game of all kinds, &c. in proportion to that 
of corn, is a most decisive one. It clearly demonstrates
first, their great abundance in proportion 
to that of corn, and, consequently, the 
great extent of the land which they occupied 
in proportion to what was occupied by corn
and, secondly, the low value of this land in 
proportion to that of corn land, and, consequently, 
the uncultivated and unimproved state 
of the far greater part of the lands of the 
country. It clearly demonstrates, that the stock 
and population of the country did not bear 
the same proportion to the extent of its territory
which they commonly do in civilized 
countries; and that society was at that time
and in that country, but in its infancy. From 
the high or low money price, either of goods 
in general, or of corn in particular, we can 
infer only, that the mines, which at that time 
happened to supply the commercial world with 
gold and silver, were fertile or barren, not 
that the country was rich or poor. But from 
the high or low money price of some sorts of 
goods in proportion to that of others, we 
infer, with a degree of probability that approaches 
almost to certainty, that it was rich 
or poor, that the greater part of its lands were 
improved or unimproved, and that it was either 
in a more or less barbarous state, or in a more 
or less civilised one. 
Any rise in the money price of goods which 
proceeded altogether from the degradation of 
the value of silver, would affect all sorts of 
goods equally, and raise their price universally
a third, or a fourth, or a fifth part higher, according 
as silver happened to lose a third, or 
a fourth, or a fifth part of its former value. 
But the rise in the price of provisions, which 
has been the subject of so much reasoning 
and conversation, does not affect all sorts of 
provisions equally. Taking the course of the 
present century at an average, the price of 
corn, it is acknowledged, even by those who 
account for this rise by the degradation of the 
value of silver, has risen much less than that 
of some other sorts of provisions. The rise 
in the price of those other sorts of provisions
therefore, cannot be owing altogether to the 
degradation of the value of silver. Some 
other causes must be taken into the account
and those which have been above assigned
will, perhaps, without having recourse to the 
supposed degradation of the value of silver, 
sufficiently explain this rise in those particular 
sorts of provisions, of which the price has actually 
risen in proportion to that of corn
As to the price of corn itself, it has, during 
the sixty-four first years of the present century
and before the late extraordinary course 
of bad seasons, been somewhat lower than 
was during the sixty-four last years of the preceding 
century. This fact is attested, not only 
by the accounts of Windsor market, but by 
the public fiars of all the different counties of 
Scotland, and by the accounts of several different 
markets in France, which have been 
collected with great diligence and fidelity by 
Mr Messance, and by Mr Dupré de St Maur. 
The evidence is more complete than could 
well have been expected in a matter which is 
naturally so very difficult to be ascertained. 
As to the high price of corn during these 
last ten or twelve years, it can be sufficiently 
accounted for from the badness of the seasons, 
without supposing any degradation in the 
value of silver
The opinion, therefore, that silver is continually 
sinking in its value, seems not to be 
founded upon any good observations, either 
upon the prices of corn, or upon those of 
other provisions. 
The same quantity of silver, it may perhaps 
be said, will, in the present times, even according 
to the account which has been here given, 
purchase a much smaller quantity of several 
sorts of provisions than it would have done 
during some part of the last century; and to 
ascertain whether this change be owing to a 
rise in the value of those goods, or to a fall in 
the value of silver, is only to establish a vain 
and useless distinction, which can be of no 
sort of service to the man who has only a certain 
quantity of silver to go to market with, 
or a certain fixed revenue in money. I certainly 
do not pretend that the knowledge of 
this distinction will enable him to buy cheaper
It may not, however, upon that account be altogether 
It may be of some use to the public, by affording 
an easy proof of the prosperous condition 
of the country. If the rise in the price 
of some sorts of provisions be owing altogether 
to a fall in the value of silver, it is owing 
to a circumstance, from which nothing can be 
inferred but the fertility of the American 
mines. The real wealth of the country, the 
annual produce of its land and labour, may, 
notwithstanding this circumstance, be either 
gradually declining, as in Portugal and Poland; 
or gradually advancing, as in most other 
parts of Europe. But if this rise in the price 
of some sorts of provisions be owing to a rise 
in the real value of the land which produces 
them, to its increased fertility, or, in consequence 
of more extended improvement and 
good cultivation, to its having been rendered 
fit for producing corn; it is owing to a circumstance 
which indicates, in the clearest 
manner, the prosperous and advancing state 
of the country. The land constitutes by far 
the greatest, the most important, and the most 
durable part of the wealth of every extensive 
country. It may surely be of some use, or, 
at least, it may give some satisfaction to the 
public, to have so decisive a proof of the increasing 
value of by far the greatest, the most 
important, and the most durable part of its 
It may, too, be of some use to the public
in regulating the pecuniary reward of some of