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s Whilft other nations have derived considerable advantages from their inints, Great Britain has, for nearly a century and an half, coined at a great and regular expence; and has given, with illjudged, though doubtless well-intended, policy, that profit to indivi. duals, which might, with more propriety, have been applied to the public service,
“ The late appointment of a Committee of the Privy Council, to take into confideration the state of the coins, and the present efta. blishment and constitution of the Mint ; together with the A&* which followed that appointment, suspending, for a time, the coinage of filyer, afforded well-grounded expectations that the present mode of coinage will be abolished, so far as may be possible, without detriment to the public, and some other adopted, which, instead of being burthensome, may be profitable to the state. But by what means this most desirable end is proposed to be effected, whether by the re-imposition of a Seignorage, diminishing the weight of the pieces, or increasing the alloy, the public has not yet been informed.
" In this state of uncertainty, respecting the nature of the intended plan, the question is, no doubt, fairly open to public inveftiga. tion ; and therefore the writer of this little tract has presumed to offer his thoughts upon the subject. As, from his station in life, le can be no farther interested in the question than any other individual in the same circumstances, he trufts that his suggestions will be received with indulgence and candour. His observations will be chiefly directed to the coinage of silver, though many of them will be equally applicable to gold and copper money likewise. They are the result of investigations into the ancient history of the Mints of this kingdon, which have long formed the amusement of his leisure hours, and which he hopes, at no very diftant period, to be able to lay before the public”
From a concise and very summary account of that department of the mint, which relates chiefly to the expence of coinage, and which occupies the first twelve pages of his work, the author feels himself authorized to draw the following interesting inferences:
" Thus the public has received a two-fold injury; it has paid a great price for the coinage of gold, which was not absolutely wanted, and has, at the same time, suffered inconvenience from a scarcity of filver, because its value was not sufficiently low to make it the interest of the poffefsors of bullion to bring it to the Mint.”
“ The conclusion to be drawn from the disadvantages which the public has already sustained from the present inode of conducting the Mint, seems to be this, that the state ought no longer to depend for a fupply of bullion on persons who may, at tiines, protit by with
• “38 Geo. III. cap. 59."
holding holding it; but that, leaving the Mint open, according to its original inititution, to every one who will pay the expence of coinage, government frould take upon itself to provide a sufficiency of coins, for the purposes of trade, and for necessary change."
« In the course of years the variations in the price of bullion will probably balance themselves, or, at least, the loss from the purchase of it will, if any, be but trifling. But, as the expence of coinage moft be considerable and certain, and as the wealth of the state will not be increased by the change of its - bullion into coin, it seems fitting that the charges attending the Mint should be deducted from the coin itself. For the sole intention of striking money being to render it of more easy transfer than the mass of metal, by a stamp which will at once express its weight and fineness, it follows, that the la. bour which gives it that impresion, and thereby makes it of readier circulation, and consequently more valuable for common purposes than bullivn, should, in reason, be paid by a diminution of actual weight. An increase of alloy would answer the fame purpose, bat that is, liable to objections which are not applicable to a decrease of weight."
After various pertinent historical details respecting the prefent very exceptionable system of coinage, the author frankly and fairly states, that, expedient as, on many accounts, it unquestionably is, that, in future coinages, a fair profit should be allowed to the mint, agreeably to the ancient usage, there yet are but two ways by which this can be effected; these are, an alloy, or a reduction of the weight of the pieces to be coined. To the former of these plans he objects
“ Because the present standard is of a purity that has been known and respected for ages; and because, whenever any alteration is made in the money, it is expedient that it be done in such a manner as that the public in general may be able to judge whether it be fairly done. Now, a change of fineness can be examined by artists alone; but a difference of weight may be pronounced upon by every one who can use a balance.”
At any rate, it is, he says, absolutely necessary, that the silver monies should be coined at a less weight
“ Fcr, they are now so nearly equal to the value of bullion, that a very trifling variation in the price of filver gives a considerable profit upon melting the gold into ingots. And so long as this mean of gain is peşnitted to sublist, lo long we must endure the mischiefs neceffarily confequent from a scarcity of filver money. This overweight of our coin has long since withdrawn all the heavy filver out of circulation, and will gain withdraw it whenever it shall be issued."
At length he comes to the means of rendering the counterfeiting the current coins of the kingdom more difficult.
This improvement, however desirable, we fear, is attended with insuperable difficulties. Every attempt to lessen these difficulties is highly meritorious; and we have seen none more deserving of attention than those of our author, as possessing that least equivocal proof of great merit, the being plain and practicable." Counterfeiting, he thinks, can be prevented only by
“Reducing the possibility of profit so low as to take away all temptation to the commission of this crime. Superiority of execu: tion alone can protect our money from being counterfeited and debased. That will immediately place it far out of the reach of many who have sufficient skill to copy the wretched workmanship of our present coins; and thus, by confining the possibility of execution to a few, diminish at once the number of those who are now exposed to the temptation ; whilft the expence of time required for finishing the work so highly, will abate so much from the profit, that a greater number must be forceu into circulation, before the forger can be repaid; so that, by increasing the danger, and taking from the gain, the temptation to the crime will be counteracted and weakened."
It will be obvious to our attentive readers, even from the very imperfect account which we have been able to give of this well connected and argumentative work, that, however unoftentatiously it has been introduced to the world, it is of no vulgar character, but has a fair claim to very considerable and general attention ; which, no doubt, it will receive, at least from those to whom the important business on which it treats has been committed. We are happy to learn, that " the ancient History of the Mints of this Kingdom” has fallen into the hands of a person who has proved himself so capable of doing it justice; we look for it with impatience, and if any encouragement of ours could stimulate the author to extraordinary exertions it certainly should not be withheld.
PO E T R Y.
Art. XIV. The OM Englija Gentleman: a Poem. By Mr. Pol.
whele. 8vo. Pp. 146. Price 6s. Cadell and Davies, London. 1797
, in of the last century in a country gentleman of family, as con. tradiftinguished from those of borough-mongers, merchants, and miners, 10
Sir Humphrey de Andarton is the hero of the piece, whose character, as the old English gentleman, is well drawn-We fear, however, Mr. Polwhele, like the painters of the Dutch school, sometimes deltroys the general effect, by too curious a detail, an over-minute. Tefs of circumstances. Character is certainly best pourtrayed by sir. cumstances, but they ought, like apparently accidentai lights on a picture, to give at once a peculiar expression and effect; so the minute traits which so admirably mark the honest Knight in the Spectator, fet the character, as it were, immediately before our eyes ; but, if thefe circumftances are too multiplied and crouded, they take off from the general effect, and, instead of illuftrating, by a master. touch, disfeature the resemblance.
The Knight of Andarton's attachment to his old roan horse is natural and characteristic, and the circumstances are just and well, described :
“ If in the mead or park he miss'd his rqan,
And to his prattling mafter fondly neigh'd."-P.51. This is delightful painting; we cannot but say "ofa jie omnia :") but Mr. Polewhele pursues the subject till the mind is distracted by the minuteness of detail, and the attention to the story becomes jaded.
Harriet, the second wife of the Knight, is represented as very amiable and very beautiful. Miss Prue, the daughter by his former wife, Bridget, is a town-bred fantastical Miss, fond of her monkey, and having a proper contempt for honest PAPA! Upon this daughter the estate is entailed in failure of issue male, as įi is fung er said:
- If the Knight begat no issue male, His whole inheritance was her's in tail!"-P. 22. Her character is not ill-drawn; the accomplishments learnt at a modith boarding school are well-described :
“ Tutor'd amidst a modish school, whose beast
Whilst with Bologna’s lap-dog soft supplied,
From taste in rending still she wander'd wide ;
Turn'd o'er á page and talk'd of Heloife,
Stole every TOUCHING grace from GENIAL FRANCE!
A notable old dame," ho
“ To thriftiness preferr'd the proudest claim ;" And ' Avice, an aged maid servant, who
“ Bending beneath fourscore,
Had dandled oft the Knight upon her knee !" We are also introduced to the pompons Rector, and his Curate, Herbert; but, we think, in the delineation of the Rector's character, (as in some other parts of the work before us, which we forbear to poirit out,) Mr. Polwhele indulges rather too much in a severity that is not natural to him,
These are the chief CHARACTERS of the poem :- As only two books are before us, the story is, of course, incomplete ; the second book terminates with the birth of a fon and heir.-As yet, we cannot say that we have met with any incident particularly attractive; hot can we guess what will come next. Neither have we found, ia the whole, that difplay of genius which ought to mark all the productions of such a bard. The minuteness obferved, we apprehend, will appear tirejome to many readers, though, says Mr. P.-" It fhould be considered, that many trivialities, (if I may fo express myself,) which, from our familiar acquaintance with them, seem too contemprible for notice, will wear a very different aspect hereafter, whilft they no longer exift in common life. If this poem should descend to posterity, they will then excite attention as curious minutiz."
Some of the passages strike us as too “ familiar;" but, on this point, the bard lays Transitions from the grave to the Gay, from the solemn to the FAMILIAR, are of GREAT ADVANTAGÉ to a poem. One uniform elevation, through a piece of any length, EXHAUSTS ATTENTIOX."
This may be very just; but we submit to the respectable author, whether attention is likely to be much excited by such transitions to the FAMILIAR-as
“ A wench that should be whipt at the cart's tail
Lo! Rachel fought her battles, tooth and nail!'” One word of the machinery.-The superstitions of Cornwall may be propitious to the introduction of the “ Genii of antient Houses," but we do not think they are here introduced with much effect. We are delighted with the aerial attendants of a beautiful female, the