a very small quantity. The low money price 
for which they may be sold, is no proof that 
the real value of silver is there very high, but 
that the real value of those commodities is 
very low
Labour, it must always be remembered, and 
not any particular commodity, or set of commodities
is the real measure of the value both 
of silver and of all other commodities
But in countries almost waste, or but thinly 
inhabited, cattle, poultry, game of all kinds, 
&c. as they are the spontaneous productions 
of Nature, so she frequently produces them in 
much greater quantities than the consumption 
of the inhabitants requires. In such a state of 
things, the supply commonly exceeds the demand
In different states of society, in different 
states of improvement, therefore, such 
commodities will represent, or be equivalent
to very different quantities of labour
In every state of society, in every stage of 
improvement, corn is the production of human 
industry. But the average produce of every 
sort of industry is always suited, more or less 
exactly, to the average consumption; the average 
supply to the average demand. In every 
different stage of improvement, besides, the 
raising of equal quantities of corn in the same 
soil and climate, will, at an average, require 
nearly equal quantities of labour; or, what 
comes to the same thing, the price of nearly 
equal quantities; the continual increase of 
the productive powers of labour, in an improved 
state of cultivation, being more or less 
counterbalanced by the continual increasing 
price of cattle, the principal instruments of 
agriculture. Upon all these accounts, therefore, 
we may rest assured, that equal quantities 
of corn will, in every state of society, in every 
stage of improvement, more nearly represent
or be equivalent to, equal quantities of labour
than equal quantities of any other part of the 
rude produce of land. Corn, accordingly, it 
has already been observed, is, in all the different 
stages of wealth and improvement, a more 
accurate measure of value than any other commodity 
or set of commodities. In all those 
different stages, therefore, we can judge better 
of the real value of silver, by comparing 
it with corn, than by comparing it with any 
other commodity or set of commodities
Corn, besides, or whatever else is the common 
and favourite vegetable food of the people, 
constitutes, in every civilized country, the 
principal part of the subsistence of the labourer. 
In consequence of the extension of agriculture
the land of every country produces
much greater quantity of vegetable than of 
animal food, and the labourer everywhere 
lives chiefly upon the wholesome food that is 
cheapest and most abundant. Butcher's meat
except in the most thriving countries, or where 
labour is most highly rewarded, makes but an 
insignificant part of his subsistence; poultry 
makes a still smaller part of it, and game no 
part of it. In France, and even in Scotland
where labour is somewhat better rewarded 
than in France, the labouring poor seldom 
eat butcher's meat, except upon holidays, and 
other extraordinary occasions. The money 
price of labour, therefore, depends much more 
upon the average money price of corn, the 
subsistence of the labourer, than upon that of 
butcher's meat, or of any other part of the 
rude produce of land. The real value of gold 
and silver, therefore, the real quantity of labour 
which they can purchase or command
depends much more upon the quantity of corn 
which they can purchase or command, than 
upon that of butcher's meat, or any other part 
of the rude produce of land
Such slight observations, however, upon the 
prices either of corn or of other commodities
would not probably have misled so many intelligent 
authors, had they not been influenced 
at the same time by the popular notion, that 
as the quantity of silver naturally increases 
in every country with the increase of wealth
so its value diminishes as its quantity increases
This notion, however, seems to be altogether 
The quantity of the precious metals may 
increase in any country from two different 
causes; either, first, from the increased abundance 
of the mines which supply it; or, secondly, 
from the increased wealth of the people
from the increased produce of their annual 
labour. The first of these causes is no 
doubt necessarily connected with the diminution 
of the value of the precious metals; but 
the second is not. 
When more abundant mines are discovered
a greater quantity of the precious metals is 
brought to market; and the quantity of the 
necessaries and conveniencies of life for which 
they must be exchanged being the same as before, 
equal quantities of the metals must be 
exchanged for smaller quantities of commodities
So far, therefore, as the increase of 
the quantity of the precious metals in any 
country arises from the increased abundance 
of the mines, it is necessarily connected with 
some diminution of their value. 
When, on the contrary, the wealth of any 
country increases, when the annual produce 
of its labour becomes gradually greater and 
greater, a greater quantity of coin becomes 
necessary in order to circulate a greater quantity 
of commodities: and the people, as they 
can afford it, as they have more commodities 
to give for it, will naturally purchase a greater 
and a greater quantity of plate. The quantity 
of their coin will increase from necessity; 
the quantity of their plate from vanity and 
ostentation, or from the same reason that the 
quantity of fine statues, pictures, and of every 
other luxury and curiosity, is likely to increase 
among them. But as statuaries and 
painters are not likely to be worse rewarded 
in times of wealth and prosperity, than in