of any given quantity somewhat less, than it 
otherwise would have been. In consequence 
of the reduction in 1736, the value of silver 
in the European market, though it may not 
at this day be lower than before that reduction, 
is, probably, at least ten per cent. lower 
than it would have been, had the court of 
Spain continued to exact the old tax. 
That, notwithstanding this reduction, the 
value of silver has, during the course of the 
present century, begun to rise somewhat in the 
European market, the facts and arguments 
which have been alleged above, dispose me to 
believe, or more properly to suspect and conjecture; 
for the best opinion which I can 
form upon this subject, scarce, perhaps, deserves 
the name of belief. The rise, indeed, 
supposing there has been any, has hitherto 
been so very small, that after all that has been 
said, it may, perhaps, appear to many people 
uncertain, not only whether this event has actually 
taken place, but whether the contrary 
may not have taken place, or whether the value 
of silver may not still continue to fall in 
the European market
It must be observed, however, that whatever 
may be the supposed annual importation 
of gold and silver, there must be a certain period 
at which the annual consumption of those 
metals will be equal to that annual importation
Their consumption must increase as 
their mass increases, or rather in a much 
greater proportion. As their mass increases
their value diminishes. They are more used, 
and less cared for, and their consumption consequently 
increases in a greater proportion 
than their mass. After a certain period, therefore, 
the annual consumption of these metals 
must, in this manner, become equal to their 
annual importation, provided that importation 
is not continually increasing; which, in the 
present times, is not supposed to be the case. 
If, when the annual consumption has become 
equal to the annual importation, the annual 
importation should gradually diminish, 
the annual consumption may, for some time, 
exceed the annual importation. The mass of 
those metals may gradually and insensibly diminish
and their value gradually and insensibly 
rise, till the annual importation becoming 
again stationary, the annual consumption 
will gradually and insensibly accommodate 
itself to what that annual importation can 
Grounds of the suspicion that the Value of Silver 
still continues to decrease
The increase of the wealth of Europe, and 
the popular action, that as the quantity of the 
precious metals naturally increases with the 
increase of wealth, so their value diminishes 
as their quantity increases, may, perhaps, dispose 
many people to believe that their value 
still continues to fall in the European market
and the still gradually increasing price 
of many parts of the rude produce of land 
may confirm them still farther in this opinion
That that increase in the quantity of the 
precious metals, which arises in any country 
from the increase of wealth, has no tendency 
to diminish their value, I have endeavoured 
to shew already. Gold and silver naturally 
resort to a rich country, for the same reason 
that all sorts of luxuries and curiosities resort 
to it; not because they are cheaper there than 
in poorer countries, but because they are dearer
or because a better price is given for them. 
It is the superiority of price which attracts 
them; and as soon as that superiority ceases
they necessarily cease to go thither
If you except corn, and such other vegetables 
as are raised altogether by human industry
that all other sorts of rude produce
cattle, poultry, game of all kinds, the useful 
fossils and minerals of the earth, &c. naturally 
grow dearer, as the society advances in 
wealth and improvement, I have endeavoured 
to shew already. Though such commodities
therefore, come to exchange for a greater 
quantity of silver than before, it will not from 
thence follow that silver has become really 
cheaper, or will purchase less labour than before; 
but that such commodities have become 
really dearer, or will purchase more labour 
than before. It is not their nominal price 
only, but their real price, which rises in the 
progress of improvement. The rise of their 
nominal price is the effect, not of any degradation 
of the value of silver, but of the rise in 
their real price
Different Effects of the Progress of Improvement 
upon three different sorts of rude Produce
These different sorts of rude produce may 
be divided into three classes. The first comprehends 
those which it is scarce in the power 
of human industry to multiply at all. The 
second, those which it can multiply in proportion 
to the demand. The third, those in which 
the efficacy of industry is either limited or uncertain
In the progress of wealth and improvement
the rent price of the first may rise 
to any degree of extravagance, and seems not 
to be limited by any certain boundary. That 
of the second, though it may rise greatly, has, 
however, a certain boundary, beyond which it 
cannot well pass for any considerable time together. 
That of the third, though its natural 
tendency is to rise in the progress of improvement
yet in the same degree of improvement 
it may sometimes happen even to fall, some 
times to continue the same, and sometimes to 
rise more or less, according as different accidents 
render the efforts of human industry, in 
multiplying this sort of rude produce, more 
or less successful