Swift and Locke


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Swift and Locke Satire, monetary theory, and intrinsic value
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x, 251 leaves : ; 29 cm.
Soud, Stephen E
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Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 1998.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 232-250).
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by Stephen E. Soud.
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Copyright 1998


Stephen E. Soud

Dedicated to Cathy, Natalie, Paul,

and our newest arrival, Jonathan


The completion of a doctoral dissertation might well be described as a process of

accruing debts--and not only in the financial sense. I owe the greatest debt to my director,

Mel New. He has worked tirelessly, raising thought-provoking questions, returning drafts

swiftly, and giving invaluable critical and professional advice. I simply cannot say enough.

I am also particularly indebted to Pat Craddock, whose wisdom, kindness, and good sense

have helped buoy me more than she knows. Brian McCrea has also given excellent

advice, as have the other members of my committee, Brandy Kershner (who graciously

lent his services late in the process) and David Denslow. As I hope the list of references

indicates, I spent more than a little time in the Smathers Libraries, where John Van Hook

was of inestimable support and assistance. John always found time to answer questions

and help locate obscure sources. I must also thank Frank DiTrolio, who often proved a

valuable resource, and Todd Chisholm and Jennifer Johnson, who patiently renewed

hundreds of books for me. Also, for the Aubrey Williams Research Travel Fellowship,

thanks are due to the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Several of my colleagues at Maryville College have played an important role in the

completion of the dissertation. Susan Schneibel and Dean Boldon have been exceptionally

patient and supportive of me and my family as we have struggled through an

extraordinarily difficult and then exciting two years. Sherry Kasper has taught me much

about the history of economics and, more importantly, been a good friend; Sam

Overstreet, a wonderful colleague, has provided stimulating conversation about literature,

theory, and intrinsic and extrinsic value.

To conclude, debts to family are often the least prominent but most extensive. I

cannot overestimate the contribution of my mother and father, who provided the sort of

home environment that makes learning and writing habits of being. Also, without the

generous support of Ash Verlander, none of this would have been possible. Finally, I can

only hope that, for the innumerable hours spent on this dissertation, the Dedication to

Cathy and the children will suffice.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ............. ................................ iv

A B STR A C T .......................................... .. .......... viii

KEY TO ABBREVIATIONS ....................................... x


1 SW IFT'S BLACK FLAG ................... ........ ......... 1

Pocock, Locke, and the Discourse of Credit ....................... 6
Revisiting Charles Davenant .............................. 16
Cultural History and the Legacy of Coinage ..................... 23
The Presence of Locke's Monetary Theories in the Eighteenth Century 28
N otes ......... .......... ................ ........ 37


The Minting Process and the Deterioration of the Coinage .......... 54
War Supply, Currency Exchange, and Monetary Collapse .......... 67
The Worsening Crisis and Parliamentary Intervention .............. 74
The Recoinage Controversy ................................. 81
Locke, Intrinsic Value, and the Significance of Consent ............ 93
C conclusion .............................. ............. 108
N otes ...................................... ........ 109


Swift, Temple, and the Great Recoinage ..................... 124
Wit, Weight, and the Ancients: Sir William Temple ............... 131
Wit, Weight, and the Moders: Sir Richard Blackmore ............ 136
Intrinsic Value and Abuses in Learning .................... 146
Intrinsic Value and Abuses in Religion ................... 166
Madmen, Knaves, and Fools ................................ 175

Conclusion ............................... ............ 178
N otes ..................................... ......... 179

The Recoinage and the Irish Economy of the 1720s .............. 195
Monetary Theory and the Irish Coinage Crisis .................. 200
Locke and The Drapier's Letters ............................ 209
Royal Prerogative and Lindalino ............................. 220
N otes ..................................... ......... 226

REFERENCES .............. ................................... 232

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .................. ....................... 251

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Stephen E. Soud

August, 1998

Chair: Melvyn New
Major Department: English

By exploring relationships between the monetary theories of John Locke and the

satires of Jonathan Swift--with particular emphasis on the concept of intrinsic value-this

dissertation challenges prevailing interpretations of British culture and literature in the

early eighteenth century. Chapter 1 establishes ways the neo-Machiavellian "discourse of

credit," a hermeneutic widely associated with J. G. A. Pocock, has overlooked issues

concerning coinage, and thus downplayed the significance of the treatises Locke wrote

during the Great Recoinage of 1695-99. Locke's theory of the intrinsic value of gold and

silver money was dominant in eighteenth-century Britain, and re-establishing the

importance of coinage and its metaphors is vital for our properly understanding the culture

of the era. Hence recent economically based studies of literature, which focus primarily on

the workings of public credit, need to be supplemented. Chapter 2 details the processes

by which English coin was minted in the seventeenth century, the monetary problems

associated with clipping, war finance, and international exchange, and the conflicting

positions in the Recoinage debate. It concludes with an exposition of Locke's theory of

intrinsic value, paradoxically founded on general consent. Chapter 3 places Swift'sA Tale

ofa Tub, written during the late 1690s, in the context of the Recoinage. Coinage

metaphors and the language of value played a significant part in the Battle of the Books,

and these figure into the Tale. In addition to parodying Sir Richard Blackmore's Satyr

against Wit (1699), Swift uses the language of value to help establish Martin as the via

media of the satire. However, like Locke, Swift finds himself caught in the paradox of

defining intrinsic value by general consent. Chapter 4 examines Swift's use ofLocke's

natural law theory of money in The Drapier's Letters (1724) to lead the Irish boycott of

Wood's halfpence. Swift transformed what had been an economic objection to the

halfpence into a powerful legal argument that implicitly threatened England's claims to

monetary sovereignty over Ireland. I also contend that an appreciation of Swift's ironic

use of Locke's theories is necessary to understanding the Lindalino allegory of Gulliver's

Travels (1726).



I have used the following abbreviations in the text for Swift's primary works and

selected secondary materials:

Corr The Correspondence ofJonathan Swift. Ed. Harold Williams. 5 vols.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963.

DSL Dean Swift's Library. Ed. Harold Williams. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1932.

Ehrenpreis Ehrenpreis, Irvin. Swift: The Man, His Works, and the Age. 3 vols.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962-83.

Poems The Poems ofJonathan Swift. Ed. Harold Williams. 3 vols. 2nd ed.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958.

PW The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift. Ed. Herbert Davis. 16 vols. Oxford:
Basil Blackwell, 1939-74.

Tale Swift, Jonathan. A Tale of a Tub. To Which Is Added "The Battle of the
Books" and the "Mechanical Operation of the Spirit." Ed. A. C.
Guthkelch and D. Nichol Smith. 2nd ed., corrected. Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1973.

TDL Swift, Jonathan. The Drapier's Letters to the People of Ireland. Ed.
Herbert Davis. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1935.


With the exception of the first printing of Some Considerations, which is cited

individually in the text, all of Locke's monetary writings have been drawn from Patrick

Kelly's splendid edition, Locke on Money. I have keyed these references, with title and

page numbers corresponding to the Kelly edition, as follows:

"Draft" "Transcript of Final Manuscript Draft of Some Considerations." Appendix
A. 503-612.

"Early" "Early Writings on Interest, 1668-1674." 167-202.

FC Further Considerations Concerning Raising the .Value ofMoney. Wherein
Mr Lowndes's Arguments for it in his late "Report Concerning An Essay
for the Amendment of the Silver Coins, are Particularly Examined. 402-

"Guineas" "Guineas." 363-4.

Kelly "Introduction." In John Locke, Locke on Money. Ed. Kelly. 2 vols.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991. 1-162.

SC Some Considerations of the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest, and
Raising the Value ofMoney. 209-342.

SO Short Observations on a Printed Paper, Intituled, "For encouraging the
Coining Silver Money in England and afterfor keeping it here." 345-59.

"Trumbull" "A Paper Given to Sir William Trumbull Which Was Written at His
Request September 1695." 365-73.

Two other frequently cited works by Locke are abbreviated as follows:

ECHU An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Ed. Peter H. Nidditch.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.

TT Locke, John. Two Treatises of Government. Ed. Peter Laslett.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.


In the Spring of 1737, after years of lobbying by Irish Primate Hugh Boulter, the

English government agreed to lower the value of the gold coin circulating in Ireland. In

August of that year, the Irish Lords Justices and Privy Council issued a proclamation

lowering the official rate ofa guinea from 11. 3s. to 11. 2s. 9d. Boulter and many others

viewed the adjustment as a hard-fought victory for the beleaguered Irish economy, but

Dean Swift, always distrustful of Boulter's political motives, held a contrary opinion.

Convinced the alteration would "pave a Bridge of Gold" across the Irish Sea, further

lining the pockets of absentee landlords and leaving "hundreds of thousands... starving at

home, for want of Employment" (PWXIII: 120), Swift ordered the bells of St. Patrick's

muffled to ring mourning and flew from the Cathedral steeple a black flag.' A month later

a London newspaper received a suspiciously anonymous letter from Dublin describing

reaction to the incident:

All we can say is that the citizens were greatly alarmed when they saw the
black flag, imagining that our patriot, who had been ill, was dead. Many of
them ran in great consternation to the church, where they learned that their
Dean lived, and to their great consolation was happily recovered from his
late illness. The signs of mourning were on account of the lowering of the

Other contemporary responses to Swift's gesture were decidedly less sympathetic.

At least one spectator was embarrassed by what he considered eccentric behavior from the

aging satirist: "The Dean of St. Patrick's involves himself in such strange, improper,

insignificant opposition to matters of a public nature," Baron Wainwright of the Irish

Exchequer wrote to the Earl of Oxford, "that, by hanging out black flags and putting his

bells in mourning, he makes it impossible for one in my station to converse much with

him."' Ambrose Philips, Boulter's secretary and editor of his correspondence (and who

had ample reason to hold a grudge), responded with greater venom: "Dean Swift not long

after this cruel, though feeble effort, this telum imbelle sine ictu, became one of his own

meer doting Struldbrugs; an event which some people say he used to be apprehensive of in

his more melancholy moments, and this way of thinking perhaps was the first motive to

make that noble charity, which to his great honour he founded in Dublin for lunatics and

idiots."4 Although Swift--never one to be swayed by public opinion--steadfastly

maintained that the new policy was a failure,5 modern biographers have followed

Wainwright and Philips, usually adopting a less caustic version of the latter's

psychologizing. J. A. Downie, for instance, declares that Swift was "tilting at windmills,"

exhibiting an "ill-considered, almost paranoid response" to the alteration of the coin. And

while Swift's most meticulous biographer, Irvin Ehrenpreis, does indeed discuss Swift's

economic reasons for opposing the adjustment, he too resorts to psychoanalytic language

to explain the force of Swift's objection, suggesting it grew out of a "characteristic

personal obsession with finance, his anxiety concerning the perpetual inflation of money."6

Curiously, however, commentators have overlooked one of the most trenchant

rejoinders to Swift's protest, an anonymous pamphlet entitled Some Reflections

Concerning the Reduction of Gold Coin in Ireland Upon the Principles of the Dean of

St. Patrick's andMr. Lock.7 Siding with Boulter, this tract chides Swift--"the Watchfull

Dragon that ever Wakes to Guard the Hesperian Gold"--for renouncing the monetary

principles he had set forth nine years earlier in Intelligencer 19 (1728). There he had

argued that a reduction of three pence in the value of a guinea would be the most sensible

solution to Ireland's loss of silver coin:

When the value of Guineas was lowred in England [in 1717], from 21 s. 6
d. to only 21 s. the Consequences to this Kingdom, were obvious, and
manifest to us all; and a sober Man, may be allowed at least to wonder,
though he dare not complain, why a new Regulation of Coin among us,
was not then made; much more, why it hath never been since. It would
surely require no very profound skill in Algebra, to reduce the difference of
nine Pence in thirty Shillings, or three Pence in a Guinea, to less than a

By reducing the difference in the exchange rate to "so small a Fraction" as a farthing,

Swift continues, the advantage of trading silver for gold in England and bringing the gold

back to Ireland, where it had greater purchasing power, would be eliminated. Then

"Bankers" would no longer be tempted "to hazard their Silver at Sea, or Tradesmen to

load themselves with [silver], in their Journeys to England"' This very reduction, Some

Reflections satirically points out (hence the irony hinted at in the pamphlet's title), was

precisely what Swift protested by flying the black flag.

While the public demonstration of a Swiftian volte-face is not to be discounted,

there is, in my view, a more significant component of the pamphlet's ironic attack. As its

title further hints, Some Reflections implies that Swift, in reversing his earlier position, was

thereby abandoning his long-standing advocacy of the monetary ideas associated with

John Locke.'1 In capsule form, the pamphlet's argument runs something like this: If the

Dean wished to avoid hypocrisy and remain faithful to his prior opinion, he would

maintain the Lockean position that silver is the standard metal; because English monetary

policy toward Ireland has overvalued gold in proportion to silver, the solution to Irish

economic woes is lowering the value of gold." In other words, just as Swift had

supported decreasing the value of the guinea in 1728, so Locke would have pressed for

the reduction in 1737; thus Swift's anonymous critic is able to argue for the adjustment

"Upon the Principles of the Dean of St. Patrick's and Mr. Lock."

That a clash between Swift and the English government should in some measure

take shape around Locke's monetary theories ought to be of considerable interest to

cultural and literary historians, but scholarship has been silent on the point. There are, of

course, any number of insightful studies examining Locke's impact on Swift, but these

focus attention on either the epistemological questions raised by the Essay Concerning

Human Understanding (1690) or the political theory advanced by the Two Treatises of

Government (1690).12 An altogether different line of inquiry, though, is suggested by

Some Reflections, which offers intriguing evidence that Swift was actively engaged with

Locke's monetary theories, and that his contemporaries, in this instance an enemy,

recognized a connection. This evidence alone justifies another look at Swift's interest in

Locke, focusing instead on the monetary writings. Powerful corroboration that such an

investigation might yield significant results, however, comes from another overlooked yet

critically important fact: when Swift's library was sold at his death, it included neither the

Essay nor the Two Treatises, but rather Locke's Tracts relating to Money, Interest, and

Trade (1696), a collection of the pamphlets he published during the controversy

surrounding the Great Recoinage of 1695-99."'

As this evidence strongly suggests, more is at stake in the black flag incident than

Swift's supposed economic paranoia. Indeed, I would assert that the entire affair--and the

silence that has accompanied it--poses fundamental questions about our interpretations of

eighteenth-century political and economic thought, questions concerning both the political

significance of coinage during the era and, more particularly, the cultural legacy of

Locke's Recoinage writings. Why, for instance, would Swift, by any measure a major

figure in the political and literary life of his day, respond so vehemently to the decision to

lower the value of gold coin? How might Lockean monetary theory have impacted

Swift's perennial concerns about the Irish economy, including his calls for boycotts in The

Proposalfor the Universal Use of Irish Manufacture (1719) and Drapier's Letters

(1724), as well as his backing of an Irish mint? What does it mean that, more than forty

years after their initial publication, Locke's monetary treatises could be invoked by an

anonymous Dublin pamphleteer who fully expected the allusion to be understood?

Considered separately, these questions seem relevant to only a few disparate areas of

historical and literary inquiry. Taken together, however, they reveal in current

historiography of eighteenth-century British culture certain "blind spots," areas concealed

from view by a hermeneutic method I will call the "discourse of credit." Initially brought

to prominence in the work ofJ. G. A. Pocock, this hermeneutic has increasingly

dominated economically-oriented interpretations of the period, often achieving valuable

results. However, precisely because of its emphasis on the emergence of public finance,

the discourse of credit has overlooked fundamental issues involving coinage, and it has

done so at Locke's expense.

Pocock, Locke, and the Discourse of Credit

Thirty years ago scholars confidently assumed the decisive influence of Locke and

his Two Treatises on eighteenth-century political discourse, but this once-bedrock

assumption in analyses of Enlightenment political thought has undergone nothing less than

a seismic upheaval. Thanks to a series of studies, most notably Pocock's The

Machiavellian Moment and several of his shorter essays, many now collected in Virtue,

Commerce, and History, the notion of Locke's pre-eminence has been buried beneath a

solid layer of Aristotelian and Machiavellian civic humanism." For Pocock and others,

political language in the period between the Glorious and American Revolutions derived

less from Locke and the liberal tradition than it did from Ancient and Renaissance

concepts of classical republicanism. Thus writers as diverse as Swift, Charles Davenant,

John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon (authors of the influential political periodical Cato's

Letters), and Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, could be seen to frame their

arguments not in Lockean terms of natural rights and government by consent, but in

Machiavellian conceptions of the balance of powers and civic virtue and corruption. In

Pocock's words, this reappraisal necessitated a "shattering demolition of [Locke's]

myth"; it was "not that he was other than a great and authoritative thinker, but that his


greatness and authority [had] been wildly distorted by a habit of taking them unhistorically

for granted."" As is well known, Pocock's claim has come under scrutiny, and in the last

ten years a host of scholars, in a movement dubbed "neo-Lockeanism," have reclaimed

some of the turf lost to the "neo-Machiavellians."6 However, in the course of the debate

neither party has paid much attention to the tracts Locke published prior to and during the

Recoinage controversy.

It is a puzzling oversight, especially in the case of Locke's defenders, who have

generally limited the debate's scope to the influence of the Two Treatises. This self-

imposed limitation stems in part, I believe, from the disciplinary configuration of modern

universities, which sub-divide and professionalize the production and dissemination of

knowledge in a manner the first decades of the eighteenth century would have found quite

alien. The case of a writer such as John Arbuthnot is instructive: though modern scholars

most often approach him as a literary figure, he made his name as a medical doctor and

mathematician long before he began writing satire with the Scriblerians. It was as a

mathematician that Arbuthnot produced his Tables of the Grecian, Roman, and Jewish

Measures, Reduced to the English Standard (1705), which, as the title indicates, provided

charts for the conversion of ancient weights, measures, and monetary denominations into

their equivalent modern units. He later expanded the book into the lengthy treatise Tables

ofAncient Coins, Weights, and Measures (1727), which offered further research on the

subject. We might very well view Arbuthnot's efforts in these volumes as antiquarian

dabbling unworthy of our attention, except that they achieved prominent status among

contemporaries--including, most notably, David Hume." In his 1752 essay On the

Balance of Trade (regarded as a classic by historians of economic thought because of its

innovative "price-specie-flow" theory), Hume uses Arbuthnot's Tables to convert ancient

Egyptian talents into English pounds: "The account given by APPIAN of the treasure of the

PTOLEMIES, is so prodigious, that one cannot admit of it .... The sum he mentions is

740,000 talents, or 191,166,666 pounds 13 shillings and 4 pence, according to Dr.

ARBUTHNOT'S computation."" Arbuthnot's research makes it possible for Hume not only

to give ancient sources and examples a modem factual immediacy, but also to prove his

point that the hoarding of treasure is economically counterproductive. In the very same

essay, moreover, Hume cites Swift--at first disapprovingly, then approvingly--on the Irish

balance of trade." That Hume would consult Arbuthnot (and Swift) for expertise on

matters economic underscores my point: we can ill afford to treat early-modem authors as

operating within the same boundaries of specialization that circumscribe twentieth-century


Unfortunately, such compartmentalization seems to have beset Locke's monetary

writings, which, even by Lockeans, have all too often been treated as mere occasional

pieces answering the exigencies of a one-time coinage dilemma. Although books by

Karen Iversen Vaughn and Neal Wood2 have called attention to Locke's contributions to

and position within economic thought, discussion of his Recoinage writings remains

almost exclusively confined to writings by historians of economics.2" Indeed, though many

book-length economic studies of the period devote a chapter, often more, to Locke's

monetary theories and his pivotal role in the Recoinage controversy,2 general studies of

Locke give the monetary writings short shrift." The recent Cambridge Companion to

Locke, to name just one notable instance, opts not to engage the topic in any significant

way, briefly mentioning Locke's Recoinage involvement only in the biographical

introduction.24 This neglect does Locke a great disservice, for it severely underestimates

the social and political repercussions of his decisive role in the Recoinage debate. Not

only did Locke have the ear of the King and Lords Justices as no one else at a time of

national emergency, but his proposals on the matter, once adopted, had economic

consequences for all levels of English society in every comer of the kingdom. Even if

cultural historians (somehow) manage to dismiss the immediate historical impact of

Locke's views, the fact that major figures--thinkers like Hume, Cantillon, Montesquieu,

Smith, and Ricardo--read and absorbed Locke's monetary theories needs to be addressed

more thoroughly than it has. Indeed, Joyce Oldham Appleby, assessing the impact of

Locke's Recoinage writings, has claimed they laid the foundation for "the gold standard

edifice that was to stand for the next two centuries."2

While the neglect of Locke's Recoinage writings certainly reflects the disciplinary

division of the modern academy, their continued disregard has more to do, I believe, with

the discourse of credit first expounded by Pocock and then furthered by a number of

cultural critics writing in his wake. Soon after the publication ofP. G. M. Dickson's

landmark study of eighteenth-century English public credit, The Financial Revolution

(which, due largely to its subject, allots the Recoinage only a paragraph),26 social and

economic historians began spending the bulk of their energies focusing on the massive

financial apparatus constructed to fund England's military and economic expansionism.

This focus has resulted in a number of perceptive interpretations of the era, none more

influential than Pocock's work on the topic." I can hardly do justice to the staggering

breadth of Pocock's treatment of the subject here, but in essence it explores: 1) the

growing division between an aristocratic, landed class, grounded in an old (basically

feudal) order, and a new "monied" class, enriched by the emerging market economy; and

2) the crises in the concepts of civic virtue and the individual consciousness which that

division between real and mobile property entailed.

Pocock's powerful interpretation of early-modem England derives from a wide

range of oppositional propaganda such as Cato's Letters and The Craftsman, but he gives

considerable prominence as well to the political writing Swift undertook for the Harley-St.

John ministry between 1710 and 1714, including Swift's contributions to the Examiner

(1710-13), his Conduct of the Allies (1711), and his History of the Four Last Years of the

Queen (composed during 1710-14 but published posthumously in 1758).2 In these

important and immensely popular tracts (The Conduct of the Allies sold well over 11,000

copies [Ehrenpreis, 11:485], an astonishing number by eighteenth-century standards), Swift

sought to divide and conquer public opinion by playing up the opposition between the

Tory "landed interest," which had England's true good at heart, and the Whig "monied

interest" (especially Godolphin and Marlborough),2 which was corrupt and self-seeking.

A classic statement of this division may be found in Examiner 13, Swift's first number,

dated 2 November 1710:

Let any Man observe the Equipages in this Town; he shall find the greater
Number of those who make a Figure, to be a Species of Men quite
different from any that were ever known before the Revolution; consisting
either of Generals and Colonels, or of such whose whole Fortunes lie in

Funds and Stocks: So that Power, which, according to the old Maxim, was
used to follow Land, is now gone over to Money.

As quite a few commentators, including Pocock, have noted, Swift's dichotomy has more

to do with political ideology than with economic fact: many members of the country

gentry speculated in the market, and even Swift himself invested several hundred pounds

in both the Bank of England and the South Sea Company (Ehrenpreis 11:556).

Nevertheless, Swift's rhetoric exemplifies a polarity basic to much early eighteenth-

century political discourse--landed wealth versus monied wealth, the latter usually tainted

(at least in the eyes of the gentry) by association with "the funds."

Fundamental as the opposition between land and credit was to the political

discourse of the period, however, we need to recognize that historical inquiry

concentrating on public credit risks excluding issues surrounding coinage. In the case of

Swift, emphasis has fallen on pamphlets like the Examiner or The Conduct of the Allies in

lieu of works such as The Drapier's Letters, Intelligencer 19, and A Letter on Maculla 's

Project (1729), all of which specifically address coinage problems. These tracts, and

others like them, display little concern with public credit; rather, they are both directly and

indirectly engaged with thinking about the nature of money, and, as it happens, with the

Recoinage treatises of Locke. Of course concepts of money and finance have always been

closely related, and were especially so in the early-modern era." But while Pocock has

contributed vastly to our understanding of the cultural ramifications of the credit

economy, little has been written about contemporary theories of value, specifically the

discourses that determined the "cultural logic" of gold and silver. It is, so to speak, this

side of the coin we will examine in the present study.

For Pocock, of course, the conflict between landed wealth and monied wealth

(feudalism and capitalism) is disputed in the language of classical republicanism, but his

analysis of property and credit suggests the need to re-examine the significance of Locke's

Recoinage writings. In a discussion of ways in which "major changes .. occurred in the

character of property itself, and consequently in the structure, the morality, and even the

psychology of politics," Pocock remarks:

All these things began, with spectacular abruptness, to be discussed in the
middle 1690s; and compared with this great breakthrough in the secular
consciousness of political society, the attempt to discover market
connotations in Hobbes, or even Locke, sometimes looks rather like
shadow play. There are some reasons for thinking that the great debate
over property and virtue was conducted on premises not apparent to
Hobbes or even [Matthew] Wren; as for Locke, the point to be made is
that the debate seems to have been conducted with very little reference to
anything he had said."

Although Pocock begins with what appears to be an oblique reference to the Recoinage,

he opts to pursue neither a discussion of its significance nor the crucial role Locke played

in it. Pocock states again in the essay "The Mobility of Property and the Rise of

Eighteenth-Century Sociology": "Though Locke took a hand in the Recoinage of 1696,

one of the major proceedings of the Financial Revolution, he did not engage in the

ideological manoeuvres which characterise the defence of credit politics."s2 As keenly

aware of the significance of the Recoinage as Pocock appears to be, the issues

surrounding it should not be treated as separate and distinct from public credit. In the first

place, the monetary pressures that brought about the Recoinage were important causal


factors of the Financial Revolution. At the beginning, public credit was viewed primarily

as alleviating a need for gold and silver currency, and the myriad bank proposals of the

1690s were, without exception, responses to the scarcity of coin.

In the second place, Pocock seems to assume--and in this he would probably be

joined by most historians writing today--that as a Whig Locke would have unequivocally

mounted a "defence of credit politics." This assumption is based largely upon the fact that

Locke was one of the initial subscribers to the Bank of England.3 However, Locke's

Bank subscription cannot be construed (any more than Swift's) as an endorsement of what

would become, in Dickson's phrase, the Financial Revolution. Locke harbored deep

suspicions about government-issued paper currency, and his little-known manuscript

"Dialogues on Banks" (1694) expresses concern that the funds deposited in a national

bank might prove an easy target for government confiscation. As J. K. Horsefield

observes: "In some draft 'Dialogues' about banks [Locke] argued that no one who wished

to retain access to his money should entrust it to the Bank of England. This was partly

because there was nothing to stop the Ministry from stripping the Bank of any deposits by

means of a Quo Warranto; but mainly because the Bank would have a cash reserve only if

it borrowed one, which, he considered, it could not afford to do."U Patrick Kelly likewise

notes that Locke disapproved "both of the Bank's potential monopoly over the supply of

money in England and of the political danger it represented in the form of a large sum

which the king might seize and use to defy Parliament" (103). Clearly Locke had serious

misgivings about a national bank.

Pocock is absolutely correct to maintain that "in a history of property theory

organised around the duality of classical and commercial politics, it is difficult to retain the

image of Locke as the hinge on which history turned." One would indeed be hard-pressed

to prove the Two Treatises a truly pivotal book, at least in the half-century following its

publication." But to say at the same time that Locke "cared nothing for the virtue of

independence threatened by corruption"36 is, I think, to overlook his arguments about

money. It is not just that Locke thought the burthenn" of economic growth "unavoidably

settles on the Land first" (SC 278); he was also concerned that "the multiplying of Brokers

hinders the Trade of any Country, by making the Circuit, which the Money goes, larger..

. Besides that, they Eat up too great a share of the Gains of Trade, by that means Starving

the Labourer, and impoverishing the Landholder" (SC 241). Because he worried that

these "Brokers" might "Ingross" so much of the nation's cash in their hands, Locke

strongly advocated a ceiling for interest rates so that "young Men and those in Want,

might not too easily be exposed to Extortion and Oppression; and the dextrous and

combining Money Jobbers not have too great and unbounded Power, to Prey upon the

Ignorance or Necessity of Borrowers" (SC 282).

In the Dedication to Further Considerations Concerning Raising the Value of

Money (1696), Locke additionally expresses fear that lessening the silver content of the

coin would "deprive great Numbers of blameless Men [i.e., landholding government

creditors] a Fifth Part of their Estates." He goes on to pillory money-changers in language

befitting Swift's Examiner essays:

I doubt not but there are many, who, for the Service of their Countrey, and
for the Support of the Government, would gladly part with, not only one
Fifth, but a much larger Portion of their Estates. But when it shall be taken
from them, only to be bestowed on Men [i.e., "Money Jobbers"] in their,
and the common Opinion, no better deserving of their Countrey than
themselves; (unless growing exceedingly rich by the public Necessities,
whilst every body else finds his Fortune streightned by them, be a public
Merit, that deserves a public and signal Reward;) This Loss, of one Fifth
of their Debts and Income, will sit heavy on them.

A pattern begins to emerge: placed alongside Locke's (apparent) sentiments in the

"Dialogues on Banks," this attack on "Brokers" demonstrates that he feared both the

economic and political corruption that could arise through domination of the money


But as this attack also demonstrates, Locke's designation of the "intrinsick value"

of the precious metals made coinage crucial to contemporary debates about property. The

overtones of the Two Treatises in the phrase "a Fifth Part of their Estates" are too clear to

be missed. While this notion has not always received its due in the recent discourse of

credit, Pocock does touch upon the issue:

Once property was seen to have a symbolic value, expressed in coin or in
credit, the foundations of personality themselves appeared imaginary or at
best consensual: the individual could exist, even in his own sight, only at
the fluctuating value imposed upon him by his fellows, and these
evaluations, though constant and public, were too irrationally performed to
be seen as acts of political decision or virtue."

Pocock's insight here is profound (if perhaps overly secular): in many ways the modem

era has increasingly been one of flux, uncertainty, and inability (or unwillingness) to

elaborate cultural norms. However, by subsuming coin and credit under the single heading

of "symbolic value," Pocock elides the important distinction between the two that had

developed in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century monetary theory, a distinction

highlighted by Locke and the Recoinage debate. Silver and gold possessed intrinsic value;

paper credit (bills of exchange, Exchequer bills, stock certificates, etc.) had only extrinsic

value. And while Locke did define intrinsic value as being based upon consent, I will

argue in the next chapter that his conception entailed much more than valuation predicated

upon the "fluctuations" and "irrationality" of "fancy and agreement"; it was grounded in

natural law and was intended to provide a single standard by which value could be judged.

It was this distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic value--with all that it symbolized in

terms of liberty, identity, authenticity, and power--that became a point of contention for

Swift and the Scriblerians.

Revisiting Charles Davenant

This distinction between the intrinsically valued precious metals and the

extrinsically valued instruments of credit is especially revealing when approaching the

work of Charles Davenant, who, like Locke, was one of the small group of advisers whom

the government consulted about the currency problem. Davenant is central to neo-

Machiavellian arguments about the cultural ramifications of credit in the era of the

Financial Revolution; Istvan Hont has gone so far as to call him "probably the most

influential English analyst of trade and its implications in the closing years of the

seventeenth century.""3 Following the lead of scholars such as Pocock and Hont, literary

critics have cited Davenant with increasing frequency, contributing to his rising

prominence as an avatar of the credit economy.4" However, Davenant's role in the

Recoinage, the parallels between his thought and Locke's, and his grounding of value in

the stability of coinage have not been sufficiently taken into account by modem


At the time of the Recoinage, Davenant was a former M.P. and Commissioner of

the Excise who had been ousted by the Glorious Revolution. His publishing career-in

which he more than once changed factions to curry political favor--spanned more than

fifteen years, beginning with An Essay upon the Ways and Means of Supplying the War

(1694), and ending with New Dialogues upon the Present Posture of Affairs (1710)."

Most ofDavenant's output was collected in the five-volume Works of 1771, but several of

his essays, including, significantly, "A Memorial Concerning the Coyn of England" (1695)

and "A Memoriall Concerning Creditt" (1696) were apparently unavailable to Charles

Whitworth, Davenant's eighteenth-century editor, and thus they were omitted from the

collection.42 The 1695 pamphlet, prepared at the behest of the ministry, consists

principally of Davenant's argument that, while a recoinage was desirable, it was unwise to

undertake so drastic a measure during wartime (his counsel was not followed); the 1696

pamphlet deals with the aftermath of the decision to remint the coin. Significantly, these

two tracts consistently demonstrate that much of Davenant's thinking on credit was

derived from the experience of the Recoinage, and that he may have drawn from Locke's

published monetary writings.

Davenant's conception of the fickleness of"Credit"--which anticipates the

gendered caricatures of Defoe's Review and Addison's Spectator 3"3--is a mainstay of

Pocock's chapter "Neo-Machiavellian Political Economy: The Augustan Debate over

Land, Trade, and Credit" in The Machiavellian Moment, but its connection to the

Recoinage (and Locke) has not been recognized. In the key passage Davenant surpasses

himself, becoming almost lyrical:

Of all beings that have existence only in the minds of men, nothing is more
fantastical and nice than Credit; it is never to be forced; it hangs upon
opinion; it depends upon our passions of hope and fear; it comes many
times unsought for, and often goes away without reason; and when once
lost, is hardly to be quite recovered.
It very much resembles, and, in many instances, is near a kin to that
fame and reputation which men obtain by wisdom in governing state
affairs, or by valour and conduct in the field. An able statesman, and a
great captain, may, by some ill accident, slip, or misfortune, be in disgrace,
and lose the present vogue and opinion; yet this, in time, will be regained,
where there is shining worth, and a real stock of merit. In [t]he same
manner, Credit, though it may be for a while obscured, and labour under
some difficulties, yet it may, in some measure, recover, where there is a
safe and good foundation at the bottom."

As Pocock observes, Davenant enters "upon sociology of knowledge: he is discussing for

us the epistemology of the investing society." Significantly, however, Pocock cites this

passage from Davenant's Discourses on the Public Revenues (1698),5 not recognizing

that Davenant copied it verbatim from the unpublished tract he had written two years

earlier, the "Memoriall Concerning Creditt" (75). This "Memoriall," as we have seen,

was a counterpart to the "Memorial Concerning the Coyn of England," the Recoinage

advice he had written for the Lords Justices in 1695.

In 1695 Davenant had argued, along with Locke and against Treasurer William

Lowndes, that the reminted money must retain its "true Naturall and Intrinsick value" (i.e.,

it should be reminted at its full weight). He continues: "Denomination Stamp and Coine is

no more then a Declaration from y' Soveraign that such a piece is of such a weight and

fineness and serves only to prevent uncertainty and fraud and in no other Sence can be

said to put a value upon it" ("Coyn" 15). This, in capsule version, is Locke's position, or

as he phrased it:

The Stamp [is] a Warranty of the public, that under such a denomination
they should receive a piece of such a weight, and such a fineness; that is,
they should receive so much Silver..... The Royal Authority gives the
stamp; the Law allows and confirms the denomination: And both together
give, as it were, the public faith, as a security, that Sums of Money ...
shall be of such a value, that is, shall have in them so much Silver. For 'tis
Silver and not Names that pay Debts and purchase Commodities.
(SC 312)

The parallels between the two analyses are striking, and, since Some Considerations had

been published in 1692, it is quite reasonable to suggest that Davenant may have been

influenced by Locke's arguments. It might be argued, to be sure, that Locke was not

alone in using such language to describe the function of monetary denominations, but he

was certainly the idea's most vocal spokesperson, and Davenant could scarcely have been

unaware of Locke's position.

By the time of Davenant's 1696 "Memoriall," the Recoinage (particularly the

decision to follow Locke's advice and maintain the existing monetary standard)" had

resulted in a debilitating loss of the circulating coin. Confronting this severe "want of

Species," Davenant suggests that paper notes should temporarily be made payable for all

government revenues:

In this Interval of Parliament Paper Credit ought to receive all possible
favour and Countenance from the Government, in order to which Bank
Bills should have a free Course in all the Kings Revenues and goe in
payment of Taxes, Customes, Excise and other Dutyes, both in Towne and
in the Country, and peradventure it might not be amiss, if the several

offices were directed here in London, to receive payment, Bills from some
of y most Apparent Goldsmiths.
("Creditt" 99)

On the surface, at least, this is a remarkable turnabout: Davenant has gone from denying

that government stamp can create value to advocating government acceptance of paper

bills. Davenant was hardly known for consistency of conviction--as Pocock wryly

remarks, "he changed positions and allegiance for reasons which may not bear very much

inspection"47--but it is worth pointing out that Davenant's suggestion was not without

parallel in Locke's published writings. Locke was fundamentally opposed to paper

instruments because "they are liable to unavoidable Doubt, Dispute, and Counterfeiting,

and require other Proofs to assure us that they are true and good Security, than our Eyes

or a Touchstone," but he also recognized that in times of monetary emergency (such as

existed in 1696) England would be better off using paper "than letting any part of our

Trade fall for want of current Pledges; and better too than borrowing Money of our

Neighbours upon Use, if this way of Assigning Bills can be made so easie, safe and

universal at home" (SC 234-35). In 1696 Locke did not recommend resorting to paper,

almost certainly because he felt using bills would not "hinder us from being Poor; but may

be suspected to help make us so, by keeping us from feeling our Poverty" (SC 235). At

the same time, and especially in light of Davenant's meteoric rise to prominence in recent

scholarship, it is interesting to note that Locke considered some form of paper credit

within the realm of possibility."

Even if Davenant did not take his cue from Locke (and it must be admitted that, at

least under the monetary circumstances that prevailed in 1696, Davenant was more


daring), we need to recognize that Davenant never entirely separated the ability of paper

credit to properly function from the presence and quality of specie-based coin.49 To

Davenant's mind, credit is ancillary to gold and silver "ready money": "Money and Credit

must mutually help one another, money is the Foundation of Credit where there is none

there can be no Credit, and where Credit obtaines, money will Circulate the better"

("Creditt" 96). The precious metals constitute the "real" wealth on which credit must

subsist; thus Davenant draws an important distinction between coin and credit:

For suppose (as perhaps the Case will prove) that wee have in Clipt
money four Millions; and four more in Artificiall Treasure, such as in some
sence Wee may call Tallyes and Bank bills because there is not Species in
the nation to pay of the whole, tho' each individual can be answered w*
money. In all probability will not mens fears of the public, or y'
Necessityes of Trade make them desire to tume this fictitious Wealth into
that which is certain and substantially?
("Coyn" 35-6)

Davenant is very much concerned with the capricious nature of credit, a measure of value

all too subject to fancy and whim. But here he makes abundantly clear the difference

between the "fictitious Wealth" supplied by credit, and the certaine and substantially"

wealth inherent in gold and silver.

Davenant's experience with the Recoinage reappears in his True Picture of a

Modern Whig (1701). As the title indicates, Davenant had come to align himself with the

"Old Whigs" and moderate Tories, and in the pamphlet Tom Double, the diabolical

"Modem Whig," represents the consummate money-jobber. In discussing this tract

Pocock rightly perceives the constitutional threat posed, in Davenant's estimation, by

Modem Whiggery: "By the end of the dialogue the confederates are discussing plans to


stop the exchequer and close up parliament." For Pocock, the villains' power is founded

upon public finance: "Everything has become dependent upon public credit, but the public

debts have become a form of movable property. Those who own and manage it may own

and manage everything."" Rather surprisingly, however, Davenant traces Double's

wealth, and hence his power, not to the emerging credit markets, but to the deterioration

of the coin. In the early 1690s, Double recounts, he and his cronies recognized that tax

receivers could reap extravagant profits by clipping the coin in their possession before

submitting it to the Exchequer. "When the money was recoining," Double explains to

Whiglove, "I myself paid into the exchequer several thousand pounds, of which the 1001.

bags, one with another, weighed not above 9 pound, which ought to have weighed 33, by

which you may guess how much stuck in our paws."" Double and his wife, "as dexterous

a clipper as any in London," thus managed to amass a fortune of 50,000. This satiric

indictment of clipping is important on two points. First, it confirms Davenant's persistent

identification of adulterated coin with political and social corruption. Second, and perhaps

more important, it adopts Locke's view that the Exchequer should only accept coin by

weight in order to prevent further monetary piracy by the likes of Tom Double (cf.

"Guineas" 364). Indeed, as we shall see in subsequent chapters, preventing such monetary

piracy was one of Locke's primary concerns in fashioning recoinage legislation.

Davenant's last effort, New Dialogues upon the Present Posture ofAffairs (also

omitted from his Works), was published during the financial crunch that saw the creation

of the South Sea Company, and in the pamphlet credit is yet again tied to coinage: "The

Species in Silver and Gold ... [are] the Foundations of Credit."5 After a lengthy analysis


of the amount of money recoined in 1695-99, Sir Richard Comover, the Tory protagonist

of the dialogue, looks back to the Recoinage and suggests that Exchequer Bills be made

legal tender to increase circulation. There is, Comover anticipates, a danger in such a

plan: "if the Species itself by Corruption, should become of uncertain Value, it would

imbroil and interrupt all the Business of that Country."" Corruption, in other words,

arises from "diseased" coin, what Davenant had in 1695 termed the "dangerous Ulcer in

the Body Politick which is never to be throughly Cured by applying Remedies to the Part,

but by mending the whole Mass of Blood which is corrupted" ("Coyn" 8). Even at this

late stage of his career, then, Davenant has not veered too far from his 1695 position: to

maintain its credit, England must safeguard its specie standard. He has also remained

surprisingly Lockean in his views.

Cultural History and the Legacy of Coinage

Unfortunately, despite the best of intentions, cultural history, like any institution,

participates in a subtle process of self-replication, and therefore little attempt has yet been

made to situate the language of the Recoinage, especially Locke's contributions to it, in a

broader cultural context. Hence Pocock's undeniably brilliant work has yielded to a mode

of interpretation (in literary studies, at least) that all too easily becomes a quest to pinpoint

the origins of the (post)modern flux of personal identity. This hermeneutic comes to

fruition in the work of a critic like Sandra Sherman, who frames the pamphlet literature

surrounding the South Sea Bubble within the context of postmodern theories of textuality.

Almost predictably, Sherman's method overlooks the monetary discourses which surfaced


even in debates over stockjobbing. In Sherman's view, "Like so much else that is British,

the discourse of early modern finance lacked a vocabulary that was 'purpose-built,'

sufficient to describe the phenomena [of public finance] whose rapid, radical progress

outpaced linguistic convention.""5 Undoubtedly the men and women of eighteenth-

century Britain had difficulty grasping the riddles and mysteries of the stock market (they

still perplex us today); people knew, however, when they had been bilked, and on such

occasions they quickly resorted to the established language of coinage. Thus the writer of

The Pangs of Credit (1722) could claim: "'[I]t is very plain that selling Stock above

Intrinsick is the same kind of cheat as passing bad Money."'s This language clearly

alludes to clipped or counterfeit coin, problems that peaked in 1695-96 and which the

Recoinage was meant to redress, points Sherman neglects even to mention. By itself, such

an oversight is relatively insignificant; it becomes of greater consequence, however, when

Sherman--with no comment indicating the phrase's coinage context--cites passage after

passage from contemporary pamphlets that speak of"intrinsick value."" For Sherman,

the logic of these passages culminates in what she calls "the ideology of contract,"

exemplified in a pamphlet such as Sir D. Dalrymple's Time Bargains Tryed by the Rules of

Equity and Principles of Civil Law (1720): "'the Buyer, by the Law of Nature, which

requires an Equality in all Contracts, is free from his Bargain in as far as the Price exceeds

the real Value of the thing bought.'"" Unfortunately, we are not told that such language

derives from the natural law arguments of political philosophers like Grotius and Locke, a

presence that calls into question Sherman's assertion that the discourse of debt

consistently employed a metaphysics of absence.


But Sherman is not alone. To read much current criticism of the early eighteenth

century, one might easily conclude that at some point during the quarter-century between

the founding of the Bank of England (1694) and the South Sea Bubble (1720) the Royal

Mint shut down, the moneyers were put out of work, and paper credit abruptly prevailed

as the only means of economic transaction. At the very least, such an approach flies in the

face of monetary history: a specie standard was in place in England well into the twentieth

century, and to assume that the current "floating standard" will never collapse is to ignore

the very sort of historical contingency that ought to be a principal object of our study. In

fact, the transition to paper money occurred far more tentatively than is often portrayed.

Whereas for centuries the sentence for counterfeiting coin had been death (usually

preceded by particularly gruesome torture), it was not until 1773 that forging paper

currency was considered a capital offense.5" Still another sixty years would pass (1833)

before Bank of England notes were declared legal tender.5

More subtly, the absorption with credit conceals, ironically enough, a class-specific

hermeneutic. Throughout the period in question (1695-1750), government-backed paper

instruments were issued in denominations far exceeding the means of a majority of

Londoners. Although Bank of England notes were printed with blank spaces, as of an

Order of 1696 these were never to be filled out in amounts of less than 50, and the

earliest surviving Bank note was made out for the considerable sum of 555.60 Exchequer

Bills, another primary form of paper credit (beginning in 1707 they were underwritten by

the Bank), were similarly issued in surprisingly large denominations. It is true that in

1696-97, at the extremity of the "hiatus of specie" caused by the Great Recoinage,


Exchequer Bills were circulated in amounts as low as 5, and a few were actually issued

with blank spaces.61 But in 1707, when Exchequer Bills were next issued, they were

printed in denominations of 25, 50, and 100. Although in 1709 an additional

denomination of 12 10s. was introduced, after that year Bills were issued solely in

denominations of 100 or greater.6

These figures must be placed in the context of contemporary income before their

magnitude can be fully appreciated. Although estimates of eighteenth-century wages,

annual income, and standards of living are notoriously difficult to establish with certainty,

approximations are illuminating. In the early years of the century, a common laborer in

London (and it must be remembered that, like today, both wages and cost of living were

higher in a metropolitan area) earned 15-25 per year, just enough to stay out of the

poorhouse; a journeyman (carpenter, mason, etc.) brought in 30-40 per year, enough to

qualify for the fringes of the "middling sort."" Although these figures are rough

estimates, they coincide nicely with Johnson's intimation to Boswell that in 1737 a single

man could live in London on 30 a year "without being contemptible."" When we

consider annual incomes on the order of 35 (or much less), we begin to grasp just how

large an amount a 25 or 50 note truly signified. Even the early 5 Exchequer Bills

cannot be considered a small sum by late seventeenth-century standards, especially in an

economy experiencing massive deflation, as was the case when the Bills were issued in

1697. Clearly, only the extremely wealthy could have afforded to use paper Bills in these

amounts; coins, especially the smaller variety of shillings, groats, and halfpence, remained

the currency of the common people.

Compared to the wide-ranging social impact of the institutions of public finance

and the national debt, issues of coinage and Locke's monetary theories may seem rather

arcane. It ought to be recognized, however, that in a non-bartering economy, the principle

of exchange--be it commercial (a retail sale), financial (the sale of stock, for instance), or

otherwise--does not take place outside a theory of money. Thus an understanding of the

way a culture conceives of and represents its money should be indispensable for any

discussion of social and economic value or exchange within that culture. Moreover, since

the standard medium of exchange throughout Europe was silver coin (or bullion), all other

vehicles were judged in relation to its enduring "intrinsick value." This could be true even

of language itself: Swift, in his Proposalfor Correcting, Improving andAscertaining the

English Tongue (1712) "would have our Language, after it is duly correct, always to last;

. Because then the old Books will yet be always valuable according to their intrinsick

Worth, and not thrown aside on Account of unintelligible Words and Phrases, which

appear harsh and uncouth, only because they are out of Fashion" (PWIV: 15, emphasis

added). The link between language and money was similarly signified by the verb "to

utter," a word that bridged the ideas of expression, disclosure, and, significantly, the

power to issue currency.65

For these reasons, the perennial shortage of specie (the "scarcity of coin,"

pamphlet after pamphlet termed it) became linked with anxieties about the status of any

number of "endangered" cultural institutions (history, law, literature, aesthetics). It is no

coincidence, I would suggest, that in England a flowering of numismatic studies occurred

on the heels of the Recoinage, with the publication of works such as John Evelyn's

Numismata: A Discourse ofMedals (1697), Roger Gale's translation of a French

numismatic handbook, The Knowledge of Medals; or Instructions for Those Who Apply

Themselves to the Study of Medals Both Ancient and Modern (1697), James Coningham's

A Critical Essay on the Modern Medals With Some Reflections on the Taste and

Judgment of the Ancients (1704), Arbuthnot's Tables (1705; 1727), Joseph Addison's

new translation of The Knowledge ofMedals (1716), and Stephen Martin Leake's Nummi

Britannica Historia (1726, with subsequent editions in 1745 and 1763). In a similar vein,

William Fleetwood, Bishop of Ely, who in 1694 had delivered a sermon on the evils of

clipping coin,6 delineated the inflationary tendencies in 600 years of English prices in his

Chronicon Preciosum (1707).67 In this climate, gold and silver came to represent far more

than a measure of economic value: they became symbolic of liberty and virtue, on the one

hand, and, on the other, the declining status of culture itself Thus when in The First

Epistle of the First Book of Horace Imitated (1738) Pope writes, '"Seek Virtue first! be

bold! / As Gold to Silver, Virtue is to Gold,'"" his equation resonates with a profound

anxiety about the status of both coin and culture.

The Presence of Locke's Monetary Theories in the Eighteenth Century

Thus far I have argued that Locke's monetary writings played a larger role in

eighteenth-century England than has generally been acknowledged, but the only tangible

evidence I have offered to support the assertion has been the case of Swift. That Locke's

Tracts were still circulating after 1715" and could be found in the library of an Anglican

Dean in Dublin (as opposed to that of a merchant or banker in London) certainly suggests

the continuing importance and widespread influence ofLocke's monetary ideas, but, as

interesting as the evidence of Swift's library--or even of a tract like Some Reflections

Concerning the Reduction of Gold Coin in Ireland--may be, it does not conclusively

demonstrate that Locke's monetary tracts were widely known and read. Coinage, it might

be argued, may simply have been a pet issue for Swift. Moreover, even though historians

of economic thought have long noted the responses to Locke's monetary theories among

contemporary economic writers such as J. Jocelyn, Andrew Justice, and John Law, to cite

their knowledge ofLocke's ideas as evidence of broad cultural influence finally begs the

question. For my argument to have any validity, it must be demonstrated that Locke's

Recoinage writings had considerable influence among eighteenth-century intellectuals

outside specifically mercantile circles. In order to better substantiate this claim, then, let

me now offer a brief survey of some of the major political periodicals that made mention

of Locke's monetary theories.

Joseph Addison's Freeholder 18 (20 February 1716) attacks the French

government of the young Louis XV for arbitrarily raising and lowering the value of coin in

order to expand tax revenues, with Locke and the Recoinage clearly in the background. I

will discuss the substance of Locke's monetary theories at length in the next chapter, but

suffice it now to say that Locke regarded any attempt by the crown to raise the value of

coin above its "intrinsick value" (the quantity of gold or silver in a given denomination) as

an arbitrary confiscation of property (in this case the gold or silver content of the coin).

For Locke--as for other natural law theorists such as Hugo Grotius and Samuel

Pufendorf--raising the value of coin over its "intrinisck value" violated natural law. Thus

Freeholder 18 satirically depicts the King's inflationary measure as an attempt to defy

nature, in the form of mathematical and physical law:

This ... is a secret of Multiplication without Addition. It is natural enough
however for the Vanity of the French Nation to grow Insolent upon this
imaginary Wealth, not considering that their Neighbours think them no
more Rich by Virtue of an Edict to make Fourteen Twenty, than they
wou'd think 'em more Formidable should there be another Edict to make
every Man in the Kingdom Seven Foot high.70

Significantly, James Leheny (editor of the modem critical edition of The Freeholder)

traces this language to one of Locke's Recoinage tracts, Further Considerations

Concerning Raising the Value ofMoney (1696): "One may as rationally hope to lengthen

a foot by dividing it into Fifteen parts, instead of Twelve; and calling them inches; as to

increase the value of Silver that is in a Shilling, by dividing it into Fifteen parts instead of

Twelve, and calling them Pence."7' For Addison, French attempts to defy natural law are

directly related to their absolute monarchy, and his commentary becomes a paean to the

English political system: "This Method of lowering or advancing Money, we, who have

the Happiness to be in another Form of Government, should look upon as an

unwarrantable Kind of Clipping and Coining."n

Four years later, in The Theatre 17 (27 February 1720), Sir Richard Steele

similarly draws on Locke's monetary writings to expose the corruption of the South Sea

Company Directors, whom he accuses of manipulating value in order to gain a monopoly

over the money supply. Writing under the pseudonym Sir John Edgar, Steele describes

credit as a "Belief that Money is as safe and more commodious in the Possession of

another, than in a Man's own Hands."73 Credit, however, "cannot subsist without a

Store, or an imagin'd Store" of gold and silver, which have exchange value because of

their "intrinsick Worth."" The South Sea Company is dangerous precisely because it

"visibly increases Paper-Credit beyond its present Bounds," that is, beyond its ability to

refund payments in gold and silver.7 This inflationary tactic, in turn, threatens the stability

of the money supply. To support his point, Steele specifically cites Locke's Some

Considerations of the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest, and Raising the Value of

Money (first published in 1692), claiming to speak according to the philosopher's


[W]hen the Value of Money is cheap, Bankers will, by the assistance of
Paper-Credit, draw it into their own Hands, and by draining the Country of
it, render it scarce. Their Power for this Purpose is clear, from an Instance
Mr. Lock, according to whose Sentiments I now speak, mentions of one
Banker's having Credit, by Notes under a Servant's Hand, for eleven
hundred thousand Pounds at once.76

The South Sea Directors, in Steele's view, were guilty of flooding the economy with

"their own Coinage in Paper."7 They have insidiously set themselves up as a parallel Mint

with no means of constraint by the public. Thus, after hoarding all the gold and silver

money in the kingdom, they could hold the government hostage. Steele's argument

derives not from Machiavelli, who, far from offering a theory of money, does not find it

necessary to warn princes against debasement of their coinage; it does rely considerably on


Nor were Addison and Steele the only popular polemicists to draw on Locke's

monetary writings. Two of Trenchard and Gordon's Cato's Letters, 87 and 88 (28 July

and 4 August 1722), addressing the problem of bullion imports and exports, do so as well.


The first pamphlet, Gold and Silver in a Country to be considered only as Commodities,

echoes the language Locke uses to describe the etiology of gold and silver money in both

the Two Treatises and the Recoinage tracts: "Indeed, by the universal Consent of

Mankind," Cato writes, "Silver and Gold is become the Medium of all Commerce; and

every State, as well as private Man, is rich and powerful in Proportion, as he possesses or

can command more or less of this universal Commodity.""7 Locke's Recoinage writings

also figure prominently in the second letter, The Reasonableness and Advantage of

allowing the Exportation of Gold and Silver, with the Impossibility of preventing the

same. Concerned about a disparity in the international exchange rate between the value of

bullion and the value of coin that favored the exportation of bullion (causing coin to be

melted into bullion for trade), Cato argues--as had Locke in the 1690s--that legislative

prohibitions against the exportation of coin were ultimately futile, since the balance of

trade could be rectified only through the concerted diligence and frugality of the nation.

For Cato, as for Locke once again, it was a question of both natural law ("There is no

Way in Nature to hinder Money from being exported, but by hindering the Occasions of it;

that is, by hindering the Use and Consumption of those Things which it is sent out to

buy") and free exchange ("Since then Money or Bullion must be exported, when Debts are

contracted Abroad, I think it is eligible to send out the first rather than the latter, or at

least to leave People at Liberty to export which they please").7 Once again, the argument

is underwritten not by classical republicanism, nor even by the doctrine of consent found

in the Two Treatises; it is rather the language of Locke's monetary treatises.

Let me offer one final example of the continuing influence ofLocke's monetary

theories in eighteenth-century political thought, The Craftsman, the anti-Walpole journal

that ran under Bolingbroke's sponsorship from 1726 to 1736. Proponents of the civic

republican thesis have called attention to The Craftsman's sustained assault on Walpole,

the national debt, and stock-jobbing ventures like the South Sea Company, a campaign

that demonized the institution of public credit for introducing corruption into the political

sphere. As often as the attack on corruption centers around public credit, though, it is

important to note that the language of monetary theory as Locke helped define it (phrases

such as "intrinsic worth," "real value," "ideal value") enters the debate as well. Moreover,

coinage serves for a marker of the present age's debasement:

The Liberty of the Press, and the Act of Toleration, those two inestimable
Blessings, date their Commencement from this happy Period [i.e.,
William's reign]. The retrieving of our Coin when sunk so low in its
Value, that the most sanguine Friends of the Government despair'd of ever
remedying so fatal an Evil, will always be a standing Proof of his superior

Although we might find a Tory eulogy of William--especially one proclaiming an

"Attachment to the present Royal Family, which, by his Care and unwearied Labours for

our Good, is now established on the Throne"'--rather duplicitous, there is little reason to

doubt the praise for liberty of the press (a theme of The Craftsman dating back to the first

number), the Act of Toleration, or the Recoinage. One of the few things Whig and Tory

seem to have agreed upon was that the restoration of the coinage to its previous

standard--a measure, as we shall see in the next chapter, permanently associated with

Locke--reflected principles of liberty unique to England. This is Addison's point in

Freeholder 18.

Craftsman 71 (26 November 1727), a contribution from Bolingbroke himself,

more directly uses Locke to expose the corruption of the credit economy. In this letter Sir

Charles Freeport (one of Bolingbroke's pseudonyms) enlists Locke against the South Sea

Company's trading policies:

The Judicious Mr Lock observes that, "When Trade is once lost, it will be
too late, by a mis-tim'd Care, easily to retrieve it again; for the Currents of
Trade, like those of Waters, make themselves Channels, out of which they
are afterwards as hard to be diverted, as Rivers that have worn themselves
deep within their Banks."82

The point to be made here is not just that Bolingbroke is quoting Locke, but that he cites

Some Considerations of the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest, and Raising the

Value ofMoney. Craftsman 336 repeats this tactic, quoting verbatim several pages of

Locke's remarks in Some Considerations on the land tax, and 370 appeals to Locke yet

again." Many scholars would be surprised to discover that when The Craftsman makes

an overt (albeit rare) reference to Locke, it is more often to the economic writings than to

the Two Treatises. These recurrent allusions to Locke's Recoinage pamphlets--often in

the absence of similar references to the Two Treatises--bespeak the widespread influence

of tracts like Some Considerations on contemporary political discourse. At the very least,

they clearly demonstrate that Swift was not alone in owning and reading Locke's Tracts.

I by no means wish to disregard the importance of the emergence of the credit

economy; the diatribes against public finance in Cato's Letters and The Craftsman are

evidence enough that profound changes (as they always are) were taking place. I do

believe, however, that credit-based interpretations of early eighteenth-century British

culture need to be supplemented. Coinage influenced and was subject to a variety of

discourses, sometimes parallel to but usually divergent from those concerning credit. Just

as Exchange Alley could serve as a vehicle for criticism of Walpole, so too could the

Tower Mint--a well-guarded symbol of royal authenticity and prerogative associated not

with credit, but with coin.84 Hence Locke's arguments about the dangers of debased

coinage afforded Craftsman 114 (7 September 1728) the language for an extended attack

upon the ministry:

[I]f a very dull Fellow, or, perhaps two very dull Fellows, should at any
Time be made Secretaries of State, it would be just the same Thing as if an
arbitrary Prince should coin leaden shillings and order them to pass
currently in his Dominions .... Suchfalse, adulterated, or imaginary
Money as This, may do well enough for domestic Use under absolute
Governments; but, infree Countries, the People expect something of a
real, intrinsick Value. And tho' it may be objected, that even we of this
Kingdom have had such Coin imposed upon us informer Reigns; yet our
Eyes are at present too much open'd to take meer Dross for true Sterling;
it being fresh in every Body's Memory how a late BRAZEN Project, of this
Nature, was rejected, in a neighboring Kingdom, with universal

This sort of language goes a long way toward explaining precisely why the Opposition

impugned Walpole as the minister of "brass." It was not simply that he was an untitled

interloper in the halls of power, though this sort of snobbery certainly played a part in the

attacks. It was also that he was abusing his authority to place unqualified people (often to

purchase their support, as in the well known case of Thomas Gordon) in important

government positions. In the Lockean terms of the metaphor, Walpole was a tyrant

forcing the English people to accept substandard ministers, who would then be rejected in


"freer" markets elsewhere. An incident such as the Wood's halfpence affair--and we shall

see in Chapter 4 the crucial role Locke's monetary theories played in Swift's Drapier

campaign--splendidly illustrated the point.

In approaching Scriblerian satire from the standpoint of coinage, I adopt a very

different method from that employed by Colin Nicholson in Writing and the Rise of

Finance. Nicholson's mode of inquiry represents, at bottom, a desire to uncover origins,

specifically the "origins of those structures of motive and systems of wealth-creation we

now denote as capitalist."8 A method focusing on coinage and its metaphors, having little

concern with economic origins, approaches the age very differently, and it therefore

reveals modes of discourse that have largely escaped notice. If history is approached--and

here I quote Herbert Butterfield--"not as a question of origins but as a question of

transitions, not as the subject of 'causes' but as the subject of 'mediations,'" then

historical change "would seem less cataclysmic."87 Unfortunately, the quest for origins

latent in the discourse of credit ultimately denies the eighteenth century the very otherness

to which it is (ethically) entitled. If we desire to comprehend a culture separated from

ours by over two centuries, we need to balance our analyses of public credit with

interpretations of the monetary form more common to their everyday existence--coinage--

and the standard it entailed.

Swift's black flag calls us to account.


1. The most thorough account of the affair can be found in Ehrenpreis, 111:839-43,

2. Quoted in F. Elrington Ball, ed. The Correspondence ofJonathan Swift, D.D., 6 vols.
(London: G. Bell and Sons, 1914), VI:47, n3.

3. Quoted in J. A. Downie, Jonathan Swift: Political Writer (London: Routledge and
Kegan Paul, 1984), 329. See also the headnotes to "A Ballad" and "Ay and No: A Tale
from Dublin" in Poems, 840-42.

4. In Hugh Boulter, Letters Written by His Excellency Hugh Boulter, D.D., 2 vols.
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1769-70), II:243n. The Latin phrase telum imbelle sine ictu
translates literally as "harmless weapon without force"; cf. Aeneid, 11.544.

5. On 2 February 1737/38, Swift wrote to the Earl of Orrery that "we have not an ounce
of Silver nor any Gold but four Pound pieces [i.e. Portuguese gold coins], since the
Reduction of gold" (Corr V:90). This is in stark contrast to Boulter's perception of the
matter. Just nine days after Swift's communication to Orrery, Boulter, in a letter to the
Duke of Dorset expressing gratitude for his support of the measure, reported that "The
effect of this alteration is already felt in having guineas, half-guineas, and pistoles very
common, instead of 41 pieces: and silver is in much greater plenty than it was; and the
clamour that had been raised is very near over" (Boulter, 11:247).

6. Downie, 333, emphasis added; Ehrenpreis, 111:853, emphasis added. In characterizing
Swift's position as economically unfeasible, both Downie and Ehrenpreis appear to be
following Oliver W. Ferguson's assessment that Swift's objection to the measure was "ill-
founded" (Jonathan Swift and Ireland [Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1962], 184).
Ferguson finds Boulter "both disinterested and correct" in advocating the adjustment, but
he seems to base this judgment entirely on Boulter's own correspondence (184 n13),
edited, no less, by Philips, who probably still smarted from Swift's unwillingness to
advance his career in the 1710s (Ehrenpreis, 11:435-36). (Moreover, Pope had attacked
Philips by name in the then-recently published Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, no doubt adding
fuel to Philips's fire.) While there is certainly no reason we should take Swift's word on
the affair, it seems clear that no contemporary account can be deemed "disinterested."
Joseph Johnston's "Irish Currency in the Eighteenth Century" (a misleading title, since half
the article dwells on seventeenth-century coinage, and the analysis stops at 1737) clearly
demonstrates that there were a number of competing ideas--put forth by Thomas Prior and
Bishop Berkeley, among others--about the best way to adjust the exchange (lowering gold
and raising silver, for instance), a fact which by itself suggests that Swift was hardly as
isolated in opposition as he has been portrayed. Johnston concludes that after the
alteration "Sterling money of both metals must henceforth have circulated more easily in
Ireland," but he provides no evidence for the assertion (Hermathena 52 [1938]: 26), and

we are left with Swift's word against Boulter's. In any case, a cloud of confusion and
misinformation surrounds the entire affair: while Ehrenpreis presents the adjustment as
inflationary, Swift states in "The Rev. Dean Swift's Reasons Against Lowering the Gold
and Silver Coin" (PWXIII: 119-20) that he considered the new policy deflationary.

7. (Dublin, 1737). So far as I know, James Woolley is the only Swift critic to mention this
pamphlet; see Jonathan Swift and Thomas Sheridan, The Intelligencer, ed. Woolley
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 334.

8. Swift and Sheridan, 209. Basing its decision on Isaac Newton's calculations at the
Mint, the English government had lowered the official rate at which a guinea circulated in
England (but not in Ireland) in 1717. Thus it is of interest that a pamphlet entitled A Short
Essay on Coin (Dublin, 1737)--which reprints three of Newton's Mint Reports, including
the Report of 1717--also appeared anonymously in 1737.

9. Swift and Sheridan, 209. It is significant that Swift does not demand absolute equality
between the two exchange rates, a point which he may have suspected the English
government, for political purposes, would have been unwilling to accept. By suggesting a
difference of a farthing (a quarter of a penny), however, Swift does attempt to bring the
value of the guinea within the range of the "specie points," a move which would keep Irish
silver at home. On specie points and the "commercial price" of silver, see Chapter 2,

10. Swift, however, might not have thought this accusation to be true. It may be that his
primary interest in the matter was to gain an Irish mint, a recurrent topic in his writings
throughout the 1720s and 1730s, one, as I argue in Chapter 4, derived in part from Locke.
The author of Some Reflections clearly has the issue of an Irish mint in mind as well: "by
this Means [lowering the gold] we shall enjoy all the Benefits of the English Mint without
sharing the Tax which supports it" (11).

11. Some Reflections, 5-9. Significantly, the writer assumes that Locke's view on the
primacy of silver is so well known that it isn't necessary to mention his name after the title
page. To knowledgeable contemporaries, parallels between the anonymous author's
language and Locke's (e.g., "Money... is the Thing bargained for, as well as the Measure
of the Bargain" [7; cf. FC 412]) would have been unmistakable. For Locke's arguments
about the proper relation between gold and silver, see esp. SC 324-26.

12. E.g., Ricardo Quintana, Two Augustans: John Locke, Jonathan Swift (Madison:
University of Wisconsin Press, 1978); F. P. Lock, Swift's Tory Politics (Newark:
University of Delaware Press, 1983); Downie; Christopher Fox, Locke and the
Scriblerians (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988); Nicholas Hudson,
"Gulliver's Travels and Locke's Radical Nominalism," in Ideas, Aesthetics, and Inquiries
in the Early Modern Era, 1650-1850, ed. Kevin Cope (New York: AMS, 1994), 247-66;
lan Higgins, Swift's Politics: A Study in Disaffection (Cambridge: Cambridge University

Press, 1994).

13. I have recorded here the title as it appears in the sale catalogue facsimile published in
DSL, item 300. Locke's book was actually titled Several Papers Relating to Money,
Interest, and Trade, &c. Writ upon several Occasions, and Published at different Times
and first appeared in mid-July of 1696; a second edition was published later that year. See
the "Checklist of Printings" in Kelly, 159-62. I will have more to say about the content of
Several Papers in the next chapter.

14. J. G. A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the
Atlantic Republican Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975); Virtue,
Commerce, and History: Essays on Political Thought and History, Chiefly in the
Eighteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985); and "The Political
Limits to Premodern Economics" in John Dunn, ed. The Economic Limits to Modern
Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 121-41. See also Caroline
Robbins, The Eighteenth-Century Commonwealthman: Studies in the Transmission,
Development and Circumstances of English Liberal Thought from the Restoration of
Charles I until the War with the Thirteen Colonies (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Press, 1959).

15. Pocock, Machiavellian Moment, 424.

16. Jack Fruchtman, Jr. offers a concise, recent summary of the Locke-Machiavelli debate
in his review essay, "Classical Republicanism, Whig Political Science, Tory History: The
State of Eighteenth-Century Political Thought" (Eighteenth-Century Life 20 [1996]: 94-
103). For obvious reasons, I will not go into depth about the status of the debate as it
pertains to American political thought, but for a recent synopsis of that discussion, see
Jerome Huyler, Locke in America: The Moral Philosophy of the Founding Era
(Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995), 1-28.

17. In John Arbuthnot: Mathematician and Satirist (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Press, 1935), Lester M. Beattie notes that Arbuthnot's Tables, though flawed in parts,
were commonly used in eighteenth-century school books and were even cited in
Lempridre's Classical Dictionary (349), but Beattie does not report Hume's reference.
Robert C. Steensma's more recent Dr. John Arbuthnot (Boston: Twayne, 1979) likewise
omits mention of Hume's essay.

18. David Hume, Essay on the Balance of Trade, in Political Essays, ed. Knud
Haakonssen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 147-48 and n.

19. Hume, 137-38; 148. Hume initially takes Swift to task for providing faulty import-
export data, but Haakonssen's note shows that Hume considerably twisted the Dean's
figures (301 n4; for the parallel passages in Swift see PWXII:9, 11, 12). Hume's second
allusion to Swift is amusing enough to bear quoting here: "We ought, however, always to

remember the maxim of Dr. SWIFT, That, in the arithmetic of the customs, two and two
make not four, but often make only one" (148; cf PWXII:21). Adam Smith would later
quote the same passage in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of
Nations (ed. R. H. Campbell, A. K. Skinner, and W. B. Todd, 2 vols. The Glasgow
Edition of the Works of Adam Smith [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976], 882).

20. Karen Iversen Vaughn, John Locke: Economist and Social Scientist (Chicago and
London: University of Chicago Press, 1980); Neal Wood, John Locke andAgrarian
Capitalism (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984). As Vaughn
notes in her Preface, "very little is actually known about the influence Locke's economic
writings had on these eighteenth-century economists, or if his work was read at all by
many others" (xi). It is my hope the present dissertation will help clarify the latter point.

21. A notable exception is James Thompson's recent Models of Value: Eighteenth-
Century Political Economy and the Novel (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996).
Thompson contends that the shift from Locke's notion of intrinsic value to the more
modern concept of extrinsically valued currency informs the development of the novel in
England from Defoe to Austen. Thompson is to be applauded for initiating discussion of
the broad cultural influence of Locke's monetary theories, but, as I argue in the next
chapter, his reading of Locke is flawed in certain fundamental ways.

22. See, for instance, Brian Vickers, Studies in the Theory ofMoney, 1690-1776
(Philadelphia: Chilton, 1959); J. Keith Horsefield, British Monetary Experiments, 1650-
1710 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1960); William Letwin, The Origins of
Scientific Economics: English Economic Thought, 1660-1776 (London: Methuen, 1963);
Joyce Oldham Appleby, Economic Thought and Ideology in Seventeenth-Century
England (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978); and Terence Hutchison, Before
Adam Smith (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988).

23. One of the few treatments of Locke's involvement with the Recoinage is Peter
Laslett's "John Locke, the Great Recoinage, and the Origins of the Board of Trade: 1695-
1698," in John Locke: Problems and Perspectives, ed. John W. Yolton (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1969), 137-65 (though it must be said that the bulk of the
essay examines issues surrounding Locke's dealings as a member the Board of Trade). A
more recent exception is Huyler, who does briefly incorporate Locke's monetary ideas
into the body of his political thought (164-71).

24. Vere Chappell, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Locke (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1994), 21.

25. Appleby, 221.

26. P. G. M. Dickson, The Financial Revolution in England: A Study in the Development
of Public Credit, 1688-1756 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1967), 349.

27. For an excellent study built upon Dickson's work, see John Brewer, The Sinews of
Power: War, Money, and the English State, 1688-1783 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press, 1990).

28. The extent of Pocock's reliance upon these tracts is suggested by a note in The
Machiavellian Moment, 447-48, n57.

29. For particular examples of Swift's vitriolic treatment of Godolphin and Marlborough,
see "The Virtues of Sid Hamet the Magician's Rod" (1710) and "A Satirical Elegy on the
Death of a Late Famous General" (1722) in Poems, 131-35; 295-97.

30. The best example of the relationship between monetary theory and finance is probably
that of David Ricardo and the Bullion Report of 1810, but for a study of this relationship
in England in the early modern period, see Horsefield. For a broad overview of the role of
money in Europe and the way it touched upon financial matters, see Pierre Vilar, A
History of Gold andMoney, 1450-1920, trans. Judith White (1976; rpt. London: Verso,
1991), passim.

31. Pocock, "Authority and Property: The Question of Liberal Origins," in Virtue, 67.

32. Pocock, Virtue, 110. Pocock earlier states, "when the great debate [over the Financial
Revolution] began it is hard to detect Locke's presence in it" (108).

33. Both Isaac Kramnick, in Bolingbroke and His Circle: The Politics of Nostalgia in the
Age of Walpole (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1968), 42; and Pocock, in
Machiavellian, 451, cite this fact as evidence of Locke's support for the credit economy.

34. Horsefield, 129. The "Dialogue" apparently remained unfinished; see item 532 in
Horsefield's extensive bibliography.

35. In Bolingbroke and His Circle Kramnick aligned himself with the neo-Machiavellians,
thereby discounting Locke's importance in the eighteenth century. His more recent work,
however, has taken the position that, at least after 1760, Locke's influence was
considerable. See Chapters 1 and 6 of Republicanism and Bourgeois Radicalism:
Political Ideology in Late Eighteenth-Century England and America (Ithaca and London:
Cornell University Press, 1990).

36. Pocock, Virtue, 108.

37. Cf "Trumbull": "by the making clipd money go for its weight only the greatest part
of the losse falling [i.e., will fall] upon the Changers of Money who have got great estates
by that Trade" (370). The word "estate" is directly linked, of course, to Locke's theory of
property (TT, II, 87, 123).

38. Pocock, Machiavellian, 464.

39. Istvan Hont, "Free Trade and the Economic Limits to National Politics: Neo-
Machiavellian Political Economy Reconsidered" in John Dunn, ed. The Economic Limits
to Modern Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 57-8. This verdict
may be somewhat overzealous; despite Hont's claim for Davenant's importance, his
impact cannot realistically be compared to Locke's. Take, for instance, the anonymous
pamphlet Some Thoughts on the Interest of Money in General, and Particularly in the
Public Funds, which went through three editions in the eighteenth century (1728?, 1738,
1750): it cites Locke 22 times, but Davenant only four. Although tallying up citations is a
practice usually to be avoided, in this instance, I think, the disparity is telling. Moreover,
although Hont has attempted to find in Davenant's writings a systematic and path-
breaking economic theory, such a treatment ignores both Davenant's own frequent
changes of opinion (see, for instance, Horsefield's note to Appendix 2, Table E [256]) and
the generally "mercantilist" tenor of his work. While there is little doubt that Davenant
sometimes used "Machiavellian" language in his approach to economic issues, much of
what he wrote was specifically occasional in nature and did not spring from a coherent

40. See, for instance, Colin Nicholson, Writing and the Rise of Finance: Capital Satires
of the Early Eighteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 5, 48,
97, 185; Sandra Sherman, Finance and Fictionality in the Early Eighteenth Century:
Accountingfor Defoe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996) 26-7; Richard
Brantlinger, Fictions of State: Culture and Credit in Britain, 1694-1994 (Ithaca: Cornell
University Press, 1996), 54.

41. Aside from the DNB entry, the primary study of Davenant's life appears to be D.
Waddell, "Charles Davenant (1656-1714)--A Biographical Sketch" Economic History
Review 2nd ser., 11.2 (1958): 279-88.

42. The two "Memorials" circulated in manuscript only but were published in Two
Manuscripts by Charles Davenant, ed. A. P. Usher (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University
Press, 1942). Hereafter cited in text as "Coyn" and "Creditt." Although published in
1710, New Dialogues was apparently rare enough by 1771 that Whitworth could not
obtain a copy. For a full description of Davenant's publishing career, see D. Waddell,
"The Writings of Charles Davenant" The Library, 5th ser., 11 (1956): 206-212.

43. On Defoe's depiction of Credit, see Paula Backscheider, "Defoe's Lady Credit"
Huntington Library Quarterly 44.2 (1981): 89-100; Sherman, 40-54; and her "Lady
Credit No Lady; or, The Case of Defoe's 'Coy Mistress,' Truly Stat'd" Texas Studies in
Literature and Language 37.2 (1995): 185-214.

44. Charles Davenant, The Political and Commercial Works of that celebrated Writer,
Charles Davenant, ed. Charles Whitworth, 5 vols. (1771; rpt. Westmead: Gregg
International, 1967), 1:151. Pocock records this passage in Machiavellian, 439-40.

45. Pocock, Machiavellian, 440, n46.

46. Or at least a portion of Locke's advice; see Chapter 2, below.

47. Pocock, Machiavellian, 437.

48. Vickers finds Locke inconsistent on the point: "Locke had thus, however, opened a
chink in his arguments, or more particularly, we may say, a chink in the very premises on
which his arguments rested" (73).

49. Cf. James Hodges: "There are others who are of Opinion, that all the present
Difficulties may be helped by some special ways of advancing Credit, which they project
without minding the necessary thing, Money; but this Notion must run in a Circle, and so
never come to an end, seeing there is an equal need of Money for obtaining Credit, as
there is of Credit for obtaining Money" (The Present State of England as to Coin and
Public Charges [London: Andr. Bell, 1697], 7).

50. Pocock, Machiavellian, 439.

51. Davenant, Works, IV: 148-9.

52. Davenant, New Dialogues upon the Present Posture of Affairs (London: John
Morphew, 1710), 70.

53.Davenant, New Dialogues, 132.

54. Sandra Sherman, "Credit, Simulation, and the Ideology of Contract in the Early
Eighteenth Century" Eighteenth-Century Life 19 (1995): 86. Why this failure should be
seen as particularly "British" defies comprehension.

55. Quoted in Sherman, 92.

56. Sherman, 88, 90, 91, 92, 93. For the parallel passages in Sherman's subsequent book,
see Finance, 29-34. I should note here that the South Sea Bubble spawned a number of
pamphlets and broadsheets seeking, in one fashion or another, to reclaim the "intrinsick
value" of the fallen stock. See, for instance, An Estimate of the Intrinsick Value of South
Sea Stock (London, 1720) and Ways and Means to Make South-Sea Stock More
Intriniscally Worth than Ready Money (London: T. Bickerton, 1720).

57. Quoted in Sherman, 92.

58. Vilar, 281.

59. Maria Cristina Marcuzzo and Annalisa Rosselli, Ricardo and the Gold Standard: The
Foundations of the International Monetary Order, trans. Joan Hall (New York:
MacMillan, 1991), 31.

60. A. D. Mackenzie, The Bank of England Note: A History of Its Printing (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1953), 10-11 (and frontispiece). Bank officials had originally
intended to print notes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100, but these
appeared susceptible to counterfeiting and so were withheld (5).

61. Dickson, 372. Dickson reproduces a photograph of one of the "blank" Exchequer
Bills made out in the amount of 5 (opp. 395). However, it seems highly unlikely that
many of these bills were made out for less than 5; most of these were probably made out
for significantly more. Cf Sir John Clapham, who reproduces one made out for 50 (The
Bank ofEngland: A History [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966], opp. 38).

62. Dickson, 376, 384.

63. I am following the estimates in Elizabeth W. Gilboy, Wages in Eighteenth Century
England (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1934), 7-11. Although published
over 60 years ago and nearly forgotten since, Gilboy's statistics remain the best available
(Donald McCloskey, "1780-1860: A Survey" in Roderick Floud and McCloskey, eds. The
Economic History of Britain since 1700, 2nd ed., 3 vols. [Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1994], 1:252). I have extrapolated the laborer's daily wage of Is. 8d.
and the journeyman's daily wage of around 3s. into a rough annual salary by assuming a
generous 250-day work year (a six-day work week interrupted by holidays, bad weather,
and illness). I should note, however, Gilboy's caveat that transposing "daily rates into
weekly or yearly figures .... involves a great deal of approximation and the original
figures are subject to sufficient error without adding more" (21). Because I am not
attempting a precise statistical analysis or computation of the standard of living, but rather
a ballpark figure of an annual income, the extrapolation seems justified (and rather liberal).

64. James Boswell, Boswell's Life of Johnson, ed. George Birkbeck Hill and L. F. Powell,
6 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1934), 1:105.

65. Johnson's Dictionary (1755), s.v. "Utter," sense 4: "To disperse; to emit at large," for
which Swift's Drapier 's Letters is cited: "To preserve us from ruin, the whole kingdom
should continue in a firm resolution never to receive or utter this fatal coin." Daniel Eilon
has argued that Locke exerted considerable influence on Swift's theory of language, but
he does not mention the Recoinage treatises as a possible source. See Factions' Fictions:
Ideological Closure in Swift's Satire (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1991), 67-

66. William Fleetwood, A Sermon against Clipping (London: Tho. Hodgkin, 1694).

67. (London: C. Harper, 1707). Swift owned copies of both Chronicon Preciosum and,
not surprisingly, Arbuthnot's Tables; see DSL, items 417 and 397.

68. Alexander Pope, The First Epistle of the First Book of Horace Imitated, in Imitations
of Horace, ed. John Butt, vol. VI of The Twickenham Edition of the Poems of Alexander

Pope, 2nd ed. corrected (London: Methuen, 1961), 11. 77-8.

69. Since a copy ofLocke's Tracts does not appear in the autograph inventory Swift took
of his library in the summer of 1715 (William LeFanu, ed., A Catalogue of Books
belonging to Dr Jonathan Swift [Cambridge: Cambridge Bibliographic Society, 1988]),
the book almost certainly entered his collection sometime later.

70. Joseph Addison, The Freeholder, ed. James Leheny (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979),

71. FC417; Cf Addison, 115 n4.

72. Addison, 116. Again, Leheny's note (n7) to this passage highlights "the comparison
between the way the Whigs successfully overcame the coinage crisis of 1695 and the way
Louis XV manipulated French currency."

73. Richard Steele, The Theater 1720, ed. John Loftis (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962),

74. Steele, 76, 75. Steele also mentions jewels as having an "intrinsick Price" (76).

75. Steele, 76.

76. Steele, 78. For the parallel passage see SC 216.

77. Steele, 76. Elsewhere in The Theater Steele uses the phrase "paper coiners."

78. John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, Cato's Letters, 4 vols. in 2 (1733; rpt. New
York: Russell & Russell, 1969), 111:178.

79. Trenchard and Gordon, 111:186-7, 188.

80. Caleb D'Anvers [Nicholas Amhurst], The Craftsman 14 vols. (London: R. Francklin,
1731-7), V:168.

81. D'Anvers, V:166.

82. D'Anvers, 11:200. Cf. also Lord Bolingbroke, Contributions to "The Craftsman" ed.
Simon Varey (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), 37.

83. D'Anvers, X:52-62; XI:113.

84. Significantly, the Mint had been housed in the Tower of London since the 13th

85. D'Anvers, III:[233].


86. Nicholson, xi. As Nicholson points out, his book "begins with John Pocock's study of
political thought, and thereafter touches base with it from time to time" (xiii).

87. Herbert Butterfield, The Whig Interpretation of History (1931; rpt. London: G. Bell
and Sons, 1963), 61.


But 'tis no wonder if the price and value of
things be confounded and uncertain when the
Measure it self is lost.
--John Locke
Further Considerations concerning
Raising the Value ofMoney (1695)

Act I of John Gay's "Newgate pastoral" The Beggar's Opera (1728) begins with

Peachum sitting at a table, "a large Book of Accounts" open before him.' A few scenes

later he reads from one of these "Registers":

Crook-finger'd Jack. A Year and a half in the Service; Let me see how
much the Stock owes to his Industry; one, two, three, four, five Gold
Watches, and seven Silver ones. A mighty clean-handed Fellow! Sixteen
Snuff-boxes, five of them of true Gold. Six dozen of Handkerchiefs, four
silver-hilted Swords, half a dozen of Shirts, three Tye-perriwigs, and a
Piece of Broad Cloth.2

As the play unfolds, ledger books and calls on debts become recurrent themes, for

Peachum, Lockit, Macheath, and crew are all socially uncertified but thoroughly

professional accountants: they barter love and lives as coolly as they fence stolen cloth or

jewelry.3 Gay almost certainly intended such underworld bookkeeping as an attack on

government corruption, and those in attendance on opening night evidently recognized the

satire. Particularly conspicuous--or so it seemed to contemporary spectators--was Act II,


Scene 10, in which Peachum and Lockit (allegedly Walpole and Townsend) nearly come

to blows while inspecting accounts. According to tradition, after the song in this scene the

audience turned to face the box of first minister Walpole and mockingly demanded an

encore. As Swift later wrote to Gay: "[W]e hear a million of Storys about the opera, of

the ancore at the Song, That was levelled at me, when 2 great Ministers were in a Box

together, and all the world staring at them" (Corr III:276).4 David Nokes has cast

legitimate doubt on the traditional interpretation that the scene satirized a recent conflict

between Walpole and Townsend,5 but Swift's letter clearly indicates that he and many

others perceived a direct attack on Walpole. More particularly, the audience's response to

the scene suggests that the act of settling accounts had satiric force and was, moreover,

easily interpretable--Walpole bought and sold placemen after the fashion of criminals.

Four years later, in the fable The Ant in Office (probably written in 1732, but

published posthumously in 1738), Gay would again use the analogy of accounting to

attack the corruption of the "great man." In the allegory of the anthill, an ambitious ant

with a "forward prate" rises through the ranks until "his drift attain: / He's made chief

treasurer of the grain."6 Each year the anthill's auditors attempt to curb "public rapine"

through inspections of state records, and require that "The gran'ry-keeper... explain /

And balance his account of grain."' When questioned about the colony's mysteriously

empty coffers, however, the ant in office, "with wonted arrogance and pride," claims that

"all th'expence / (Though vast) was for the swarm's defence."' Perennially offering the

same excuse, the grain-hoarding ant surreptitiously plunders the public funds, until a lone

auditor-ant finally convinces the colony to examine accounts more closely. The tale

abruptly concludes when the audit exposes the cheat:

They vote th'accounts shall be inspected;
The cunning plund'rer is detected:
The fraud is sentenced, and his hoard,
As due, to public use restored."

Like much of Gay's satire, what initially appears a rather transparent method of

attacking a corrupt minister for lining his pockets at taxpayer expense is in fact

considerably more ironic and complex than first glance might indicate. In both The

Beggar's Opera and The Ant in Office, Gay, as author, acts in a "double Capacity,"'o

mirroring the work of the accountant by demonstrating satire's potential for public

disclosure. Thus, in an irony brought to bear on both Peachum and the ant, false and

unscrupulous bookkeeping is ultimately laid open by the economy, financial or moral, of

the satirist. Put another way, the satirist acts as an external auditor come to right (write)

the books.

We have grown accustomed to thinking of eighteenth-century satire as a genre

seeking to measure and apportion. The most obvious instances of this mode are Gulliver's

voyages to Lilliput and Brobdingnag, but perhaps Sterne captures the principle most

succinctly in Tristram Shandy: "A dwarf who brings a standard along with him to measure

his own size--take my word, is a dwarf in more articles than one."" Although these

examples denote physical measurement, Gay's play and fable suggest an alternate, though

related, function--satire as a taking of account. This formulation conceives of satire not

only as a measuring device, but also as an evaluative device, a mode of assaying. The

parallel between the work of the accountant and that of the satirist seems especially

appropriate when applied to members of the Scriblerus Club. One need only consider

Swift's extensive account books, filled as they are with the minutiae of daily expenses, to

realize that he was deeply invested, in the full sense of the word, in accounting.12

Principles of accounting, though, are more broadly reflective of Scriblerian satire. When

we characterize the Scriblerians as attempting to identify and define a balance, as

twentieth-century literary critics so often do, we do not depart from the language of


As with any evaluative operation, accounting relies upon a set of theoretical

presuppositions which guide and in part determine its outcomes. Conceptions of property,

of profit and loss, of appreciation and depreciation are everywhere implied in the dualistic

and highly taxonomic method of double-entry bookkeeping." Moreover, accounting is, in

a very real sense, a narrative process seeking to tell (a word with banking connotations of

its own) the story of an individual's or a firm's acquisition or loss of money or goods.

Although in the early-modem period such theoretical aspects more often than not went

unstated, the dualistic notion of balanced books came to hold sway over economic

thinking as did no other single concept. Combined with "a growing consciousness of the

corporate character of the nation-state," the advent of double-entry bookkeeping gave rise

to the idea of something like a national account book." Edward Misselden's Circle of

Commerce (1618) offered the first English usage of the phrase "balance of trade," and the

principle soon took hold in other early seventeenth-century economic treatises. The

concept had important repercussions: "Unquestionably, the idea of a 'balance' taken from


the ledger had a powerful influence on economic writers who developed from it a theory

of national equilibrium, with the rider that any disequilibrium had to be remedied by

payments in cash."" It is this last, all-important "rider" which most concerns us here, for

it involves one of the basic (but often unspoken) premises of accounting--the aspect of


Any account must ultimately be expressed in a monetary unit that measures debit

and credit. In a closed system this unit can be arbitrary, but when separate systems are

involved in the equation, some sort of common measurement must be agreed upon. When

seventeenth-century economists, known today as mercantilistss," sought to restore

equilibrium to the national balance of trade, they therefore had to clarify the terms of

exchange by which "payments in cash"--and throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth

centuries, "cash" denoted silver and gold coin--would be made. There would seem to be

little ground for dispute in such an arrangement: any debts among traders would ultimately

be settled (even through the mediating device of a bill of exchange) by specie payments.

Difficulties arose, however, when traders had to deal with the valuations of different

currencies. In the late twentieth century, few of us encounter foreign money in our daily

affairs, but in early-modern Europe, with silver and gold serving as a universal basis of

exchange value, such transactions were common. As world trade burgeoned, international

monetary exchange increasingly became a fact of life, and even in relatively isolated

England foreign coins circulated with some frequency. This is why we find Roxana,

throughout Defoe's The Fortunate Mistress (1724), itemizing sums of Dutch rixdollars,

French livres, and Spanish pistoles, without having to explain rates of exchange to the

reader. In Ireland, denied a mint of its own, the issue of currency exchange was of acute

importance; as we have already seen, an adjustment of three pence in the exchange rate

could not only have a major impact on the Irish economy, but also provoke the

considerable ire of Dean Swift.

Establishing an exchange rate was a complicated procedure, however, because it

entailed a question of profound significance: Was monetary value predicated on a coin's

specie content or on what a particular government said its coin was worth? Or as

contemporaries phrased the question: Did money have an "intrinsick value" based on its

bullion weight or an "extrinsick value" based on the so-called "money of account," the

official value which a nation's mint placed on it? At stake in the answer were issues of

both political and philosophical consequence. On the one hand, the problem of monetary

value broached issues of government intrusion in the economic sphere and the limits of

royal power. Could a monarch arbitrarily declare paper, for instance, full legal tender?

And who outside his or her dominion might accept it? On the other hand, as James

Thompson has noted, the issue pitted a "realist" conception of value against a nominalist

conception." Was value grounded in the concrete substance of the coin or in its abstract

denomination? Encounters with non-European cultures that accepted beads or shells in

exchange for land or gold--a problem which particularly exercised Locke in the Second

Treatise (see, for example, TTII, 49, 184)--only confounded the issue. To what extent

might value be a matter of social faith and consent?

For a variety of reasons, including imperfections in the minting process, economic

conditions intensified by the Nine Years War, and Parliamentary procrastination, these

questions came to a head in England during the Recoinage debate of 1695-96.

Precipitated by a crisis in monetary representation--the coin in circulation contained only

half the denominated amount of silver, yet it had been passing at nominal value--the

argument turned on whether the coin should be reminted at its full weight or recoined at

the same face value but with less silver, that is, to suffer devaluation. What was ostensibly

a matter of policy rapidly escalated into a philosophical dispute about the nature of money.

Indeed, never before had the theory of money been as vigorously and publicly debated as

it was in these two years. In the 1620s, to be sure, Misselden, Gerard de Malynes, and

Thomas Mun had addressed currency issues in their writings on trade, but, as Terence

Hutchison concludes, "The 'boom' of the 1690s was on a much larger scale, and included

a comparatively new, explicit methodological and theoretical dimension. The 1690s might

well be regarded as the first major concentrated burst of development in the history of

[monetary policy]."" The scope of the debate was unprecedented, ranging from

internationally known intellectuals and prominent government officials to a host of

pamphleteers whose names have been lost to history. In addition to Locke, Davenant, and

Secretary of the Treasury William Lowndes, the government solicited advice from a group

that included Christopher Wren and Isaac Newton (who would serve first as Warden and

then as Master of the Mint from 1697 until his death in 1727)." Meanwhile scores of

pamphlets, many of them anonymous, issued forth from the public." These tracts included

ambitious schemes ("projects") for banks, accusatory pieces blaming Jacobites (and other

despised groups) for England's economic woes, some relatively practical remedies for the

coinage, and a few serious economic analyses of the situation. Among the most

memorable combatants in this pamphlet war were Nicholas Barbon, Sir Richard Temple,

and William Wood, Swift's antagonist in The Drapier's Letters.

The conflict between intrinsic and extrinsic value at the center of the Recoinage

controversy almost certainly indicates that the discourses defining the nature of money

were becoming points of contention. Although it is tempting to locate the origins of

capitalism (or at least the capitalization of money) in the issue, such assertions must be

made with extreme caution.20 As W. R. Scott long ago showed, joint-stock companies

came into existence in England in the 1550s, and "capital" was used in its financial sense

soon thereafter.21 Nevertheless, the fact that the nature of valuation was being so hotly

debated in the economic domain suggests that many of the cultural and political values and

institutions monetary tropes had helped represent became sites of conflict as well. If, as

Pope declared in The First Epistle of the First Book of Horace Imitated, "As Gold to

Silver, Virtue is to Gold,"' what gave silver and gold--let alone virtue--their value?

It is quite significant, then, that victory in the Recoinage debate went to Locke and

intrinsic value, establishing in the process a monetary standard which would remain

virtually unchallenged throughout the eighteenth century. For the Scriblerians, satirists

interested in balance and measurement, the triumph of intrinsic value meant the

preservation of a standard by which the "adulterated," "counterfeit," and "debased" could

be judged. Indeed, satire trades on just such a shared measure of value: in its essence, the

genre is predicated upon the hope that readers, however few, will understand that a

communal standard--moral, political, aesthetic--has collapsed and must be restored." The

concept of intrinsic value as Locke presented it, however, extends beyond the mere

preservation of standards. At bottom, intrinsic value relies on an appeal to natural law-

and hence to a theistic (almost always Christian) universe governed by certain immutable

laws discernible to human reason. In this ordered universe, moreover, liberty and property

are birthrights (at least to a privileged few), and virtue is not only desirable but eternally

rewarded. "Liberty" and "virtue" are, of course, Scriblerian key words, and often

commented upon, but their place within the larger framework of Locke's conception of

intrinsic value has not yet been explored. However, in order to comprehend exactly what

was being debated and why Locke and intrinsic value prevailed, we need to investigate

first the historical circumstances that made the Recoinage necessary, and second, the

substance of Locke's monetary thought.

The Minting Process and the Deterioration of the Coinage

The Great Recoinage of 1696-99 was not the first recoinage to occur in England,

nor would it be the last. Records ofrecoinages survive from the twelfth and thirteenth

centuries, when they occurred as often as every seventeen years, and, though less frequent

thereafter, they continued to be needed even into the early nineteenth century. In 1817,

for instance, we find Jane Austen writing to her niece Fanny Knight: "You are worth your

weight in Gold, or even in the new Silver Coinage."' The advent in the twentieth century

of token currencies and an integrated banking system has obviated the need for

recoinages, but in the early-modern era the use of precious metals and the absence of a

national bank made them an inevitable, if sporadic, aspect of life. Coining money was an

expensive and time-consuming process, and since there was no centralized mechanism to

withdraw and replace worn currency, a coin would circulate for decades until the image

and superscription on its surface were barely legible. To rectify the currency,

governments would periodically declare all worn, "light" money unacceptable and allow

only newly-minted, "heavy" coin to pass. This policy forced quantities of old coin to be

brought to the Mint and recoined until all the money was "restored" to a standard (which

was not, as we shall see, unalterable) weight and purity. A recoinage usually took years to

complete, and, once all the coin had been reminded, the decades-long process of monetary

deterioration would begin again, lasting until another recoinage was decreed. This

sequence of decline and restoration was one of many cycles (along with liturgical and

agricultural cycles, for instance) fundamental to the early-modern world that twentieth-

century eyes often have difficulty seeing, and it had its roots, ironically enough, in the

minting techniques themselves.

Throughout most of the seventeenth century, methods of manufacturing coin from

precious metals varied little from those that had existed in ancient times." First, silver

brought to the mint for coining (since silver was more common than gold, it was the

standard metal) had to be assayed, a trial by fire in which it was melted with lead and bone

ash in containers called cupelss." While the cupels were in the furnace, the molten lead

absorbed and carried off any base metals, leaving pure silver. This was in effect a refining

process; as Newton wrote during his tenure at the Mint, "Assaying and refining are

operations of one kind."2 Silver that had passed the assaymaster's test was then melted in

crucibles of iron (because gold reacted with iron, it was melted in earthenware pots),

alloyed with a specified proportion of base metal, and cast into rods roughly the diameter

of the intended coin. These bars were then sent to a group of workers who used bulky

shears to cut each bar into blanks generally of slightly greater weight than intended for the

coin. Overweight blanks were preferable because they could easily be filed down to the

proper standard; underweight blanks had to have small fragments of silver beaten into

them with hammer and anvil to adjust their weight to within specific tolerances allowed

the mint by the crown. These tolerances were directly proportional to the overall value of

the coin; a gold coin, therefore, was allowed only a one- or two-grain variation (called the

"remedy") from the official standard, while a copper coin was given greater leniency.

Anything more exact was simply impracticable, especially in the case of smaller

denominations, which were more expensive to produce on a per coin basis (it took twelve

times as much labor to mint the equivalent number of pence as a single shilling).

Significantly, then, even with the frequent weighing, there remained inconsistencies in the

weight of the blanks.

After the blanks had been flattened out and rounded off, they were often sent to be

blanched, an acid treatment which cleaned the surface of the coin and, in the case of base

silver, helped conceal the poor quality of the coin. The blanks then went to the moneyers,

who worked in pairs to hammer the official impression on the coin. The first moneyer

placed a blank on the obverse die, which was anchored in position on either the floor or a

table. Using a heavy sledgehammer, the second moneyer struck the top of the reverse die,

driving it into the blank and thereby stamping emblems on both sides of the coin with a

single blow.2 Included in the design of each die was a circle around the emblem which,

ideally, would delineate the intended circumference of the coin. Unfortunately, however,

the moneyers worked with such rapidity that many coins were struck off-center, often

leaving a portion of this "ring," as it was called, incomplete. Even when the blank was

properly centered, moreover, the impact of the hammer blow forced silver beyond the

ring, producing coins with irregular edges.

Despite precautionary measures by Mint officials, the defects in the manufacturing

process left the coin vulnerable to two forms of attack, "culling" and "clipping." Culling

involved sifting through large quantities of coin to sort out the heavier pieces, which were

then melted down and either sold as bullion or taken for reminting (in hopes of gaining

lighter coin with the same face value). Although we know very little about the profits

associated with culling, it was apparently quite lucrative: in 1635 the Star Chamber fined a

London merchant who confessed that in 100 of coin, 14 to 16 were heavy enough to

sell by weight at a 3% profit. In a typical year he made over 7,000--a staggering sum at

the time--by having his servants weigh as much as 500,000 in newly-minted coin." More

insidious, though, was the practice of clipping the uneven edges of the hammered coin in

order to melt the resultant slivers into bullion for resale. In order to gather enough coin to

make the clipping profitable and to find an outlet for the bullion, clippers apparently

developed a fairly complex three-way network in which they usually served as middlemen.

The first part of the network involved the coin dealers, those merchants, landholders, and

even clergy who had sufficient revenue that they could sort through their cash holdings for

coin heavy enough to clip. They then turned over the coin to the clippers, who, with their

shears and melting pots, cut the edges of the coin and melted the trimmings. The molten

silver was next taken to the third part of the network, the goldsmiths, who bought the

bullion at a discount, paying between 4s. and 4s. 6d. per ounce (compared to the mint

price of 5s. 2d. per ounce). Finally the clippers, once they had clipped a little extra for

their own pockets, paid the dealers back the remains of their coin at a rate of 21s. 6d. to

24s. per pound."

By devaluing the circulating medium, clipping wreaked havoc on the currency

system in two ways. First, it helped create a discrepancy between intrinsic and extrinsic

worth that ultimately forced merchants (and others) to weigh coin rather than accept it at

face value. For reasons such as this, scales were a regular feature of the mercantile

landscape in the late seventeenth century. Second, clipping could promote rising prices in

a monetary system that was ordinarily highly resistant to inflation. Although the influx of

South American silver in the sixteenth century had raised prices throughout Europe,"

specie-based currencies tend toward stability: in the two centuries prior to leaving the gold

standard in 1931, Britain averaged an inflation rate of just 0.1% per year." Were the

amount of silver decreased through clipping, however, prices in terms of the money of

account could rise dramatically. As one contemporary put it, passing clipped coin "is, in

effect and truth, raising our Money, and making that to go for Thirty Pence, which is

indeed but worth Twenty."32 The reduction was an especially threatening prospect to

creditors, who stood to lose part of their investments, and those on fixed incomes, who

could ultimately face impoverishment."

But to approach clipping from a purely monetary standpoint is to overlook its far

more powerful symbolic aspects. In our era of token currencies and democratically

elected governments, it is difficult to grasp the magnitude of the crime of clipping, but in

early-modem England silver and gold coin were indissolubly linked to the crown as a

political and religious institution. The connection involved more than the ancient and

jealously guarded royal prerogative of coining money; in addition to an image of the king

or queen, each coin was stamped with both a cross and the words "DEI GRATIA" (by the

grace of God)." In this way political and religious spheres overlapped on the very face of

English money. Moreover, to contemporaries clipping violated an ethical dimension that

culling did not, and the language they used to characterize clipped coin--words such as

"adulterated," "corrupted," and "evil"--assumed a distinctly moralistic tone. Put simply,

clipping transgressed several categories at a stroke. To better illustrate the extent to

which these categories were related, let me draw upon two examples which demonstrate

the association: a metaphor from Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan (1651), and William

Fleetwood's Sermon against Clipping (1694).

For Hobbes, money is the "Bloud of a Commonwealth." Combining the ancient

concept of the body politic with the then-recent discovery of the circulation of the blood

(first demonstrated by William Harvey in 1628), Hobbes draws extensive parallels between

the two, managing to include within his scope everything from monetary distribution (the

circulation of currency nourishes "every Member of the Body of Man") to warfare and the

international balance of payments. The metaphor becomes particularly graphic when

Hobbes delineates two sorts of "Conduits and Wayes" for money to flow--from tax

collectors who convey money to the royal Treasury, and from the Treasurers who disperse

it throughout the body. "And in this also," he suggests, "the Artificiall Man maintains his

resemblance with the Naturall; whose veins receiving the Bloud from the several parts of


the Body, carry it to the Heart; where, being made Vitall, the Heart by the Arteries sends

it out again, to enliven, and enable for motion all the Members of the same."" In this

system, the Treasury is an essential organ (the heart) for the survival of the state, and a

sufficient supply of coin (the blood) is required for the well-being of each and every

citizen. We do not have to extrapolate very far to understand how the crime of clipping

might figure into Hobbes's analogy: if money is the blood of the body politic, and the

monarch the head of that body, clipping coin constitutes an attack on the king or queen.

(It is worth noting that the connection between chief executive and the nation's currency

persists today in the U.S., where the Secret Service is in charge of both protecting the

President's life and policing counterfeiting.) This link helps explain why clipping was most

often associated with "traitorous" Jews who were denied participation in lawful

businesses. Not only was clipping likened to the Jewish ritual of circumcision," but it also

represented, implicitly, the refusal to recognize the model of all legitimate authority, that

of Christ.3 Both clipping and Judaism, as they were understood by many in seventeenth-

century England, were assaults on the nature of sovereignty.

Fleetwood's Sermon similarly suggests how clipping struck several cultural chords

at once. Chaplain in Ordinary to William and Mary, Fleetwood was almost certainly

solicited to speak out publicly against the offense, and his sermon is remarkable because it

so effectively blends monetary theory with moral and legal arguments against clipping.

Taking as his text Genesis 23:16 ("And Abraham weighed to Ephron the Silver which he

had named, in the audience of the Sons of Heth, four hundred Shekels of Silver, currant

Money with the Merchant"), Fleetwood divides his sermon into three parts: a brief

discourse on the origin and necessity of money, an explanation of the public damage

incurred by clipping, and a justification of laws punishing the crime. In the first portion--

which the economist F. A. Hayek (writing ca. 1929) found so sophisticated "that it could

easily pass today as a lecture in economics"--Fleetwood ties monetary value directly to

specie content." When Abraham agrees with Ephron to exchange shekels by weight,

according to Fleetwood, it is because "weight is Mens security, and the true intrinsic

worth of Money" (4).9 What enables merchants to forgo the trouble of constantly

weighing and assaying coin is the fact that "Kings and Goverours of Nations," who are

"set up by God and Man," guarantee the currency's quality so that it may pass at nominal

value. In this, civil authority is paramount:

And for this cause it has been always highly Penal to Counterfeit the
Public Stamp, to Coin Money, tho' of equal Weight and Goodness with
the King's: Not that any great evil is hereby done to any Man, but that if
this were indulg'd to private People, the World would fall into distrust and
fear, into suspicion and uncertainty about their Money, and return anew to
weighing and trying all they took.

Much as in the case of Hobbes, clipping infringes upon royal prerogative; because it is

performed by "private People" rather than lawful authority, moreover, it risks casting the

civilized world into an anarchic (one is tempted to say Hobbesian) state of nature. If this

passage implicitly suggests that clipping destabilizes the monetary system, Fleetwood

subsequently issues the more damning contention that clipping is fundamentally equivalent

to counterfeiting: "they both alike defraud the Receiver of what is his due; for there the

injustice lies: that is the Sin at the bottom; there is so much stollen from every Man as

there is less given than he should receive" (9).

Fleetwood's equation here functions in two significant ways. On one level, it

resonates with Christian conceptions of debt and repayment, a connection Fleetwood later

makes explicit by linking monetary worth and Christ's words on the payment of tribute to

Rome: "it is not Caesar's Face and Titles, but Weight and Goodness that procure Credit"

(11)." On another level, it underscores the extent to which money was linked to property

issues. Unlike modem token currencies, gold and silver coin were considered stores of

value in themselves, and clipping coin was viewed as an attack on private property. In this

respect, claims Fleetwood, clippers are no different from "Thieves and Robbers" and "do

as well deserve their Chains and Halters" (17). Fleetwood is at some pains to demonstrate

this point to his audience, since in the case of clipping (as opposed to burglary):

we think immediately only of a Dammage to the Treasury, which we
esteem above our Pity: Or we conceive a Dammage public and general,
which excites no pitiful Resentments in us, because we have our Eye on no
particular Man as ruin'd or undone thereby.
Such reasoning is fallacious, he argues, because individuals are finally liable for the burden

of public arrears. Clipping will "damnifie every particular Man ... and fall at last with a

most deadly weight somewhere or other, and, to be sure, with greater violence on the

Poor and Mean, who are least able to endure it" (25). In this manner, along with recourse

to Roman, Visigoth, and ancient English precedents, Fleetwood proves the "Reason and

Justice of such Laws, as doom to Death such Malefactors" (20).

Despite the metaphorical links to royal authority, and despite the dire

pronouncements of powerful voices like Fleetwood's, clipping would persist as long as it

was profitable, and it would remain profitable as long as coin was "hammered." But in

1663 the Restoration government hired a Frenchman, Pierre Blondeau, to place in the

Tower Mint machinery which radically altered the coining process: for the first time,

English coin was manufactured with "milled" edges.4 The new mechanized techniques

differed substantially from the old. To begin with, the molten silver and gold were cast

into sheets (rather than rods) of approximately the thickness of the coin. Next, machines

cut blanks from the sheets; the blanks were then flattened in a drop press. The step that

followed--the all-important milling process--was (and remains) shrouded in mystery, for

apparently Blondeau performed it by himself. Blondeau's machine rounded the blanks

uniformly and imprinted along their rims either lines of graining ("milling") or words such

as "Decus et Tutamen" ("ornament and safeguard"). In either case the money was

protected from clipping, since any cutting so obviously defaced the coin that it would no

longer pass. As with the old method, blanks were checked for weight; those below the

tolerance were sent for remelting, those above filed down. After having been annealed

and blanched, the blanks were then sent to the coining room, where teams of three to five

moneyers operated the coining presses. These machines, designed along the lines of

contemporary printing presses, required multiple workers to rotate 300-pound leaden

weights for each blow. Another moneyer sat in a pit at the base of the press, flicking away

the struck coin and inserting a fresh blank on the lower die.42 The teams worked with

incredible speed, producing as many as 30 shillings a minute. It was hazardous work, too-

-one visitor observed that every moneyer had lost at least one finger joint.

In what was to become a cruel irony, the mechanization intended to protect the

currency inadvertently contributed to its demise. By introducing a new class of coin--that

which could not be clipped, as opposed to that which could--the milling press ultimately

paved the way for Gresham's Law ("bad money drives out good") to operate. The

creation of a new coin, soon dubbed the guinea, would play a key role in the formation of

this two-tiered monetary system. At about the same time that Blondeau's machinery was

being installed, the Royal Africa Company began shipping West African gold to the Mint,

and it was decided that a 20-shilling piece, produced with the new equipment, would be

introduced." By late 1663 the coins were being disseminated; by the end of that year dies

depicting a tiny elephant--denoting the gold's origin on the coast of Guinea (hence the

popular appellation) and advertising the prowess of the Royal Africa Company in

obtaining it--were ordered. (Thus, by having young Moll Flanders pocket guineas long

before any were actually minted, Defoe commits an interesting numismatic anachronism.)"

Significantly, even though the guinea originated as a 20-shilling piece, almost immediately

market pressures drove it to a rating of21s. 6d., a mark around which it usually hovered

until Newton set it at a firm 21s. in 1717 (a decision which, as we have seen, had such

extensive ramifications on Ireland's monetary situation). This increase in value reflected a

larger and unanticipated problem: once guineas left the Mint, they were often either

hoarded or melted down for resale.4 This took place partly because guineas were

invulnerable to clipping and therefore could serve as a store of value impervious to

inflation or deflation (which could occur either in the form of general price increases or a

government decision to recoin money by weight, not face value). More problematic,

however, were continued irregularities in the production of the coin which made culling

even more fruitful. Apparently there were difficulties in controlling the thickness of the

sheets, so that variations in weight had actually increased." In short, guineas and other

coins produced by the new methods disappeared from circulation, while old, worn,

"hammered money" continued to circulate at its nominal value.

For these reasons English currency began to deteriorate even more noticeably.

Since the last recoinage had been carried out during Elizabeth's reign, by the 1680s some

of the coin was already over a century old and showing signs of substantial wear. Serious

discussion about restoring the coin must have been going on as early as 1682, when Sir

William Petty published his Quantulumcunque concerning Money, which was calculated

to sway government opinion into recoining money at its current standard weight. The

pamphlet begins with a few brief suppositions:

Suppose that 20s. of new mill'd Money doth weigh 4 Ounces Troy,
according to Custom or Statute. Suppose that 20s. of old Eliz. and
James's Money, which ought also to weigh four Ounces Troy, doth weigh
three Ounces Troy; and variously between 3 and 4 Ounces, viz. none under
3, and none full 4.
Suppose that much of the new mill'd regular Money is carried into
the East-Indies, but none of the old light and unequal Money.4

Having correctly diagnosed the problems of the two-tiered monetary system created by

the milling press, Petty proceeds to ask and respond to a series of thirty-two queries about

the best method of undertaking a recoinage, concluding that weight and purity ("fineness")

must be maintained to preserve the nation's "Honour" and keep "a Rule and Measure of

trade."" For reasons that remain unclear, however, action was delayed until after the

onset of the Nine Years War. The procrastination would prove costly.

War Supply. Currency Exchange, and Monetary Collapse

In 1689, just months after William and Mary had taken the throne from James II,

England entered a period of warfare that rapidly accelerated the deterioration of its

currency. Between the war against Louis XIV on the Continent, which continued until

1697, and, to a lesser extent, the subjugation of the Jacobite army in Ireland, completed

with the Battle of Aughrim in 1691, the new government had to manage the ponderous

burden of war supply. The magnitude of the effort was unprecedented in English history,

as the army alone swelled from approximately 15,000 troops circa 1680 to an average of

more than 75,000 during the Nine Years War.49 Even if we take into account "false

mustering," whereby officers reported non-existent troops and pocketed the extra salaries,

the growth is enormous. Paying for this massive build-up was no easy task: in addition to

allocating moneys for the considerable hardware costs (cannon, mortars, ammunition)

necessary for seventeenth-century siege warfare, the government had to provide food,

clothing, and salaries for regular soldiers and officers (and oats and straw for their horses).

Distributing salaries and supplies was no mean feat, either, with the complex system of

paymasters, victuallers, contractors, and others comprising a small army unto itself.

Because it could not feasibly manage to engage in "direct supply," which involved all the

risks (storms, privateers, spoilage, etc.) of shipping food and supplies overseas, the

English army--unlike its allies--had no option but to pay locals to bake its bread and brew

its beer. Since these expenditures neither produced tax revenue nor stimulated home

industry, they were all but lost to the English economy, which was strained to the breaking


The first effect of indirect supply was a potentially devastating outflow of silver

bullion. According to D. W. Jones, "Over the years 1688-95 fully 1,225,944 ozs. in silver

in foreign coin, and 6,754,649 ozs. in molten silver were exported to Europe, amounting

to some 2,127,000's worth in all." Significantly, the worst year of export was 1694, in

which 168,834 ozs. in foreign coin and 2,444,149 ozs. of molten silver (totaling 698,896)

were shipped to the Continent.1 For a monetary system based on a silver standard, this

outflow had grievous consequences, and politicians and economists alike were alarmed by

the situation. Seventy years later Adam Smith would deride such "mercantilist" concerns

for what he considered an obsession with the hoarding of silver and gold,s2 but a lack of

silver bullion meant a shortage of shillings and other coin needed for many business

transactions. What B. E. Supple wrote regarding efforts to arrest specie outflow in the

1620s is no less true of the 1690s: "These piecemeal and anxious steps [to adjust specie

flow] have subsequently been stigmatized as 'bullionist' and as reflecting a coherent but

invalid economic policy merely designed to hoard treasure. But this latter-day

construction is a policy which contemporaries, in their real concern for the mundane

affairs of coinage and currency, would have had difficulty in recognizing as their own.""

Over time the bullion outflow triggered a second effect, a corresponding upheaval in the

exchange rates of silver and gold coin. As we shall see, in 1695 a poor rate of exchange

ground Mint production of silver coin to a halt, but to fully grasp why this imbalance

occurred we must first enter into the intricate and arcane world of seventeenth-century

currency exchange.


Merchants and money-changers had to stay acutely aware of three different price

indices for coin and bullion: the mint (or legal) price, the market price, and the commercial

price." A slight increase in the mint price of silver in Amsterdam, for instance, could

mean that an ounce of silver was suddenly worth more schellingen and had greater

purchasing power there. Dealers, then, would hastily arrange transfers, either via bills of

exchange or direct shipments of bullion, from other markets (London, for example) to

Amsterdam. This form of speculation--more specifically known as arbitrage--produced

income not only for the thriving industry of"cashkeepers" and "money-changers," but for

savvy merchants as well. In fact, gambling on rises and falls in these three exchange rates

often made the difference between profit and loss, and more than one commercial house

went bankrupt by predicting wrongly.

The legal exchange rate offered by the mint for coining silver was often called by

contemporaries "imaginary money" or, less confusingly, "money of account."55

Periodically the Mint would conduct an assay of foreign coin and announce the official

exchange rating, as Newton would do in 1712 and 1717. Such a rating enabled foreign

coin to circulate in England and pass at an English equivalency. To use a crude example,

if a troy ounce of silver was set at, say, five shillings in England, and at two pistoles in

Spain, then two pistoles were worth five shillings, and this was called the mint parity, or

"par." The mint rating, however, was often a political tool. If during times of peace the

crown had to adjust the mint rating too frequently, it was considered by foes a sign of

internal economic weakness. During wartime, however, increasing the mint rating by a

few pence (without corresponding increases in silver content) was advantageous because

it stretched the same ounce of silver further in terms of the money of account. (After a

10% increase, the silver required to make 10 shillings, or 120 pence, would be worth 11

shillings, or 132 pence.) Although inflation would eventually set in and erode such gains,

rising prices usually lagged a few months behind the revaluation, and the government

profited in the meantime because the adjustment freed up extra silver with which to make

war payments. Between 1688 and 1693, mints throughout northern Europe (including

France, Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands) often resorted to this measure.5

Locke, as we shall see, disparaged this form of currency manipulation as "clipping

by public authority," which in effect it was, since both activities kindled inflation.

Indeed, in an irony that Jones has confirmed, clipping--despite the public outcry--almost

certainly generated the extra bullion needed to fund England's war effort. "Where trade

failed," according to Jones, England "survived by clipping the coin. It was by clipping that

[England] obtained the bullion needed to pay [its] debts. Normally such bullion export

would force an intense monetary squeeze, but clipping provided an escape, since down to

late 1694, clipped coin still passed at face value, leaving ... the money stock

unchanged."" Whether clipping by public authority or not, "raising the coin" (as

increasing the mint rate was called) had the additional benefit of drawing silver into the

mint to be coined. Thus shifts in mint prices prompted international bullion inflows and

outflows, and governments could to a certain extent regulate their money supplies by

adjusting mint values. Adjustments such as these made arbitrage lucrative.

Although within its borders the state established the official value of a coin via the

mint rating, the government did not determine the price at which bullion was sold by


dealers either within the nation or across international markets. This "market price" was

often influenced by shifts in mint valuation, but under normal circumstances market price

was based primarily on a nation's import-export balance: with an even balance of trade,

merchants would settle their international accounts via bills of exchange at an even par (no

coin would be shipped; indeed, exporting coin was usually prohibited by law). However,

if one or the other nation's balance of trade fell or rose, the exchange adjusted

accordingly. In other words, if England suffered a trade deficit, and payment was required

abroad, the exchange "fell," meaning the price of silver rose above the mint rating ("par"),

and the pound exchanged for less against the foreign currency. The nascent financial

press--publications like Thomas Houghton's bi-weekly Collectionfor the Improvement of

Husbandry and Trade, which prominently featured a section called "The Course of the

Exchange"--kept dealers and traders informed of fluctuating rates, whether below or

above par. As Locke explained the system:

The Par is a certain number of pieces of the Coin of one Country,
containing in them an equal quantity of Silver to that in another number of
pieces of the Coin of another Country: v.g. supposing 36 Skillings in
Holland to have just as much Silver in them as 20 English shillings [i.e.,
one pound]. [Then] Bills of Exchange drawn from England to Holland at
the rate of 36 Skillings Dutch for each pound Sterling, is according to the
Par. He that pays the Money here, and receives it there, neither gets nor
loses by the Exchange; but receives just the same quantity of Silver in the
one place, that he parts with in the other. But if he pays one pound
Sterling [20 shillings] here to receive but 30 Skillings in Holland, he pays
one sixth more than the Par and so pays one sixth more Silver for the
Exchange [than he receives], the Sum be what it will.
(FC 420-21)

Having lived in exile in Holland from 1683-88 and having received income from his

English rents while there, Locke was well acquainted with the workings of exchange rates.

As Karen Iversen Vaughn points out, Locke's "personal diaries are full of notes on the

weight and fineness of foreign coins and the fluctuations in the rate of exchange. These

notes are most prevalent during the years he spent in France and the years he was in hiding

in Holland."'" More particularly, Locke's scenario indicates a thorough knowledge of bills

of exchange ("he that pays the money here and receives it there"), and it is important to

understand exactly how they functioned in late seventeenth-century international trade.

If an English cloth merchant required payment for 100 of cloth sold to a Dutch

trading partner, he would seek out a dealer ("cashkeeper," "money-changer") in London

who had both a substantial reserve of home currency and significant holdings of Dutch

currency with a corresponding cashkeeper in Amsterdam." The cloth merchant would

then draw up a bill on the Dutch buyer--payable to the Dutch money-changer--at the

current exchange rate and (assuming the exchange was at a par of 36 schellingen to the

pound)" accept 100 on the spot from his London dealer. The bill would subsequently be

sent to Amsterdam, where the Dutch cashkeeper would present it to the cloth trader and

collect the 3600 schellingen when due (bills could be made payable either "on sight" or

after a period of time, usually 30, 60, or 90 days). Depending on the status of the

exchange--and hence the balance of trade--either merchant (and the cashkeepers) could

gain or lose by the deal. And if the Dutch cloth buyer did not have sufficient funds to

cover the bill, he could endorse it over to one of his own debtors.

Bills of exchange worked efficiently as long as the balance of trade was relatively

close to parity, but in cases of more severe deficits bullion had to be shipped from one

trading partner to the other. Transporting bullion, however, entailed the added costs of

shipping and insurance, which meant that the market rate had to fall below or rise above

certain values (often called "specie points") before dealers were willing to undertake

shipment. This brings us to the last of the three prices of silver, the "commercial price," or

the market rate of bullion plus shipping costs and insurance." In Swift's Intelligencer 19

we have already encountered a prime example of the importance of the commercial price:

in that case, a three-pence overvaluation of the guinea in Ireland was sufficient to prompt

Irish bankers (and even "Tradesmen") to export silver to England, exchange it there for

gold, and re-import the gold because of its greater purchasing power in Ireland. In the

Intelligence essay Swift advocates reducing the guinea's rating to a point slightly above

the English value, but well below the commercial price (or well within the specie point

range).62 Since during the Nine Years War the English undertook indirect supply, the

resulting trade imbalance meant that bullion--not bills of exchange--would have to be

shipped to the Low Countries. This problem was intensified by the fact that the range

between specie points was narrower at the Amsterdam exchange banks than at any other

commercial center in Europe:

The Amsterdam Exchange Bank became an enormous storehouse from
which all the desired international specie could be obtained immediately
and flexibly. ... Amsterdam exchange rates became uncommonly stable:
the specie points drew closer together, because in Amsterdam the costs of
replacing bills of exchange by a shipment of precious metals in any desired
coinage were reduced."

Unfortunately, Amsterdam's proficiency in the specie trade worked to the detriment of

England's currency.

The Worsening Crisis and Parliamentary Intervention

With the bullion outflow already affecting the money supply by the second year of

the war, Parliament, in its 1690-91 session, considered two bills intended to address the

problem." The first bill dealt with a reduction of the legal rate of interest from 6% to 4%,

and it was advocated by the East India Company, with the powerful merchant economist

Sir Josiah Child leading the lobbying effort. Having written on the same topic in 1668,

Child brought out a pamphlet entitled A Discourse about Trade (1690) to support the

measure.65 Since money was scarce, Child reasoned, a reduction in the interest rate would

lure surplus funds out of savings and into the investment market. For the time being,

however, Child's bid fell short of the necessary votes, and the bill failed. The second bill

before Parliament called for "raising the coin"--or increasing the mint rating of a crown

piece from 5s. to 5s. 3d., a move designed to bring more silver into the Mint for coining.

Because the bill was sponsored by Thomas Neale, Master of the Mint (and from whom we

shall hear again), many suspected the adjustment was being promoted to benefit Mint

officials, who were paid by the ounce coined. Although the bill passed its third reading in

mid-November, by the end of the year it had apparently been pigeonholed.

Support for the two bills did not wane, and in the 1691-92 session both issues

were again brought before Parliament. It was at this juncture that Locke first intervened

with Some Considerations of the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest and Raising

the Value ofMoney (published in November of 1691 but dated 1692). This 192-page

pamphlet consisted of two separate (but related) sections--a reworked version of some

draft papers on interest Locke had written (but never published) against Child in the late

1660s, and new material opposing any alteration in the mint rating of silver. I will more

thoroughly discuss the substance of this pamphlet below, but suffice it now to say that

Locke's input evidently had little effect: despite the efforts of the "College" (Edward

Clarke and John Freke, Locke's friends and Parliamentary "lobbyists"), the Commons

passed a compromise bill lowering the interest rate to 5% (the Lords later rejected it), and

the second bill probably lacked the necessary votes to begin with." Similar proposals

introduced in both the 1692-93 and 1693-94 sessions were likewise allowed to lapse.

Parliament's failure to enact legislation solving the "currency question" enabled the

clipping industry to thrive, and thus the spiral of monetary deterioration accelerated. As

long as a coin's ring remained intact, little could be clipped from it, but as the ring

increasingly became effaced, more and more of the coin could be removed. To compound

matters, the fact that the circulating money was so corrupted (and in 1695 Treasury

officials estimated it had lost fully half its nominal silver content)67 made counterfeiting

easier--once most of the coin was badly defaced, forgeries no longer had to be very

exacting. Because the state of the coin was so poor, the exchange rate with the Low

Countries fell 15% between January 1694/5 and August 1695." There was, moreover, no

inducement to bring silver bullion to the Mint for coining: in England the mint value of a

troy ounce was 5s. 2d., but the same ounce was worth the equivalent of 6s. 3d. in

Holland; this difference offered ample incentive for money-changers to export bullion and

take advantage of the exchange. In fact, the market price of silver in England would rise

as high as 6s. 5d. in the latter half of 1695.

The problem of silver outflow was exacerbated by the fact that gold fetched a

higher price in England than across the Channel. While silver coin emigrated, gold entered

the country and was coined into guineas, which had risen precipitously in market value

from 22s. 7d in early 1694/5 to nearly 30s. in June.6 Concomitantly, the number of

guineas coined also rose at a dramatic rate. In the period 1689-94, some 437,000 guineas

were coined, an average of a little more than 72,800 a year. In 1695, however, this figure

increased nearly tenfold, to 717,000, and, although it dropped to 138,000 in 1696, the

number of guineas coined per annum remained well above the figures for the first half of

the decade." The rise in value (and number) of guineas had disastrous effects on

circulation; even at the relatively low 22-shilling rate, guineas simply had too high a value

to function for the everyday transactions conducted with shillings and sixpence. Gold, in

modern economic terminology, did not have a sufficient velocity of circulation to meet

currency demand. Or, as Sir Richard Blackmore phrased it in his Short History of the Last

Parliament (1699), England was in danger of being impoverishedd and undone by [its]

Plenty of Gold.""

When Parliament convened for its 1694-95 session, it was plain to all that a

decision on the currency could be postponed no longer. On the one hand, England was

suffering from a crippling outflow of silver bullion--so much so that Mint production of

silver coin had reached a standstill--on the other hand, the coin remaining in circulation

had deteriorated to the point where a systemic breakdown was imminent. To be sure, the

newly-formed Bank of England had issued notes which could be used as negotiable

instruments, but these went primarily to Flanders for war payments (where they totaled

less than one-seventh of remittances)," and in any case the denominations of these notes

were too large for small-scale transactions (it would not be until the "paper pound" of

1797-1821 that notes would be issued in denominations of 1 and 2, and even then the

notes were not declared legal tender).73 With the monetary system on the verge of

collapse, Parliament assigned a committee to solicit opinions on the best means of

conducting a recoinage. Within this committee two factions began to form: one in favor

of devaluation and supported by Charles Montague, Chancellor of the Exchequer, the

other opposed to devaluation, and backed by Locke's allies, Edward Clarke and Sir

Francis Masham. In February of 1694/5 Locke responded to another pamphlet by Thomas

Neale with Short Observations on a Printed Paper, Intituled, For encouraging the

Coining of Silver Money in England, and after for keeping it here, which was intended to

influence members of the committee into maintaining the current standard." In March,

however, having heard proposals from merchants, goldsmiths, and Mint officials, the

committee issued a series of Fourteen Resolutions that proposed raising the mint price of

silver to correspond to its market price (a devaluation of about 9%). Another key point

was that clipped coin would be accepted at the Mint only by weight, but that a fund of1

million would be raised to reimburse losses up to the face value of the underweight coin.

Although the Fourteen Resolutions were eventually rejected, they had a major

impact on circulation of the already anemic currency. According to Patrick Kelly:

Publication of the Fourteen Resolutions in the Votes and the Commons'
later resolution in favour of compensating holders of clipped money
encouraged belief that Parliament would eventually opt for devaluation.
This stimulated speculative hoarding of full-weight coin and also led to

fears of being left holding clipped money that helped... to push up the
price of guineas in the summer of 1695.
(Kelly 21-2)

Here was Gresham's Law with a vengeance: because people feared a proclamation

declaring that coin should go not by face value but by weight, they hoarded any milled or

heavy money they came across, and within a matter of months "light" and counterfeit coin

were all that remained in circulation. As long as merchants and shopkeepers were willing

to accept the bad coin, the wartime home economy could function, albeit feebly; once

people refused to accept a clipped coin at face value, however, circulation would grind to

a halt. Meanwhile, in April of 1695 the Licensing Act was allowed to lapse (less on

grounds of civil liberty than on the point of avoiding a Stationers' Company monopoly),

and, with nothing to hold the floodwaters back, a torrent of pamphlets and broadsheets

offering solutions to the currency crisis was unleashed.

As the coinage crisis deepened during the summer months, the Treasury asked its

Secretary, William Lowndes (who would serve in that capacity until 1724, becoming "one

of the stabilizing factors in the financial history of the period")," to restate the arguments

for devaluation, adhering to the essentials of the Fourteen Resolutions. Knowing that

devaluation was a time-honored method of dealing with war finance, Lowndes consulted

Mint records for supporting evidence, which he found in abundance. The crown, he

determined, had often resorted to devaluation in emergencies. Considering these

precedents, he advised that a 20% reduction in the "extrinsick value" (mint rating) of

silver coin would bring it in line with the market value of silver, which, as we have seen,

was nearing 6s. 5d.7 In September Lowndes presented his findings to the Lords Justices,

but they remained unpersuaded that devaluation was the best remedy. It was at this

juncture that they called upon Locke, Newton, Wren, Davenant, Child, and seven others

to offer their opinions on the subject." These reports were delivered to the Regency

Council throughout the fall, but no consensus was reached. Locke, of course, strongly

opposed devaluation, but "it was William's personal intervention that finally decided in

favour of maintaining the existing monetary standard rather than devaluing." The King,

moreover, felt the recoinage should be undertaken if at all possible without recourse to

Parliament, a point which, Kelly notes, "brings out a constitutional dimension generally

ignored: clearly William did not wish to surrender the Crown's prerogative on coinage"

(27). Despite William's desire to avoid engaging Parliament over the issue, however, the

ministry felt the assembly would simply refuse to be circumvented. Thus it is of critical

importance to distinguish between Locke's proposals as initially promoted by the

government and the plan actually sent to (and ultimately implemented by) Parliament.

Because he feared "money-jobbers" would simply clip more coin to gain reimbursement at

public expense, Locke had contended that clipped money should only be accepted by

weight,7' but the bill before Parliament reverted to the plan of compensating holders of

clipped coin, the plan that had initially been laid out in the Fourteen Resolutions.

These, then, were the political circumstances in November of 1695--going on

behind the scenes was ministerial wrangling between Montague (in support of

devaluation) and Somers and the King in opposition.7 But what emerged before the

public was an altogether different scenario. The tracts that had poured forth since the

lapse of the Licensing Act lacked a defining point of contention and so were too disjointed

to be properly termed a pamphlet war, but in November a true controversy began brewing

with the publication of Lowndes' Report containing an Essayfor the Amendment of the

Silver Coin, which included a thinly veiled challenge directed at Locke to publish his

"Thoughts for Rendring the Design here aim'd at more perfect or Agreeable to the Public

Service."80 Locke responded in December with the last of his three monetary writings,

Further Considerations Concerning Raising the Value ofMoney. Wherein Mr Lowndes's

Arguments for it in his late Report concerning An Essay for the Amendment of the Silver

Coins, are particularly Examined. As the Recoinage debate entered 1696, then, it was

developing into a full-fledged pamphlet war.

Ironically, passage of the Recoinage Act--which called for maintaining the existing

standard and the gradual demonetization of the clipped coin--only re-opened the question

of devaluation. Because the Mint could not keep up with the demand for coin (despite a

temporary increase in workers and facilities), people were nearly forced to revert to barter,

and even William came to view the decision to maintain the standard as a "disastrous

mistake" (Kelly 65). In light of the situation, Parliament began to renew demands to

"raise the coin." In July Locke responded to these calls with the publication of Several

Papers relating to Money, Interest and Trade (the volume Swift owned), which included

revised versions of the three pamphlets he had already published; as Kelly has suggested,

Locke almost certainly intended this collection as his final say on money.

The Recoinage Controversy

We began our discussion of the Great Recoinage with the concept of accounting,

for measurement--accountability, in a sense--was precisely the issue at stake between the

factions that clustered around Lowndes and Locke. Did money function first and

foremost by its denomination, rendering silver content subsidiary (and potentially

irrelevant) to the stamp of the crown? Or was money primarily a repository of value,

denomination merely reflecting the specie content of the coin? Asked another way, could

the standard of value--the measure of goods, services, and above all credit and debt-be

altered without defrauding the citizen (particularly creditors) and, more importantly,

without casting valuation itself into uncertainty? There were a host of other

considerations involved in the issue, particularly the economic and social consequences of

whatever form the final course of action might take. Opting for "extrinsick value," on the

one hand, involved not only abandoning a monetary standard well over a century old (and

dimly associated with the glory of Queen Elizabeth), but also triggering a potentially

damaging inflationary spiral; on the other hand, choosing "intrinsick value" preserved a

clearly definable monetary standard, but it meant a depression almost certainly would

follow hard upon the start of the recoinage. Political power entered into the choice

between inflation and deflation as well. Adopting a new standard meant that those

wealthy enough to lend money received less silver in exchange, whereas maintaining the

status quo placed the burden of the recoinage on those living near subsistence with little

money to spare."


The case for raising the standard was publicly initiated by Lowndes' Report, which

sought to examine the "most Practicable Methods for New Coining the [money], and

Supplying, in the mean time, sufficient Coins to pay the Kings Taxes and Revenues, and to

carry on the Publick Commerce" (3). Lowndes immediately ruled out an actual

debasement (a reduction in the purity of the silver by adding more copper to the coin), a

solution widely associated with tyranny. Such a measure was to be avoided at all costs,

Because making of Base Moneys will Disgrace this Government in future
Generations, the Criticks in every Age being apt to Estimate the Goodness
or Badness of Ancient Governments by their Coin, as hath been done,
especially in the Case of the Romans; and a Temptation of this kind ought
not to be left for future Ages, to the prejudice and Honour of the present
(Report 30)

Although Lowndes feared the judgment of posterity (like any good political adviser, he

was interested in managing "spin"), he was astute enough to recognize that what history

took away through infamous example it could also give in the form of precedent. Thus he

enumerated, in impressive detail, the many instances from English history in which the

monarch had resorted to raising the coin (Report 3-56).

With the considerable weight of tradition on his side, then, Lowndes concluded

that "it has been a policy constantly Practised in the Mints of England (the like having

been done in all Foreign Mints belonging to other Governments) to Raise the Value of the

Coin in its Extrinsick Denomination, from time to time, as any Exigence or Occasion

required; and more especially to Encourage the bringing of Bullion into the Realm to be

Coined" (Report 56). Moreover, "Raising the Extrinsick Value of the Gold and Silver, in

the Denominations of the Coins, as it hath been constant almost in every Reign of every

King" had never caused any "Inconvenience, Disgrace or Mischief... when a Just,

Necessary or Reasonable Cause gave Occasion thereunto" (Report 58). Though by no

means ideal in Lowndes' view, the most practical way to recoin money during war was to

decrease the silver content in order to bring the Mint value of the coin in line with the

market value of silver bullion.

Lowndes therefore proposed raising the "Extrinsick Value" of the crown piece

from its current rating of 60d. to 75d., or from 5s. to 6s. 3d. This strategy had two

advantages. First, it brought the Mint price of silver close enough to its market value of

6s. 5d that, for the time being at least, the incentives to export bullion would end and

silver, it was hoped, would be brought to the Mint for coining. Theoretically, by removing

the motivation to melt coin into bullion for export (that is, bringing the legal price of silver

within the specie points), the adjustment would also serve as a hedge against further

clipping. Lowndes claimed this aspect of his plan was

grounded chiefly upon a Truth so Apparent, that it may well be compared
to an Axiom even in Mathematical Reasoning, to wit, That whensoever the
Extrinsick Value of Silver in the Coin hath been, or shall be less than the
price of Silver in Bullion, the Coin hath been, and will be Melted down.
(Report 68; emphasis in original)

Second, raising the nominal value of the coin would (at least temporarily) increase the

purchasing power of an ounce of silver, thereby easing the "hiatus of specie" a recoinage

would inevitably produce. In other words, instead of decreasing monetary circulation by

50% (as preserving the existing standard would do), the proposed devaluation would

reduce it by only 37.5%."

Whereas Lowndes located value in denomination, Locke placed it squarely on the

metallic substance of the coin. Money, Locke acknowledged, was a counter of value, but

only by virtue of its silver content: "Silver is the Measure of Commerce by its Quantity,

which is the Measure also of its intrinsick value. If one grain of Silver has an intrinsick

value in it, two grains of Silver have double that intrinsick value" (FC 410)." Because

silver was the sole measure of value, it could not be said to have "risen" in respect of


Those who say Bullion is Risen, I desire to tell me; What they mean by
Risen? Any Commodity, I think, is properly said to be Risen when the
same quantity will exchange for a greater quantity of another thing; but
more particularly of that thing which is the Measure of Commerce in the
(FC 426)

Thus he countered Lowndes' mathematical "Axiom" with one of his own: "an Ounce of

Silver will always be of equal value to an Ounce of Silver" (FC 427)."4 This, of course,

would be the point on which Locke's analysis of the situation foundered; he did not

adequately account for the market price of silver, even though in Some Considerations he

had written that silver is "not of the same value at the same time, in several parts of the

World, but is of most worth in that Country where there is least Money, in proportion to

its Trade: And therefore Men may afford to give 20 Ounces of Silver in one place, to

receive 18 or 19 Ounces in another" (267).

Because Locke overlooked the impact of the market on the price of silver, he felt

raising the denomination was futile. England's currency problem was not to be solved by

raising the coin, he believed, but by rectifying the balance of trade. Silver would only be


brought to the Mint "by the Regulation and Ballance of our Trade. For be your Coin what

it will, our Neighbours, if they over-ballance us in Trade, will not only have a great value

for our Silver, but get it too" (SC 335; emphasis in original). To Locke's mind, nowhere

was the fallacy of extrinsic value more evident than in international trade, when "All our

Names (if they are any more to us) are to them [foreign traders] but bare Sounds; and our

Coin, as theirs to us, but meer Bullion, valued only by its weight" (FC 442). Names were,

in the long run, of little consequence, and simply calling an ounce of silver by another

name was a type of prevarication. "Raising the coin" was venturing onto the slippery

slope of government-instigated inflation:

If this be not so, when the necessity of our affairs abroad, or ill husbandry
at home, has carried away half our Treasure; and a moiety of our Money is
gone out ofEngland; 'tis but to issue a Proclamation, that a Penny shall go
for Two-pence, Six-pence for a Shilling, half a Crown for a Crown, &c.
and immediately without any more ado we are as Rich as before. And
when half the remainder is gone, 'tis but doing the same thing again, and
raising the Denomination anew, and we are where we were, and so on.
(FC 453)

This argument played especially upon the fears of the poor, and, though fallacious, it was

difficult to refute. Who was to guarantee that the laborer's annual wage of 25 would

purchase as much after the revaluation?

Although Lowndes' proposals were eminently practical, they were not

invulnerable, and Locke skilfully exploited his opponent's lapses. To begin with,

Lowndes' plan called for a complete monetary overhaul, with the creation of awkward

new denominations called "Sceptres" and "Unites." "I imagine there is not one Country-

man of three," Locke protested, "but may have it for his Pains, if he can tell an Hundred


Pounds made up of a promiscuous Mixture of the Species of this new raised Money ... in

a days time" (FC 465). More damaging were Lowndes' analyses of the aftermath of

revaluation. Early in the Report he had admitted that "when the Causes which at present

make Silver Scarce and Dear shall cease, Silver it self will fall in its Price" (31). But if

silver would return to its pre-war value once the balance of trade had been righted, why

meddle with either the traditional denominations or, more importantly, the traditional

standard? Via his appeal to history, Lowndes could sidestep this critique, but the

economic consequences of devaluation posed greater problems. Would there be any real

monetary gain by "raising" the coin? His arguments against debasement were particularly

susceptible to this question. "Foreigners that deal with us," Lowndes observes, "regard the

Intrinsick Value more than the Extrinsick Denomination, and Exchange accordingly. If

Base Money should be made, the Intrinsick Value thereof would be uncertain, or might be

disputed; and in Disputes of such a Nature, it is more likely that they will gain upon us,

than we upon them" (Report 32). At this point there is little to distinguish Lowndes'

language from Locke's, but the parallels grow even more distinct. Recalling England's

Great Debasement of the early sixteenth century, Lowndes expresses the reservation that

"if the value of the Silver in the Coins should (by any extrinsick denomination) be raised

above the value or Market price of the same Silver reduced to Bullion, the Subject would

be proportionably injured and defrauded" (Report 78-9). To Lowndes, this concession

was a tactical necessity in the argument against debasement, but in Locke's view it

undermined the very foundation of the devaluationist position--one form of depreciation

was as fraudulent as the other (FC 455-56).

As Locke and Lowndes exchanged salvos in print, they were joined by a host of

others who helped carry on the debate. The anonymous author of A Review of the

Universal Remedyfor All Diseases Incident to Coin, for instance, supported Locke. "The

Ground of all these Mischiefs," the writer believed, "lies in the difference of the intrinsick

Value of the several pieces of our Coin that go under the same Denomination."" Simon

Clement, in his Discourse of the General Notions of Money, Trade, & Exchanges, also

proposed maintaining the standard, suggesting that raising the coin was an "Infallible

Demonstration of the decay of Wealth in any Countrey." Reciting a familiar refrain,

Clement felt the only solution to the problem was to bring "our Affairs into such a posture

as that our Expences Abroad may be kept within the Compass of the Ballance of Trade.""

Locke even drew support from the dead: his publishers, Awnsham and John Churchill,

reprinted Petty's Quantulumcunque to help thwart the renewed calls for devaluation.

Entering the lists on the side of Lowndes, however, were a number of formidable

opponents. Some, like the anonymous author of A Letter Humbly Offer'd to the

Consideration of all Gentlemen, Yeomen, Citizens, Freeholders, &c., had a satiric bite.

Locke, the writer accused, had misled the nation through "Sophistry," and he hoped that

the eyes of the Kingdom the experience of deflation had "unLOCKt." How could anyone

believe, he wondered, "that our Money had of the same weight it now is ever since Noah's

Flood"?'7 A more serious attack came from Sir Richard Temple, who argued that no one

disputed that an ounce of silver was equal to an ounce of silver. This, according to

Temple, was "an absurd Proposition, since there is no occasion for any Barter or

Exchange." Temple continued:

That the intrinsick Value of Silver is the true Instrument and Measure of
Commerce, is partly True, and partly False; for the Mony of every Country,
and not the Ounce of Silver, or the intrinsick value, is the Instrument and
Measure of Commerce there, according to its Denomination, and the
Standard of the Coin of each Nation is very different, and does often vary
according to Time, Place, and Circumstances."

According to Temple, Locke had failed to understand that "Bullion is a Commodity, and

has no certain universal stated Price or Value.""

By far the most trenchant critiques of Locke, however, came from Nicholas

Barbon's A Discourse Concerning Coining the New Money Lighter and James Hodges'

The Present State of England as to Coin and Publick Charges. Barbon, after

summarizing Locke's major points, drew a key distinction between "Intrinsick Value" and

what he termed "Intrinsick Vertue":

Value is only the Price of Things: That can never be certain, because it
must be then at all times, and in all places, of the same Value; therefore
nothing can have an Intrinsick Value.
But things have an Intrinsick Vertue in themselves, which in all
places have the same Vertue; as the Loadstone to attract Iron .... But
these things, though they may have great Virtues, may be of small Value or
Price, according to the place where they are plenty or scarce."

For Barbon, "the value of things depends] only on their use" (5), and therefore is always

subject to market fluctuations. His ultimate target, however, was the idea that

government had no role in establishing value: "Money is commonly made of some Metal,

but it is more for conveniency, than of absolute necessity. For the Value arising from

Public Authority, it may as well be set to any thing else that is as convenient, and can be

preserv'd from being counterfeited" (13). By denying the necessity of gold and silver as

monetary metals and insisting only that the material be difficult to counterfeit, Barbon was

exceedingly close to developing a modem conception of money.

Hodges accused a "late ingenious Author" of "charming and bewitching" the

populace into an "idolatrous" reverence for the monetary standard.91 Although Hodges

wanted eventually to return to the "present Standard" (78), he thought it absolutely

necessary under the circumstances to expand the money supply: "If the Money be on this

Occasion raised to double Value, then the Nation doth thereby immediately receive an

equivalent to double Tale of Money, and every one have their Share in the Profit and Use

of this doubling" (91). Raising the coin "putteth Money in twice as many Hands as

formerly had it; so that the Tale of Money is really doubled and spread amongst the

People" (92). To those fearful of inflation, Hodges countered that "all Persons of all

sorts, may have great Profit by such a Raising of Money" (90); to those apprehensive of

property loss, he issued a challenge to prevent "some imminent Danger of a great Loss,

which it is every one's Concern to lend his Assistance to, though it were with one half of

all his Estate" (91).

Like Barbon, Hodges held that "Silver, considered as Money, hath, speaking

properly, no real intrinsick Value at all" (146). Money, in fact, was only valued because

of the "Estimation put upon it by the supream Magistrate" (147). The Dutch, he pointed

out, suffered no loss of trade by maintaining two separate coinages, the "Bank-Money"

with which they conducted foreign exchange, and the "current Money" which circulated

domestically. Locating the problem purely in the balance of trade was misguided, because

raising the coin would right the imbalance, placing "a certain Loss or Fine upon

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