Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

was paid to the drefs of the men, who were uniform only in wearing a fhort jacket; and, in every other article, feemed to confult their taftes or pockets. How beautifully clothed, and elegantly drilled, were the Pruffian foldiers, in comparifon of this! Our author travelled feveral days in company with a confcript, an elegant young man, fon of a gentleman of fortune, and nephew of a general in that part of the army where he was going to ferve. He had no hopes, he faid, of railing himfelf from the ranks, but by good conduct and good fortune. He neither blamed his father for not paying the price of a fubftitute, nor repined at the confcription. 'Tout ce qu'il me faut maintmant,' (he faid), 'c'eftt de devenir bon foldat.'

The rigour of Bonaparte's government, in matters of commercial police, is in proportion to the exclufively military view which he takes of all the objects of policy. At Cologne, our author, by miftake, opened the door of a room, where certain matrons of the police department were examining a number of females who had come acrofs the river, to fearch for concealed articles of contraband. In his progrefs up the Rhine, he one day went afhore to take a walk; and getting into a thicket, was a good deal furprifed by coming upon a French chaffeur, whom he at firit took for a robber; but who informed him that he was one of forty thoufand, ftationed along the left bank of the river, at the diftance of a gunfhot from each other, to prevent fmuggling. They are dreffed in green, for concealment; and hide themfelves in the wood, wherever the nature of the ground permits them. It is needlefs to add, that where there are fo many precautions againfit offending, the temptations to offend mud be great, and that the precautions are inefficient after all.

Sir John Carr proceeded to Mentz and Frankfort, where he faw the fair, and terminated his journey. We truft he will excufe us for expreffing a wifh that he had given more of the kind of information which we have extracted or abridged, than of thofe portions of his volume which we have hinted at, or left unnoticed. He had many opportunities of gratifying a laudable curiofity; and it was not fitting that he fhould wafte them upon matters which a tour to any of our watering places would have furniflied in abundance. We greatly refpedt him for fome good qualities which we have noticed in his writings, particularly thofe which we have already mentioned, of liberality and good nature. He alfo pofTefTes a certain portion of induftry and enterprife. When he travels again, as he is probably now about to do, let him turn thofe qualities to better account; and, inftead of barely amufing the moft triffing of all claffes of readers, he may confer a real benefit on his countrymen, by introducing them to a more familiar acquaintance with the prefent fituation and habits of other people.

Ta" Art.

Art. III. An Essay on the Theory of Money, and Principles of Commerce. By John Wheatley. 4to. pp. Cadell & JDavies, London, 1807.

TN our review of Mr Wheatley's Obfervations on Currency and Commerce, we entered into a very ample detail of the errors and inaccuracies into which he had fallen. From a fhort preface, to the work before us, we learn, that the theory which it is intended to eftablifh, differs in no refpeft from that of which a general fketch was given in his preliminary remarks; and we muft candidly confefs, that this appears to us to be the cafe. Mr Wheatley has contrived to fill a quarto volume, chiefly by fpinning out his former fcanty materials into new paradoxes and repetitions, by overloading his reafonings with a mafs of inapplicable details* and by dwelling, even more copioufly than before, on thofe doctrines which have been already fo fatisfaftorily explained. His imagination appears to have been heated with the expectation of making difcoveries; and he has unluckily difcovered nothing but obvious truths, and fallacious paradoxes. The extravagance of his conceits is, however, in fome degree difguifed by the perplexity of his arguments, and by the obfeure and affected phrafcology which he has adopted. Even in his moft fimple modes of expreffion, Mr Wheatley's meaning is often fufffciently dark \ but when his terms are gathered into combinations, he reaches a higher climax• of obfeurity and confufion, and all traces. of meaning difappear in a jargon of incomprehenfible phrafes. •XV'e can-* not help remarking alfo, that, in the obfervations which he hazards on the merits of preceding writers, he is fingularly unlucky; and has, in almoft every inffance, moft perverfely mifconceived the meaning of his author. His plan feems to be to break down at train of reafoning into infulated propofitions, and, without attending to the fpirit and fcope of the general arg.ument, to comment on garbled quotations, enlarging or reftricting the fenfe of his author, according to his Own fancy. It is hardly neceffary to obferve, that the clofeft and moft accurate reafoning muft fuffer by this fpecies of decompofition. Mr Hume, Dr Smith, Lord King, and Lord Liverpool, are alternately the objects of our author's criticifais; but the weight of his cenfure feems to fall on 13r Smith.

The grand principle, on which Mr Wheatley's difcoveries hinge, appears to be, that, when the quantity of money, in any country, is greater than its internal circulation requires, its value will be diminifhed, and whatever is fuperfluous will be exported fo a better market. * The effective principle' (he remarks) ' which regulates, in all countries, the amount of their currency, js the ac♦Jon of money in conformity to the purport of its inflitution, as ap uniform meafure of value. *. He afterwards obferves, that • this property directs its current where it will exchange to moft advantage; and, as it neceffarily follows, that money will exchange to tnoft advantage where there is the leaft relative quantity, it invariably caufes its remittance from the place where there is the greateft relative amount, to the place where there is the leaft.'

Of this principle, if we are to believe Mr Wheatley, Dr Smith Was ignorant; for although he refers to it incidentally, yet he was not, it feems, fufficiently aware of its importance. Inftead of nflerting, therefore, that no one nation could poffefs a greater relative currency than another, Mr Wheatley informs us, that he advanced the following * inefficient propofitions.'

'ift, That the quantity of money in every country depends upon the power of purchafing. 2d, That it is regulated by the fertility of the mines, which fupply the commercial world. 3d, That it is in proportion to the effectual demand. 4th, That it cannot exceed the fum which is neceffary for the purpofes of circulation. 5 th, That it cannot be accumulated beyond what the nation can afford to employ. 6th, And that, when the channel is full, what flows in muft run out again.'

Thefe fix propofitions, Mr Wheatley takes the trouble to confie!er and mifreprefent, each in its order. In order that our readers may have fome idea of the perverfe induftry with which he has laboured to quibble away Dr Smith's meaning, we may fhortT ly ftate his arguments on the fubject of currency, pointing out, at the fame time, the mifconceptions into which our author has fallen. • ".

"When Dr Smith obferves, that the quantity of the precious metals, in any particular country, depends, partly upon its power of purchafing, and partly upon the fertility or barrennefs of the mines which may happen at that time to fupply the commercial world, he evidently means, that the precious metals, unlike thofe meriihable commodities of which the confumption is limited to the fpot where they are produced, make tlieir way to the moft diftant markets; and' that an abundant fupply will flow into the moft remote countries, if they have wherewithal to pay for it, or if the ftate of their mdurtry requires it. He does not mean to maintain, that the precious metals will be ufelefsly detained in any country •, but that, from their durable nature, no diftance of place can prevent them from following the effective demands of commerce; and that, owing to the eafe with which they may be transported, their quantity throughout the whole extent of the civilized world, muft be affected by the barrennefs or fertility of the mines

T 3 from from which they are derived. * Mr Wheatley obferves, that this does not explain the caufe which prevents the currency of one country from being wholly withdrawn, and added to the currency of another. But although this is not Dr Smith's object; although his intention is merely to point out the effects which arife from the eafy tranfportation of the precious metals, does not Mr Wheatley perceive, that the principle for which he fo zealously contend? is implied throughout the whole of Dr Smith's reafonings? and that, if an abundance of gold or filver in one part of the world i3 felt in the moft remote countries, that this muft arife from the fame caufes by which their value is preferved in a juft balance in more contiguous markets?

The remainder of Mr Wheatley's remarks on Dr Smith, feem to be conceived in the fame fpirit of captioufnefs and cavilling. He finds fault with the third pofition, which appears to us to be almoil felfrevident, that the quantity of the precious metals in any country, is regulated by the demand of thofe who are willing to pay for them; and he feems particularly difpleafed with the fourth and htth pofitions, namely, that the quantity of gold and filver in every country, is limited by the ufe which there is for thofe metals, and that they can never be accumulated beyond what a nation can afford to employ. He is no doubt afraid, left Dr Smith fhould be thought to have anticipated him in the difcovery of the profound axiom on which all his difcoveries are built. 'The fifth pofition' (he obferves) 'is fo Angularly vague, that it is only nepeffary to notice it, in order to fhow the perplexity of his mind, and the verfatility of his efforts to poffefs and elucidate the principle of the limit.' It is really inconceivable, that Mr Wheatley fhould take it ferioufly into his head, that Dr Smith did not know that money, like all other commodities, muft be conftantly attracted to the beft market, and that it cannot confequently remain, for any length of time, dear in one country, and cheap in another. This principle is in jtfelf yery plain and obvious; and it is, befides, the foundation of the whole of that author's reafonings on the fubjeft pf currency. The anxiety, indeed, with which Mr Wheatley demonftrates what has long been familiar to every one, is truly judicrous. It is recorded of Hudibras, that he could

*—.rT' wisely tell what hour o' the day

The clock did strike by algebra }' and we really think, that the speculations of a yery numerous class of modern writers, terminate in results equally important. They seem to imagine, that, in order tp be profound, they must be obscure j that they are penetrating into the mysteries of science,

when

* Wealth of Nations, Vol. I. p. ^72,

when they are only perplexing what preceding writers have made plain; and that their readers will be amply compensated for the toil and trouble they have encountered on a rugged road, by the poverty of the entertainment provided for them at the end of their journey.

The remaining part of the chapter is occupied with similar misconceptions of Dr Smith's meaning, into which we do not think it necessary to enter particularly, as we have already laid before our readers a sufficient specimen of our author's general inaccuracy.

The second chapter is intended to explain -the • functions of money;' although we do not see what can be added on this subject to the short statement of Dr Smith, namely, that money is the measure of value, and the instrument of commerce. It seems to be, in a great measure, a transcript of what Mr Wheatley had published in his preliminary work, which, as we have already examined at sufficient length, it will be superfluous to reconsider in this place.

The third chapter relates to the course of exchange; and although the subject has, in our opinion, been explained by a variety of writers with equal clearness and simplicity, Mr Wheatley seems to imagine, that it has been very generally misunderstood. His theory is here very amply detailed and illustrated; and it Beems to differ considerably from that which was published in his preliminary observations. In his former work, we understood him to state, that an excess of currency, by leading to an excess of imports, or to what has been called an unfavourable balance of trade, produced an unfavourable exchange. In the work before us, a partial augmentation or diminution of currency, is still stated as the sole cause of a favourable, or of an adverse exchange; but he now maintains, that the exchange has no connexion with the balance of trade; ' that the exchange may be favourable, when the balance is adverse; and adverse, when the balance is favourable.' In support of this opinion, he supposes the case of a nation, where the balance of trade is favourable, and where there is at the same time an excess of currency. In which case, Mr Wheatley contends, it is impossible that the exchange can be favourable with those countries where a similar excess of currency has not taken place. If at the time that a considerable balance was due from Hamburgh to London, 100l. in London were, owing to a relative excess of currency in this country, worth no more than 95l. in Hamburgh, it appears to Mr Wheatley absurd, to suppose that a Hamburgh merchant would give a premium for a bill for 100l. on this country, when U was in reality worth only 95l.

T 4 The

« AnteriorContinuar »