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We cannot close this article without congratulations to the lovers of Latin scholarship on the publication of that elegant and tasteful volume, the Sabrina Corolla. It has happily been the means of calling forth from privacy many of Dr Kennedy's effusions a scholar, in competition with whom no cotemporary, we believe, will presume to enter the lists of classical composition. We cannot, within our limited space, attempt to do justice to the manifold beauties of his style, and his extraordinary command utriusque lingua; the following lines, however, may serve as a fair specimen of his brilliant qualities as a translator:"Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour;
England hath need of thee; she is a fen Of stagnant waters; altar, sword, and pen, Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower, Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men: Oh! raise us up, return to us again, And give us manners, virtue, freedom,
Obstupeam vacuosque tractus ; Qua parte sacri fulguris impetus Per cæca rumpit murmura nubium,
Et nigra majestas procellæ
De rutilo procul ardet axe;
Per superas spatiaris auas.
E speculis animum fatigat,
Decutias rapidasque pestes.
Per nebulas pluviosque rores:
Quid mirum, ubi astris supplicia imminent
Corde nefas tacitamque fraudem ? "
The remaining stanzas of the poem, for which we are unable to afford space, will be found at p. 274 of the Corolla.
THE INFLUENCE OF GOLD UPON THE COMMERCIAL AND SOCIAL CONDITION OF THE WORLD.
THE influence exercised by the possession of the precious metals over the social condition of the various countries of the earth, in successive ages, presents some phenomena, the causes and bearing of which are important enough to invite consideration at the present moment; and in devoting a few pages to the subject, we shall endeavour to confine ourselves as much as possible to a review of facts and their results, as recorded by history, and to avoid the discussion of monetary theories and usages, except so far as they are necessarily connected with it by those intrinsic properties of gold and silver, as instruments of exchange-their portability, and generally accepted value as commodities. It is impossible altogether to overlook these properties, or the fact that these metals have, by almost universal consent, and in every age of the world, been used as money-the representatives of value in commercial transactions. Their possession by any nation, or by individuals, has been, from the Mosaic period downwards to the present day, regarded as the proof of wealth, and used as a material power. Flocks and herds, grain and oil, were ever, as now, the most serviceable possession of a primitive people; and where the precious metals were not indigenous to the soil, the excess of these possessions over the supply required for consumption, provided the means of purchasing them for adornments, and also of acquiring those luxuries which they were unable to produce for themselves. In the great cities, and amongst the eastern communities of the Mosaic period, gold and silver, both indigenous and acquired by barter, or as spoils of war, are recorded to have existed in great abundance. Had we statistical information to guide us, we might perhaps trace the influence of the gold of Ophir, and of the countries of Assyria, upon the greatness of the Hebrew and upon the rise and decline of on, of Nineveh, of Tyre and
Sidon; upon their vast commercial dealings in the richest products of the earth; and upon the origin of those products of human skill and science in the Old World, which are still a marvel and a mystery to modern times. To the sands of Pactolus with their golden yield we might trace the greatness, and subsequent abandonment to luxury, which precipitated the fall of the Grecian republics. We might trace the vast works of Egypt and Ethiopia to the golden yield of their rivers and alluvial soils; and we might even pierce beyond the view of history, and trace to similar causes the early greatness and civilisation of the Chinese empire, and the assured existence of mighty peoples, who have left only, in various parts of Asia and in Central America, colossal ruins of cities and sepulchres as mementoes of their prosperity and subsequent decadence upon the earth. But we have no such statistical data, or they are too vague to afford the means of speculating upon with certainty or profit. All that we know of many of these various peoples, by whom civilisation and luxury were carried to an extreme, unknown during many ages to their successors, the more hardy races by whom their countries were overrun-is, that they possessed the precious metals in abundance, and that those metals were used by them extensively as instruments of commerce, as well as for personal adornment, and as the material of articles of luxury. We must therefore confine our inquiry to a period subsequent to the commencement of what are generally termed "the middle ages," when the mighty fabric of the Roman Empire had yielded to the assaults made upon its enfeebled population from every side, and moral and social darkness, accompanied by the decline of learning and science, had fallen upon Europe, whilst the blight of Mohammedanism had overshadowed some of the most fertile portions of Asia.
Before entering upon this inquiry,
however, we must premise a few observations. In the first place, it cannot be contended that the mere possession of gold in the soil of a country is a guarantee of its permanent growth in wealth and solid prosperity. We know, from ordinary experience, that easily-got money is readily spent, and eften squandered. If the gold-digger in modern days rarely becomes a rich Inan, we may safely assert the same of gold countries. The pursuits of regular industry are neglected, when a few spadefuls of earth, turned up by a sort of vagrant husbandry, will suffice to enable the holder of the pick and spade to indulge in injurious excess; and as our gold-diggers are seldom found to be exemplary characters, the same may doubtless be said of those who have in other ages preceded them in the same occupation. The wealth amassed by the anti-medieval communities was not divided amongst the mining classes. These, we have every warrant of historic evidence to show, were mere serfs. It has been the same in more modern times. In the Hartz mines, in those of the Ural Mountains, and in Peru, the labourers were slaves or criminals, working for the benefit of the great nobles and landowners, or for the states in which the golden deposits were found. The parties chiefly benefited by their labours were, in the first instance, such nobles and landowners, or the governments of the countries containing the deposits of the precious metals, and ultimately those traders and countries whose commercial enterprise enabled them to supply them profitably with the luxuries for which they thirsted. The great commercial cities of old throve and became rich, by means, in the first place, of the profit of exchanging their industry and their arts for the products of the ruder description of labour, employed in the collection of gold and other valuable metals, gems, &c. In the second place, they acquired from those products the means of more readily negotiating the purchase of the raw materials-silks, wools, and dyes-used in the production of their valuable fabrics. An ounce of gold, for example, served to feed the "barbaric pomp" of potentates and peoples, amongst whom the luxuries of life were little known,
although they abounded in the materials from which those luxuries could be fabricated. At the same time, the luxuries in question found most profitable markets in countries which furnished food and other necessaries for the consumption of a toiling people. Amongst ruder nations, the course of trade was simple barter. A superfluity was exchanged for an article of necessity or enjoyment, and prices were merely conventional. The precious metals were only held by the superior classes, and purchased almost arbitrary quantities of whatever they required. But those metals-or at least that portion of them not absorbed for ornamental purposesfound their way at length into the hands of the dealers in money and the trading classes generally of those countries which were non-producers of anything beyond the ordinary fruits of agricultural industry, or manufacturers of various fabrics of handicraft and skill.
After the downfall of the Byzantine Empire, whilst the bulk of Eastern Europe and the Asiatic provinces, which had been subjugated by the Roman arms, were trampled upon by the semi-barbaric hordes by which they had been overrun, the arts and commerce might be said to have been almost suspended. The large stores of the precious metals, which had been employed in the fabrication of articles of ornament and luxury, had become the spoil of the conquering races; but the portion used as money gradually disappeared, or was hoarded, as an unsafe property for men to own openly during a period of rapine and violence, when the sword and the armed host of retainers were superior in might to established law and order. We have no authentic data to enable us to determine with any degree of accuracy, or even to form a probable guess at, the amount of the precious metals at that period existing in the world. And we have as little information with respect to any new sources of their increase being made available. A traffic was, indeed, carried on, to a certain extent, by the Italian and other cities; and wealth flowed in upon them, much of it in the form of gold, silver, and precious stones, as the improvidence of the feudal nobility placed them at the
mercy of usurious traders and mercantile adventurers, who speculated upon such improvidence. But the precious metals, as money, fell into disuse, openly at least, as unsafe to possess or to transport. They were chiefly absorbed by the Jewish race, by whom a representative circulating medium was adopted, to facilitate and economise their employment in the larger transactions of commerce and usance. An extensive and subtlely-organised system of exchange existed amongst this people; which, however, only in part protected them from spoliation and rapine. The growth of the monastic system was another absorbent of the metallic treasures of the world, which were lavished upon shrines, and upon the insignia designed to impart splendour to the ceremonials and forms of worship of a corrupted church. We are not, however, to assume, that because Europe was hoarding, and largely consuming its stores of the precious metals, therefore the production or exhuming of those metals was absolutely at a stand-still. We know that such was not the case; that mining operations were going on in other quarters of the globe, the produce of which reached Europe by indirect channels, and rewarded the enterprising traders of her commercial cities, filling their argosies with gold and precious gems, and laying the foundations of colossal fortunes, whose possessors and their descendants were ultimately to outshine in splendour, and displace in power and territorial greatness, the rude and uncultivated races which had for some centuries lorded it over their fellows, by the mere might of stalwart arms, and the devotion of their still ruder adherents and vassals. The mercantile communities of Italy and Germany had each their own monetary systems, by means of which the exchange of valuable commodities was transacted with but little aid from the precious metals as money; but we cannot doubt that supplies of those metals were still flowing into Europe, for otherwise their wasteful expenditure during this period, when housings of gold and profuse ornaments of their armour and attire were the distinguishing marks of nobility and knighthood, nst shortly have exhausted the preting stocks, however large their
accumulation. We know that the Saracens brought with them, in their journey westward, large stores of the precious metals, in various forms; and much of this gradually found its way to Venice, Genoa, and other seats of commerce and industry. The returning hosts of the Crusaders, at a subsequent period, distributed the golden tribute over Europe; consuming it, at the same time, largely themselves, in the gratification of their newly acquired tastes for magnificence in attire and mode of living. The Moorish people, in their invasion of Spain, brought with them the golden yield of Africa, which they also employed almost solely in wasteful splendour, imitated by the superior classes of the country a portion of whose territory they had overrun, and held for years at the point of the sword. Yet in Spain, as throughout the greater part of Europe at this period, the precious metals were so completely absorbed for the purposes of art and ornament, and so little used as money, that we read, in the interesting pages of Washington Irving, of a king of Granada being driven to resort to an issue of representative paper-assignats, in fact, although he afterwards strictly redeemed them-to enable him to evict from his country its Moorish invaders. During this period, too, the inhabitants of Peru, and of other portions of the South American continent, as well as of the Indies, must have been actively engaged in laying up those immense stores of the precious metals, gems, &c., the circulation of which was subsequently destined to exercise such an important influence upon the commerce and the social condition of other countries, and especially of those of Europe.
Thus far in the history of mankind, meagre as are the details handed down to us, it is tolerably clear that the possession of the precious metals, whether of indigenous yield or acquired by barter, had never materially raised the condition of the masses of the population, except in those countries where they were either circulated as money, in quantities of recognised value, or converted into coin for the purpose of facilitating internal commerce and rewarding industry. We find that this was done as early as the time of Abraham; and we have
a right to conclude that it materially tended to increase the greatness of the Hebrew race. The practice was imitated, perhaps borrowed, from Eastern nations by Alexander of Macedon, after he had overrun Persia; and by the Romans, when they had extended their conquests into the Asiatic provinces. It had previously existed in Egypt, in Hindostan, in Abyssinia, and in some portions of Africa, gold and silver by weight having formed a circulating medium, both for internal and external transactions, and thus aiding in the formation of a middle or trading class in those countries. Where these metals, however, were devoted merely to useful or ornamental purposes, and absorbed by the territorial classes as the outward insignia of wealth and splendour, or when, as in the early portion of the medieval period in Europe, the disturbed state of society rendered their possession unsafe in the hands of the middle classes, and their general circulation, as a medium of exchange, impracticable, the effect upon society was much the same as that of a restricted currency has been found to be in modern times. The middle classes retrograded in condition, whilst the higher classes, unless they were wasteful, advanced in riches; and commerce and the arts flourished only in those cities and small republics, the population of which had provided themselves with monetary systems, based indeed upon the possession of the precious metals, but limiting the use of those metals to the balancing of transactions, both international and internal, and thus, to a considerable extent, protecting them from becoming the spoil of the marauding nobles and their retainers, who sought to gratify their luxurious desires by the appropriation of the industry of others. In the negotiation of these exchanges, we have already stated that the Jewish people were for a considerable period the principal agents. They wrung, in fact, from time to time, from that nobility, and even from powerful monarchs, by their usurious dealings, the spoil which these had acquired by force from the classes engaged in the peaceful pursuits of industry, and from each other. In time, however, the Venetian, Genoese, and other republics
who might almost be said to absorb the trade of Europe-enriched by their trade with foreign countries, became possessors of powerful fleets, capable of protecting their mercantile ventures, and assumed an important power in the affairs of Europe. The Lombard, and other cities in the interior of the Continent, were enabled to subsidise the turbulent monarchs and people in their vicinity, and thus protected their manufactures, and insured the safety of their monetary transactions. They became thus the principal issuers of money, and, by the aid of their domestic and international systems of exchange, were enabled to advance on loan to the various turbulent nations of Europe, and to wring from them usurious profits upon such transactions. Of course, whilst pursuing such a business, they became mixed up with the various factions, whose contentions at that time agitated Europe. The strife between the Guelph and Ghibelline families arrayed one commercial republic against another, and vast sums of money were dissipated upon very precarious security, which became the property of the dealers in the precious metals, who were chiefly, as they have been in all periods before and since, belonging to the Jewish race. In the mean time various countries
France in particular- were providing a domestic circulation, by means of a debasement of those metals of which it was professed to be formed; and this practice was not confined to the governments of those countries, but was carried on by individual nobles and owners of the soil. Hallam says of France, for example, (edition 1818, vol. i. p. 161),—
"Silver and gold were not very scarce in the first ages of the French monarchy; but they passed more by weight than by tale. A lax and ignorant government, which had not learned the lucrative mysteries of a royal mint (!), was not particularly solicitous to give its subjects the security of a known stamp in their exchanges. In some cities of France, money appears to have been coined by private authority before the time of Charlemagne; the circulation of any that had not been at least one of his capitularies forbids stamped in the royal mint. His successors indulged some of their vassals with the privilege of coining money for the use of their own territories, but not with