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market of Bengal. In China, the proportion of CH AP. gold to filver still continues as one to ten, or one to twelve. In Japan, it is said to be as one to eight,
The proportion between the quantities of gold and filver annually imported into Europe, according to Mr. Meggens's account, is as one to twenty-two nearly; that is, for one ounce of gold there are imported a little more than twenty-two ounces of silver. The great quantity of filver fent annually to the East Indies, reduces, he fupposes, the quantities of those metals which re. main in Europe to the proportion of one to fourteen or fifteen, the proportion of their values. The proportion between their values, he seems to think, muft neceffarily be the fame as that between their quantities, and would therefore be as one to twenty-two, were it not for this greater exportation of filver.
But the ordinary proportion between the respective values of two commodities is not necef. farily the fame as that between the quantities of them which are commonly in the market. The price of an ox, reckoned at ten guineas, is about threescore times the price of a lamb, reckoned at
It would be absurd, however, to infer from thence, that there are commonly in the market threescore lambs for one ox: and it would be juft as absurd to infer, because an ounce of gold will commonly purchase from fourteen to fifteen ounces of silver, that there are commonly in the market only fourteen or fifteen ounces of filver for one ounce of gold.
BOOK The quantity of filver commonly in the mar. 1.
ket, it is probable, is much greater in proportion to that of gold, than the value of a certain quantity of gold is to that of an equal quantity of filver.
The whole quantity of a cheap commodity brought to market, is commonly not only greater, but of greater value, than the whole quantity of a dear one. The whole quantity of bread annually brought to market, is not only greater, but of greater value than the whole quantity of butcher's-meat ; the whole quantity of butcher’s-meat, than the whole quantity of poultry ; and the whole quantity of poultry, than the whole quantity of wild fowl. There are so many more purchasers for the cheap than for the dear commodity, that, not only a greater quantity of it, but a greater value, can commonly be disposed of. The whole quantity, therefore, of the cheap commodity must commonly be greater in proportion to the whole quantity of the dear one, than the value of a certain quantity of the dear one, is to the value of an equal quantity of the cheap one. compare the precious metals with one another, filver is a cheap, and gold a dear commodity. We ought naturally to expect, therefore, that there should always be in the market, not only a greater quantity, but a greater value of filver than of gold. Let any man, who has a little of both, compare his own filver with his gold plate, and he will probably find, that, not only the quantity, but the value of the former greatly ex. ceeds that of the latter. Many people, besides,
have a good deal of silver who have no gold c HA P. plate, which, even with those who have it, is generally confined to watch-cases, snuff-boxes, and such like trinkets, of which the whole amount is seldom of great value. In the British coin, indeed, the value of the gold preponderates greatly, but it is not so in that of all countries. In the coin of some countries the value of the two metals is nearly equal. In the Scotch coin, before the union with England, the gold preponderated very little, though it did somewhat*, as it appears by the accounts of the mint. In the coin of many countries the filver preponderates. In France, the largest fums are commonly paid in that metal, and it is there difficult to get more gold than what is necessary to carry about in your pocket. The superior value, however, of the filver plate above that of the gold, which takes place in all countries, will much more than compensate the preponderancy of the gold coin above the silver, which takes place only in fome countries.
Though, in one fenfei of the word, silver always has been, and probably always will be, much cheaper than gold; yet in another sense, gold may, perhaps, in the present state of the Spanish market, be said to be somewhat cheaper than filver. A commodity may be said to be dear or cheap, not only according to the abfolute greatness or smallness of its usual price, but
See Ruddiman's Preface to Anderson's Diplomata, &c. Scotia.
BO O K according as that price is more or less above the
lowest for which it is possible to bring it to mar. ket for any considerable time together. This lowest price is that which barely replaces, with a moderate profit, the stock which must be em. ployed in bringing the commodity thither. It is the price which affords nothing to the land. lord, of which rent makes not any component part, but which resolves itself altogether into wages and profit. But, in the present state of the Spanish market, gold is certainly fomewhat nearer to this lowest price than filver. The tax of the King of Spain upon gold is only onetwentieth part of the standard metal, or five
per cent.; whereas his tax upon silver amounts to one-tenth part of it, or to ten per cent. In these taxes too, it has already been observed, consists the whole rent of the greater part of the gold and silver mines of Spanish America ; and that upon gold is still worse paid than that upon silver. The profits of the undertakers of gold mines too, as they more rarely make a fortune, must, in general, be still more moderate than thofe of the undertakers of filver mines. The price of Spanish gold, therefore, as it af. fords both less rent and less profit, muft, in the Spanish market, be somewhat dearer to the lowest price for which it is possible to bring it thither, than the price of Spanish silver. When all expences are computed, the whole quantity of the one metal, it would seem, cannot, in the Spanish market, bé disposed of fo advantageously as the whole quantity of the other. The tax,
indeed, of the King of Portgual upon the gold c HA P. of the Brazils, is the same with the ancient tax of the King of Spain upon the silver of Mexico and Peru; or one-fifth part of the standard metal. It may, therefore, be uncertain whether to the general market of Europe the whole mass of American gold comes at a price nearer to the lowest for which it is possible to bring it thither, than the whole mass of American filver.
The price of diamonds and other precious stones may, perhaps, be still nearer to the lowest price at which it is possible to bring them to market, than even the price of gold.
Though it is not very probable, that any part of a tax which is not only imposed upon one of the most proper subjects of taxation, a mere lux. ury and fuperfluity, but which affords fo
very important a revenue, as the tax upon filver, will ever be given up as long as it is poflible to pay it; yet the same impossibility of paying it, which in 1736 made it necessary to reduce it from onefifth to one-tenth, may in time make it necessary to reduce it still further; in the same manner as it made it necessary to reduce the tax upon gold to one-twentieth. That the silver mines of Spanish America, like all other mines, become gradually more expensive in the working, on account of the greater depths at which it is necefsary to carry on the works, and of the greater expence of drawing out the water and of fupplying them with fresh air at those depths, is acknowledged by every body who has enquired into the state of those mines.