its inferior servants. If this rise in the price 
of some sorts of provisions be owing to a fall 
in the value of silver, their pecuniary reward
provided it was not too large before, ought 
certainly to be augmented in proportion to 
the extent of this fall. If it is not augmented, 
their real recompence will evidently be so 
much diminished. But if this rise of price is 
owing in the increased value, in consequence 
of the improved fertility of the land which 
produces such provisions, it becomes a much 
nicer matter to judge, either in what proportion 
any pecuniary reward ought to be augmented
or whether it ought to be augmented 
at all. The extension of improvement and 
cultivation, as it necessarily raises more or less, 
in proportion to the price of corn, that of 
every sort of animal food, so it as necessarily 
lowers that of, I believe, every sort of vegetable 
food. It raises the price of animal 
food; because a great part of the land which 
produces it, being rendered fit for producing 
corn, must afford to the landlord and farmer 
the rent and profit of corn land. It lowers 
the price of vegetable food; because, by increasing 
the fertility of the land, it increases 
its abundance. The improvements of agriculture, 
too, introduce many sorts of vegetable 
food, which requiring less land, and not more 
labour than corn, come much cheaper to market
Such are potatoes and maize, or what is 
called Indian corn, the two most important 
improvements which the agriculture of Europe, 
perhaps, which Europe itself, has received 
from the great extension of its commerce 
and navigation. Many sorts of vegetable food
besides, which in the rude state of agriculture 
are confined to the kitchen-garden, and raised 
only by the spade, come, in its improved state, 
to be introduced into common fields, and to 
be raised by the plough; such as turnips, carrots
cabbages, &c. If, in the progress of improvement
therefore, the real price of one 
species of food necessarily rises, that of another 
as necessarily falls; and it becomes a matter 
of more nicety to judge how far the rise 
in the one may be compensated by the fall in 
the other. When the real price of butcher's 
meat has once got to its height (which, with 
regard to every sort, except perhaps that of 
hogs flesh, it seems to have done through a 
great part of England more than a century 
ago), any rise which can afterwards happen in 
that of any other sort of animal food, cannot 
much affect the circumstances of the inferior 
ranks of people. The circumstances of the 
poor, through a great part of England, cannot 
surely be so much distressed by any rise in 
the price of poultry, fish, wild-fowl, or venison
as they must he relieved by the fall in 
that of potatoes
In the present season of scarcity, the high 
price of corn no doubt distresses the poor
But in times of moderate plenty, when corn 
is at its ordinary or average price, the natural 
rise in the price of any other sort of rude produce 
cannot much affect them. They suffer 
more, perhaps, by the artificial rise which has 
been occasioned by taxes in the price of some 
manufactured commodities, as of salt, soap
leather, candles, malt, beer, ale, &c. 
Effects of the Progress of Improvement upon 
the real Price of Manufactures
It is the natural effect of improvement
however, to diminish gradually the real price 
of almost all manufactures. That of the manufacturing 
workmanship diminishes, perhaps, 
in all of them without exception. In consequence 
of better machinery, of greater dexterity
and of a more proper division and distribution 
of work, all of which are the natural 
effects of improvement, a much smaller quantity 
of labour becomes requisite for executing 
any particular piece of work; and though, in 
consequence of the flourishing circumstances 
of the society, the real price of labour should 
rise very considerably, yet the great diminution 
of the quantity will generally much more 
than compensate the greatest rise which can 
happen in the price
There are, indeed, a few manufactures, in 
which the necessary rise in the real price of 
the rude materials will more than compensate 
all the advantages which improvement can introduce 
into the execution of the work. In 
carpenters' and joiners' work, and in the 
coarser sort of cabinet work, the necessary 
rise in the real price of barren timber, in consequence 
of the improvement of land, will 
more than compensate all the advantages 
which can be derived from the best machinery
the greatest dexterity, and the most proper 
division and distribution of work
But in all cases in which the real price of 
the rude material either does not rise at all, 
or does not rise very much, that of the manufactured 
commodity sinks very considerably
This diminution of price has, in the course 
of the present and preceding century, been 
most remarkable in these manufactures of 
which the materials are the coarser metals. A 
better movement of a watch, than about the 
middle of the last century could have been 
bought for twenty pounds, may now perhaps 
be had for twenty shillings. In the work of 
cutlers and locksmiths, in all the toys which 
are made of the coarser metals, and in all 
those goods which are commonly known by 
the name of Birmingham and Sheffield ware
there has been, during the same period, a 
very great reduction of price, though not altogether 
so great as in watch-work. It has, 
however, been sufficient to astonish the workmen 
of every other part of Europe, who in 
many cases acknowledge that they can produce 
no work of equal goodness for double