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Of Contracting with forrein Nations by Ambassadors to keep their
Moneys at a certain standard.
Amongst all the Remedies propounded against the Alterations
of Moneys there is none more specious than this, nor more
frequent in mention, both in provisionall Edicts, which are made
for the Reformation of Moneys, and in Considerations held for the
purpose, for it is said to advance it: That if we contract with
other Nations for a certain and stable standard of Moneys which
may be equal, than we shall avoid all the Inconveniences that do
grow by the raising of Moneys, because we shall never raise them;
and we shall avoid all the Inconveniences that do grow by the not
raising of Moneys, because other Nations shall not raise theirs.
Besides for this Remedy there is alledged the example of former
Ages, wherein it appears that in many Treaties with forrein
Nations our Kings did contract for the mutual standard of their Moneys.
But however the Proposition be specious and frequent, yet, of
all other Remedies, if it be throughly examined, it will appear
the most difficult, or rather impossible, to be effected; and if
it were effected, it would turn to no use, for thus stands the
state of this business, Almost all the Silver which is now drawn
out of the Earth, cometh from the West Indies, all which intirely
aboardeth first in Spain, whence it is dispersed into other
Countries Eastward; which do draw it unto them by setting an
higher price upon it: for, as if there were no Cloth in all the
World but in England, no other country could have cloth except
they did pay dearer for it than in England; and by so much dearer
by how much it were more remote from England, because to the
original price, there must of necessitie be added an increase in
regard of the time, the charge, and hazard of transporting it: so
fares it with Silver, that all Countries which will draw from
Spain, do necessarily set a greater price upon it, by how much
they are more remote from thence, and this is the Reason why the
sphear of Silver seemeth to roll from the West to the East, until
it come unto him, where it seemeth to fall into a Gulph. But of
Gold it is not so, because that comes in as great abundance from
the East as from the West.
Now then it were a great Prejudice for England and France to
contract with Spain for a certain standard of Silver, except they
could likewise contract for the same standard with the Low
Countries, and Italy, who draw part of their Silver from them, as
they draw theirs from Spain; for otherwise, they should give a
stop to the coming in of their Silver, and should leave the issue
of it open. Nor would Turkey contract, unless they could also
contract with Persia for the same, where Silver is yet higher
than in Turkey, and so forward into China; neither would the Low
Countrie men contract, except they could contract for the same
with Hanse Towns, where Silver is higher than in the Low
Countries; neither would the Hanse Towns contract, except they
could contract with Muscovie; neither would Muscovie contract,
except they could contract with Persia; and so forward in all
such places Silver is still at an higher and higher rate.
but suppose it was possible to draw all those Countries to a
certain contract, what would be the use of it? I did in a former
Chapter observe that most Countries, and particularly France and
the Low Countries do seldome or never raise their Moneys: But
when People by Custom and general Use have raised the Money
before hand beyond the Publick Declaration, and the State is
forced to follow the People who in this Case they do not master,
to what end is it then to contract with those Nations for that
which is not in their Power to observe? And that which is
alledged for the course of contracting, with forrein Nations, out
of the example of former times, doth clearly convince the vanity
of this Proposition, for it is manifest, as I have shewed in the
former Chapters that notwithstanding these Contracts, the Money
was continually from time to time raised.