employ a great deal of machinery, by which 
they facilitate and abridge their own labour
From the very little that is known about the 
price of manufactures in the times of the 
Greeks and Romans, it would appear that 
those of the finer sort were excessively dear
Silk sold for its weight in gold. It was not, 
indeed, in those times an European manufacture
and as it was all brought from the 
East Indies, the distance of the carriage may 
in some measure account for the greatness of 
the price. The price, however, which a 
lady, it is said, would sometimes pay for a 
piece of very fine linen, seems to have been 
equally extravagant; and as linen was always 
either an European, or at farthest, an Egyptian 
manufacture, this high price can be accounted 
for only by the great expense of the 
labour which must have been employed about 
it, and the expense of this labour again could 
arise from nothing but the awkwardness of 
the machinery which is made use of. The 
price of fine woollens, too, though not quite 
so extravagant, seems, however, to have been 
much above that of the present times. Some 
cloths, we are told by Pliny[45], dyed in a particular 
manner, cost a hundred denarii, or 
L.3 6s. 8d. the pound weight. Others, dyed 
in another manner, cost a thousand denarii 
the pound weight, or L.33 6s. 8d. The Roman 
pound, it must be remembered, contained 
only twelve of our avoirdupois ounces
This high price, indeed, seems to have been 
principally owing to the dye. But had not 
the cloths themselves been much dearer than 
any which are made in the present times, so 
very expensive a dye would not probably have 
been bestowed upon them. The disproportion 
would have been too great between the 
value of the accessory and that of the principal
The price mentioned by the same author[46], 
of some triclinaria, a sort of woollen 
pillows or cushions made use of to lean upon 
as they reclined upon their couches at table, 
passes all credibility; some of them being 
said to have cost more than L.30,000, others 
more than L.300,000. This high price, too, 
is not said to have arisen from the dye. In 
the dress of the people of fashion of both 
sexes, there seems to have been much less variety
it is observed by Dr. Arbuthnot, in 
ancient than in modern times; and the very 
little variety which we find in that of the ancient 
statues, confirms his observation. He 
infers from this, that their dress must, upon 
the whole, have been cheaper than ours; but 
the conclusion does not seem to follow
When the expense of fashionable dress is very 
great, the variety must be very small. But 
when, by the improvements in the productive 
powers of manufacturing art and industry
the expense of any one dress comes to be very 
moderate, the variety will naturally be very 
great. The rich, not being able to distinguish 
themselves by the expense of any one 
dress, will naturally endeavour to do so by 
the multitude and variety of their dresses. 
The greatest and most important branch of 
the commerce of every nation, it has already 
been observed, is that which is carried on between 
the inhabitants of the town and those 
of the country. The inhabitants of the town 
draw from the country the rude produce
which constitutes both the materials of their 
work and the fund of their subsistence; and 
they pay for this rude produce, by sending 
back to the country a certain portion of it manufactured 
and prepared for immediate use. 
The trade which is carried on between these 
two different sets of people, consists ultimately 
in a certain quantity of rude produce exchanged 
for a certain quantity of manufactured 
produce. The dearer the latter, therefore, 
the cheaper the former; and whatever 
tends in any country to raise the price of manufactured 
produce, tends to lower that of 
the rude produce of the land, and thereby to 
discourage agriculture. The smaller the 
quantity of manufactured produce, which any 
given quantity of rude produce, or, what 
comes to the same thing, which the price of 
any given quantity of rude produce, is capable 
of purchasing, the smaller the exchangeable 
value of that given quantity of rude produce
the smaller the encouragement which 
either the landlord has to increase its quantity 
by improving, or the farmer by cultivating 
the land. Whatever, besides, tends to diminish 
in any country the number of artificers 
and manufacturers, tends to diminish the 
home market, the most important of all 
markets, for the rude produce of the land
and thereby still further to discourage agriculture
Those systems, therefore, which preferring 
agriculture to all other employments, in order 
to promote it, impose restraints upon manufactures 
and foreign trade, act contrary to 
the very end which they propose, and indirectly 
discourage that very species of industry 
which they mean to promote. They are so 
far, perhaps, more inconsistent than even the 
mercantile system. That system, by encouraging 
manufactures and foreign trade 
more than agriculture, turns a certain portion 
of the capital of the society, from supporting 
a more advantageous, to support a less advantageous 
species of industry. But still it really, 
and in the end, encourages that species 
of industry which it means to promote. 
Those agricultural systems, on the contrary, 
really, and in the end, discourage their own 
favourite species of industry
It is thus that every system which endeavours
either, by extraordinary encouragements 
to draw towards a particular species of 
industry a greater share of the capital of the 
society than what would naturally go to it,