Page images

3. The marketable value of any assigned quantities of two, or more commodities, are (pro hic et nunc) equal, when they will exchange one for another. As, supposing one bushel of wheat, two bushels of barley, thirty pounds of lead, and one ounce of silver, will now in the market be taken one for another, they are then of equal worth: and, our coin being that which Englishmen reckon by, an Englishman would say, that now one bushel of wheat, two bushels of barley, thirty pounds of lead, and one ounce of silver, were equally worth five shillings.

4. The change of this marketable value of any commodity, in respect of another commodity, or in respect of a standing, common measure, is not the altering of any intrinsic value, or quality, in the commodity; (for musty and smutty corn will sell dearer at one time than the clean and sweet at another) but the alteration of some proportion which that commodity bears to something else.

5. This proportion in all commodities, whereof money is one, is the proportion of their quantity to the vent. The vent is nothing else but the passing of commodities from one owner to another in exchange; and is then called quicker, when a greater quantity of any species of commodity is taken off from the owners of it, in an equal space of time.

6. This vent is regulated, i. e. made quicker or slower, as greater or less quantities of any saleable, commodity are removed out of the way and course of trade; separated from public commerce; and no longer lie within the reach of exchange.

For, though any commodity should shift hands ever so fast, and be exchanged from one man to another; yet, if they were not thereby exempted from trade and sale, and did not cease to be any longer traffic, this would not at all make or quicken their vent. But this, seldom or never happening, makes very little or no alteration.

7. Things are removed out of the market, or hands of commerce, and so their vent altered three ways; 1. By consumption, when the commodity in its use is destroyed, as, meat, drink, and clothes, &c. all that is so consumed is quite gone out of the trade of the world. 2. By exportation; and all that is so carried away is gone out of the trade of England, and con

, cerns Englishmen no more in the price of their commodities among themselves for their own use, than if it were out of the world. 3. By buying and laying up for a man's private use. For what is by any of these ways shut out of the market, and no longer moveable by the hand of commerce, makes no longer any part of merchantable ware, and so, in respect of trade, and the quantity of any commodity, is not more considerable than if it were not in being. All these three terminating at last in consumption of all commodities, (excepting only jewels and plate, and some few others, which wear out but insensibly) may properly enough pass under that name. Engrossing too has some influence on the present vent: but this inclosing some considerable part of any commodity, (for if the engrossing be of all the commodity, and it be of general use, the price is at the will of the engrosser) out of the free common of trade, only for some time, and afterwards returning again to sale, makes not usually so sensible and general an alteration in the vent as the others do: but yet influences the price, and the vent more, according as it extends itself to a larger portion of the commodity, and hoards it up longer.

8. Most other portable commodities (excepting jewels, plate, &c.) decaying quickly in their use, but money being less consumed, or increased, i. e. by slower degrees removed from, or brought into the free commerce of any country, than the greatest part of other merchandize ; and so the proportion between its quantity and vent altering slower than in most other commodities; it is commonly looked on as a standing measure, to judge of the value of all things, especially being adapted to it by its weight and denomination in coinage.

9. Money, whilst the same quantity of it is passing up

and down the kingdom in trade, is really a standing measure of the falling and rising value of other things, in reference to one another: and the alteration of price

is truly in them only. But if you increase, or lessen, the quantity of money, current in traffic, in any place, then the alteration of value is in the money: and if at the same time wheat keep its proportion of vent to quantity, money, to speak truly, alters its worth, and wheat does not, though it sell for a greater or less price than it did before. For money, being looked upon as the standing measure of other commodities, men consider and speak of it still as if it were a standing measure, though, when it has varied its quantity, it is plain it is not.

10. But the value or price of all commodities, amongst which money passing in trade is truly one, consisting in proportion, you alter this, as you do all other proportions, whether you


one, or lessen the other.

11. In all other commodities, the owners, when they design them for traffic, endeavour, as much as they can,

to have them vented and gone, i. e. removed out of the reach of commerce, by consumption, exportation, or laying up: but money never lying upon people's hands, or wanting vent, (for any one may part with it in exchange, when he pleases) the provident public and private care is to keep it from venting, or consuming, i. e. from exportation, which is its proper consumption; and from hoarding up by others, which is a sort of engrossing. Hence it is that other commodities have sometimes a quicker, sometimes a slower vent: for nobody lays out his money in them, but according to the use he has of them, and that has bounds. But every body being ready to receive money without bounds, and keep it by him, because it answers all things: therefore the vent of money is always sufficient, or more than enough. This being so, its quantity alone is enough to regulate and determine its value, without considering any proportion between its quantity and vent, as in other commodities.

12. Therefore the lessening of use, not bringing one penny of money more into the trade or exchange of any country, but rather drawing it away from trade, and so making it less, does not at all sink its value, and


make it buy less of any commodity, but rather

13. That which raises the natural interest of money, is the same that raises the rent of land, i. e. its aptness to bring in yearly to him that manages it a greater overplus of income above his rent, as a reward to his labour. That which causes this in land, is the greater quantity of its product, in proportion to the same vent to that particular fruit, or the same quantity of product, in proportion to a greater vent of that single commodity; but that which causes increase of profit to the borrower of money, is the less quantity of money, in proportion to trade, or to the vent of all commodities, taken together, and vice versa.

14. The natural value of money, as it is apt to yield such a yearly income by interest, depends on the whole quantity of the then passing money of the kingdom, in proportion to the whole trade of the kingdom, i. e. the general vent of all the commodities. But the natural value of money, in exchanging for any one commodity, is the quantity of the trading money of the kingdom designed for that commodity, in proportion to that single commodity and its vent. For though any single man's necessity and want, either of money, or any species of commodity, being known, may make him pay dearer for money, or that commodity, yet this is but a particular case, that does not at the same time alter this constant and general rule.

15. That supposing wheat a standing measure, that is, that there is constantly the same quantity of it, in proportion to its vent, we shall find money to run the same variety of changes in its value, as all other commodities do. Now that wheat in England does come nearest to a standing measure, is evident by comparing wheat with other commodities, money, and the yearly income of land, in Henry the Seventh's time, and now; for supposing that primo Henry VII. N. let 100 acres of land to A. for 6d. per annum per acre, rackrent, and to B. another 100 acres of land, of the same soil and yearly worth with the former, for a bushel of wheat per acre, rack-rent, (a bushel of wheat about that

[ocr errors]

time being probably sold for about 6d.) it was then an equal rent. If, therefore, these leases were for years yet to come, it is certain that he that paid but 6d. per acre, would pay now 50s. per annum, and he that paid a bushel of wheat per acre, would now pay about 251. per annum, which would be near about the yearly value of the land, were it to be let now. The reason whereof is this, that there being ten times as much silver now in the world (the discovery of the West Indies having made the plenty) as there was then, it is ninetenths less worth now than it was at that time; that is, it will exchange for nine-tenths less of any commodity now, which bears the same proportion to its vent, as it did 200 years since, which, of all other commodities, wheat is likeliest to do; for in England, and this part of the world, wheat being the constant and most general food, not altering with the fashion, not growing by chance; but as the farmers sow more or less of it, which they endeavour to proportion, as near as can be guessed, to the consumption, abstracting the overplus of the precedent year, in their provision for the next, and vice versa; it must needs fall out, that it keeps the nearest proportion to its consumption (which is more studied and designed in this than other commodities) of any thing, if you take it for seven or twenty years together: though perhaps the plenty or scarcity of one year, caused by the accidents of the season, may very much vary it from the immediately precedent, or following. Wheat, therefore, in this part of the world, (and that grain, which is the constant general food of any other country) is the fittest measure to judge of the altered value of things, in any long tract of time: and therefore, wheat here, rice in Turkey, &c. is the fittest thing to reserve a rent in, which is designed to be constantly the same for all future ages. But money is the best measure of the altered value of things in a few years: because its vent is the same, and its quantity alters slowly. But wheat, or any other grain, cannot serve instead of money, because of its bulkiness, and too quick change of its quantity; for had I a bond, to

« PreviousContinue »