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An Inquiry Into The Nature And Causes Of The Wealth Of Nations - Chapter 11 continue

1. Introduction And Plan Of The Work

2. Book 1, Chapter 1

3. Chapter 2

4. Chapter 3

5. Chapter 4

6. Chapter 5

7. Chapter 6

8. Chapter 7

9. Chapter 8

10. Chapter 8 continue

11. Chapter 9

12. Chapter 10

13. Chapter 10 continue

14. Chapter 11

15. Chapter 11 continue

16. Chapter 11 continue.

17. Chapter 11 continue..

18. Chapter 11 continue...

19. Conclusion of the Chapter 11

20. Book 2 Introduction

21. Chapter 1

22. Chapter II

23. Chapter II continue

24. Chapter II continue

25. Chapter 3

26. Chapter 4

27. Chapter 5

28. Book 3, Chapter 1

29. Chapter 2

30. Chapter 3

31. Chapter 4

32. Book 4, Chapter 1

33. Chapter 1 continue

34. Chapter 2

35. Chapter 3, Part 1

36. Chapter 3, Part 2

37. Chapter 4

38. Chapter 5

39. Chapter 5 continue

40. Chapter 6

41. Chapter 7, Part 1

42. Chapter 7, Part 2

43. Chapter 7, Part 3

44. Chapter 7, Part 3 continue

45. Chapter 8

46. Chapter 9

47. Book 5, Chapter 1, Part 1

48. Chapter 1, Part 2

49. Chapter 1, Part 3

50. Chapter 1, Part 3 continue

51. Chapter 1, Part 3 continue B

52. Chapter 1, Part 4

53. Chapter 2, Part 1

54. Chapter 2, Part 2

55. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue

56. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue B

57. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue C

58. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue D

59. Chapter 3

60. Chapter 3 continue

PART II.--Of the Produce of Land, which sometimes does, and sometimes
does not, afford Rent.

Human food seems to be the only produce of land, which always and
necessarily affords some rent to the landlord. Other sorts of
produce sometimes may, and sometimes may not, according to different

After food, clothing and lodging are the two great wants of mankind.

Land, in its original rude state, can afford the materials of clothing
and lodging to a much greater number of people than it can feed. In its
improved state, it can sometimes feed a greater number of people than
it can supply with those materials; at least in the way in which
they require them, and are willing to pay for them. In the one state,
therefore, there is always a superabundance of these materials, which
are frequently, upon that account, of little or no value. In the other,
there is often a scarcity, which necessarily augments their value. In
the one state, a great part of them is thrown away as useless and the
price of what is used is considered as equal only to the labour and
expense of fitting it for use, and can, therefore, afford no rent to
the landlord. In the other, they are all made use of, and there is
frequently a demand for more than can be had. Somebody is always willing
to give more for every part of them, than what is sufficient to pay the
expense of bringing them to market. Their price, therefore, can always
afford some rent to the landlord.

The skins of the larger animals were the original materials of clothing.
Among nations of hunters and shepherds, therefore, whose food consists
chiefly in the flesh of those animals, everyman, by providing himself
with food, provides himself with the materials of more clothing than
he can wear. If there was no foreign commerce, the greater part of them
would be thrown away as things of no value. This was probably the case
among the hunting nations of North America, before their country was
discovered by the Europeans, with whom they now exchange their surplus
peltry, for blankets, fire-arms, and brandy, which gives it some value.
In the present commercial state of the known world, the most barbarous
nations, I believe, among whom land property is established, have some
foreign commerce of this kind, and find among their wealthier neighbours
such a demand for all the materials of clothing, which their land
produces, and which can neither be wrought up nor consumed at home, as
raises their price above what it costs to send them to those wealthier
neighbours. It affords, therefore, some rent to the landlord. When the
greater part of the Highland cattle were consumed on their own hills,
the exportation of their hides made the most considerable article of the
commerce of that country, and what they were exchanged for afforded some
addition to the rent of the Highland estates. The wool of England, which
in old times, could neither be consumed nor wrought up at home, found a
market in the then wealthier and more industrious country of Flanders,
and its price afforded something to the rent of the land which produced
it. In countries not better cultivated than England was then, or than
the Highlands of Scotland are now, and which had no foreign commerce,
the materials of clothing would evidently be so superabundant, that a
great part of them would be thrown away as useless, and no part could
afford any rent to the landlord.

The materials of lodging cannot always be transported to so great a
distance as those of clothing, and do not so readily become an object
of foreign commerce. When they are superabundant in the country which
produces them, it frequently happens, even in the present commercial
state of the world, that they are of no value to the landlord. A good
stone quarry in the neighbourhood of London would afford a considerable
rent. In many parts of Scotland and Wales it affords none. Barren
timber for building is of great value in a populous and well-cultivated
country, and the land which produces it affords a considerable rent. But
in many parts of North America, the landlord would be much obliged to
any body who would carry away the greater part of his large trees. In
some parts of the Highlands of Scotland, the bark is the only part of
the wood which, for want of roads and water-carriage, can be sent to
market; the timber is left to rot upon the ground. When the materials
of lodging are so superabundant, the part made use of is worth only the
labour and expense of fitting it for that use. It affords no rent to
the landlord, who generally grants the use of it to whoever takes
the trouble of asking it. The demand of wealthier nations, however,
sometimes enables him to get a rent for it. The paving of the streets
of London has enabled the owners of some barren rocks on the coast of
Scotland to draw a rent from what never afforded any before. The woods
of Norway, and of the coasts of the Baltic, find a market in many parts
of Great Britain, which they could not find at home, and thereby afford
some rent to their proprietors.

Countries are populous, not in proportion to the number of people whom
their produce can clothe and lodge, but in proportion to that of
those whom it can feed. When food is provided, it is easy to find the
necessary clothing and lodging. But though these are at hand, it may
often be difficult to find food. In some parts of the British dominions,
what is called a house may be built by one day's labour of one man. The
simplest species of clothing, the skins of animals, require somewhat
more labour to dress and prepare them for use. They do not, however,
require a great deal. Among savage or barbarous nations, a hundredth, or
little more than a hundredth part of the labour of the whole year, will
be sufficient to provide them with such clothing and lodging as satisfy
the greater part of the people. All the other ninety-nine parts are
frequently no more than enough to provide them with food.

But when, by the improvement and cultivation of land, the labour of one
family can provide food for two, the labour of half the society becomes
sufficient to provide food for the whole. The other half, therefore, or
at least the greater part of them, can be employed in providing other
things, or in satisfying the other wants and fancies of mankind.
Clothing and lodging, household furniture, and what is called equipage,
are the principal objects of the greater part of those wants and
fancies. The rich man consumes no more food than his poor neighbour.
In quality it may be very different, and to select and prepare it may
require more labour and art; but in quantity it is very nearly the same.
But compare the spacious palace and great wardrobe of the one, with the
hovel and the few rags of the other, and you will be sensible that the
difference between their clothing, lodging, and household furniture, is
almost as great in quantity as it is in quality. The desire of food is
limited in every man by the narrow capacity of the human stomach;
but the desire of the conveniencies and ornaments of building, dress,
equipage, and household furniture, seems to have no limit or certain
boundary. Those, therefore, who have the command of more food than they
themselves can consume, are always willing to exchange the surplus,
or, what is the same thing, the price of it, for gratifications of this
other kind. What is over and above satisfying the limited desire, is
given for the amusement of those desires which cannot be satisfied, but
seem to be altogether endless. The poor, in order to obtain food, exert
themselves to gratify those fancies of the rich; and to obtain it more
certainly, they vie with one another in the cheapness and perfection of
their work. The number of workmen increases with the increasing quantity
of food, or with the growing improvement and cultivation of the lands;
and as the nature of their business admits of the utmost subdivisions of
labour, the quantity of materials which they can work up, increases in
a much greater proportion than their numbers. Hence arises a demand for
every sort of material which human invention can employ, either usefully
or ornamentally, in building, dress, equipage, or household furniture;
for the fossils and minerals contained in the bowels of the earth, the
precious metals, and the precious stones.

Food is, in this manner, not only the original source of rent, but every
other part of the produce of land which afterwards affords rent, derives
that part of its value from the improvement of the powers of labour in
producing food, by means of the improvement and cultivation of land.

Those other parts of the produce of land, however, which afterwards
afford rent, do not afford it always. Even in improved and cultivated
countries, the demand for them is not always such as to afford a greater
price than what is sufficient to pay the labour, and replace, together
with its ordinary profits, the stock which must be employed in bringing
them to market. Whether it is or is not such, depends upon different

Whether a coal mine, for example, can afford any rent, depends partly
upon its fertility, and partly upon its situation.

A mine of any kind may be said to be either fertile or barren, according
as the quantity of mineral which can be brought from it by a certain
quantity of labour, is greater or less than what can be brought by an
equal quantity from the greater part of other mines of the same kind.

Some coal mines, advantageously situated, cannot be wrought on account
of their barrenness. The produce does not pay the expense. They can
afford neither profit nor rent.

There are some, of which the produce is barely sufficient to pay the
labour, and replace, together with its ordinary profits, the stock
employed in working them. They afford some profit to the undertaker
of the work, but no rent to the landlord. They can be wrought
advantageously by nobody but the landlord, who, being himself the
undertaker of the work, gets the ordinary profit of the capital which he
employs in it. Many coal mines in Scotland are wrought in this manner,
and can be wrought in no other. The landlord will allow nobody else to
work them without paying some rent, and nobody can afford to pay any.

Other coal mines in the same country, sufficiently fertile, cannot be
wrought on account of their situation. A quantity of mineral, sufficient
to defray the expense of working, could be brought from the mine by the
ordinary, or even less than the ordinary quantity of labour: but in
an inland country, thinly inhabited, and without either good roads or
water-carriage, this quantity could not be sold.

Coals are a less agreeable fuel than wood: they are said too to be less
wholesome. The expense of coals, therefore, at the place where they are
consumed, must generally be somewhat less than that of wood.

The price of wood, again, varies with the state of agriculture, nearly
in the same manner, and exactly for the same reason, as the price of
cattle. In its rude beginnings, the greater part of every country is
covered with wood, which is then a mere incumbrance, of no value to
the landlord, who would gladly give it to any body for the cutting. As
agriculture advances, the woods are partly cleared by the progress of
tillage, and partly go to decay in consequence of the increased number
of cattle. These, though they do not increase in the same proportion
as corn, which is altogether the acquisition of human industry, yet
multiply under the care and protection of men, who store up in the
season of plenty what may maintain them in that of scarcity; who,
through the whole year, furnish them with a greater quantity of food
than uncultivated nature provides for them; and who, by destroying and
extirpating their enemies, secure them in the free enjoyment of all that
she provides. Numerous herds of cattle, when allowed to wander through
the woods, though they do not destroy the old trees, hinder any young
ones from coming up; so that, in the course of a century or two, the
whole forest goes to ruin. The scarcity of wood then raises its price.
It affords a good rent; and the landlord sometimes finds that he can
scarce employ his best lands more advantageously than in growing barren
timber, of which the greatness of the profit often compensates the
lateness of the returns. This seems, in the present times, to be nearly
the state of things in several parts of Great Britain, where the profit
of planting is found to be equal to that of either corn or pasture. The
advantage which the landlord derives from planting can nowhere exceed,
at least for any considerable time, the rent which these could afford
him; and in an inland country, which is highly cuitivated, it will
frequently not fall much short of this rent. Upon the sea-coast of a
well-improved country, indeed, if coals can conveniently be had for
fuel, it may sometimes be cheaper to bring barren timber for building
from less cultivated foreign countries than to raise it at home. In
the new town of Edinburgh, built within these few years, there is not,
perhaps, a single stick of Scotch timber.

Whatever may be the price of wood, if that of coals is such that the
expense of a coal fire is nearly equal to that of a wood one we may be
assured, that at that place, and in these circumstances, the price of
coals is as high as it can be. It seems to be so in some of the inland
parts of England, particularly in Oxfordshire, where it is usual, even
in the fires of the common people, to mix coals and wood together, and
where the difference in the expense of those two sorts of fuel cannot,
therefore, be very great. Coals, in the coal countries, are everywhere
much below this highest price. If they were not, they could not bear
the expense of a distant carriage, either by land or by water. A
small quantity only could be sold; and the coal masters and the coal
proprietors find it more for their interest to sell a great quantity at
a price somewhat above the lowest, than a small quantity at the highest.
The most fertile coal mine, too, regulates the price of coals at all the
other mines in its neighbourhood. Both the proprietor and the undertaker
of the work find, the one that he can get a greater rent, the other
that he can get a greater profit, by somewhat underselling all their
neighbours. Their neighbours are soon obliged to sell at the same price,
though they cannot so well afford it, and though it always diminishes,
and sometimes takes away altogether, both their rent and their profit.
Some works are abandoned altogether; others can afford no rent, and can
be wrought only by the proprietor.

The lowest price at which coals can be sold for any considerable time,
is, like that of all other commodities, the price which is barely
sufficient to replace, together with its ordinary profits, the stock
which must be employed in bringing them to market. At a coal mine for
which the landlord can get no rent, but, which he must either work
himself or let it alone altogether, the price of coals must generally be
nearly about this price.

Rent, even where coals afford one, has generally a smaller share in
their price than in that of most other parts of the rude produce of
land. The rent of an estate above ground, commonly amounts to what is
supposed to be a third of the gross produce; and it is generally a rent
certain and independent of the occasional variations in the crop. In
coal mines, a fifth of the gross produce is a very great rent, a tenth
the common rent; and it is seldom a rent certain, but depends upon the
occasional variations in the produce. These are so great, that in a
country where thirty years purchase is considered as a moderate price
for the property of a landed estate, ten years purchase is regarded as a
good price for that of a coal mine.

The value of a coal mine to the proprietor, frequently depends as
much upon its situation as upon its fertility. That of a metallic
mine depends more upon its fertility, and less upon its situation. The
coarse, and still more the precious metals, when separated from the ore,
are so valuable, that they can generally bear the expense of a very long
land, and of the most distant sea carriage. Their market is not confined
to the countries in the neighbourhood of the mine, but extends to the
whole world. The copper of Japan makes an article of commerce in Europe;
the iron of Spain in that of Chili and Peru. The silver of Peru finds
its way, not only to Europe, but from Europe to China.

The price of coals in Westmoreland or Shropshire can have little effect
on their price at Newcastle; and their price in the Lionnois can have
none at all. The productions of such distant coal mines can never be
brought into competition with one another. But the productions of the
most distant metallic mines frequently may, and in fact commonly are.

The price, therefore, of the coarse, and still more that of the precious
metals, at the most fertile mines in the world, must necessarily more
or less affect their price at every other in it. The price of copper
in Japan must have some influence upon its price at the copper mines in
Europe. The price of silver in Peru, or the quantity either of labour or
of other goods which it will purchase there, must have some influence
on its price, not only at the silver mines of Europe, but at those of
China. After the discovery of the mines of Peru, the silver mines of
Europe were, the greater part of them, abandoned. The value of silver
was so much reduced, that their produce could no longer pay the expense
of working them, or replace, with a profit, the food, clothes, lodging,
and other necessaries which were consumed in that operation. This was
the case, too, with the mines of Cuba and St. Domingo, and even with the
ancient mines of Peru, after the discovery of those of Potosi. The
price of every metal, at every mine, therefore, being regulated in
some measure by its price at the most fertile mine in the world that is
actually wrought, it can, at the greater part of mines, do very little
more than pay the expense of working, and can seldom afford a very high
rent to the landlord. Rent accordingly, seems at the greater part of
mines to have but a small share in the price of the coarse, and a still
smaller in that of the precious metals. Labour and profit make up the
greater part of both.

A sixth part of the gross produce may be reckoned the average rent of
the tin mines of Cornwall, the most fertile that are known in the world,
as we are told by the Rev. Mr. Borlace, vice-warden of the stannaries.
Some, he says, afford more, and some do not afford so much. A sixth
part of the gross produce is the rent, too, of several very fertile lead
mines in Scotland.

In the silver mines of Peru, we are told by Frezier and Ulloa, the
proprietor frequently exacts no other acknowledgment from the undertaker
of the mine, but that he will grind the ore at his mill, paying him the
ordinary multure or price of grinding. Till 1736, indeed, the tax of the
king of Spain amounted to one fifth of the standard silver, which till
then might be considered as the real rent of the greater part of the
silver mines of Peru, the richest which have been known in the world. If
there had been no tax, this fifth would naturally have belonged to the
landlord, and many mines might have been wrought which could not then be
wrought, because they could not afford this tax. The tax of the duke of
Cornwall upon tin is supposed to amount to more than five per cent. or
one twentieth part of the value; and whatever may be his proportion, it
would naturally, too, belong to the proprietor of the mine, if tin was
duty free. But if you add one twentieth to one sixth, you will find that
the whole average rent of the tin mines of Cornwall, was to the whole
average rent of the silver mines of Peru, as thirteen to twelve. But the
silver mines of Peru are not now able to pay even this low rent; and the
tax upon silver was, in 1736, reduced from one fifth to one tenth. Even
this tax upon silver, too, gives more temptation to smuggling than the
tax of one twentieth upon tin; and smuggling must be much easier in
the precious than in the bulky commodity. The tax of the king of Spain,
accordingly, is said to be very ill paid, and that of the duke of
Cornwall very well. Rent, therefore, it is probable, makes a greater
part of the price of tin at the most fertile tin mines than it does of
silver at the most fertile silver mines in the world. After replacing
the stock employed in working those different mines, together with
its ordinary profits, the residue which remains to the proprietor is
greater, it seems, in the coarse, than in the precious metal.

Neither are the profits of the undertakers of silver mines commonly
very great in Peru. The same most respectable and well-informed authors
acquaint us, that when any person undertakes to work a new mine in Peru,
he is universally looked upon as a man destined to bankruptcy and ruin,
and is upon that account shunned and avoided by every body. Mining, it
seems, is considered there in the same light as here, as a lottery, in
which the prizes do not compensate the blanks, though the greatness
of some tempts many adventurers to throw away their fortunes in such
unprosperous projects.

As the sovereign, however, derives a considerable part of his revenue
from the produce of silver mines, the law in Peru gives every possible
encouragement to the discovery and working of new ones. Whoever
discovers a new mine, is entitled to measure off two hundred and
forty-six feet in length, according to what he supposes to be the
direction of the vein, and half as much in breadth. He becomes
proprietor of this portion of the mine, and can work it without paving
any acknowledgment to the landlord. The interest of the duke of Cornwall
has given occasion to a regulation nearly of the same kind in that
ancient dutchy. In waste and uninclosed lands, any person who discovers
a tin mine may mark out its limits to a certain extent, which is called
bounding a mine. The bounder becomes the real proprietor of the mine,
and may either work it himself, or give it in lease to another, without
the consent of the owner of the land, to whom, however, a very small
acknowledgment must be paid upon working it. In both regulations,
the sacred rights of private property are sacrificed to the supposed
interests of public revenue.

The same encouragement is given in Peru to the discovery and working of
new gold mines; and in gold the king's tax amounts only to a twentieth
part of the standard rental. It was once a fifth, and afterwards a
tenth, as in silver; but it was found that the work could not bear even
the lowest of these two taxes. If it is rare, however, say the same
authors, Frezier and Ulloa, to find a person who has made his fortune by
a silver, it is still much rarer to find one who has done so by a gold
mine. This twentieth part seems to be the whole rent which is paid by
the greater part of the gold mines of Chili and Peru. Gold, too, is much
more liable to be smuggled than even silver; not only on account of the
superior value of the metal in proportion to its bulk, but on account
of the peculiar way in which nature produces it. Silver is very seldom
found virgin, but, like most other metals, is generally mineralized
with some other body, from which it is impossible to separate it in
such quantities as will pay for the expense, but by a very laborious and
tedious operation, which cannot well be carried on but in work-houses
erected for the purpose, and, therefore, exposed to the inspection
of the king's officers. Gold, on the contrary, is almost always found
virgin. It is sometimes found in pieces of some bulk; and, even when
mixed, in small and almost insensible particles, with sand, earth, and
other extraneous bodies, it can be separated from them by a very short
and simple operation, which can be carried on in any private house by
any body who is possessed of a small quantity of mercury. If the king's
tax, therefore, is but ill paid upon silver, it is likely to be much
worse paid upon gold; and rent must make a much smaller part of the
price of gold than that of silver.

The lowest price at which the precious metals can be sold, or the
smallest quantity of other goods for which they can be exchanged, during
any considerable time, is regulated by the same principles which fix the
lowest ordinary price of all other goods. The stock which must commonly
be employed, the food, clothes, and lodging, which must commonly be
consumed in bringing them from the mine to the market, determine it.
It must at least be sufficient to replace that stock, with the ordinary

Their highest price, however, seems not to be necessarily determined by
any thing but the actual scarcity or plenty of these metals themselves.
It is not determined by that of any other commodity, in the same manner
as the price of coals is by that of wood, beyond which no scarcity can
ever raise it. Increase the scarcity of gold to a certain degree, and
the smallest bit of it may become more precious than a diamond, and
exchange for a greater quantity of other goods.

The demand for those metals arises partly from their utility, and
partly from their beauty. If you except iron, they are more useful than,
perhaps, any other metal. As they are less liable to rust and impurity,
they can more easily be kept clean; and the utensils, either of the
table or the kitchen, are often, upon that account, more agreeable when
made of them. A silver boiler is more cleanly than a lead, copper, or
tin one; and the same quality would render a gold boiler still better
than a silver one. Their principal merit, however, arises from their
beauty, which renders them peculiarly fit for the ornaments of dress and
furniture. No paint or dye can give so splendid a colour as gilding. The
merit of their beauty is greatly enhanced by their scarcity. With the
greater part of rich people, the chief enjoyment of riches consists in
the parade of riches; which, in their eye, is never so complete as when
they appear to possess those decisive marks of opulence which nobody can
possess but themselves. In their eyes, the merit of an object, which
is in any degree either useful or beautiful, is greatly enhanced by
its scarcity, or by the great labour which it requires to collect any
considerable quantity of it; a labour which nobody can afford to pay but
themselves. Such objects they are willing to purchase at a higher price
than things much more beautiful and useful, but more common. These
qualities of utility, beauty, and scarcity, are the original foundation
of the high price of those metals, or of the great quantity of other
goods for which they can everywhere be exchanged. This value was
antecedent to, and independent of their being employed as coin, and
was the quality which fitted them for that employment. That employment,
however, by occasioning a new demand, and by diminishing the quantity
which could be employed in any other way, may have afterwards
contributed to keep up or increase their value.

The demand for the precious stones arises altogether from their beauty.
They are of no use but as ornaments; and the merit of their beauty is
greatly enhanced by their scarcity, or by the difficulty and expense of
getting them from the mine. Wages and profit accordingly make up, upon
most occasions, almost the whole of the high price. Rent comes in but
for a very small share, frequently for no share; and the most fertile
mines only afford any considerable rent. When Tavernier, a jeweller,
visited the diamond mines of Golconda and Visiapour, he was informed
that the sovereign of the country, for whose benefit they were wrought,
had ordered all of them to be shut up except those which yielded the
largest and finest stones. The other, it seems, were to the proprietor
not worth the working.

As the prices, both of the precious metals and of the precious stones,
is regulated all over the world by their price at the most fertile mine
in it, the rent which a mine of either can afford to its proprietor
is in proportion, not to its absolute, but to what may be called its
relative fertility, or to its superiority over other mines of the same
kind. If new mines were discovered, as much superior to those of Potosi,
as they were superior to those of Europe, the value of silver might be
so much degraded as to render even the mines of Potosi not worth the
working. Before the discovery of the Spanish West Indies, the most
fertile mines in Europe may have afforded as great a rent to their
proprietors as the richest mines in Peru do at present. Though the
quantity of silver was much less, it might have exchanged for an equal
quantity of other goods, and the proprietor's share might have enabled
him to purchase or command an equal quantity either of labour or of

The value, both of the produce and of the rent, the real revenue which
they afforded, both to the public and to the proprietor, might have been
the same.

The most abundant mines, either of the precious metals, or of the
precious stones, could add little to the wealth of the world. A
produce, of which the value is principally derived from its scarcity, is
necessarily degraded by its abundance. A service of plate, and the other
frivolous ornaments of dress and furniture, could be purchased for a
smaller quantity of commodities; and in this would consist the sole
advantage which the world could derive from that abundance.

It is otherwise in estates above ground. The value, both of their
produce and of their rent, is in proportion to their absolute, and not
to their relative fertility. The land which produces a certain quantity
of food, clothes, and lodging, can always feed, clothe, and lodge, a
certain number of people; and whatever may be the proportion of the
landlord, it will always give him a proportionable command of the labour
of those people, and of the commodities with which that labour can
supply him. The value of the most barren land is not diminished by the
neighbourhood of the most fertile. On the contrary, it is generally
increased by it. The great number of people maintained by the fertile
lands afford a market to many parts of the produce of the barren, which
they could never have found among those whom their own produce could

Whatever increases the fertility of land in producing food, increases
not only the value of the lands upon which the improvement is bestowed,
but contributes likewise to increase that of many other lands, by
creating a new demand for their produce. That abundance of food, of
which, in consequence of the improvement of land, many people have the
disposal beyond what they themselves can consume, is the great cause
of the demand, both for the precious metals and the precious stones,
as well as for every other conveniency and ornament of dress, lodging,
household furniture, and equipage. Food not only constitutes the
principal part of the riches of the world, but it is the abundance of
food which gives the principal part of their value to many other sorts
of riches. The poor inhabitants of Cuba and St. Domingo, when they were
first discovered by the Spaniards, used to wear little bits of gold as
ornaments in their hair and other parts of their dress. They seemed
to value them as we would do any little pebbles of somewhat more than
ordinary beauty, and to consider them as just worth the picking up, but
not worth the refusing to any body who asked them, They gave them to
their new guests at the first request, without seeming to think that
they had made them any very valuable present. They were astonished to
observe the rage of the Spaniards to obtain them; and had no notion that
there could anywhere be a country in which many people had the disposal
of so great a superfluity of food; so scanty always among themselves,
that, for a very small quantity of those glittering baubles, they would
willingly give as much as might maintain a whole family for many
years. Could they have been made to understand this, the passion of the
Spaniards would not have surprised them.

© Art Branch Inc. | English Dictionary