Imágenes de páginas

reformed faith, and not to faith in the Romish dogmas, which are described in the Articles of the Reformed Church of England as “blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits” and as "repugnant to the Word of God.

In 1717, there was a coinage of halfpence and farthings issued from the Tower. The pound of copper Avoirdupois was coined into 28 pence instead of 21 as in the time of King William, and about 213} tons were coined, giving the amount of £46,000 sterling.

In the same year after an address of the Commons, a Royal Proclamation was issued, which declared that the relative value of gold and silver in the current coins, was in England greater in proportion than in other nations of Europe ; and this had been the chief cause of the export and lowering the species of the silver coins. It was in consequence ordered that no person should either give or receive any of the gold coins of England called guineas, at a higher rate than twenty-one shillings, and in like proportion for the half-guinea and smaller pieces. The guinea itself was originally coined of the value of twenty shillings, but had been current at twenty-one shillings and sixpence. This order was intended to bring the guinea nearer to its value in silver bullion, which Sir Isaac Newton had stated to be twenty shillings and eightpence.

The House of Lords also in Committee took into consideration the matter of gold and silver coins.' Lord Stanhope imputed the scarcity

Pope had no authority at all in England, either by the Laws of God, or by the Laws and practice of the Primitive Church, or by the Laws of the Land."

On this Report was founded the Act 24 Henry VIII., c. 12, which declared the supremacy of the Crown, and the independence of the Realm of any foreign prince, potentate or prelate. Next the Act 28 Henry VIII., c. 10, with some other Acts, abolished all usages in England which had been founded on no other authority than the Papal decrees.

In " The Cambridge Documents," published by Dr. Lamb, late Master of Corpus Christi College, will be found an account of a public disputation held at Cambridge on the question—" Whether the Pope had granted him by God in the Scriptures any greater authority or power in this kingdom than any other foreign bishop?" The question was determined in the negative, and this decision was confirmed by the votes of the Senate on 2 May, 1534.

The king, however, was so leavened with the old superstition, that he lived and died a devoted adherent to the dogmas of the Church of Rome, which he had defended in his work on the Seven Sacraments. It was the same Sovereign, in the 31st year of his reign, who signed the Act for the suppression of Monasteries, and the Act of the Six Articles, which latter imposed submission to the Romish dogmas under the pain of death by burning, and, as in the case of high treason, the forfeiture of lands and goods.

1 In a Report of Sir I. Newton in 1717, then master of the mint, it appeared that in the last year of William III., the French Louis d'or was current for 17s. 6d. when its real value was only 17s. 0d. An order was issued that the Louis d'or should be current at 178., and therefore they were brought to the mint as bullion, and the coinage from the bullion produced £1,400,000. In this case the advantage of 5 d. for each Louis d'or brought them very largely into the kingdom, and the loss of id. on each, drove them out of circulation. On another occasion, Portuguese moidores passed for 288., and they abounded in the country: A Report was made that they were intrinsically worth 27s. 7d. each, and their currency was ordered at 278. 6d. A complaint was raised and the moidores disappeared, so that a profit of 5d. on each brought them into the kingdom, and the loss of id. sent them out again. It may also be noted, before the issue of the new silver coinage in the time of George IV., an immense number of francs and half-francs were in circulation as shillings and sixpences. The intrinsic value of the franc was 10d., and the gain of 2d, on every franc passed as a shilling, brought some millions into circulation in this country. On

of silver to the increasing luxury in relation to silver-plate, the vast exports of bullion to the East Indies, and the clandestine trade of exporting gold and silver to Holland and other parts.

In 1723, a patent was granted to W. Wood, Esq., to coin halfpence and farthings to supply the want of small money in Ireland, for the use of such persons as would, without compulsion, voluntarily receive it. The patent was for 14 years. The copper was limited to 360 tons; 100 tons to be issued in coins the first year, and 20 tons annually for the remaining 13 years, under a comptroller appointed by the Crown. A pound of copper was to be coined into two shillings and sixpence by tale. The sum of £800 a year was reserved for the king, and £200 for the comptroller, to be paid by the patentee.

This measure was extremely unpopular in Ireland, and the prejudices of the people were so strongly raised against it by Dean Swift and others, that the patentee was compelled to resign his patentOn 18 August, the King in Council was pleased to direct that the coins already made to the value of about £17,000, and as much more as would make up the sum to £40,000, should be permitted to be current according to the terms of the patent. Mr. Wood was charged with fraud and deceit in executing the powers granted to him as patentee. A Committee of the Lords of the Privy Council was

the issue of the new coinage all foreign coins were refused, and only old English coins were received in exchange for the new shillings and sixpences.

Mr. Fleetwood, in a sermon before the Lord Mayor, on Gen. xxiii. 16, pointed out the mischiefs arising from debasing the coins either in weight or fineness, and the wickedness of the practice, as being a fraud upon every person who received the coins so debased. He pointed out the calamities which would ensue, that a time would come when the money would be no longer current, but at its just weight and fineness. Then every family would be a loser, but the loss would fall most severely on the poor.

1 By misrepresentations and the delusive force of a sermon of Dean Swist, and his Drapier's letters, he brought to the test of experiment, an impudent and unprincipled assertion of his own, that were he permitted to write whatever he pleased, he would engage to write down any government in a few months.

Swift attacked the report with sophistries and misstatements, which were well calculated to mislead minds already prejudiced against the measure ; and when a proclamation was issued offering £300 reward for the discovery of the author of the Drapier's fourth letter, and a bill of indictment was preparing against the printer of it; Swift published “Seasonable advice to the grand jury,' in which by similar modes of arguing he called upon them not to find the bill. A copy of the pamphlet was distributed, on the evening before the

ial, to every person on the grand jury; and thus by the very means which Swift himself had so strongly reprobated when used by the Committee of the Privy Council, namely, by prejudging the case, he accomplished his purpose, and the bill was not found. From this time, Swift was considered the Saviour of Ireland, and Wood was ridiculed in ballads and executed in effigy, and at last obliged to resign his patent, and (as Mr. Leake expresses it) for the satisfaction of the people of Ireland !

Lord Chesterfield has truly remarked that “every numerous assembly is a mob, let the individuals who compose it be what they will. Mere reason and good sense are never to be talked to a mob; their passions, their sentiments, their senses, and their seeming interests are alone to be appealed to.". On this principle Swift wrote, and his writings were, in the instance before us, eminently successful. But the triumph attending such success is shortlived, while the infamy of it is

Dean Swift appears to have forgotten, or wilfully ignored the fact, that it is the prerogative of the Sovereign of a State or the supreme power, and not that of the people, to coin money, and to give authority for making it current. And, further to impose such a value on foreign coins, as he may appoint, to make them current in his kingdom. And it may be added, that this prerogative has ever been by English sovereigns guarded with extreme jealousy.

appointed to investigate the truth of these charges. From their report it appeared that no papers nor evidence from individuals, which might be necessary to support the charges and objections against the patentee, could be obtained from Ireland. The patent, nevertheless, was cancelled, and for the loss which Mr. Wood had sustained, an annual pension of £3,000 was awarded, to be continued for eight years.

A Commission was appointed, consisting of Sir Isaac Newton and others, to make trials and assays of Mr. Wood's copper coinage, and they reported that, though all the coins were not exactly sized, yet when taken together they exceeded the weight required by the patent. The copper was of the same goodness and value as that which was coined for England, and that Mr. Wood's coinage of halfpennies and farthings exceeded in weight and fineness those which had been coined for Ireland in the reigns of Charles II., James II., and William and Mary.

George II., 1727-1760. No alterations were made in the form or value of the coinages during this reign, nor in the style of the coins. In 1729, the first coinage was ordered to be made of 46 halfpence or 92 farthings out of one pound of copper Avoirdupois.

In 1732, the old hammered gold coins were called in, and the officers of the Mint were authorized for one year to receive them at the rate of 818. for one ounce Troy, and to recoin them into other current money.

About 1736, great inconveniences were experienced in Ireland by the want of good copper money, and on the humble request of the Lords Justices and Council, an order for the coinage of halfpence and farthings was issued. At the Mint in the Tower of London fifty tons of copper were coined, of which five-sixths were made into half. pence, and one-sixth into farthings. The pound Avoirdupois of copper was cut into 52 halfpence or 104 farthings. His Majesty's effigy was impressed on the obverse with GEORGIUS II. Rex only, and on the reverse, the Irish harp crowned with the inscription HIBERNIA, with the date of the year. His Majesty was pleased to direct that the expenses of this coinage, and of the transmission of it to Ireland, should be paid by His Majesty's Vice-Treasurer, and any profits that might remain should go into the public revenue of Ireland.

1 The omission of Der GRATIA on these coins was noted in the Gentleman's Magazine, for June, 1737:

No Christian kings that I can find,

However match'd or odd,
Excepting ours, have ever coined

Without the Grace of God.
By this acknowledgment they shew

The mighty King of kings,
As Him from whom their riches flow,

From whom their grandeur springs.
Come then, Urania, aid my pen,

The latent cause assign,-
All other Kings are mortal men,

But GEORGE, 'tis plain, 's divine. In the number for the next month appeared the following reply:-—"To the author of the epigram on the new Irish halfpence”:

While you behold th’imperfect coin,

Received without the Grace of God,
All honest men with you must join,

And even Britons think it odd.

The Grace of God was well left out,

And I applaud the politician;
For when an evil's done, no doubt,

'Tis not by God's grace, but permission.

In the next year à Proclamation was issued, which declared at what rates the several pieces of gold in circulation should be current.

Besides the English gold coins, the guinea and the half-guinea, there was in circulation a large number of the gold coins of France, Spain, and Portugal. It was ordered in case any of the coins named in the proclamation were found deficient in weight, that twopence should be allowed for every grain wanting of the true weight in each coin, one penny for half a grain, and one halfpenny for a quarter of a grain, and with this allowance the coins were to be received as of full weight.

1742. About this time offences against the coinage laws had greatly increased, both by filing and sweating the gold coins, as well as by counterfeiting them in base metal and gilding them, so that a remedy became urgent. The £400 a year allowed by an Act of the ninth year of Queen Anne, for several years had proved insufficient for the expenses of prosecuting the offenders. An Act was passed (15 Geo. II. c. 28.) by which an additional sum was allowed for the expenses of such prosecutions, but the amount was not to exceed £600 in any one year.

George III., 1760-1820. On the accession of George III., the grandson of George II., the coinage was still found to be in a very imperfect state, and during his long reign, measures were taken from time to time to amend its defects, and to render it sufficient for the requirements of the nation.

In the year 1771, the gold coins were found to be in a very defective state; three-fourths of the silver coins were base, and the copper was as bad as the silver. The offences against the coinage had so increased, that £1136. 198. 10d. was allowed in addition to the £600 allowed for the expenses attending such prosecutions in the year 1770.

In 1774 an Act was passed, that the deficient coins should be called in and recoined, and that £250,000 should be granted towards the expenses. And that in future, the currency of gold coins should be regulated by weight as well as by tale, as was conformable to the ancient laws of the kingdom. The regulation thus established of weighing the gold coins, has been the means of preserving them at nearly the same state of perfection to which they were then brought. Besides the sum of £250,000 granted in 1774, other sums were granted in the three following years amounting to £267,320. In the year 1792, silver coins and bullion largely disappeared by the policy of the French, who exchanged their assignats for all they could procure. So rapidly they acted in this business, that not less than 2909000 ounces of silver were purchased with the assignats, and sent into France. It had before been ascertained, that a recoinage of silver was necessary, and in 1797, the coinage transactions formed a strange anomaly in the history of the mint. The deficiency of silver coins was attempted to be supplied by the issue of Spanish dollars, countermarked on the neck of the bust with the mark of the king's head, used at Goldsmith's Hall for distinguishing the plate of this kingdom. This scheme was abandoned in less than seven months from the date of its adoption.

By statute in 1797, the 37 Geo. III. C. 45, 91, the Bank of England was restricted from making payments in cash. This measure was only a palliation, and not a cure of the evil which produced it; and experience has made it doubtful, whether a recoinage of the gold money of such a weight as might have rendered it unprofitable either to melt or to export it, would not have been more expedient.

In the same year a contract was entered into with Mr. Boulton of Soho, near Birmingham, for the coinage of 500 tons of copper moneys in penny and two penny pieces. The penny piece was to weigh one ounce Avoirdupois. Each piece was to have on one side the king's effigy, with his name or title, and on the reverse the figure of Britannia, sitting on a rock in the sea, holding a trident in her left hand, and a branch of olive in her right, and the date of the coinage.

Two years after this a proclamation was issued for the currency of Mr. Boulton's new coinage. Owing to an unexpected rise of copper, the Privy Council allowed 36 instead of 32 halfpenny pieces to be coined out of the pound of copper.

1801. Upon the union of Great Britain and Ireland, it was declared by proclamation on 1 January, 1801, that His Majesty's royal style and title should be Georgius Tertius, Dei Gratia Britanniarum Rex. Fidei Defensor; and that the arms of the United Kingdom should be, quarterly, first and fourth, England; second, Scotland; third, Ireland; and on an escutcheon of pretence the arms of His Majesty's dominions in Germany.

In the year 1804 the Bank of England was authorized to issue silver tokens of five shillings value, and 1211484 were issued during the year. These coins had on the obverse the king's bust laureat, with the circumscription GEORGIUS III. Dei Gratis Rex. On the reverse was Britannia seated under a turreted crown, holding an olive branch in her right hand and resting the left on a shield and spear. On her left side was a cornucopia, and a bee-hive on her right, with the inscription BANK OF ENGLAND, 1804. FIVE SHILLINGS DOLLAR.

From a sudden rise in the price of copper, the greater part of the penny and twopenny pieces disappeared, because they were worth when melted down nearly one-third more than their value in coins.

On 7 May, 1806, a new coinage of penny, halfpenny, and farthing pieces was made current on the same terms as those issued in 1799. There were 150 tons of copper coined into penny pieces, 24 to the pound Avoirdupois; 4273 tons into halfpenny pieces, 48 to the pound; and 22 tons into farthings, 96 to the pound. All these were of the same type and form as those of 1797, but of less weight.

In 1810 a Committee of the House of Commons was appointed to inquire into the causes of the high price of bullion and its effect on the credit paper currency:

This report declared that the evil arose from the excessive issue of Bank of England notes since 1797; that a rise in the price of gold, and a fall in foreign exchanges, and a general rise in prices of all commodities, would always be the effect of the undue quantity of the currency of a country, which is not exportable to other countries; and that no sufficient remedy for the present evil, or security against its recurrence existed, except in the repeal of the law which suspended cash payments. Other causes might be stated, one


« AnteriorContinuar »