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WHOEVER has examined with at- when a currency is provided adequate tention the past annals of mankind, to the wants of men, and capable of must have become aware that the extension in proportion to their necesgreatest and most important revolu- sities; because, in such a case, prices tions that have occurred in human are rising or remunerative, and indiaffairs have originated in the varia- vidual éffort, stimulated by the prostions which from time to time have pect of an adequate return, becomes taken place in the supply of the universal, and acts powerfully and precious metals which could be ob- decisively upon the general welfare of tained for the use of man. As they society and the issue of the national constitute, by the universal consent of fortunes. the world, the common medium of The two greatest revolutions which exchange and measure of value among have taken place in the annals of the nations, their plenty or scarcity has species, and which have for ever left an immediate and powerful influence their traces on the fortunes of manapon the remuneration of industry kind, have arisen from the successive and the activity of the working. diminution and increase in the supply classes in all countries. Accord of the precious metals for the use of ing as they are increasing or dimi- the world. There can be no doubt nishing, abundant or awanting, is that the decline and fall of the Roman the condition of the people pros- empire-so long and falsely ascribed perous or calamitous — the national to its latter extension, plebeian slaprospects bright or gloomy. No very, and patrician corruption - was amount of human cxertion, no efforts in reality mainly owing to the failure of human patriotism, can sustain the in the mines of Spain and Greece, national fortunes for any length of from which the precious metals in time, or diffuse general and enduring ancient times were chiefly obtained, prosperity among the people, if the joined to the unrestricted importaexisting medium of exchange is below tion of grain from Egypt and Libya, what their numbers and transactions which ruined the profit of the require; because, in such a case, harvests and destroyed the agriculprices are constantly declining, cre- ture of Italy and Greece, at once dit is liable to periodical and ruinous paralysing industry, and rendering contractions, and industry, on an ave- taxes overwhelming * We know rage of years, ceases to meet with its now to what the failure of these due reward. No calamities are insu- mines, attended with such portentous perable, no dangers insurmountable, results, was owing. It was to the
* See “ Fall of Rome,” Alison's Essays, vol. iii. p. 440. VOL. LXIX.-XO. CCCCXXIII.