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Art. 1.-1. Report of the Director of the Mint (U.S.) tò
the Secretary of the Treasury for the Fiscal Year ended June 30, 1877. Washington: Government Printing Office,
1877. 2. Report from the Select Committee on Depreciation of Silver.
Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, July 5,
1876. 3. On the Probable Fall in the Value of Gold; the Commercial
and Social Consequences which may ensue; and the Measures which ́ it invites. By MICHEL CHEVALIER, Member of the Institute of France, &c. Translated, with Preface, by
RICHARD COBDEN, Esq. Manchester : 1859. A GENERATION has almost passed away since the world was
startled by the discovery of gold mines of previously unheard-of richness in the distant and unknown region of California; and when mines of equal richness of the same precious ore were immediately afterwards discovered in Australia the excitement throughout the world knew no bounds. Greatest, of course, among the civilised nations, the excitement was not unfelt even in self-secluded China; and, like a hermit from his cell, the Chinaman began to migrate both to California and Australia in search of the golden ore, which mankind, by a marvellous concord of opinion, has agreed to canonise, as the most precious of substances and the chief material of universal money.
Anyone who was at maturity in 1850 and 1851, when the gold fever and general excitement were at their height, or even during several years thereafter, and who compares the
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opinions then prevalent with the facts of the present and intervening periods, cannot fail to be struck by the wide discordance between the actual events and the anticipations which were so confidently held. Of late years the French adage, that 'what
always happens is the unforeseen,' has been so frequently and strikingly verified that the saying is now accepted almost as an axiom; and certainly the course of the new Golden Age has furnished one of the most remarkable illustrations of the fallibility of human judgment and intellectual foresight. Every one of the chief calculations and anticipations made by scientific authorities a quarter of a century ago, and even up to a later date, has proved wrong. The course of events has run quite differently. Our fears have not been realised, our hopes have not been disappointed; and the third quarter of the present century has been by far the most prosperous period which modern Europe has experienced, or doubtless which the world has ever beheid.
It must be said, however, that the grand excitement which followed the new gold-discoveries was marked by two entirely opposite currents of opinion and anticipation. Along with the calculations and judgments of science there was the vague but powerful sentiment of the masses. It has been said that the world-mankind in the mass—is wiser than any individual, however highly gifted with intellect or genius; and the result of these marvellous gold-discoveries supplies a new instance for those who hold this paradox. In 1850 and 1851 the great body of the people in this and other countries were filled with exultation at the gold-discoveries. An impulse of hope and enthusiasm seized upon the popular mind; a new and unparalleled epoch of prosperity seemed to them to be opening on the world, in which they would largely share. There had been "hard times' in our own country, and dire troubles in Europe at large. In England the collapse of the railway mania, the Irish famine, the bad harvest and commercial crisis of 1847, had occasioned widespread suffering among all classes ; and the Chartist riots of 1848, which broke out more or less in all the large towns, from Edinburgh and Glasgow southward to the metropolis, were not merely a sympathetic movement excited by the Continental revolutions, but a result of great suffering among the masses of our own people.
Indeed, the previous half-century had been a bad time. War and the heavy war-taxation came to an end with the crowning victory of Waterloo. Nevertheless, a strange and persistent distress pervaded our country. Excepting the brief gleam of prosperity in 1822-5, when our people went mad over