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and repass, from one country to another in the general circulation and fluctuation of commerce, which will ever carry a general balance with it; for we should as soon give our lead, our tin, or any other product of our land or industry, to those who want them, without an equivalent in some shape or other, as we should gold or silver, which it would be absurd to imagine can ever be done by our nation or by any nation upon earth.
16. From Spain and Portugal come the greatest part of gold and silver, and the Spanish court very wisely permits the exportation of it on paying a duty, as in Great Britain lead and tin do when exported; whereas heretofore, and as it still continues in Portugal, penal laws were enacted against the sending it out of the country. Surely princes by enacting such laws could not think they had it in their power to decree and establish, that their subjects or themselves should not give an equivalent for what was furnished to them!
17. It is not our intention to descend into, or to discuss minutely, particular notions or systems, such as, that silver and not gold should be the standard money or coin; that copper is an unfit material for money; and, that paper circulating as, and called artificial money, is detrimental. Yet, as these doctrines seem to proceed from considering bullion and money or coin in a different light from what we apprehend and have laid down, we will observe,
18. That it matters not whether silver or gold be called standard money; but it seems most rational, that the most scarce and precious metal should be the unit or standard.
medium, because the absence of a great quantity of the medium alters the price of exchange, or relative exchange of current money for necessary labor and subsistence, and depreciates other property. — W. T. P.
19. That, as to copper, it is as fit for money or a counter as gold and silver, provided it be coined of a proper weight and fineness; and just so much will be useful as will serve to make up small parts in exchanges between man and man.
20. That, as to paper money, it is far from being detrimental; on the contrary, it is highly profitable, as its quick passing between mankind, instead of telling over or weighing metal in com or bullion, is a gain of what is most precious in life, which is time. And there is nothing clearer, than that those who must be concerned in counting and weighing, being at liberty to employ themselves on other purposes, are an addition of hands in the community.
The idea of the too great extension of credit, by the circulation of paper for money, is evidently as erroneous as the doctrine of the non-exportation of gold and silver in bullion or coin; for, were it not certain, that paper could command the equivalent of its agreed-for value, or that gold and silver in bullion or coin, exported, would be returned in the course of trade in some other merchandise, neither paper would be used nor the metals exported. It is by means of the produce of the land and the happy situation of this island, joined to the industry of its inhabitants, that those much adored metals, gold and silver, have been procured; and so long as the sea does not overflow the land and industry continues, so long will those metals not be wanting. And paper in the general chain of credit and commerce is as useful as they are, since the issuers or coiners of that paper are understood to have some equivalent to answer for what the paper is valued at, and no metal or coin can do more than find its value.
Moreover, as incontestable advantages of paper we
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must add, that the charge of coining or making it is by no means proportionate to that of coining of metals; nor is it subject to waste by long use, or impaired by adulteration, sweating, or filing, as coins may.
NOTIONS CONCERNING TRADE AND MERCHANTS.
1. Were it possible for men, remote from each other, to know easily one another's wants and abundances, and practicable for them on all occasions conveniently to meet and make fair exchanges of their respective commodities, there would then be no use of the middle man or merchant; such a profession would not exist.
2. But, since that is not possible, were all governments to appoint a number of public officers, whose duty and business it should be to inform themselves thoroughly of those wants and abundances, and to procure, by proper management, all the exchanges that would tend to increase the general happiness, such officers, if they could well discharge their trust, would deserve honors and salaries equivalent to their industry and fidelity.
3. But, as in large communities, and for the more general occasions of mankind, such officers have never been appointed, perhaps from a conviction that it would be impracticable for such an appointment effectually to answer its purpose, it seems necessary to permit men, who for the possible profits in prospect will undertake it, to fetch and carry, at all distances, the produce of other men's industry, and thereby assist those useful exchanges.
4. As the persons primarily interested in these exchanges cannot conveniently meet to make known their wants and abundances, and to bargain for exchanges, those who transport the goods should be interested to study the probability of these wants, and where to find the means of supplying them ; and, since there exist no salaries or public rewards for them in proportion to their skill, industry, and utility to the people in general, nor to make them any compensation for their losses arising from inexpertness or from accident, it seems reasonable that, for their encouragement to follow the business, they should be left to make such profits by it as they can, which, where it is open to all, will probably seldom be extravagant. And perhaps by this means the business will be better done for the general advantage, and those who do it more properly rewarded according to their merits, than would be the case, were special officers to be appointed for that service.
Should it be agreed, and become a part of the law of nations, that the cultivators of the earth are not to be molested or interrupted in their peaceable and useful employment, the inhabitants of the sugar islands would come under the protection of such a regulation, which would be a great advantage to the nations who at present hold those islands; since the cost of sugar to the consumer in those nations consists, not only in the price he pays for it by the pound, but in the accumulated charge of all the taxes he pays in every war to fit out fleets and maintain troops for the defence of the islands that raise the sugar, and the ships that bring it home.
But the expense of treasure is not all. A celebrated philosophical writer remarks, that, when he considered the wars made in Africa for prisoners to raise sugar in America, the numbers slain in those wars, the numbers that, being crowded in ships, perish in the transportation, and the numbers that die under the severities of slavery, he could scarce look on a morsel of sugar without conceiving it spotted with human blood. If he had considered also the blood of one another which the white natives shed in fighting for those islands, he would have imagined his sugar not as spotted only, but as thoroughly dyed red.
On these-accounts I am persuaded that the subjects of the Emperor of Germany, and the Empress of Russia, who have no sugar islands, consume sugar cheaper at Vienna and Moscow, with all the charge of transporting it, after its arrival in Europe, than the citizens of London and Paris. And I sincerely believe, that, if France and England were to decide by throwing dice, which should have the whole of their sugar islands, the loser in the throw would be the gainer. The future expense of defending them would be saved; the sugars would be bought cheaper by all Europe, if the inhabitants might make it without interruption ; and, whoever imported the sugar, the same revenue might be raised by duties at the custom-house of the nation that consumed it. And, on the whole, I conceive it would be better for the nations now possessing sugar colonies, to give up their claim to them, let them govern themselves, and put them under the protection of all the powers of Europe as neutral countries open to the commerce of all, the profit of the present monopolies being by no means equivalent to the expense of maintaining them.