Page images
PDF
EPUB

tions among your own people, did not this very much hinder it, viz. that they are liable to unavoidable doubt, dispute, and counterfeiting, and require other proofs to assure us that they are true and good security than our eyes, or a touchstone. And, at best, this course, if practicable, will not hinder us from being poor; but may be suspected to help to make us so, by keeping us from feeling our poverty, which, in distress, will be sure to find us with greater disadvantage. Though it be certain it is better than letting any part of our trade fall for want of current pledges; and better too than borrowing money of our neighbours upon use, if this way of assigning bills can be made so easy, safe, and universal at home, as to hinder it.

To return to the business in hand, and show the necessity of a proportion of money to trade. Every man must have at least so much money, or so timely recruits, as may in hand, or in a short distance of time, satisfy his creditor who supplies him with the necessaries of life, or of his trade. For nobody has any longer these necessary supplies than he has money, or credit, which is nothing else but an assurance of money, in some short time. So that it is requisite to trade, that there should be so much money as to keep up the landholder's, labourer's, and broker's, credit: and therefore ready money must be constantly exchanged for wares and labour, or follow within a short time after.

This shows the necessity of some proportion of money to trade : but what proportion that is, is hard to determine; because it depends not barely on the quantity of money, but the quickness of its circulation. The very same shilling may, at one time, pay twenty men in twenty days : at another, rest in the same hands one hundred days together. This makes it impossible exactly to estimate the quantity of money needful in trade ; but, to make some probable guess, we are to consider how much money it is necessary to suppose must rest constantly in each man's hands, as requisite to the carrying on of trade.

First, therefore, the labourers, living generally but

live upon

from hand to mouth; and, indeed, considered as labourers in order to trade, may well enough carry on their part, if they have but money enough to buy victuals, clothes, and tools : all which may very well be provided, without any great sum of money lying still in their hands. The labourers, therefore, being usually paid once a week, (if the times of payment be seldomer there must be more money for the carrying on this part of trade) we may suppose there is constantly amongst them, one with another, or those who are to pay them, always one week's wages in ready money; for it cannot be thought that all or most of the labourers pay away all their wages constantly, as soon as they receive it, and

upon trust till next pay-day. This the farmer and tradesman could not well bear, were it every labourer's case, and every one to be trusted : and, therefore, they must of necessity keep some money in their hands, to go to market for victuals, and to other tradesmen as poor as themselves, for tools; and lay up money too to buy clothes, or pay for those they bought upon credit; which money, thus necessarily resting in their hands, we cannot imagine to be, one with another, much less than a week's wages, that must be in their pockets, or ready in the farmer's hands ; for he, who employs a labourer at a shilling per day, and pays him on Saturday nights, cannot be supposed constantly to receive that six shillings just the same Saturday: it must ordinarily be in his hands one time with another, if not a whole week, yet several days before.

This was the ordinary course, whilst we had money running in the several channels of commerce: but that now very much failing, and the farmer, not having money to pay the labourer, supplies him with corn, which, in this great plenty, the labourer will have at his own rate, or else not take it off his hands for wages. And as for the workmen, who are employed in our manufactures, especially the woollen one, these the clothier, not having ready money to pay, furnishes with the necessaries of life, and so trucks commodities for work;

which, such as they are, good or bad, the workman must take at his master's rate, or sit still and starve: whilst by this means this new sort of engrossers, or forestallers, having the feeding and supplying this numerous body of workmen out of their warehouses, (for they have now magazines of all sorts of wares) set the price upon the poor landholder. So that the markets, now being destroyed, and the farmer not finding vent there for his butter, cheese, bacon, and corn, &c. for which he was wont to bring home ready money, must sell it to these engrossers on their own terms of time and rate, and allow it to their own day-labourers under the true market price. What kind of influence this is like to have upon land, and how this way rents are like to be paid at quarter-day, is easy to apprehend: and it is no wonder to hear every day of farmers breaking and running away; for if they cannot receive money for their goods at market, it will be impossible for them to pay their landlord'x rent. If any one doubt whether this be so, I desire him to inquire how many farmers in the west are broke, and gone, since Michaelmas last. Want of money, being to this degree, works both ways upon the landholder. For, first, the engrossing forestaller lets not the money come to market, but supplying the workman, who is employed by him in manufacture, with necessaries, imposes his price and forbearance on the farmer, who cannot sell to the others; and the labourer who is employed by the landholder in husbandry imposes also his rate on him, for the commodities he takes; for there being a want of day-labourers in the country, they must be humoured, or else they will neither work for you, nor take your commodities for their labour.

Secondly, as for the landholder, since his tenants cannot coin their rent just at quarter-day, but must gather it up by degreer, and lodge it with them till payday; or borrow it of those who have it lying by them, or do gather it up by degrees, which is the same thing, and must be necessarily so much money for some time lying still; for all that is paid in great sums must somewhere he gathered up by the retail incomes of a trade, or else lie still too in great sumy, which is the same stop

of money, or a greater. Add to this, that to pay the creditor that lent him his rent, he must gather up money by degrees, as the sale of his commodities shall bring it in, and so makes a greater stop, and greater want of money: since the borrowed money, that paid the landholder the 25th of March, must be supposed to lie still some time in the creditor's hand, before he lent it the tenant; and the money that pays the creditor three months after, must lie still some time in the tenant's. Nor does the landlord pay away his rent usually as soon as he receives it, but by degrees, as his occasions call for it. All this considered, we cannot but suppose that between the landlord and tenant there must necessarily be at least a quarter of the yearly revenue of the land constantly in their hands. Indeed, considering that most part of the rents of England are paid at Lady-day and Michaelmas, and that the same money which pays me my rent from my tenant the 25th of March, or thereabouts, cannot pay my next neighbour his rent from his tenant at the same time, much less one more remote in another country, it might seem requisite to suppose half the yearly revenue of the land to be necessarily employed in 'paying of rent; for to say that some tenants break, and pay not their rent at all, and others pay not till two, three, four, five, six, &c. months after quarter-day, and so the rent is not all paid at one time, is no more than to say, that there is money wanting to the trade; for if the tenant fail the landlord, he must fail his creditor, and he his, and so on, till somebody break, and so trade decay for want of money. But since a considerable part of the land of England is in the owners' hands, who neither pay nor receive great sums for it at a certain day; because too, (which is the chief reason) we are not to consider here how much money is in any one man's, or any one sort of men's hands, at one time; for that at other times may be distributed into other hands, and serve other parts of trade; but how much money is necessary to be in each man's hands all the year round, taking one time with another, i.e. having three hundred pounds in his hand one month, is to be reckoned as one hundred pounds in his hand

three months, (and so proportionably) I think we may well

suppose a quarter of the yearly revenue to be constantly in the landlord's or tenant's hands.

Here, by the by, we may observe, that it were better for trade, and consequently for every body, for more money would be stirring, and less would do the business) if rents were paid by shorter intervals than six months; for, supposing I let a farm at fifty-two pounds per ann. if my rent be paid half-yearly, there are twenty-six pounds to be employed in the payment of it in one entire sum, (if it be paid well, and if it be not paid well, for want of so much money to be spared to that purpose, there is so much want of money, and trade is still endamaged by it) a great part whereof must necessarily lie still, before it come out of my tenant's chest to my hands; if it be paid once a quarter, thirteen pounds alone would do it, and less money is laid

up for it, and stopped a less while in its course : but should it be paid every week, one single twenty shillings will

pay

the rent of fifty-two pounds per ann. whence would follow this double benefit; first, that a great deal less money would serve for the trade of a country; and, secondly, that less of the money would lie still; the contrary whereof must needs happen, where growing debts are to be paid at larger distances, and in greater sums.

Thirdly, As for the brokers, since they too must lay up the money, coming in by retail, either to go to market, and buy wares, or to pay at the day appointed, which is often six months, for those wares which they have already; we cannot suppose them to have less by them, one with another, than one-twentieth part of their yearly returns. Whether the money or they be indebted so much, or more, it matters not, if it be necessary they should have constantly by them, comparing one time with another, at least one-twentieth part of their yearly return.

Indeed, in some great towns, where the bankers are ready at hand to buy bills, or any other way to lend money for a short time at great interest, there perhaps the merchant is not forced to keep so much money by

be their own,

« PreviousContinue »