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TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
SIR JOHN SOMMERS, KNT.
LORD KEEPER OF THE GREAT SEAL OF ENGLAND, AND ONE OF HIS
MAJESTY'S MOST HONOURABLE PRIVY-COUNCIL,
MY LORD, The papers I here present your lordship are in substance the same with one which I delivered to you in obedience to the commands I received, by your lordship, from their excellencies the lords justices; and with another, which I writ in answer to some questions your lordship was pleased to propose to me, concerning our coin. The approbation your lordship was pleased to give them then has been an encouragement to me to revise them now, and put them in an order fitter to comply with their desires, who will needs have me print something at this time on this subject : and could any thing of this nature be received with indifferency in this age, the allowance they have had from your lordship, whose great and clear judgment is, with general consent and applause, acknowledged to be the just measure of right and wrong amongst us, might make me hope that they might pass in the world without any great dislike.
However, since your lordship thought they might be of use to clear some difficulties, and rectify some wrong notions, that are taken up about money, I have ventured them into the world, desiring no mercy to any erroneous positions, or wrong reasonings, which shall be found in them. I shall never knowingly be of any but truth's and my country's side; the former I shall always gladly embrace and own, whoever shows it me: and in these papers, I am sure, I have no other aim but to do what little I can for the service of my country. Your lordship's so evidently preferring that to all other considerations, does, in the eyes of all men, sit se well upon you, that my ambition will not be blamed, if I in this propose to myself so great an example, and in my little sphere am moved by the same principle.
I have a long time foreseen the mischief and ruin coming upon us by clipped money, if it were not timely stopped : and had concern enough for the public, to make me print some thoughts touching our coin, some years since. The principles I there went on I see no reason to alter: they have, if I mistake not, their foundation in nature, and will stand; they have their foundation in nature, and are clear; and will be so, in all the train of their consequences, throughout this whole (as it is thought) mysterious business of money, to all those, who will but be at the easy trouble of stripping this subject of hard, obscure, and doubtful words, wherewith men are often misled, and mislead others, And now the disorder is come to extremity, and can no longer be played with, I wish it may find a sudden and effectual cure, not a remedy in sound and appearance, which may flatter us on to ruin, in a continuation of a growing mischief, that calls for present help.
I wish too that the remedy may be as easy as possible; and that the cure of this evil be not ordered so, as to lay a great part of the burden unequally on those who have had no particular hand in it. Westminsterhall is so great a witness of your lordship's unbiassed justice, and steady care to preserve to every one their right, that the world will not wonder you should not be for such a lessening our coin, as will, without any reason, deprive great numbers of blameless men of a fifth part of their estates, beyond the relief of Chancery. I hope this age will escape so great a blemish. I doubt not but there are many, who, for the service of their country, and for the support of the government, would gladly part with, not only one-fifth, but a much larger portion of their estates. But when it shall be taken from them, only to be bestowed on men, in their and the common opinion, no better deserving of their country than themselves, unless growing exceedingly rich by the public necessities, whilst every body else finds his fortune straitened by them, be a public merit, that deserves a public and signal reward; this loss of onefifth of their debts and income will sit heavy on them who shall feel it, without the alleviation of any profit, or credit, that will thereby accrue to the nation by such a lessening of our coin.
If any one ask, how I, a retired, private man, come at this time to meddle with money and trade, for they are inseparable ? I reply, that your lordship, and the other great men that put me upon it, are answerable for it: whether what I say be to the purpose or no, that I myself am answerable for. This I can answer to all the world, that I have not said any thing here, without a full persuasion of its truth; nor with any other motive, or purpose, than the clearing of this artificially perplexed, rather than in itself mysterious, subject, as far as my poor talent reaches. That which, perhaps, I shall not be so well able to answer to your lordship and myself, is the liberty I have taken; in such an address as this, to profess that I am,
Your lordship’s most humble,
and most obedient servant,
P R E FACE.
Though Mr. Lowndes and I differ in the way, yet, I assure myself, our end is the same; and that we both propose to ourselves the service of our country. He is a man known so able in the post he is in, to which the business of money peculiarly belongs; and has showed himself so learned in the records and matters of the mint, and so exact in calculations and combinations of numbers relating to our coin, either already in use, or designed by him, that I think I should have troubled the public no more on this subject, had not he himself engaged me in it; and brought it to that pass, that either I must be thought to renounce my own opinion, or must publicly oppose his.
Whilst his treatise was yet a manuscript, and before it was laid before those great persons, to whom it was afterwards submitted, he did me the favour to show it to me; and made me the compliment to ask me my opinion of it. Though we had some short discourse on the subject, yet the multiplicity of his business, whilst I staid in town, and my health, which soon after forced me out of it, allowed us not an occasion to debate any one point thoroughly, and bring it to an issue. Before I returned to town, his book was in the press, and finished before I had an opportunity to see Mr. Lowndes again. And here he laid a new obligation on me, not only in giving me one of them, but telling me when I received it from his hands, that it was the first he had parted with to any body. I then went over it a second time, and having more leisure to consider it, I found there were a great many particulars in it drawn out of ancient records, not commonly known, wherewith he had obliged the world. These, which very pleasingly entertained me, though they prevailed not on me to be of his opinion every where, yet, joined with the great civilities he had shown me, left me in a disposition so little inclined to oppose any thing in it, that I should rather have chosen to acknowledge myself in print to be his convert, if his arguments had convinced me, than to have troubled the world with the reasons why I dissent from him.
In this disposition, my pen rested from meddling any farther with this subject whilst I was in town; soon after my own health, and the death of a friend, forced me into the country; and the business occasioned thereby, and my own private affairs, took up all my time at my first coming thither; and had continued to do so, had not several repeated intimations and instances from London, not without some reproaches of my backwardness, made me see that the world concerned me particularly in Mr. Lowndes's postscript, and expected something from me on that occasion.
Though possibly I was not wholly out of his mind when Mr. Lowndes writ that invitation, yet I shall not make myself the compliment to think I alone am concerned in it. The great importance of the matter, made him desire every one to contribute what he could to the clearing of it, and setting it in a true light. And I must do him this right to think, that he prefers the public good to his private opinion; and therefore is willing his proposals and arguments should with freedom be examined to the bottom; that, if there be
any mistake in them, nobody may be misled by his reputation and authority, to the prejudice of his country. Thus I understand his postscript, and thus I shall endeavour to comply with it. I shall, to the best of my skill, examine his arguments with all respect to him, and fidelity to truth, as far as I can discover it. The frankness of his proceeding in particular with me, assures me he is so great a lover of truth and right, that he will not think himself injured when that is de