« PreviousContinue »
the world from the West Indies, not discovered till Henry the Seventh's reign. So that I think I may say, that the value of silver from Edward III. to l'enry VIL changed not one-tenth, but from Henry VII, till now it changed above seven-tenths; and yet, money having been raised in our mint two-thirds since Edward the Third's time, the for greater part of the raissa ing of it was before Henry the Seventh's time, and a very small part of it since; so that the cause, insinuated by our author, it is evident, was not the cause of lennening our coin so often, whatever it was : and it is possible there wanted not men of projects in those days, who for private ends, by wrong xuyventions, and false reasonings, covered with mysterioux terms, led those into mistakes, who had not the time and will nicely to examine; though a crown-piece three times as big as one of ours now, might, for its size alone, deserve to be reformed.
To Object. 2 he says, “ The raising the denomination of money in Spain and Portugal, was making it go for more when coined than its true value."
This, I say, is impossible, and desire the author to prove it. It did in Spain and Portugal, just what it will do here and every where; it made not the silver coined go for more than its value, in all things to be bought, but just so much as the denomination was raised, just so much less of commodity had the buyer in exchange for it: an it would be here, if you should coin sixpences into shillingx; if any one went to market with this new money, he would find that, whereas he had a bushel of wheat last week for eight shillings of the former coin, he would have now but half a bunhel for eight of the new shillings, when the same denomination had but half the quantity of silver. Indeed those who were to receive money upon former contracts would be defrauded of half their due, receiving, in their full tale of any denomination contracted for, but half the silver they should have; the cheat whereof they would find, when they went to market with their new money. For this I have above proved, that one ounce of silver is, and eternally will be, equal in value to another ounce
of silver; and all that can possibly put a difference between them is only the different value of the workmanship bestowed on one more than another, which in coinage, our author tells in this paper, is but sixteen-pence halfpenny per pound troy. I demand therefore of our author, to show that any sort of coinage, or, as he calls it, raising of money, can raise the value of coined silver, or make it go for more than uncoined, bating the charge of coinage; unless it be to those who, being to receive money upon former contracts, will, by receiving the tale agreed for, receive less than they should of silver, and so be defrauded of what they really contracted for.
What effect such a raising of their money had in one particular, I will tell our author. In Portugal they count their money by reys, a very small, or rather imaginary coin, just as if we here should count all our sums by farthings. It pleased the government, possibly being told that it would raise the value of their money, to raise in denomination the several species, and make them
go for a greater (let us suppose double) the number of reys than formerìy. What was the consequence ? It not only confounded the property of the subject, and disturbed affairs to no purpose; but treaties of commerce having settled the rates of the customs at so many reys on the several commodities, the king immediately lost in the value half his customs. The same that in proportion will happen in the settled revenue of the crown here, upon the proposed change.
For though our author in these words, “whereas all now desired by this act is to keep silver, when coined, of the same value it was before," would insinuate, that this raising the denomination, or lessening our coin, as is proposed, will do no such thing; yet it is demonstration, that when our coin is lessened 3d. in 5s, the king will receive five per cent. less in value in his customs, excise, and all his settled revenue, and so proportionably, as the quantity of silver, in every species of our coin, shall be made less than now it is coined in those of the same denomination.
But, whatever our author means by“ making money go for more when coined than its true value, or by keeping silver, when coined, of the same value it was before;” this is evident, that raising their money thus, by coining it with less silver in it than it had before, had not the effect in Portugal and Spain, which our author proposes from it here: from it has not brought one penny more to the mint there, nor kept their money, or silver, from exportation since, though forfeiture and death be the penalties joined in aid to this trick of raising to keep it in.
But our author tells us in answer to Object 4. This “ will scarce ever at all be perceived.” If of 100 guineas a man has in his pocket, five should be picked out, so he should not perceive it, the fraud and the loss would not be one jot the less; and though he perceived it not when, or how it was done, yet he will find it in his accounts, and the going so much back in his estate at the end of the year.
To Object 3 he says, The “ raising your coin (it may be) may raise the price of bullion here in England.” An ounce of silver will always be equal in value to an ounce of silver every where, bating the workmanship. I say it is impossible to be otherwise, and require our author to show it possible in England, or any where, or else hereafter to spare his “may be.". To avoid fallacies, I desire to be understood, when I use the word silver alone, to mean nothing but silver, and to lay aside the consideration of baser metals that may be mixed with it: for I do not say that an ounce of standard, that has almost one-twelfth of copper in it, is of equal value with an ounce of fine silver that has no alloy at all; but that any two ounces of equally alloyed silver will always be of equal value; the silver being the measure of commerce, it is the quantity of silver that is in every piece he receives, and not the denomination of it, which the merchant looks after, and values it by.
But this raising of the denomination our author would have pass, because it will be a better for the possessors of bullion,” as he says, Answer 3. But who are they
who now in England are possessed of so much bullion? or what private men are there in England of that consideration, that for their advantage all our money should be new coined, and of a less weight, with so great a charge to the nation, and loss to his majesty's revenue?
He farther adds, Answer 3, It doth not thence inevitably follow, it will raise “ the price of bullion beyond sea.”
It will as inevitably follow, as that nineteen ounces of silver will never be equal in weight, or worth, to twenty ounces of silver : so much as you lessen your coin, so much more you must pay in tale, as will make the quantity of silver the merchant expects for his commodity; under what denomination soever he receives it.
The clothier, thus buying his Spanish wool, oil, and labour, at five per cent. more in denomination, sells his woollen manufacture proportionably dearer to the English merchant, who, exporting it to Spain, where their money is not changed, sells it at the usual marketrate, and so brings home the same quantity of bullion for it which he was wont; which, therefore, he must sell to you at the same raised value your money is at: and what then is gained by all this? The denomination is only changed to the prejudice of the public; but as to all the great matters of your trade, the same quantity of silver is paid for commodities as before, and they sold in their several foreign markets for the same quantity of silver. But whatever happens in the rate of foreign bullion, the raising of the denomination of our money will bring none of it to our mint to be coined; that depends on the balance of our trade, and not on lessening our coin under the same denomination : for whether the pieces we call crowns be coined 16, 24, or 100 grains lighter, it will be all one as to the value of bullion, or the bringing more or less of it into England or to our mint.
What he says in his answer to Object. 4, besides what we have already taken notice of, is partly against his bill, and partly mistake.
1. He says, “ It may be some (as it is now) gain to those, that will venture to melt down the milled and heavy money now coined.” That men do venture to melt down the milled and heavy money is evident, from the small part of milled money is now to be found of that great quantity of it that has been coined ; and a farther evidence is this, that milled money will now yield four or five more per cent. than the other, which must be to melt down and use as bullion, and not as moncy in ordinary payments. The reason whereof is, the shameful and horrible debasing, (or as our author would have it, raising) our unmilled money by clipping.
For the odds betwixt milled and unmilled money being now, modestly speaking, above twenty, per cent., and bullion, for reasons elsewhere given, being not to be had, refiners, and such as have need of silver, find it the cheapest way to buy milled money for clipped, at four, five, or more per cent. loss.
I ask, therefore, this gentleman, What shall become of all our present milled and heavy money, upon the passing of this act? To which his paper almost confesses, what I will venture to answer for him, viz. that, as soon as such a law is passed, the milled and heavy money will all be melted down; for it being five per cent. heavier, i. e. more worth than what is to be coined in the mint, nobody will carry it thither to receive five per cent. less for it, but sell it to such as will give four, or four and a half per cent. more for it, and at that rate melt it down with advantage: for Lombard-street is too quick-sighted, to give sixty ounces of silver for fiftyseven ounces of silver, when bare throwing it into the melting-pot will make it change for its equal weight. So that by this law five per cent. gain on all our milled money will be given to be shared between the possessor and the melter of our milled money, out of the honest creditor and landlord's pocket, who had the guaranty of the law, that under such a tale of pieces, of such a denomination as he let his land for, he should have to such a value, i. e. such a weight in silver. Now I ask, Whether it be not a direct and unanswerable reason