By William Gouge (1835)

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Sample text

The market value of the precious metals is, as that of all other things, in the compound ratio of their utility and of their scarcity. It does not depend on their scarcity alone. Money is, simply, that valuable by reference to which the value of other things is estimated, and by the instrumentality of which the interchange of other things is effected. There is nothing mystical in its nature; nor is it likely that its character WQuld ever have been misunderstovd in the United OF REAL MONEY. 9 States, if the avoirdupois ounce of silver had been made the unit of reference, and if coins had been struck of the weight of an ounce, and of aliquot partslof the ounce.

In countries where the money is of a sound character, and the state of credit sound also, leger entries, bills of exchange, and promissory notes, serve rather to keep prices on a level, than to cause them to fluctuate. In some seasons of the year, as when crops are brought to market, or cargoes arrive from foreign ports, there is naturally mor~ trade than in other seasons. By the use of private credit payments are divided among the different months more equally than would otherwise be practicable.

In countries in which paper money is unknown, the common standards and measures of value appear to approach as near theoretic perfection, as the common standards of weight, length, or capacity. The standard of reference has no variation, except such as necessarily arises from the nature of value. The measures are composed of the same material as the standard. The calculations necessary to show the effective power of money in different countries, and different ages, may not unaptly be compared to those which show the length of pendulums to beat seconds in different latitudes; or to those which show the loss of weight ponderous bodies sustain on being carried to different elevations above the surface of the sea.

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