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But there are various obje&tions of a more general nature to the whole plan of this table, which must already have forced themselves upon our readers. If the depreciation of money is to be estimated from the rise in the money price of commodities, an allowance is necessary for the effects produced upon price, by the variation in demand and supply, which takes place according to the progress of society, and the different circumstances of its Gituation. If articles of various kinds are differently affected by these changes, the average of the whole variations of money price will certainly not give any approximation to the variations of the value of money. If one article has grown cheaper, in consequence of improvements in the mode of raising or manufacturing it, and another has grown dearer in consequence of a decreasing de. mand, and diminished attention to its production or fabric, al. though we should admit that specie has all along been growing more plentiful, so as to counteract the effects of the former circumstances, and to assist those of the latter, the medium of the change produced in both cases will evidently furnish no docu. ment of any such increase of specie. It would be absurd, therefore, to eitimate the proportion of this increase, by averaging the contrary effects of opposite circumstances altogether independe ent of the state of currency; or, which is the same thing, to take a medium between an increasing and decreasing series of prices, as a test of the variations in the standard of money. The same remark may be made with respect to averages of increasing series of prices, and prices which are stationary, or which alternately increase and decrease. Yet, in the table of Sir George Shuckburgh, some of the articles are nearly stationary, as wheat; others most rapidly increase, as cattle ; others, as poultry, first increase, and then decrease. If wheat and malt liquors are afe sumed as criteria, while their circumstances vary according to laws so different from those which affect the other commodities, it seems difficult to discover why other articles, such as various manufactures, should not be admitted to influence the cal. culation, since they are much more similar to grain and liquors, than they are to the produce of pasture land. With respect to the value of money in a larger sense, the quantity of comforts and conveniences which it can purchase, has surely been, upon the whole, greatly increased during the period which has elapsed since the discovery of the American mines produced their greatest effect. Many of the necessaries of life have also become cheaper; and some commodities have been disclosed to us, which may be fublituted for those necessaries.
Taking this complex view of the subject, (and we can scarcely yenture to think that any other is compatible with the nature
of of the question, at all events, we are sure that nothing like proportions can be ascertained in so great a mixture of causes), it ihould seem that the value of money has, upon the whole, not decreased in any ratio similar to that of Sir George Shuckburgh's table, even admitting his data to have been sufficiently extenlive, and his mode of computation quite correct. This supposed fact, of the great depreciation of money, is one of those which may be safely admitted, only in so far as they can be accounted for.
The continued inilux from the American mines, has been demonstrated by Dr Smith to be quite inadequate to produce any progressive effects upon the general prices of commodities in the European commonwealth. No one now conceives it possible to effect any partial rise of prices by the increase of specie currency, The augmentation of paper money is proposed by Mr Wheatley as the cause of that enormous depreciation which he maintains, or rather assumes, to have taken place. But this is both incongftent with the facts on which his speculations are founded, and repugnant to more general principles. It is incongstent with the facts; because, according to Sir George Shuckburgh's table, the rate of depreciation was much more rapid during the century after the Conqueft, than during the century after the Restoration; during the period when neither new mines were discovered, nor paper currency exifted, than during the period when, according to Mr Wheatley, the effects of the newly discovered mines were fucceeded by the still more powerful influence of the paper syftem *. The explanation of the supposed rapid decrease, by the effects of paper currency, is no less inconfitent with the most obvious views of the manner in which the general depreciation of currency is effected by the disproportionate iffue of paper. For if that issue becomes lo great, as to cause a rapid depreciation, the market price of the precious metals must rise proportionably above their mint price, and the specie must either be withdrawn from circulation altogether, or a permanent discount must be established between coin and paper currency; neither of which effects it is pretended has taken place. · It is impoffible, therefore, to account for the supposed depreciation upon any principle hitherto proposed ; and we have en deavoured to fhew, that the evidence upon which the suppogtion rests, is of the most Aimsy and suspicious nature. There can
* We must attend, in this eítimate, to the period between 1675 and 1760, and not to the period ending 1795 or 1800. All the numbers after 1760 are interpolated by the aid of the mean for 1795 ; a year of fuch extraordinary scarcity, according to the table itself, that the average price of wheat was nearly double its medium price in 1780.
remain no doubt, then, that the concluçon must be given up which Mr Wheatley has confidently built on such grounds; and we may add, that even if the whole extent of the data were ad mitted, the fallacy of some potions would remain incontestable, It would fill, for example, be erroneous to consider the gradual extinction of the national debt, by the depreciation of currency, as a breach of public faith, or to omit the con Gideration of those changes confeßedly beneficial to annuitants, which are daily taking place in the price of various commodities, or to rank the adjustment of wages among che duties of the legislator, as Mr Wheatley very distinctly does in p. 195.
II. The other fallacies which we conceive our author has committed, upon the subject of paper currency, are by no means fo remarkable, either for povelty or boldness, as that which we have just now been examining. The excess of paper he imputes to the progress of taxation; and, after many eulogiums upon the constitution of the Bank of England, while it remained the solo regulator of the paper circulation of the country, he ascribes the difficulties under which the Bank has laboured, as well as the whole commercial and fiuancial embarrassments of the nation, during the late war, to the increase of country banks, and the permillion of their notes. These banks, he contends, in times of tranquillity, enlarge their iffues too much ; and, in times of alarm, contract them to a proportionable degree. Their notes are, in such emergencies, more liable to suspicion than bank pa. per. The effects of the distrust excited by these, reaches the Bank, whose issues are thus extended in consequence of the country paper being depreciated, as they are contracted from its redundancy in prosperous times. The same redundancy, he adds, increafes all those bad effects of paper currency which we have already amended to. In order to render this reasoning conclufve, Mr Wheatley must prove,
First of all, That the right of engaging in an important department of trade, ought to be confined by Government to one great mercantile company, merely because private individuals may o. ver-trade in this, as in every other line.
Secondly, That the trade of banking is so very peculiar in its nature, as to destroy all prudence, and even to obliterate the fear of failure, in those who undertake it.
Thirdly, That the Bank directors are likely to know the credit of those whom they deal with, better than the merchants in country towns know that of their customers; and are likely to fu. perintend the whole circulation of the community more accurate, sy of themselves, in the metropolis, where they have each separate concerns, than when assisted by the vigilance of four hundred agents in different quarters, whose lives are devoted to the task.
Laflys Lafly, That the central bank has not a sufficient controul over all country banks, when at every time its notes bear to theirs the same relation that specie bears to its own; more particularly, when its obligation to pay in specie has been suspended, without any analogous fuspension in favour of the country banks. It is indeed absurd in the extreme, at present to complain of the coun: try banks increasing the paper currency beyond its just bounds. Until they also shall be absolved from the obligation to fulfil their contracts, no advocate for the Bank of England ought to hazard an allusion of this kind. These establishments still remain under the various checks, which secure the honesty, and quicken the prudence of every private trader. They have the most powerful inducements to pursue the line of conduct most beneficial to the public, and the best means of discovering the direction in which that line runs. To expect, from their thoughtlessness and avarice, a general depreciation of the currency, by a universal over-issue of notes, would be as ridiculous, as to suppose that the Oporto merchants will ever deluge the country with port wine.
Before taking leave of Mr Wheatley's treatise, we must again express our disappointment at the scantiness of the new matter which it displays, upon so various and important a field of inquiry, after the splendid promises of the preface. The minuteness, however, with which we have gone through almost all his reasonings, is a sufficient proof that we value his performance more than the common ephemeral publications on political topics. And as he has evidently paid considerable attention to a subject, removed, by its manifold difficulties, above the reach of ordinary reasoners, we trust that he will continue to prosecute his speculations, until he shall make some real addition to this important branch of science. The style of the tract is extremely careless, and in many parts tainted with a disagreeable vulgarity of expression. It is frequently deficient in grammatical purity; and for these imperfections, it only atones, by a very laudable facrifice of all pretensions to ornament. But, in a work of this nature, there are very trivial faults; and we should not have even thus shortly hinted at them, had we met with much to gratify us in the more substantial parts of the entertainment. .
QUARTERLY LIST OF NEW PUBLICATIONS,
From 25. August to 24. October 1803. "
AGRICULTURE. The first Forty Volumes of Arthur Young's Annals of Agriculture.
ALGEBRA. A Key to Bonycastle's Algebra, wherein the Questions left unanswered in that Treatise, are worked out at full Length, and rendered as plain as the Nature of the Subject will admit. By William Davis. 12m0..
ANTIQUITIES. Plates VIII. and IX. of the Fourth Volume of Vetusta Monumenta.
Afiatic Researches ; or, Transactions of the Society at Bengal for inquiring into the History and Antiquities, the Aris, Sciences, and Literature of Afia. Vol. IV. V. VI. and VII. With many Plates.
Testimonies of different Authors respecting the Colofal Statue of Ceres, placed in the Vestibule of the Public Library at Cambridge "July 1803 ; with an Account of its Removal from Eleusis.
ARCHITECTURE. An Essay on Rural Architecture, illustrated with Original and Economical Designs; being an Attempt also to refute by Analogy the Principles of Mr Malton's Essay on Cottage Architecture. To which jare added, Hints for Rural Retreats, &c. and a Dehign for the Naval Pilar. By Richard Elfam, Architect.
ASTRONOMY. A Defence of the Divine System of the World, which represents the Earth as being at Reit, and the Heavenly Bodies in Motion ; with a Demonftration of the Fallacy of the Solar System of Pythagoras, Copernicus, and Newton. By Bartholomew Prescot.
BIOGRAPHY. The History of the Life and Age of Geoffrey Chaucer, the early English Poet, including Memoirs of his Kinsman John of Ganni. Comprehending Views of the Progress of Society, Manners, and the Fine Arts, from the Dawn of Literature in modern Europe to the close of the Fourteenth Century. With Characters of the principle Personages in the Courts of Edward the Third and Richard the Second. By William Godwin, Author of Political Justice, &c. Two . Volumes 4to.. Mustrated with portraits.
Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Rev. Alexander Geddes, LL. D. By John Mason Good. With a Portrait of the Doctor, 8vo.
BOTANY. ; A Catalogue of Plants cultivated in the Brompton Botanic Garden.
DRAMA. Orlando and Seraphina ; or, the Funeral l'ile, an Heroic Drama, by Francis Lathom,