Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/606

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to dispose of; the Bank of France has one hundred and forty odd millions in its vaults, that is a source of great present disquietude; England has a fair stock, and as creditor of India is likely to become the holder of much more; she is deeply interested in seeing the price of silver sustained, and would be very grateful for relief from any quarter. It is from these sources the silver would flow if the United States should decide to assume the function of pulling chestnuts for the entire commercial world, and these are the men who would profit by remonetization—provided that step should have the effect on the price of silver that is claimed for it. But the assumption that it will bring the gold and silver dollar upon a par is entirely unwarranted.

The Monetary Commission, of which Mr. Jones was chairman and Mr. Bland a member, are at great pains to show, in their report, that, owing to the magnitude of the stocks of silver and gold in the world, the value of the precious metals cannot be visibly affected by current production; that no current supply was ever yet sufficiently great to affect the value of the metals except slowly and by almost imperceptible degrees. This may or may not be so, but it is a little curious to note that the same gentlemen who in their report maintained that the effect of an annual supply of $65,000,000 or $70,000,000 would have no appreciable effect on the price of silver, are now gravely arguing that an annual demand of say $25,000,000—the utmost capacity of our mints—would at once enhance the price by 10 per cent. Here they forget the insignificance of the amount in comparison with the enormous accumulated stock of the world.

A further decline in the price of silver is far more probable than an advance, and it is only because the old silver dollar is worth but 90 cents, and likely to be worth less rather than more, that it is so loudly clamored for. The avowed object of its restoration is to relieve those who have debts to pay.

Neither in motive nor in method does this differ from the disreputable frauds of the feudal princes who adulterated their coins that they might pay their debts more easily. Both the act and its consequences are identical. The image and the superscription of the monarch lied in the older example: in the modern instance the image and the superscription are no less lying ones. And the consequences will in no wise differ. Henry VIII. was enabled to cheat his creditors in precisely the same unscrupulous way that is proposed for the United States to cheat theirs, by paying them in coins of diminished value; and the losses he entailed upon his subjects—far exceeding his own gains—were precisely those we should suffer. All creditors are placed in the position of the creditors of the swindling government. Debtors are indiscriminately benefited at the expense of creditors. To pay the public debt in a depreciated currency, whether it can be done legally or not, is to weaken if not destroy public faith. If they