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in want of money,
What Europe loses in the balance of trade with China, is spread oyer a great population ; a considerable quantity of gold and silver is converted into wire and plates *; the accumulation of specie is very slow, and has scarcely begun to be felt within these twenty years, in an increase of the price of commodities. +
There remains to be considered a third way for the exportation of the precious metals from Europe into Asia, that which is carried by the Russian trade. We learn by the tables published by the Count de Romanzof, that the importation from China, into the government of Irkoutsk, was, from 1802 to 1805, at an average, to the amount of 2,035,900 roubles in tea, and 2,434,400 in cotton. In general, the balance of trade of Russia with China, Bucharia, the country of Khiva, and the banks of the Kirghiskaisaks, was in favour of the Russian Empire, during the same period, more than 4,216,000 roubles per annum. We see from these data, that in estimating the contraband at a sixth, the exportation of specie, by
* Macartney, vol. iv. p. 286.
# Tableau du Commerce de l'Empire de Russie, translated by M. Pfeiffer, 1808, Nos. 9 and 10. Olivarius le Nord Litteraire, 1799, No.7. p. 202. VOL. III.
means of the Caspian sea, Caucasus, Orenburg, Tobolsk, Tomsk, Irkoutsk, and Kiachta, cannot amount to more than 4 millions of piastres.
We have ascertained then *, from sources which must be considered as the best, that of the 43,500,000 piastres which Europe at present
receives annually from America,
the Levant trade;
17,500,000, into Asia by the Cape 25,500,000
of Good Hope; 4,000,000, into Asia, by the way
of Kiachta and Tobolsk;
18,000,000 gold and silver of America, which
remain in Europe. We must deduct from these eighteen millions of piastres, or 94,500,000 livres tournois t; what is lost by melting down, and dissipated in a number of small jewels and trinkets, as well as what is used in plate, lace, and gilding. It was ascertained at the mint of Paris, that from 1709 to 1759, the increase of plate was in the proportion of 1 to 7. M. Necker thought him
See the sketch of a map, exhibiting the flux and reflux of the precious metals from one continent to the other, in the atlas to this work.
+ £3,780,000 Sterling. Trans.
self warranted in estimating previous to 1789, at 4 millions of piastres *, the amount annually consumed in jewels, lace, and embroidered stuffs manufactured in France. + Part of these metals was evidently derived from melting down the old plate and lace; however the annual consumption by the goldsmiths of ingots of silver, is very considerable #; and when we add what disappears, from transportation, and the friction of daily circulation, we may estimate, with Forbonnais, and other writers on political economy, that the quantity of precious metals which disappear in Europe, or which are converted into plate and lace, amounts to a third of the total mass which is not consumed by the commerce with Asia, that is at six or seven millions of piastres per annum.
On the other hand, the mines of Europe and Siberia furnish annually nearly 4 millions of piastres. According to these calculations, which from their nature can only be approximate, the increase of the gold and silver currency of Europe appears only to be fifteen millions of piastres, or 78,700,000 livres tournois. S Those
* £840,000 Sterling. Trans.
£3,212,243 Sterling. Trans.
persons who have long inhabited the north and east of Europe, and attentively followed the progress of civilization among the lowest classes of the people in Poland, Norway, and Russia, will entertain no doubt of the reality of this accumulation of specie.
Its effects must be scarcely perceptible, because the capital of all Europe is only increased at the rate of one per cent. per annum.
The view which we have exhibited in this chapter, of the present state of the mines of the New World, and of those of Mexico in particular, ought to lead us to entertain a dread of the rapid increase of the sum of representative signs, when the Highlanders of North and South America, shall gradually rouse from their profound lethargy, in which they have so long been plunged. It would be remote from the principal object of this work, to discuss whether the interests of society would really suffer from this accumulation of specie. It is sufficient in this place to observe, that the danger is not so great
appears on a first view, because the quantity of commodities which enter into commerce, and which require to be represented, increases with the number of representative signs. The price of grain, it is true, has tripled since the treasures of the New Continent were poured into the Old. This
rise, which was not felt till the middle of the 16th century, took place suddenly between 1570 and 1595, when the silver of Potosi, Porco, Tasco, Zacatecas, and Pachuca, began to flow throughout all parts of Europe. But, on the other hand, between that memorable period in the history of commerce, till 1636, the discovery of the mines of America produced its whole effect on the reduction of the value of money. The price of grain has not in reality risen to the present day, and if the contrary has been advanced by several authors, it is from their having confounded the nominal value of coin, with the true proportion between money and commodities.
Whatever opinion may be adopted as to the future effects of the accumulation of the representative signs, if we consider the people of New Spain under the relation of their commercial connections with Europe, it cannot be denied that, in the present state of things, the abundance of the precious metals has a powerful influence on the national prosperity. It is from this abundance, that America is enabled to pay in specie, the produce of foreign industry, and to share in the enjoyments of the most civilized nations of the Old Continent. Notwithstanding this real advantage, it is to be sincerely wished, that the Mexicans, enlightened as to their true interest, may re