in its own quantity, can never be an accurate 
measure of the quantity of other things
so a commodity which is itself continually varying 
in its own value, can never be an accurate 
measure of the value of other commodities
Equal quantities of labour, at all times 
and places, may be said to be of equal value 
to the labourer. In his ordinary state of 
health, strength, and spirits; in the ordinary 
degree of his skill and dexterity, he must always 
lay down the same portion of his ease, 
his liberty, and his happiness. The price which 
he pays must always be the same, whatever 
may be the quantity of goods which he receives 
in return for it. Of these, indeed, it 
may sometimes purchase a greater and sometimes 
a smaller quantity; but it is their value 
which varies, not that of the labour which purchases 
them. At all times and places, that is 
dear which it is difficult to come at, or which 
it costs much labour to acquire; and that 
cheap which is to be had easily, or with very 
little labour. Labour alone, therefore, never 
varying in its own value, is alone the ultimate 
and real standard by which the value of all 
commodities can at all times and places be estimated 
and compared. It is their real price
money is their nominal price only. 
But though equal quantities of labour are 
always of equal value to the labourer, yet to 
the person who employs him they appear sometimes 
to be of greater, and sometimes of smaller 
value. He purchases them sometimes with 
a greater, and sometimes with a smaller quantity 
of goods, and to him the price of labour 
seems to vary like that of all other things. It 
appears to him dear in the one case, and cheap 
in the other. In reality, however, it is the 
goods which are cheap in the one case, and 
dear in the other. 
In this popular sense, therefore, labour, like 
commodities, may be said to have a real and 
a nominal price. Its real price may be said to 
consist in the quantity of the necessaries and 
conveniencies of life which are given for it; 
its nominal price, in the quantity of money
The labourer is rich or poor, is well or ill rewarded, 
in proportion to the real, not to the 
nominal price of his labour
The distinction between the real and the 
nominal price of commodities and labour is 
not a matter of mere speculation, but may 
sometimes be of considerable use in practice. 
The same real price is always of the same value; 
but on account of the variations in the 
value of gold and silver, the same nominal 
price is sometimes of very different values
When a landed estate, therefore, is sold with 
a reservation of a perpetual rent, if it is intended 
that this rent should always be of the 
same value, it is of importance to the family 
in whose favour it is reserved, that it should 
not consist in a particular sum of money. Its 
value would in this case be liable to variations 
of two different kinds: first, to those which 
arise from the different quantities of gold and 
silver which are contained at different times 
in coin of the same denomination; and, secondly, 
to those which arise from the different 
values of equal quantities of gold and silver 
at different times
Princes and sovereign states have frequently 
fancied that they had a temporary interest 
to diminish the quantity of pure metal contained 
in their coins; but they seldom have 
fancied that they had any to augment it. The 
quantity of metal contained in the coins, I 
believe of all nations, has accordingly been 
almost continually diminishing, and hardly 
ever augmenting. Such variations, therefore, 
tend almost always to diminish the value of a 
money rent
The discovery of the mines of America diminished 
the value of gold and silver in Europe. 
This diminution, it is commonly supposed
though I apprehend without any certain 
proof, is still going on gradually, and is 
likely to continue to do so for a long time
Upon this supposition, therefore, such variations 
are more likely to diminish than to 
augment the value of a money rent, even 
though it should be stipulated to be paid, not 
in such a quantity of coined money of such a 
denomination (in so many pounds sterling
for example), but in so many ounces, either 
of pure silver, or of silver of a certain standard
The rents which have been reserved in 
corn, have preserved their value much better 
than those which have been reserved in money
even where the denomination of the coin has 
not been altered. By the 18th of Elizabeth, 
it was enacted, that a third of the rent of all 
college leases should be reserved in corn, to 
be paid either in kind, or according to the 
current prices at the nearest public market
The money arising from this corn rent, though 
originally but a third of the whole, is, in the 
present times, according to Dr. Blackstone
commonly near double of what arises from 
the other two-thirds. The old money rents 
of colleges must, according to this account
have sunk almost to a fourth part of their ancient 
value, or are worth little more than a 
fourth part of the corn which they were formerly 
worth. But since the reign of Philip 
and Mary, the denomination of the English 
coin has undergone little or no alteration, and 
the same number of pounds, shillings, and 
pence, have contained very nearly the same 
quantity of pure silver. This degradation
therefore, in the value of the money rents of 
colleges, has arisen altogether from the degradation 
in the price of silver
When the degradation in the value of silver 
is combined with the diminution of the quantity 
of it contained in the coin of the same 
denomination, the loss is frequently still greater. 
In Scotland, where the denomination of 
the coin has undergone much greater alterations