Page images

him as in other places, where they have not such a supply: but if you consider what money to do this must necessarily be constantly lodged in the banker's hands, the case will be much the saine.

To these sums, if you add what part of the money of a country scholars of all sorts, women, gamesters, and great men's menial servants, and all such that do not contribute at all to trade, either as landholders, labourers, or brokers, will unavoidably have constantly in their hands; it cannot well be thought that less than one-fiftieth part of the labourer's wages, onefourth part of the landholder's yearly revenue, and one-twentieth part of the broker's yearly returns in ready money, will be enough to drive the trade of any country. At least to put it beyond exception low enough, it cannot be imagined that less than one moiety of this, i. c. less than one-hundredth part of the labourer's yearly wages, one-eighth part of the landholder's yearly revenue, and one-fortieth part of the broker's yearly returns, in ready money, can be enough to move the several wheels of trade, and keep up commerce, in that life and thriving posture it should be; and how much the ready cash of any country is short of this proportion, so much must the trade be impaired and hindered for want of money.

But however these measures may be mistaken, this is evident, that the multiplying of brokers hinders the trade of any country, by making the circuit, which the money goes, larger; and in that circuit more stops, so that the returns must necessarily be slower and scantier, to the prejudice of trade: besides that, they eat up too great a share of the gains of trade: by that means starving the labourer, and impoverishing the landholder, whose interest is chiefly to be taken care of, it being a settled, unmoveable concernment in the commonwealth.

If this be so, it is past question that all encouragement should be given to artificers; and things so ordered, as much as might be, that those who make should also vend and retail out their own commodities, and they be hindered, as much as possible, from pass

ing here at home through divers hands to the last buyer. Lazy and unworking shopkeepers in this being worse than gamesters, that they do not only keep so much of the money of a country constantly in their hands, but also make the public pay them for their keeping of it. Though gaming too, upon the account of trade (as well as other reasons) may well deserve to be restrained; since gamesters, in order to their play, keep great sums of money by them, which there lies dead; for though gamester's money shifts masters oftener than any, and is tumbled up and down with every cast of the die, yet as to the public it lies perfectly still, and no more of it comes into trade than they spend in eating or wearing.

Here too we may observe, how much manufacture deserves to be encouraged; since that part of trade, though the most considerable, is driven with the least money, especially if the workmanship be more worth than the materials; for to the trade that is driven by labour and handicraftsmen, one two-and-fiftieth part of the yearly money paid them will be sufficient : but to a trade of our commodities, of our bare, native growth, much greater proportion of money is required.

Perhaps it will be wondered why, having given some estimate (how wide I know not) of the money, necessary in the hands of the landholder, labourer, and broker, to carry on trade, I have said nothing of the consumer, whom I had mentioned before. To this I answer, there are so few consumers, who are not either labourers, brokers, or landholders, that they make a very inconsiderable part in the account; for those who immediately depend on the landholder, as his children and servants, come in under that title, being maintained by the rent of his lands; and so of the rest.

By what has been said, we may see what injury the lowering of interest is like to do us, by hindering trade, when it shall either make the foreigner call home his money, or your own people backward to lend, the reward not being judged proportionable to the risque.

There is another seeming consequence of the reducing of money to a low price, which at first sight has such an appearance of truth in it, that I have known it to impose upon very able men, and I guess it has no small influence, at this time, in the promoting this alteration; and that is, that the lowering of interest will raise the value of all other things in proportion. For money being the counter-balance to all other things purchaseable by it, and lying, as it were, in the opposite scale of commerce, it looks like a natural consequence, that as much as you take off from the value of money, so much you add to the price of other things which are exchanged for it; the raising of the price of any thing being no more but the addition to its value in respect of money, or, which is all one, lessening the value of money. For example: should the value of gold be brought down to that of silver, one hundred guineas would purchase little more corn, wool, or land, than one hundred shillings; and so, the value of money being brought lower, say they, the price of other things will rise, and the falling of interest from six pounds to four pounds per cent. is taking away so much of the price of money, and so consequently the lessening its value.

The mistake of this plausible way of reasoning will be easily discovered, when we consider that the measure of the value of money, in proportion to any thing purchaseable by it, is the quantity of the ready money we have in comparison with the quantity of that thing, and its vent; or, which amounts to the same thing, the price of any commodity rises or falls, by the proportion of the number of buyers and sellers: this rule holds universally in all things that are to be bought and sold, bating now and then an extravagant fancy of some particular person, which never amounts to so considerable a part of trade, as to make any thing in the account worthy to be thought an exception to this rule.

Thé vent of any thing depends upon its necessity or usefulness; as convenience, or opinion, guided by fancy, or fashion, shall determine.

The vent of any commodity comes to be increased, or decreased, as a greater part of the running cash of the nation is designed to be laid out, by several people at the same time, rather in that than another; as we see in the change of fashions.

I shall begin first with the necessaries, or conveniencies of life, and the consumable commodities subservient thereunto; and show, that the value of money, in respect of those, depends only on the plenty

, or scarcity of money, in proportion to the plenty and scarcity of those things; and not on what interest shall, by necessity, law, or contract, be at that time laid on the borrowing of money; and then afterwards I shall show that the same holds in land.

There is nothing more confirmed, by daily experience, than that men give any portion of money, for whatsoever is absolutely necessary, rather than go without it. And in such things, the scarcity of them alone makes their prices. As for example: let us suppose half an ounce of silver, or half a crown now in England, is worth a bushel of wheat : but should there be next year a great scarcity of wheat in England, and a proportionable want of all other food, five ounces of silver would, perhaps, in exchange purchase but one bushel of wheat: so that money would be then nine-tenths less worth in respect of food, though at the same value it was before, in respect of other things, that kept their former proportion, in their quantity and consumption.

By the like proportions, of increase and decrease, does the value of things, more or less convenient, rise and fall, in respect of money; only with this difference, that things absolutely necessary for life must be had at any rate; but things convenient will be had only as they stand in preference with other conveniencies : and therefore in any one of these commodities, the value rises only as its quantity is less, and vent greater, which depends upon its being preferred to other things, in its consumption. For supposing that, at the same time that there is a great scarcity of wheat, and other grain, there were a considerable quantity of oats, men, no question, would give far more for wheat than oats, as being the healthier, pleasanter, and more convenient food: but, since oats would serve to supply that absolute necessity of sustaining life, men Yould not rob themselves of all other conveniencies of life, by paying all their money for. wheat, when oats, that are cheaper, though with some inconvenience, would supply that defect. It may then so happen at the same time, that half an ounce of silver, that the year before would buy one bushel of wheat, will this year buy but one tenth of a bushel ; half an ounce of silver, that the year before would have bought three bushels of oats, will this year still buy one; and at the same time half an ounce of silver, that would the year before have bought fifteen pounds of lead, will still buy the same quantity. So that at the same time silver, in respect of wheat, is nine-tenths less worth than it was, in respect of oats two-thirds less worth, and in respect of lead as much worth as before.

The fall, therefore, or rise of interest, making immediately, by its change, neither more nor less land, money, or any sort of commodity in England, than there was before, alters not at all the value of money, in reference to commodities. Because the measure of that is only the quantity and vent, which are not immediately changed by the change of interest. So far as the change of interest conduces, in trade, to the bringing in, or carrying out money, or commodities, and so in time to the varying their proportions here in England, from what it was before; so far the change of interest, as all other things that promote or hinder trade, may alter the value of money, in reference to commodities. But that is not in this place to be considered.

This is perfectly the value of money, in respect of consumable commodities: but the better to understand it, in its full latitude, in respect both of consumable commodities, and land too, we must consider, first, That the value of land consists in this, that, by its constant production of saleable commodities, it brings in a certain yearly income. Secondly, The value of commodities consists in this, that, as portable and use

« PreviousContinue »