or even for triple the price. There are perhaps 
no manufactures, in which the division 
of labour can be carried further, or in which 
the machinery employed admits of a greater 
variety of improvements, than those of which 
the materials are the coarser metals. 
In the clothing manufacture there has, during 
the same period, been no such sensible reduction 
of price. The price of superfine 
cloth, I have been assured, on the contrary
has, within these five-and-twenty or thirty 
years, risen somewhat in proportion to its 
quality, owing, it was said, to a considerable 
rise in the price of the material, which consists 
altogether of Spanish wool. That of the 
Yorkshire cloth, which is made altogether of 
English wool, is said, indeed, during the 
course of the present century, to have fallen
good deal in proportion to its quality. Quality
however, is so very disputable a matter
that I look upon all information of this kind 
as somewhat uncertain. In the clothing manufacture
the division of labour is nearly the 
same now as it was a century ago, and the 
machinery employed is not very different. 
There may, however, have been some small 
improvements in both, which may have occasioned 
some reduction of price
But the reduction will appear much more 
sensible and undeniable, if we compare the 
price of this manufacture in the present times 
with what it was in a much remoter period, 
towards the end of the fifteenth century, when 
the labour was probably much less subdivided
and the machinery employed much more 
imperfect, than it is at present
In 1487, being the 4th of Henry VII., it 
was enacted, that "whosoever shall sell by retail 
a broad yard of the finest scarlet grained
or of other grained cloth of the finest making, 
above sixteen shillings, shall forfeit forty shillings 
for every yard so sold." Sixteen shillings
therefore, containing about the same 
quantity of silver as four-and-twenty shillings 
of our present money, was, at that time, reckoned 
not an unreasonable price for a yard of 
the finest cloth; and as this is a sumptuary 
law, such cloth, it is probable, had usually 
been sold somewhat dearer. A guinea may 
be reckoned the highest price in the present 
times. Even though the quality of the cloths
therefore, should be supposed equal, and that 
of the present times is most probably much 
superior, yet, even upon this supposition, the 
money price of the finest cloth appears to have 
been considerably reduced since the end of the 
fifteenth century. But its real price has been 
much more reduced. Six shillings and eightpence 
was then, and long afterwards, reckoned 
the average price of a quarter of wheat
Sixteen shillings, therefore, was the price of 
two quarters and more than three bushels of 
wheat. Valuing a quarter of wheat in the 
present times at eight-and-twenty shillings
the real price of a yard of fine cloth must, in 
those times, have been equal to at least three 
pounds six shillings and sixpence of our present 
money. The man who bought it must 
have parted with the command of a quantity 
of labour and subsistence equal to what that 
sum would purchase in the present times
The reduction in the real price of the coarse 
manufacture, though considerable, has not 
been so great as in that of the fine
In 1463, being the 3d of Edward IV. it 
was enacted, that "no servant in husbandry 
nor common labourer, nor servant to any artificer 
inhabiting out of a city or burgh, shall 
use or wear in their clothing any cloth above 
two shillings the broad yard." In the 3d of 
Edward IV., two shillings contained very 
nearly the same quantity of silver as four of 
our present money. But the Yorkshire cloth 
which is now sold at four shillings the yard
is probably much superior to any that was 
then made for the wearing of the very poorest 
order of common servants. Even the money 
price of their clothing, therefore, may, in proportion 
to the quality, be somewhat cheaper 
in the present than it was in those ancient 
times. The real price is certainly a good deal 
cheaper. Tenpence was then reckoned what 
is called the moderate and reasonable price of 
a bushel of wheat. Two shillings, therefore, 
was the price of two bushels and near two 
pecks of wheat, which in the present times, at 
three shillings and sixpence the bushel, would 
be worth eight shillings and ninepence. For 
a yard of this cloth the poor servant must have 
parted with the power of purchasing a quantity 
of subsistence equal to what eight shillings 
and ninepence would purchase in the present 
times. This is a sumptuary law, too, restraining 
the luxury and extravagance of the poor
Their clothing, therefore, had commonly been 
much more expensive. 
The same order of people are, by the same 
law, prohibited from wearing hose, of which 
the price should exceed fourteen-pence the 
pair, equal to about eight-and-twenty pence of 
our present money. But fourteen-pence was 
in those times the price of a bushel and near 
two pecks of wheat; which in the present 
times, at three and sixpence the bushel, would 
cost five shillings and threepence. We should 
in the present times consider this a very 
high price for a pair of stockings to a servant 
of the poorest and lowest order. He must, 
however, in these times, have paid what was 
really equivalent to this price for them. 
In the time of Edward IV. the art of knitting 
stockings was probably not known in any 
part of Europe. Their hose were made of 
common cloth, which may have been one of 
the causes of their dearness. The first person 
that wore stockings in England is said to 
have been Queen Elizabeth. She received 
them as a present from the Spanish ambassador. 
Both in the coarse and in the fine woollen