An infallible sign of your decay of Wealth is the falling of Rents, and the raising of them would be worth the Nations Care: For in that, and not in the falling of Interest lies the true advantage of the Landedman, and with him of the Publick. It may be therefore not besides our present business, to enquire into the cause of the falling of Rents in England.
1. Either the Land is grown Barrener, and so the Product is less, and consequently the Money to be received for that Product is less. For it is evident that he whose Land was wont to produce 100 Bushels of Wheat communibus annis, if by long Tillage, and bad Husbandry it will now produce but 50 Bushels, the Rent will be abated half. But this cannot be suppos'd general.
2. Or the Rent of that Land is lessen'd. 1. Because the use of the Commodity ceases: As the Rents must fall in Virginia, were taking of Tobacco forbid in England. 2. Or because something else supplies the room of that Product: As the rate of Copis-lands will fall upon the discovery of Coal Mines. 3. Or, because the Markets are supplied with the same Commodity, cheaper from another place. As the breeding Countries of England must needs fall their Rents, by the importation of Irish Cattle. 4. Or, because a Tax laid on your Native Commodities, makes what the Farmer sells, cheaper; and Labour, and what he buys dearer.
3. Or, the Money in the Country is less. For the exigencies and uses of Money not lessening with its quantity, and it being in the same proportion to be imploy'd and distributed still in all the parts of its circulation, so much as its quantity is lessen'd, so much must the share of every one, that has a right to this Money, be the less; whether he be Landholder, for his Goods; or Labourer, for his Hire; or Merchant, for his Brokage. Though the Landholder usually finds it first. Because Money failing, and falling short, People have not so much Money as formerly to lay out, and so less Money is brought to Market, by which the price of things must necessarily fall. The Labourer feels it next. For when the Landholder's Rent falls, he must either bate the Labourer's Wages, or not imploy, or not pay him; which either way makes him feel the want of Money. The Merchant feels it last. For though he sell less, and at a lower rate, he buys also our Native Commodities, which he Exports, at a lower rate too: and will be sure to leave our Native Commodities unbought, upon the Hands of the Farmer, or Manufacturer, rather than Export them to a Market, which will not afford him Returns with Profit.
If one Third of the Money imployed in Trade were lock'd up, or gone out of England, must not the Landholders necessarily receive one Third less for their Goods, and consequently Rents fall; A less quantity of Money by one Third being to be distributed amongst an equal number of Receivers? Indeed, People not perceiving the Money to be gone, are apt to be jealous one of another; and each suspecting anothers inequality of Gain to rob him of his share, every one will be imploying his skill, and power, the best he can, to retrieve it again, and to bring Money into his Pocket in the same plenty as formerly. But this is but scrambling amongst our selves, and helps no more against our want, than the pulling of a short Coverlet will, amongst Children, that lye together, preserve them all from the Cold. Some will starve, unless the Father of the Family provide better, and enlarge the scanty Covering. This pulling and contest is usually between the Landed-man and the Merchant. For the Labourer's share, being seldom more than a bare subsistence, never allows that body of Men time or opportunity to raise their Thoughts above that, or struggle with the Richer for theirs, (as one common Interest,) unless when some common and great Distress, uniting them in one universal Ferment, makes them forget Respect, and emboldens them to carve to their Wants with armed force: And then sometimes they break in upon the Rich, and sweep all like a deluge. But this rarely happens but in the mal-administration of neglected or mis-manag'd Government.
The usual struggle and contest, as I said before, in the decays of Wealth and Riches, is between the Landed Man and the Merchant, with whom I may here join the Monied Man. The Landed Man finds himself aggrieved, by the falling of his Rents, and the streightning of his Fortune; whilst the Monied Man keeps up his Gain, and the Merchant thrives and grows rich by Trade. These he thinks steal his Income into their Pockets, build their Fortunes upon his Ruin, and Ingross more of the Riches of the Nation than comes to their share. He therefore endeavours, by Laws, to keep up the value of Lands, which he suspects lessened by the others excess of Profit: But all in vain. The cause is mistaken, and the remedy too. 'Tis not the Merchants nor Monied Man's Gains that makes Land fall: But the want of Money and lessening of our Treasure wasted by extravagant Expences, and a mis-manag'd Trade, which the Land always first feels. If the Landed Gentleman will have, and by his example make it fashionable to have, more Claret, Spice, Silk, and other Foreign Consumable Wares, than our Exportation of Commodities does exchange for. Money must unavoidably follow to ballance the Account, and pay the Debt. And therefore I fear that another Proposal, I hear talked of, to hinder the Exportation of Money and Bullion, will shew more our need of care to keep our Money from going from us, than a way and method, how to preserve it here.
'Tis Death in Spain to export Money. And yet they, who furnish all the World with Gold and Silver, have least of it amongst themselves. Trade fetches it away from that lazy and indigent People, notwithstanding all their artificial and forced contrivances to keep it there. It follows Trade against the rigour of their Laws; and their want of Foreign Commodities makes it openly be carried out at Noon-Day. Nature has bestowed Mines on several parts of the World: But their Riches are only for the Industrious and Frugal. Whomever else they visit, 'tis with the Diligent and Sober only they stay. And if the Vertue, and provident way of Living of our Ancestors (content with our Native conveniences of Life, without the costly Itch after the Materials of Pride and Luxury from abroad) were brought in fashion and countenance again amongst us; this alone would do more to keep, and increase our Wealth, and inrich our Land, than all our Paper helps about Interest, Money, Bullion, &c. which however eagerly we may catch at, will not, I fear, without better Husbandry, keep us from sinking, whatever contrivances we may have recourse to. 'Tis with a Kingdom, as with a Family. Spending less than our own. Commodities will pay for, is the sure and only way for the Nation to grow Rich. And when that begins once seriously to be consider'd, and our faces and steps are in earnest turn'd that way, we may hope to have our Rents rise, and the publick Stock thrive again. Till then, we in vain, I fear, endeavour with noise, and weapons of Law, to drive the Wolf from our own, to one anothers Doors: The Breed ought to be extirpated out of the Island. For Want, brought in by ill management, and nursed up by expensive Vanity, will make the Nation Poor, and spare no body.
If Three Millions were necessary for the carrying on the Trade of England, whereof One Million were for the Landholder, to maintain him; and another were for the payment of the Labourer and Handicraftsman; and the Third were the share of the Brokers, coming to them for their care and pains in distributing; If One Million of this Money were gone out of the Kingdom, must not there be One Third less to be shared amongst them for the product of their Land, their Labour and their Distribution? I do not say they will feel it at the same time. But the Landholder having nothing, but what the Product of his Land will yield; and the Buyer according to the Plenty or Scarcity of Money he has, always setting the Price upon what is offered to Sale; The Landholder must be content to take the Market-Rate, for what he brings thither, which always following the scarcity or plenty of Money, if any part of our Money be gone, he is sure first to find it in the price of his Commodities. For the Broker and Merchant, though he Sell cheaper, yet he Buys cheaper too: And he will be sure to get by his Returns, or let alone a Commodity, which will not produce him Gain: And whatsoever is so let alone, and left upon hands, always turns to the Landholders loss.
Supposing that of our Woollen Manufacture, Foreign Markets took off one half, and the other half were consumed amongst our selves: If a sensible part, (as One Third) of our Coin were gone, and so Men had equally One Third less Money than they had (for, 'tis certain, it must be tantamount, and what I 'scape of One Third less, another must make up) it would follow, That they would have less to lay out in Cloaths, as well as other things, and so would either wear them longer, or pay less for them. If a Clothier finds a want of Vent, he must either Sell cheaper or not at all: If he Sells cheaper, he must also pay less, both for Wool and Labour: And if the Labourer hath less Wages, he must also pay less for Corn, Butter, Cheese, Flesh, or else forbear some of these quite. In all which cases, the Price of Wool, Corn, Flesh, and the other Products of Land are brought down, and the Land bears the greatest part of the loss. For where-ever the Consumption or Vent of any Commodity is stopt, there the Stop continues on till it comes to the Landholder. And where-ever the Price of any Commodity begins to fall, how many Hands soever there be between that and the Landholder, they all take reprisals one upon another, till at last it comes to the Landholder; and there the abatement of Price, of any of his Commodities, lessens his Income, and is a clear loss. The Owner of Land, which produces the Commodity, and the last Buyer, who consumes it, are the two extreams in Commerce. And though the falling of any sort of Commodity in the Landholder's Hand, does not prove so to the last consumer, the Arts of intervening Brokers and Ingrossers keeping up the Price to their own advantage: Yet whenever want of Money, or want of desire in the consumer, make the Price low, that immediately reaches the first Producer: No body between having any Interest to keep it up.
Now, as to the two first causes of falling of Rents, falling of Interest has no Influence at all. In the latter, it has a great part: Because it makes the Money of England less, by making both English-Men and Foreigners withdraw or with-hold their Money. For that which is not let loose into Trade, is all one whil'st Hoarded up, as if it were not in Being.
I have heard it brought for a reason, why Interest should be reduced to Four per Cent. That thereby the Landholder, who bears the burthen of the Publick Charge, may be, in some degree eased by falling of Interest.
This Argument will be put right, if you say it will ease the Borrower, and lay the loss on the Lender: But it concerns not the Land in general, unless you will suppose all Landholders in Debt. But I hope, we may yet think that Men in England, who have Land, have Money too; and that Landed Men, as well as others, by their providence and good Husbandry, accommodating their Expences to their Income, keep themselves from going backwards in the World.
That which is urged, as most deserving consideration and remedy in the case, is, That it is hard and unreasonable, that one, who has Mortgaged half his Land, should yet pay Taxes for the whole, whil'st the Mortgagee goes away with the clear profit of an high Interest.
To this I answer,
1. That if any Man has run himself in Debt, for the Service of his Country, 'tis fit the Publick should reimburse him, and set him free. This is a care, that becomes the Publick Justice; That Men, if they receive no Rewards, should, at least, be kept from Suffering, in having Served their Country. But I do not remember the Polity of any Nation, who altered their Constitution, in favour of those, whose mismanagement had brought them behind-hand; possibly as thinking the Publick little beholding to those, who had misemployed the Stock of their Country, in the excess of their private Expences, and, by their Example, spread a fashion that carries ruin with it. Mens paying Taxes of Mortgaged Lands, is a punishment for ill-husbandry, which ought to be discouraged: But it concerns very little the Frugal and the Thrifty.
2. Another thing to be said in reply to this, is, That it is with Gentlemen in the Country, as with Tradesmen in the City. If they will own Titles to greater Estates than really they have, it is their own faults, and there is no way left to help them from Paying for them. The Remedy is in their own hands, to discharge themselves when they please. And when they have once Sold their Land, and paid their Debts, they will no longer pay Taxes, for what they own, without being really theirs. There is another way also, whereby they may be relieved, as well as a great many other inconveniencies remedied; and that is by a Registry: For if Mortgages were Registred, Land Taxes might reach them, and order the Lender to pay his proportion.
I have met with Patrons of Four per Cent. who (amongst many other fine things they tell us of) affirm, That if Interest were reduced to Four per Cent. then some Men would borrow Money at this low Rate, and pay their Debts; Others would borrow more than they now do, and improve their Land; Others would borrow more, and imploy it in Trade and Manufacture. Gilded words indeed, were there any thing substantial in them! These Men talk, as if they meant to shew us, not only the Wisdom, but Riches of Solomon, and would make Gold and Silver as common, as the Stones in the Street: But at last, I fear, 'will be but Wit without Money; and, I wish it amount to that. 'Tis without question, That could the Countryman, and the Tradesman take up Money cheaper, than now they do, every Man would be forward to Borrow, and desire, that he might have other Mens Money to imploy to his advantage. I confess, those who contend for Four per Cent. have found out a way, to set Mens Mouths a watering for Money at that Rate, and to increase the number of the Borrowers in England; if any body can imagine it would be an advantage to increase them. But to answer all their fine Projects, I have but this one short question to ask them: Will Four per Cent. increase the number of the Lenders? If it will not, as any Man at the very first hearing, will shrewdly suspect it will not, then all the plenty of Money these Conjurers bestow upon us, for Imnprovement of Land, Paying of Debts, and Advancement of Trade, is but like the Gold and Silver, which Old Women believe, other Conjurers bestow sometimes, by whole Lapfuls, on poor credulous Girls, which, when they bring to the light, is found to be nothing but wither'd Leaves; and the Possessors of it are still as much in want of Money as ever.
Indeed I grant it would be well for England, and I wish it were so, that the plenty of Money were so great amongst us, that every Man could borrow as much as he could use in Trade, for Four per Cent. nay, that Men could borrow as much as they could imploy for Six per Cent. But even at that Rate, the Borrowers already are far more than the Lenders. Why else doth the Merchant upon occasion, pay Six per Cent. and often above that rate for Brokage? And why doth the Country Gentleman of One thousand pounds per Annum find it so difficult, with all the security he can bring, to take up a Thousand pound? All which proceeds from the scarcity of Money, and bad Security; two Causes, which will not be less powerful to hinder Borrowing, after the lowering of Interest: and I do not see, how any one can imagine that reducing Use to Four Per Cent. should abate their force; or how lessening the Reward of the Lender, without diminishing his Risque, should make him more forward and ready to Lend. So that these Men, whilst they talk, that at Four per Cent. Men would take up, and imploy more Money to the Publick advantage, do but pretend to multiply the number of Borrowers among us, of which it is certain we have too many already. Whilst they thus set Men a longing for the Golden days of Four per Cent. methinks they use the poor indigent Debtor, and needy Tradesman, as I have seen pratling Jack-Daws do sometimes their young, who kawing and fluttering about the Nest, set all their young ones a gaping, but having nothing in their empty Mouths but Noise and Air, leave them as hungry as before.
'Tis true these Men have found out by a cunning project, how, by the restraint of Law, to make the price of Money One Third cheaper, and then they tell John a Nokes, that he shall have Ten thousand pounds of it to employ in Merchandise, or Cloathing; and John a Stiles shall have Twenty thousand pounds more to pay his Debts; and so distribute this Money as freely as Dego did his Legacies, which they are to have, even where they can get it. But till these Men can instruct the forward Borrowers where they shall be furnished, they have perhaps done something to increase Mens desire, but not made Money one jot easier to come by. And till they do that, all this sweet gingling of Money in their Discourses goes just to the Tune of, If all the World were Oatmeal. Methinks these Undertakers, whil'st they have put Men in hopes of Borrowing more plentifully at easier Rates, for the supply of their Wants and Trades, had done better to have bethought themselves of a way, how Men need not Borrow upon Use at all: For this would be much more advantageous, and altogether as Feisible. It is as easie to distribute Twenty pair of Shooes amongst Thirty Men, if they pay nothing for them at all, as if they paid 4 s. a pair. Ten of them (notwithstanding the Statute Rate should be reduced from 6 s. to 4 s. a pair) will be necessitated to sit still Barefoot, as much, as if they were to pay nothing for Shooes at all. Just so it is in a Country, that wants Money in proportion to Trade. It is as easie to contrive how every Man shall be supplied with what Money he needs (i.e. can imploy in improvements of Land, paying his Debts, and Returns of his Trade) for nothing, as for Four per Cent. Either we have already more Money than the Owners will Lend, or we have not. If part of the Money which is now in England, will not be Lent at the rate Interest is at present at, will Men be more ready to Lend, and Borrowers be furnished for all those brave Purposes more plentifully, when Money is brought to Four per Cent? If People do already lend all the Money they have, above their own occasions, whence are those, who will borrow more at Four per Cent. to be supplied? Or is there such plenty of Money, and scarcity of Borrowers, that there needs the reducing of Interest to Four per Cent. to bring Men to take it?
All the imaginable ways of increasing Money in any Country, are these two: Either to dig it in Mines of our own, or get it from our Neighbours. That Four per Cent. is not of the nature of the Deusing-rod, or Virgula Divina, able to discover Mines of Gold and Silver, I believe will easily be granted me. The way of getting from Foreigners, is either by force, borrowing, or trade. And whatever ways besides these, Men may fansie, or propose, for increasing of Money, (except they intend to set up for the Philosophers Stone) would be much the same with a Distracted Man's device that I knew, who, in the beginning of his Distemper first discover'd himself to be out of his Wits, by getting together, and boiling a great number of Groats, with a design, as he said, to make them plim, i.e. grow thicker. That Four per Cent. will Raise Armies, Discipline Soldiers, and make Men Valiant, and fitter to conquer Countries, and inrich themselves with the Spoils, I think was never pretended. And that it will not bring in more of our Neighbours Money upon Loan, than we have at present among us, is so visible in its self, that it will not need any Proof; the contenders for Four per Cent. looking upon it as an undeniable Truth, and making use of it as an Argument to shew the advantage it will be to the Nation, by lessening the Use paid to Foreigners, who upon falling of Use will take home their Money. And for the last way of increasing our. Money, by promoting of Trade, how much lowering of Interest is the way to that, I have, I suppose, shew'd you already. Having lately met with a little Tract, Intituled A Letter to a Friend concerning Usury. Printed this present year 1690; which gives in short, the Arguments of some Treatises Printed many years since, for the lowereing of Interest; It may not be amiss, briefly to consider them.
1. A High Interest decays Trade. The advantage from Interest is greater than the Profit from Trade, which makes the rich Merchants give over, and put out their Stock to Interest, and the lesser Merchants Break.
Answ. This was Printed in 1621, when Interest was at 10 per Cent. And whether England had ever a more flourishing Trade, than at that time, must be left to the judgment of those, who have consider'd the growing Strength and Riches of this Kingdom in Q.E. and King J. the 1st Reigns. Not that I impute it to high Interest, but to other Causes I have mention'd, wherein Usury had nothing to do. But if this be thought an Argument now in 1690, when the legal Interest is 6 per Cent. I desire those, who think fit to make use of it, to name those rich Merchants, who have given over and put out their Stocks to Interest.
2. Interest being at 10 per Cent. and in Holland at 6; our Neighbour Merchants undersel us.
Answ. The legal Interest being here now at 6 per Cent. and in Holland not limited by Law, our Neighbour Merchants undersel us, because they live more frugally, and are content with less profit.
3. Interest being lower in Holland than in England, their Contributions to War, works of Piety, and all Charges ofthe State, are cheaper to them than to us.
Answ. This needs a little Explication. Contributions greater or less, I understand: but Contributions cheaper or dearer, I confess I do not. If they manage their Wars and Charges cheaper than we, the blame is not to be laid on high, or low Interest.
4. Interest being so high, prevents the building of Shipping, which is the strength and safety of our Island, most Merchant Ships being built in Holland.
Answ. Though this Argument be now gone, such Ships being Prohibited by a Law, I will help the Author to one as good. The Dutch buy our Rape-seed, make it into Oil, bring it back to us, and sell it with advantage. This may be as well said to be from high Interest here, and low there. But the Truth is, the lndustry and Frugality of that People, makes them content to work cheaper, and sell at less profit than their Neighbours, and so get the Trade from them.
5. The high Rate of Usury makes Land sell so cheap, being not worth more than 14 or 15 Years Purchase; whereas in Holland, where Interest is at 6, it is worth above 25. So that a low Interest raises the Price of Land. Where Money is dear Land is cheap.
Answ. This Argument plainly confesses, That there is something else regulates the Price of Land, besides the Rate of Interest. else when Money was at 10 Per Cent. here, Land should have been at 10 Years Purchase, whereas he confesses it then to have been at 14 or 15. One may suppose, to favour his Hypothesis, he was not forward to speak the most of it. And Interest, as he says, being at 6 Per Cent. in Holland, Land there should have Sold by that Rule for Sixteen and an half Years Purchase, whereas he says it was worth above Twenty five. And Mr. Manly says, (p. 33) That Money in France being at 7 per Cent. Noble Land sells for 34 and 35 Years Purchase, and ordinary Land for 25. So that the true Conclusion from hence is, not what our Author makes, but this; That 'tis not the legal Interest, but something else, that governs the Rate of Land. I grant his Position, That where Money is dear, Land is cheap, and vice versà. But it must be so by the natural, not legal Interest. For where Money will be lent on good Security at 4 or 5 per Cent. 'tis a Demonstration, that there is more than will be ventured on ordinary Credit in Trade. And when this Plenty becomes general, 'tis a sign, there is more Money, than can be Employed in Trade; which cannot but put many upon seeking Purchases, to lay it out in Land, and so raise the Price of Land, by making more Buyers, than Sellers.
6. 'Tis not probable Lenders will call in their Money, when they cannot make greater Interest any where. Besides, their Security upon Land will be better.
Answ. Some unskilful and timorous Men will call in their Money; others put it into the Banker's Hands. But the Bankers and Skilful will keep it up, and not lend it, but at the natural Use, as we have shewn. But how Securities will be mended by lowering of Interest, is, I confess, beyond my Comprehension.
BEING now upon the Consideration of Interest and Money, give me leave to say one Word more on this occasion, which may not be wholly unseasonable at this time. I hear a Talk up and down of raising our Money, as a means to retain our Wealth, and keep our Money from being carried away. I wish those that use the Phrase of raising our Money, had some clear Notion annexed to it; and that then they would examine, Whether, that being true, it would at all serve to those Ends, for which is propos'd.
The raising of Money then signifies one of these two things; either raising the Value of our Money, or raising the Denomination of our Coin.
The raising of the Value of Money, or any thing else, is nothing, but the making a less quantity of it exchange for any other thing, than would have been taken for it before. v.g. If 5 s. will exchange for, or, (as we call it) buy a Bushel of Wheat; if you can make 4 s. buy another Bushel of the same Wheat, it is plain the Value of your Money is raised, in respect of Wheat One Fifth. But thus nothing can raise or fall the value of your Money, but the proportion of its Plenty, or Scarcity, in proportion to the Plenty, Scarcity, or Vent of any other Commodity, with which you compare it, or for which you would exchange it. And thus Silver, which makes the Intrinsick Value of Money, compar'd with it self, under any Stamp or Denomination of the same or different Countries, cannot be raised. For an Ounce of Silver, whether in Pence, Groats, or Crown Pieces, Stivers or Ducatoons, or in Bullion, is and always eternally will be of equal Value to any other Ounce of Silver, under what Stamp or Denomination soever; unless it can be shewn that any Stamp can add any new and better qualities to one parcel of Silver, which another parcel of Silver wants.
Silver therefore being always of equal Value to Silver, the value of Coin, compar'd with Coin, is greater, less, or equal, only as it has more, less or equal Silver in it: And in this respect, you can by no manner of way raise or fall your Money. Indeed most of the Silver of the World, both in Money and Vessels being alloy'd, (i.e. mixed with some baser Metals) fine Silver (i.e. Silver separated from all Alloy) is usually dearer than so much Silver alloy'd, or mixed with baser Metals. Because, besides the Weight of the Silver, those who have need of fine (i.e. unmix'd) Silver; as Gilders, Wyre-drawers, &c. must according to their need, besides an equal Weight of Silver mixed with other Metals, give an Overplus to reward the Refiner's Skill and Pains. And in this Case, fine Silver, and alloy'd or mixed Silver are considered as two distinct Commodities. But no Money being Coin'd of pure fine 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, 5 s. or a Crown, were to weigh an Ounce, (as it does now, wanting about 16 Grains) whereof one twelfth were Copper, and eleven twelfths Silver, (for there-abouts it is) 'tis plain here 'tis the quantity of Silver gives the Value to it. For let another Piece be Coin'd 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 rais'd, and from henceforth our Crown Pieces Coin'd 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 no body 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, Oyl, 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 1 Ounce may do the same. For if the abating One Wentieth 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 Threepence, or a single Penny, being call'd 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 no body 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 suppos'd, now propos'd.
1. The raising of one Species of your Coin, beyond its intrinsick 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 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 at 60. 12. 6. and 4. Now, if in the Mint there should be Coin'd Groats, or Testers, that being of the same Alloy with our other Money, had but Two thirds of the Weight, that those Species are Coin'd at now; or else, being of the same Weight, were so alloy'd as to have One third of the Silver required by the present Standard chang'd 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) 'tis plain, those Species would be raised One third part; that passing for 6 d which had but the Silver of 4 d in it; and would be all one as if a Groat should by Law be made Current for 6 d; and every 6 d in payment pass for 9 d. This is truly raising these Species: But is no more in effect, than if the Mint should Coin clip'd 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 Publick 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 Publick, That, besides the opportunities it gives to Domestick 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 3 d weight mark'd 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 3 d. for 2 d., and quickly carry away your Silver in exchange for Copper, or barely the charge of Coynage.
This is unavoidable in all Countries where any one Species of their Money is disproportionate in its intrinsick Value, (i.e. 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 4 Sols 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 his Sea-port 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 intrinsick 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, lost proportionably by it.
If we had Groats or Six-Pences 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 Neigbours would not presently pour in quantities of such Money upon us, 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 intrinsick 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 play'd.
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 One fifth of a Crown Piece, and a Penny weigh 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 'tis call'd 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 5 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 5 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, 'tis certain, the Publick (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 5 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 5 per Cent. of their due.
When Men go to Market to buy any other Commodities with their new, but lighter Money, they will find 20 s. of their new Money will buy no more of any Commodity than 19 would before. For 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 s. will pass for 20 s: If any one thinks a Shilling or a Crown in name has its value from the denomination, and not from the quantity 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 no body would be content to receive his Debts or Rents in such Money: Which though the Law should raise thus, yet he foresees he should lose Eleven twelfths by the one, and by the other Four fifths 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 5 s. and 3 d. or (which is the same thing) making your Crown One twentieth lighter in Silver. The only difference is, that in one the loss is so great, (it being Eleven twelfths) 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 so readily observe it. lf 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 proceed but 10 Weeks successively, you will by New-Years-Day next have every Half-Crown raised to a Crown, to the loss of one half of Peoples Debts and Rents, and the King's Revenue, besides the Confusion of all your affairs: And if you please to go on in this beneficial way of raising your Money, you may by the same Art bring a Penny-weight of Silver to be a Crown.
Silver, i.e. the quantity of pure Silver separable from the Alloy, makes the real value of Money. If it does not, Coin Copper with the same Stamp and denomination, and see whether it will be of the same value. I suspect your Stamp will make it of no more worth, than the Copper-Money of Ireland is, which is its weight in Copper, and no more. That Money lost so much to Ireland, as it passed for above the rate of Copper. But yet I think no body suffered so much by it as he, by whose Authority it was made current.
If Silver give the value, you will say what need is there then of the charge of Coinage? May not Men Exchange Silver by Weight, for other things; make their Bargains, and keep their Accounts in Silver by weight?
This might be done, but it has these inconveniencies.
1. The weighing of Silver to every one we had occasion to pay it to, would be very troublesome, for every one must carry about Scales in his Pocket.
2. Scales would not do the business. For, in the next place, every one cannot distinguish between fine and mix'd Silver: So that though he received the full weight, he was not sure he received the full weight of Silver; since there might be a mixture of some of the baser Metals, which he was not able to discern. Those who have had the care, and government of Politick Societies, introduced Coinage, as a remedy to those two inconveniencies. The Stamp was a Warranty of the publick, that under such a denomination they should receive a piece of such a weight, and such a fineness; that is, they should receive so much Silver. And this is the reason why the counterfeiting the Stamp is made the highest Crime, and has the weight of Treason laid upon it: Because the Stamp is the publick voucher of the intrinsick value. The Royal Authority gives the stamp; the Law allows and confirms the denomination: And both together give, as it were, the publick faith, as a security, that Sums of Money contracted for under such denominations, shall be of such a value, that is, shall have in them so much Silver. For 'tis Silver and not Names that pay Debts and purchase Commodities. If therefore I have contracted for Twenty Crowns, and the Law then has required, that each of those Crowns should have an Ounce of Silver; 'tis certain my Bargain is not made good, I am defrauded (and whether the publick faith be not broken with me, I leave to be considered) if, paying me Twenty Crowns, the Law allows them to be such as have but Nineteen twentieths of the Silver, they ought to have, and really had in them, when I made my Contract.
2. It diminishes all the King's Revenue 5 per Cent. For though the same number of Pounds, Shillings, and Pence are paid into the Exchequer as were wont, yet these Names being given to Coin that have each of them One twentieth less of Silver in them; and that being not a secret concealed from Strangers, no more than from his own Subjects, they will sell the king no more Pitch, Tarr, or Hemp, for 20 Shillings, after the raising your Money, than they would before for 19: or, to speak in the ordinary phrase, they will raise their Commodities 5 per Cent. as you have rais'd your Money 5 per Cent: And 'tis well if they stop there. For usually in such changes, an out-cry being made of your lessening your Coin, those who have to deal with you, taking the advantage of the allarm, to secure themselves from any loss by your new Trick, raise their price even beyond the Par of your lessening your Coin.
I hear of two inconveniencies complained of, which 'tis proposed by this project to Remedy.
The one is, The melting down of our Coin: The other, The carrying away of our Bullion. These are both inconveniencies which, I fear, we lie under: But neither of them will be in the least removed or prevented by the proposed alteration of our Money.
1. It is past doubt that our Money is welted down. The Reason whereof is evidently the cheapness of Coinage. For a Tax on Wine paying the Coinage, the particular Owners pay nothing for it. So that 100 Ounces of Silver Coin'd, comes to the Owner at the same Rate, as 100 Ounces of Standard Silver in Billion. For delivering into the Mint his Silver in Bars, he has the same quantity of Silver delivered out to him again in Coin, without any Charges to him. Whereby, if at any time he has occasion for Bullion, 'tis the same thing to melt down our mill'd Money, as to buy Billion from abroad, or take it in Exchange for other Commodities. Thus our Mint to the only advantage of our Officers, but at the publick cost, Labours in Vain, as will be found. But yet this makes you not have one jot less Money in England, than you would have otherwise; but only makes you Coin that, which otherwise would not have been Coin'd, nor perhaps been brought hither: And being not brought hither by an over-ballance of your Exportation, cannot stay when it is here. It is not any sort of Coinage, does, or can keep your Money here: That wholly and only depends upon the Ballance of your Trade. And had all the Money in king Charles the II. and King James the II. time, been Minted according to this new proposal, this rais'd Money would have been gone as well as the other, and the remainder been no more, nor no less than it is now. Though I doubt not but the Mint would have Coin'd as much of it as it has of our present mill'd Money. The short is this. An over-ballance of Trade with Spain brings you in Bullion; cheap Coinage, when it is here, carries it into the Mint, and Money is made of it; but if your Exportation will not Ballance your Importation in the other parts of your Trade, away must your Silver go again, whether Monied or not Monied. For where Goods do not, Silver must pay for the Commodities you spend.
That this is so will appear by the Books of the Mint, where may be seen how much mill'd Money has been Coin'd in the two last Reigns. And in a Paper I have now in my Hands, (supposed written by a Man not wholly ignorant in the Mint) 'tis confessed, That whereas One third of the Current Payments were some time since of mill'd Money, there is not now One twentieth. Gone then it is. But let not any one mistake and think it gone, because in our present Coinage, an Ounce wanting about 16 Grains is denominated a Crown: Or that (as is now proposed) an Ounce wanting about 40 Grains, being Coin'd in one piece, and denominated a Crown, would have stop'd it, or will (if our Money be so alter'd) for the future fix it here. Coin what quantity of Silver you please, in one piece, and give it the denomination of a Crown; when your Money is to go, to pay your Foreign Debts, (or else it will not go out at all) your heavy Money, (i.e. that which is weight according to its Denomination, by the Standard of the Mint) will be that, which will be melted down, or carried away in Coin by the Exporter, whether the pieces of each Species be by the Law bigger or less. For whilst Coinage is wholly paid for by a Tax, whatever your size of Money be, he that has need of Bullion to send beyond Sea, or of Silver to make Plate, need but take mill'd Money, and melt it down, and he has it as cheap, as if it were in pieces of Eight, or other Silver coming from abroad; the Stamp, which so well secures the weight and fineness of the mill'd Money, costing nothing at all.
To this perhaps will be said, That if this be the effect of mill'd Money, that it is so apt to be melted down, it were better to return to the old way of Coining by the Hammer. To which I answer by no means.
1. Coinage by the Hammer less secures you from having a great part of your Money melted down. For in that way there being a greater inequality in the weight of the Pieces, some being too heavy, and some too light, those who know how to make their advantage of it, cull out the heavy pieces, melt them down, and make a benefit of the over-weight.
2. Coinage by the Hammer exposes you much more to the danger of false Coin . Because the Tools are easily made and concealed, and the work carried on with fewer Hands, and less noise than a Mill; whereby false Coiners are less liable to discovery.
3. The pieces not being so round, even, and fairly Stamp'd, nor Mark'd on the Edges, are expos'd to Clipping, which mill'd Money is not.
Mill'd Money is therefore certainly best for the Publique. But whatever be the cause of melting down our Mill'd-money, I do not see how raising our Money (as they call it) will at all hinder its being melted down. For if our Crown-pieces should be Coin'd One twentieth, lighter. Why should that hinder them from being melted down more than now? The intrinsique value of the Silver is not alter'd, as we have shewn already: Therefore that temptation to melt them down remains the same as before.
But they are lighter by One twentieth. That cannot hinder them from being melted down. For Half Crowns are lighter by half, and yet that preserves them not.
But they are of less weight, under the same denomination, and therefore they will not be melted down. That is true, if any of these present Crowns that are One twentieth heavier, are current for Crowns at the same time. For then they will no more melt down the new light Crowns, than they will the old Clip'd ones, which are more worth in Coin, and Tale, than in Weight and Bullion. But it cannot be suppos'd that Men will part with their old and heavier Money, at the same Rate that the lighter new Coin goes at; and pav away their old Crowns for 5 s. in Tale, when at the Mint they will yield them 5 s. 3 d. And then if an old Mill'd Crown goes for 5 s. 3 d. and a new Mill'd Crown (being so much lighter) go for a Crown, What I pray will be the odds of melting down the one or the other? The one has One twentieth less Silver in it, and goes for One twentieth less; and so being weight, they are melted down upon equal terms. If it be a convenience to melt one, it will, be as much a convenience to melt the other: Just as it is the same convenience, to melt Mill'd Half Crowns as Mill'd Crowns; the one having with half the quantity of Silver, half the value. When the Money is all brought to the new rate, i.e. to be One twentieth lighter, and Commodities raised as they will be proportionably, What shall hinder the melting down of your Money then, more than now, I would fain know? If it be Coin'd 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 manufactury 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 shew'd) 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 belong'd only to the whole 20) be one jot rais'd, in respect of any other Commodity.
You have rais'd the denomination of your stamp'd Silver One Wentieth, or which is all one 5 per Cent. And Men will presently raise their Commodities 5 per Cent. So that if yesterday 20 Crowns would exchange for 20 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 changing your denomination, and giving it to a less quantity; this will no more bring in, or keep your Bullion 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 Mill'd-money be melted down and carried away, and no more Coin'd; your Money will, without the charge of new Coinage, be, by that sort of Artificers, raised above 5 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 100 l. of Clip'd Money, above 5 per Cent. lighter than the Standard, will buy as much Corn, Cloth, or Wine, as 100 l. in Mill'd-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, whil'st they receive the current Money of the Country. For since 100 l. of Clip'd Money will pay a Debt of 100 l. as well as the weightiest mill'd-money, and a new Crown out of the Mint will pay for no more Flesh, Fruit, or Cloth, than five clip'd Shillings; 'tis evident that they are equivalent as to the Purchase of any thing here at home, whil'st no body scruples to take Five clip'd Shillings in exchange for a weighty Mill'd 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 no body will any more give an old Crown of the former Standard for one of the new, than he will now give you 5 s. and 3 d. for a Crown: for so much then his old Crown will yield him at the Mint.
Clip'd and unclip'd 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 clip'd 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 Coin'd in the Mint. But whilst clip'd and weighty Money will equally change one for another, it is all one to him whether he receive his Money in clip'd Money or no, so it be but current. For if he buy other Commodities here with his Money, whatever Sum he contracts for, clip'd as well as weighty Money equally pays for it. If he would carry away the Price of his Commodity in ready Cash, 'tis easily. changed into weighty Money. And then he has not only the Sum in tale, that he contracted for, but the quantity of Silver he expected for his Commodities, according to the Standard of our Mint. If the quantity of your clip'd Money be once grown so great, that the Foreign Merchant cannot (if he has a mind to it) easily get Weighty Money for it, but having sold his Merchandise, and received Clip'd 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 Commodities, according to the diminish'd 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 became difficult to change the baser Money into Ducatoons; and since that, no body will pay a Debt in Ducatoons, unless he be allowed Half per Cent. or more, above the value they were Coin'd 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 Stuyvers, or Sixty-three Stuyvers. There were then (some Years since) began to be Coin'd another Piece, which was call'd a Three Guilders Piece, and was order'd to pass for Three Guilders or Sixty Stuyvers. 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 Guilder 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 Guilder 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 Mill'd Money goes away. When Foreign Trade Imports more than our Commodities will pay for, 'tis 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 being not Prohibited) the weightiest is sure to go. But when so great a quantity of your Money is Clip'd, 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 clip'd Shillings for a Mill'd 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 Publick 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 stopt 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 Clip'd 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 Mony 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 Clip'd 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 5 s. such a quantity, if he pays him in fair weighty Coin, but in Clip'd Money he will not take under 5 s. 3 d. Here you see you have your Money without this new trick of Coinage, raised 5 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 as the former in it. This too, now that we are upon the Chapter of Raising of 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 other. Gold and Silver, have, in almost all Ages, and parts of the World (where Money was used) generally been thought the fittest Materials to make it of. But there being a great disproportion in the Plenty of these Metals in the World, one has always been valued much higher than the other; so that one Ounce of Gold has exchanged for several Ounces of Silver: As at present, our Guinea passing for 21 s. 6 d. in Silver, Gold is now about Fifteen and an half times more worth than Silver; there being about Fifteen and an half times more Silver in 21 s. 6 d. than there is Gold in a Guinea. This being now the Market Rate of Gold to Silver; if by an established Law the Rate of Guinea's should be set higher, (as to 22 s. 6 d.) they would be raised indeed, but to the loss of the Kingdom. For by this Law Gold being rais'd 5 per Cent. above its natural true value, Foreigners would find it worth while to send their Gold hither, and so fetch away our Silver at 5 per Cent. profit, and so much loss to us. For when so much Gold as would purchase but 100 Ounces of Silver any where else, will in England purchase the Merchant 105 Ounces, what shall hinder him from bringing his Gold to so good a Market; And either Selling it at the Mint, where it will yield so much, or having it Coin'd into Guinea's: And then (going to Market with his Guinea's) he may buy our Commodities at the advantage of 5 per Cent. in the very sort of his Money; or change them into Silver, and carry that away with him?
On the other side, if by a Law you would raise your Silver Money and make 4 Crowns or 20 s. in Silver, equal to a Guinea, at which rate I suppose it was first Coin'd; so that by your Law a Guinea should pass but for 20 s. the same inconveniency would follow. For then strangers would bring in Silver, and carry away your Gold, which was to be had here at a lower rate than any where else.
If you say, that this inconvenience is not to be fear'd; for that as soon as People found, that Gold began to grow scarce, or that it was more worth than the Law set upon it, they would not then part with it at the Statute-rate; as we see, the broad pieces that were Coined in K. James I. time for 20 s. no body will now part with under 23 s. or more, according to the Market value. This I grant is true; and it does plainly confess the foolishness of making a Law, which cannot produce the effect, it is made for: As indeed it will not, when you would raise the price of Silver in respect of Gold, above its natural Market value: For then, as we see in our Gold, the price of it will raise it self. But on the other side, if you should by a Law set the value of Gold above its Par, then People would be bound to receive it at that high rate, and so part with their Silver at an under value. But supposing that having a mind to raise your Silver in respect of Gold, you make a Law to do it; what comes of that? If your Law prevail, only this; that as much as you raise Silver, you debase Gold (for they are in the condition of two things put in opposite Scales, as much as the one rises the other falls) and then your Gold will be carried away, with so much clear loss to the kingdom as you raise Silver and debase Gold by your Law, below their natural value. If you raise Gold in proportion to Silver the same effect follows.
I say, Raise Silver in respect of Gold; and Gold in proportion to Silver. For when you would raise the value of Money, phansie what you will, 'tis but in respect of something you would change it for, and is done only when you can make a less quantity of the Metal, which your Money is made of, change for a greater quantity of that thing which you would raise it to.
The effect indeed and ill consequence of raising either of these two Metals, in respect of the other is more easily observed and sooner found in raising Gold than Silver Coin: Because your accounts being kept, and your reckonings all made in Pounds, Shillings, and Pence, which are denominations of Silver Coins, or numbers of them; if Gold be made current at a rate above the free and Market value of those two Metals, every one will easily perceive the inconvenience. But there being a Law for it, you cannot refuse the Gold in Payment for so much. And all the Money or Bullion People will carry beyond Sea from you, will be in Silver, and the Money or Bullion brought in, will be in Gold. And the same just will happen when your Silver is raised and Gold debased in respect of one another, beyond their true and natural proportion: (Natural proportion or value I call that respective rate they find any where without the prescription of Law) For then Silver will be that which is brought in, and Gold will be carried out; and that still with loss to the kingdom, answerable to the over-value, set by the Law. Only as soon as the mischief is felt, people will (do what you can) raise their Gold to its natural value. For your accounts and bargains being made in the denomination of Silver-money; if, when Gold is raised above its proportion, by the Law, you cannot refuse it in Payment (as if the Law should make a Guinea current at 22 s. and 6 d.) you are bound to take it at that rate in Payment. But if the Law should make Guineas current at 20 s. he that has them is not bound to Pay them away at that rate, but may keep them if he pleases, or get more for them if he can: Yet from such a Law, one of these three things will follow. Either 1st, the Law forces them to go at 20 s. and then being found passing at that rate, Foreigners make their advantage of it: Or 2dly, People keep them up and will not part with them at the legal rate, understanding them really to be worth more, and then all your Gold lies dead, and is of no more use to Trade, than if it were all gone out of the kingdom: Or 3dly, It passes for more than the Law allows, and then your Law signifies nothing, and had been better let alone. Which way ever it succeeds it proves either prejudicial or ineffectual. If the design of your Law take place, the kingdom loses by it: If the inconvenience be felt and avoided, your Law is eluded.
Money is the measure of Commerce, and of the rate of every thing, and therefore ought to be kept (as all other measures) as steady and invariable as may be. But this cannot be, if your Money be made of two Metals, whose proportion, and consequently whose price, constantly varies in respect of one another. Silver, for many Reasons, is the fittest of all metals to be this measure, and therefore generally made use of for Money. But then it is very unfit and inconvenient, that Gold, or any other Metal, should be made current Legal Money, at a standing settled Rate. This is to set a Rate upon the varying value of Things by Law, which justly cannot be done; and is, as I have shewed, as far as it prevails, a constant damage and prejudice to the Country, where it is practised. Suppose Fifteen to one be now the exact Par between Gold and Silver. What Law can make it lasting; and establish it so, that next Year, or twenty Years hence, this shall be the just value of Gold to Silver, and that one Ounce of Gold shall be just worth fifteen Ounces of Silver, neither more nor less? 'Tis possible, the East-India Trade sweeping away great Sums of Gold, may make it scarcer in Europe. Perhaps the Guinea Trade, and Mines of Peru, affording it in greater abundance, may make it more plentiful; and so its value in respect of Silver, come on the one side to be as sixteen, or on the other as fourteen to one. And can any Law you shall make alter this proportion here, when it is so every where else round about you? If your Law set it at fifteen, when it is at the free Market Rate, in the Neighbouring Countries, as sixteen to one; Will they not send hither their Silver to fetch away your Gold at One sixteen loss to you? Or if you will keep its Rate to Silver, as fifteen to one, when in Holland, France, and Spain, its Market value is but fourteen; Will they not send hither their Gold, and fetch away your Silver at One fifteen loss to you? This is unavoidable, if you will make Money of both Gold and Silver at the same time, and set Rates upon them by Law in respect of one another.
What then? (Will you be ready to say) would you have Gold kept out of England? Or being here, would you have it useless to Trade; and must there be no Money made of it? I answer, Quite the contrary, 'Tis fit the kingdom should make use of the Treasure it has. 'Tis necessary your Gold should be Coin'd, and have the king's Stamp upon it to secure Men, in receiving it, that there is so much Gold in each piece. But 'tis not necessary that it should have a fixed value set on it by publick Authority: 'Tis not convenient that it should in its varying proportion have a settled price. Let Gold as other Commodities, find its own Rate. And when, by the king's Image and Inscription, it carries with it a publick Assurance of its weight and fineness; the Gold Money so Coin'd will never fail to pass, at the known Market Rate, as readily, as any other Species of your Money. Twenty Guineas, though designed at first for 20 l. go now as current for 21 l. 10 s. as any other Money, and sometimes for more, as the Rate varies. The value or price of any thing, being only the respective estimate it bears to some other, which it comes in Competition with, can only be known by the quantity of the one, which will exchange for a certain quantity of the other. There being no two things in Nature, whose proportion, and use does not vary, 'tis impossible to set a standing regular price between them. The growing plenty or scarcity of either in the Market; (whereby I mean the ordinary places, where they are to be had in Traffick) or the real Use, or changing fashion of the place bringing either of them more into demand than formerly, presency varies the respective value of any two Things. You will as fruicesly endeavour to keep two different Things steadily at the same price one with another, as to keep two Things in an AEquilibrium, where their varying weights, depend on different Causes. Put a piece of Spunge in one Scale, and an exact counterpoise of Silver in the other, you will be mightily mistaken if you imagine, that because they are to day equal, they shall always remain so. The weight of the Spunge varying with every change of moisture. in the Air, the Silver in the opposite Scale will sometimes Rise and sometimes Fall. This is just the State of Silver and Gold in regard of their mutual value. Their proportion, or use, may, nay constancy does vary, and with it their price. For being estimated one in Reference to the other, they are as it were put in opposite Scales, and as the one rises the other falls, and so on the contrary.
Farthings made of a baser Metal, may on this account too deserve your Consideration. For whatsoever Coin you make current, above the Intrinsick value, will always be dammage to the Publick, whoever get by it. But of this I shall not at present enter into a more particular Enquiry. Only this I will confidently affirm, That it is the Interest ofevery Country, that all the current Money of it should be of one and the same Metal; That the several Species should be all of the same Alloy, and none of a baser mixture: And that the Standard once thus settled, should be Inviolably and Immutably kept to perpetuity. For whenever that is alter'd, upon what pretence soever, the Publick will lose by it.
Since then it will neither bring us in more Money, Bullion, nor Trade; nor keep that we have here; nor hinder our weighty Money, of what Denomination soever, from being melted, to what purpose should the kingdom be at the charge of Coining all our Money a-new? For I do not suppose any Body can propose, that we should have two sorts of Money at the same time, one heavier, and the other lighter, as it comes from the Mint. That is very absurd to imagine. So that if all your old Money must be Coin'd over again, it will indeed be some advantage, and that a very considerable one, to the Officers of the Mint. For they being allow'd Sixteen pence half-penny for the Coinage of every Pound Troy, which is very near Five and an half per Cent. If our Money be Six Millions, and must be Coin'd all over again, it will cost the Nation to the Mint One hundred thirty thousand pounds. If the clip'd Money must scape, because it is already as light as your new Standard; do you not own that this design of new Coinage is just of the Nature of Clipping?