Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

at least, regulators of each other. The high prices which have been given in California for flour, pork, merchandise, &c, imported thither, depend mainly on a different principle—on the demand beyond the supply, and the consequent competition of purchasers, stimulated, no doubt, and assisted by the abundance of money, or its equivalent, gold dust; but not proceeding from the abundance as a necessary effect. Should any articles of merchandise be brought into California, in excess of the accustomed wants of the inhabitants, the articles will fall in price to an extent governed by the excess, notwithstanding the abundance of gold.

In California, therefore, the quantity of gold which can be picked up daily, is, at present, a measure of the value of day labor—a condition which seems to conflict with the theory, that the value of gold is regulated by the cost of its production. The discrepancy. is occasioned by the exportability of gold, thereby making its value in California dependent, not on the facility of its production there, but on its value in places to which it can be exported. Gold will continue to retain in California its European value, till the quantity received from California shall create in Europe a surplus of gold beyond the accustomed uses therefor. Nay, before gold can depreciate in California, or anywhere, an excess of gold must be experienced in every place that commerce can reach, gold being the most exportable of articles, by reason of its great value in a small bulk and weight-circumstances which assimilate it with the electric fluid, and make its transits easy, and relatively costless; and which have, accordingly, always caused it to be an almost perfect common measure of value between the most remote countries. Our State is the recipient of nearly half the gold that is exported from California, yet

gold in New-York retains all its accustomed value; unless, indeed, we assume the question in controversy, and say that the premium which is paid for silver is occasioned by a depreciation of gold. All the gold we receive, we can still employ in our accustomed remittances to Great Britain, at its accustomed value here and there, in liquidation of debts contracted before the influx of gold. The surplus which may occur anywhere will be first apparent in the creditor nations of the earth, of which England is the greatest, and to which the exigencies ci commerce cause it to flow; still, in England, the depreciation of gold is as much a controverted question as it is with us.

GOLD

COINS

POSSESS A VALUE DISTINCT FROM THE PRICE

OF BULLION.

But whatever depreciation may occur to gold as bullion, the effect to every person, arising from the depreciation of bullion, is different from the depreciation of gold as coin. The man whose property consists of debts due to him, of bank stock, fixed annuities, or money in any other shape, is not compelled to receive bullion at any higher price than its market value. Coined gold he is bound to receive at its legal rate, but the coin possesses to the receiver an inherent value, by reason that it can liquidate all existing debts, national and individual, and which debts were contracted before the depreciation of gold. Our Wall-street brokers will occasionally purchase, at par, a stock known to be worthless, but the purchase is made to fulfill a former contract for the delivery of the stock; hence it is worth par to the purchaser, if he cannot obtain it for less. Our old Continental paper money became, eventually, worth in silver only 1 per cent. of its nominal value; yet when the bills were first emitted, and were a legal tender

in discharge of specie-contracted debts, they retained a value nearly equal to silver, so long as such a use existed for them. When the notes would eventually exchange for silver at only 1 per cent. of their nominal value, the debts for which they were then a legal tender had been contracted on a basis graduated by the depreciation of the bills. A bank may to-day become worthless, yet if its notes in circulation exceed not in amount the solvent debts due to the bank, and which can be paid by the bank notes, the notes will continue to sell at nearly, or quite, their nominal value, being as useful as specie to the bank's debtors. But habit also attaches some fixedness to the character of money. When the revisers of our State laws, some twenty-three years ago, changed a gross hundred-weight from 112 pounds avoirdupois to 100 pounds, and a ton from 2,240 pounds to 2,000 pounds, they diminished the intrinsic value of a ton of hay nearly one-eighth; but people had been so long accustomed to a given price for a ton of hay, that the change in the intrinsic value of the ton has ever since inured to the benefit of the producer. Thus, gold coins might depreciate greatly in intrinsic value, before a man would pass a gold eagle for less value, in other articles, than he is accustomed to receive for it. We know that in 1834 our gold coinage was reduced in value some 6 per cent., yet the reduction has ever since been undiscoverable, except when the coins are exported and sold as bullion. The distinction between coin and bullion is not unseen in France, as we learn from a recent paper of M. Dierichx, the Director of the Paris Mint, and communicated to the French Commission, which is deliberating on a cessation in France of the coinage of gold. M. Dierichx speaks of the existing coinage as possessing a value “guaranteed by the stamp of the State.” Now if

we consider the public debt of Great Britain, four thousand million of dollars, besides the public debt of our own National and State Governments, and the immense indebtedness of the inhabitants of both countries, and the debts of corporations, and which are all payable during a long futurity, and can be liquidated by gold coins at their pristine value, we may see that a person whose property consists of money, directly or indirectly, need not fear any sudden change in the value of his property; and probably no inan exists who will be able to feel, at the close of life, that the change has impaired his fortune in any sensible degree.

We have purposely confined the above view to our country and Great Britain, excluding France and all the other nations of Europe, Asia and America, that possess a gold coinage, and whose operations will, by the principles above referred to, aid in guaranteeing permanency to the value of gold. Such countries may possibly adopt hereafter a coinage wholly of silver, but we know England and our country will not, for reasons already explained; and for the further reason, as relates to our country, that, possessing the sources of gold, we can no more expect her to discourage the use of gold, than we can expect China to discourage the consumption of tea.

CONCLUSION.

But we may be told that gold coins cannot retain a value much above gold bullion, by reason that a spurious coinage of gold cannot be prevented, should the price of bullion fall much below the value of coin. The spurious coins will be made out of the same standard gold as the genuine, and of equal weight, and be incapable of detection. The objection is probably correct, and it will doubtless prevent

a cessation of coinage by any government which retains gold as a legal currency. Still we believe that the uses and principles which we have enumerated will uphold all the gold that can be coined, and consequently keep the price of gold bullion from any depreciation, except the most gradual and insensible. Yet, should gold be found in California, or in the Ural and Altai mountains, or anywhere, in quantities enough to supply the known uses therefor, and be procurable at less cost than gold has heretofore been procured, its value will be ultimately lowered in proportion to the diminution in its cost. Many persons believe that a depreciation has been long in progress. It may now be somewhat accelerated in its course, but it will still creep on, like old age, noiselessly and imperceptibly; and we shall become conscious of the change, if change it shall, only by comparing together long separated periods.

TITLE AND PLAN OF A NEW DICTIONARY.*

We are taught many dead languages and several of the living, while our own English is acquired accidentally, or, at most, incidentally ; and while we have collected and methodized Egyptian hieroglyphics, our own words are un

* This plan was published in 1830, in a pamphlet, and soon thereafter it constituted an address in the City of New-York, to the “ American Lyceum," and was published among the proceedings of the Lyceum. How far it has been operative, the author knows not; but since its publication, several school books by Towne and others have supplied some of its requirements. Webster's Dictionary, also, in its late editions, by Professor Goodrich, has been much improved by several approximations to the plan, especially as regards synonyms; but the most remarkable approximation is Roget's Thesaurus, published in London in 1852. The plan is, however, still unexecuted to the extent that utility requires, the plan contemplating an improved dictionary in full, with all the aids necessary to make it a completo Index to our language.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »