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IV.

operation of fome nicety. In the coarfer metals, CHA P. indeed, where a small error would be of little confequence, lefs accuracy would, no doubt, be neceffary. Yet we should find it exceffively troublesome, if every time a poor man had occafion either to buy or fell a farthing's worth of goods, he was obliged to weigh the farthing. The operation of affaying is ftill more difficult, ftill more tedious, and, unless a part of the metal is fairly melted in the crucible, with proper diffolvents, any conclufion that can be drawn from it, is extremely uncertain. Before the institution of coined money, however, unless they went through this tedious and difficult operation, people must always have been liable to the groffeft frauds and impofitions, and inftead of a pound weight of pure filver, or pure copper, might receive in exchange for their goods, an adulterated compofition of the coarseft and cheapest materials, which had, however, in their outward appearance, been made to resemble those metals. To prevent fuch abuses, to facilitate exchanges, and thereby to encourage all forts of industry and commerce, it has been found neceffary, in all countries that have made any confiderable advances towards improvement, to affix a public ftamp upon certain quantities of fuch particular metals, as were in those countries commonly made ufe of to purchafe goods. Hence the origin of coined money, and of thofe public offices called mints; institutions exactly of the fame nature with those of the aulnagers and ftampmafters of woollen and

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BOOK and linen cloth. All of them are equally meant I. to ascertain, by means of a public ftamp, the quantity and uniform goodness of those different commodities when brought to market.

THE firft public ftamps of this kind that were affixed to the current metals, feem in many cafes to have been intended to afcertain, what it was both most difficult and most important to ascertain, the goodness or fineness of the metal, and to have resembled the fterling mark which is at prefent affixed to plate and bars of silver, or the Spanish mark which is fometimes affixed to ingots of gold, and which being ftruck only upon one fide of the piece, and not covering the whole furface, afcertains the fineness, but not the weight of the metal. Abraham weighs to Ephron the four hundred fhekels of filver which he had agreed to pay for the field of Machpelah. They are faid however to be the current money, of the merchant, and yet are received by weight and not by tale, in the fame manner as ingots of gold and bars of filver are at present. The revenues of the antient Saxon kings of England are faid to have been paid, not in money but in kind, that is, in victuals and provifions of all forts. William the conqueror introduced the custom of paying them in money. This money, however, was, for a long time, received at the exchequer, by weight and not by tale.

THE inconveniency and difficulty of weighing those metals with exactness gave occafion to the institution of coins, of which the stamp, covering entirely both fides of the piece and fometimes

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the edges too, was fuppofed to afcertain not only CHA P. the fineness, but the weight of the metal. Such coins, therefore, were received by tale as at prefent, without the trouble of weighing.

THE denominations of thofe coins feem originally to have expreffed the weight or quantity of metal contained in them. In the time of Servius Tullius, who firft coined money at Rome, the Roman As or Pondo contained a Roman pound of good copper. It was divided in the fame manner as our Troyes pound, into twelve ounces, each of which contained a real ounce of good copper. The English pound fterling in the time of Edward I., contained a pound, Tower weight, of filver of a known finenefs. The Tower pound feems to have been fomething more than the Roman pound, and fomething less than the Troyes pound. This laft was not introduced into the mint of England till the 18th of Henry VIII. The French livre contained in the time of Charlemagne a pound, Troyes weight, of filver of a known fineness. The fair of Troyes in Champaign was at that time frequented by all the nations of Europe, and the weights and measures of fo famous a market were generally known and esteemed. The Scots money pound contained, from the time of Alexander the Firft to that of Robert Bruce, a pound of filver of the fame weight and fineness with the English pound fterling. English, French, and Scots pennies too, contained all of them originally a real pennyweight of filver, the twentieth part of an ounce, and the twoD 4 hundred

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BOOK hundred-and-fortieth part of a pound. The fhilling too feems originally to have been the denomination of a weight. When wheat is at twelve fhillings the quarter, fays an antient ftatute of Henry III. then wastel bread of a farthing fhall weigh eleven fhillings and four pence. The proportion, however, between the fhilling and either the penny on the one hand, or the pound on the other, feems not to have been fo conftant and uniform as that between the penny and the pound. During the first race of the kings of France, the French fou or fhilling appears upon different occafions to have contained five, twelve, twenty, and forty pennies. Among the antient Saxons a fhilling appears at one time to have contained only five pennies, and it is not improbable that it may have been as variable among them as among their neighbours, the antient Franks. From the time of Charlemagne among the French, and from that of William the Conqueror among the English, the proportion between the pound, the fhilling, and the penny, seems to have been uniformly the fame as at prefent, though the value of each has been very different. For in every country of the world, I believe, the avarice and injustice of princes and fovereign ftates, abufing the confidence of their fubjects, have by degrees diminished the real quantity of metal, which had been originally contained in their coins. The Roman As, in the latter ages of the Republic, was reduced to the twenty-fourth part of its original value, and, inftead of weighing a pound, came to weigh only

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half an ounce. The English pound and penny contain at present about a third only; the Scots pound and penny about a thirty-fixth; and the French pound and penny about a fixty-fixth part of their original value. By means of those operations the princes and fovereign ftates which performed them were enabled, in appearance, to pay their debts and to fulfil their engagements with a smaller quantity of filver than would otherwise have been requifite. It was indeed in appearance only; for their creditors were really defrauded of a part of what was due to them. All other debtors in the ftate were allowed the fame privilege, and might pay with the fame nominal fum of the new and debafed coin whatever they had borrowed in the old. Such operations, therefore, have always proved favourable to the debtor, and ruinous to the creditor, and have fometimes produced a greater and more univerfal revolution in the fortunes of private perfons, than could have been occafioned by a very great public calamity.

IT is in this manner that money has become in all civilized nations the univerfal inftrument of commerce, by the intervention of which goods of all kinds are bought and fold, or exchanged for one another.

WHAT are the rules which men naturally obferve in exchanging them either for money or for one another, I fhall now proceed to examine. These rules determine what may be called the relative or exchangeable value of goods.

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