Page:Horse shoes and horse shoeing.djvu/433

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
405
CHANGE IN CONDITION OF THE ARTISAN.

1380, and are lower afterwards. 'Were there sufficient evidence for the last ten years, the facts which I have been able to collect would, I am confident, have been varied in the averages, and the quotations in all likelihood would have to be put on the ten years at 8s.; instead of being, as I am constrained to return them, at the great price of 13s. 6½d. The causes to which the deficient information of the later part of the period must be ascribed, are: the change which takes place in the method of agriculture, and the change which the course of events had induced upon the condition of the smith. The reader will anticipate that the former cause consists in the fact, that the system of bailiff farming was gradually relinquished after the event of the plague. But accounts are not kept in so careful a manner. The dearth of hands had produced its effects on the inferior clergy, the scribes and accountants of the middle ages. Items which used to be carefully distinguished are lumped in one general sum—credited, for instance, to the bailiff, as the year's charge for shoeing. Services which used to be cheap and effectual, had now become dear and negligent; and such symptoms were apparent in the economy of agriculture, as designated that a radical alteration in the method of tenure was impending. And there are also indications that oxen, according to Walter de Henley's advice, were superseding horses in farm-work. The other cause is the change which comes over the condition of the artisan. Hitherto it was very seldom that such persons dealt in finished goods. As a rule, they were hired to do work on materials purchased by their employer; and in some occupations, as in the building trades, this purchase of