BOO K half the pound Troy, amounts to 2,333,4461. 145.

sterling. Both together amount to 5,746,8781. 45. sterling. The account of what was imported under register, he affures 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 smug. gled. The great experience of this judicious merchant renders his opinion of considerable weight.

According to the eloquent and, fometimes, 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 filver 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 pi. astres ; which, at 4s. 6d. the piastre, is equal to 3,825,000l. sterling. He gives the detail too of the particular places from which the gold and filver were brought, and of the particular quantities of each metal which, according to the regifter, 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

[ocr errors]

c H A P.


King of Portugal, which it seems is one-fifth of the standard metal, we might value it at eighteen millions of cruzadoes, or forty-five millions of French livres, equal to about two millions fterling. On account of what may have been smuggled, however, we may fafely, he says, add to this fum an eighth more, or 250,000 l. sterling, so that the whole will amount to 2,250,000l. fterling. According to this account, therefore, the whole annual importation of the precious metals into both Spain and Portugal, amounts to about 6,075,000l. 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 fix 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 Acapulco ships to Manilla; fome part is employed in the contraband trade which the Spanish colonies carry on with those 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 infignificant, it is acknowledged, in comparison with theirs; and the far greater part of their produce, it is likewise ac. knowledged, is annually imported into Cadiz Y 4



BOO K and Lisbon. But the consumption of Birming

ham alone, at the rate of fifty thousand pounds a year, is equal to the hundred-and-twentieth part of this annual importation at the rate of fix 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 fufficient 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 fil

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 fo? 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 preserv, ation. 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 slow 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. C HA P. ations than that of the coarse ones. The dura

XI. 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 fome 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 maffes 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-fields, those variations have not the same effect upon the price of the one fpecies of commodities, as upon that of the other.




Variations in the Proportion between the respective Values of

Gold and Silver,

BEFORE the discovery of the mines of Ame. rica, the value of fine gold to fine 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 fine gold was supposed to be worth from ten to twelve ounces of fine filver. About the middle of the last century it came to be regulated, between the proportions of one to fourteen and one to fifteen : that is, an ounce of fine gold came to be fupposed worth between fourteen and fifteen ounces of fine filver. 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 filver funk 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 filver 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 fine gold is supposed to be worth fifteen ounces of fine silver, in the same manner as in Europe. It is in the mint perhaps rated too high for the value which it bears in the


« ForrigeFortsett »