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Essai sur la Nature du Commerce in Général (Essay on the Nature of Trade in General); Cantillon, Richard
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I.XV The Increase and Decrease of the Number of People in a State chiefly depend on the taste, the fashions, and the modes of living of the proprietors of land

Most of the Land in Flanders and part of that in Lombardy yields 18 to 20 fold without lying idle; the Campagna of Naples yields still more. There are a few Properties in France, Spain, England and Germany which yield the same amount. Cicero tells us that the Land of Sicily in his time yielded tenfold, and the Elder Pliny says that the Leontine lands in Sicily yielded a hundred fold, those of Babylon a hundred and fifty, and some African lands a good deal more.

II.VIII Further Reflection on the same subject

So long as the luxury of the Romans (which did not begin till after the defeat of Antiochus, King of Asia about A.U.C. 564) was confined to the produce of the Land and Labour of all the vast Estates of their dominion, the circulation of money increased instead of diminishing. The Public was in possession of all the Mines of Gold, Silver, and Copper in the Empire. They had the gold Mines of Asia, Macedonia, Aquilaea and the rich mines both of gold and silver of Spain and other countries. They had several Mints where gold, silver and copper coins were struck. The consumption at Rome of all the articles and merchandise which they drew from their vast Provinces did not diminish the circulation of the currency, any more than Pictures, Statues and Jewels which they drew from them. Though the patricians laid out excessive amounts for their feasts and paid 15,000 ounces of silver for a single fish, all that did not diminish the quantity of money circulating in Rome, seeing that the tribute of the Provinces regularly brought it back, to say nothing of what Praetors and Governors brought thither by their extortions. The amounts annually extracted from the Mines merely increased the circulation at Rome during the whole reign of Augustus. Luxury was however already on a very great scale, and there was much eagerness not only for curiosities produced in the Empire but also for jewels from India, pepper and spices, and all the rarities of Arabia, and the silks which were not made with raw materials of the Empire began to be in demand there. The Money drawn from the Mines still exceeded however the sums sent out of the Empire to buy all these things. Nevertheless under Tiberius a scarcity of money was felt. That Emperor had shut up in his Treasury 2 milliards and 700 millions of sesterces. To restore abundance of circulation he had only to borrow 300 millions on the mortgage of his Estates. Caligula in less than one year spent all this treasure of Tiberius after his death, and it was then that the abundance of money in circulation was at its highest in Rome. The fury of Luxury kept on increasing. In the time of Pliny, the historian, there was exported from the Empire, as he estimated, at least 100 millions of sesterces annually. This was more than was drawn from the Mines. Under Trajan the price of Land had fallen by one-third or more, according to the younger Pliny, and money continued to decrease until the time of the Emperor Septimus Severus. It was then so scarce at Rome that the Emperor made enormous granaries, being unable to collect large treasure for his enterprises. Thus the Roman Empire fell into decline through the loss of its money before losing any of its estates. Behold what Luxury brought about and what it always will bring about in similar circumstances.