« PreviousContinue »
tionably, what shall hinder the melting down of your money then, more than now, I would fain know? Ifit be coined then, as it is now, gratis, a crown-piece, (let it be of what weight soever) will be, as it is now, just worth its own weight in bullion of the same fineness ; for the coinage which is the manufactory about it, and makes all the difference, costing nothing, what can make the difference of value? And therefore, whoever wants bullion, will as cheaply melt down these new crowns, as buy bullion with them. The raising of your money cannot then (the act for free coinage standing) hinder its being melted down.
Nor, in the next place, much less can it, as it is pretended, hinder the exportation of our bullion. Any denomination, or stamp, we shall give to silver here, will neither give silver a higher value in England, nor make it less prized abroad. So much silver will always be worth (as we have already showed) so much silver, given in exchange one for another. Nor will it, when in your mint a less quantity of it is raised to a higher denomination (as when nineteen-twentieths of an ounce has the denomination of a crown, which formerly belonged only to the whole 20) be one jot raised, in respect of any other commodity.
You have raised the denomination of your stamped silver one-twentieth, or, which is ail one, five per cent. And men will presently raise their commodities five per cent. So that if yesterday 20 crowns would exchange for twenty bushels of wheat, or 20 yards of a certain sort of cloth, if you will to-day coin current crowns one-twentieth lighter, and make them the standard, you will find 20 crowns will exchange for but 19 bushels of wheat, or 19 yards of that cloth, which will be just as much silver for a bushel as yesterday. So that silver being of no more real value, by your giving the same denomination to a less quantity of it; this will no more bring in, or keep your búllion here, than if you had done nothing. If this were otherwise, you would be beholden (as some people foolishly imagine) to the clippers for keeping your money. For if keeping the old denomination to a less quantity of silver be raising your money (as in effect it is all that is or can be done in it, by this project of making your coin lighter) the clippers have sufficiently done that: and, if their trade go on a little while longer, at the rate it has of late, and your milled money be melted down and carried away, and no more coined; your money will, without the charge of new coinage, be, by that sort of artificers, raised above five per cent. when all your current money shall be clipped, and made above one-twentieth lighter than the standard, preserving still its former denomination.
It will possibly be here objected to me, That we see 1001. of clipped money, above five per cent. lighter than the standard, will buy as much corn, cloth, or wine, as 100l. in milled money, which is above one-twentieth heavier : whereby it is evident that my rule fails, and that it is not the quantity of silver that gives the value to money, but its stamp and denomination. To which I
answer, That men make their estimate and contracts according to the standard, upon supposition they shall receive good and lawful money, which is that of full weight: and so in effect they do, whilst they receive the current money of the country. For since 100l. of clipped money will pay a debt of 100l. as well as the weightiest milled money; and a new crown out of the mint will pay for no more flesh, fruit, or cloth, than five clipped shillings; it is evident that they are equivalent as to the purchase of any thing here at home, whilst nobody scruples to take five clipped shillings in exchange for a weighty milled crown. But this will be quite otherwise as soon as you change your coin, and (to raise it as you call it) make your money one-twentieth lighter in the mint; for then nobody will any more give an old crown of the former standard for one of the new, than he will now give you 5s. and 3d. for a crown : for so much then his old crown will yield him at the mint.
Clipped and unclipped money will always buy an equal quantity of any thing else, as long as they will without scruple change one for another. And this makes that the foreign merchant, who comes to sell his goods to you, always counts upon the value of your money,
by the silver that is in it, and estimates the quantity of silver by the standard of your mint; though perhaps by reason of clipped or worn money amongst it, any sum that is ordinarily received is much lighter than the standard, and so has less silver in it than what is in a like sum, new coined in the mint. But whilst clipped and weighty money will equally change one for another, it is all one to him, whether he receives his money in clipped money or no, so it be but current. For if he buy other commodities here with his money, whatever sum he contracts for, clipped as well as weighty money equally pays for it. If he would carry away the price of his commodity in ready cash, it is easily changed into weighty money: and then he has not only the sum in tale that he contracted for, but the quantity of silver ne expected, for his commodities, according to the standard of our mint. If the quantity of your clipped money be once grown so great, that the foreign merchant cannot (if he has a mind to it) easily get weight money for it, but having sold his merchandize, and received clipped money, finds a difficulty to procure what is weight for it; he will, in selling his goods, either contract to be paid in weighty money, or else raise the price of his commodity, according to the diminished quantity of silver in your current coin.
In Holland (ducatoons being the best money of the country, as well as the largest coin) men in payments received and paid those indifferently with the other money of the country; till of late the coining of other species of money, of baser alloy, and in greater quantities, having made the ducatoons, either by melting down, or exportation, scarcer than formerly, it me difficult to change the baser money into ducatoons ; and since that, nobody will pay a debt in ducatoons, unless he be allowed half per cent. or more, above the value they were coined for.
To understand this, we must take notice, That guilders is the denomination that in Holland they usually compute by, and make their contracts in. A ducatoon formerly passed at three guilders and three stivers, or sixty-three stivers. There were then (some years since) begun to be coined another piece, which was called a three guilders piece, and was ordered to pass for three guilders, or sixty stivers. But 21 three guilders pieces, which were to pass for 63 guilders, not having so much silver in them as 20 ducatoons, which passed for the same sum of 63 guilders, the ducatoons were either melted down in their mints (for the making of these three guilders pieces, or yet baser money, with profit) or were carried away by foreign merchants; who, when they carried back the product of their sale in money, would be sure to receive their payment of the number of guilders they contracted for in ducatoons, or change the money they received into ducatoons: whereby they carried home more silver than if they had taken their payment in three guilders pieces, or any other species. Thus ducatoons became scarce. So that now, he that will be paid in ducatoons, must allow half per cent. for them. And therefore the merchants, when they sell any thing now, either make their bargain to be paid in ducatoons; or, if they contract for guilders in general, (which will be sure to be paid them in the baser money of the country) they raise the price of their commodities accordingly.
By this example, in a neighbour country, we may see how our new milled money goes away. When foreign trade imports more than our commodities will pay for, it is certain we must contract debts beyond sea, and those must be paid with money, when either we cannot furnish, or they will not take our goods to discharge them. To have money beyond sea to pay our debts, when our commodities do not raise it, there is no other way but to send it thither. And since a weighty crown costs no more here than a light one, and our coin beyond sea is valued no otherwise than according to the quantity of silver it has in it, whether we send it in specie, or whether we melt it down here to send it in bullion, (which is the safest way, as not being prohibited) the weightiest is sure to go. But when so great a quantity of your money is clipped, or so great a part of your weighty money is carried away, that the foreign merchant, or his factor here, cannot have his price paid in weighty money, or such as will easily be changed into it, then every one will see (when men will no longer take five clipped shillings for a milled or weighty crown) that it is the quantity of silver that buys commodities and pays debts, and not the stamp and denomination which is put upon it. And then too it will be seen what a robbery is committed on the public by clipping. Every grain diminished from the just weight of our money is so much loss to the nation, which will one time or other be sensibly felt; and which, if it be not taken care of, and speedily stopped, will, in that enormous course it is now in, quickly, I fear, break out into open ill effects, and at one blow deprive us of a great part (perhaps near one-fourth) of our money. For that will be really the case, when the increase of clipped money makes it hard to get weighty: when men begin to put a difference of value between that which is weighty and light money ; and will not sell their commodities, but for money that is weight, and will make their bargains accordingly.
Let the country gentleman, when it comes to that pass, consider what the decay of his estate will be ! When receiving his rent in the tale of clipped shillings, according to his bargain, he cannot get them to pass at market for more than their weight. And he that sells him salt, or silk, will bargain for 5s. such a quantity, if he pays him in fair weighty coin, but in clipped money he will not take under 5s. 31. Here you see you have your money, without this new trick of coinage, raised five per cent; but whether to any advantage of the kingdom, I leave every one to judge.
Hitherto we have only considered the raising of silver coin, and that has been only by coining it with less silver in it, under the same denomination. There is another way yet of raising money, which has something more of reality, though as little good in it as the former. This too, now that we are upon the chapter of raising money, it may not be unseasonable to open a little. The raising I'mean is, when either of the two richer metals (which money is usually made of) is by law raised above its natural value, in respect of the