Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

prove; as upwards of 70 shillings coined in the reign of King William, or dexterously counterfeited by false coiners, will scarce weigh 12 ounces or a pound troy.

14. All the art of man can never hinder a constant exportation and importation of gold and silver to make up for the different calls and balances that may happen in trade; for, were silver to be coined as above, 65 shillings out of a pound troy weight of standard silver, if those 65 shillings would sell at a price that makes it worth while to melt or export them, they must and will be considered and used as a merchandise; and the same will hold as to gold.

Though the proportion of about fourteen and a half of pure silver to one of pure gold in neighbouring states be now fixed in regard to their com, and it is submitted such proportion should be attended to in this kingdom, yet that proportion may be subject to alteration; for this plain reason, that, should the silver mines produce a quantity of that metal so as to make it greatly abound more in proportion than it now does, and the gold mines produce no more than now they do, more silver must be requisite to purchase gold.

15. That the welfare of any state depends on its keeping all its gold and silver either in bullion or in coin is a very narrow principle; all the republics we know of wisely think otherwise. 'It is an utter impossibility, nor should it ever be aimed at; for gold and silver are as clearly a merchandise as lead and tin, and consequently should have a perfect freedom and liberty,* coined and uncoined, to go and to come, pass

• As a general principle this is unquestionably true; but it must be general or every nation with whom commerce is extensively carried on must alike adopt it, or the principle immediately assumes an exceptionable character, and nations liable to be affected by it must provide means to counteract the effects of a sudden drain of the usual circulating

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. F.

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 coin 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

Vol. ii. 53

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 tiling, 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 ex

changes 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.

A THOUGHT

CONCERNING THE SUGAR ISLANDS.

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.

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »