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But the labouring man
Sixteen at least of the

If this confusion had run through the silver coinage, it would perhaps have been wholly unbearable. must have had a tolerable share of it. current gold coins were lower than, or nearly the same as, the highest silver coin. Every man who dealt with sums of five shillings was liable to come in contact with this part of the gold circulation, and with its changes. And we do not know the worst for Jeake does not pretend to give all the gold "yet current" in 1674, only "most" of it. We should like to have heard a speech from Mr. Lowe on the proclamation.

The renovation of the coinage which was completed by Newton in 1699, appears to have had no reference to the complexity of the pieces in number and value: the great cause of complaint was the depreciation. Of course, in calling in the battered mass, simplicity was observed in the new issue. We have often wondered why the details of this new issue are not matter of the utmost notoriety: it may easily be found that such is not the case. The histories of the coinage do not state the particulars of the new system. At the Mint, the controlment-rolls of the recoinage of 1699 do not give the denominations, though sufficiently full in other respects; and this is the only official record. And for the omission we find, on examination, a very simple reason. Whatever he had to do with calling in old coins, Newton had nothing to do in issuing new ones, except only to continue what his immediate predecessors had

been doing he found simplicity of issue established. From Charles II. downwards, the silver issued had consisted of crowns, halfcrowns, shillings, sixpences, groats, threepences, twopences, and pence: the gold of five-pound pieces, doubleguineas, guineas, and half-guineas. The only coin peculiar to Newton's administration is the quarter-guinea of 1718, but this coin was found too small for use; a lesson to those who would give us gold of 8s. 4d. Nevertheless, it continued in circulation at least to Wilkes's time; for Sam Johnson, speaking contemptuously of the petitions which that hero excited, said that with a little hot wine he would undertake to get up a petition against the half-guinea or the quarter-guinea.

The old gold coins were not entirely called in at the recoinage. The Carolus (£1 3s.) and the Jacobus (£1 5s.) retained some circulation till 1740, at least; for so late are they set down as "usual coins" in books of arithmetic.

It is not worth while to trace the copper coinage, an idea of the seventeenth century, or rather an idea of Elizabeth, carried into practice by her successors. The first English copper coin, so called, was the adulterated silver of Henry VIII, some of which had little more than the sixth part of its exchangeable value; as to which "Sir John Rainsford meeting Parson Brocke, the principall devisor of the Copper Coyne, threatned him to breake his head, for that he had made his Soveraigne Lord, the most beautifull Prince, King Henry, with a red and Copper Nose." It may be that these experiments upon the silver first suggested the notion of using copper, ipso facto, as a circulating medium.

Our readers will have remarked that for a long time, the bulk of the coin was gold, silver being, as copper now is, a base substitute for very small amounts. It is sometimes popularly stated that Henry VII. coined gold pence, but this golden coin was of a large value, though called a penny. It should follow, one might suppose, that the popular notion of a mass of coin, taken as it came, would be that of a larger bulk of gold, and a smaller bulk of silver: in our day, the result of putting together many mixed sums would be, that the bulk of silver would be greater than the bulk of gold. It so happened that, while writing on this subject, we chanced to read over that most excellent old ballad, the "Heir of Linne," which, though reputed (wrongly, we believe) Scottish, will serve our purpose, since the Scotch and English coinage were of the same cha racter. The prodigal finds his father's hoard in three chests:Two were full of the beaten golde,

The third was full of white monéy.

So that the ballad notion of a hoard of coin seems to have been that there would be two bulks of gold to one of silver.

Seeing what our ancestors could endure, and did endure, and taking into account all the advantages which we have over them in the power of spreading information over the country, we ask whether the conversion of the half-shilling into 25 farthings instead of 24, is more than could easily be mastered. It is certain that at a very low estimate, by many thought much too low, this proceeding would set free five hours out of every hundred employed in education throughout the whole country that is to say, ninety-five hours would do what one hundred now do. This takes in all kinds of education: to the poorer classes the proportion per cent. set free is larger. And further, the much greater facility given to money calculation would throw competition for clerks' and book-keepers' places among those who have at present no chance. It may be doubted whether the opening of the civil service and the East India service will be so large a boon to the middle classes, as the establishment of this simple coinage would be to the lower classes.

When the question had been carried in the House of Commons, the Decimal Association, desiring to proceed towards the change in the most cautious manner, recommended to the Government, by two deputations, one to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and one to the Prime Minister, to take the following course-First, to cease from coining halfcrowns, and from issuing the halfcrowns which return into the Mint; supplying. their place by issue of florins and of sixpences. Secondly, to stamp on every new sixpence issued from the Mint the words "half-shilling, 25 mils;" not thereby meaning, at this time, to interfere with the existing farthing, but only to signify the advent of a new name, and to excite inquiry as to what this new name might mean. The Association was of opinion that, so far as the most ignorant classes are concerned, this sixpence, so stamped, would be the only book wanted. They urged upon the ministers that this step pledged the Crown to nothing, and gave nothing to retrace, if the plan were even finally abandoned.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave the deputation to understand that the Government would do nothing. He denied-and in doing so he gave reason to doubt that he knew the meaning of a decimal coinage-that the resolutions of the House contained an affirmation of the principle of retaining the pound. He maintained that it might be construed in favour of the penny. The resolutions were as follows:"That in the opinion of this House, the initiation of the decimal system of coinage, by the issue of the florin, has been eminently successful and satisfactory."-"That a further extension of such system will be of great public advantage."

It was pointed out to Sir G. Lewis, that a decimal system proceeds only by tens; that a decimal system which contains the florin, must contain 10 florins, which is not a penny; and the 10th part of a florin, which is not a penny; and the 100th part of a florin, which is not a penny. "That," said he, "is one construction; but there are others." How the penny is to be retained in a decimal system which adopts the pound and florin, he did not point out; and we know no more than our readers what he meant.

Lord Palmerston, when the Association waited on him a few days afterwards, showed an utter want of Exchequer ingenuity, and much more aptitude at understanding logical necessity and arithmetical meaning. He did not for a moment fence with constructions, but admitted the plain English of the Resolutions, threw himself behind the barrier of ministerial discretion, and announced his intention to seek information through a Commission. Though some imagined that this was only a method of hanging up the question, yet, for ourselves, independently of the circumstances mentioned at the beginning of this article, we are inclined to think that Lord Palmerston saw clearly enough that the change-the pound and mil change is sure to come. We do not believe that he ever entertained the idea of overturning three Committees by a Committee of three; but we suspect that, like all other ministers of our time, he did not want trouble upon a matter which is not a question of party, nor an outwork of the august city of ministerial power.

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The opponents of the Association affirm that the commercial world takes no interest in the question; and one of their organs fathers upon Mr. Rogers an assertion that this is because the pound and mil scheme is simply impracticable. How exquisite the irony of fastening upon Nestor a dictum which would show an utter ignorance of mankind! Do large masses of men remain not only inactive, but uninterested, when a change affecting themselves is carried in the House of Commons, because they believe that such change, if attempted, would not succeed? Do they not know that the attempt, seriously made, must either succeed to their gain or loss, or fail to their loss? Have the men of commerce a joint but unexpressed feeling that a measure carried in the House, approved by the mayors of cities and towns by the fifty, petitioned for by chambers of commerce by the dozen-to say nothing of advocacy not so directly commercial-can be trusted to work its own failure? The supposition is simply absurd. The commercial classes are interested, but not excited. They are generally in favour of the House of Commons plan, the only plan which has secured a combination. The opponents of this plan cannot

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