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in ne bo Quartas, in particontentione
There were too many archetypes of this character, we fear, in the medley age which it was the author's destiny to ob· serve, and we hope there were some in the church of Eng
land, to which Mr. Quarles was zealously attached. That age or community, in which there are no hypocritical professors, must be miserably destitute of sincere Christians ; religion itself must have become exceedingly strange and unpopular, when there is no secular inducement to assume its appearance: we shall not be quite secure from counterfeit bank-notes, till Public Credit is deposed from her throne in Threadneedle-street. The Christian reader must remember, in mercy to the few dashes of bigotry which are to be found in Mr. Quarles's book, that it is exceedingly difficult to preserve a liberal, impartial, and benevolent spirit, in times of religious and political contention. He will deem them fully atoned, we hope, by the genuine Christianity which breathes along most of these pages.
Mr. Wolfe, it seems, would have been better satisfied with his author, if there had been a little more zeal against schisinatics, and a little less zeal for Christian truth. ,
Some passages may appear to savour a little of those principles now technically called evangelical ; but it must be remembered that they were written by their AUTHOR with other feelings, and other motives, than those by which the present evangelical Sectarists seem to be actu. ated.' p. xlix. :
Mr. W. should have favoured us with the meaning of the term Sectarist, as distinguished from “Sectary." Is there some doctrine or system maintained in the religious world, under the name of Sectarism, which asserts the abstract propriety of schism and separation? We know of none. He should also have stated in what respects the religion of Quarles was different from that of pious men in the present day, 'whom he commodiously confounds under the term “ evangelical sectarists;" and what are the culpable “ feelings" and "motives” by which they are actuated. We know of none. It would give us pleasure to ascribe this absurdity to sheer ignorance, and to the facility with which men, not absolutely crazed, sometimes permit themselves to believe and circulate calumnies which they can neither verify nor understand: especially we are disposed to this leniency of explanation, from Mr. Wolfe's regard to " the good which may ensue to all classes of society from the perusal of these pages.' Pref. p. v. But we cannot avoid noticing a curious fact, that considerably embarrasses our estimate of his character; by way of proving 6 that Quarles had the most upright notions, and a proper sense of the relationship between man and his Redeemer,"
he quotes a prayer in which that Redeemer is not once mentioned, nor his atonement once recognized, nor his intercession once pleaded! How awfully does the fear of appearing religious among the sceptical and profane, obscure the judgement even of men who would be thought“ sincere lovers of our excellent Church Establishment,” counteract the best dispositions, and wither those emotions and convictions which might grow into genuine piety!
In other points, Mr. W. has performed the office of Editor with a portion of ability that claims respect for himself and patronage for his work. The select specimens of Quarles's poetry are chosen with much propriety; and the biographical and critical notices are ample, interesting, and judicious. , Art. XII. Essay on the Theory of Money and Exchange. By Thomas
Smith, 8vo. pp. 235. Price 7s. bds. Cadell and Davies. London.
1807. THIS author is very extensively and accurately acquainted 1 with the practical part of his subject. We have met with few individuals, who, either in conversation or in print, displayed so much knowledge of the general range of mercantile transactions, or possessed so clear a discernment of the part which is played in thein by money. He exhibits the information of a person variously and largely conversant in trade, and who has looked upon its operations with an eye unusually intelligent. His explanations of complicated transactions are uncommonly perspicuous and satisfactory. He has clearly descried many subtle'errors, which authors of no little name have diffused on the subject; and if he has not discovered, he has at least adopted, several important truths, which are yet but little known, and gain but few advocates,
His misfortune is, that he has undertaken a task for which he is by no means qualified. Perceiving that several of the attempts to trace the phenomena of money to a general principle had failed, he must needs adventure in the same enterprise himself; and in this he has been woefully misled. He was capable of doing the science good service in his own department; but, by employing himself in another, to which he was an absolute stranger, he has performed one part of the task imperfectly, and the other absurdly: he has injured good work by endeavouring to render it suitable to bad, and therefore produced a commodity which, on the whole, is not of the the best quality.
We have had occasion, in one or two late articles on the subject of money, to take particular notice of an opinion which almost universally prevails, that money, by which is meant coined gold and silver, is a measure or standard of value. In our review of Mr. Wheatley's work, we demonstrated, at considerable length, the absurdity of this position; and traced some of the many erroneous conclusions which are derived from it. Mr. Thomas Smith, who knows more of the subject than Mr. Wheatley, seems clearly to have seen the fallacy of this opinion. « The great mistake,” he says, “ into which, it is conceived, the writers upon money have fallen, is, that they have not gone deep enough for a foundation whereon to rear their speculations.' Finding that gold and silver had, in all ages, been employed as the circulating medium, and that the quantity of these in a coin was always equal, or nearly equal, to the value it passed for, they concluded that these metals were the standards of value; and therefore ihey have enıployed all their labours and skill in vain endeavours to reconcile the different phenomena.of money to this idea; and this they did, although, at the same time, they allowed that the metals themselves varied in value; consequently, they ought to have seen the absurdity of attempting to establish any article of variable value, the invariable standard of value ; and should therefore have sought for some other.” To the same purpose he observes, a few pages onwards, " The very circumstance allowed by all these writers,” (the writers who represent gold and silver coin as a measure or standard of value) “ that gold and silver vary in value themselves, is a most convincing proof that there exists another standard of value, else how could the variation in their value be ascertained?”.
The notion, however, of a standard or measure of value, had taken too firm possession of his mind to be easily eradicated. When gold and silver, therefore, answered not his purpose, he set to work to discover something else by which this importait function of measuring was discharged. This, however, was a difficult task ; for the objection which applied to gold and silver, applied to every oiher conceivable commodity. The author, therefore, was driven to a very violent shift. He found a passage in Montesquieu, which he quotes, and in which it is stated that “The blacks, on the coast of Africa, have a sign, purely ideal, for fixing the value of their commodities;- when they wish to make an exchange of them, they say, such an article is worth three macutes, such an other is worth five macutes, and such another, ten ; and yet a macute can neither be seen nor felt ; it is entirely an abstract term, and not applicable to any sensible object. Is it a coin? Is it a token? Is it a measure? It is neither a coin, a token, nor a measure ; for they do not exchange their merchandize for three, five, or ten macuies, but for some article worth the same number of macutes." In this statement, Mr. Smith found exactly the measure or standard of value which he wanted. He declares, accordingly, that the real standard of value is 56 a noininal or imaginary one, of which the coins, passing in circulation, are only symbols or tokens." The passage from Montesquieu, he says, “is an exact description of what is meant by an imaginary standard. Indeed," he adds, “it is coirceived that, without it, little or no intercourse could be carried on betwixt man and man; because all value being comparative, it would be impossible for mankind, especially in the present improved state of society, to make the daily exchanges of property, without assuming some fised point, upon which to found their calculation of the value of each article.” In another passage, he says, “ This ideal standard, or, as it will in future he called, the Standard Unit, appears to be something of the same nature with the letter placed for the unknown quantity in algebra; it has no real value itself, but, by it, the relative value of all articles are* fixed, all accounts are kept, and all exchange of property is settled."
In all this, the luckless author has been following a mere phantom. There is in reality no fixed standard of value; and the absurdity, the ridiculous absurdity, of Mr. Thomas Smith consists in this, that after seeing far enough into the subject to perceive that no commodity is calculated to afford a standard of vilue, he should have supposed an abstract idea, an absolute nonentity, capable of measuring value. He might just as reasonably have talked of measuring water-Casks by the sound of a trumpet. The fact is, that one commodity measures the value of another, and there neither is nor can be any other measure. That commodity which is the most commonly employed in purchases, is that by which the relative value of commodities is most commonly expressed ; and as gold and silver, within a limited time and a limited space, in the same country, for example, and the same age, vary but little in their value, they afford, in all transactions that occur within these limits, a standard which is sufficiently accurate for practice. For distant times and places there neither is, nor can be, any standard. All that can be gained is an approximation, which is greater or less according to circumstances.
Considering the uncommon discernment which Mr. Thomas Smith displays on other topics connected with his subject, it is lamentable to contemplate the nonsense which he utters concerning the Standard Unit. He tells us the Pound sterling is the Standard Unit in England. It seeins a singular suspen. sion of the reasoning power to have been unable to reflect,
* This grammatical error we point out with no invidious intention. The author sets not up the pretensions of a scholar. But he should have been a little more read before he attempted theoretical discoveries,
that the Pound sterling has at various times expressed very different values.
He very humbly thinks, however, that in this Unit he has made a notable discovery. " The existence of the standard," he says, “ has hitherto escaped the notice of all the writers on this subject; even Dr. Adam Smith appears to have been quite ignorant of it." Nothing is so easy now-a-days as to find things in which Dr. Adam Smith was ignorant. The time, we trust, is coming, when our countrymen will be dull enough to discover fewer errors in that writer. But at present they are so generally wise and discerning, that they find Dr. Smith to be ignorant on almost every topic of political economy. It is a pity, however, that he did not know more about the Standard Ünit. Had he been but a convert to the doctrine of the Unit;hether he would have been of more utility to his species, is one question; but he would certainly have written a very different book from the Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
But Mr. Thomas Smith has been unfortunately deceived, in the fact on which his idea of the imaginary standard is grounded. Montesquieu has credulously inserted in his ingenious work many erroneous statements of travellers, and this is one, Had Mr. Smith but taken the trouble to look into Mungo Park's interesting book of Travels, he would have found how the fact stands, and would perhaps have discovered a little of the truth in regard to his ideal Unit. As this passage affords a practical refutation of our author's conceit, inore generally instructive than abstract reasoning, and presents some curious facts in the history of money, it is highly worthy of insertion. "After mentioning how much of the trade of the Africans is carried on by simple barter, Mr. Park say's (See Travels in the Interior of Africa, p. 27) “ In thus bariering one commodity for another, many inconveniences must necessarily have arisen at first, from the want of coined money, or some other visible and determinate medium, to settle the balance or difference of value, between different articles; to remedy which, the natives of the interior make use of small shells, called cowries. On the coast, the inhabitants have adopted a practice which I believe is peculiar to themselves. In their early intercourse with Europeans, the article that attracted most notice was iron. Its utility in forming the instruments of war and husbandry, made it preferable to all others; and iron soon became the measure by which the value of all other commodities was ascertained. Thus a certain quantity of goods of whatever denomination, appearing to be equal in value to a bar of iron, constituted, in the trader's phraseology, à bar of that particular merchandize. Twenty leaves of tobacco,