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finger, when he is struck with the plague: and yet a poor fellow going to the gallows, may be allowed to feel the smart of wasps while he is upon Tyburn road. This misfortune is so urging and vexatious in every kind of small traffic, and so hourly pressing upon all persons in the country whatsoever, that a hundred inconveniences, of perhaps greater moment in themselves, have been tamely submitted to, with far less disquietude and murmur. And the case seems yet the harder, if it be true, what many skilful men assert, that nothing is more easy than a remedy; and, that the want of silver, in proportion to the little gold remaining among us, is altogether as unnecessary, as it is inconvenient. A person of distinction assured me very lately, that, in discoursing with the lord-lieutenant * before his last return to England, his excellency said, “ He had pressed the matter often, in proper time and place, and to proper persons ; and could not see any difficulty of the least moment, that could prevent us from being made easy upon this article.”
Whoever carries to England twenty-seven English shillings, and brings back one moidore of full weight, is a gainer of ninepence Irish : in a guinea, the advantage is threepence; and twopence in a pistole. The BANKERS, who are generally masters of all our gold and silver, with this advantage, have sent over as much of the latter as came into their hands. The value of one thousand moidores in silver would thus amount in clear profit to 371. 10s. The shopkeepers, and other traders, who go to London to buy goods, followed the same practice ; by which we have been driven to this insupportable distress. To a common thinker, it would seem, that nothing would be more easy than for the government to redress this evil, at any time they shall please. When the value of guineas was lowered in England from 21s. and 6d. to only 21s., the consequences to this kingdom were obvious, and manifest to us all : and a sober man may be allowed at least to wonder, although he dare not complain, why a new regulation of coin among us was not then made; much more, why it has never been since. It would surely require no very profound skill in algebra to reduce the difference of ninepence in thirty shillings, or threepence in a guinea, to less than a farthing; and so small a fraction could be no temptation either to bankers, to hazard their silver at sea, or tradesmen to load themselves with it in their journeys to England. In my humble opinion, it would be no unseasonable conde scension, if the government would graciously please to signify to the poor loyal Protestant subjects of Ireland, either that this miserable want of silver is not possibly to be remedied in any degree by the nicest skill in arithmetic: or else that it does not stand with the good pleasure of England to suffer any silver at all among us. In the former case, it would be madness to expect impossibilities; and, in the other, we must submit: for lives and fortunes are always at the mercy of the CONQUEROR.
* The Lord Carteret.
The question has been often put in printed papers, by the DRAPIER and others, or perhaps by the same WRITER under different styles, why this kingdom should not be permitted to have a mint of its own, for the coinage of gold, silver, and copper ; which is a power exercised by many bishops, and every petty prince, in Germany? But this question has never been answered ; nor the least application, that I have heard of, made to the Crown from hence for the grant of a public mint; although it stands upon record, that several cities and corporations here, had the liberty of coining silver. I can see no reasons, why we alone, of all nations, are thus restrained, but such as I dare not mention : only thus far I may venture, that Ireland is the first imperial kingdom since Nimrod, which ever wanted power to coin their own money.
I know very well, that in England it is lawful for any subject to petition either the Prince or the Parliament, provided it be done in a dutiful and regular manner : but what is lawful for a subject of Ireland, I profess I cannot determine : nor will undertake that the printer shall not be prosecuted in a court of justice for publishing my wishes, that a poor shopkeeper might be able to change a guinea or a moidore when a customer comes for a crown's worth of goods. I have known less crimes punished with the utmost severity, under the title of disaffection. And I cannot but approve the wisdom of the ancients, who, after Astrea had fled from the earth, at least took care to provide three upright judges for hell. Men's ears among us are indeed grown so nice, that whoever happens to think out of fashion, in what relates to the welfare of this kingdom, dare not so much as complain of the toothach, lest our weak and busy dabblers in politics should be ready to swear against him for disaffection.
There was a method practised by Sir Ambrose Crawley, the great dealer in iron works, which I wonder the gentlemen of our country, under this great exigence, have not thought fit to imitate. In the several towns and villages where he dealt, and many miles round, he gave notes instead of money, (from twopence to twenty shillings,) which passed current in all shops and markets, as well as in houses where meat or drink was sold. I see no reason, why the like practice may not be introduced among us with some degree of success; or, at least, may not serve as a poor expedient in this our blessed age
of paper ; which, as it discharges all our greatest payments, may be equally useful in the smaller, and may just keep us alive, until an English act of Parliament shall forbid it.
I have been told, that among some of our poorest American colonies upon the continent, the people enjoy the liberty of cutting the little money among them into halves and quarters, for the conveniences of small traffic. How happy should we be in comparison of our present condition, if the like privilege were granted to us of employing the sheers for want of a mint, upon our foreign gold, by clipping it into half-crowns, and shillings, and even lower denominations; for beggars must be content to live upon scraps ; and it would be our felicity, that these scraps could never be exported to other countries while anything better was left.
If neither of these projects will avail, I see nothing left us but to truck and barter our goods, like the wild Indians, with each other, or with our too powerful neighbours; only with this disadvantage on our side, that the Indians enjoy the product of their own land; whereas the better half of ours is sent away, without so much as a recompence in bugles or glass in return.
It must needs be a very comfortable circumstance in the present juncture, that some thousand families are gone, are going, or preparing to go from hence, and settle themselves in America : the poorer sort for want of work; the farmers, whose beneficial bargains are now
become a rack-rent too hard to be borne, and those who have any ready money, or can purchase any by the sale of their goods or leases, because they find their fortunes hourly decaying, that their goods will bear no price, and that few or none have any money to buy the very necessaries of life, are hastening to follow their departed neighbours. It is true, corn among us carries a very high price; but it is for the same reason, that rats and cats, and dead horses, have been often bought for gold in a town besieged.
There is a person of quality in my neighbourhood, who, twenty years ago, when he was just come to age, being unexperienced, and of a generous temper, let his lands, even as times went then, at a low rate to able tenants; and, consequently, by the rise of lands since that time, looked upon his estate to be set at half value: but numbers of these tenants, or their descendants, are now offering to sell their leases by cant, * even those which were for lives, some of them renewable for ever, and some fee-farms, which the landlord himself has bought in at half the price they would have yielded seven years ago. And some leases let at the same time for lives, have been given up to him without any consideration at all.
This is the most favourable face of all things at present among us; I say, among us of the north, who were esteemed the only thriving people of the kingdom. And how far, and how soon, this misery and desolation may spread, it is easy to foresee.
The vast sums of money daily carried off by our numerous adventurers to America, have deprived us of our
* Or auction.