The high price of corn during these ten or 
twelve years past, indeed, has occasioned
suspicion that the real value of silver still continues 
to fall in the European market. This 
high price of corn, however, seems evidently 
to have been the effect of the extraordinary 
unfavourableness of the seasons, and ought, 
therefore, to be regarded, not as a permanent
but as a transitory and occasional event. The 
seasons, for these ten or twelve years past
have been unfavourable through the greater 
part of Europe; and the disorders of Poland 
have very much increased the scarcity in all 
those countries, which, in dear years, used to 
be supplied from that market. So long a 
course of bad seasons, though not a very common 
event, is by no means a singular one; 
and whoever has inquired much into the history 
of the prices of corn in former times
will be at no loss to recollect several other 
examples of the same kind. Ten years of extraordinary 
scarcity, besides, are not more 
wonderful than ten years of extraordinary 
plenty. The low price of corn, from 1741 to 
1750, both inclusive, may very well be set in 
opposition to its high price during these last 
eight or ten years. From 1741 to 1750, the 
average price of the quarter of nine bushels of 
the best wheat, at Windsor market, it appears 
from the accounts of Eton College, was only 
L.1 : 13 : 94⁄5, which is nearly 6s. 3d. below 
the average price of the sixty-four first years 
of the present century. The average price of 
the quarter of eight bushels of middle wheat 
comes out, according to this account, to have 
been, during these ten years, only L.1 : 6 : 8. 
Between 1741 and 1750, however, the 
bounty must have hindered the price of corn 
from falling so low in the home market as it 
naturally would have done. During these 
ten years, the quantity of all sorts of grain 
exported, it appears from the custom-house 
books, amounted to no less than 8,029,156 
quarters, one bushel. The bounty paid for this 
amounted to L.1,514,962 : 17 : 4½. In 1749, 
accordingly, Mr Pelham, at that time prime 
minister, observed to the house of commons, 
that, for the three years preceding, a very extraordinary 
sum had been paid as bounty for 
the exportation of corn. He had good reason 
to make this observation, and in the following 
year he might have had still better. 
In that single year, the bounty paid amounted 
to no less than L.324,176 : 10 : 6.[18] It is unnecessary 
to observe how much this forced exportation 
must have raised the price of corn 
above what it otherwise would have been in 
the home market
At the end of the accounts annexed to this 
chapter the reader will find the particular account 
of those ten years separated from the 
rest. He will find there, too, the particular 
account of the preceding ten years, of which 
the average is likewise below, though not so 
much below, the general average of the sixty-four 
first years of the century. The year 
1740, however, was a year of extraordinary 
scarcity. These twenty years preceding 1750 
may very well be set in opposition to the 
twenty preceding 1770. As the former were 
a good deal below the general average of the 
century, notwithstanding the intervention of 
one or two dear years; so the latter have been 
a good deal above it, notwithstanding the intervention 
of one or two cheap ones, of 1759, for 
example. If the former have not been as much 
below the general average as the latter have 
been above it, we ought probably to impute it 
to the bounty. The change has evidently been 
too sudden to be ascribed to any change in 
the value of silver, which is always slow and 
gradual. The suddenness of the effect can be 
accounted for only by a cause which can operate 
suddenly, the accidental variations of the 
The money price of labour in Great Britain 
has, indeed, risen during the course of the 
present century. This, however, seems to be 
the effect, not so much of any diminution in 
the value of silver in the European market, as 
of an increase in the demand for labour in 
Great Britain, arising from the great, and almost 
universal prosperity of the country. In 
France, a country not altogether so prosperous
the money price of labour has, since the 
middle of the last century, been observed to 
sink gradually with the average money price 
of corn. Both in the last century and in the 
present, the day wages of common labour are 
there said to have been pretty uniformly about 
the twentieth part of the average price of the 
septier of wheat; a measure which contains a 
little more than four Winchester bushels. In 
Great Britain, the real recompence of labour
it has already been shewn, the real quantities 
of the necessaries and conveniencies of life 
which are given to the labourer, has increased 
considerably during the course of the present 
century. The rise in its money price seems 
to have been the effect, not of any diminution 
of the value of silver in the general market of 
Europe, but of a rise in the real price of labour
in the particular market of Great Britain, 
owing to the peculiarly happy circumstances 
of the country. 
For some time after the first discovery of 
America, silver would continue to sell at its 
former, or not much below its former price
The profits of mining would for some time be 
very great, and much above their natural rate. 
Those who imported that metal into Europe, 
however, would soon find that the whole annual 
importation could not be disposed of at 
this high price. Silver would gradually exchange 
for a smaller and a smaller quantity 
of goods. Its price would sink gradually lower 
and lower, till it fell to its natural price
or to what was just sufficient to pay, according