Chapter 8Of the low Price of our Silver It hath been declared in the Chapter concerning the Proportion between Gold and Silver, that now in England Thirteen pound and one fifth of Silver doth but answer in value to one Pound in Gold, which Proportion is much above the Practice of former ages in England, and other Countries about, both heretofore and at the present, which is principally grown by the great raising of Gold 2s in the pound, in the 9th year of his late Majestie's Reign, at which time or at any time since, Silver hath not been raised: the first Effect whereof hath been, That great Quantities of Gold have since been coined, but little or no Silver, except now very lately. And of that Silver which we before had, the weightiest hath been culled out, and transported or melted, and that which doth remain amongst us, is so light, as the lightness only doth preserve it in use, and the scarcity thereof is so great, that a many may go into a great many shops in London, of great Trade and Commerce before he shall get a 20s. piece in Gold to be chang'd into Silver: and far the greatest part of all paiments is made now in gold, contrary to former times; whereas the true Rule for the good of the Commonwealth is, That there should be such a Proportion kept between Gold and Silver, as that they might equally abound, and of the two Silver most abound: the Reason whereof is, That the greatest part of the Commerce, is made in silver, the want whereof doth greatly rejudice the same. The Remedy of this Inconvenience is plain and easy in the general, and theory, which is to reduce the Gold and silver to an equal Proportion, but when you come to the Practick, there does arise two great Difficulties, the first to find out what this equal Proportion is, the next how to settle it, whether by reducing the Gold unto the Silver, or by advancing the Silver unto the Gold. I. Concerning the first, Many are of opinion, that the Proportion should be left as it is; for they say, Although our Gold be very high priced, yet it answereth the weight of the King's Ordinance, being continually weighed, and rejected if it be not weighty. But our Silver is not so, being much lighter than the King's Ordinance, the Silver be above 13 fine in Silver, for one fine in Gold; yet in Practice, by reason of the lightness of the Silver, the Proportion is much short of that. But they that give this reason do not consider, that in this manner, although our Silver will remain still in use amongst us, as long as it lasteth, by reason of the lightness of it, yet of all that is new coined according to this Ordinance, the weightest and loyallest will be continually culled out, and transported, or melted: and therefore since the Experience of the scarcity which we have of Silver doth sufficiently prove unto us the Inconvenience of the Proportion, it ought to be altered. Others would have the Proportion to be eleven or thereabouts, because that was the ancient Proportion, both amongst us here in England, and amongst our Neighbours. But since that Proportion is under that of all our neighbours at this present, it would in time fall out thereupon that we should suffer as much scarcity of Gold as we do now of Silver. But the most, and the most Judicious Propositions that I have seen, both at home and in other parts, do agree upon twelve for one, as the most equal Proportion; and it agrees with the Proportion of Spain, upon which in this Subject, we ought principally to have our eye fixed: and for my part, I do the rather incline to this Proportion, because 12 of all the numbers is most proper for Money, being the most clear from fractions and Confusion of an Accompt, (which ought not to be neglected) by reason that of all other numbers it is most divisible, being divisible into unities as all numbers are; into two parts as no odd number is; three parts as no even number is but six, and the numbers that consist of sixes; fourths into which six is not divisible; and into sixths: This Proportion seems like to square with the Conceipt of the Alchymists, who call Gold Sol, and Silver Luna, whose Motions do come near upon the point of 12 for 1, and the Conceipt of many men hath run so strongly upon the proportion of 12 for 1, that they'd have it hold as well in Money wrought, as in Gold or Silver fine, so as the Pieces of Silver and Gold should weight one the other; and 12 in Silver should answer in value one of Gold. But the Proportion cannot hold both in Money wrought, and Silver and Gold unwrought, except the Allay should be likewise made equal, and then it follows that there should be 12 times as much over-value allowed to the Gold as to the Silver, which were a rate beyond the present allowance, and would much weak'n the Money of Gold in intrinsical value; yet that point doth justly meet with the practice which in ancient time was in France, there being in an ancient Reglement of Moneys, this following Article, Que l'on face Monoye d'or a 23 carrats et rendra aux Merchans d'un Marc d'or fine, un Marc d'or ouvre, et Monoye a ladit loy. And by the same Reglement the Silver Money was made of 11 deniers and 12 grains fine, called Argent le Roy; and some others do find it a very subtile Inconvenience in the want of laying so many times a greater Charge and Tribute upon the Gold than upon the Silver, as the Gold doth exceed the Silver in value, proportion for proportion; alledging that for one main reason, why the Gold is always raised and esteemed somewhat higher than the publick Ordinance, because the Gold Money is really so much more in value than the Silver Money, according to their rates, by how much there is less Charge and Tribute laid upon the Gold in proportion than upon the Silver. But admitting the Objection made, that if there should be 12 times as much charge laid upon the Gold as upon the Silver, it would be too great a discouragement to the Merchant to bring his Gold to be coined, it may easily be salved here in England, according to the custom of our Mint, by making the price of Gold fine unwrought, somewhat more than 12 for one, and allowing so unto the Merchant, leaving the charge the same, which now it is. For the second point to wit, whether the Proportion should be settled by raising the Silver in price unto the Gold, or by reducing the Gold unto the Silver. First, In speaking thereof, I do not mean to anticipate that Question, Whether if be beneficial for the Commonwealth, that the prices should at any time be raised or not? which is the proper Subject of another Chapter, and is indeed the most Importunate, and the most difficult Question of any other in matter of Money: Although it be true, that the raising one of the Materials of Money doth produce all the inconveniences that are produced by raising of both the Materials which is not rais'd; yet in the present Estate and Condition wherein our Silver doth now stand, we shall find by the subsequent Discussion of this Question, that by the raising of the Silver to a more equal Proportion to our Gold, these Inconveniences have no place. And First, If you shall abase the Gold to hold a proportion of 12 to 1 with the Silver, besides the general Objection against all Abasements, which is Exportation, there will this particular Inconvenience follow, as we now stand, That you cannot abase it to the just Proportion without new coyning of all the Gold, which will produce both an extream trouble and Confusion, and exceeding loss unto the Kingdom, and is by the Prescripts of many excellent Roman Emperors condemned, as savoring of Injustice and Envy towards the memorie of precedent Princes to deface their Coins. And besides the scarcity of the Silver will still remain, for their continuing still so great a disproportion between the new Silver which shall be coyned according to the antient standard weighty and good, and the old Silver grown so much over-light, partly by the wearing, but especially by that culling out and exporting that which was coined either over-heavie, or of just weight; and that which coyned over-light only remaining; how will it be possible, but that so much of the new Silver which shall be coined either of over-heavie, or of a just weight, will still be culled out, either to be transported, or to be melted down for other uses? If on the other side the Silver shall be coyned hereafter of a new standard answering to a proportion of 12 for one of the Gold, as now it stands; the Merchant will be encouraged to bring more in, the reminting of the antient Money shall be avoided; and if that supposition be true, that the antient Silver be exported upon the raising of the new, neither will the price of the things be raised, since the new Money (although in standard it differs) yet in truth of weight will hold so near a Proportion with the antient: and here it will be necessary to observe the Examination which we have made in several places of this Treatise. First, In what Proportion, for the values of our Gold and Silver, it is most useful for this Kingdom to stand, in respect of our Neighbours neerest about us, and then examine how indeed we do stand with them? Where I do find an exceeding great abuse, because those who do manage the affairs of the Mint do make their Computation of the Standard of Forrein Coins, meerly as the Gold-Smiths do by melting of them: the error of which Computation will easily be apprehended, if any man shall go about to discover the sterling standard by melting of sterling money, the pieces whereof being so unequally coyned, as they are the difference between a piece that is over-light, and again of a piece of the absolute fineness of the standard, and another deficient the full extent of the Remedy allowed, will be so great, as whosoever shall compute the standard by the one or by the other, must needs run into extream Error.