It may, perhaps, excite some degree of surprize that I should propose, as if it were new, a measure of value, which will be found to be the same as that which has been brought forward by Adam Smith.
My reasons are the following:-
1st. In laying down labour as a measure of value, it is allowed that he does not make it quite clear, whether he means the labour which is worked up in a commodity, or the labour which it will command; yet they are essentially different.
2dly. In his elaborate inquiry into the value of silver during the four last centuries, he uses corn as his measure, not labour; and arrives at conclusions entirely different from those which would have been the consequence of his using labour.
3dly. In a case where he specifically states that the money price of labour has risen, he still says, that the value of silver has risen, which is a direct and express rejection of labour as a measure of value; although he has, in another place, spoken of it as the only universal and accurate measure, and “the only standard by which we can compare the values of different commodities, at all times and at all places.”
4thly. His reasonings on the subject of the constant value of labour, combined with his application of them, seem rarely to have produced conviction, so that there is no distinguished work on political economy known to me in which labour, in the sense most frequently used by Adam Smith, is considered as a standard measure of value, the prevailing opinion being that no such standard is to be found, in which opinion I concurred.