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see from the accounts of Macartney, Barrow, De Guignes and other intelligent travellers, that gold and silver are not more common in China, than in the greatest part of the countries of Europe. The annual revenue of the state, is no doubt estimated at 1584 millions of francs* (301,714,000 piastres)t; but the greater part of this sum is paid in the produce of the soil and Chinese industry; and according to M. BarrowJ, the quantity which enters Pekin in specie annually, only amounts to 36 millions of ounces of silver, which are estimated at 52,914,000 piastres. The Chinese believe that large sums are annually sent to Moukden, the capital of the country of the Mantchoux Tartars; but this opinion is not founded on facts. Several mandarins are in the possession of immense wealth. The prime minister of the Emperor Tchienlong, was stript of 10 millions of taels, or 74,500,000 livres tournois§ in specie, which he had accumulated by extortion||; but the emperor is very frequently
* £64,653,000 ^Sterling. Tram.
•J- According to Lord Macartney; 710 millions according to M. De Guisnes. t. iii. p. 102.
% Barrow's Travels (French Edit.) t. ii. p. 198.
in want of money. What Europe loses in the balance of trade with China, is spread over a great population; a considerable quantity of gold and silver is converted into wire and leaf*; 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 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 anhumJ. We see from these data, that in estimating the contraband at a sixth, the exportation of specie, by means of the Cas
* Macartney, vol. iv. p. 286.
f Macartney, vol. iii. p. 105; vol iv. p. 231.
$ Tableau du Commerce de Empire de Russte, translated by M. Pfeiffer, 1808, nos. 9 and 10. Olivariut It Nord Litteraire, 1799, no. 7, p 202. VOL. III.
pian 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, there flows nearly -4,000,000, into Asia, by means of the Levant trade 17,500,000, into Asia, by the Cape
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 discount from these eighteen millions of piastres, or 94,500,000 livre* tournoisf, 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
* See the sketch of a map, exhibiting the reflux of the precious metals from one continent to the other, in the atlas to this work. , .•.!.
f £3,780,000 Sterling. Trans. :. .
to 7. M. Necker thought himself warranted in estimating previous to 1789, at 4 millions of piastres*, the amount annually consumed in jewels, lace, and embroidered stuffs manufactured in Francef. 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 considerableJ; 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 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§. Thos«
* 1*840,000 Sterling. Tram.
+ Necker, t iii. p. 74, Peuchet,?. 429.
X Smith, t. ii. p. 60 and 73.
§ £ 3,212,243 Sterling. Tram.
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 as it 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 of1 the New Continent were poured into the old. Thi>