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Annual produce of the gold and silver mines of Europe, Northern Asia,

and America.

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|Northern Asia


5,300 1,297 4,467,444 215,200 52,670 11,704,444 16,171,888

2,200 538 1,853,111 88,700 21,709 4,824,222 6,677,333 ... 170,647 17,291 59,557,889 3,250,547 795,581 176,795,778 236,353,667

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In this table the gold is valued at 3444 francs 44 centimes, and the silver at 222 francs 22 centimes per kilogramme. It indicates the quantity of the precious metals which annually enters into circulation among the civilized nations of Europe. It is impossible to value the mass of gold and silver at present worked on the whole surface of the globe; for we are absolutely ignorant of what is produced in the interior of Africa, in Central Asia, Tonquin, China, and Japan. The trade in gold dust, carried on on the eastern and western coasts of Africa, and the information derived by us from the antients respecting the countries with which we have no longer any communication, might lead us to suppose that the countries to the south of the Niger are very rich in precious metals. We may make the same supposition respecting the high chain of mountains, extending to the north-east of the Paropamisus, towards the frontiers of China. T'he quantity of ingots of gold and silver formerly exported by the Dutch from Japan, proves, that the mines of Sado, Sourouma, Bingo, and Kinsima, are equal in wealth, to several of the mines of America. .

Of the 78,000 marcs of gold, and 3,550,000 marcs of silver, French weight, annually extracted since the end of the 18th century,

from all the mines of America, Europe, and Northern Asia, America alone, furnishes 70,000 marcs of gold, and 3,250,000 marcs of silver, and consequently loo of the total produce of gold, and ióo of the total produce of silver. The relative abundance of the two metals, differ therefore very little in the two conti. nents. The quantity of gold drawn from the mines of America, is to that of silver, as 1 to 46; and in Europe, including Asiatic Russia, the proportion is as 1 to 40.

These results may serve to throw some light on the great problem of political economy, examined by Mr. Smith, in the eleventh chapter of the first book of his work, where he treats of the causes of the fluctuation between the relative value of the precious metals. This celebrated author supposes, that for every ounce of gold, there are more than 22 ounces of silver imported into Europe ; and if this supposition was correct, the Old Continent ought to receive from the New, only 1,554,000 marcs of silver, instead of 3,250,000 which it really receives. However, the greater the abundance of gold in proportion to silver, the more we must be inclined to admit with Mr. Smith, that the proportion between the respective values of the two metals does not alone depend on the quantity in the mar. ket. Since the discovery of America, to the


present day, the value of silver has fallen so much in the western parts of Europe, that the proportion* between that metal and gold, which, at the end of the 15th century, was as 1 to 11 or 1 to 12, is now, as 1 to 141 and even as 1 to 15%. This change would not have taken place if the increase of the respective masses of the two metals had been at all times as uniformt as at present. From what has just been stated, it is not accurate to advance, as has frequently been done, that the fecundity of the silver mines of America, surpasses that of the mines of the Old Continent, in mueh greater proportion than the gold mines. It is true that of the 70,000 marcs of gold annually supplied by America, five sixths are derived from washing places, established in alluvious grounds; but these washing places (lavaderos) are surprisingly uniform in their produce; and all who have visited the Spanish or Portuguese Colonies, know that the exportation of gold from America, must considerably increase with the progress of population and agriculture. · Till 1545, when the Cerro de Potosi began

* Under Philip-le-Bel a marc of gold was current for 10 marcs of silver. In Holland, the proportion in 1336, was as 10% to 1. In France it was in 1388 as 10% to 1. (Recherches sur le Commerce, Amsterdam. 1778, t. ii. p. ii. p. 142.)

. Nine Tenths.

. XI.] KINGDOM OF NEW SPAIN. 401 to be worked, Europe appears to have rea ceived much more gold than silver from the New Continent. Five sixths of the booty which Cortez acquired at Tenochtitlan, and the treasures at Caxamarca and Cuzco consisted

in gold; and the silver mines of Porco in · Peru, and Tasco, and Tlapujahua in Mexico, were very feebly wrought in the times of Cortez and Pizarro. It is only since 1545 that Spain has been inundated with the silver of Peru. This accumulation produced the greater effect, as the civilization of Europe, was then more concentrated; as communication was less frequent; and as a smaller por: tion of the precious metals were re-exported for Asia. About the middle of the 16th, and the beginning of the 17th century, the proportion between gold and silver rapidly changed, especially in the south of Europe. In Holland : it was still in 1589 as 11 to 1; but under the reign of Louis XIII. in 1641, we find it already in Flanders, as 124 to 1; in France, as 131 to 1; and in Spain as 14 to 1, and even beyond that. The extraction of gold has prodigiously increased in America since the end of the 17th century; and although the auriferous grounds of Brazil have been partly known ever since 1577, the working of the alluvious mines however, only commenced in the reign of Peter II. In the time of Charles V.

VOL. III. . . 2 D

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