« PreviousContinue »
not goods for which our merchants have money due to them in Holland, how can it be paid by bills of exchange? And for goods, one hundred pounds worth of goods can nowhere pay two hundred pounds in money. This being that which I find many men deceive themselves with in trade, it may be worth while to make it a little plainer.
Let us suppose England peopled, as it is now; and its woollen manufacture in the same state and perfection that it is at present; and that we, having no money at all, trade with this our woollen manufacture, for the value of two hundred thousand pounds yearly to Spain, where there actually is a million in money: farther, let us suppose that we bring back from Spain yearly in oil, wine, and fruit, to the value of one hundred thousand pounds, and continue to do this ten years together: it is plain that we have had for our two millions value in woollen manufacture, carried thither, one million returned in wine, oil, and fruit: but what is become of the other million ? Will the merchants be content to lose it? That you may be sure they would not, nor have traded on, if they had not, every year, returns made, answering their exportation. How then were the returns made? In money, it is evident; for the Spaniards having, in such a trade, no debts, nor the possibility of any debts in England, cannot pay one farthing of that other million by bills of exchange: and having no commodities, that we will take off, above the value of one hundred thousand pounds per ann. they cannot pay us in commodities. From whence it necessarily follows, that the hundred thousand pounds per. ann wherein we overbalance them in trade, must be paid us in money; and so, at the ten years' end, their million of money, (though their law make it death to export it) will be all brought into England; as, in truth, by this overbalance of trade, the greatest part of our money hath been brought into England out of Spain.
Let us suppose ourselves now possessed of this million of money, and exporting yearly out of England, to the several parts of the world, consumable commodities, to the value of a million, but importing yearly in commodities, which we consume amongst us, to the value of eleven hundred thousand pounds. If such a trade as this be managed amongst us, and continue ten years, it is evident that our million of money will, at the end of the ten years, be inevitably all gone from us to them, by the same way that it came to us; that is, by their overbalance of trade: for we, importing every year one hundred thousand pounds worth of commodi-, ties more than we export, and there being no foreigners that will give us one hundred thousand pounds every year for nothing, it is unavoidable that one hundred thousand pounds of our money must go out every year, to
pay for that overplus, which our commodities do not pay for. It is ridiculous to say, that bills of exchange shall pay our debts abroad: that cannot be, till scrips of paper can be made current coin. The English merchant who has no money owing him abroad, cannot expect to have his bills paid there; or, if he has credit enough with a correspondent to have his bills answered, this pays none of the debt of England, but only changes the creditor; and if, upon the general balance of trade, English merchants owe to foreigners one hundred thousand pounds, or a million; if commodities do not, our money must go out to pay it, or else our credit be lost, and our trade stop, and be lost too.
A kingdom grows rich or poor just as a farmer doth, and no otherwise. Let us suppose the whole isle of Portland one farm: and that the owner, besides what serves his family, carries to market to Weymouth and Dorchester, &c. cattle, corn, butter, cheese, wool or cloth, lead and tin, all commodities, produced and wrought within his farm of Portland, to the value of a thousand pounds yearly; and for this brings home in salt, wine, oil, spice, linen, and silks, to the value of nine hundred pounds, and the remaining hundred pounds in money. It is evident he grows every year a hundred pounds richer, and so at the end of ten years will have clearly got a thousand pounds. If the owner be a better husband, and, contenting himself with his native commodities, buy less wine, spice, and silk, at
market, and so bring home five hundred pounds in money yearly; instead of a thousand pounds, at the end of ten years he will have five thousand pounds by him, and be so much richer. He dies, and his son succeeds, a fashionable young gentleman, that cannot dine without champagne and burgundy, nor sleep but in a damask bed; whose wife must spread a long train of brocade, and his children be always in the newest French cut and stuff; he, being come to the estate, keeps on a very busy family; the markets are weekly frequented, and the commodities of his farm carried out, and sold as formerly, but the returns are made something different; the fashionable way of eating, drinking, furniture, and clothing, for himself and family, requires more sugar and spice, wine and fruit, silk and ribbons, than in his father's time; so that, instead of nine hundred pounds per ann., he now brings home of consumable commodities to the value of eleven hundred pounds yearly. What comes of this ? He lives in splendor, it is true; but this unavoidably carries away the money his father got, and he is every year a hundred pounds poorer. To his expenses, beyond his income, add debauchery, idleness, and quarrels amongst his servants, whereby his manufactures are disturbed, and his business neglected, and a general disorder and confusion through his whole family and farm. This will tumble him down the hill the faster, and the stock, which the industry, frugality, and good order of his father had laid up, will be quickly
, brought to an end, and he fast in prison. A farm and a kingdom in this respect differ no more, than as greater or less. We may trade, and be busy, and grow poor by it, unless we regulate our expenses; if to this we are idle, negligent, dishonest, malicious, and disturb the sober and industrious in their business, let it be
upon what pretence it will, we shall ruin the faster.
So that, whatever this author, or any one else may say, money is brought into England by nothing but spending here less of foreign commodities than what we carry to market can pay for; nor can debts, we owe to foreigners, be paid by bills of exchange, till our commodities exported, and sold beyond sea, have produced money, or debts, due there to some of our merchants; for nothing will pay debts but money, or money's worth, which three or four lines writ in paper cannot be. If such bills have an intrinsic value, and can serve instead of money, why do we not send them to market, instead of our cloth, lead, and tin, and at an easier rate purchase the commodities we want? All that a bill of exchange can do is to direct to whom money due, or taken up upon credit, in a foreign country, shall be paid; and if we trace it, we shall find, that what is owing already, became so for commodities, or money carried from hence: and, if it be taken upon credit, it must (let the debt be shifted from one creditor to another as often as you will) at last be paid by money, or goods, carried from hence, or else the merchant here must turn bankrupt.
We have seen how riches and money are got, kept, or lost, in any country; and that is, by consuming less of foreign commodities than what by commodities, or labour, is paid for. This is in the ordinary course of things: but where great armies and alliances are to be maintained abroad, by supplies sent out of any country, there often, by a shorter and more sensible way, the treasure is diminished. But this, since the holy war, or at least since the improvement of navigation and trade, seldom happening to England, whose princes have found the enlarging their power by sea, and the securing our navigation and trade, more the interest of this kingdom than wars, or conquests, on the continent: expenses in arms beyond sea have had little influence on our riches or poverty. The next thing to be considered is, how money is necessary to trade.
The necessity of a certain proportion of money to trade (I conceive) lies in this, that money, in its circulation, driving the several wheels of trade, whilst it keeps in that channel (for some of it will unavoidably be drained into standing pools) is all shared between the landholder, whose land affords the materials; the labourer, who works thein; the broker, i. e. the mer
chant and shopkeeper, who distributes them to those that want them; and the consumer who spends them. Now money is necessary to all these sorts of men, as serving both for counters and for pledges, and so carrying with it even reckoning, and security, that he that receives it shall have the same value for it again, of other things that he wants, whenever he pleases. The one of these it does by its stamp and denomination; the other by its intrinsic value, which is its quantity.
For mankind, having consented to put an imaginary value upon gold and silver, by reason of their durableness, scarcity, and not being very liable to be counterfeited, have made them, by general consent, the common pledges, whereby men are assured, in exchange for them, to receive equally valuable things, to those they parted with, for any quantity of these metals; by which means it comes to pass, that the intrinsic value, regarded in these metals, made the common barter, is nothing but the quantity which men give or receive of them; for they having, as money, no other value, but as pledges to procure what one wants or desires, and they procuring what we want or desire only by their quantity, it is evident that the intrinsic value of silver and gold, used in commerce, is nothing but their quantity
The necessity, therefore, of a proportion of money to trade, depends on money, not as counters, for the reckoning may be kept or transferred by writing, but on money as a pledge, which writing cannot supply the place of: since the bill, bond, or other note of debt, I receive from one man, will not be accepted as security by another, he not knowing that the bill or bond is true or legal, or that the man bound to me is honest or responsible, and so is not valuable enough to become a current pledge, nor can by public authority be well made so, as in the case of assigning of bills; because a law cannot give to bills that intrinsic value which the universal consent of mankind has annexed to silver and gold; and hence foreigners can never be brought to take your bills or writings for any part of payment, though perhaps they might pass as valuable considera