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particular inquiry; only this I will confidently affirm, that it is the interest of every country, that all the current money of it should be of one and the same metal; that the several species should be of the same alloy, and none of a baser mixture : and that the standard, once thus settled, should be inviolably and immutably kept to perpetuity. For whenever that is altered, upon what pretence soever, the public will lose by it,
Since then it will neither bring us in more money, bullion, or trade; nor keep what we have here, nor hinder our weighty money, of what denomination soever, from being melted; to what purpose should the kingdom be at the charge of coining all our money anew ? For I do not suppose any body can propose that we should have two sorts of money, at the same time, one heavier and the other lighter, as it comes from the mint; that is very absurd to imagine. So that if all your old money must be coined over again; it will indeed be some advantage, and that a very considerable one, to the officers of the mint.. For they being allowed 3s. 6d. (it should be sixteen-pence halfpenny), for the coinage of every pound troy, which is very near five and a half per cent., if our money be six millions, and must be coined all over again, it will cost the nation to the mint three hundred thirty thousand pounds. One hundred thirty thousand pounds, if the clipped money must escape, because it is already as light as your new standard; do you not own that this design of new coinage is just of the nature of clipping ?
This business of money and coinage is by some men, and amongst them some very ingenious persons, thought a great mystery, and very hard to be understood. Not that truly in itself it is so, but because interested people, that treat of it, wrap up the secret they make advantage of in a mystical, obscure, and unintelligible way of talking ; which men, from a pre-conceived opinion of the difficulty of the subject, taking for sense, in a matter not easy to be penetrated, but by the men of art, let pass for current, without examination. Whereas, would they look into those discourses, and inquire what meaning their words have, they would find, for the most part, either their positions to be false, their deductions to be wrong, or (which often happens) their words to have no distinct meaning at all. Where none of these be, there their plain, true, honest sense, would prove very easy and intelligible, if expressed in ordinary and direct language.
That this is so, I shall show, by examining a printed sheet on this subject, entitled, Remarks on a Paper given in to the Lords, &c.
Rem. “It is certain, That what place soever will give most for silver by weight, it will thither be carried and sold : and if of the money which now passes in England, there can be 5s. 5d. the ounce given for standard silver at the mint, when but 5s. 4d. of the very same can be given elsewhere for it, it will certainly be brought to the mint; and when coined, cannot be sold (having one penny over-value set upon it by the ounce) for the same that other plate may be bought for, so will be left unmelted; at least, it will be the interest of any exporter to buy plate to send out, before money; whereas now it is his interest to buy money to send out before plate."
Answ. The author would do well to make it intelligible, how, “ of the money that now passes in England, at the mint can be given 5s. 5d. the ounce for standard silver, when but 5s. 4d. of the same money can be given elsewhere for it.” Next, “ How it has one penny over-value set upon it by the ounce, so that, when coined, it cannot be sold.” This, to an ordinary reader, looks very mysterious ; and, I fear, is so, as either signifying nothing at all, or nothing that will hold. For,
1. I ask, Who it is at the mint, that “can give 5s. 5d. the ounce for standard silver, when nobody else can give above 5s. 4d.?” Is it the king, or is it the master-worker, or any of the officers ? For to give 5s. 5d. for what will yield but 5s. 4d. to any body else, is to give one-sixty-fifth part more than it is worth. For so much every thing is worth as it will yield. And I do not see how this can turn to account to the king, or be borne by any body else.
2. I ask, How a penny over-value can be set upon it by the ounce, so “ that it cannot be sold ?” This is so mysterious, that I think it near impossible. For an equal quantity of standard silver will always be just worth an equal quantity of standard silver. And it is utterly impossible to make sixty-four parts of standard silver equal to, or worth, sixty-five parts of the same standard silver ; which is meant by “ setting a penny over-value upon it by the ounce,” if that has any meaning at all. Indeed, by the workmanship of it, sixtyfour ounces of standard silver may be made not only worth sixty-five ounces, but seventy or eighty. But the coinage, which is all the workmanship here, being paid for by a tax, I do not see how that can be reckoned at all : or if it be, it must raise every 58. 4d. coined to above 5s. 5d. If I carry sixty-four ounces of standard silver in bullion to the mint to be coined, shall I not have just 64 ounces back again for it in coin ? And if so, can these sixty-four ounces of coined standard silver be possibly made worth sixty-five ounces of the same standard silver uncoined, when they cost me no more; and I can, for barely going to the mint, have sixty-four ounces of standard silver in bullion turned into coin? Cheapness of coinage in England, where it costs nothing, will indeed make money be sooner brought to the mint than any where else; because there I have the convenience of having it made into money for nothing. But this will no more keep it in England than if it were perfect bullion. Nor will it hinder it from being melted down, because it cost no more in coin than in bullion: and this equally, whether your pieces of the same denomination be lighter, heavier, or just as they were before. This being explained, it will be easy to see whether the other things said in the same paragraph be true or false, and particularly, whether " it will be the interest of every exporter to buy plate to send out before money.”
Rem.“ It is only barely asserted, That if silver be raised at the mint, that it will rise elsewhere above it; but can never be known till it be tried.”
Answ. The author tells us, in the last paragraph, that silver that is worth “but 58. 2d. per ounce at the mint, is worth 5s. 4d. elsewhere.” This, how true, or what inconvenience it hath, I will not here examine. But, be the inconvenience of it what it will, this raising the money he proposes as a remedy: and to those who say, upon raising our money, silver will rise too, he makes this answer, that "it can never be known whether it will or no, till it be tried.” To which I reply, That it may be known as certainly without trial, as it can, that two pieces of silver that weighed equally yesterday, will weigh equally again to-morrow in the same scales.
“ There is silver (says our author) whereof an ounce (i. e. 480 grains) will change for 5s. 4d," (i. e. 4.96 grains) of our standard silver coined. To-morrow you coin your money lighter; so that then 58. 4d. will have but 472 grains of coined standard silver in it. Can it not then be known, without trial, whether that ounce of silver, which to-day will change for 496 grains of standard silver coined, will change to-morrow but for 472 grains of the same standard silver coined? Or can any one imagine that 480 grains of the same silver, which to-day are worth 496 grains of our coined silver, will to-morrow be worth but 472 grains of the same silver, a little differently coined ? He that can have a doubt about this till it be tried, may as well demand a trial to be made, to prove that the same thing is equiponderant, or equivalent to itself. For I think it is as clear, that 472 grains of silver are equiponderant to 496 grains of silver, as that an ounce of silver, that is to-day worth 496 grains of standard silver, should tomorrow be worth but 472 grains of the same standard silver, all circumstances remaining the same, but the different weight of the pieces stamped: which is that our author asserts, when he says, That it is only barely asserted, &c. What has been said to this may serve also for an answer to the next paragraph. Only I desire it may be taken notice of, that the author seems to insinuate, that silver goes not in England as in foreign parts, by weight: which is a very dangerous, as well as false position; and which, if allowed, may let into our mint what corruption and debasing of our money one pleases.
Rem. “ That our trade hath heretofore furnished us with an overplus, brought home in gold and silver, is true: but that we bring home from any place more goods than we now export to it, I do not conceive to be so. And more goods might be sent to those parts; but by reason of the great value of silver in this part of the world, more money is to be got by exporting silver than by any other thing that can be sent, and that is the reason of it. And for its being melted down, and sent out, because it is so heavy, is not by their paper denied.”
Answ. “ That we bring home from any place more goods than we now export, (the author tells us) he doth not conceive.”
Would he had told us a reason for his conceit! But since the money of any country is not presently to be changed, upon any private man's groundless conceit, I suppose this argument will not be of much weight with many men.
I make bold to call it a groundless conceit; for if the author' please to remember the great sums of money are carried every year to the East Indies, for which we bring home consumable commodities; (though I must own it pays us again with advantage) or if he will examine how much only two commodities, wholly consumed here, cost us yearly in money, (I mean Canary wine and currants) more than we pay for, with goods exported to the Canaries and Zant; besides the over-balance of trade upon us in several other places, he will have little reason to say, “he doth not conceive we bring home from any place more goods than we now export to it.”
As to what he says concerning the “ melting down and exporting our money, because it is heavy:" if by heavy he means, because our crown-pieces (and the rest of our species of money in proportion) are 23 or 24 grains heavier than he would have them coined: this, whoever gränts it, I deny upon grounds which, I suppose, when examined, will be found clear and evident.