Front Page Titles (by Subject) SOME CONSIDERATIONS OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE LOWERING OF INTEREST, AND RAISING THE VALUE OF MONEY. IN A LETTER SENT TO A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, 1691. - The Works of John Locke, vol. 4 Economic Writings and Two Treatises of Government
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SOME CONSIDERATIONS OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE LOWERING OF INTEREST, AND RAISING THE VALUE OF MONEY. IN A LETTER SENT TO A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, 1691. - John Locke, The Works of John Locke, vol. 4 Economic Writings and Two Treatises of Government 
The Works of John Locke in Nine Volumes, (London: Rivington, 1824 12th ed.). Vol. 4.
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SOME CONSIDERATIONS OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE LOWERING OF INTEREST, AND RAISING THE VALUE OF MONEY.
|When money is at||10||per cent. for||10||years purchase.|
But experience tells us, that neither in queen Elizabeth nor king James the first’s reigns, when interest was at ten per cent. was land sold for ten; or when it was at eight per cent. for twelve and a half years purchase or any thing near the low rate, that high use required (if it were true, that the rate of interest governed the price of land) any more than land now yields twenty-five years purchase, because a great part of the monied men will now let their money upon good security, at four per cent. Thus we see in fact how little this rule has held at home: and he that will look into Holland, will find, that the purchase of land was raised there, when their interest fell. This is certain, and past doubt, that the legal interest can never regulate the price of land, since it is plain, that the price of land has never changed with it, in the several changes that have been made, in the rate of interest by law: nor now that the rate of interest is by law the same through all England, is the price of land every where the same, it being in some parts constantly sold for four or five years purchase, more than in others. Whether you, or I, can tell the reason of this, it matters not to the question in hand: but it being really so, this is plain demonstration against those who pretend to advance and regulate the price of land by a law concerning the interest of money.
But yet I will give you some of my guesses, why the price of land is not regulated (as, at first sight, it seems it should be) by the interest of money. Why it is not regulated by the legal use is manifest, because the rate of money does not follow the standard of the law, but the price of the market: and men, not observing the legal and forced, but the natural and current interest of money, regulate their affairs by that. But why the rate of land does not follow the current interest of money, requires a farther consideration.
All things, that are bought and sold, raise and fall their price, in proportion as there are more buyers or sellers. Where there are a great many sellers to a few buyers, there use what art you will, the thing to be sold will be cheap. On the other side, turn the tables, and raise up a great many buyers for a few sellers, and the same thing will immediately grow dear. This rule holds in land, as well as all other commodities, and is the reason, why in England, at the same time, that land in some places is at seventeen or eighteen years purchase, it is about others, where there are profitable manufactures, at two or three and twenty years purchase: because there (men thriving and getting money, by their industry, and willing to leave their estates to their children in land, as the surest and most lasting provision, and not so liable to casualties as money in untrading or unskilful hands) are many buyers ready always to purchase, but few sellers. For, the land thereabout being already possessed by that sort of industrious and thriving men, they have neither need, nor will, to sell. In such places of manufacture, the riches of the one not arising from the squandering and waste of another, (as it doth in other places, where men live lazily upon the product of the land) the industry of the people, bringing in increase of wealth from remote parts, makes plenty of money there, without the impoverishing of their neighbours. And when the thriving tradesman has got more than he can well employ in trade, his next thoughts are to look out for a purchase; but it must be a purchase in the neighbourhood, where the estate may be under his eye, and within convenient distance, that the care and pleasure of his farm may not take him off from the engagements of his calling, nor remove his children too far from him, or the trade he breeds them up in. This seems to be the reason, why in places, wherein thriving manufactures have erected themselves, land has been observed to sell quicker, and for more years purchase than in other places, as about Halifax in the north, Taunton and Exeter in the west.
This is that then, which makes land, as well as other things, dear: plenty of buyers, and but few sellers; and so, by the rule of contraries, plenty of sellers and few buyers makes land cheap.
He, that will justly estimate the value of any thing, must consider its quantity in proportion to its vent, for this alone regulates the price. The value of any thing, compared with itself or with a standing measure, is greater, as its quantity is less in proportion to its vent; but, in comparing it, or exchanging it with any other thing, the quantity and vent of that thing too must be allowed for, in the computation of their value. But, because the desire of money is constantly almost every-where the same, its vent varies very little, but as its greater scarcity enhances its price, and increases the scramble: there being nothing else that does easily supply the want of it; the lessening its quantity, therefore, always increases its price, and makes an equal portion of its exchange for a greater of any other thing. Thus it comes to pass, that there is no manner of settled proportion between the value of an ounce of silver and any other commodity; for, either varying its quantity in that country, or the commodity changing its quantity in proportion to its vent, their respective values change, i. e. less of one will barter for more of the other: though, in the ordinary way of speaking, it is only said, that the price of the commodity, not of the money, is changed. For example, half an ounce of silver in England, will exchange sometimes for a whole bushel of wheat, sometimes for half, sometimes but a quarter, and this it does equally, whether by use it be apt to bring in to the owner six in the hundred of its own weight per annum, or nothing at all: it being only the change of the quantity of wheat to its vent, supposing we have still the same sum of money in the kingdom; or else the change of the quantity of our money in the kingdom, supposing the quantity of wheat, in respect to its vent, be the same too, that makes the change in the price of wheat. For if you alter the quantity, or vent, on either side, you presently alter the price, but no other way in the world.
For it is not the being, adding, increasing, or diminishing of any good quality in any commodity, that makes its price greater or less; but only as it makes its quantity, or vent, greater or less, in proportion one to another. This will easily appear by two or three instances.
1. The being of any good, and useful quantity in any thing, neither increases its price, nor indeed makes it have any price at all, but only as it lessens its quantity, or increases its vent; each of these in proportion to one another. What more useful or necessary things are there to the being, or well being of men, than air and water? and yet these have generally no price at all, nor yield any money: because their quantity is immensely greater than their vent, in most places of the world. But, as soon as ever water (for air still offers itself every-where, without restraint, or inclosure, and therefore is no-where of any price) comes any where to be reduced into any proportion to its consumption, it begins presently to have a price, and is sometimes sold dearer than wine. Hence it is, that the best and most useful things are commonly the cheapest: because, though their consumption be great, yet the bounty of providence has made their production large, and suitable to it.
2. Nor does the adding an excellency to any commodity raise its price, unless it increase its consumption. For, suppose there should be taught a way (which should be published to the knowledge of every one) to make a medicine of wheat alone, that should infallibly cure the stone: it is certain the discovery of this quality in that grain would give it an excellency very considerable: and yet this would not increase the price of it one farthing in twenty bushels, because its quantity, or vent, would not hereby, to any sensible degree, be altered.
3. Neither does the increasing of any good quality, in any sort of things, make it yield more. For though teasels be much better this year than any were last, they are not one jot dearer, unless they be fewer too, or the consumption of them greater.
4. Nor does the lessening the good qualities of any sort of commodity lessen its price; which is evident in hops, that are usually dearest those years they are worst. But, if it happen to be a species of commodity, whose defects may be supplied by some other, the making of it worse does lessen its price, because it hinders its vent. For, if rye should any year prove generally smutty, or grown, no question it would yield less money than otherwise, because the deficiency of that might be, in some measure, made up by wheat, and other grain. But, if it be a sort of commodity, whose use no other known thing can supply, it is not its being better, or worse, but its quantity, and vent, is that alone which regulates, and determines its value.
To apply it now to money, as capable of different rates of interest. To money, considered in its proper use as a commodity passing in exchange from one to another, all that is done by interest, is but the adding to it by agreement, or public authority, a faculty, which naturally it has not, of increasing every year six per cent. Now, if public authority sink use to four per cent. it is certain it diminishes this good quality in money one-third. But yet this making the money of England not one farthing more than it was, it alters not the measures upon which all changeable commodities increase, or sink their price; and so makes not money exchange for less of any commodity, than it would without this alteration of its interest. If lessening use to four per cent. should at all alter the quantity of money, and make it less, it would make money, as it has the nature of a commodity, dearer, i. e. a less quantity of money, would exchange for a greater quantity of another commodity, than it would before. This perhaps will appear a little plainer by these following particulars:
- 1. That the intrinsic, natural worth of any thing, consists in its fitness to supply the necessities, or serve the conveniences of human life; and the more necessary it is to our being, or the more it contributes to our well-being, the greater is its worth. But yet,
- 2. That there is no such intrinsic, natural settled value in any thing, as to make any assigned quantity of it constantly worth any assigned quantity of another.
- 3. The marketable value of any assigned quantities of two, or more commodities, are (pro hic et nunc) equal, when they will exchange one for another. As supposing one bushel of wheat, two bushels of barley, thirty pounds of lead, and one ounce of silver, will now in the market be taken one for another, they are then of equal worth: and, our coin being that which Englishmen reckon by, an Englishman would say, that now one bushel of wheat, two bushels of barley, thirty pounds of lead, and one ounce of silver, were equally worth five shillings.
- 4. The change of this marketable value of any commodity, in respect of another commodity, or in respect of a standing, common measure, is not the altering of any intrinsic value, or quality, in the commodity; (for musty and smutty corn will sell dearer at one time, than the clean and sweet at another) but the alteration of some proportion, which that commodity bears to something else.
- 5. This proportion in all commodities, whereof money is one, is the proportion of their quantity to the vent. The vent is nothing else but the passing of commodities from one owner to another, in exchange: and is then called quicker, when a greater quantity of any species of commodity is taken off from the owners of it, in an equal space of time.
- 6. This vent is regulated, i. e. made quicker or slower, as greater or less quantities of any saleable commodity are removed out of the way and course of trade; separated from public commerce; and no longer lie within the reach of exchange. For, though any commodity should shift hands ever so fast, and be exchanged from one man to another; yet, if they were not thereby exempted from trade and sale, and did not cease to be any longer traffic, this would not at all make, or quicken their vent. But this, seldom or never happening, makes very little or no alteration.
- 7. Things are removed out of the market, or hands of commerce, and so their vent altered three ways: 1. By consumption, when the commodity in its use is destroyed, as, meat, drink, and clothes, &c. all that is so consumed is quite gone out of the trade of the world. 2. By exportation; and all that is so carried away, is gone out of the trade of England, and concerns Englishmen no more in the price of their commodities among themselves for their own use, than if it were out of the world. 3. By buying and laying up for a man’s private use. For what is by any of these ways shut out of the market, and no longer moveable, by the hand of commerce, makes no longer any part of merchantable ware, and so, in respect of trade, and the quantity of any commodity, is not more considerable than if it were not in being. All these three terminating at last in consumption of all commodities, (excepting only jewels and plate, and some few others, which wear out but insensibly) may properly enough pass under that name. Engrossing too has some influence on the present vent: but this inclosing some considerable part of any commodity, (for if the engrossing be of all the commodity, and it be of general use, the price is at the will of the engrosser) out of the free common of trade, only for some time, and afterwards returning again to sale, makes not usually so sensible and general an alteration in the vent, as the others do: but yet influences the price, and the vent more, according as it extends itself to a larger portion of the commodity, and hoards it up longer.
- 8. Most other portable commodities (excepting jewels, plate, &c.) decaying quickly in their use, but money being less consumed, or increased, i. e. by slower degrees removed from, or brought into the free commerce of any country, than the greatest part of other merchandize; and so the proportion between its quantity and vent, altering slower than in most other commodities; it is commonly looked on as a standing measure, to judge of the value of all things, especially being adapted to it by its weight and denomination in coinage.
- 9. Money, whilst the same quantity of it is passing up and down the kingdom in trade, is really a standing measure of the falling and rising value of other things, in reference to one another: and the alteration of price is truly in them only. But if you increase, or lessen, the quantity of money, current in traffic, in any place, then the alteration of value is in the money: and, if at the same time wheat keep its proportion of vent to quantity, money, to speak truly, alters its worth, and wheat does not, though it sell for a greater, or less price, than it did before. For money, being looked upon as the standing measure of other commodities, men consider and speak of it still, as if it were a standing measure, though when it has varied its quantity, it is plain it is not.
- 10. But the value or price of all commodities, amongst which money passing in trade is truly one, consisting in proportion, you alter this, as you do all other proportions, whether you increase one, or lessen the other.
- 11. In all other commodities, the owners, when they design them for traffic, endeavour, as much as they can, to have them vented and gone, i. e. removed out of the reach of commerce, by consumption, exportation, or laying up: but money never lying upon people’s hands, or wanting vent, (for any one may part with it in exchange, when he pleases;) the provident public and private care is to keep it from venting, or consuming, i. e. from exportation, which is its proper consumption: and from hoarding up by others, which is a sort of engrossing. Hence it is that other commodities have sometimes a quicker, sometimes a slower vent: for nobody lays out his money in them, but according to the use he has of them, and that has bounds. But every body being ready to receive money without bounds, and keep it by him, because it answers all things: therefore the vent of money is always sufficient, or more than enough. This being so, its quantity alone is enough to regulate and determine its value, without considering any proportion between its quantity and vent, as in other commodities.
- 12. Therefore the lessening of use, not bringing one penny of money more into the trade, or exchange of any country, but rather drawing it away from trade, and so making it less, does not at all sink its value, and make it buy less of any commodity, but rather more.
- 13. That which raises the natural interest of money, is the same that raises the rent of land, i. e. its aptness to bring in yearly to him that manages it a greater overplus of income above his rent, as a reward to his labour. That which causes this in land, is the greater quantity of its product, in proportion to the same vent to that particular fruit, or the same quantity of product, in proportion to a greater vent of that single commodity; but that which causes increase of profit to the borrower of money, is the less quantity of money, in proportion to trade, or to the vent of all commodities, taken together, and vice versa.
- 14. The natural value of money, as it is apt to yield such a yearly income by interest, depends on the whole quantity of the then passing money of the kingdom, in proportion to the whole trade of the kingdom, i. e. the general vent of all the commodities. But the natural value of money, in exchanging for any one commodity, is the quantity of the trading money of the kingdom, designed for that commodity, in proportion to that single commodity and its vent. For though any single man’s necessity and want, either of money, or any species of commodity, being known, may make him pay dearer for money, or that commodity, yet this is but a particular case, that does not at the same time alter this constant and general rule.
- 15. That supposing wheat a standing measure, that is, that there is constantly the same quantity of it, in proportion to its vent, we shall find money to run the same variety of changes in its value, as all other commodities do. Now that wheat in England does come nearest to a standing measure, is evident by comparing wheat with other commodities, money, and the yearly income of land in Henry the Seventh’s time, and now; for, supposing that primo Hen. VII. N. let 100 acres of land to A. for 6d. per annum per acre, rack-rent, and to B. another 100 acres of land, of the same soil and yearly worth with the former, for a bushel of wheat per acre, rack-rent, (a bushel of wheat about that time being probably sold for about 6d.) it was then an equal rent. If, therefore, these leases were for years yet to come, it is certain that he that paid but 6d. per acre, would pay now 50s. per annum, and he that paid a bushel of wheat per acre, would now pay about 25l. per annum, which would be near about the yearly value of the land, were it to be let now. The reason whereof is this, that there being ten times as much silver now in the world (the discovery of the West-Indies having made the plenty) as there was then, it is nine-tenths less worth now, than it was at that time; that is, it will exchange for nine-tenths less of any commodity now, which bears the same proportion to its vent, as it did 200 years since, which, of all other commodities, wheat is likeliest to do; for in England, and this part of the world, wheat being the constant and most general food, not altering with the fashion, not growing by chance; but as the farmers sow more, or less of it, which they endeavour to proportion, as near as can be guessed, to the consumption, abstracting the overplus of the precedent year, in their provision for the next, and vice versa; it must needs fall out, that it keeps the nearest proportion to its consumption, (which is more studied and designed in this, than other commodities) of any thing, if you take it for seven or twenty years together: though perhaps the plenty, or scarcity of one year, caused by the accidents of the season, may very much vary it from the immediately precedent, or following. Wheat, therefore, in this part of the world, (and that grain, which is the constant general food of any other country) is the fittest measure to judge of the altered value of things, in any long tract of time: and therefore, wheat here, rice in Turkey, &c. is the fittest thing to reserve a rent in, which is designed to be constantly the same for all future ages. But money is the best measure of the altered value of things in a few years: because its vent is the same, and its quantity alters slowly. But wheat, or any other grain, cannot serve instead of money, because of its bulkiness, and too quick change of its quantity: for had I a bond, to pay me 100 bushels of wheat next year, it might be a fourth part loss, or gain to me; too great an inequality and uncertainty to be ventured in trade: besides the different goodness of several parcels of wheat in the same year.
- 16. That, supposing any island separate from the commerce of the rest of mankind; if gold and silver, or whatever else, (so it be lasting) be their money, if they have but a certain quantity of it, and can give no more, that will be a steady, standing measure of the value of all other things.
- 17. That, if in any country they use for money any, lasting material, whereof there is not any more to be got, and so cannot be increased, or being of no other use, the rest of the world does not value it, and so it is not like to be diminished, this also would be a steady, standing measure of the value of other commodities.
- 18. That, in a country, where they had such a standing measure, any quantity of that money (if it were but so much that every body might have some) would serve to drive any proportion of trade, whether more or less; there being counters enough to reckon by, and the value of the pledges being still sufficient, as constantly increasing with the plenty of the commodity. But these three last being built on suppositions, that are not like to be found in the practice of mankind since navigation and commerce have brought all parts acquainted with one another, and introduced the use of gold and silver money, into all trading parts of the world; they serve rather to give us some light into the nature of money, than to teach here a new measure of traffic. Though it be certain, that that part of the world which bred most of our gold and silver, used least of it in exchange, and used it not for money at all.
- 19. That therefore, in any country, that hath commerce with the rest of the world, it is almost impossible now to be without the use of silver coin; and having money of that, and accounts kept in such money, it is impossible to have any standing, unalterable measure of the value of things: for whilst the mines supply to mankind more than wastes and consumes in its use, the quantity of it will daily grow greater, in respect of other commodities, and its value less.
- 20. That in a country, that hath open commerce with the rest of the world, and uses money, made of the same materials with their neighbours, any quantity of that money will not serve to drive any quantity of trade; but there must be a certain proportion between their money and trade. The reason whereof is this, because to keep your trade going without loss, your commodities amongst you must keep an equal, or at least near the price of the same species of commodities in the neighbouring countries; which they cannot do, if your money be far less than in other countries: for then either your commodities must be sold very cheap, or a great part of your trade must stand still, there not being money enough in the country to pay for them (in their shifting of hands) at that high price, which the plenty, and consequently low value of money, makes them at in another country; for the value of money, in general, is the quantity of all the money in the world, in proportion to all the trade; but the value of money in any one country, is the present quantity of the current money in that country, in proportion to the present trade. Supposing then, that we had now in England but half as much money as we had seven years ago, and yet had still as much yearly product of commodities, as many hands to work them, and as many brokers to disperse them, as before; and that the rest of the world we trade with had as much money as they had before, (for it is likely they should have more by our moiety shared amongst them) it is certain that either half our rents should not be paid, half our commodities not vented, and half our labourers not employed, and so half the trade be clearly lost; or else, that every one of these must receive but half the money for their commodities and labour they did before, and but half so much as our neighbours do receive, for the same labour, and the same natural product at the same time. Such a state of poverty as this, though it will make no scarcity of our native commodities amongst us, yet it will have these ill consequences.
- 1. It will make our native commodities vent very cheap.
- 2. It will make all foreign commodities very dear, both which will make us poor; for the merchant making silver and gold his measure, and considering what the foreign commodity costs him, (i. e. how many ounces of silver) in the country where money is more plenty, i. e. cheaper; and considering too, how many ounces of silver it will yield him in another country, will not part with it here, but for the same quantity of silver, or as much as that silver will buy here of our commodity, which will be a great deal more than in another place; so that, in all our exchange of native for foreign commodities, we shall pay double the value that any other country does, where money is in greater plenty. This indeed will make a dearness, and in time a scarcity of foreign commodities; which is not the worst inconveniency that it brings upon us, supposing them not absolutely necessary. But,
- 3. It endangers the drawing away our people, both handicrafts, mariners, and soldiers, who are apt to go where their pay is best, which will always be where there is greatest plenty of money, and in time of war must needs bring great distress.
- 21. Upon this measure too it is, that the variation of exchange of money between several countries does somewhat depend; for it is certain that one ounce of silver is always of equal value to another ounce of silver, considered in its intrinsic worth, or in reference to the universal trade of the world: but it is not of the same value at the same time in several parts of the world, but is of the most worth in that country where there is the least money in proportion to its trade: and therefore men may afford to give twenty ounces of silver in one place, to receive eighteen or nineteen ounces of silver in another. But this is not all: to this then, (to find out the alteration of the exchange) the over-balance of the trade must be taken into consideration. These two together regulate the exchange, in all the commerce of the world, and in both the higher rate of exchange depends upon one and the same thing, viz. the greater plenty of money in one country than in the other; only with this difference, that where the over-balance of trade raises the exchange above the par, there it is the plenty of money which private merchants have in one country, which they desire to remove in another: but where the riches of the country raise the exchange above the par, there it is the plenty of the money in the whole country. In one, the merchant has more money (or debts, which is all one) in a foreign country, than his trade there will employ, and so is willing to allow upon exchange to him abroad, that shall pay him ready money at home, 1, 2, 3, &c. per cent. more or less, proportionably as his, or his countryman’s plenty of ready money abroad, the danger of leaving it there, or the difficulty of bringing it home in specie, and his present need of money at home, is greater or less: in the other, the whole country has more money, than can well be employed in the trade thereof, or at least the proportion of the money to the trade is greater than in the neighbouring country, where the exchange is below the par.
For, supposing the balance of trade to be equal between England and Holland, but that there is in Holland a greater plenty of money than in England, (which will appear by the lowness of the natural use in Holland, and the height of the natural use in England, and also by the dearness of food and labour in general in Holland, and the cheapness of it in England.) If N. has 10,000l. in Holland, which the greater advantage he could make of it in England, either by use or purchase, tempts him to transfer into England, it is probable he will give as much to a merchant in England, to pay him 10,000l. in England, as the insurance at that time between Holland and England is worth. If this happens to be in a country, where the exportation of bullion is prohibited, he must pay the more, because his venture, if he carry it in specie, will be greater; and upon this ground, perhaps, the prohibiting the exportation of money out of England, under penalties, may be of some use, by making the rate of the exchange greater to those countries, which import upon us more than they export in commodities; and so retain some part of the money, which their over-balance of trade would carry away from us, though, after all, if we are over-balanced in trade, it must go.
But, since the Holland merchant cannot receive N.’s 10,000l. in money in Holland, and pay him 10,000l. in England, unless his over-balance of trade make Englishmen indebted to him 10,000l. in money, which he is not like to take in commodities, I think the over-balance of trade is that, which chiefly raises the exchange in any country, and that plenty of money in any country does it only for so much of the money as is transferred, either to be let out to use, or to be spent there; and though lending to foreigners upon use doth not at all alter the balance of trade between those countries, yet it does alter the exchange between those countries, for so much as is lent upon use, by not calling away the money that should follow the over-balance of trade, but letting it rest there, as if it were accounted for; all one as if the balance of trade were for so much altered. But this being not much, in comparison of the general traffic between two nations, or at least varying slower, the merchant too regulating the exchange, and not the usurer. I suppose it is the present balance of trade, on which the exchange immediately and chiefly depends, unless some accident shall make a great deal of money be remitted at the same time from one place to another, which will for that time raise the exchange all one as an over-balance of trade; and indeed, when examined, is generally very little different from it.
To be able to estimate the par, with the rise and fall of the exchange, it is necessary to know the intrinsic value, i. e. how much silver is in the coins of the two countries, by which you reckon and charge the bill of exchange.
Sir, if I have been led a little too far from one thing to another, in the consideration of money, I beg your pardon, hoping that these particulars will afford some light to our present subject.
To return to the price of land. It is evident by what has been above said, that the years purchase of land does not increase with the fall of interest; and the abating of that good quality in money, of yielding yearly six per cent. to four, does not presently so sink its value, in respect of land, that one-third more is required in exchange: falling of interest from six to four, will not raise land from twenty to thirty years purchase; the rising and falling of the price of land, as of other things, depends much on the quantity of land set to sale, compared with the quantity of money designed for that traffic, or, which amounts to the same thing, upon the number of buyers and sellers; for where there are many sellers and few purchasers, though interest be lessened, land will be cheap, as I have already showed. At least this is certain, that making a law to reduce interest, will not raise the price of land; it will only, by driving it more into the banker’s hands, leave the country barer of money; whereby, if the price of land about London should be accidentally raised, that of remoter countries would thereby have fewer purchasers, and at lower rates.
This being so, that the low rate of land depends much on the great number of sellers in proportion to purchasers, the next thing to be enquired into is, what makes plenty of sellers? And to that the answer is obvious, general ill husbandry, and the consequence of it, debts. If a neglect of government and religion, ill examples, and depraved education, have introduced debauchery, and art, or chance, has made it fashionable for men to live beyond their estates, debts will increase and multiply, and draw with them a necessity on men, first of encumbering, and then selling their estates. This is generally the cause why men part with their land: and I think there is scarce one in an hundred that thinks of selling his patrimony, till mortgages have pretty well eat into the freehold: and the weight of growing debts force a man, whether he will or no, out of his possessions. When almost is there ever a clear and unencumbered estate set to sale? It is seldom a thriving man turns his land into money, to make the greater advantage: the examples of it are so rare, that they are scarce of any consideration in the number of sellers.
This, I think, may be the reason, why in queen Elizabeth’s days (when sobriety, frugality, and industry, brought in daily increase to the growing wealth of the kingdom) land kept up its price, and sold for more years purchase than corresponded to the interest of money, then busily employed in a thriving trade, which made the natural interest much higher than it is now, as well as the parliament then set it higher by law.
On the contrary side, what makes scarcity of purchasers?
1. The same reason, ill husbandry. When the tradesman lives up to the height of his income, and the vanity of expences either drains the merchant’s coffers, or keeps them from overflowing, he seldom thinks of purchasing. Buying of land is the result of a full and satiated gain: and men in trade seldom think of laying out their money upon land, till their profit has brought them in more than their trade can well employ; and their idle bags, cumbering their counting-houses, put them upon emptying them on a purchase.
2. Another thing that makes a scarcity of buyers of land, are doubtful and ill titles: where these are frequent and fatal, one can no more expect that men, who have money, should be forward to purchase, than ships, richly laden, to venture themselves amongst rocks and quicksands. It is no wonder such seas should not be much frequented, where the examples and remains of daily wrecks show the folly and hazard of the venture, in the number of those who have miscarried.
3. A general decay of trade discourages men from purchasing: for this threatens an universal poverty, which is sure to fall first and heaviest upon land. The merchant who furnishes the improvident landholder, will not fail to have money for his wares with gain, whether the kingdom get by his trade or no, and he will keep his money rather employed in trade, which brings him in profit (for the merchant may get by a trade that makes the kingdom poor) than lay it out in land, whose rent he sees sinking, and foresees, by the course of trade, is likely to continue to do so. When a nation is running to decay and ruin, the merchant and monied man, do what you can, will be sure to starve last: observe it where you will, the decays that come upon, and bring to ruin any country, do constantly first fall upon the land: and though the country gentleman (who usually securely relies upon so much a year as was given in at his marriage settlement, and thinks his land an unmoveable fund for such an income) be not very forward to think so; yet this nevertheless is an undoubted truth, that he is more concerned in trade, and ought to take a greater care, that it be well managed, and preserved, than even the merchant himself. For he will certainly find, when a decay of trade has carried away one part of our money out of the kingdom, and the other is kept in the merchant and tradesman’s hands, that no laws he can make, nor any little arts of shifting property amongst ourselves, will bring it back to him again: but his rents will fall, and his income every day lessen, till general industry and frugality, joined to a well-ordered trade, shall restore to the kingdom the riches and wealth it had formerly.
This by the way, if well considered, might let us see, that taxes, however contrived, and out of whose hands soever immediately taken, do, in a country, where their great fund is in land, for the most part terminate upon land. Whatsoever the people is chiefly maintained by, that the government supports itself on: nay, perhaps it will be found, that those taxes which seem least to affect land, will most surely of all other fall the rents. This would deserve to be well considered, in the raising of taxes, lest the neglect of it bring upon the country gentleman an evil, which he will be sure quickly to feel, but not be able very quickly to remedy. For rents once fallen are not easily raised again. A tax laid upon land seems hard to the landholder, because it is so much money going visibly out of his pocket: and therefore, as an ease to himself, the landholder is always forward to lay it upon commodities. But, if he will thoroughly consider it, and examine the effects, he will find he buys this seeming ease at a very dear rate: and though he pays not this tax immediately out of his own purse, yet his purse will find it by a greater want of money there, at the end of the year, than that comes to, with the lessening of his rents to boot: which is a settled and lasting evil, that will stick upon him beyond the present payment.
To make this clear, let us suppose in the present state of affairs in England, that the rents of England are twelve millions, and that the charge and necessities of the government require a supply of three millions from the parliament, which is laid on land. Here is one fourth part of his yearly income goes immediately out of the landlord’s and landholder’s pocket. This is a burden very apt to be felt. The country gentleman, who actually pays the money out of his pocket, or finds it deducted out of his rent at quarter-day for taxes, sees and very sensibly observes what goes thus out of his estate. But though this be a quarter of his yearly income, and, out of an estate of four hundred pounds a year, the public tax now openly takes away one hundred; yet this influences not at all the yearly rent of the land, which the rack-renter, or under-tenant, pays: it being the same thing to him, whether he pays all his rent to the king, or his landlord; or half, or a quarter, or none at all to the king; the case is all one to him, what hand receives his rent, when due: so trade flourishes, and his commodities go off well, he will be able to pay his rent on. This lessens not any more the value of his farm, than an high or a low chief rent does, paid out of it to the lord of the fee: the tenant’s bargain and profit are the same, whether the land be charged, or not charged, with an annuity payable to another man. We see this in college leases, where though the college tenant pays for it to the college some years five times as much as he does others, upon the varying rate of corn; yet the under-tenant feels not this alteration in the least, nor finds a reason to have his rent abated, because a greater part of it is diverted from his landlord. All this is but changing the hand that receives the rent, without any influence at all upon the yearly value of the estate; which will not be let for one penny more, or less, to the renter, however, or amongst whomsoever, the rent he pays be divided. From hence it is evident, that taxes laid on land do not in the least make rents fall.
But suppose, to shift off the burden from the land, some country gentleman should think fit to raise these three millions upon commodities, to let the land go free. First, it is to be considered, That since the public wants require three millions (for that we supposed for argument’s sake; let it be three millions, or one million, that is all one;) and so much must go into the king’s coffers, or else the necessities of the government will not be supplied: that for raising these three millions on commodities, and bringing so much into the exchequer, there must go a great deal more than three millions out of the subjects pockets. For a tax of that nature cannot be levied by officers, to watch every little rivulet of trade, without a great charge, especially at first trial. But supposing no more charges in raising it, than of a land-tax, and that there are only three millions to be paid, it is evident that, to do this, out of commodities, they must, to the consumer, be raised a quarter in their price; so that every thing, to him that uses it, must be a quarter dearer. Let us see now who, at long-run, must pay this quarter, and where it will light. It is plain, the merchant and broker neither will, nor can; for, if he pays a quarter more for commodities than he did, he will sell them at a price proportionably raised. The poor labourer and handicraftsman cannot: for he just lives from hand to mouth already, and all his food, clothing and utensils, costing a quarter more than they did before, either his wages must rise with the price of things, to make him live; or else, not being able to maintain himself and family by his labour, he comes to the parish; and then the land bears the burthen a heavier way. If the labourer’s wages be raised in proportion to the increased rates of things, the farmer who pays a quarter more for wages, as well as all other things, whilst he sells his corn and wool, either at the same rate, or lower, at the market (since the tax laid upon it makes people less forward to buy) must either have his rent abated, or else break and run away in his landlord’s debt: and so the yearly value of the land is brought down. And who then pays the tax at the year’s end, but the landlord? when the tenant, not able to raise his rent by his commodities, either runs away in his landlord’s debt, or cannot be continued in the farm, without abatement of rent: for, when the yearly charge in his farm is greater by the increase of the labourer’s wages, and yet his product sells cheaper by reason of the tax laid on his commodities; how will the farmer be able to make up his rent at quarter-day? For this may be worth our notice, that any tax laid on foreign commodities in England, raises its price, and makes the importer get more for his commodity: but, on the contrary, a tax laid on your native product, and home-made commodities, lessens their price, and makes them yield less to the first seller.
The reason whereof is plain. For the merchant importing no commodity, but what the necessity, or fashionable wantonness, of your people gives him vent for, will not only proportion his gain to the cost and risque, which he has been at before landing; but will expect profit of his money paid here, for any tax laid on it; and take advantage from thence to raise his price, above what his tax comes to; and if he cannot do that, he will trade no more in that commodity. For it being not the product of his farm, he is not tied to bring it to market, if he finds his price not answer his expectation there, but turns himself to other wares, which he finds your markets to take off better. A merchant will never continue to trade in wares, which the change of fashion, or humour amongst your people has made less vendible, though he may be sometimes caught by a sudden alteration. But that seldom happens in the course of trade, so as to influence the great bulk of it. For things of necessity must still be had, and things of fashion will be had, as long as men have money, or credit, whatever rates they cost, and the rather because they are dear. For, it being vanity, not use, that makes the expensive fashion of your people, the emulation is, who shall have the finest, that is, the dearest things, not the most convenient, or useful. How many things do we value, or buy, because they come at dear rates, from Japan and China, which if they were our own manufacture, or product, common to be had, and for a little money, would be contemned and neglected? Have not several of our own commodities, offered to sale at reasonable rates, been despised, and the very same eagerly bought and bragged of, when sold for French, at a double price? You must not think, therefore, that the raising their price will lessen the vent of fashionable, foreign commodities amongst you, as long as men have any way to purchase them, but rather increase it. French wine is become a modish drink amongst us, and a man is ashamed to entertain his friend, or almost to dine himself without it. The price is in the memory of man raised from 6d. to 2s. and does this hinder the drinking of it? No, the quite contrary: a man’s way of living is commended, because he will give any rate for it: and a man will give any rate rather than pass for a poor wretch, or a penurious curmudgeon, that is not able, or knows not how to live well, nor use his friends civilly. Fashion is, for the most part, nothing but the ostentation of riches, and therefore the high price of what serves to that, rather increases than lessens its vent. The contest and glory is in the expence, not the usefulness of it; and people are then thought and said to live well, when they can make a show of rare and foreign things, and such as their neighbours cannot go to the price of.
Thus we see how foreign commodities fall not in their price, by taxes laid on them, because the merchant is not necessitated to bring to your market any but fashionable commodities, and those go off the better for their high rate. But, on the contrary, your landholder being forced to bring his commodities to market, such as his land and industry afford him, common and known things, he must sell them there at such price as he can get. This the buyer knows; and these home-bred commodities being seldom the favourites of your people, or any farther acceptable, than as great conveniency recommends them to the vulgar, or downright necessity to all; as soon as a tax is laid on them, every one makes as sparing an use of them as he can, that he may save his money for other necessary or creditable expences. Thus the price, which our native commodities yield the first seller, is mightily abated, and so the yearly value of the land, which produces them, lessened too.
If, therefore, the laying of taxes upon commodities does, as it is evident, affect the land that is out at a rack-rent, it is plain it does equally affect all the other land in England too, and the gentry will, but the worst way, increase their own charges, that is, by lessening the yearly value of their estates, if they hope to ease their land, by charging commodities. It is in vain, in a country whose great fund is land, to hope to lay the public charge of the government on any thing else; there at last it will terminate. The merchant (do what you can) will not bear it, the labourer cannot, and therefore the landholder must; and whether he were best to do it, by laying it directly where it will at last settle, or by letting it come to him by the sinking of his rents, which when they are once fallen, every one knows are not easily raised again, let him consider.
Holland is brought as an instance of laying the charge of the public upon trade, and it is possibly (excepting some few small free towns) the only place in the world that could be brought to favour this way. But yet, when examined, will be found to show the quite contrary, and be a clear proof, that lay the taxes how you will, land every-where, in proportion, bears the greater share of the burthen. The public charge of the government, it is said, is, in the United Provinces, laid on trade. I grant it is, the greatest part of it; but is the land excused, or eased by it? By no means; but, on the contrary, so loaded, that in many places half, in others a quarter, in others one-eighth of the yearly value does not come into the owner’s pocket: and if I have not been misinformed, the land in some places will not pay the taxes: so that we may say, that the charge of the government came not upon commodities, till the land could not bear it. The burthen unavoidably settles upon the land first, and when it has pressed it so, that it can yield no more, trade must be brought in aid, to help to support the government rather than let all sink: but the first stress is always upon land, and as far as that will reach, it is unavoidably carried, lay your taxes how you will. It is known what a share of the public charges of the government is supported by the trade of Amsterdam alone; as I remember that one town pays thirty-six in the hundred of all the public taxes raised in the United Provinces. But are the lands of Guelderland eased by it? Let any one see, in that country of land more than trade, what they make clear of their revenues, and whether the country gentlemen there grow rich on their land, whilst the merchant, having the taxes laid on his commerce, is impoverished? On the contrary, Guelderland is so low and out of cash, that Amsterdam has been fain, for many years, to lay down the taxes for them; which is, in effect, to pay the taxes of Guelderland too.
Struggle and contrive as you will, lay your taxes as you please, the traders will shift it off from their own gain; the merchants will bear the least part of it, and grow poor last. In Holland itself, where trade is so loaded, who, I pray, grows richest, the landholder, or the trader? Which of them is pinched, and wants money most? A country may thrive, the country gentleman grow rich, and his rents increase (for so it has been here) whilst the land is taxed: but I challenge any one to show me a country, wherein there is any considerable public charge raised, where the land does not most sensibly feel it, and, in proportion, bear much the greater part of it.
We must not, therefore, impute the falling of the rents, or of the price of land, to high interest; nor, if ill husbandry has wasted our riches, hope by such kind of laws to raise them to their former value. I humbly conceive we shall in vain endeavour it, by the fall of interest. The number of buyers must be increased, and sellers lessened, which must be done by other ways, than regulating of interest, or else the landed-man will neither find chapmen for his land, nor for the corn that grows on it, at the rate he desires.
But, could an act of parliament bring down interest to four per cent. and the lowering of that immediately raise the purchaser’s fine from 20 to 25 years purchase; yet it may be doubted, whether this be fit to be made into a law, because it would be of no advantage to the kingdom. For what profit would it be to the nation to make a law, that he who sells land, should instead of four have five hundred pounds of the purchaser? This, indeed, a little alters the distribution of the money we have amongst us Englishmen here at home, but neither helps to continue what we have, nor brings in more from abroad: which, being the only concernment of the kingdom, in reference to its wealth, is apt to be supposed by us without doors to be the only care of a parliament. For it matters not, so it be here amongst us, whether the money be in Thomas, or Richard’s hands, provided it be so ordered, that whoever has it may be encouraged to let it go into the current of trade, for the improvement of the general stock and wealth of the nation.
As this increase of the fine, in the purchase of land, is not an advantage to the kingdom; so neither is it to the landholder, who is the person, that, bearing the greatest part of the burdens of the kingdom, ought, I think, to have the greatest care taken of him, and enjoy as many privileges, and as much wealth, as the favour of the law can (with regard to the public-weal) confer upon him. But pray consider: the raising the price of land in sale, by increasing the number of years purchase to be paid for it, gives the advantage, not to the landholder, but to him that ceases to be so. He, that has no longer the land, has the more money: and he, who has the land, is the poorer. The true advantage of the landholder is, that his corn, flesh, and wool, sell better, and yield a greater price; this, indeed, is a profit that benefits the owner of the land, and goes along with it; it is this alone raises the rent, and makes the possessor richer: and this can only be done by increasing our wealth, and drawing more money into England. Which the falling of interest, and thereby (if it could effect it) raising the purchase of land, is so far from doing, that it does visibly and directly one way hinder our increase of wealth, that is, by hindering foreigners to come here, and buy land, and settle amongst us. Whereby we have this double loss; first, we lose their persons, increase of people being the increase both of strength and riches. Secondly, we lose so much money; for, though whatever an Englishman gives to another for land, though raised to forty years purchase, be not one farthing advantage to the kingdom; yet whatever a foreigner, who purchases land here, gives for it, is so much every farthing clear gain to the nation: for that money comes clear in, without carrying out any thing for it, and is every farthing of it as perfect gain to the nation, as if it dropped down from the clouds.
But farther, if consideration be to be had only of sellers of land, the lowering of interest to four per cent. will not be in their favour, unless by it you can raise land to thirty years purchase, which is not at all likely: and I think nobody, by falling of interest to four per cent. hopes to get chapmen for their land at that rate. Whatsoever they have less, if law can regulate interest, they lose of their value of land, money being thus abased. So that the landed-man will scarce find his account neither, by this law when it comes to trial. And at last, I imagine, this will be the result of all such attempts, that experience will show that the price of things will not be regulated by laws, though the endeavours after it will be sure to prejudice and inconvenience trade, and put your affairs out of order.
If this be so, that interest cannot be regulated by law, or that if it could, yet the reducing of it to four per cent. would do more harm than good: what then should there (you will say) be no law at all to regulate interest? I say not so. For,
1. It is necessary that there should be a stated rate of interest, and in debts and forbearances, where contract has not settled it between the parties, the law might give a rule, and courts of judicature might know what damages to allow. This may, and therefore should, be regulated.
2. That in the present current of running cash, which now takes its course almost all to London, and is engrossed by a very few hands in comparison, young men, and those in want, might not too easily be exposed to extortion and oppression: and the dexterous and combining money-jobbers not have too great and unbounded a power, to prey upon the ignorance and necessity of borrowers. There would not be much danger of this, if money were more equally distributed into the several quarters of England, and into a greater number of hands, according to the exigencies of trade.
If money were to be hired, as land is; or to be had as corn, or wool, from the owner himself, and known good security be given for it; it might then probably be had at the market (which is the true) rate, and that rate of interest would be a constant gauge of your trade and wealth. But, when a kind of monopoly, by consent, has put this general commodity into a few hands, it may need regulation, though what the stated rate of interest should be, in the constant change of affairs, and flux of money, is hard to determine. Possibly it may be allowed, as a reasonable proposal, that it should be within such bounds, as should not, on the one side, quite eat up the merchant’s and tradesman’s profit, and discourage their industry; nor, on the other hand, so low, as should hinder men from risquing their money in other men’s hands, and so rather choose to keep it out of trade, than venture it upon so small profit. When it is too high, it so hinders the merchant’s gain, that he will not borrow; when too low, it so hinders the monied-man’s profit, that he will not lend; and both these ways it is an hindrance to trade.
But this being, perhaps, too general and loose a rule, let me add, that if one would consider money and land alone, in relation one to another, perhaps it is now at six per cent. in as good a proportion as is possible; six per cent. being a little higher than land at twenty years purchase, which is the rate pretty near, that land has generally carried in England, it never being much over, nor under. For supposing 100l. in money, and land of 5l. per annum be of equal value, which is land at twenty years purchase; it is necessary for the making their value truly equal, that they should produce an equal income, which the 100l. at 5l. per cent. interest is not likely to do.
1. Because of the many, and sometimes long intervals of barrenness, which happen to money more than land. Money at use, when returned into the hands of the owner, usually lies dead there, till he gets a new tenant for it, and can put it out again; and all this time it produces nothing. But this happens not to land, the growing product whereof turns to account to the owner, even when it is in his hands, or is allowed for by the tenant, antecedently to his entering upon the farm. For though a man, that borrows money at Midsummer, never begins to pay his interest from our Lady-day, or one moment backwards; yet he, who rents a farm, at Midsummer, may have as much reason to begin his rent from our Lady-day, as if he had then entered upon it.
2. Besides the dead intervals of ceasing profit, which happen to money more than land, there is another reason why the profit and income of money let out, should be a little higher than that of land; and that is, because money out at interest runs a greater risque than land does. The borrower may break, and run away with the money, and then not only the interest due, but all the future profit, with the principal, is lost for ever. But in land a man can lose but the rent due, for which usually too the stock upon the land is sufficient security: and, if a tenant run away in arrear of some rent, the land remains; that cannot be carried away or lost. Should a man purchase good land in Middlesex of 5l. per ann. at twenty years purchase, and other land in Rumney-marsh, or elsewhere, of the same yearly value, but so situated, that it were in danger to be swallowed of the sea, and be utterly lost, it would not be unreasonable, that he should expect to have it under twenty years purchase; suppose sixteen and an half: this is to bring it to just the case of land at twenty years purchase; and money at six per cent. where the uncertainty of securing one’s money may well be allowed that advantage of greater profit; and therefore, perhaps, the legal interest now in England at six per cent. is as reasonable and convenient a rate as can well be set by a standing rule, especially if we consider that the law requires not a man to pay six per cent. but ties up the lender from taking more. So that if ever it falls of itself, the monied man is sure to find it, and his interest will be brought down to it.
High interest is thought by some a prejudice to trade: but if we look back, we shall find, that England never throve so well, nor was there ever brought into England so great an increase of wealth since, as in queen Elizabeth’s and king James I. and Charles I. time, when money was at ten and eight per cent. I will not say high interest was the cause of it. For I rather think, that our thriving trade was the cause of high interest, every one craving money to employ in a profitable commerce. But this, I think, I may reasonably infer from it, That lowering of interest is not a sure way to improve either our trade or wealth.
To this I hear some say, That the Dutch, skilful in all arts of promoting trade, to out-do us in this, as well as all other advancements of it, have observed this rule, viz. That, when we fell interest in England from ten to eight, they presently sunk interest in Holland to four per cent. And again, when we lowered it to six, they fell it to three per cent. thereby to keep the advantage which the lowness of interest gives to trade. From whence these men readily conclude, that the falling of interest will advance trade in England. To which I answer,
1. That this looks like an argument rather made for the present occasion, to mislead those who are credulous enough to swallow it, than arising from true reason, and matter of fact. For, if lowering of interest were so advantageous to trade, why did the Dutch so constantly take their measures only by us, and not as well by some other of their neighbours, with whom they have as great, or greater commerce, than with us? This is enough, at first sight, to make one suspect this to be dust, only raised to throw in people’s eyes, and as suggestion made to serve a purpose. For,
2. It will not be found true, That, when we abated interest here in England to eight, the Dutch sunk it in Holland to four per cent. by law; or that there was any law made in Holland to limit the rate of interest to three per cent. when we reduced it in England to six. It is true John de Witt, when he managed the affairs of Holland, setting himself to lessen the public debts, and having actually paid some, and getting money in a readiness to pay others, sent notice to all the creditors, that those who would not take four per cent. should come and receive their money. The creditors finding him in earnest, and knowing not how otherwise to employ their money, accepted his terms, and changed their obligations into four per cent. whereas before they were at five, and so (the great loans of the country being to the state) it might be said in this sense, That the rate of interest was reduced lower at that time: but that it was done by a law, forbidding to take higher interest than four per cent. that I deny, and require any one to show. Indeed, upon good security, one might lately have borrowed money in Holland at three, and three and a half per cent. but not by virtue of any law, but the natural rate of interest. And I appeal to the men, learned in the law of Holland, whether last year (and I doubt not but it is so still) a man might not lawfully lend his money for what interest he could get, and whether in the courts he should not recover the interest he contracted for, if it were ten per cent. So that, if money be to be borrowed by honest and responsible men, at three, or three and half per cent. it is not by the force of statutes and edicts, but by the natural course of things; which will always bring interest upon good security low, where there is a great deal of money to be lent, and little good security, in proportion, to be had. Holland is a country, where the land makes a very little part of the stock of the country. Trade is their great fund; and their estates lie generally in money: so that all, who are not traders, generally speaking, are lenders: of which there are so many, whose income depends upon interest, that if the States were not mightily in debt, but paid every one their principal, instead of the four per cent. use which they give, there would be so much more money than could be used, or would be ventured in trade, that money there would be at two per cent. or under, unless they found a way to put it out in foreign countries.
Interest, I grant these men, is low in Holland: but it is so, not as an effect of law, or the politic contrivance of the government, to promote trade: but as the consequence of great plenty of ready money, when their interest first fell. I say when it first fell: for being once brought low, and the public having borrowed a great part of private men’s money, and continuing in debt, it must continue so, though the plenty of money, which first brought interest low, were very much decayed, and a great part of their wealth were really gone. For the debt of the state affording to the creditors a constant yearly income, that is looked on as a safe revenue, and accounted as valuable as if it were in land; and accordingly they buy it one of another: and whether there be any money in the public coffers or no, he, who has to the value of ten thousand pounds owing him from the States, may sell it every day in the week, and have ready money for it; this credit is so great an advantage to private men, who know not else what to do with their stocks, that, were the States now in a condition to begin to pay their debts, the creditors, rather than take their money out, to lie dead by them, would let it stay in, at lower interest, as they did some years since, when they were called on to come and receive their money. This is the state of interest in Holland: their plenty of money, and paying their public debts, some time since lowered their interest. But it was not done by the command and limitation of a law, nor in consequence of our reducing it here by law to six per cent. For I deny, that there is any law there yet, to forbid lending of money for above three, or six, or ten per cent. Whatever some here suggest, every one there may hire out his money, as freely as he does any thing else, for what rate he can get; and, the bargain being made, the law will enforce the borrower to pay it.
I grant low interest, where all men consent to it, is an advantage to trade, if merchants will regulate their gains accordingly, and men be persuaded to lend to them: but can it be expected, when the public gives seven or eight, or ten per cent. that private men, whose security is certainly no better, shall have for four! And can there be any thing stranger, than that the same men, who look on, and therefore allow high use as an encouragement to lending to the Chequer, should think low use should bring money into trade? The States of Holland, some few years since, paid but four per cent. for the money they owed: if you propose them for an example, and interest to be regulated by a law, try whether you can do so here, and bring men to lend it to the public at that rate. This would be a benefit to the kingdom, and abate a great part of our public charge. If you cannot do that, confess that it is not the law in Holland has brought the interest there so low, but something else, and that which will make the States, or any body else, pay dearer, now, if either their credit be less, or money there scarcer.
An infallible sign of your decay of wealth is the falling of rents, and the raising of them would be worth the nation’s care, for in that, and not in the falling of interest, lies the true advantage of the landed man, and with him of the public. It may be therefore not besides our present business to inquire into the cause of the falling of rents in England.
1. Either the land is grown barrener, and so the product is less; and consequently the money to be received for that product is less; for it is evident, that he whose land was wont to produce 100 bushels of wheat, communibus annis, if by long tillage and husbandry it will now produce but 50 bushels, the rent will be abated half. But this cannot be supposed general.
2. Or the rent of that land is lessened. 1. Because the use of the commodity ceases: as the rents must fall in Virginia, were taking of tobacco forbid in England. 2. Or, because something else supplies the room of that product: as the rate of coppice lands will fall upon the discovery of coal mines. 3. Or, because the markets are supplied with the same commodity cheaper from another place: as the breeding counties of England must needs fall their rents by the importation of Irish cattle. 4. Or, because a tax laid on your native commodities, makes what the farmer sells cheaper, and labour, and what he buys, dearer.
3. Or, the money in the country is less; for the exigencies and uses of money not lessening with its quantity, and it being in the same proportion to be employed and distributed still, in all the parts of its circulation, so much as its quantity is lessened, so much must the share of every one that has a right to this money be the less; whether he be landholder, for his goods; or labourer, for his hire; or merchant, for his brokerage. Though the landholder usually finds it first; because money failing, and falling short, people have not so much money as formerly to lay out, and so less money is brought to market, by which the price of things must necessarily fall. The labourer feels it next; for, when the landholder’s rent falls, he must either bate the labourer’s wages, or not employ, or not pay him; which either way makes him feel the want of money. The merchant feels it last; for though he sells less, and at a lower rate, he buys also our native commodities, which he exports at a lower rate too, and will be sure to leave our native commodities unbought, upon the hands of the farmer and manufacturer, rather than export them to a market, which will not afford him returns with profit.
If one-third of the money employed in trade were locked up, or gone out of England, must not the landholders necessarily receive one-third less for their goods, and consequently rents fall; a less quantity of money by one-third being to be distributed amongst an equal number of receivers? Indeed, people not perceiving the money to be gone, are apt to be jealous one of another; and each suspecting another’s inequality of gain to rob him of his share, every one will be employing his skill and power the best he can to retrieve it again, and to bring money into his pocket in the same plenty as formerly. But this is but scrambling amongst ourselves, and helps no more against our want, than the pulling off a short coverlet will, amongst children that lie together, preserve them all from the cold. Some will starve, unless the father of the family provide better, and enlarge the scanty covering. This pulling and contest is usually between the landed man and the merchant: for the labourer’s share, being seldom more than a bare subsistence, never allows that body of men time or opportunity to raise their thoughts above that, or struggle with the richer for theirs, (as one common interest) unless when some common and great distress, uniting them in one universal ferment, makes them forget respect, and emboldens them to carve to their wants with armed force; and then sometimes they break in upon the rich, and sweep all like a deluge. But this rarely happens but in the male-administration of neglected, or mismanaged government.
The usual struggle and contest, as I said before, in the decays of wealth and riches, is between the landed man and the merchant, with whom I may here join the monied man. The landed man finds himself aggrieved by the falling of his rents, and the straitening of his fortune, whilst the monied man keeps up his gain, and the merchant thrives and grows rich by trade. These, he thinks, steals his income into their pockets, build their fortunes upon his ruin, and engross more of the riches of the nation than comes to their share. He therefore endeavours, by laws, to keep up the value of lands, which he suspects lessened by the other’s excess of profit; but all in vain. The cause is mistaken, and the remedy too. It is not the merchant’s nor monied man’s gains that makes land fall: but the want of money, and lessening of our treasure, wasted by extravagant expenses, and a mismanaged trade, which the land always first feels. If the landed gentleman will have, and by his example makes it fashionable to have, more claret, spice, silk, and other foreign consumable wares, than our exportation of commodities does exchange for, money must unavoidably follow to balance the account, and pay the debt; and therefore, I fear that another proposal I hear talked of, to hinder the exportation of money and bullion, will show more our need of care to keep our money from going from us, than a way and method how to preserve it here.
It is death in Spain to export money: and yet they, who furnish all the world with gold and silver, have least of it amongst themselves. Trade fetches it away from that lazy and indigent people, notwithstanding all their artificial and forced contrivances to keep it there. It follows trade, against the rigour of their laws; and their want of foreign commodities makes it openly be carried out at noon-day. Nature has bestowed mines on several parts of the world: but their riches are only for the industrious and frugal. Whomsoever else they visit, it is with the diligent and sober only they stay; and if the virtue and provident way of living of our ancestors (content with our native conveniencies of life, without the costly itch after the materials of pride and luxury from abroad) were brought in fashion and countenance again amongst us; this alone would do more to keep and increase our wealth, and enrich our land, than all our paper helps, about interest, money, bullion, &c. which however eagerly we may catch at, will not, I fear, without better husbandry, keep us from sinking, whatever contrivances we may have recourse to. It is with a kingdom as with a family. Spending less than our own commodities will pay for, is the sure and only way for the nation to grow rich; and when that begins once seriously to be considered, and our faces and steps are in earnest turned that way, we may hope to have our rents rise, and the public stock thrive again. Till then, we in vain, I fear, endeavour with noise, and weapons of law, to drive the wolf from our own to one another’s doors: the breed ought to be extirpated out of the island; for want, brought in by ill management, and nursed up by expensive vanity, will make the nation poor, and spare nobody.
If three millions were necessary for the carrying on the trade of England, whereof one million were for the landholder to maintain him; another were for the payment of the labourer and handicraftsman; and the third were the share of the brokers, coming to them for their care and pains in distributing; if one million of this money were gone out of the kingdom, must there not be one-third less to be shared amongst them for the product of their land, their labour and their distribution? I do not say they will feel it at the same time. But the landholder having nothing, but what the product of his land will yield; and the buyer, according to the plenty or scarcity of money he has, always setting the price upon what is offered to sale; the landholder must be content to take the market-rate for what he brings thither; which always following the scarcity or plenty of money, if any part of our money be gone, he is sure first to find it in the price of his commodities; for the broker and merchant, though he sell cheaper, yet he buys cheaper too: and he will be sure to get his returns, or let alone a commodity which will not produce him gain: and whatsoever is so let alone, and left in hand, always turns to the landholder’s loss.
Supposing that of our woollen manufacture, foreign markets took off one-half, and the other half were consumed amongst ourselves; if a sensible part (as one-third) of our coin were gone, and so men had equally one-third less money than they had, (for it is certain it must be tantamount, and what I escape of one-third less, another must make up) it would follow, that they would have less to lay out in clothes, as well as other things, and so would wear them longer, or pay less for them. If a clothier finds a want of vent, he must either sell cheaper, or not at all; if he sell cheaper, he must also pay less, both for wool and labour; and if the labourer hath less wages, he must also pay less for corn, butter, cheese, flesh, or else forbear some of these quite. In all which cases the price of wool, corn, flesh, and the other products of land are brought down, and the land bears the greatest part of the loss; for wherever the consumption, or vent of any commodity is stopt, there the stop continues on, till it comes to the landholder; and, wherever the price of any commodity begins to fall, how many hands soever there be between that and the landholder, they all take reprisals one upon another, till at last it comes to the landholder; and there the abatement of price of any of his commodities lessens his income and is a clear loss. The owner of land, which produces the commodity, and the last buyer who consumes it, are the two extremes in commerce; and through the falling of any sort of commodity in the landholder’s hand does not prove so to the last consumer, the arts of intervening brokers and engrossers keeping up the price to their own advantage, yet, whenever want of money, or want of desire in the consumer, makes the price low, that immediately reaches the first producer, nobody between having any interest to keep it up.
Now as to the two first causes of falling of rents, falling of interest has no influence at all. In the latter it has a great part, because it makes the money of England less, by making both Englishmen and foreigners withdraw, or withhold their money; for that which is not let loose into trade, is all one, whilst hoarded up, as if it were not in being.
I have heard it brought for a reason, why interest should be reduced to four per cent. “that thereby the landholder, who bears the burthen of the public charge, may be in some degree eased by the falling of interest.”
This argument will be but right, if you say it will ease the borrower, and lay the loss on the lender. But it concerns not the land in general, unless you will suppose all landholders in debt. But I hope we may yet think that men in England, who have land, have money too; and that landed men, as well as others, by their providence and good husbandry, accommodating their expences to their income, keep themselves from going backwards in the world.
That which is urged, as most deserving consideration and remedy in the case is, “that it is hard and unreasonable, that one, who has mortgaged half his land, should yet pay taxes for the whole, whilst the mortgage goes away with the clear profit of an high interest.” To this I answer,
1. That, if any man has run himself in debt for the service of his country, it is fit the public should reimburse him, and set him free. This is a care that becomes the public justice, that men, if they receive no rewards, should at least be kept from suffering, in having served their country. But I do not remember the polity of any nation, who altered their constitution in favour of those whose mismanagement had brought them behindhand; possibly, as thinking the public little beholden to those who had misemployed the stock of their country in the excess of their private expences, and by their example spread a fashion that carries ruin with it. Men’s paying taxes of mortgaged lands, is a punishment for ill husbandry, which ought to be discouraged: but it concerns very little the frugal and the thrifty.
2. Another thing to be said in reply to this, is, that it is with gentlemen in the country, as with tradesmen in the city. If they will own titles to greater estates than really they have, it is their own faults, and there is no way left to help them from paying for them. The remedy is in their own hands, to discharge themselves when they please; and when they have once sold their land, and paid their debts, they will no longer pay taxes, for what they own without being really theirs. There is another way also whereby they may be relieved, as well as a great many other inconveniencies remedied; and that is by a registry: for if the mortgages were registered, land-taxes might reach them, and order the lender to pay his proportion.
I have met with patrons of four per cent. who (amongst many other fine things they tell us of) affirm, “That if interest were reduced to four per cent. then some men would borrow money at this low rate, and pay their debts; others would borrow more than they now do, and improve their land; others would borrow more, and employ it in trade and manufacture.” Gilded words indeed, were there any thing substantial in them! These men talk as if they meant to show us not only the wisdom, but the riches of Solomon, and would make gold and silver as common as stones in the street: but at last, I fear, it will be but wit without money, and I wish it amount to that. It is without question, that could the countryman and the tradesman take up money cheaper than now they do, every man would be forward to borrow, and desire that he might have other men’s money to employ to his advantage. I confess, those who contend for four per cent. have found out a way to set men’s mouths a watering for money at that rate, and to increase the number of borrowers in England, if any body can imagine it would be an advantage to increase them. But to answer all their fine projects, I have but this one short question to ask them: Will four per cent. increase the number of the lenders? If it will not, as any man at the very first hearing will shrewdly suspect it will not, then all the plenty of money, these conjurers bestow upon us, for improvement of land, paying of debts, and advancement of trade, is but like the gold and silver, which old women believe other conjurers bestow sometimes, by whole lapfuls, on poor credulous girls, which, when they bring to the light, is found to be nothing but withered leaves; and the possessors of it are still as much in want of money as ever.
Indeed, I grant it would be well for England, and I wish it were so, that the plenty of money were so great amongst us, that every man could borrow as much as he could use in trade for four per cent.; nay, that men could borrow as much as they could employ for six per cent. But even at that rate, the borrowers already are far more than the lenders. Why else doth the merchant, upon occasion, pay six per cent. and often above that rate, for brokerage? And why doth the country gentleman of 1000l. per ann. find it so difficult, with all the security he can bring, to take up 1000l.? All which proceeds from the scarcity of money and bad security; two causes which will not be less powerful to hinder borrowing, after the lowering of interest; and I do not see how any one can imagine that reducing use to four per cent. should abate their force, or how lessening the reward of the lender, without diminishing his risque, should make him more forward and ready to lend. So that these men, whilst they talk that at four per cent. men would take up and employ more money to the public advantage, do but pretend to multiply the number of borrowers among us, of which it is certain we have too many already. While they thus set men a longing for the golden days of four per cent. methinks they use the poor indigent debtor, and needy tradesman, as I have seen prating jackdaws do sometimes their young, who, kawing and fluttering about the nest, set all their young ones a gaping, but having nothing in their empty mouths but noise and air, leave them as hungry as before.
It is true these men have found out by a cunning project, how, by the restraint of a law, to make the price of money one-third cheaper, and then they tell John a Nokes that he shall have 10,000l. of it to employ in merchandize, or clothing; and John a Stiles shall have 20,000l. more to pay his debts; and so distribute this money as freely as Diego did his legacies, which they are to have, even where they can get them. But till these men can instruct the forward borrowers, where they shall be furnished, they have perhaps done something to increase men’s desire, but not made money one jot easier to come by; and, till they do that, all this sweet jingling of money, in their discourses, goes just to the tune of “If all the world were oatmeal.” Methinks these undertakers, whilst they have put men in hopes of borrowing more plentifully, at easier rates, for the supply of their wants and trades, had done better to have bethought themselves of a way how men need not borrow upon use at all: for this would be much more advantageous, and altogether as feasible. It is as easy to distribute twenty pair of shoes amongst thirty men, if they pay nothing for them at all, as if they paid 4s. a pair; ten of them (notwithstanding the statute-rate should be reduced from 6s. to 4s. a pair) will be necessitated to sit still barefoot, as much as if they were to pay nothing for shoes at all. Just so it is in a country, that wants money in proportion to trade. It is as easy to contrive how every man shall be supplied with what money he needs (i. e. can employ in improvement of land, paying his debts, and returns of his trade) for nothing, as for four per cent. Either we have already more money than the owners will lend, or we have not. If part of the money which is now in England, will not be let at the rate interest is at present at, will men be more ready to lend, and borrowers be furnished for all those brave purposes more plentifully, when money is brought to four per cent.? If people do already lend all the money they have, above their own occasions, whence are those, who will borrow more at four per cent. to be supplied? Or is there such plenty of money, and scarcity of borrowers, that there needs the reducing of interest to four per cent. to bring men to take it?
All the imaginable ways of increasing money in any country are these two; either to dig it in the mines of our own, or get it from our neighbours. That four per cent. is not of the nature of the deusing-rod, or virgula divina, able to discover mines of gold and silver, I believe will easily be granted me. The way of getting from foreigners, is either by force, borrowing, or trade. And whatever ways, besides these, men may fancy, or propose, for increasing of money, (except they intend to set up for the philosopher’s stone) would be much the same with a distracted man’s device, that I knew, who, in the beginning of his distemper, first discovered himself to be out of his wits, by getting together and boiling a great number of groats, with a design, as he said, to make them plim, i. e. grow thicker. That four per cent. will raise armies, discipline soldiers, and make men valiant, and fitter to conquer countries, and enrich themselves with the spoils, I think was never pretended. And that it will not bring in more of our neighbour’s money upon loan, than we have at present among us, is so visible in itself, that it will not need any proof; the contenders for four per cent. looking upon it as an undeniable truth, and making use of it as an argument, to show the advantage it will be to the nation, by lessening the use paid to foreigners, who upon falling of use will take home their money. And, for the last way of increasing our money, by promoting of trade, how much lowering of interest is the way to that, I have, I suppose, showed you already.
Having lately met with a little tract, entitled, “A Letter to a friend concerning usury,” printed this present year, 1660; which gives, in short, the arguments of some treatises, printed many years since, for the lowering of interest; it may not be amiss briefly to consider them.
“An high interest decays trade. The advantage from interest is greater than the profit from trade, which makes the rich merchants give over, and put out their stock to interest, and the lesser merchants break.”
Answ. This was printed in 1621, when interest was at ten per cent. And whether England had ever a more flourishing trade than at that time, must be left to the judgment of those who have considered the growing strength and riches of this kingdom in queen Elizabeth’s and king James I.’s reigns. Not that I impute it to high interest, but to other causes, I have mentioned, wherein usury had nothing to do. But if this be thought an argument now in 1690, when the legal interest is six per cent. I desire those, who think fit to make use of it, to name those rich merchants, who have given over, and put out their stocks to interest.
2. “Interest being at ten per cent. and in Holland at six, our neighbour-merchants undersell us.”
Answ. The legal interest being here now at six per cent. and in Holland not limited by law, our neighbour merchants undersell us, because they live more frugally, and are content with less profit.
3. “Interest being lower in Holland than in England, their contributions to war, works of piety, and all charges of the state, are cheaper to them than to us.”
Answ. This needs a little explication. Contributions, greater or less, I understand; but contributions cheaper or dearer, I confess I do not. If they manage their wars and charges cheaper than we, the blame is not to be laid on high or low interest.
4. “Interest being so high, prevents the building of shipping, which is the strength and safety of our island, most merchant-ships being built in Holland.”
Answ. Though this argument be now gone, such ships being prohibited by a law, I will help the author to one as good. The Dutch buy our rape-seed, make it into oil, bring it back to us, and sell it with advantage. This may be as well said to be from high interest here, and low there. But the truth is, the industry and frugality of that people, makes them content to work cheaper, and sell at less profit than their neighbours, and so get the trade from them.
5. “The high rate of usury makes land sell so cheap, being not worth more than fourteen or fifteen years purchase; whereas in Holland, where interest is at six, it is worth above twenty-five. So that a low interest raises the price of land. Where money is dear, land is cheap.”
Answ. This argument plainly confesses, that there is something else, regulates the price of land, besides the rate of interest; else, when money was at ten per cent. here, should land have been at ten years purchase, whereas he confesses it then to have been at fourteen or fifteen. One may suppose, to favour his hypothesis, he was not forward to speak the most of it. And interest, as he says, being at six per cent. in Holland, land there should have sold, by that rule, for sixteen and an half year’s purchase; whereas he says it was worth about twenty-five. And Mr. Manly says, p. 33. “That money in France being at seven per cent. noble land sells for thirty-four and thirty-five years purchase, and ordinary land for twenty-five.” So that the true conclusion from hence is, not what our author makes, but this, That it is not the legal interest, but something else, that governs the rate of land. I grant his position, That where money is dear, land is cheap, and vice versa. But it must be so by the natural, not legal interest. For, where money will be lent on good security, at four or five per cent. it is a demonstration that there is more than will be ventured on ordinary credit in trade. And when this plenty becomes general, it is a sign there is more money than can be employed in trade; which cannot but put many upon seeking purchases, to lay it out in land, and so raise the price of land, by making more buyers than sellers.
6. “It is not probable lenders will call in their money, when they cannot make greater interest any where. Besides, their security upon land will be better.”
Answ. Some unskilful and timorous men will call in their money; others put it into the bankers hands. But the bankers, and skilful will keep it up, and not lend it, but at the natural use, as we have shown. But how securities will be mended, by lowering of interest, is, I confess, beyond my comprehension.
Of raising our Coin.
Being now upon the consideration of interest and money, give me leave to say one word more on this occasion, which may not be wholly unseasonable at this time. I hear a talk up and down of raising our money, as a means to retain our wealth, and keep our money from being carried away. I wish those, that use the phrase of raising our money, had some clear notion annexed to it; and that then they would examine, “Whether, that being true, it would at all serve to those ends, for which it is proposed?”
The raising of money, then, signifies one of these two things; either raising the value of our money, or raising the denomination of our coin.
The raising the value of money, or any thing else, is nothing, but the making a less quantity of it exchange for any other thing, than would have been taken for it before; v. g. If 5s. will exchange for, or, (as we call it) buy a bushel of wheat; if you can make 4s. buy another bushel of the same wheat, it is plain the value of your money is raised, in respect of wheat, one fifth. But thus nothing can raise, or fall the value of your money, but the proportion of its plenty or scarcity, in proportion to the plenty, scarcity, or vent of any other commodity, with which you compare it, or for which you would exchange it. And thus silver, which makes the intrinsic value of money, compared with itself, under any stamp, or denomination of the same, or different countries, cannot be raised. For an ounce of silver, whether in pence, groats, or crown-pieces, stivers, or ducatoons, or in bullion, is, and always eternally will be, of equal value to any other ounce of silver, under what stamp or denomination soever; unless it can be shown that any stamp can add any new or better qualities to one parcel of silver, which another parcel of silver wants.
Silver, therefore, being always of equal value to silver, the value of coin, compared with coin, is greater, less, or equal, only as it has more, less, or equal silver in it: and in this respect, you can by no manner of way raise, or fall your money. Indeed most of the silver of the world, both in money and vessels, being alloyed, (i. e. mixed with some baser metals) fine silver, (i. e. silver separated from all alloy) is usually dearer than so much silver alloyed, or mixed with baser metals. Because, besides the weight of the silver, those who have need of fine (i. e. unmixed silver; as gilders, wire-drawers, &c.) must, according to their need, besides an equal weight of silver, mixed with other metals, give an overplus to reward the refiner’s skill and pains. And in this case, fine silver and alloyed or mixed silver, are considered as two distinct commodities. But no money being coined here, or almost any where, of pure, fine silver, this concerns not the value of money at all; wherein an equal quantity of silver is always of the same value with an equal quantity of silver, let the stamp or denomination be what it will.
All then, that can be done in this great mystery of raising money, is only to alter the denomination, and call that a crown now, which before, by the law, was but a part of a crown. For example: supposing, according to the standard of our law, 5s. or a crown, were to weigh an ounce, (as it does now, wanting about 16 grains) whereof one twelfth were copper, and eleven twelfths silver, for thereabouts it is) it is plain here, it is the quantity of silver gives the value to it. For let another piece be coined of the same weight, wherein half the silver is taken out, and copper, or other alloy, put into the place, every one knows it will be worth but half as much. For the value of the alloy is so inconsiderable as not to be reckoned. This crown now must be raised, and from henceforth our crown-pieces coined one twentieth lighter; which is nothing but changing the denomination, calling that a crown now, which yesterday was but a part, viz. nineteen twentieths of a crown; whereby you have only raised 19 parts to the denomination formerly given to 20. For I think nobody can be so senseless as to imagine, that 19 grains or ounces of silver can be raised to the value of 20; or that 19 grains or ounces of silver shall at the same time exchange for, or buy as much corn, oil, or wine, as 20; which is to raise it to the value of 20. For if 19 ounces of silver can be worth 20 ounces of silver, or pay for as much of any other commodity, then 18, 10, or one ounce may do the same. For, if the abating one twentieth of the quantity of the silver of any coin, does not lessen its value, the abating nineteen twentieths of the quantity of the silver of any coin, will not abate its value. And so a single three-pence, or a single penny, being called a crown, will buy as much spice, or silk, or any other commodity, as a crown-piece, which contains 20 or 60 times as much silver: which is an absurdity so great, that I think nobody will want eyes to see, and sense to disown.
Now this raising your money, or giving a less quantity of silver the stamp and denomination of a greater, may be done two ways.
1. By raising one species of your money.
2. By raising all your silver coin, at once proportionably; which is the thing, I suppose, now proposed.
1. The raising of one species of your coin, beyond its intrinsic value, is done by coining any one species, (which in account bears such a proportion to the other species of your coin) with less silver in it, than is required by that value it bears in your money.
For example: a crown with us goes for 60 pence, a shilling for 12 pence, a tester for 6 pence, and a groat for 4 pence: and accordingly, the proportion of silver in each of them ought to be as 60, 12, 6, and 4. Now, if in the mint there should be coined groats, or testers, that, being of the same alloy with our other money, had but two thirds of the weight, that those species are coined at now; or else, being of the same weight, were so alloyed, as to have one third of the silver, required by the present standard, changed into copper, and should thus, by law, be made current; (the rest of your silver money being kept to the present standard in weight and fineness) it is plain, those species would be raised one third part; that passing for 6d. which had but the silver of 4d. in it; and would be all one, as if a groat should by law be made current for 6d. and every 6d. in payment pass for 9d. This is truly raising these species: but is no more in effect, than if the mint should coin clipped money; and has, besides the cheat that is put by such base, or light money, on every particular man that receives it, that he wants one third of that real value, which the public ought to secure him, in the money it obliges him to receive, as lawful and current. It has, I say, this great and unavoidable inconvenience to the public, that, besides the opportunity it gives to domestic coiners to cheat you with lawful money, it puts it into the hands of foreigners to fetch away your money, without any commodities for it. For if they find that two-penny weight of silver, marked with a certain impression, shall here in England be equivalent to 3d. weight marked with another impression, they will not fail to stamp pieces of that fashion; and so importing that base and low coin, will, here in England, receive 3d. for 2d. and quickly carry away your silver in exchange for copper, or barely the charge of coinage.
This is unavoidable in all countries, where any one species of their money is disproportionate in its intrinsic value, (i. e. in its due proportion of silver to the rest of the money of that country) an inconvenience so certainly attending the allowance of any base species of money to be current, that the king of France could not avoid it, with all his watchfulness. For though, by edict, he made his 4 sols pieces (whereof 15 were to pass for a French crown, though 20 of them had not so much silver in them, as was in a French crown-piece) pass in the inland parts of his kingdom, 15 for a crown in all payments; yet he durst not make them current in the sea-port towns, for fear that should give an opportunity to their importation. But yet this caution served not the turn; they were still imported: and by this means a great loss and damage brought upon his country. So that he was forced to cry them down, and sink them to near their intrinsic value. Whereby a great many particular men, who had quantities of that species in their hands, lost a great part of their estates; and every one, that had any, lost proportionably by it.
If we had groats, or six-pences, current by law amongst us, that wanted one third of the silver, which they now have by the standard, to make them of equal value to our other species of money; who can imagine, that our neighbours would not presently pour in quantities of such money upon us, to the great loss and prejudice of the kingdom? The quantity of silver, that is in each piece, or species of coin, being that which makes its real and intrinsic value, the due proportions of silver ought to be kept in each species, according to the respective rate, set on each of them by law. And, when this is ever varied from, it is but a trick to serve some present occasion; but is always with loss to the country, where the trick is played.
2. The other way of raising money is by raising all your silver coin at once, the proportion of a crown, a shilling, and a penny, in reference to one another, being still kept, (viz. That a shilling shall weigh one fifth of a crown-piece, and a penny-weight one twelfth of a shilling, in standard silver) but out of every one of these, you abate one twentieth of the silver, they were wont to have in them.
If all the species of money be, as it is called, raised, by making each of them to have one twentieth less of silver in them than formerly: and so your whole money be lighter than it was: these following will be some of the consequences of it.
1. It will rob all creditors of one twentieth (or 5 per cent.) of their debts, and all landlords one twentieth of their quit-rents for ever; and in all other rents, as far as their former contracts reach, (of 5 per cent.) of their yearly income; and this without any advantage to the debtor, or farmer. For he, receiving no more pounds sterling for his land or commodities, in this new lighter coin, than he should have done of your old and weightier money, gets nothing by it. If you say, Yes, he will receive more crown, half-crown, and shilling pieces, for what he now sells for new money, than he should have done if the money of the old standard had continued; you confess your money is not raised in value, but in denomination: since what your new pieces want in weight must now be made up in their number. But, which way soever this falls, it is certain, the public (which most men think ought to be the only reason of changing a settled law, and disturbing the common current course of things) receives not the least profit by it. Nay, as we shall see by and by, it will be a great charge and loss to the kingdom. But this, at first sight, is visible, That in all payments to be received upon precedent contracts, if your money be in effect raised, the receiver will lose 5 per cent. For money having been lent, and leases and other bargains made, when money was of the same weight and fineness, that it is now, upon confidence that under the same names of pounds, shillings, and pence, they should receive the same value, i. e. the same quantity of silver, by giving the denomination now to less quantities of silver by one twentieth, you take from them 5 per cent. of their due.
When men go to market, to buy any other commodities with their new, but lighter money, they will find 20s. of their new money will buy no more of any commodity than 19 would before. For it not being the denomination, but the quantity of silver, that gives the value to any coin, 19 grains or parts, of silver, however denominated or marked, will no more be worth, or pass for, or buy so much of any other commodity, as 20 grains of silver will, than 19s. will pass for 20s. If any one thinks a shilling, or a crown in name, has its value from the denomination, and not from the quantity of silver in it, let it be tried; and hereafter let a penny be called a shilling, or a shilling be called a crown. I believe nobody would be content to receive his debts, or rents in such money: which, though the law should raise thus, yet he foresees he should lose eleven twelfths by the one, and by the other four fifths of the value he received; and would find his new shilling, which had no more silver in it than one twelfth of what a shilling had before, would buy him of corn, cloth, or wine, but one twelfth of what an old shilling would. This is as plainly so in the raising, as you call it, your crown to 5s. and 3d. or (which is the same thing) making your crown one twentieth lighter in silver. The only difference is, that the loss is so great (it being eleven twelfths), that every body sees, and abhors it at first proposal; but, in the other (it being but one twentieth, and covered with the deceitful name of raising our money) people do not readily observe it. If it be good to raise the crown-piece this way, one twentieth this week, I suppose it will be as good and profitable to raise it as much again the next week. For there is no reason, why it will not be as good to raise it again, another one twentieth, the next week, and so on; wherein, if you proceed but ten weeks successively, you will, by new-year’s day next, have every half-crown raised to a crown, to the loss of one half of people’s debts and rents, and the king’s revenue, besides the confusion of all your affairs: and, if you please to go on in this beneficial way of raising your money, you may, by the same art, bring a penny-weight of silver to be a crown.
Silver, i. e. the quantity of pure silver, separable from the alloy, makes the real value of money. If it does not, coin copper with the same stamp and denomination, and see whether it will be of the same value. I suspect your stamp will make it of no more worth than the copper money of Ireland is, which is its weight in copper, and no more. That money lost so much to Ireland, as it passed for, above the rate of copper. But yet I think nobody suffered so much by it as he by whose authority it was made current.
If silver give the value, you will say, what need is there then of the charge of coinage? May not men exchange silver by weight for other things; make their bargains, and keep their accounts in silver by weight? This might be done, but it has these inconveniences:
- 1. The weighing of silver to every one we had occasion to pay it to would be very troublesome, for every one must carry about scales in his pocket.
- 2. Scales would not do the business; for in the next place every one cannot distinguish between fine and mixed silver: so that though he received the full weight, he was not sure he received the full weight of silver, since there might be a mixture of some of the baser metals, which he was not able to discern. Those who have had the care and government of politic societies, introduced coinage, as a remedy to those two inconveniencies. The stamp was a warrantry of the public, that, under such a denomination, they should receive a piece of such a weight, and such a fineness; that is, they should receive so much silver. And this is the reason why the counterfeiting the stamp is made the highest crime, and has the weight of treason laid upon it: because the stamp is the public voucher of the intrinsic value. The royal authority gives the stamp, the law allows and confirms the denomination, and both together give, as it were, the public faith as a security, that sums of money contracted for under such denominations shall be of such a value, that is, shall have in them so much silver; for it is silver, and not names, that pays debts, and purchases commodities. If therefore I have contracted for twenty crowns, and the law then has required, that each of those crowns should have an ounce of silver; it is certain my bargain is not made good, I am defrauded (and whether the public faith be not broken with me, I leave to be considered) if, paying me twenty crowns, the law allots them to be such as have but nineteen twentieths of the silver they ought to have, and really had in them, when I made my contract.
2. It diminishes all the king’s revenue 5 per cent. For though the same number of pounds, shillings, and pence are paid into the exchequer, as were wont, yet these names being given to coin that have each of them one twentieth less of silver in them; and that being not a secret concealed from strangers, no more than from his own subjects; they will sell the king no more pitch, tar, or hemp, for 20 shillings, after the raising your money, than they would before for 19: or, to speak in the ordinary phrase, they will raise their commodities 5 per cent. as you have raised your money 5 per cent. And it is well if they stop there. For usually in such changes, an outcry being made of your lessening your coin, those, who have to deal with you, taking the advantage of the alarm, to secure themselves from any loss by your new trick, raise their price even beyond the par of your lessening your coin.
I hear of two inconveniences complained of, which it is proposed by this project to remedy.
The one is, the melting down of our coin: the other, the carrying away of our bullion. These are both inconveniencies which, I fear, we lie under: but neither of them will be in the least removed, or prevented, by the proposed alteration of our money.
1. It is past doubt that our money is melted down The reason whereof is evidently the cheapness of coinage. For a tax on wine paying the coinage, the particular owners pay nothing for it. So that 100 ounces of silver coined comes to the owner at the same rate, as 100 ounces of standard silver in bullion. For delivering into the mint his silver in bars, he has the same quantity of silver delivered out to him again in coin, without any charges to him. Whereby, if at any time he has occasion for bullion, it is the same thing to melt down our milled money, as to buy bullion from abroad, or take it in exchange for other commodities. Thus our mint, to the only advantage of our officers, but at the public cost, labours in vain, as will be found. But yet this makes you not have one jot less money in England, than you would have otherwise; but only makes you coin that, which otherwise would not have been coined, nor perhaps been brought hither: and, being not brought hither by an over-balance of your exportation, cannot stay when it is here. It is not any sort of coinage does, or can keep your money here; that wholly and only depends upon the balance of your trade. And had all the money in king Charles the II. and king James the II.’s time been minted, according to this new proposal, this raised money would have been gone, as well as the other, and the remainder been no more, nor no less than it is now. Though I doubt not but the mint would have coined as much of it, as it has of our present milled money. The short is this: an over-balance of trade with Spain brings you in bullion; cheap coinage, when it is here, carries it into the mint, and money is made of it; but, if your exportation will not balance your importation in other parts of your trade, away must your silver go again, whether monied, or not monied. For where goods do not, silver must, pay for the commodities you spend.
That this is so will appear by the books of the mint, where may be seen how much milled money has been coined in the two last reigns. And in a paper I have now in my hands (supposed written by a man not wholly ignorant in the mint) it is confessed, that whereas one third of the current payments were some time since of milled money, there is not now one twentieth. Gone then it is: but let not any one mistake and think it gone, because in our present coinage an ounce wanting about 16 grains, is denominated a crown: or that (as is now proposed) an ounce wanting about 40 grains, being coined in one piece, and denominated a crown, would have stopped it, or will (if our money be so altered) for the future fix it here. Coin what quantity of silver you please in one piece, and give it the denomination of a crown; when your money is to go, to pay your foreign debts (or else it will not go out at all), your heavy money (i. e. that which is weight according to its denomination, by the standard of the mint) will be that which will be melted down, or carried away in coin by the exporter, whether the pieces of each species be by the law bigger, or less. For, whilst coinage is wholly paid for by a tax, whatever your size of money be, he that has need of bullion to send beyond sea, or of silver to make plate, need but take milled money and melt it down, and he has it as cheap as if it were in pieces of eight, or other silver coming from abroad; the stamp, which so well secures the weight of the milled money, costing nothing at all.
To this perhaps will be said, That if this be the effect of milled money, that it is so apt to be melted down, it were better to return to the old way of coining by the hammer. To which I answer, By no means. For,
1. Coinage by the hammer less secures you from having a great part of your money melted down. For in that way there being a greater inequality in the weight of the pieces, some being too heavy, and some too light; those, who know how to make their advantage of it, cull out the heavy pieces, melt them down, and make a benefit of the over-weight.
2. Coinage by the hammer exposes you much more to the danger of false coin. Because the tools are easily made and concealed, and the work carried on with fewer hands, and less noise than a mill; whereby false coiners are less liable to discovery.
3. The pieces not being so round, even, and fairly stamped, nor marked on the edges, are exposed to clipping, which milled money is not.
Milled money is, therefore, certainly best for the public. But, whatever be the cause of melting down our milled money, I do not see how raising our money (as they call it) will at all hinder its being melted down. For if our crown-pieces should be coined one twentieth lighter, why should that hinder them from being melted down, more than now? The intrinsic value of the silver is not altered, as we have shown already: therefore that temptation to melt them down remains the same as before.
“But they are lighter by one twentieth.” That cannot hinder them from being melted down. For half-crowns are lighter by half, and yet that preserves them not.
“But they are of less weight under the same denomination, and therefore they will not be melted down.” That is true, if any of these present crowns, that are one twentieth heavier, are current for crowns at the same time. For then they will no more melt down the new light crowns, than they will the old clipped ones, which are no more worth in coin and tale, than in weight and bullion. But it cannot be supposed, that men will part with their old and heavier money, at the same rate that the lighter new coin goes at, and pay away their old crowns for 5s. in tale, when at the mint they will yield them 5s. 3d. And then if an old milled crown goes for 5s. 3d. and a new milled crown (being so much lighter) goes for a crown, What, I pray, will be the odds of melting down the one, or the other? The one has one twentieth less silver in it, and goes for one twentieth less; and so being weight, they are melted down upon equal terms. If it be a convenience to melt one, it will be as much a convenience to melt the other; just as it is the same convenience to melt milled half-crowns as milled crowns, the one having, with half the quantity of silver, half the value. When the money is all brought to the new rate, i. e. to be one twentieth lighter, and commodities raised as they will proportionably, what shall hinder the melting down of your money then, more than now, I would fain know? If it be coined then, as it is now, gratis, a crown-piece, (let it be of what weight soever) will be, as it is now, just worth its own weight in bullion of the same fineness; for the coinage which is the manufactory about it, and makes all the difference, costing nothing, what can make the difference of value? And therefore, whoever wants bullion, will as cheaply melt down these new crowns, as buy bullion with them. The raising of your money cannot then (the act for free coinage standing) hinder its being melted down.
Nor, in the next place, much less can it, as it is pretended, hinder the exportation of our bullion. Any denomination, or stamp, we shall give to silver here, will neither give silver a higher value in England, nor make it less prized abroad. So much silver will always be worth (as we have already showed) so much silver, given in exchange one for another. Nor will it, when in your mint a less quantity of it is raised to a higher denomination (as when nineteen twentieths of an ounce has the denomination of a crown, which formerly belonged only to the whole 20) be one jot raised, in respect of any other commodity.
You have raised the denomination of your stamped silver one twentieth, or, which is all one, 5 per cent. And men will presently raise their commodities 5 per cent. So that if yesterday 20 crowns would exchange for twenty bushels of wheat, or 20 yards of a certain sort of cloth, if you will to-day coin current crowns one-twentieth lighter, and make them the standard, you will find 20 crowns will exchange for but 19 bushels of wheat, or 19 yards of that cloth, which will be just as much silver for a bushel, as yesterday. So that silver being of no more real value, by your giving the same denomination to a less quantity of it; this will no more bring in, or keep your bullion here, than if you had done nothing. If this were otherwise, you would be beholden (as some people foolishly imagine) to the clippers for keeping your money. For if keeping the old denomination to a less quantity of silver be raising your money (as in effect it is all that is, or can be done in it, by this project of making your coin lighter) the clippers have sufficiently done that: and if their trade go on a little while longer, at the rate it has of late, and your milled money be melted down and carried away, and no more coined; your money will, without the charge of new coinage, be, by that sort of artificers, raised above five per cent. when all your current money shall be clipped, and made above one twentieth lighter than the standard, preserving still its former denomination.
It will possibly be here objected to me, That we see 100l. of clipped money, above 5 per cent. lighter than the standard, will buy as much corn, cloth, or wine, as 100l. in milled money, which is above one twentieth heavier: whereby it is evident that my rule fails, and that it is not the quantity of silver that gives the value to money, but its stamp and denomination. To which I answer, That men make their estimate and contracts according to the standard, upon supposition they shall receive good and lawful money, which is that of full weight: and so in effect they do, whilst they receive the current money of the country. For since 100l. of clipped money will pay a debt of 100l. as well as the weightiest milled money; and a new crown out of the mint will pay for no more flesh, fruit, or cloth, than five clipped shillings; it is evident that they are equivalent as to the purchase of any thing here at home, whilst nobody scruples to take five clipped shillings, in exchange for a weighty milled crown. But this will be quite otherwise as soon as you change your coin, and (to raise it as you call it) make your money one twentieth lighter in the mint; for then nobody will any more give an old crown of the former standard for one of the new, than he will now give you 5s. and 3d. for a crown: for so much then his old crown will yield him at the mint.
Clipped and unclipped money will always buy an equal quantity of any thing else, as long as they will without scruple change one for another. And this makes, that the foreign merchant, who comes to sell his goods to you, always counts upon the value of your money, by the silver that is in it, and estimates the quantity of silver by the standard of your mint; though perhaps by reason of clipped, or worn money amongst it, any sum that is ordinarily received is much lighter than the standard, and so has less silver in it than what is in a like sum, new coined in the mint. But whilst clipped and weighty money will equally change one for another, it is all one to him, whether he receives his money in clipped money or no, so it be but current. For if he buy other commodities here with his money, whatever sum he contracts for, clipped as well as weighty money equally pays for it. If he would carry away the price of his commodity in ready cash, it is easily changed into weighty money: and then he has not only the sum in tale that he contracted for, but the quantity of silver he expected, for his commodities, according to the standard of our mint. If the quantity of your clipped money be once grown so great, that the foreign merchant cannot (if he has a mind to it) easily get weighty money for it, but having sold his merchandize, and received clipped money, finds a difficulty to procure what is weight for it; he will, in selling his goods, either contract to be paid in weighty money, or else raise the price of his commodity, according to the diminished quantity of silver, in your current coin.
In Holland (ducatoons being the best money of the country, as well as the largest coin) men in payments received and paid those indifferently with the other money of the country; till of late the coining of other species of money, of baser alloy, and in greater quantities, having made the ducatoons, either by melting down, or exportation, scarcer than formerly, it became difficult to change the baser money into ducatoons; and since that, nobody will pay a debt in ducatoons, unless he be allowed half per cent. or more, above the value they were coined for.
To understand this, we must take notice, That guilders is the denomination, that in Holland they usually compute by, and make their contracts in. A ducatoon formerly passed at three guilders and three stuyvers, or sixty-three stuyvers. There were then (some years since) begun to be coined another piece, which was called a three guilders piece, and was ordered to pass for three guilders, or sixty stuyvers. But 21 three guilders pieces, which were to pass for 63 guilders, not having so much silver in them as 20 ducatoons, which passed for the same sum of 63 guilders, the ducatoons were either melted down in their mints (for the making of these three guilders pieces, or yet baser money, with profit) or were carried away by foreign merchants; who, when they carried back the product of their sale in money, would be sure to receive their payment of the number of guilders they contracted for in ducatoons, or change the money they received into ducatoons: whereby they carried home more silver, than if they had taken their payment in three guilders pieces, or any other species. Thus ducatoons became scarce. So that now, he that will be paid in ducatoons, must allow half per cent. for them. And therefore the merchants, when they sell any thing now, either make their bargain to be paid in ducatoons; or if they contract for guilders in general, (which will be sure to be paid them in the baser money of the country) they raise the price of their commodities accordingly.
By this example, in a neighbour country, we may see how our new milled money goes away. When foreign trade imports more than our commodities will pay for, it is certain we must contract debts beyond sea, and those must be paid with money, when either we cannot furnish, or they will not take our goods to discharge them. To have money beyond sea to pay our debts, when our commodities do not raise it, there is no other way but to send it thither. And since a weighty crown costs no more here than a light one, and our coin beyond sea is valued no otherwise than according to the quantity of silver it has in it, whether we send it in specie, or whether we melt it down here to send it in bullion, (which is the safest way, as not being prohibited) the weightiest is sure to go. But when so great a quantity of your money is clipped, or so great a part of your weighty money is carried away, that the foreign merchant, or his factor here, cannot have his price paid in weighty money, or such as will easily be changed into it, then every one will see (when men will no longer take five clipped shillings for a milled, or weighty crown) that it is the quantity of silver that buys commodities and pays debts, and not the stamp and denomination which is put upon it. And then too it will be seen what a robbery is committed on the public by clipping. Every grain diminished from the just weight of our money, is so much loss to the nation, which will one time or other be sensibly felt; and which, it it be not taken care of, and speedily stopped, will in that enormous course it is now in, quickly, I fear, break out into open ill effects, and at one blow deprive us of a great part (perhaps near one fourth) of our money. For that will be really the case, when the increase of clipped money makes it hard to get weighty: when men begin to put a difference of value between that which is weighty, and light money; and will not sell their commodities, but for money that is weight, and will make their bargains accordingly.
Let the country gentleman, when it comes to that pass, consider, what the decay of his estate will be? When, receiving his rent in the tale of clipped shillings, according to his bargain, he cannot get them to pass at market for more than their weight. And he that sells him salt, or silk, will bargain for 5s. such a quantity, if he pays him in fair weighty coin, but in clipped money he will not take under 5s. 3d. Here you see you have your money, without this new trick of coinage, raised five per cent. But whether to any advantage of the kingdom, I leave every one to judge.
Hitherto we have only considered the raising of silver coin, and that has been, only by coining it, with less silver in it, under the same denomination. There is another way yet of raising money, which has something more of reality, though as little good in it as the former. This too, now that we are upon the chapter of raising money, it may not be unseasonable to open a little. The raising I mean, is, when either of the two richer metals, (which money is usually made of) is by law raised above its natural value, in respect of the other. Gold and silver have, in almost all ages and parts of the world (where money was used) generally been thought the fittest materials to make it of. But there being a great disproportion in the plenty of these metals in the world, one has always been valued much higher than the other; so that one ounce of gold has exchanged for several ounces of silver: as at present, our guinea passing for 21s. 6d. in silver, gold is now about fifteen and an half times more worth than silver: there being about fifteen and an half times more silver in 21s. 6d. than there is gold in a guinea. This being now the market-rate of gold to silver; if by an established law the rate of guineas should be set higher, (as to 22s. 6d.) they would be raised indeed, but to the loss of the kingdom. For by this law, gold being raised five per cent. above its natural true value, foreigners would find it worth while to send their gold hither, and so fetch away our silver at five per cent. profit, and so much loss to us. For when so much gold as would purchase but 100 ounces of silver any where else, will in England purchase the merchant 105 ounces, what shall hinder him from bringing his gold to so good a market; and either selling it at the mint, where it will yield so much, or having it coined into guineas? And then (going to market with his guineas) he may buy our commodities at the advantage of five per cent. in the very sort of his money; or change them into silver, and carry that away with him.
On the other side, if by a law you would raise your silver money, and make four crowns, or 20s. in silver, equal to a guinea, at which rate I suppose it was first coined, so that by your law a guinea should pass but for 20s. the same inconveniency would follow. For then strangers would bring in silver and carry away your gold, which was to be had here at a lower rate than any where else.
If you say, that this inconvenience is not to be feared; for that as soon as people found, that gold began to grow scarce, or that it was more worth than the law set upon it, they would not then part with it at the statute rate, as we see the broad pieces that were coined in king James the first’s time for 20s. nobody will now part with under 23s. or more, according to the market value: this I grant is true, and it does plainly confess the foolishness of making a law, which cannot produce the effect it is made for: as indeed it will not, when you would raise the price of silver, in respect of gold, above its natural market value: for then, as we see in our gold, the price of it will raise itself. But on the other side, if you should by a law set the value of gold above its par; then people would be bound to receive it at that high rate, and so part with their silver at an under value. But supposing, that having a mind to raise your silver in respect of gold, you make a law to do it, what comes of that? If your law prevail, only this; that, as much as you raise silver, you debase gold, (for they are in the condition of two things, put in opposite scales, as much as the one rises the other falls) and then your gold will be carried away with so much clear loss to the kingdom, as you raise silver and debase gold by your law, below their natural value. If you raise gold in proportion to silver, the same effect follows.
I say, raise silver in respect of gold, and gold in proportion to silver. For when you would raise the value of money, fancy what you will, it is but in respect of something you would change it for; and is done only when you can make a less quantity of the metal, which your money is made of, change for a greater quantity of that thing which you would raise it to.
The effect indeed, and ill consequence of raising either of these two metals, in respect of the other, is more easily observed, and sooner found in raising gold than silver coin; because your accounts being kept, and your reckonings all made in pounds, shillings, and pence, which are denominations of silver coins, or numbers of them; if gold be made current at a rate above the free and market value of those two metals, every one will easily perceive the inconvenience. But there being a law for it, you cannot refuse the gold in payment for so much. And all the money, or bullion people will carry beyond sea from you, will be in silver; and the money, or bullion, brought in, will be in gold. And just the same will happen, when your silver is raised and gold debased, in respect of one another, beyond their true and natural proportion: (natural proportion or value I call that respective rate they find, any where, without the prescription of law.) For then silver will be that which is brought in, and gold will be carried out; and that still with loss to the kingdom, answerable to the over-value set by the law. Only as soon as the mischief is felt, people will (do what you can) raise the gold to its natural value. For your accounts and bargains being made in the denomination of silver money; if, when gold is raised above its proportion, by the law, you cannot refuse it in payment (as if the law should make a guinea current at 22s. 6d.) you are bound to take it at that rate in payment. But if the law should make guineas current at 20s. he that has them is not bound to pay them away at that rate, but may keep them if he pleases, or get more for them, if he can: yet, from such a law, one of these things will follow. Either, 1st, The law forces them to go at 20s. and then being found passing at that rate, foreigners make their advantage of it: Or, 2dly, People keep them up, and will not part with them at the legal rate, understanding them really to be worth more, and then all your gold lies dead, and is of no more use to trade, than if it were all gone out of the kingdom: Or, 3dly, It passes for more than the law allows, and then your law signifies nothing, and had been better let alone. Which way soever it succeeds, it proves either prejudicial, or ineffectual. If the design of your law takes place, the kingdom loses by it: if the inconvenience be felt and avoided, your law is eluded.
Money is the measure of commerce, and of the rate of every thing, and therefore, ought to be kept (as all other measures) as steady and invariable as may be. But this cannot be, if your money be made of two metals, whose proportion, and, consequently, whose price, constantly varies in respect of one another. Silver, for many reasons, is the fittest of all metals to be this measure; and therefore generally made use of for money. But then it is very unfit and inconvenient that gold, or any other metal, should be made current, legal money, at a standing, settled rate. This is to set a rate upon the varying value of things by law, which justly cannot be done; and is, as I have showed, as far as it prevails, a constant damage and prejudice to the country, where it is practised. Suppose fifteen to one be now the exact par between gold and silver, what law can make it lasting; and establish it so, that next year, or twenty years hence, this shall be the just value of gold to silver; and that one ounce of gold shall be just worth fifteen ounces of silver, neither more or less? It is possible, the East-India trade sweeping away great sums of gold, may make it scarcer in Europe. Perhaps the Guinea trade, and mines of Peru, affording it in greater abundance, may make it more plentiful; and so its value, in respect of silver, come on the one side to be as sixteen, or, on the other, as fourteen to one. And can any law you shall make alter this proportion here, when it is so every-where else, round about you? If your law set it at fifteen, when it is at the free market rate, in the neighbouring countries, as sixteen to one; will they not send hither their silver to fetch away your gold, at one-sixteen loss to you? Or if you will keep its rate to silver as fifteen to one, when in Holland, France, and Spain, its market value is but fourteen; will they not send hither their gold, and fetch away your silver, at one-fifteen loss to you? This is unavoidable, if you will make money of both gold and silver, at the same time, and set rates upon them by law, in respect of one another.
What then! (will you be ready to say) Would you have gold kept out of England? Or, being here, would you have it useless to trade; and must there be no money made of it? I answer, quite the contrary. It is fit the kingdom should make use of the treasure it has. It is necessary your gold should be coined, and have the king’s stamp upon it, to secure men in receiving it, that there is so much gold in each piece. But it is not necessary that it should have a fixed value set on it, by public authority: it is not convenient that it should, in its varying proportion, have a settled price. Let gold, as other commodities, find its own rate. And when, by the king’s image and description, it carries with it a public assurance of its weight and fineness; the gold money, so coined, will never fail to pass at the known market rates, as readily as any other species of your money. Twenty guineas, though designed at first for 201. go now as current for 211. 10s. as any other money, and sometimes for more, as the rate varies. The value or price, of any thing, being only the respective estimate it bears to some other, which it comes in competition with, can only be known by the quantity of the one, which will exchange for a certain quantity of the other. There being no two things in nature, whose proportion and use does not vary, it is impossible to set a standing, regular price between them. The growing plenty, or scarcity, if either in the market, (whereby I mean the ordinary place, where they are to be had in traffic) or the real use, or changing fashion of the place, bringing either of them more into demand than formerly, presently varies the respective value of any two things. You will as fruitlessly endeavour to keep two different things steadily at the same price one with another, as to keep two things in an æquilibrium, where their varying weights depend on different causes. Put a piece of spunge in one scale, and an exact counterpoise of silver in the other; you will be mightily mistaken if you imagine, that because they are to-day equal, they shall always remain so. The weight of the spunge varying with every change of moisture in the air, the silver, in the opposite scale, will sometimes rise, and sometimes fall. This is just the state of silver and gold, in regard of their mutual value. Their proportion, or use, may, nay, constantly does vary, and with it their price. For, being estimated one, in reference to the other, they are, as it were, put in opposite scales; and as the one rises the other falls, and so on the contrary.
Farthings, made of a baser metal, may on this account too deserve your consideration. For whatsoever coin you make current above the intrinsic value, will always be damage to the public, whoever get by it. But of this I shall not, at present, enter into a more particular inquiry; only this I will confidently affirm, that it is the interest of every country, that all the current money of it should be of one and the same metal; that the several species should be of the same alloy, and none of a baser mixture: and that the standard, once thus settled, should be inviolably and immutably kept to perpetuity. For, whenever that is altered, upon what pretence soever, the public will lose by it.
Since then it will neither bring us in more money, bullion, or trade; nor keep what we have here, nor hinder our weighty money, of what denomination soever, from being melted; to what purpose should the kingdom be at the charge of coining all our money anew? For I do not suppose any body can propose, that we should have two sorts of money, at the same time, one heavier, and the other lighter, as it comes from the mint; that is very absurd to imagine. So that if all your old money must be coined over again; it will indeed be some advantage, and that a very considerable one, to the officers of the mint. For they being allowed 3s. 6d. (it should be sixteen-pence half-penny), for the coinage of every pound troy, which is very near five and a half per cent. if our money be six millions, and must be coined all over again, it will cost the nation to the mint three hundred thirty thousand pounds. One hundred thirty thousand pounds, if the clipped money must escape, because it is already as light as your new standard; do you not own, that this design of new coinage is just of the nature of clipping?
This business of money and coinage is by some men, and amongst them some very ingenious persons, thought a great mystery, and very hard to be understood. Not that truly in itself it is so, but because interested people, that treat of it, wrap up the secret, they make advantage of, in a mystical, obscure, and unintelligible way of talking: which men, from a pre-conceived opinion of the difficulty of the subject, taking for sense, in a matter not easy to be penetrated, but by the men of art, let pass for current, without examination. Whereas, would they look into those discourses, and inquire what meaning their words have, they would find, for the most part, either their positions to be false, their deductions to be wrong, or (which often happens) their words to have no distinct meaning at all. Where none of these be, there their plain, true, honest sense, would prove very easy and intelligible, if expressed in ordinary and direct language.
That this is so, I shall show, by examining a printed sheet on this subject: intitled, “Remarks on a paper given in to the lords, &c.”
Rem. “It is certain, that what place soever will give most for silver by weight, it will thither be carried and sold: and if of the money which now passes in England, there can be 5s. 5d. the ounce given for standard silver at the mint, when but 5s. 4d. of the very same can be given elsewhere for it, it will certainly be brought to the mint; and when coined, cannot be sold (having one penny over-value set upon it by the ounce) for the same that other plate may be bought for, so will be left unmelted; at least it will be the interest of any exporter to buy plate to send out, before money; whereas now it is his interest to buy money to send out before plate.”
Answ. The author would do well to make it intelligible, how, “of the money that now passes in England at the mint can be given 5s. 5d. the ounce for standard silver, when but 5s. 4d. of the same money can be given elsewhere for it.” Next, “How it has one penny over-value set upon it by the ounce, so that, when coined, it cannot be sold.” This, to an ordinary reader, looks very mysterious; and, I fear, is so, as either signifying nothing at all, or nothing that will hold. For,
1. I ask, Who it is at the mint, that “can give 5s. 5d. the ounce for standard silver, when nobody else can give above 5s. 4d.?” Is it the king, or is it the master-worker, or any of the officers? For to give 5s. 5d. for what will yield but 5s. 4d. to any body else, is to give one sixty-fifth part more than it is worth. For so much every thing is worth, as it will yield. And I do not see how this can turn to account to the king, or be borne by any body else.
2. I ask, how a penny over-value can be set upon it by the ounce, “so that it cannot be sold?” This is so mysterious, that I think it near impossible. For an equal quantity of standard silver will always be just worth an equal quantity of standard silver. And it is utterly impossible to make sixty-four parts of standard silver equal to, or worth, sixty-five parts of the same standard silver; which is meant by “setting a penny over-value upon it by the ounce,” if that has any meaning at all. Indeed, by the workmanship of it, sixty-four ounces of standard silver may be made not only worth sixty-five ounces, but seventy or eighty. But the coinage, which is all the workmanship here, being paid for by a tax, I do not see how that can be reckoned at all; or if it be, it must raise every 5s. 4d. coined to above 5s. 5d. If I carry sixty-four ounces of standard silver in bullion to the mint to be coined, shall I not have just sixty-four ounces back again for it in coin? And if so, can these sixty-four ounces of coined standard silver be possibly made worth sixty-five ounces of the same standard silver uncoined, when they cost me no more; and I can, for barely going to the mint, have sixty-four ounces of standard silver in bullion turned into coin? Cheapness of coinage in England, where it costs nothing, will indeed make money be sooner brought to the mint, than any where else; because there I have the convenience of having it made into money for nothing. But this will no more keep it in England than if it were perfect bullion. Nor will it hinder it from being melted down, because it cost no more in coin than in bullion: and this equally, whether your pieces of the same denomination be lighter, heavier, or just as they were before. This being explained, it will be easy to see, whether the other things said in the same paragraph be true or false, and particularly, whether “it will be the interest of every exporter to buy plate to send out before money.”
Rem. “It is only barely asserted, That if silver be raised at the mint, that it will rise elsewhere above it; but can never be known till it be tried.”
Answ. The author tells us, in the last paragraph, that silver, that is worth “but 5s. 2d. per ounce at the mint, is worth 5s. 4d. elsewhere.” This how true, or what inconvenience it hath, I will not here examine. But, be the inconvenience of it what it will, this raising the money he proposes as a remedy: and to those who say, upon raising our money, silver will rise too, he makes this answer, that “it can never be known whether it will or no, till it be tried.” To which I reply, That it may be known as certainly without trial, as it can, that two pieces of silver that weighed equally yesterday, will weigh equally again to-morrow in the same scales.
“There is silver,” says our author, “whereof an ounce (i. e. 480 grains) will change for 5s. 4d.” (i. e. 496 grains) of our standard silver coined. To-morrow you coin your money lighter; so that then 5s. 4d. will have but 472 grains of coined standard silver in it. Can it not then be known, without trial, whether that ounce of silver, which to-day will change for 496 grains of standard silver coined, will change to-morrow but for 472 grains of the same standard silver coined? Or can any one imagine that 480 grains of the same silver, which to-day are worth 496 grains of our coined silver, will to-morrow be worth but 472 grains of the same silver, a little differently coined? He that can have a doubt about this till it be tried, may as well demand a trial to be made, to prove, that the same thing is æquiponderant, or equivalent to itself. For I think it is as clear, that 472 grains of silver are æquiponderant to 496 grains of silver, as that an ounce of silver, that is to-day worth 496 grains of standard silver, should to-morrow be worth but 472 grains of the same standard silver, all circumstances remaining the same, but the different weight of the pieces stamped: which is that our author asserts, when he says, That it is only barely asserted, &c. What has been said to this, may serve also for an answer to the next paragraph. Only I desire it may be taken notice of, that the author seems to insinuate, that silver goes not in England, as in foreign parts, by weight; which is a very dangerous, as well as false position; and which, if allowed, may let into our mint what corruption and debasing of our money one pleases.
Rem. “That our trade hath heretofore furnished us with an overplus, brought home in gold and silver, it is true: but that we bring home from any place more goods that we now export to it, I do not conceive to be so. And more goods might be sent to those parts; but by reason of the great value of silver in this part of the world, more money is to be got by exporting silver, than by any other thing that can be sent; and that is the reason of it. And for its being melted down, and sent out, because it is so heavy, is not by their paper denied.”
Answ. “That we bring home from any place more goods than we now export, (the author tells us) he doth not conceive.”
Would he had told us a reason for his conceit. But since the money of any country is not presently to be changed, upon any private man’s groundless conceit, I suppose this argument will not be of much weight with many men. I make bold to call it a groundless conceit: for if the author please to remember the great sums of money are carried every year to the East-Indies, for which we bring home consumable commodities; (though I must own it pays us again with advantage) or if he will examine, how much only two commodities, wholly consumed here, cost us yearly in money, (I mean Canary wine and currants) more than we pay for, with goods exported to the Canaries and Zant; besides the over-balance of trade upon us in several other places, he will have little reason to say, “he doth not conceive we bring home from any place more goods than we now export to it.”
“As to what he says concerning the melting down and exporting our money, because it is heavy:” if by heavy he means, because our crown-pieces (and the rest of our species of money in proportion) are 23 or 24 grains heavier than he would have them coined: this whoever grants it, I deny, upon grounds, which, I suppose, when examined, will be found clear and evident.
Indeed, when your debts beyond sea, to answer the over-balance of foreign importations, call for your money, it is certain the heavy money, which has the full standard weight, will be melted down and carried away: because foreigners value not your stamp, or denomination, but your silver.
He would do well to tell us what he means by “the great value of silver in this part of the world.” For he speaks of it as a cause that draws away our money more now than formerly, or else it might as well have been omitted as mentioned in this place: and if he mean by this part of the world, England; it is scarce sense to say, that the great value of silver in England should draw silver out of England. If he means the neighbouring countries to England, he should have said it, and not doubtfully this part of the world. But let him, by this part of the world, mean what he will, I dare say every one will agree, that silver is not more valued in this, than any other part of the world; nor in this age, more than in our grandfathers days.
I am sorry, if it be true, what he tells us, That “more money is to be got by exportation of silver, than by any other thing that can be sent.” This is an evidence, that “we bring home more goods than we export.” For till that happens, and has brought us in debt beyond sea, silver will not be exported; but the overplus of people’s gain, being generally laid up in silver, it will be brought home in silver: and so our people will value it as much as any other, in this part of the world.
The truth of the case in short is this. Whenever we, by a losing trade, contract debts with our neighbours, they will put a great value on our silver, and “more money will be got by transporting silver than any thing can be sent;” which comes about thus: Suppose that by an over-balance of their trade (whether by a sale of pepper, spices, and other East-India commodities, it matters not) we have received great quantities of goods, within these two or three months from Holland, and sent but little thither; so that the accounts balanced between the inhabitants of England and the United Provinces, we of England were a million in their debt; what would follow from hence? This: That these Dutch creditors, desiring to have what is due to them, give orders to their factors and correspondents here to return it to them. For inquiring as we do, what are the effects of an over-balance of trade, we must not suppose they invest their debts in commodities, and return their effects that way. A million then being to be returned from England to Holland in money, every one seeks bills of exchange; but Englishmen not having debts in Holland to answer this million, or any the least part of it, bills are not to be got. This presently makes the exchange very high; upon which the bankers, &c. who have the command of great quantities of money and bullion, send that away to Holland in specie, and so take money here to pay it again there, upon their bills, at such a rate of exchange as gives them five, ten, fifteen, &c. per cent. profit: and thus, sometimes a 5s. piece of our milled money may truly be said to be worth 5s. 3d. 4d. 6d. 9d. in Holland. And if this be “the great value of silver in this part of the world,” I easily grant it him. But this great value is to be remedied, not by the alteration of our mint, but by the regulation and balance of our trade. For be your coin what it will, our neighbours, if they over-balance us in trade, will not only have a great value for our silver, but get it too; and there will be “more to be got, by exporting silver to them, than by any other thing can be sent.”
Rem. “The alterations of the coins in Spain and Portugal are no way at all like this. For there they altered in denomination near half, to deceive those they paid, with paying those to whom they owed one ounce of silver, but half an ounce for it. But, in the alteration here designed, to whoever an ounce of silver was owing, an ounce will be paid in this money; it being here only designed, that an ounce of money should equal an ounce of silver in value, at home, as well as abroad, which now it does not.”
Answ. In this paragraph the author confesses the alteration of the coin in Spain and Portugal was a cheat; but the “alteration here designed, he says, is not:” but the reason he gives for it is admirable: viz. “Because they there altered in denomination near half,” and here denomination is altered but five per cent. for so in truth it is, whatever be designed. As if fifty per cent. were a cheat, but, five per cent. were not; because perhaps less perceivable. For the two things, that are pretended to be done here by this new coinage, I fear will both fail, viz. 1. That “to whomsoever an ounce of silver is owing, an ounce of silver shall be paid in this money.” For when an ounce of silver is coined, as is proposed, into 5s. 5d. (which is to make our money five per cent. lighter than it is now) I that am to receive 100l. per ann. fee-farm rent; shall I in this new money receive 105l. or barely 100l.? The first I think will not be said. For if by law you have made it 100l. it is certain the tenant will pay me no more. If you do not mean that 400 crowns, or 2000 shillings of your new coin shall be 100l. but there must be five per cent in tale added to every 100, you are at the charge of new coinage to no other purpose but to breed confusion. If I must receive 100l. by tale of this new money for my fee-farm rent, it is demonstration that I lose five ounces per cent. of the silver that was due to me. This a little lower he confesses in these words, “That where a man has a rent-sec, that can never be more, this may somewhat affect it, but so very little that it will scarce ever at all be perceived.” This very little is five per cent. and if a man be cheated of that, so he perceives it not, it goes for nothing. But this loss will not affect only such rents as can never be more, but all payments whatsoever, that are contracted for, before this alteration of our money.
2. If it be true what he affirms, “That an ounce of money doth equal an ounce of silver in value abroad, but not at home;” then this part of the undertaking will also fail. For I deny that the stamp on our money does any more debase it here at home, than abroad, or make the silver in our money not equal in value to the same weight of silver every-where. The author would have done well to have made it out, and not left so great a paradox only to the credit of a single assertion.
Rem. “And for what is said in this bill to prevent exportation, relates only to the keeping in our coin and bullion, and leaves all foreign to be exported still.”
Answ. What the author means by our own and foreign bullion, will need some explication.
Rem. There is now no such thing as payments in “weighty and milled money.”
Answ. I believe there are very few in town who do not very often receive a milled crown for 5s. and a milled half-crown for 2s. 6d. But he means, I suppose, in great and entire sums of milled money. But I ask, if all the clipped money were called in, whether then all the payments would not be in weighty money; and that not being called in, whether if it be lighter than your new milled money, the new milled money will not be melted down as much as the old? Which I think the author there confesses, or else I understand him not.
Rem. “Nor will this any way interrupt trade; for trade will find its own course; the denomination of money in any country no way concerning that.”
Answ. The denomination to a certain weight of money, in all countries, concerns trade; and the alteration of that necessarily brings disturbance to it.
Rem. “For if so be it occasions the coining more money.”
Answ. He talks as if it would be “the occasion of coining more money.” Out of what? out of money already coined, or out of bullion? For I would be glad to know where it is.
Rem. “It may be some gain to those that will venture to melt down the coin, but very small loss (if any) to those that shall be paid in the new: it is not to be denied, but that where any man has a rent-sec, that can never be more, this may somewhat affect it; but so very little, it will scarce ever at all be perceived.”
Answ. As much as it will be gain to melt down their coin, so much loss will it be to those who are paid in new, viz. five per cent. which, I suppose, is more than the author would be willing to lose, unless he get by it another way.
Rem. “And if the alteration designed should have the effect of making our native commodities any ways dearer—.”
Answ. Here our author confesses, that proportionably as your money is raised, the price of other things will be raised too. But to make amends, he says,
Rem. “It does at the same time make the land which produces them of more than so much more in value.”
Answ. This “more than so much more in value,” is more than our author, or any body else for him, will ever be able to make out.
The price of things will always be estimated by the quantity of silver given in exchange for them. And if you make your money less in weight, it must be made up in tale. This is all this great mystery of raising money, and raising land. For example, the manor of Blackacre would yesterday have yielded one hundred thousand crowns, which crown pieces, let us suppose numero rotundo to weigh each of them an ounce of standard silver. To-day, your new coin comes in play, which is five per cent. lighter. There is your money raised: the land now at sale yields one hundred and five thousand crowns, which is just the same one hundred thousand ounces of standard silver. There is the land raised. And is not this an admirable invention, for which the public ought to be at above one hundred thousand pounds charge for new coinage, and all your commerce put in disorder? And then to recommend this invention, you are told, as a great secret, That, “had not money, from time to time, been raised in its denomination, lands had not so risen too:” which is to say, Had not your money been made lighter, fewer pieces of it would have bought as much land as a greater number does now.
Rem. “The loss of payments, there spoken of, will, in no sort, be so great, as if the parties, to whom these debts are owing, were now bound to receive them in the money that now passes, and then to melt the same down; so at this they will have no cause to complain.”
Answ. A very good argument! the clippers have robbed the public of a good part of their money (which men will, some time or other, find in the payments they receive) and it is desired the mint may have a liberty to be beforehand with those, to whom debts are owing. They are told, they will have no reason to complain of it, who suffer this loss, because it is not so great as the other. The damage is already done to the public, by clipping. Where at last it will light, I cannot tell. But men who receive clipped money, not being forced to melt it down, do not yet receive any loss by it. When clipped money will no longer change for weighty, then those who have clipped money in their hands, will find the loss of it.
Rem. “It will make the customs better paid, because there will be more money.”
Answ. That there will be more money in tale, it is possible: that there will be more money in weight and worth, the author ought to show. And then, whatever becomes of the customs, (which I do not hear are unpaid now) the king will lose in the excise above thirty thousand pounds per annum. For in all taxes where so many pounds, shillings, or pence are determined by the law to be paid, there the king will lose five per cent. The author here, as in other places, gives a good reason for it: for, “his majesty being to pay away this money by tale, as he receives it, it will be to him no loss at all.”
As if my receiving my rents in full tale, but in money of undervalue five per cent. were not so much loss to me, because I was to pay it away again by tale. Try it at 50 per cent. the odds only is, That one being greater than the other, would make more noise. But the author’s great refuge in this is, That it will not be perceived.
Rem. “If all foreign commodities were to be purchased with this new species of money sent out; we agree, That with 100l. of it there could not be so much silver, or other commodities bought, as with 100l. in crown-pieces as now coined, because they would be heavier; and all coin, in any kingdom but where it is coined, only goes by weight; and for the same weight of silver, the same every where still will be bought; and so there will, with the same quantity of goods. And if those goods should cost five per cent. more here in England than heretofore, and yield but the same money (we mean by the ounce abroad) the same money, brought home and coined, will yield the importer five per cent. more at the mint than it heretofore could do, and so no damage to the trader at all.”
Answ. Here truth forces from the author a confession of two things, which demonstrate the vanity and uselessness of the project. 1. That upon this change of your coin, foreign goods will be raised. Your own goods will cost five per cent. more. So that goods of all kinds being thereupon raised; wherein consists the raising of your money, when an ounce of standard silver, however minced, stamped, or denominated, will buy no more commodities than it did before? This confession also shows the falsehood of that dangerous supposition, That money, “in the kingdom where it is coined, goes not by weight,” i. e. is not valued by its weight.
Rem. “It is true, the owners of silver will find a good market for it, and no others will be damaged; but, on the contrary, the making plenty of money will be an advantage to all.”
Answ. I grant it true that if your money were really raised five per cent. the owners of silver would get so much by it, by bringing it to the mint to be coined. But since, as is confessed, commodities will (upon this raising your money) be raised to five per cent. this alteration will be an advantage to nobody, but the officers of the mint, and hoarders of money.
Rem. “When standard silver was last raised at the mint, (which it was from 5s. to 5s. and 2d. the ounce, in the 43d of Eliz.) and for above forty years after, silver uncoined was not worth above 4s. 10d. the ounce, which occasioned much coining; and of money, none in those days was exported: whereas silver now is worth but the very same 5s. 2d. the ounce still at the mint, and is worth 5s. 4d. elsewhere. So that if this bill now with the lords does not happen to pass, there can never any silver be ever any more coined at the mint; and all the milled money will, in a very little time more, be destroyed.”
Answ. The reason of so much money coined in queen Elizabeth’s time, and afterwards, was not the lessening of your crown pieces from 480 to 462 grains, and so proportionably all the rest of your money, (which is that the author calls raising standard silver from 5s. to 5s. 2d. the ounce) but from the over-balance of your trade, bringing them in plenty of bullion, and keeping it here.
How standard silver (for if the author speaks of other silver, it is a fallacy) should be worth its own weight in standard silver at the mint, (i. e. 5s. 2d. the ounce) and be worth more than its own weight in standard silver, (i. e. 5s. 4d. the ounce) in Lombard-street, is a paradox that nobody, I think, will be able to comprehend, till it be better explained. It is time to give off coining, if the value of standard silver be lessened by it; as really it is, if an ounce of coined standard silver will not exchange for an ounce of uncoined standard silver, unless you add 15 or 16 grains overplus to it: which is what the author would have taken upon his word, when he says, “Silver is worth five shillings four-pence elsewhere.”
Five shillings four-pence of money coined at the mint, the author must allow to be at least 495 grains. An ounce is but 480 grains. How then an ounce of uncoined standard silver can be worth five shillings four-pence (i. e. how 480 grains of uncoined standard silver can be worth 495 grains of the same standard silver, coined into money) is unintelligible; unless the coinage of our mint lessens the value of standard silver.
“COIN and interest are two things of so great moment to the public, and of so great concernment in trade, that they ought very accurately to be examined into, and very nicely weighed, upon any proposal of alteration to be made in them. I pretend not to have treated of them here as they deserve. That must be the work of an abler hand; I have said something on these subjects, because you required it. And, I hope, the readiness of my obedience will excuse to you the faults I have committed, and assure you that I am,
“Your most humble servant, JOHN LOCKE.”