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LEGAL REGULATIONS FOR THE STANDARD OF
GOLD &* SILVER WARES IN DIFFERENT
COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD.
TRANSLATED AND ABRIDGED FROM "DIE GESETZLICHE
REGELUNGDES FEINGEHALTES VON GOLD — UND
SILBER-WAAREN, VON ARTHUR VON STUDNITZ'S."
BY MRS. BREWER.
Should the precious metals, which, in a definite purity, form the material of a nation's currency, receive any warranty or not, when used as an article of commerce?
The arguments against any guarantee of the genuineness of precious- metal ware I lay before the reader in the following translation of Herr Studnitz, which is now presented for the first time to the English public.
The arguments in favour of such warranty I venture to sketch briefly in the following preface.
It is contended, then, that it can admit of no doubt whatever, that the governing institutions of a civilised country must be so framed as to protect the personal rights and the property of the members of the community. Whatever may be the amount of freedom granted to persons to trade, the liberty to do violence to the person, or to cheat, defraud, or injure the property of another, cannot be connived at by laws which regulate the intercourse of men; and experience has shown that the higher the civilization the more intricate and searching are the laws which are passed to protect from fraud.
It is incredible that any should be found to advocate the propriety of the sanction of the law being given to the utterance of a fraud. If the defenders of a fraud maintain that the liberty to cheat is beneficial to trade, let their statement stand alone; but let not the sanction of the law be claimed for the cheat.
Machiavelli did indeed instruct a ruler that any devices might be practised on his people for the object of government, and he deemed this sort of fraud only a natural development of the ethics of the most approved of heathen philosophers; but it remains for less scrupulous advocates still to extend this principle to the general dealings of citizens with each other, the law itself intervening to give currency to the swindle.
"Hall-marking," established to guarantee to the public the genuineness of precious metals, was instituted on the supposition that the assay and test of precious metals was a matter too