Life: and if these Inhabitants work to draw Gold and Silver into a State in exchange for the Manufactures and Work which they produce and send abroad, their Labour will be equally useful and will in reality improve the State.
The Point which seems to determine the comparative greatness of States is their reserve Stock above the yearly consumption, like Magazines of Cloth, Linen, Corn, etc. to answer in bad years, or war. And as Gold and Silver can always buy these things, even from the Enemies of the State, Gold and Silver are the true reserve Stock of a State, and the larger or smaller actual quantity of this Stock necessarily determines the comparative greatness of Kingdoms and States.
If it is the custom to draw Gold and Silver from abroad by exporting merchandises and produce of the State, such as Corn, Wine, Wool, etc. this will not fail to enrich the State at the cost of a decrease of the Population; but if Gold and Silver be attracted from abroad in exchange for the Labour of the People, such as Manufactures and articles which contain little of the produce of the soil, this will enrich the State in a useful and essential manner. In a great State, indeed, the 25 persons in a Hundred of whom we have spoken, cannot be employed to make articles for foreign consumption. A million Men will make more Cloth, for example, than will be consumed annually in all the mercantile World, because the greater number of People in every country is always clothed from the raw material of the Country, and there will seldom be found in any State 100,000 persons employed upon Clothing for Foreigners. This is shown in the Supplement with regard to England, which of all the Nations of Europe supplies most cloth to Foreigners.
In order that the consumption of the Manufactures of a State should become considerable in foreign parts, these Manufactures must be made good and valuable by a large consumption in the interior of the State. It is needful to discourage all foreign Manufactures and to give plenty of employment to the Inhabitants.
If enough employment cannot be found to occupy the 25 persons in a hundred upon work useful and profitable to the State, I see no objection to encouraging employment which serves only for ornament or amusement. The State is not considered less rich for a thousand toys which serve to trick out the ladies or even men, or are used in games and diversions, than it is for useful and serviceable objects. Diogenes, at the Siege of Corinth, is said to have fell a rolling his tub that he might not seem idle while all others were at work; and we have today Societies of Men and Women occupied in work and exercise as useless to the State as that of Diogenes. How little soever the labour of a Man supplies ornament or even amusement in a State it is worth while to encourage it unless the Man can find a way to employ himself usefully.
It is always the inspiration of the Proprietors of Land which encourages or discourages the different occupations of the People and the different kinds of Labour which they invent.
The example of the Prince, followed by his Court, is generally capable of determining the inspiration and tastes of the other Proprietors of Land, and the example of these last naturally influences all the lower ranks. A Prince, then, without doubt is able by his own example and without any constraint to give such a turn as he likes to the labour of his subjects.
If each Proprietor in a State had only a little piece of Land, like that which is usually leased to a single Farmer, there would be hardly any Cities. The People would be more numerous and the State very rich if every Proprietor employed on some useful work the inhabitants supported on his Land.
But when the Nobles have great landed Possessions, they of necessity bring about Luxury and Idleness. Whether an Abbot at the head of a Hundred Monks live on the Produce of several fine Estates, or a Nobleman with 50 Domestic Servants, and Horses kept only for his service, live on these Estates, would be indifferent to the State if it could remain in constant peace.
But a Nobleman with his Retinue and his Horses is useful to the State in time of War; he can always be useful in the Magistracy and the keeping of order in the State in peace time; and in every case he is a great ornament to the Country, while the Monks are, as People say, neither useful nor ornamental in peace or war on this side of heaven.
The Convents of Mendicant Friars are much more pernicious to a State than those of the closed Orders. These last usually do no more harm than to occupy Estates which might serve to supply the State with Officers and Magistrates, while the Mendicants who are themselves without useful employment, often interrupt and hinder the Labour of other People. They take from poor people in charities the subsistence which ought to fortify them for their Labour. They cause them to lose much time in useless conversation, not to speak of those who intrigue themselves into Families and those who are vicious. Experience shews that the Countries which have embraced Protestantism and have neither Monks nor Mendicants have become visibly more powerful. They have also the advantage of having suppressed a great number of Holy Days when no work is done in Roman Catholic countries, and which diminish the labour of the People by about an eighth part of the year.
If it were desired to make use of everything in a State it might be possible, it seems, to diminish the number of Mendicants by incorporating them into the Monasteries as vacancies or deaths occur there, without forbidding these retreats to those who can give no evidence of their skill in speculative Sciences, who are capable of advancing the practical Arts, i.e. in some section of Mathematics. The celibacy of Churchmen is not so disadvantageous as is popularly supposed, as is shewn in the preceding Chapter, but their Idleness is very injurious.
Part I, Chapter XVII
Of Metals and Money, and especially of Gold and Silver
As Land produces more or less Corn according to its fertility and the Labour spent upon it, so the Mines of Iron, Lead, Tin, Gold, Silver, etc. produce more or less of these Metals according to the richness of the Mines and the quantity and quality of the Labour spent upon them, in digging, draining, smelting, refining, etc. Work in Silver Mines is dear on account of the mortality it causes, since rarely more than five or six years are spent in that labour.
The real or intrinsic Value of Metals is like everything else proportionable to the Land and Labour that enters into their production. The outlay on the Land for this production is considerable only so far as the Owner of the Mine can obtain a profit from the work of the Miners when the veins are unusually rich. The Land needed for the subsistence of the Miners and Workers, that is the Mining Labour, is often the principal expense and the Ruin of the Proprietor.
The Market Value of Metals, as of other Merchandise or Produce, is sometimes above, sometimes below, the intrinsic Value, and varies with their plenty or scarcity according to the demand.
If the Proprietors of Land and the lower orders in a State who imitate them, rejected the use of Tin and Copper, wrongly supposing that they are injurious to health, and if they all made use of dishes and utensils of earthenware, these Metals would be at a very low price in the Markets and the Work that was carried on to extract them from the Mine would be discontinued. But as these metals are found useful, and are employed in the service of life, they will always have a Market Value corresponding to their plenty or rarity and the demand for them; and they will always be mined to replace what is lost by daily use.
Iron is not merely serviceable for the daily use of common life but may be said to be in a certain sense necessary; and if the Americans, who did not make use of it before the discovery of their Continent, had found Mines of it and known how to use it, they would doubtless have laboured to produce it at any cost.
Gold and Silver are capable of serving not only the same purpose as Tin and Copper but most of the purposes of Lead and Iron. They have this further advantage over other metals that they are not consumed by fire and are so durable that they may be esteemed permanent bodies. It is not surprising, therefore, that Men who found the other metals useful should have esteemed Gold and Silver even before they are used in exchange. The Romans prized them from the foundation of Rome and yet only used them as money 500 years later. Perhaps all other Nations did the like and only adopted these Metals as Money long after using them for other purposes. However we find from the oldest historians that from time immemorial gold and silver were used as money in Egypt and Asia, and we learn in the Book of Genesis that silver monies were made in the time of Abraham.
Let us suppose that Silver was first found in a Mine of Mount Niphates in Mesopotamia. It is natural to think that one or more Proprietors of Land, finding this metal beautiful and useful, were the first to use it, and willingly encouraged the Miner or Undertaker to extract more of it from the Mine, giving him in return for his Work and that of his Assistants so much of the Produce of the Land as they needed for their Maintenance. This Metal becoming more and more esteemed in Mesopotamia, if the large Landowners bought ewers of silver, the lower classes, according to their means or savings, might buy silver cups; and the Undertaker of the Mine, seeing a constant demand for his Merchandise, gave it without doubt a Value proportionable to its quality or weight against the other products or merchandise which he took in exchange. While everybody looked on this Metal as a precious and durable object and strove to own a few pieces of it, the Undertaker, who alone could supply it, was in a manner master to demand in exchange an arbitrary quantity of other produce and Merchandise.
Suppose now that on the further side of the River Tigris, and therefore outside Mesopotamia, a new Silver Mine is discovered, of which the veins are incomparably richer and larger than those of Mount Niphates, and that the working of this new Mine which was easily drained was less laborious than that of the first.
The Undertaker of this new Mine was naturally in a position to supply silver much cheaper than the Undertaker of Mount Niphates, and the People of Mesopotamia who wished to have pieces and objects of silver would find it more advantageous to export their Merchandise and give it to the Undertaker of the new Mine in exchange for Silver than to take it from the original Undertaker. This last, finding a smaller demand, would of necessity reduce his price; but the new Undertaker lowering his price in proportion the first Adventurer would be obliged to stop his output, and then the price of Silver in exchange for other Merchandise and Produce would be necessarily fixed by that which was put upon it at the new Mine. Silver then cost less to the People beyond Tigris than to those of Mesopotamia who had to bear the cost of a long carriage of their Merchandise and produce to obtain Silver.
It is easy to perceive that when several Silver Mines were found and the Proprietors of Land had taken a fancy to this Metal, they were imitated by the other Classes, and that the pieces and fragments of silver, even when not worked up, were sought after eagerly, because nothing was easier than to make such articles from them as were desired, according to their quantity and weight. As this metal was esteemed at its cost value, at least, a few people who possessed some of it, finding themselves in need, could pawn it to borrow the things they wanted, and even to sell it later outright. Thence arose the custom of fixing its value in proportion to its quantity or weight as against all products and merchandise. But as silver can be combined with Iron, Lead, Tin, Copper, etc. which are not such scarce Metals and are mined at less expense, the exchange of Silver was subject to much fraud, and this caused several Kingdoms to establish Mints in order to certify by a public coinage the true quantity of silver that each coin contains and to return to individuals who bring bars or ingots of Silver to it the same quantity in coins bearing a stamp or certificate of the true quantity of Silver they contain.
The costs of these certificates or coinage are sometimes paid by the Public, or by the Prince,—the method followed in ancient times at Rome and today in England; sometimes those who take silver to be coined pay for minting as in the custom in France.
Pure Silver is hardly ever found in the Mines. The Ancients did not know the art of refining to perfection. They always made their silver coins of fine silver, and yet those which remain to us of the Greeks, Romans, Jews and Asiatics are never perfectly pure. Today there is more skill, the secret of making silver pure has been discovered. The different methods of refining it are not part of my subject. Many authors have treated of it, M. Boizard among others. I will only observe that there is a good deal of expense in refining silver and for this reason an ounce of fine silver is generally preferred to two ounces which contain one half of copper or other alloy. It is expensive to separate the alloy and extract the one ounce of pure silver which is in these two ounces, while by simple melting any other metal can be combined with silver in any proportion desired. If Copper is sometimes used as an alloy to fine silver it is only to render it more malleable and more suitable for the objects made of it. But in the valuation of all Silver the Copper or Alloy is reckoned at nothing and only the amount of fine pure silver is considered. For this reason an Assay is always made to ascertain the amount of pure silver.
Assaying is merely refining a little piece of a bar of silver, for example, to find how much pure silver it contains and to judge the whole bar by this small sample. A small portion of the bar, 12 grains for example, is cut off and nicely weighed in balances which are so accurate that a thousandth part of a grain will sometimes turn the scale. Then the sample is refined by aquafortis or by fire and the copper or alloy separated. When the Silver is pure it is weighed again in the same balance and if it then weighs 11 grains instead of 12 the Assayer says that the bar is 11 parts fine, i.e. it contains 11 parts of pure silver and 1 of copper or alloy. This will be more easily understood by those who have the curiosity to see assays carried out. There is nothing mysterious about it. Gold is assayed in the same way, with this difference only that the degrees of fineness of Gold are divided into 24 parts called Carats, since Gold is more precious; and these Carats are divided into 32 parts, while the degrees of fineness of silver are only divided into twelfths, called Deniers, and these are divided into 24 grains apiece.
Usage has conferred upon Gold and Silver the title Intrinsic Value, to designate and signify the quantity of true gold or silver contained in a bar; but in this Essay I have always used the term Intrinsic Value to signify the amount of Land and Labour which enter into Production, not having found any term more suitable to express my meaning. I mention this only to avoid misunderstanding. When Gold and Silver are not in question the term will always hold good without any confusion.
We have seen that the metals such as Gold, Silver, Iron, etc. serve several purposes and have a value proportionable to the Land and Labour which enter into their Production. We shall see in Part II of this essay that Men have been forced of necessity to employ a common measure to find in their dealings the proportion and the value of the Products and Merchandise they wished to exchange. The only question is what product or Merchandise would be most suitable for this common measure, and whether it has not been Necessity rather that Fancy which has given this preference to Gold, Silver and Copper which are generally in use today for this purpose.
Ordinary products like Corn, Wine, Meat, etc. have a real value and serve the needs of life, but they are all perishable and difficult to be transported, and therefore hardly suitable to serve as a common measure.
Merchandise such as Cloth, Linen, Leather, etc. is perishable also and cannot be subdivided without in some sort changing their Value for the service of Man. Like raw produce they cost a good deal for carriage; they even cause expense for storage, and consequently are unsuitable for a common measure.
Diamonds and other precious stones, even if they had no intrinsic value and were esteemed only from fancy, would be suitable for a common measure if they were not susceptible of imitation and if they could be divided without loss. With these defects and that of being unserviceable in use they cannot serve as a common measure.
Iron, which is always useful and fairly durable would not serve badly in default of a better. It is consumed by fire, and is too bulky owing to its quantity. It was used from the time of Lycurgus till the Peloponnesian War: but as its value was necessarily based intrinsically, or in proportion to the Land and Labour which entered into its production, a great quantity of it was needed for small value. It is curious that its quality was spoiled by Vinegar to make it useless for service and to keep it for exchange only. Thus it could serve the austere Spartans alone, and could not continue to do so even with them as soon as they extended their communication with other countries. To ruin the Spartans it needed only to find rich Iron Mines, to make Money like theirs, and to draw in exchange their products and Merchandise whilst they could get nothing from abroad for their spoiled iron. At that time they did not concern themselves with any foreign trade, but only with War.
Lead and Tin have the same disadvantage of bulk as iron and are consumable by fire, but in case of need they would not do badly for exchange if copper were not more suitable and durable.
Copper alone served as money to the Romans until 484 A.U.C., and in Sweden it is still used even in large payments: but it is too bulky for very considerable payments, and the Swedes themselves prefer payment in gold or silver rather than in Copper.
In the American Colonies Tobacco, Sugar, and Cocoa have been used as Money: but these commodities are too bulky, perishable, and of unequal quality: they are therefore hardly suitable to serve as money or a common measure of value.
Gold and Silver alone are of small volume, equal goodness, easily transported, divisible without loss, convenient to keep, beautiful and brilliant in the articles made of them and durable almost to eternity. All who have used other articles as Money return to these as soon as they can get enough of them for exchange. It is only in the smallest purchases that gold and silver are unsuitable. Gold or even silver coins of the value of a liard or a denier would be too small to be handled easily. It is said that the Chinese, in small transactions, cut off little pieces with scissors from their plates of silver, and weighed the pieces. But since their trade with Europe they have begun to use copper for such occasions.
It is then not surprising that all Countries have arrived at using gold and silver as money or a common measure of value and copper for small payments. Utility and Need have decided them, and not Fancy or Consent. Silver requires much Labour and dear Labour for its production. Silver Miners are highly paid because they rarely live more than five or six years at this work, which causes a high mortality: and so a little silver coin corresponds to as much Land and Labour as a large copper coin.
Money or the common measure of Value must correspond in fact and reality in terms of Land and Labour to the articles exchanged for it. Otherwise it would have only an imaginary Value. If for example a Prince or a Republic gave currency in the State to something which had not such a real and intrinsic value, not only would the other States refuse to accept it on that footing but the Inhabitants themselves would reject it when they perceived its lack of real value. When towards the end of the first Punic War the Romans wished to give the copper as, weighing two ozs., the same value as the as of 1 lb. or 12 oz. had before, it could not long be maintained in exchange. The History of all times shews that when Princes have debased their money, keeping it at the same nominal value, all raw produce and manufacturers have gone up in price in proportion to the debasement of the coinage.
Mr Locke says that the consent of Mankind has given its value to Gold and Silver. This cannot be doubted since absolute Necessity had no share in it. It is the same consent which has given and does give every day a value to Lace, Linen, fine Cloths, Copper, and other Metals. Man could subsist without any of these things, but it must not be concluded that they have but an imaginary value. They have a value proportionable to the Land and Labour which enter into their Production. Gold and Silver, like other merchandise and raw produce, can only be produced at costs roughly proportionable to the value set upon them, and whatever Man produces by Labour, this Labour must furnish his maintenance. It is the great principle that one hears every day from the mouths of the humble classes who have no part in our speculations, and who live by their Labour or their Undertakings. "Everybody must live."
End of the first Part.
[1.]See Essai, p. 95. Postlethwayt and P. Cantillon have "2 acres".
[2.]The Supplement is missing. See p. 356.
[3.]The Essai says "un à un"—a printer's error, or a slip of the pen. Postlethwayt has "one million." See post, p. 385.
[4.]Published in 1691, Political Anatomy of Ireland, ch. ix.