Front Page Titles (by Subject) APPENDIX A. - Letters and Journal
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APPENDIX A. - William Stanley Jevons, Letters and Journal 
Letters and Journal of W. Stanley Jevons, edited by his Wife (Harriet A. Jevons) (London: Macmillan and Co., 1886).
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Letter from H. R. Grenfell, Esq.
8th May 1882.
In reply to your most kind letter of yesterday, I beg to say that I quite concur with you in saying that it is necessary to draw a clear distinction between the speculative and practical aspects of the Silver Question. The worst of all these questions is that those capable of reducing them to theoretical expressions are very often incapable of understanding what happens in business.
I served a sort of apprenticeship to Lord Halifax, as far as the parliamentary and political view of currency was concerned, but I always found it most difficult to explain what really happens in business to him. On the other hand, it is equally impossible for those whose whole minds are occupied with the daily search after a profit, which commerce is, to clear away irrelevant matter from a discussion which ought to be as clearly defined in its terms as a problem in Euclid.
Before you finish your labours now on hand, would it assist you to know what is really going on? I should like very much to impart to you what I know on this point, unless you are already in communication with those better informed than myself.
In order to get to practical work it seems necessary to avoid trailing hares across the paths of those seriously desirous of a solution. You will forgive me for saying that the proposition for the issue of one pound notes partakes of the nature of a hare.
Palgrave's proposition to discuss “Bank Money” is of the same nature. Likewise his assertion that it is a banking rather than a currency question. There seem to me to be three practical solutions:
1. To leave it alone.
2. To make gold the universal standard, leaving silver to be used as an inferior currency at the value settled in each country, and internationally at the price of the day.
3. To resort to bimetallism—that is, not necessarily for England to join in an agreement, but by offering such terms as would induce those interested to make an agreement.
No. 2 does not appear to me to differ in any essential point from No. 1.
Can you enlighten me as to whether it does, and if it does, to what extent? I ask you this because practically No. 2 is what is proposed by Lord Grey, C. Daniell, and numbers of “haute finance” people in many countries, whose opinions are of great importance, but who have not taken part in the written discussions.
To H. R. Grenfell, Esq.
Hampstead, 12th May 1882.
In answer to your very interesting letter, I may say that it would be a somewhat intricate matter to define exactly how your second proposition, pointing to a universal gold standard, differs from the first—that is, the present state of things. Practically there is so large—in fact, by far the largest part of the population of the world, who only use silver, and are too poor to use much if any gold, that I do not think a gold standard could be introduced in the next ten or fifteen years much beyond the present limits. I do not think that it is practicable or at present desirable to introduce a gold standard into India, so that I should be perfectly satisfied about making any concession in that respect for the next ten, fifteen, or even twenty years, but that seems to me to be all we have to offer if a one pound note currency be out of the question.
It comes to this, then, that as we have really nothing to give but what we should give without a conference, I do not see that we have any place there. We cannot prevent the other nations coining what money they like, and our currency is too well established to admit of alteration. In a short time I should like very much to know what is going on, and perhaps I may hope to have the pleasure a few weeks hence of calling on you at the bank, at some time convenient to yourself.