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king of Portugal, which it feems is one-fifth of C HAP. the standard metal, we might value it at eighteen millions of cruzadoes, or forty-five millions of French livres, equal to about two millions fterling. On account of what may have been fmuggled, however, we may fafely, he says, add to this fum an eighth more, or 250,000l. fterling, fo that the whole will amount to 2,250,000l. fterling. According to this account, therefore, the whole annual importation of the precious metals into both Spain and Portugal, amounts to about 6,075,000l. fterling.
SEVERAL other very well authenticated, though manuscript, accounts, I have been affured, agree, in making this whole annual importation amount at an average to about fix millions fterling; fometimes a little more, fometimes a little less.
THE annual importation of the precious metals into Cadiz and Lifbon, indeed, is not equal to the whole annual produce of the mines of America. Some part is fent annually by the Acapulco fhips to Manilla; fome part is employed in the contraband trade which the Spanish colonies carry on with thofe of other European nations; and fome part, no doubt, remains in the country. The mines of America, befides, are by no means the only gold and filver mines in the world. They are, however, by far the most abundant. The produce of all the other mines which are known, is infignificant, it is acknowledged, in comparifon with theirs; and the far greater part of their produce, it is likewife acknowledged, is annually imported into Cadiz
BOOK and Lifbon. But the confumption of Birmingham alone, at the rate of fifty thousand pounds a year, is equal to the hundred-and-twentieth part of this annual importation at the rate of fix millions a year. The whole annual confumption of gold and filver, therefore, in all the different countries of the world where thofe metals are used, may perhaps be nearly equal to the whole annual produce. The remainder may be no more than sufficient to fupply the increasing demand of all thriving countries. It may even have fallen fo far fhort of this demand as fomewhat to raife the price of those metals in the European market.
THE quantity of brafs and iron annually brought from the mine to the market is out of all proportion greater than that of gold and filver. We do not, however, upon this account, imagine that thofe coarfe metals are likely to multiply beyond the demand, or to become gradually cheaper and cheaper. Why should we imagine that the precious metals are likely to do fo? The coarfe metals, indeed, though harder, are put to much harder ufes, and, as they are of lefs value, lefs care is employed in their prefervation. The precious metals, however, are not neceffarily immortal any more than they, but are liable too to be loft, wafted, and confumed in a great variety of ways.
THE price of all metals, though liable to flow and gradual variations, varies lefs from year to year than that of almoft any other part of the rude produce of land; and the price of the pre
The corn which was brought
cious metals is even less liable to fudden vari- c H A P, ations than that of the coarse ones. The durablenefs of metals is the foundation of this extraordinary fteadiness of price. to market last year, will be all or almost all confumed long before the end of this year. But fome part of the iron which was brought from the mine two or three hundred years ago, may be ftill in ufe, and perhaps fome part of the gold which was brought from it two or three thousand years ago. The different maffes of corn which in different years must fupply the confumption of the world, will always be nearly in proportion to the respective produce of those different years. But the propor
tion between the different maffes of iron which may be in use in two different years, will be very little affected by any accidental difference in the produce of the iron mines of those two years; and the proportion between the maffes of gold will be ftill lefs affected by any fuch difference in the produce of the gold mines. Though the produce of the greater part of metallic mines, therefore, varies, perhaps, ftill more from year to year than that of the greater part of corn-fields, thofe variations have not the fame effect upon the price of the one fpecies of commodities, as upon that of the other.
Variations in the Proportion between the respective
BEFORE the discovery of the mines of
was regulated in the different mints of Europe,
THE great quantities of filver carried annually from Europe to India, have, in fome of the English fettlements, gradually reduced the value of that metal in proportion to gold. In the mint of Calcutta, an ounce of fine gold is fuppofed to be worth fifteen ounces of fine filver, in the fame manner as in Europe. It is in the mint perhaps rated too high for the value which it bears in the
market of Bengal. In China, the proportion of c HA P. gold to filver ftill continues as one to ten, or c
In Japan, it is faid to be as one
THE proportion between the quantities of gold and filver annually imported into Europe, according to Mr. Meggens's account, is as one to twenty-two nearly; that is, for one ounce of gold there are imported a little more than twenty-two ounces of filver. The great quantity of filver sent annually to the East Indies, reduces, he suppofes, the quantities of thofe metals which remain in Europe to the proportion of one to fourteen or fifteen, the proportion of their values. The proportion between their values, he feems to think, must neceffarily be the fame as that between their quantities, and would therefore be as one to twenty-two, were it not for this greater exportation of filver.
BUT the ordinary proportion between the respective values of two commodities is not neceffarily the fame as that between the quantities of them which are commonly in the market. The price of an ox, reckoned at ten guineas, is about threescore times the price of a lamb, reckoned at 3 s. 6d. It would be abfurd, however, to infer from thence, that there are commonly in the market threefcore lambs for one ox: and it would be juft as abfurd to infer, becaufe an ounce of gold will commonly purchafe from fourteen to fifteen ounces of filver, that there are commonly in the market only fourteen or fifteen ounces of filver for one ounce of gold.