Discourses Upon Trade
by Dudley North
A Discourse Concerning Abatement of Interest
Discourses Upon Trade; Principally Directed to the Cases of the
Interest, Coynage, Clipping, Increase of Money
A Discourse Concerning Abatement of
Arguments for Abatement of Interest
are many, viz.
I. When Interest is less, Trade is incourag'd, and the Merchant
can be a Gainer; whereas, when it is great, the Usurer, or Money-owner
II. The Dutch, with who Interest is low, Trade cheaper, and
III. Land falls in value, as Interest riseth.
With divers others, whreof the Facts may be true, but proceed from
another Cause, and conduce nothing to the purpose for which they are
I shall not formally apply myself to answer all the Arguments and
Discourses, that commonly are found in Pamphlets, and Conversation
upon this Subject; as if I were to Advocate the Cause of Interest: But
give my thoughts impartially in the whole matter, with regard to the
Profit of the whole Nation, and to no particular Persons project:
Wherein I hope to propose, that which may resolve any doubt that can
be raised, and leave every one to apply it, as they think fit.
The Question to be considered is, Whether the Government have
reason by a Law, to prohibit the taking more than 4 l. per cent
Interest for Money lent, or to leave the Borrower and Lender to make
their own Bargains.
In the Disquisition of this, many things are to be considered, and
particularly such as relate to Trade, of which a true Notion will set
right a World of Mistakes, wherefore that now shall be chiefly treated
Trade is nothing else but a Commutation of Superfluities; for
instance: I give mine, what I can spare, for somewhat of yours, which
I want, and you can spare.
Thus Trade, whilst it is restrained within the limits of a Town,
Country, or Nation, signifieth only the Peoples supplying each other
with Conveniences, out of what that Town, Country, or Nation affords.
And in this, he who is most diligent, and raiseth most Fruits, or
maketh most of Manufactory, will abound most in what others make, or
raise; and consequently be free from Want, and enjoy most
Conveniences, which is truly to be Rich, altho' thre were no such
thing as Gold, Silver, or the like amongst them.
Mettals are very necessary for many Uses, and are to be reckon'd
among the Fruits and Manufactories of the World. And of these, Gold
and Silver being by nature very fine, and more scarce than others, are
higher prized; and a little of them is very reasonably esteem'd equal
in value with a great quantity of other Mettals, etc. For which
reason, and moreover that they are imperishable, as well as convenient
for easie stowage and removal, and not from any Laws, they are made a
Standard, or common Measure to deal with; and all Mankind concure in
it, as every one knows, therefore I need not inlarge further in this
Now it is to be consider'd, that Mankind being fallen into a way
of commuting in this manner, to serve their occasions, some are more
provident, others more profuse; some by their Industry and Judgment
raise more Fruits from the Earth, than they consume in supplying their
own occasions; and then the surplus remains with them, and is Property
And Wealth thus contraced, is either commuted for other Mens Land
(supposing all Men to have had some) or massed up in heaps of Goods;
be the same of Mettals, or anything valuable. And those are the Rich,
who transmit what they have to their Posterity; whereby particular
Families become rich; and of such are compounded Cities, Countries,
And it will be found, that as some particular Men in a Town grow
richer, and thrive better than others; so also do Nations, who by
Trade serving the occasions of their Neighbours, supply themselves
with what they have occasion for from abroad; which done, the rest is
laid up, and is Silver, Gold, etc. for as I said, these being
commutable for everything, and of small bulk, are still preferr'd to
be laid up, till ocassion shall call them out to supply ohter
Now Industry and Ingenuity having thus distinuisht Men into Rich
and Poor; What is the consequence? One rich Man hath Lands, not only
more than he can manage, but so much, that letting them out to others,
he is supplied with a large over-plus, so needs no farther care.
Another rich Man hath Goods; that is, Mettals, Manufactures, etc.
in great quantity, with these he serves his own occasions, and then
commutes the rest in Trade; that is, supplies others with what they
want, and takes in exchange what they had of, beyond their own
occasions, whereby managing cunningly, he must always advance.
Now as there are mor Men to Till the Ground than have Land to
Till, so also there will be many who want Stock to manage; and also
(when a Nation is grown rich) there will be Stock for Trade in many
hands, who either have not the skill, or care not for the trouble of
managing it in Trade.
But as the Landed Man letts his Land, so these still lett their
Stock; this latter is call'd Interest, but is only Rent for Stock, as
the other is for Land. And in several Languages, hiring of Money, and
Lands, are Terms of common use; and it is so also in some Countries in
Thus to be a Landlord, or a Stock-lord is the same thing; the
Landlord hath the advantage only in this: That his Tenant cannot
carry away the Land, as the Tenant of the other may the Stock; and
therefore Land ought to yield less profit than Stock, which is let out
at the greater hazard.
These things consider'd, it will be found, that as plenty makes
cheapness in other things, as Corn, Wool, etc. when they come to
Market in greater Quantities than there are Buyers to deal for, the
Price will fall; so if there be more Lenders than Borrowers, Interest
will also fall; wherefore it is not low Interest makes Trade, but
Trade increasing, the Stock of the Nation makes Interest low.
It is said, that in Holland Interest is lower than in England. I
answer, It is; because their Stock is grater than ours. I cannot hear
that they ever made a law to restrain Interest, but am certainly
informed, that at this day, the Currant Interest between Merchant and
Merchant, when they disburse Money for each others Account, is 6 per
cent and the Law justifies it.
I allow Money is many times lent at 3 and 4 per cent but it is
upon Mortgages, out of which the State hath a Duty, and by the course
of Titles there, such dealing is perfectly safe; and this is still by
private consent and agreement, and not by coersion and order of Law.
The like often happens here, when poor Widows and Orphans purchase the
Security of their Livelihoods, and punctual Payment, by lending at
small Interest, to such as need not the Money.
It might not be amiss in this place, to say somewhat of the
Publick Banks that are in Forreign Parts, as Amsterdam, Venice etc.
but that is a Sujbect I have not time to dilate upon: I shall only
say, that it is a cunning way of supplying the government once with a
great Sum; and as long as the Government stands, it is no loss to them
that have the Credit, nor no great Inconveniency; for all Bills of
Exchange are made by Law payable in Bank, and not otherwise; for
Dealers in Exchanges it is best that way, and such as want their
Money, find no difficulty in selling their Credits, the price of which
riseth and falleth according to Demanders, as of other things.
I do not understand that true, two Banks pay any Interest; it is
true there are several Funds, viz. The Mint in Venice, and the Chamber
in Amsterdam, with several others in those and other Cities, where
Money is put out at Interest for Lives, and several other ways, and at
different Rates, more or less, according to the Credit these Funds
have, which are the Security; and these may, by mistake, be called the
Banks, which they are not, being only such as the Chamber of London,
East-India-House, etc. were.
I do not believe, but the Usurer, according to the saying, will
take half a Loaf, rather than no bread: But I avert, that high
Interest will bring Money out from Hoards, Plate, etc. into Trade,
when low interest will keep it back.
Many Men of great Estates, keep by them for State and Honour,
great Quantities of Plate, Jewels, etc. which certainly they will be
more inclin'd to do, when Interest is very low, than when it is high.
Such as have nothing to subsist by, but the Interest of Money,
must either let it out, or Trade with it themselves, and be contented
with what they can get; but that hinders not, but very many other Men,
who are rich, and not so prest, may if Interest be very low, choose to
make use of their Stocks in Jewels, Plate, etc. rather than run the
hazards and be at the trouble of dealing with necessitous and knavish
Men, such as many Borrowers are, for inconsiderable gains.
So that it cannot be denied, but the lowering of Interest may, and
probably will keep some Money from coming abroad into Trade; whereas
on the contrary, high Interest certainly brings it out.
Next is to be considered, that Dealings between Borrowers and
Lenders are of two kinds: 1. Upon Mortgage, or Pawn. 2. Upon Personal
Security, and that either by single Bond, or with Sureties; all which,
as they differ in goodness, so ought in reason to bear different
Prizes. Shall any Man be bound to lend a single Person, upon the same
Terms, as others lend upon Mortgages, or Joynt Obligations?
Then again it is to be considered, that the Moneys imployed at
Interest in this Nation, are not near the Tenth part, disposed to
Trading People, wherewith to manage their Trades; but are for the most
part lent for the supplying of Luxury, and to support the Expence of
Persons, who though great Owners of Lands, yet spend faster than their
Lands bring in; and being loath to sell, choose rather to mortgage
So that in truth an Ease to Interest, will rather be a Support to
Luxury, than to Trade; the poor Trading Man, who hath but a narrow
Stock, or none at all, supplies himself by buying Goods of rich Men at
time, and thereby pays Interest, not at the rate of 5, 6 or 8, but 10,
12, and more per cent. And this is not in the Power of any Legislature
to prevent, or remedy.
It may be said, let him take Money at Interest, and not buy at
Time. But then Men must be found, that will lend; the Legislative must
provide a Fund to borrow upon.
The Trade of setting out Ships, runs very much upon this course,
wherein it is usual to Bum'em (as they call it) at 36 per cent. And
this cannot be remedied; and if it were, it would be a stop, as well
to the Building, as the setting out of many Ships; whereby, after all,
not only the publick, but the private Persons concern'd are Gainers
for the most part.
Thus when all things are considered, it will be found best for the
Nation to leave the Borrowers and the Lender to make their own
Bargains,according to the Circumstances they lie under; and in so
doing you will follow the course of the wise Hollanders, so often
quoted on this account: and the consequences will be, that when the
Nation thrives, and grows rich, Money will be to be had upon good
terms,but the clean contrary will fall out, when the Nation grows
poorer and poorer.
Let any one Answer me, why do not the Legislators in those poor
Countries, where Interest is at 10 12 per cent, make such Laws to
restrain Interest, and reduce it for the good of the People? If they
should attempt it, it wou'd soon appear, that such Laws would not be
effectual to do it. For when there are more Borrowers than Lenders, as
in poor Countries, where if a rich Man hath 100 l. to dispose, and
there are four, five or more Men striving for it; the Law would be
evaded by underhand Bargains, making Loans in Goods, drawing Bills,
and a thousand Ways beside; which cannot be prevented.
It is probable that when Laws restrain Interest of Money, below
the Price, which the Reason of Trade settles, and Traders cannot (as
we will suppose) evade the Law, or not without great difficulty, or
hazard, and have not Credit to borrow at Legal Interest, to make, or
increase their Stock; so much of Trade is lopt off; and there cannot
be well a greater obstruction to diminish Trade then that would be.
The consideration of all these Matters, makes out an universal Maxime,
That as more Buyers than Sellers raiseth the price of a Commodity, so
more Borrowers than Lenders, wil raise Interest.
And the State may with as much Justice make a Law that Lands which
heretofore have been Lett for 10 s. per Acre, shall not now be Lett
above 8 s. per Acre, as that Money, or Stock, from 5 per cent shall be
Lett for 4 per cent the Property being as good, and as much the
Substance of the Kingdom in the one, as in the other.
I will not say any thing to the Theological Arguments against
Interest of Moneys: by those 3 per cent is no more lawful, than 4, or
12. but this I shall maintain Politically, that if you take away
Interest, you take away Borrowing and Lending. And in consequence the
Gentry, who are behind hand, be it for what cause soever, must sell,
and cannot Mortgage; which will bring down the Price of Land. And the
Trader whatever his skill is, if he hath no Stock, must either sit
still, or buy at Time, which is Interest under another Name. And they
who are poor, will always be so, and we should soon relapse into the
state of One Thousand Years ago.
And whereas the Stock of the Nation is not reckon'd great, let it
be fairly valued, and it will be found much less than it seems to be;
for all the Monies that are owing upon Land Securities, must be struck
off, and not estimated; or else you will have a wrong Account; for if
a Gentleman of 500 l. per Annum, owes 800 l. and you value his Land,
and the Lender's Stock both, you make an account of the same thing
And whereas we make great Accounts of Money'd Men in the Nation,
in truth there are but few; for suppose all that have lent upon
Mortgage, had Land for their Moneys, as indeed in strictness of Law
they have, there wou'd be but few Money'd Men in the Nation left. The
borrowing of Money of one, to pay another, call'd, Robbing of Peter to
pay Paul, so much practis'd now-a-days, makes us think the Nation far
richer than it is.
A Discourse of Coyned Money
In the former Discourse, it hath been already made appear, that
Gold and Silver for their scarcity, have obtained in small quantities,
to equal in value far greater quantities of other Metals, etc. And
farther, from their easie Removal, and convenient Custody, have also
obtained to be the common Measure in the World between Man and Man in
their dealings, as well for Land, Houses, etc., as for Goods and other
For the greater Improvement of this convenience, and to remove
some Dificulties, which would be very troublesome, about knowing
quantities and qualities in common and ordinary dealing: Princes and
States have made it a matter of Publick concern, to ascertain the
Allay, and to determine the Weights, viz. the quantities of certain
Pieces, which we call Coyn, or Money; and such being distinguish'd by
Stamps, and Inscriptions, it is made difficult, and highly Penal to
By this means the Trade of the World is made easie, and all the
numerous species of several Commodities have a common Measure. Besides
the Gold and Silver being thus coyned into Money, and so become more
useful for Commerce than in the Log or Block, hath in all places,
except in England since the free Coynage, reasonably obtained a
greater value than it had before: and that not only above the real
charge of making it so, but is become a State-Revenue (except as
before) tho' not very great. Whereas if Silver coyned and uncoyned
bore the same rate, as it doth with us in England, where it is coyned
at the Charge of the Publick, it will be lyable frequently to be
melted down, as I shall shew anon.
Money being thus the Common Measure of Buying and Selling, every
body who hath any thing to sell, and cannot procure Chapmen for it, is
presently apt to think, that want of Money in the Kingdom, or Country
is the cause why his Goods do not go off; and so, want of Money, is
the common Cry; which is a great mistake, as shall be shewn. I grant
all stop in Trade proceeds from some cause; but it is not from the
want of specifick Money, there being other Reasons for it; as will
appear by the following Discourse.
No Man is richer for having his Estate all in Money, Plate, etc.
lying by him, but on the contrary, he is for that reason the poorer.
That man is richest, whose Estate is in a growing condition, either in
Land at Farm, Money at Interest, or Goods in Trade: If any man, out of
an humour, should turn all his Estate into Money, and keep it dead, he
would soon be sensible of Poverty growing upon him, whilst he is
eating out of the quick stock.
But to examine the matter closer, what do these People want, who
cry out for Money? I will begin with the Beggar; he wants, and
importunes for Money: what would he do with it if he had it? buy
Bread, etc. Then in truth it is not Money, but Bread, and other
Necessaries for Life that he wants. Well then, the Farmer complains,
for the want of Money; surely it is not for the Beggar's Reason, to
sustain Life, or pay Debts; but he thinks that were more Money in the
Country, he should have a Price for his Goods. Then it seems Money is
not his want, but a Price for his Corn, and Cattel, which he would
sell, but cannot. If it be askt, if the want of Money be not, what
then is the reason, why he cannot get a price? I answer, it must
proceed from one of these three Causes.
1. Either there is too much Corn and Cattel in the Country, so
that most who come to Market have need of selling, as he hath, and few
of buying: Or, 2, There wants the usual vent abroad, by
Transportation, as in time of War, when Tradeis unsafe, or not
permitted. Or, 3, The Comsumption fails, as when men by reason of
Poverty, do not spend so much in their Houses as formerly they did;
wherefore it is not the increase of specifick Money, which would at
all advance the Farmers Goods, but the removal of any of these three
Causes, which do truly keep down the Market.
The Merchant and Shop-keeper want Money in the same manner, that
is, they want a Vent for the Goods they deal in, by reason like the
Markets fail, as they will always upon any cause, like what I have
hinted. Now to consider what is the true source of Riches, or in the
common Phrase, plenty of Money, we must look a little back, into the
nature and steps of Trade.
Commerce and Trade, as hath been said, first springs from the
Labour of Man, but as the Stock increases, it dilates more and more.
If you supppose a Country to have nothing in it but the Land it self,
and the Inhabitants; it is plain that at first, the People have only
the Fruits of the Earth, and Metals raised from the Bowels of it, to
Trade withal, either by carrying out into Foreign Parts, or by selling
to such as will come to buy of them, whereby they may be supplyed with
the Goods of other Countries wanted there.
In process of time, if the People apply themselves industriously,
they will not only be supplied, but advance to a great overplus of
Forreign Goods, which improv'd, will enlarge their Trade. Thus the
English Nation will sell unto the French, Spaniards, Turk, etc. not
only the product of their own Country, as cloath, Tin, Lead, etc. but
also what they purchase of others, as Sugar, Pepper, Callicoes, etc.
still buying where Goods are produc'd, and cheap, and transporting
them to Places where they are wanted, making great advantage thereby.
In this course of Trade, Gold and Silver are in no sort different
from other Commodities, but are taken from them who have Plenty, and
carried to them who want, or desire them, with as good profit as other
Merchandizes. So that an active prudent Nation groweth rich, and the
sluggish Drones grow poor; and there cannot be any Policy other than
this, which being introduc'd and practis'd, shall avail to increase
Trade and Riches.
But his Proposition, as single and plain as it is, is seldom so
well understood, as to pass with the generality of Mankind; but they
think by force of Laws, to retain in their Country all the Gold and
Silver which Trade brings in; and thereby expect to grow rich
immediately: All which is a profound Fallacy, and hath been a Remora,
whereby the growing Wealth of many Countries have been obstructed.
The Case will more plainly appear, if it be put of a single
Merchant, or if you please to come nearer the point, of a City or
Let a Law be made, and what is more, be observ'd, that no Man
whatsoever shall carry any Money out of a particular Town, County, or
Division, with liberty to carry Goods of any sort: so that all the
Money which every one brings with him, must be left behind, and none
be carried out.
The consequence of this would be, that such Town, or County were
cut off from the rest of the Nation; and no Man would dare to come to
Market with his Money there; because he must buy, whether he likes, or
not: and on the other side, the People of that place could not go to
other Markets as Buyers, but only as Sellers, being not permitted to
carry any Money out with them.
Now would not such a Constitution as this, soon bring a Town or
County to a miserable Condition, with respect to their Neighbours, who
have free Commerce, whereby the Industrious gain from the slothful and
luxurious part of Mankind? The Case is the same, if you extend your
thought from a particular Nation, and the several Divisions, and
Cities, with the Inhabitants in them, to the whole World, and the
several Nations, and Governments in it. And a Nation restrained in its
Trade, of which Gold and Silver is a principal, if not an essential
Branch, would suffer, and grow poor, as a particular place within a
Country, as I have discoursed. A Nation in the World, as to Trade, is
in all respects like a City in a Kingdom, or Family in a City.
Now since the Increase of Trade is to be exteem'd the only cause
that Wealth and Money increase, I will add some farther Considerations
upon that subject.
The main spur to Trade, or rather toIndustry and Ingenuity, is the
exorbitant Appetites of Men, which they will take pains to gratifie,
and so be disposed to work, when nothing else will incline them to it;
for did Men content themselves with bare Necessaries, we should have a
The Glutton works hard to purchase Delicacies, wherewith to gorge
himself; the Gamerster, for Money to venture at Play; the Miser, to
hoard; and so others. Now in their pursuit of those Appetites, other
Men less exorbitant are benefitted; and tho' it may be thought few
profit by the Miser, yet it will be found otherwise, if we consider,
that besides the humour of every Generation, to dissipate what another
had collected, there is benefit from the very Person of a covetous
Man; for if he labours with his own hands, his Labour is very
beneficial to them who imploy him; if he doth not work, but profit by
the Work of others, then those he sets on work have benefit by their
Countries which have sumptuary Laws, are generally poor; for when
Men by those Laws are confin'd to narrower Expence than otherwise they
would be, they are at the same time discouraged from the Industry and
Ingenuity which they would have imployed in obtaining wherewithal to
support them, in the full latitude of Expence they desire.
It is possible Families may be supported by such means, but then
the growth of Wealth in the Nation is hindered; for that never thrives
better, then when Riches are tost from hand to hand.
The meaner sort seeing their Fellows become rich, and great, are
spurr'd up to imitate their Industry. A Tradesman sees his Neighbour
keep a Coach, presently all his Endeavours is at work to do the like,
and many times is beggered by it; however the extraordinary
Application he made, to support his Vanity, was beneficial to the
Publick, tho' not enough to answer his false Measures as to himself.
It will be objected, That the Home Trade signifies nothing to the
enriching a Nation, and that the increase of Wealth comes out of
I answer, That what is commonly understood by Wealth, viz. Plenty,
Bravery, Gallantry, etc. cannot be maintained without Forreign Trade.
Nor in truth, can Forreign Trade subsist without the Home Trade, both
being connected together.
I have toucht upon these matters concerning Trade, and Riches in
general,because I conceive a true Notion of them, will correct many
common Errors, and more especially conduce to the Proposition I
chiefly aim to prove; which is, that Gold and Silver, and, out of
them, Money are nothing but the Weights and Measures, by which
Traffick is more conveniently carried on, then could be done without
them: and also a proper Fund for a surplusage of Stock to be deposited
In confrimation of this, we may take Notice, That Nations which
are very poor, have scarce any Money, and inthe beginnings of Trade
have often made use of something else; as Sueden hath used Copper,and
the Plantations, Sugar and Tobacco, but not without great
Inconveniences; and still as Wealth hath increas'd, Gold and Silver
hath been introduc'd, and drove out the others, as now almost in the
Plantations it hath done.
It is not necessary absolutely to have a Mint for the making Money
plenty, tho' it be very expedient; and a just benefit is lost by the
want of it, where there is none; for it hath been observed, that where
no Mints were, Trade hath not wanted a full supply of Money; because
if it be wanted, the Coyn of other Princes will become currant, as in
Ireland, and the Plantations; so also in Turkey, where the Money of
the Country is so minute, that it is inconvenient for great Payments;
and therefore the Turkish Dominions are supplied by almost all the
Coyns of Christendom, the same being currant there.
But a country which useth Forreign Coyns, hath great disadvantage
from it; because they pay strangers, for what, had they a Mint of
their own, they might make themselves. For Coyned Money, as was said,
is more worth than Uncoyned Silver of the same weight and allay; that
is, you may buy more Uncoyned Silver, of the same fineness with the
Money than the Money weighs; which advantage the Stranger hath for the
If it be said, That the contrary sometimes happens, and coyned
Money shall be current for less than Bullion shall sell for. I answer,
That where-ever this happens, the Coyned Money being undervalued,
shall be melted down into Bullion, for the immediate Gain that it had
Thus it appears, that if you have no Mint whereby to increase your
Money, yet if you are a rich People, and have Trade, you cannot want
Specifick Coyn, to serve your occasions in dealing.
The next thing to be shewed is, That if your Trade pours in never
so much Money upon you, you have no more advantage by the being of it
Money, than you should have were it in Logs, or Blocks; save only that
Money is much better for Transportation than Logs are.
For when Money grows up to a greater quantity than Commerce
requires, it comes to be of no greater value, than uncoyned Silver,
and will occasionally be melted down again.
Then let not the care of Specifick Money torment us so much; for a
People that are rich cannot want it, and if they make none, they will
be supplied with the Coyn of other Nations; and if never so much be
brought from abroad or never so much coyned at home, all that is more
than waht the Commerce of the Nation requires, is but Bullion, and
will be treated as such; and coyned Money, like wrought Plate at
Second hand, shall sell but for the Intrinsick.
I call to witness the vast Sums that have been coyned in England,
since the free Coynage was set up; What is become of it all? no body
believes it to be in the Nation, and it cannot well be all
transported, the Penalties for so doing being so great. The case is
plain, it being exported, as I verily believe little of it is, the
Melting-Pot devours all.
The rather, because that Practice is so easie, profitable, and
safe from all possibility of being detected, as every one knows it is.
And I know no intelligent Man who doubts, but the New Money goes this
Silver and Gold, like other commodities, have their ebbings and
flowings: Upon the arrival of Quantities from Spain, the Mint commonly
gives the best price; that is, coyned Silver, for uncoyned Silver,
weight for weight. Wherefore is it carried into the Tower, and coyned?
not long after there will come a demand for Bullion, to be Exported
again: If there is none, but all happens to be in Coyn, What then?
Melt if down again; there's no loss in it, for the Coyning cost the
Thus the Nation hath been abused, and made to pay for the twisting
of straw, for Asses to eat. If the Merchant were made to pay the price
of the Coynage, he would not have sent his Silver to the Tower without
Consideration; and coyned Money would always keep a value above
uncoyned Silver: which is now so far from being the case, that many
times it is considerably under, and generally the King of Spain's Coyn
here is worth One penny per Ounce more than our New Money.
This Nation, for many Years last past, hath groaned, and still
groans under the abuse of clipt Money, which with respect to their
Wisdom, is a great Mistake; and the Irish whom we ridicule so much,
when in Peace, would not be so gulled, but weighed their (Pieces of
Eight) Cobbs, as they call them, Piece by Piece; this Errour springs
from the same source with the rest, and needs no other Cure than will
soon result from Non-currency. Whereof I shall set down my thoughts.
There is great fear, that if clipt Money be not taken, there will
be no Money at all. I am certain, that so long as clipt Money is
taken, there will be little other: And is it not strange, that scarce
any Nation, or People in the whole World, take diminisht Money by
Tale, but the English?
What is the reason that a New Half-crown-piece, if it hath the
least snip taken from the edge, will not pass; whereas an Old
Half-crown clipt to the very quick, and not intrinsically worth
Eighteen Pence, shall be currant?
I know no reason, why a Man should take the one, more than the
other; I am sure, that if New Money should pass clipt, there would
soon be enough served so. And I do not in the least doubt, unless the
currency of clipt Money be stopt, it will not be very long before
every individual piece of the Old Coynes be clipt.
And if this be not remedied, for fear of the Evil now, how will it
be born hereafter, when it will be worse? surely at lenght it will
become insupportable, and remedy itself as Groats have done; but let
them look out, in whose time it shall happen; we are all shoving the
Evil-Day as far off as may be, but it will certainly come at last.
I do not think the great Evil is so hard to be remedied, nor so
chargeable as some have judged; but if rightly managed, it may be done
with no intolerable loss, some there will be, and considerable; but
when I reflect whre it will fall, I cannot think it grievous.
The general Opinion is, That it cannot be done otherwise, then by
calling in of all the Old Money, and changing of it, for doing which
the whole Nation must contribute by a general Tax; but I do not
approve of this way, for several Reasons.
For it will be a matter of great trouble, and will require many
hands to execute, who will expect, and deserve good pay; which will
add to the Evil, and increase the Charge of the Work; and the Trust of
it, is also very great, and may be vastly abused.
Now before I give any Opinion for the doing this think, let some
estimate be made of the loss, wherein I will not undertake to compute
the Total, but only how the same may fall out in One Hundred Pound:
There may be found in it Ten Pound of good New Money, then rests
Ninety Pound; and of that I will suppose half to be clipt Money, and
half good; so there will be but Five and Forty, in One Hundred Pounds,
whereupon there will be any loss; and that will not surely be above a
Third part: so I allow 15 l. per cent for the loss by clipt Money,
which is with the most, and in such Computes, it is safest to err on
Now in case it should be thought fit, that the King should n all
the Receipts of the Publick Revenue, forbid the taking of clipt Coyn,
unless the Subject were content to pay it by weight at 5 s 2 d per
Ounce, every Piece being cut in Two, (which must be expecially and
effetually secured to be done) I grant it would be a great surprize,
but no great cause of Complaint when nothing is required, but that the
Publick Revenue may be paid in lawful English Money.
And those who are to make Payments, must either find good Money,
or clip in two their cropt Money, and part with it on such terms; by
this example it would likewise be found, that in a short time, all Men
would refuse clipt Money in common Payment.
Now let us consider, where the loss would light, which I have
estimated to be about 15 per cent.
We are apt to make Over-estimates of the Quantities of current
Money; for we see it often, and know it not again; and are not willing
to consider how very a little time it stays in a place; and altho'
every one desires to have it, yet none, or very few care for keeping
it but they are forthwith contriving to dispose it; knowing that from
all the Money that lies dead, no benefit is to be expected, but it is
a certain loss.
The Merchant and Gentleman keep their Money for the most part,
with Goldsmiths, and Scriveners; and they, instead of having Ten
Thousand Pounds in Cash by them, as their Accounts shew they should
have, of other Mens ready Money, to be paid at sight, have seldom One
Thousand in Specie; but depend upon a course of Trade, whereby Money
comes in as fast as it is taken out: Wherefore I conclude, that the
Specifick Money of this Nation is far less than the common Opinion
Now suppose all the loss by clipt Money should happen and fall
where the Cash is, it would be severe in very few Places. It could do
no great harm to Hoards of Money; because those who intend to keep
Money, will be sure to lay up that which is good. It would not
signifie much to the poor Man for he many times hath none; and for the
most part, if he hath any, it is very little, seldome Five Shillings
at a time. The Farmer is supposed to pay his Landlord, as fast as he
gets Money; so it is not likely he should be catcht with much:
Wherefore it will light chiefly upon Trading Men, who may sometimes be
found with Hundreds by them; and frequently not with many Pounds.
Those who happen to have such grest Cashes at such time would sustain
In short, clipt Money is an Evil, that the longer it is born with,
the harder will the Cure be. And if the Loss therein be lain on the
Publick, (as Common Project is) the Inconveniences are (as hath been
shewed) very great; but in the other way of Cure it is not such a
terrible Grievance, as most men have imagined it would be.
So to conclude, when the Reasons, which have been hastily and
confusedly set down, are duly considered, I doubt not but we shall
joyn in one uniform Sentiment: That Laws to hamper Trade whether
Forreign, or Domestick, relating to Money, or other Merchandizes, are
not Ingredients to make a People Rich, and abounding in Money, and
Stock. But if Peace be procured, easie Justice maintained, the
Navigation not clogg'd, the Industrious encouraged, by indulging them
in the participation of Honours, and Imployment in the Government,
according to their Wealth and Characters, the Stock of the Nation will
increase, and consequently Gold and Silver abound, Interest be easie,
and Money cannot be wanting.
Upon farther Consideration of the Foregoing Matters, I think fit to
add the following Notes.
When a Nation is grown Rich, Gold, Silver, Jewels, and every thing
useful, or desirable, (as I have already said) will be plentiful; and
the Fruits of the Earth will purchase more of them, than before, when
People were poorer: As a fat Oxe in former Ages, was not sold for more
Shillings, than now Pounds. The like takes place in Labourers Wages,
and every thing whatever; which confirms the Universal Maxim I have
built upon, viz. That Plenty of any thing makes it cheap.
Therefore Gold and Silver being now plentiful, a Man hath much
more of it for his labour, for his Corn, for his Cattle, etc. then
culd be had Five Hundred Years ago, when, as must be owed, there was
not near so much by many parts as now.
Notwithstanding this, I find many, who seem willing to allow, that
this Nation at present, abounds with Gold and Silver, in Plate and
Bullion; but are yet of Opinion, That coyned Money is wanted to carry
on the Trade, and that were there more Specifick Money, Trade would
increase, and we should have better Markets for every thing.
That this is a great Error, I think the foregoing Papers makes
out: but to clear it a little farther, let it be considered, that
Money is a Manufacture of Bullion wrought in the Mint. Now if the
Materials are ready, and the Workmen also, 'tis absurd to say, the
Manufacture is wanted.
For instance: Have you Corn, and do you want Meal? Carry the Corn
to the Mill, and grind it. Yes; but I want Meal, because others will
not carry their Corn; and I have none: say you so; then buy Corn of
them, and carry it to the Mill your self. This is exactly the case of
Money. A very rich Man hath much Plate, for Honour and Show; whereupon
a poorer Man thinks, if it were coyned into Money, the Publick, and
his self among the rest, would be the better for it; but he is utterly
mistaken; unless at the same time you oblige the rich Man to squander
his new coyn'd Money away.
For if he lays it up, I am sure the matter is not mended: if he
commutes it for Diamonds, Pearl, etc. the Case is still the same; it
is but changed from one hand to another; and it may be the Money is
dispatcht to the Indies to pay for those Jewels: then if he buys Land,
it is no more than changing the hand, and regarding all Persons,
except the Dealers only, the Case is still the same. Money will always
have an Owner, and never goeth a Beggar for Entertainment, but must be
purchast for valuable consideration in solido.
If the use of Plate were prohibited, then it were a sumptuary Law,
and, as such, would be a vast hindrance to the Riches and Trade of the
Nation: for now seeing every Man hath Plate in his House, the Nation
is possest of a solid Fund, consisting in those Mettals, which all the
world desire, and would willingly draw from us; and this in far
greater measure than would be, if Men were not allowed that liberty.
For the poor Tradesman, out of an ambition to have a Piece of Plate
upon his Cupboard, works harder to purchase it, than he would do if
that humour were restrain'd as I have said elsewhere.
There is required for carrying on the Trade of the Nation, a
determinate Sum of Specifick Money, which varies, and is sometimes
more, sometimes less, as the Circumstances we are in requires. War
time calls for more Money than time of Peace, because every one
desires to keep some by him, to use upon Emergiences; not thinking it
prudent to rely upon Moneys currant in dealing, as they do in times of
Peace, when Payments are more certain.
This ebbing and flowing of Money, supplies and accommodates
itself, without any aid of Politicians. For when Money grows scarce,
and begins to be hoarded, then forthwith the Mint works, till the
occasion be filled up again. And on the other side, when Peace brings
out the Hoards, and Money abounds, the Mint not only ceaseth, but the
overplus of Money will be presently melted down, either to supply the
Home Trade, or for Transportation.
Thus the Buckets work alternately, when Money is scarce, Bullion
is coyn'd; when Bullion is scarce, Money is melted. I do not allow
that both should be scarce at one and the same time; for that is a
state of Poverty, and will not be, till we are exhausted, which is
besides my subject.
Some have fancied, that if by a Law the Ounce of Silver were
restrained to 5 s. value, all dealings, and at the Tower the same
were coyned into 5 s 4 d or 5 s 6 d per Ounce, all the Plate in
England would soon be coyned. The answer to this, in short is: That
the Principle they build upon is impossible. How can any Law hinder me
from giving another Man, what I please for his Goods? The Law may be
evaded a thousand ways. As be it so: I must not give, nor he receive
above 5 s per Ounce for Silver; I may him 5 s and present him with 4 d
or 6 d more; I may give him Goods in barter, at such, or greater
profit; and so by ohter contrivances, ad Infinitum.
But put case it took effect, and by that means all the Silver in
England were coyned into Money; What then? would any one spend more in
Cloaths, Equipages, Housekeeping, etc. then is done? I believe not;
but rather the contrary: For the Gentry and Commonalty being nipt in
their delight of seeing Plate, etc. in their Houses, would in all
probability be dampt in all other Expences: Wherefore if this could be
done, as I affirm it cannot, yet instead of procuring the desired
effect, it would bring on all the Mischiefs of a sumptuary Law.
Whenever the Money is made lighter, or baser in allay, (which is
the same thing) the effect is, that immediately the price of Bullion
answers. So that in reality you change the Name, but not the thing:
and whatever the difference is, the Tenant and Debtor hath it in his
favor; for Rent and Debts will be paid less, by just so much as the
intrinsick value is less, then what was to be paid before.
For example: One who before received for Rent or Debt, 3 l 2 s
could with it buy twelve Ounces, or a Pound of Sterling Silver; but if
the Crown-piece be worse in value than now it is, by 3 d I do averr,
you shall not be able to buy a Pound of such Silver under 3 l 5 s but
either directly, or indirectly it shall cost so much.
But then it is said, we will buy an Ounce for 5 s because 'tis the
Price set by the Parliament, and no body shall dare to sell for more.
I answer, If they cannot sell it for more, they may coyn it; And then
what Fool will sell and Ounce of Silver for 5 s when he may coyn it
into 5 s 5 d?
Thus we may labour to hedge in the Cuckow, but in vain; for no
People ever yet grew rich by Policies; but it is Peace, Industry, and
Freedom that brings Trade and Wealth, and nothing else.