Page images
PDF
EPUB

pay me 100 bushels of wheat next year, it might be a fourth part loss or gain to me; too great an inequality and uncertainty to be ventured in trade : besides the different goodness of several parcels of wheat in the same year.

16. That supposing any island separate from the commerce of the rest of mankind; if gold and silver, or whatever else, (so it be lasting) be their money, if they have but a certain quantity of it, and can give no more, that will be a steady, standing measure of the value of all other things.

17. That, if in any country they use for money any lasting material, whereof there is not any more to be got, and so cannot be increased, or being of no other use, the rest of the world does not value it, and so it is not like to be diminished, this also would be a steady, standing measure of the value of other commodities.

18. That in a country, where they had such a standing measure, any quantity of that money (if it were but so much that every body might have some) would serve to drive any proportion of trade, whether more or less; there being counters enough to reckon by, and the value of the pledges being still sufficient, as constantly increasing with the plenty of the commodity. But these three last, being built on suppositions that are not like to be found in the practice of mankind, since navigation and commerce have brought all parts acquainted with one another, and introduced the use of gold and silver money into all trading parts of the world ; they serve rather to give us some light into the nature of money, than to teach here a new measure of traffic. Though it be certain, that that part of the world which bred most of our gold and silver used least of it in exchange, and used it not for money at all.

19. That therefore, in any country, that hath commerce with the rest of the world, it is almost impossible now to be without the use of silver coin ; and having money of that, and accounts kept in such money, it is impossible to have any standing, unalterable measure of the value of things ; for whilst the mines sup

/

part of

ply to mankind more than wastes and consumes in its use, the quantity of it will daily grow greater, in respect of other commodities, and its value less.

.-20. That in a country, that hath open commerce with the rest of the world, and uses money, made of the same materials with their neighbours, any quantity of that money will not serve to drive any quantity of trade; but there must be a certain proportion between their money and trade. The reason whereof is this, because to keep your trade going without loss, your commodities amongst you must keep an equal, or at least near the price of the same species of commodities in the neighbouring countries; which they cannot do if

your money be far less than in other countries: for then either your commodities must be sold very cheap, or a great

your trade must stand still, there not being money enough in the country to pay for them in their shifting of hands) at that high price, which the plenty, and consequently low value of money, makes them at in another country; for the value of money, in general, is the quantity of all the money in the world, in proportion to all the trade: but the value of money in any one country, is the present quantity of the current money in that country, in proportion to the present trade. Supposing then, that we had now in England but half as much money as we had seven years ago, and yet had still as much yearly product of commodities, as many hands to work them, and as many brokers to disperse them, as before ; and that the rest of the world we trade with had as much money as they had before, (for it is likely they should have more by our moiety shared amongst them) it is certain, that either half our rents should not be paid, half our commodities not vented, and half our labourers not employed, and so half the trade be clearly lost; or else, that every one of these must receive but half the money for their commodities and labour they did before, and but half so much as our neighbours do receive, for the same labour, and the same natural product at the same time. Such a state of poverty as this, though it will make no scarcity of our native commodities amongst us, yet it will have these ill consequences.

VOL. V.

1. It will make our native commodities vent very cheap. 2. It will make all foreign commodities very

dear, both which will make us poor; for the merchant, making silver and gold his measure, and considering what the foreign commodity costs him (i. e. how many ounces of silver) in the country where money is more plenty, i. e. cheaper; and considering too, how many ounces of silver it will yield him in another country, will not part with it here, but for the same quantity of silver, or as much as that silver will buy here of our commodity, which will be a great deal more than in another place; so that, in all our exchange of native for foreign commodities, we shall pay double the value that

any other country does, where money is in greater plenty. This indeed will make a dearness, and in time à scarcity of foreign commodities; which is not the worst inconveniency that it brings upon us, supposing them not absolutely necessary. But,

3. It endangers the drawing away our people, both handicrafts, mariners, and soldiers, who are apt to go where their pay is best, which will always be where there is greatest plenty of money, and in time of war must needs bring great distress.

21. Upon this measure too it is, that the variation of exchange of money between several countries does somewhat depend : for it is certain that one ounce of silver is always of equal value to another ounce of silver, considered in its intrinsic worth, or in reference to the universal trade of the world: but it is not of the same value at the same time in several parts of the world, but is of the most worth in that country where there is the least money, in proportion to its trade: and therefore men may afford to give twenty ounces of silver in one place, to receive eighteen or nineteen ounces of silver in another. But this is not all: to this then, (to find out the alteration of the exchange) the over-balance of the trade must be taken into consideration. These two together regulate the exchange, in all the commerce of the world, and in both the higher rate of exchange depends upon one and the same thing, viz. the greaterplenty of money in one country than in the other: only with this difference, that where the over-balance of trade raises the exchange above the par, there it is the plenty of money which private merchants have in one country, which they desire to remove in another : but where the riches of the country raise the exchange above the par, there it is the plenty of the money in the whole country. In one, the merchant has more money (or debts, which is all one) in a foreign country, than his trade there will employ, and so is willing to allow upon exchange to him abroad, that shall

pay him ready money at home, 1, 2, 3, &c. per cent. more or less, proportionably as his, or his countrymen's plenty of ready money abroad, the danger of leaving it there, or the difficulty of bringing it home in specie, and his present need of money at home, is greater or less : in the other, the whole country has more money than can well be employed in the trade thereof, or at least the proportion of the money to the trade is greater than in the neighbouring country, where the exchange is below the par.

For, supposing the balance of trade to be equal between England and Holland, but that there is in Holland a greater plenty of money than in England, (which will appear by the lowness of the natural use in Holland, and the height of the natural use in England, and also by the dearness of food and labour in general in Holland, and the cheapness of it in England.) If N. has 10,0001. in Holland, which the greater advantage he could make of it in England, either by use or purchase, tempts him to transfer into England, it is probable he will give as much to a merchant in England, to pay him 10,0001. in England, as the insurance at that time between Holland and England is worth. If this happens to be in a country, where the exportation of bullion is prohibited, he must pay

the

more, because his venture, if he carry it in specie, will be greater; and upon this ground, perhaps, the prohibiting the exportation of money out of England, under penalties, may be of some use, by making the rate of the exchange greater to those countries, which import upon us more than they export in commodities; and so retain some part of the money, which their over-balance of trade would carry away from us, though, after all, if we are over-balanced in trade, it must go.

But, since the Holland merchant cannot receive N's 10,0001. in money in Holland, and pay him 10,000l. in England, unless his over-balance of trade make Englishmen indebted to him 10,000l. in money, which he is not like to take in commodities, I think the overbalance of trade is that, which chiefly raises the exchange in any country, and that plenty of money in any country does it only for so much of the money as is transferred, either to be let out to use, or to be spent there; and though lending to foreigners upon use doth not at all alter the balance of trade between those countries, yet it does alter the exchange between those countries for so much as is lent upon use, by not calling away the money that should follow the over-balance of trade, but letting it rest there, as if it were accounted for; all one as if the balance of trade were for so much altered. But this being not much, in comparison of the general traffic between two nations, or at least varying slower, the merchant too regulating the exchange, and not the usurer; I suppose it is the present balance of trade on which the exchange immediately and chiefly depends, unless some accident shall make a great deal of money be remitted at the same time from one place to another, which will for that time raise the exchange all one as an over-balance of trade; and indeed, when examined, is generally very little different from it.

To be able to estimate the par, with the rise and fall of the exchange, it is necessary to know the intrinsic value, i.e. how much silver is in the coins of the two countries, by which you reckon and charge the bill of exchange.

Sir, if I have been led a little too far from one thing to another, in the consideration of money, I beg your pardon, hoping that these particulars will afford some light to our present subject.

To return to the price of land. It is evident, by what has been above said, that the years' purchase of land does not increase with the fall of interest; and the abating

« PreviousContinue »