Page images

penny in five shillings: for that was the ordinary odds in the price between bullion and coined silver, before clipping had deprived us, in commerce, of all our milled and weighty money. And silver in standard bullion would not be in value one jot above the same silver in coin, if clipped money were not current by tale, and coined silver, (as Mr. Lowndes proposes, p. 73)_as well as bullion, had the liberty of exportation. For when we have no clipped money, but all our current coin is weight, according to the standard, all the odds of value that silver in bullion has to silver in coin, is only owing to the prohibition of its exportation in money; and never rises, nor can rise, above what the goldsmith shall estimate the risk and trouble of melting it down; which is so little, that the importers of silver could never raise it to above a penny an ounce, but at such times as the East India Company, or some foreign sale, calling for a great quantity of silver at a time, made the goldsmiths scramble for it; and so the importers of bullion raise its price upon them, according to the present need of great quantities of silver which every goldsmith (eager to engross to himself as much as he could) was content to pay high for, rather than go without his present gains from those whom he furnished, and whom otherwise he could not furnish, making him amends.

The natural value then between silver in bullion and in coin is (I say) every where equal; bating the charge of coinage, which gives the advantage to the side of the coin. The ordinary odds here in England between silver in bullion, and the same in our coin, is, by reason that the stamp hinders its free exportation, about a penny in the crown. The accidental difference, by reason of sudden occasions, is sometimes (but rarely) two-pence in five shillings, or somewhat more in great urgencies. And since the ordinary rate of things is to be taken as the measure of their price, and Mr. Lowndes tells us, p. 78, "That if the value of the silver in their coins should be raised above the value or market-price of the same silver reduced to bullion, the subject would be proportionably injured and defrauded;"

I leave him to make the inference, what will be the consequence in England, if our coin be raised here one-fifth, or twenty per cent.

Mr. Lowndes says farther, p. 80, That silver has a price. I answer, silver to silver can have no other price, but quantity for quantity. If there be any other difference in value, it is or can be nothing but one of these two: first, either the value of the labour employed about one parcel of silver more than another, makes a difference in their price; and thus fashioned plate sells for more than its weight of the same silver; and in countries where the owners pay for the coin, silver in coin is more worth than its weight in bullion; but here, where the public pays the coinage, they are of very near equal value, when there is no need of exportation: for then there is no more odds than the trouble of carrying the bullion to the mint and fetching again are worth; or the charge of refining so much of it as will bring it to standard, if it be worse than standard.

Or, secondly, some privilege belonging to one parcel of silver, which is denied to another, viz. here in England a liberty of exportation allowed to silver in bullion, denied to silver stamped. This when there is need of exportation of silver, gives some small advantage of value to uncoined silver here above coined; but that is ordinarily very inconsiderable, and can never reach to one-fifth, nor half one-fifth, as has been already shown. And this I think will answer all that is said about the price of silver in that place.

It is true what Mr. Lowndes says, in the next words, p. 81," That five shillings, coined upon the foot proposed, will actually contain more real and intrinsic value of silver by a great deal, than is in the current money now commonly applied to the payment of the said rents, revenues, and debts." But will he hence conclude, because there is now lost in those rents, revenues, and debts, a great deal more than twenty per cent. under the present irregularity of our coin, and the robbery in clipped money, without any the least neglect, or miscarriage in the owner, that entitled him to that

loss, that therefore it is just that the loss of twenty per cent. be established on him by law for the future, in the reforming of our coin?

Mr. Lowndes's second reason for lessening of our coin, we have, p. 82, in these words, "The value of the silver in the coin ought to be raised, to encourage the bringing of bullion to the mint to be coined. This raising of money is in effect, as has been seen, nothing but giving a denomination of more pence to the same quantity of silver, viz. That the same quantity of silver shall hereafter be called seventy-five pence, which is now called but sixty-pence. For that is all is done, as is manifest, when a crown-piece, which now but goes for sixty-pence, shall be made to go for seventy-five pence; for it is plain it contains nothing of silver, or worth in it, more than it did before. Let us suppose that all our silver coin now in England were sixpences, shillings, half-crowns, and crowns, all milled money, full weight, according to the present standard; and that it should be ordered that for the future the crownpiece, instead of going for sixty-pence, should go for seventy-five pence, and so proportionably of all the other pieces; I ask then, how such a change of denomination shall bring bullion to the mint to be coined, and from whence? I suppose this change of names, or ascribing to it more imaginary parts of any denomination, has no charms in it to bring bullion to the mint to be coined: for whether you call the piece coined twelve-pence, or fifteen-pence, or sixty, or seventy-five, a crown or a sceptre, it will buy no more silk, salt, or bread than it would before. That therefore cannot tempt people to bring it to the mint. And if it will pay more debts, that is perfect defrauding, and ought not to be permitted. Next, I ask, from whence shall this raising fetch it? For bullion cannot be brought hither to stay here, whilst the balance of our trade requires all the bullion we bring in to be exported again, and more silver out of our former stock with it, to answer our exigencies beyond seas. And whilst it is so, the goldsmiths and returners of money will give more for

bullion to export, than the mint can give for it to coin; and so none of that will come to the mint.

But, says our author, p. 83, "An halfpenny an ounce profit, which will be in the proposed coin, above the present price of sterling bullion, will be an encouragement to those who have English plate to bring it in to be coined." I doubt whether there will be any such profit; for I imagine that standard bullion. cannot now be bought per ounce for six shillings and five-pence of our clipped running cash, which is the measure whereby Mr. Lowndes determines of the price of sterling silver. But, taking this halfpenny an ounce profit for granted, it will not bring to the mint any plate, whose fashion is valued by the owner at above an halfpenny per ounce; and how much then it is like to bring to the mint is easy to guess.

The true and only good reason that brings bullion to the mint to be coined, is the same that brings it to England to stay there, viz. The gain we make by an over-balance of trade. When our merchants carry commodities abroad to a greater value than those they bring home, the overplus comes to them in foreign coin, or bullion, which will stay here, when we gain by the balance of our whole trade. For then we can have no debts beyond sea to be paid with it. In this thriving posture of our trade, those to whose share this bullion falls not having any use of it, whilst it is in bullion, choose to carry it to the mint to have it coined there, whereby it is of more use to them for all the business of silver in trade, or purchasing land; the mint having ascertained the weight and fineness of it: so that on any occasion every one is ready to take it at its known value, without any scruple; a convenience that is want: ing in bullion. But when our trade runs on the other side, and our exported commodities will not pay for those foreign ones we consume, our treasure must go; and then it is in vain to bestow the labour of coining on bullion that must be exported again. To what purpose is it to make it pass through our mint, when it will away? The less pains and charge it costs us the better.

His third reason, p. 83, is, that this raising our coin, by making it "more in tale, will make it more commensurate to the general need thereof," and thereby hinder the increase of hazardous paper credit, and the inconveniency of bartering.

Just as the boy cut his leather into five quarters (as he called them) to cover his ball, when cut into four quarters it fell short; but after all his pains, as much of his ball lay bare as before: if the quantity of coined silver, employed in England, fall short, the arbitrary denomination of a greater number of pence given to it, or, which is all one, to the several coined pieces of it, will not make it commensurate to the size of our trade, or the greatness of our occasions. This is as certain, as that if the quantity of a board, which is to stop a leak of a ship fifteen inches square, be but twelve inches square, it will not be made to do it, by being measured by a foot, that is divided into fifteen inches, instead of twelve, and so having a larger tale, or number of inches in denomination given to it.

This, indeed, would be a convincing reason, if sounds would give weight to silver, and the noise of a greater number of pence (less in quantity proportionably as they are more in number) were a larger supply of money, which our author, p. 84, says our occasions require, and which he by an increase of the tale of pence hopes to provide. But that mistake is very visible, and shall be farther shown in the business of bartering.

The necessity of trust and bartering is one of the many inconveniencies springing from the want of money. This inconvenience the multiplying arbitrary denominations will no more supply, nor any ways make our scarcity of coin commensurate to the need there is of it, than if the cloth which was providing for clothing the army, falling short, one should hope to make it commensurate to that need there is of it, by measuring it by a yard one-fifth shorter than the standard, or changing the standard of the yard, and so getting the full denomination of yards, necessary according to the present measure. For this is all will be done by raising our coin, as is proposed. All it amounts to is no



« PreviousContinue »