to what is above written, having respect to the 
price of corn." 
Thirdly, they seem to have been misled too, 
by the very low price at which wheat was 
sometimes sold in very ancient times; and to 
have imagined, that as its lowest price was 
then much lower than in later times its ordinary 
price must likewise have been much lower
They might have found, however, that in 
those ancient times its highest price was fully 
as much above, as its lowest price was below 
any thing that had ever been known in later 
times. Thus, in 1270, Fleetwood gives us 
two prices of the quarter of wheat. The one 
is four pounds sixteen shillings of the money 
of those times, equal to fourteen pounds eight 
shillings of that of the present; the other is 
six pounds eight shillings, equal to nineteen 
pounds four shillings of our present money
No price can be found in the end of the fifteenth
or beginning of the sixteenth century
which approaches to the extravagance of these. 
The price of corn, though at all times liable 
to variation, varies most in those turbulent 
and disorderly societies, in which the interruption 
of all commerce and communication hinders 
the plenty of one part of the country from 
relieving the scarcity of another. In the disorderly 
state of England under the Plantagenets
who governed it from about the middle 
of the twelfth till towards the end of the fifteenth 
century, one district might be in plenty
while another, at no great distance, by 
having its crop destroyed, either by some accident 
of the seasons, or by the incursion of 
some neighbouring baron, might be suffering 
all the horrors of a famine; and yet if the 
lands of some hostile lord were interposed between 
them, the one might not be able to give 
the least assistance to the other. Under the 
vigorous administration of the Tudors, who 
governed England during the latter part of 
the fifteenth, and through the whole of the 
sixteenth century, no baron was powerful enough 
to dare to disturb the public security. 
The reader will find at the end of this chapter 
all the prices of wheat which have been 
collected by Fleetwood, from 1202 to 1597, 
both inclusive, reduced to the money of the 
present times, and digested, according to the 
order of time, into seven divisions of twelve 
years each. At the end of each division, too, 
he will find the average price of the twelve 
years of which it consists. In that long period 
of time, Fleetwood has been able to collect 
the prices of no more than eighty years
so that four years are wanting to make out 
the last twelve years. I have added, therefore, 
from the accounts of Eton college, the 
prices of 1598, 1599, 1600, and 1601. It is 
the only addition which I have made. The 
reader will see, that from the beginning of 
the thirteenth till after the middle of the sixteenth 
century, the average price of each twelve 
years grows gradually lower and lower; and 
that towards the and of the sixteenth century 
it begins to rise again. The prices, indeed, 
which Fleetwood has been able to collect
seem to have been those chiefly which were 
remarkable for extraordinary dearness or cheapness
and I do not pretend that any very certain 
conclusion can be drawn from them. So 
far, however, as they prove any thing at all, 
they confirm the account which I have been 
endeavouring to give. Fleetwood himself, 
however, seems, with most other writers, to 
have believed, that, during all this period, the 
value of silver, in consequence of its increasing 
abundance, was continually diminishing
The prices of corn, which he himself has collected
certainly do not agree with this opinion
They agree perfectly with that of Mr 
Dupré de St Maur, and with that which I 
have been endeavouring to explain. Bishop 
Fleetwood and Mr Dupré de St Maur are the 
two authors who seem to have collected, with 
the greatest diligence and fidelity, the prices 
of things in ancient times. It is somewhat 
curious that, though their opinions are so very 
different, their facts, so far as they relate to 
the price of corn at least, should coincide so 
very exactly. 
It is not, however, so much from the low 
price of corn, as from that of some other parts 
of the rude produce of land, that the most judicious 
writers have inferred the great value 
of silver in those very ancient times. Corn
it has been said, being a sort of manufacture, 
was, in those rude ages, much dearer in proportion 
than the greater part of other commodities
it is meant, I suppose, than the greater 
part of unmanufactured commodities, such 
as cattle, poultry, game of all kinds, &c. That 
in those times of poverty and barbarism these 
were proportionably much cheaper than corn
is undoubtedly true. But this cheapness was 
not the effect of the high value of silver, but 
of the low value of those commodities. It 
was not because silver would in such time 
purchase or represent a greater quantity of labour
but because such commodities would 
purchase or represent a much smaller quantity 
than in times of more opulence and improvement. 
Silver must certainly be cheaper in 
Spanish America than in Europe; in the country 
where it is produced, than in the country 
to which it is brought, at the expense of a 
long carriage both by land and by sea, of a 
freight, and an insurance. One-and-twenty 
pence halfpenny sterling, however, we are told 
by Ulloa, was, not many years ago, at Buenos 
Ayres, the price of an ox chosen from a herd 
of three or four hundred. Sixteen shillings 
sterling, we are told by Mr Byron, was the 
price of a good horse in the capital of Chili
In a country naturally fertile, but of which 
the far greater part is altogether uncultivated
cattle, poultry, game of all kinds, &c. as they 
can be acquired with a very small quantity of 
labour, so they will purchase or command but