« PreviousContinue »
considered as two distinct commodities. But no money being coined here, or almost any where, of silver, this concerns not the value of money at all; wherein an equal quantity of silver is always of the same value with an equal quantity of silver, let the stamp or denomination be what it will.
All then that can be done in this great mystery of raising money, is only to alter the denomination, and call that a crown now, which before, by the law, was but a part of a crown. For example: supposing, according to the standard of our law, 5s. or a crown, were to weigh an ounce, (as it does now, wanting about 16 grains) whereof one-twelfth were copper, and eleventwelfths silver, (for thereabouts it is) it is plain here, it is the quantity of silver gives the value to it. For let another piece be coined of the same weight, wherein half the silver is taken out, and copper, or other alloy, put into the place, every one knows it will be worth but half as much. For the value of the alloy is so inconsiderable as not to be reckoned. This crown now must be raised, and from henceforth our crown-pieces coined one-twentieth lighter; which is nothing but changing the denomination, calling that a crown now, which yesterday was but a part, viz. nineteen-twentieths of a crown; whereby you have only raised 19 parts to the denomination formerly given to 20. For I think nobody can be so senseless as to imagine that 19 grains or ounces of silver can be raised to the value of 20; or that 19 grains or ounces of silver shall at the same time exchange for, or buy as much corn, oil, or wine, as 20; which is to raise it to the value of 20. For if 19 ounces of silver can be worth 20 ounces of silver, or pay for as much of any other commodity, then 18, 10, or one ounce may do the same. For if the abating one-twentieth of the quantity of the silver of any coin, does not lessen its value, the abating nineteen-twentieths of the quantity of the silver of any coin will not abate its value. And so a single three-pence, or a single penny, being called a crown, will buy as much spice, or silk, or any other commodity, as a crown-piece, which contains 20 or 60 times as much silver: which is an absurdity so
great, that I think nobody will want eyes to see, and sense to disown.
Now this raising your money, or giving a less quantity of silver the stamp and denomination of a greater, may be done two ways.
1. By raising one species of your money.
2. By raising all your silver coin, at once proportionably; which is the thing, I suppose, now proposed.
1. The raising of one species of your coin, beyond its intrinsic value, is done by coining any one species, (which in account bears such a proportion to the other species of your coin) with less silver in it than is required by that value it bears in your money: For example: a crown with us goes
with us goes for 60 pence, a shilling for 12 pence, a tester for 6 pence, and a groat for 4 pence; and accordingly, the proportion of silver in each of them, ought to be as 60, 12, 6, and 4. Now, if in the mint there should be coined groats, or testers, that, being of the same alloy with our other money, had but two-thirds of the weight that those species are coined at now; or else, being of the same weight, were so alloyed, as to have one-third of the silver, required by the present standard, changed into copper, and should thus, by law, be made current; (the rest of your silver money being kept to the present standard in weight and fineness) it is plain, those species would be raised one-third part; that passing for 6d. which had but the silver of 4d. in it; and would be all one, as if a groat should by law be made current for 6d. and every 6d. in payment pass for 9d. This is truly raising these species: but is no more in effect, than if the mint should coin clipped money; and has, besides the cheat that is put by such base, or light money, on every particular man that receives it, that he wants one-third of that real value, which the public ought to secure him, in the money it obliges him to receive, as lawful and current. It has, I say, this great and unavoidable inconvenience to the public, that, besides the opportunity it gives to domestic coiners to cheat you with lawful money, it puts it into the hands of foreigners to fetch
away your money, without any commodities for it. For if they find that two-penny weight of silver, marked with a certain impression, shall here in England be equivalent to 3d. weight, marked with another impression, they will not fail to stamp pieces of that fashion; and so importing that base and low coin, will, here in England, receive 3d. for 2d. and quickly carry away your silver in exchange for copper, or barely the charge of coinage.
This is unavoidable in all countries, where any one species of their money is disproportionate in its intrinsic value, (i. c. in its due proportion of silver to the rest of the money of that country) an inconvenience so certainly attending the allowance of any base species of money to be current, that the king of France could not avoid' it, with all his watchfulness. For though, by edict, he made his 1 nols pieces (whereof 15 were to pass for a French crown, though 20 of them had not so much silver in them as was in a French crown-piece) pass in the inland parts of his kingdom, 15 for a crown in all payments; yet he durst not make them current in the scarport towns, for fear that should give an opportunity to their importation. But yet this caution served not the turn; they were still imported; and by this means a great loss and damage brought upon his country. So that he was forced to cry them down, and sink them to near their intrinsic value. Whereby a great many particular men, who had quantities of that species in their hands, lost a great part of their estates; and every one, that had any, lout proportionably by it.
If we had groats, or sixpencen, current by law amongst us, that wanted one-third of the silver, which they now have by the standard, to make them of equal value to our other species of money; who can imagine, that our neighbours would not presently pour in quantities of such money upon 11%, to the great loss and prejudice of the kingdom? The quantity of silver, that is in each piece, or species of coin, being that which makes its real and intrinsic value, the due proportions of silver ought to be kept in each species, according to the respective rate, set on each of them by law. And, when
this is ever varied from, it is but a trick to serve some present occasion ; but is always with loss to the country where the trick is played.
2. The other way of raising money is by raising all your silver coin at once, the proportion of a crown, a shilling, and a penny, in reference to one another, being still kept, (viz. That a shilling shall weigh onefifth of a crown-piece, and a penny-weight one-twelfth of a shilling, in standard silver) but out of every one of these you abate one-twentieth of the silver they were wont to have in them.
If all the species of money be, as it is called, raised, by making each of them to have one-twentieth less of silver in them than formerly, and so your whole money be lighter than it was; these following will be some of the consequences of it.
1. It will rob all creditors of one-twentieth (or five per cent.) of their debts, and all landlords one-twentieth of their quit-rents for ever; and in all other rents, as far as their former contracts reach, (of five per cent.) of their yearly income; and this without any advantage to the debtor, or farmer. For he, receiving no more pounds sterling for his land, or commodities, in this new lighter coin, than he should have done of your old and weightier money, gets nothing by it. If you say, Yes, he will receive more crown, half-crown, and shilling pieces, for what he now sells for new money, than he should have done, if the money of the old standard had continued; you confess your money is not raised in value, but in denomination: since what your new pieces want in weight must now be made up in their number. But, which way soever this falls, it is certain the public (which most men think ought to be the only reason of changing a settled law, and disturbing the common current course of things) receives not the least profit by it. Nay, as we shall see by and by, it will be a great charge and loss to the kingdom. But this, at first sight, is visible, That in all payments to be received upon precedent contracts, if your money be in effect raised, the receiver will lose five per cent. For money having been lent, and leases
and other bargains made, when money was of the same weight and fineness that it is now, upon confidence that under the same names of pounds, shillings, and pence, they should receive the same value, i. e. the same quantity of silver, by giving the denomination now to less quantities of silver by one-twentieth, you take from them five per cent. of their due.
When men go to market, to buy any other commodities with their new, but lighter money, they will find 208, of their new money will buy no more of any commodity than 19 would before. l'or it not being the denomination, but the quantity of silver, that gives the value to any coin, 19 grains, or parts, of silver, however denominated or marked, will no more be worth, or pass for, or buy so much of any other commodity, as 20 grains of silver will, than 19%, will pass
for 208. If any one thinks a shilling, or a crown in name, has its value from the denomination, and not from the quangtity of silver in it, let it be tried; and hereafter let a penny be called a shilling, or a shilling be called a crown. I believe nobody would be content to receive his debts or rents in such money; which, though the law should raise thus, yet he foresces he should lose eleven-twelfths by the one, and by the other four-lifths of the value he received; and would find his new shilling, which had no more silver in it than one-twelfth of what a shilling had before, would buy him of corn, cloth, or wine, but one-twelfth of what an old shilling would. This is as plainly so in the raising, as you call it, your crown to 68, and 3d. or (which is the same thing) making your crown one-twentieth lighter in silver. The only difference is, that the lows is so great, (it being cleventwelfths) that every body sees, and abhors it at first proposal ; but, in the other (it being but one-twentieth, and covered with the deceitful name of raising our money) people do not readily observe it. If it be good to raise the crown-piece this way one-twentieth this week, I suppose it will be as good and profitable to raise it as much again the next week. For there is no reason, why it will not be as good to raise it again, another one-twentieth, the next week, and so on; wherein, if you pro