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BILLS

OF

LADIN G —BIMETALLISM 251 payable to order becomes payable to bearer when indorsed first to abandon this system and to adopt gold as the sole in blank. In France an indorsement in blank merely standard of yalue ; at a later date the United States foloperates as a procuration. An indorsement, to operate as lowed this example; and, in 1873, the Latin Union, of a negotiation, must be to order, and must state the con- which France was the leading nation, took the first steps sideration ; in short, it must conform to the conditions of in the same direction. From this date monometallism prean original draft. In England, if a bill is dishonoured by vailed all over Europe, silver coins in gold-using countries non-acceptance, a right of action at once accrues to the becoming mere tokens. The object of bimetallists is to holder. In France no cause of action arises unless the revert to a monetary system somewhat similar to that bill is again dishonoured at maturity ; the holder in the which prevailed in the Latin Union before 1873, though meantime is only entitled to demand security from the it is generally admitted that the proposed Bimetallic drawer and indorsers. In England a sharp distinction Union must cover a wider area. Bimetallism is, in fact, a is drawn between current and overdue bills. In France currency system which would establish a right on the part no such distinction is drawn. In England no protest is of the debtor to discharge his liabilities at his option in required in the case of the dishonour of an inland bill, either of the two metals at a ratio fixed by law. For this notice of dishonour being sufficient. In France every dis- sj stem to be successful it is obvious that a fixed ratio or honoured bill must be protested. Opinions may differ value between the metals must be maintained. From whether the English or the French system is better cal- 1820 to 18/0 the ratio of the value of silver to gold culated to serve sound commerce and promote a healthy (taking annual averages) appears to have varied between commercial morality. But an argument in favour of the the limits ot lo 19 to 1 and 15*95 to 1—a variation of English system may be derived from the fact that as the about 5 per cent, during a period of 50 years, and a varivarious Continental codes are from time to time revised ation a Inch bimetallists accounted for by the inefficiency and re-enacted, they tend to depart from the French model of the currency ordinances. Between 1872 and 1900 the and to approximate to the English rule. The effect upon ratio varied between the limits of 15*65 to 1 and 35*03 English law of its recent codification has yet to be proved. to 1—a variation of about 124 percent, in a period of A common objection to codification in England is that it twenty-eight years—a period during which there were no deprives the law of its elastic character. But when currency ordinances with regard to the relative value at principles are once settled common law has very little vhich metals could be freely coined. This increase of elasticity. On the other hand no code is final. Modern instability is the true basis of the bimetallic controversy, parliaments legislate very freely, and it is a much simpler a controversy which may be divided under three heads : task to alter statute law than to alter common law. More- (1) Was the change in the stability of the relative value over, legislation is cheaper than litigation. One conse- of the metals due to the changes in the monetary systems quence of the codification of the English law relating to of the world, or was it due to the increased production of bills is clear gain. Nearly all the colonies have adopted silver or to other similar causes? (2) Would it be possible the Act, and where countries are so closely connected as to establish a fixed ratio of value between the metals by the England and her colonies, it is an obvious advantage that enactment of bimetallic laws ? (3) Would such a change their mercantile transactions should be governed by one m the English monetary system, if practicable, be on the and the same law expressed in the same words. whole advantageous? With regard to the last question The ordinary text-books on the law of bills of exchange are the aim of bimetallists is, by linking the metals together, constantly re-edited and brought up to date. The following both to create, a more stable standard of value, and to among others may be consultedByles, Bills of Exchange*; Chalmers, Bills of Exchange; Daniel, Law of Negotiable In- limit the variations in the rate of exchange between goldstruments (United States); Nouguier, Des lettres de change et dcs and silver-using and bimetallic countries, and also, by effets de commerce (France) ; Thorbukn, Bills of Exchange Act, increasing the volume of metal in the currency, to produce 1882 (Scotland) ; Story, Bills of Exchange (United States) ; a rise in prices, or, at all events, to prevent a further fall. Hodgins, Bills of Exchange Act, 1890 (Canada). (m. d. Ch.) In the article on Money (Ency. Brit. xvi. 731) the history of this controversy is brought up to the year 1883. Since Bills of Lading. See Affreightment. that date there have been no great changes in the moneBills of Sale. See Sale. tary systems of Europe or America, though the discussion Bilma, or Hawar. See Sahara. on this problem has never ceased. The report issued by Biloxi, a city of Harrison county, Mississippi, the Royal Commission of 1888 to inquire into the recent U.S.A., on the coast of Mississippi Sound, in the southern changes in the relative values of the precious metals probpart of the state, on a line of the Louisville and Nash- ably constitutes the most important contribution to this ville railway. It is a place of resort, both in summer debate. The evidence given before the Commission is and winter, for the people of New Orleans and Mobile, also of great yalue, that of Professor Alfred Marshall, and has numerous hotels, and an excellent water-supply. fiom a theoretical point of view, being specially worthy Population (1880), 1540; (1900), 5467. of study. On that occasion Professor Marshall advocated Bilston, a market town (under an urban district a monetary system under which certificates would be issued, council), and railway station, of Staffordshire, England, 21 each standing for a certain amount of gold and a certain miles S.E. of Wolverhampton (of which parliamentary amount of silver, the ratio between the two being fixed borough it forms part). Recent erections are the post- by international agreement—a system which would have office, the market hall (rebuilt), and baths and wash-houses undoubted theoretical advantages. The bimetallic ques(rebuilt). Area, 1867 acres; population (1901), 24,034. tion was also dealt with by the Royal Commission on Agricultural Depression of 1897. In September 1889 a Bimetallism.—From medimval times until the be- Bimetallic Congress sat in Paris ; and, in November 1892, ginning of the 19th century coins of both gold and silver a conference was held at Brussels, on the initiative of the were current in the leading commercial countries of Europe, United States, to consider what measures could be taken ordinances being issued from time to time by the govern- “ to increase the use of silver.” Most of the important ments concerned with the object of fixing their relative States were represented, but no resolution was arrived at. value, or more correctly, their equivalency as legal tender. At this time the fall in the gold price of silver had Both metals were, moreover, as a rule coined at the mints seriously interfered with the finances of India, where silver without restrictions as to quantity. England was the was the standard. In May 1893 a committee appointed