Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. V.: The same Subject continued. - Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. V.: The same Subject continued. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 2.
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The same Subject continued.
THE bullion drawn from the American mines, imported into Europe, and from thence sent to the east, has greatly promoted the navigation of the European nations; for it is a merchandize which Europe receives in exchange from America, and which she sends in exchange to the Indies. A prodigious quantity of gold and silver is therefore an advantage, when we consider these metals as a merchandize; but it is otherwise, when we consider them as a sign; because their abundance gives an allay to their quality as a sign, which is chiefly founded on their scarcity.
Before the first Punic war, copper was to silver as * 960 to 1;† it is at present nearly as 73 and a half to 1. When the proportion shall be as it was formerly, silver will better perform its office as a sign.
[* ]See chap. xii. of this book.
[† ]Supposing a mark or eight ounces of silver to be worth forty-nine livres, and copper twenty sols per pound.