else, is the toil and trouble which it can save 
to himself, and which it can impose upon 
other people. What is bought with money, 
or with goods, is purchased by labour, as much 
as what we acquire by the toil of our own 
body. That money, or those goods, indeed, 
save us this toil. They contain the value of 
a certain quantity of labour, which we exchange 
for what is supposed at the time to 
contain the value of an equal quantity. Labour 
was the first price, the original purchase-money 
that was paid for all things. It was 
not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that 
all the wealth of the world was originally purchased; 
and its value, to those who possess it, 
and who want to exchange it for some new 
productions, is precisely equal to the quantity 
of labour which it can enable them to purchase 
or command
Wealth, as Mr Hobbes says, is power. But 
the person who either acquires, or succeeds to 
a great fortune, does not necessarily acquire 
or succeed to any political power, either civil 
or military. His fortune may, perhaps, afford 
him the means of acquiring both; but the 
mere possession of that fortune does not necessarily 
convey to him either. The power 
which that possession immediately and directly 
conveys to him, is the power of purchasing 
a certain command over all the labour, or over 
all the produce of labour which is then in the 
market. His fortune is greater or less, precisely 
in proportion to the extent of this power
or to the quantity either of other men's labour
or, what is the same thing, of the produce of 
other men's labour, which it enables him to 
purchase or command. The exchangeable value 
of every thing must always be precisely 
equal to the extent of this power which it conveys 
to its owner. 
But though labour be the real measure of 
the exchangeable value of all commodities, it 
is not that by which their value is commonly 
estimated. It is often difficult to ascertain 
the proportion between two different quantities 
of labour. The time spent in two different 
sorts of work will not always alone determine 
this proportion. The different degrees of hardship 
endured, and of ingenuity exercised, must 
likewise be taken into account. There may 
be more labour in an hour's hard work, than 
in two hours easy business; or in an hour's 
application to a trade which it cost ten years 
labour to learn, than in a month's industry, at 
an ordinary and obvious employment. But 
it is not easy to find any accurate measure 
either of hardship or ingenuity. In exchanging
indeed, the different productions of different 
sorts of labour for one another, some 
allowance is commonly made for both. It is 
adjusted, however, not by any accurate measure
but by the higgling and bargaining of the 
market, according to that sort of rough equality 
which, though not exact, is sufficient for 
carrying on the business of common life. 
Every commodity, besides, is more frequently 
exchanged for, and thereby compared with, 
other commodities, than with labour. It is 
more natural, therefore, to estimate its exchangeable 
value by the quantity of some other 
commodity, than by that of the labour which 
it can produce. The greater part of people, 
too, understand better what is meant by a 
quantity of a particular commodity, than by a 
quantity of labour. The one is a plain palpable 
object; the other an abstract notion, which, 
though it can be made sufficiently intelligible, 
is not altogether so natural and obvious
But when barter ceases, and money has become 
the common instrument of commerce, 
every particular commodity is more frequently 
exchanged for money than for any other commodity
The butcher seldom carries his beef 
or his mutton to the baker or the brewer, in 
order to exchange them for bread or for beer; 
but he carries them to the market, where he 
exchanges them for money, and afterwards exchanges 
that money for bread and for beer. 
The quantity of money which he gets for them 
regulates, too, the quantity of bread and beer 
which he can afterwards purchase. It is more 
natural and obvious to him, therefore, to estimate 
their value by the quantity of money
the commodity for which he immediately exchanges 
them, than by that of bread and beer
the commodities for which he can exchange 
them only by the intervention of another commodity
and rather to say that his butcher's 
meat is worth threepence or fourpence a-pound
than that it is worth three or four pounds of 
bread, or three or four quarts of small beer. 
Hence it comes to pass, that the exchangeable 
value of every commodity is more frequently 
estimated by the quantity of money, than by 
the quantity either of labour or of any other 
commodity which can be had in exchange for 
Gold and silver, however, like every other 
commodity, vary in their value; are sometimes 
cheaper and sometimes dearer, sometimes of 
easier and sometimes of more difficult purchase
The quantity of labour which any particular 
quantity of them can purchase or command
or the quantity of other goods which it 
will exchange for, depends always upon the 
fertility or barrenness of the mines which happen 
to be known about the time when such 
exchanges are made. The discovery of the 
abundant mines of America, reduced, in the 
sixteenth century, the value of gold and silver 
in Europe to about a third of what it had 
been before. As it cost less labour to bring 
those metals from the mine to the market, so, 
when they were brought thither, they could 
purchase or command less labour; and this 
revolution in their value, though perhaps the 
greatest, is by no means the only one of which 
history gives some account. But as a measure 
of quantity, such as the natural foot, fathom
or handful, which is continually varying