In 1687, the price of the quarter of nine 
bushels of the best wheat, at Windsor market
was L.1 : 5 : 2, the lowest price at which it 
had ever been from 1595. 
In 1688, Mr Gregory King, a man famous 
for his knowledge in matters of this kind
estimated the average price of wheat, in years 
of moderate plenty, to be to the grower 3s. 
6d. the bushel, or eight-and-twenty shillings 
the quarter. The grower's price I understand 
to be the same with what is sometimes 
called the contract price, or the price at which 
a farmer contracts for a certain number of 
years to deliver a certain quantity of corn to a 
dealer. As a contract of this kind saves the farmer 
the expense and trouble of marketing, the 
contract price is generally lower than what is 
supposed to be the average market price. Mr 
King had judged eight-and-twenty shillings 
the quarter to be at that time the ordinary 
contract price in years of moderate plenty
Before the scarcity occasioned by the late 
extraordinary course of bad seasons, it was, I 
have been assured, the ordinary contract price 
in all common years
In 1688 was granted the parliamentary 
bounty upon the exportation of corn. The 
country gentlemen, who then composed a still 
greater proportion of the legislature than they 
do at present, had felt that the money price 
of corn was falling. The bounty was an expedient 
to raise it artificially to the high price 
at which it had frequently been sold in 
times of Charles I. and II. It was to take 
place, therefore, till wheat was so high as forty-eight 
shillings the quarter; that is, twenty 
shillings, or 5-7ths dearer than Mr King had, 
in that very year, estimated the grower's price 
to be in times of moderate plenty. If his calculations 
deserve any part of the reputation 
which they have obtained very universally, 
eight-and-forty shillings the quarter was a 
price which, without some such expedient as 
the bounty, could not at that time be expected
except in years of extraordinary scarcity
But the government of King William was not 
then fully settled. It was in no condition to 
refuse any thing to the country gentlemen
from whom it was, at that very time, soliciting 
the first establishment of the annual land-tax
The value of silver, therefore, in proportion 
to that of corn, had probably risen somewhat 
before the end of the last century, and it 
seems to have continued to do so during the 
course of the greater part of the present
though the necessary operation of the bounty 
must have hindered that time from being so 
sensible as it otherwise would have been in 
the actual state of tillage
In plentiful years, the bounty, by occasioning 
an extraordinary exportation, necessarily 
raises the price of corn above what it otherwise 
would be in those years. To encourage 
tillage, by keeping up the price of corn, even 
in the most plentiful years, was the avowed 
end of the institution
In years of great scarcity, indeed, the bounty 
has generally been suspended. It must, 
however, have had some effect upon the prices 
of many of these years. By the extraordinary 
exportation which it occasions in years of 
plenty, it must frequently hinder the plenty 
of one year from compensating the scarcity 
of another. 
Both in years of plenty and in years of 
scarcity, therefore, the bounty raises the price 
of corn above what it naturally would be in 
the actual state of tillage. If during the 
sixty-four first years of the present century
therefore, the average price has been lower 
than during the sixty-four last years of the 
last century, it must, in the same state of tillage
have been much more so, had it not been 
for this operation of the bounty
But, without the bounty, it maybe said the 
state of tillage would not have been the same. 
What may have been the effects of this institution 
upon the agriculture of the country, I 
shall endeavour to explain hereafter, when I 
come to treat particularly of bounties. I shall 
only observe at present, that this rise in the 
value of silver, in proportion to that of corn
has not been peculiar to England. It has been 
observed to have taken place in France during 
the same period, and nearly in the same proportion
too, by three very faithful, diligent, 
and laborious collectors of the prices of corn
Mr Dupré de St Maur, Mr Messance, and the 
author of the Essay on the Police of Grain
But in France, till 1764, the exportation of 
grain was by law prohibited; and it is somewhat 
difficult to suppose, that nearly the same 
diminution of price which took place in one 
country, notwithstanding this prohibition
should, in another, be owing to the extraordinary 
encouragement given to exportation
It would be more proper, perhaps, to consider 
this variation in the average money price 
of corn as the effect rather of some gradual 
rise in the real value of silver in the European 
market, than of any fall in the real average 
value of corn. Corn, it has already been observed
is, at distant periods of time, a more 
accurate measure of value than either silver 
or, perhaps, any other commodity. When, 
after the discovery of the abundant mines of 
America, corn rose to three and four times 
its former money price, this change was universally 
ascribed, not to any rise in the real 
value of corn, but to a fall in the real value 
of silver. If, during the sixty-four first years 
of the present century, therefore, the average 
money price of corn has fallen somewhat below 
what it had been during the greater part 
of the last century, we should, in the same 
manner, impute this change, not to any fall 
in the real value of corn, but to some rise in 
the real value of silver in the European market