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Book half the pound Troy, amounts to 2,333,446/. 14* fa _- sterling. Both together amount to 5,746,878/. 4*. sterling. The account of what was imported under register, he assures us is exact. He gives us the detail of the particular places from which the gold and silver were brought, and of the particular quantity of each metal, which, according to the register, each of them afforded. He makes an allowance too for the quantity of each metal which he supposes may have been sinuggled. The great experience of this judicious merchant renders his opinion of considerable weight.
According to the eloquent and, sometimes, well-informed author of the Philosophical and Political History of the Establishment of the Europeans in the two Indies, the annual importation of registered gold and silver into Spain, at an average of eleven years; viz. from 1754 to 1764, both inclusive; amounted to . 13,984,185! piastres of ten reals. On account of what may have been smuggled, however, the whole annual importation, he supposes, may have amounted to seventeen millions of piastres; which, at 45. 6d. the piastre, is equal to 3,825,000/. sterling. He gives the detail too of the particular places from which the gold and silver were brought, and of the particular quantities of each metal which, according to the register, each of them afforded. He informs us too, that if we were to judge of the quantity of gold annually imported from the Brazils into Lisbon by the amount of the tax paid to the King of Portugal, which it seems is one-sifth of c H A Pthe standard metal, we might value it at eighteen XL millions of cruzadoes, or forty-sive millions of * French livres, equal to about two millions sterling. On account of what may have been smuggled, however, we may safely, he says, add to this sum an eighth more, or 250,000/. sterling, so that the whole will amount to 2,250,000/. sterling. According to this account, therefore, the whole annual importation of the precious metals into both'Spain and Portugal, amounts to about 6,075,000/. sterling.
Several other very well authenticated, though manuscript, accounts, I have been assured, agree, in making this whole annual importation amount at an average to about six millions sterling; sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.
The annual importation of the precious metals into Cadiz and Lisbon, indeed, is not equal to the whole annual produce of the mines of America. Some part is sent annually by the Aca- , pulco ships to Manilla; some part is employed in the contraband trade which the Spanish colonies carry on with thole of other European nations; and some part, no doubt, remains in the country. The mines of America, besides, are by no means the only gold and silver mines in the world. They are, however, by far the most abundant. The produce of all the other mines which are known, is insignisicant, it is acknowledged, in comparison with theirs; and the far greater part of their produce, it is likewise acknowledged, is annually imported into Cadiz
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Book and Lisbon. But the consumption of Birmingl- ham alone, at the rate of sifty thousand pounds a year, is equal to the hundred-and-twentieth part of this annual importation at the rate of six millions a year. The whole annual consumption of gold and silver, therefore, in all the different countries of the world where those metals are used, may perhaps be nearly equal to the whole annual produce. The remainder may be no more than sufficient to supply the increasing demand of all thriving countries. It may even have fallen so far short of this demand as somewhat to raise the price of those metals in the European market.
The quantity of brass and iron annually brought from the mine to the market is out of all proportion greater than that of gold and silver. We do not, however, upon this account, imagine that those coarse metals are likely to multiply beyond the demand, or to become gradually cheaper and cheaper. Why should we imagine that the precious metals are likely to do so? The coarse metals, indeed, though harder, are put to much harder uses, and, as they are of less value, less care is employed in their preservation. The precious metals, however, are not necessarily immortal any more than they, but are liable too to be lost, wasted, and consumed in a great variety of ways.
The price of all metals, though liable to flow and gradual variations, varies less from year to year than that of almost any other part of the rude produce of land; and the price of the pre
cious metals is even less liable to sudden vari- CHAPations than that of the coarse ones. The dura- - XL bleness of metals is the foundation of this extraordinary steadiness of price. The corn which was brought to market last year, will be all or almost all consumed long before the end of this year. But some part of the iron which was brought from the mine two or three hundred years ago, may be still in use, and perhaps some part of the gold which was brought from it two or three thousand years ago. The different masses of corn which in different years must supply the consumption of the world, will always be nearly in proportion to the respective produce of those different years. But the proportion between the different masses of iron which may be in use in two different years, will be very little affected by any accidental difference in the produce of the iron mines of those two years; and the proportion betwen the masses of gold will be still less affected by any such difference in the produce of the gold mines. Though the produce of the greater part of metallic mines, therefore, varies, perhaps, still more from year to year than that of the greater part of corn-sields, those variations have not the fame effect upon the price of the one species of commodities, as upon that of the other.
Variationt in the Proportion between the respective Vdues of Gold aud Silver.
Before the discovery of the mines of America, the value of sine gold to sine silver was regulated in the different mints of Europe, between the proportions of one to ten and one to twelve; that is, an ounce of sine gold was supposed to be worth from ten to twelve ounces of sine silver. About the middle of the last century it came to be regulated, between the proportions of one to fourteen and one to sifteen: that is, an ounce of sine gold came to be supposed worth between fourteen and sifteen ounces of sine silver. Gold rose in its nominal value, or in the quantity of silver which was given for it Both metals funk in their real value, or in the quantity of labour which they could purchase; but silver sunk more than gold. Though both the gold and silver mines of America exceeded in fertility all those which had ever been known before, the fertility of the silver mines had, it seems, been proportionably still greater than that of the gold ones.
The great quantities of silver carried annually from Europe to India, have, in some of the English settlements, gradually reduced the value of that metal in proportion to gold. In the mint of Calcutta, an ounce of sine gold is supposed to be worth sifteen ounces of sine silver, in the fame manner as in Europe. It is in the mint perhap* rated too high for the value which it bears in the