guests at the first request, without seeming to 
think that they had made them any very valuable 
present. They were astonished to observe 
the rage of the Spaniards to obtain 
them; and had no notion that there could 
anywhere be a country in which many people 
had the disposal of so great a superfluity of 
food; so scanty always among themselves, 
that, for a very small quantity of those glittering 
baubles, they would willingly give as 
much as might maintain a whole family for 
many years. Could they have been made to 
understand this, the passion of the Spaniards 
would not have surprised them. 
Part III.—Of the variations in the Proportion 
between the respective Values of that 
sort of Produce which always affords Rent
and of that which sometimes does, and sometimes 
does not, afford Rent
The increasing abundance of food, in consequence 
of the increasing improvement and 
cultivation, must necessarily increase the demand 
for every part of the produce of land 
which is not food, and which can be applied 
either to use or to ornament. In the whole 
progress of improvement, it might, therefore, 
be expected there should be only one variation 
in the comparative values of those two different 
sorts of produce. The value of that sort 
which sometimes does, and sometimes does 
not afford rent, should constantly rise in proportion 
to that which always affords some 
rent. As art and industry advance, the materials 
of clothing and lodging, the useful fossils 
and materials of the earth, the precious 
metals and the precious stones, should gradually 
come to be more and more in demand
should gradually exchange for a greater and 
a greater quantity of food; or, in other words
should gradually become dearer and dearer
This, accordingly, has been the case with most 
of these things upon most occasions, and 
would have been the case with all of them 
upon all occasions, if particular accidents had 
not, upon some occasions, increased the supply 
of some of them in a still greater proportion 
than the demand
The value of a free-stone quarry, for example, 
will necessarily increase with the increasing 
improvement and population of the 
country round about it, especially if it should 
be the only one in the neighbourhood. But 
the value of a silver mine, even though there 
should not be another within a thousand miles 
of it, will not necessarily increase with the 
improvement of the country in which it is situated
The market for the produce of a 
free-stone quarry can seldom extend more 
than a few miles round about it, and the demand 
must generally be in proportion to the 
improvement and population of that small district
but the market for the produce of a silver 
mine may extend over the whole known 
world. Unless the world in general, therefore, 
be advancing in improvement and population, 
the demand for silver might not be at 
all increased by the improvement even of a 
large country in the neighbourhood of the 
mine. Even though the world in general 
were improving, yet if, in the course of its 
improvements, new mines should be discovered
much more fertile than any which had 
been known before, though the demand for 
silver would necessarily increase, yet the supply 
might increase in so much a greater proportion
that the real price of that metal might 
gradually fall; that is, any given quantity, a 
pound weight of it, for example, might gradually 
purchase or command a smaller and a 
smaller quantity of labour, or exchange for a 
smaller and a smaller quantity of corn, the 
principal part of the subsistence of the labourer. 
The great market for silver is the commercial 
and civilized part of the world
If, by the general progress of improvement
the demand of this market should increase
while, at the same time, the supply did not 
increase in the same proportion, the value of 
silver would gradually rise in proportion to 
that of corn. Any given quantity of silver 
would exchange for a greater and a greater 
quantity of corn; or, in other words, the average 
money price of corn would gradually become 
cheaper and cheaper
If, on the contrary, the supply, by some accident
should increase, for many years together, 
in a greater proportion than the demand
that metal would gradually become 
cheaper and cheaper; or, in other words, the 
average money price of corn would, in spite 
of all improvements, gradually become dearer 
and dearer
But if, on the other hand, the supply of 
that metal should increase nearly in the same 
proportion as the demand, it would continue 
to purchase or exchange for nearly the same 
quantity of corn; and the average money price 
of corn would, in spite of all improvements
continue very nearly the same. 
These three seem to exhaust all the possible 
combinations of events which can happen in 
the progress of improvement; and during the 
course of the four centuries preceding the 
present, if we may judge by what has happened 
both in France and Great Britain, each of 
those three different combinations seems to 
have taken place in the European market, and 
nearly in the same order, too, in which I have 
here set them down. 
Digression concerning the Variations in the value 
of Silver during the Course of the Four 
last Centuries
First Period.—In 1350, and for some time 
before, the average price of the quarter of