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varying from one one-hundred-and-twentieth to one-fifth. As one step towards meeting this want, we have half-sovereigns, which are pieces of gold similar in all other respects to the sovereign, but of only half its weight. For measures of smaller values, gold is not employed; pieces of gold less than a half-sovereign, to be carried about, and given and received as measures of the smaller values, would be inconveniently small. On this account another metal-silver-has been employed, to make what in fact, for the purpose of computation, is the principal fractional part of a sovereign-the shilling, or one-twentieth of a sovereign.
The silver coinage is conducted in this manner. The mint standard of fineness is thirty-seven-fortieths of pure silver, and three-fortieths of copper; or, out of 12 oz. of silver of the mint standard, 11 oz. 2 dwts. are pure silver, and 18 dwts. are copper, or alloy. One pound troy of silver, of the mint standard, is coined into sixty-six shillings; or one ounce into 58. 6d. Of late years a new silver coin has been introduced—the florin, or onetenth of a sovereign; perhaps with a view to introduce the decimal system into our money and accounts. If this should be determined
the further issue of silver coins of the value of 28. 6d., 4d., 3d., or one-eighth, one-sixtieth, and one-eightieth of a pound sterling would be discontinued, and a new silver coin, a cent, or one-hundreth of a pound, or one-tenth of a florin-equal to 2d. and two-fifths of our present money-would, with the florin and other multiples of a cent, be substituted in their place. Persons are not compelled by law to accept payments of values exceeding two sovereigns in shillings, or silver coin; nor can they, as with their gold, obtain at the mint, in exchange for uncoined silver, an equal weight of coined.
The mint purchases the silver which it requires in order to supply the public with silver coin; and, as amid all the fluctuations in the relative values of gold and silver, since our present mint regulations were established, one sovereign has been, on an average, worth four ounces of silver, or an ounce of silver worth 5s., or one-fourth of a sovereign, it follows that, on an average, the mint has realised sixpence out of every ounce of silver coined. The obvious consequences of these mint arrangements are, that the coin of the country is essentially gold; the silver coin being subordinate, and exclusively employed to mark the fractional parts of a sovereign, which it does as faithfully as if it were gold, while it is more convenient than gold, on account of its size as compared with its value. The silver coin does not fluctuate in value with the uncoined silver, but with the sovereign, and conse quently with uncoined gold. So long as the value of an ounce of silver is less than 58. 6d., or eleven-fortieths of a pound, the mint obtains a profit from the coinage of silver, putting aside the expense of coining; and if the value of silver were to rise above 58. 6d. an ounce, the Government would be compelled to reduce the weight of the silver coins, or they would be melted, and disappear from circulation, on account of their being more valuable as silver than as coin.
For the same reason that gold is ill suited to mark smaller values than those of sovereigns and their halves, silver is ill suited to mark smaller values than those of cents. But the wants of society call for coins of much smaller value, and to supply these wants copper las been resorted to. Our principal copper coin is a penny, or one-twelfth of a shilling, or one twohundred-and-fortieth of a pound; with the other principal coins already mentioned, it makes up the £. s. d. so familiar to everybody
The copper coins, like the silver, are subordinate, being used exclusively to mark the smaller fractional parts of a sovereign, and not being a legal tender, that is, their acceptance in discharge of a debt not being compulsory for larger values than one shilling. The mint purchases the copper that is required to keep up the supply of copper coins. One pound avoirdupois of copper is coined into twenty-three pence, or one ton into 51,520 pence, equal to £214 138. 4d., or about double the average value of a ton of uncoined copper. It need hardly be added that the
fluctuates in value, not with copper, but with the sovereign, or gold. If so great a change were to take place in the value of copper that it should rise above £214 13s. 4d. per ton, pence would then be melted and disappear from circulation, unless the weight of the penny were to be so reduced as to adapt it to the altered value of copper.
There are smaller copper coins, such as a halfpenny, equal to one four-hundred-and-eightieth of a pound, and a farthing, equal to one nine-hundred-and-sixtieth of a pound; and the projectors of a decimal coinage recommend, in case their suggestion should be adopted, the discontinuance of all these copper coins, and the substitution in their place of a mil, or one-thousandth of a pound, and such multiples of a mil as might be considered most convenient. Four of these mils would be equivalent to one penny, less one twenty-fifth, or to twenty-four twenty-fifths.
We may now ask ourselves—does the system of money, the particulars of which have just been described, answer the purposes intended ? Does it supply a ready medium of exchange, and act as a convenient measure for values ? It might be presumed at once that it does, since it is universally adopted. Money is everywhere willingly received in exchange. The system of money, it is true, is determined by law; but the parting with merchandise for money is not compulsory, it is voluntary. Money, indeed, is sought after as eagerly as tools and utensils, on account of its supplying a want not otherwise to be relieved. The grazier gladly takes twelve sovereigns for his ox, knowing that with them, or their equivalents in shillings and pence, he can supply his various wants, from bread and groceries, down to tapes, buttons, and pins, for the use of his family.
The universal practice of measuring values in money has caused a name—"prices”-to be specially applied to values so measured. In our country the price of a commodity means the sovereigns or fractional parts of a sovereign obtainable for it; or it means its value measured in £. s. d. Names also have been appropriated to the process of exchanging commodities for money, and money for commodities -- the former being called “selling," and the latter “buying.”
The whole of the advantages derivable from the use of money, as a means for facilitating interchange, can only be enjoyed by a people in full possession of all the industrial qualities shown to be indispensable in order to turn to account the other contrivances for facilitating interchange already enumerated.
Phenomena of Industrial Life.
“A TIME OF UNEXAMPLED PROSPERITY.” In the course of a voyage from England, I once fell in with a convoy of merchant ships bound for the West Indies. The weather was uncommonly bland, and the ships vied with each other in spreading sail to catch a light favoring breeze, until their hulls were almost hidden by a cloud of canvas. The breeze went down with the sun, and his last yellow rays shone upon a thousand sails idly flapping against the masts. I exulted in the beauty of the scene, and augured a prosperous voyage; but the veteran master of the ship shook his head, and pronounced this halcyon calm a “weather breeder.” And so it proved. A storm burst forth in the night; the sea roared and raged; and when the day broke, I beheld the late gallant convoy scattered in every direction; some dismasted, others scudding under bare poles, and many firing signals of distress. I have since been occasionally reminded of this scene by those calm, sunny seasons in the commercial world, which are known by the name of " times of unexampled prosperity.” They are the sure "weather breeders” of traffic.
Every now and then the world is visited by one of these delusive seasons, when “the credit system,” as it is called, expands to full luxuriance ; everybody trusts everybody; a bad debt is a thing unheard of; the broad way to certain and sudden wealth lies plain and open; and men are tempted to dash forward boldly, from the facility of borrowing.
Promissory notes, interchanged between scheming individuals, are liberally discounted at the banks, which become so many mints to coin words into cash ; and as the supply of words is inexhaustible, it may readily be supposed what a vast amount of promissory capital is soon in circulation. Every one now talks in thousands ; nothing is heard but gigantic operations in trade; great purchases and sales of real property, and immense sums made at every transfer. All, to be sure, as yet exists in promise; but the believer in promises calculates the aggregate as solid capital, and falls back in amazement at the amount of public wealth, the "unexampled state of public prosperity !” Now is the time for speculative and dreaming or designing men. They
relate their dreams and projects to the ignorant and credulous; dazzle them with golden visions, and set them maddening after shadows. The example of one stimulates another; speculation rises on speculation ; bubble rises on bubble; every one helps with his breath to swell the windy superstructure, and admires and wonders at the magnitude of the inflation he has contributed to produce.
Speculation is the romance of trade, and casts contempt upon its sober realities. It renders the stock-jobber a magician, and the exchange a region of enchantment. It elevates the merchant into a kind of knight-errant, or rather a commercial Quixote.
The slow but sure gains of snug per centage become despicable in his eyes. No “operation” is thought worthy of attention that does not double or treble the investment.
No business is worth following that does not promise an immediate fortune. As he sits musing over his ledger, with pen behind his ear, he is like La Mancha's hero in his study, dreaming over his books of chivalry.
His dusty counting-house fades before his eyes, or changes into a Spanish mine; he gropes after diamonds, or dives after pearls.
The subterranean garden of Aladdin is nothing to the realms of wealth that break upon his imagination. Could this delusion always last, the life of a merchant would indeed be a golden dream; but it is as short as it is brilliant. Let but a doubt enter, and the “season of unexampled prosperity” is at an end.
The coinage of words is suddenly curtailed; the promissory capital begins to vanish into smoke; a panic succeeds; and the whole superstrncture, built upon credit, and reared by speculation, crumbles to the ground, leaving scarce a wreck behind :
“ It is such stuff as dreams are made of." When a man of business, therefore, hears on every side rumors of fortunes suddenly acquired; when he finds banks liberal, and brokers busy; when he sees adventurers flush of paper capital, and full of scheme and enterprise; when he perceives a greater disposition to buy than to sell ; when trade overflows its accustomed channels, and deluges the country; when he hears of new regions of commercial adventure; of distant marts and distant mines, swallowing merchandise and disgorging gold; when he