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ment ratio shall be made, and the periods to be considered in fixing this ratio, are, of course, not essential. In reading very many books on money and coinage, I find : First. That some of the older writers on this subject far surpass almost all the modern ones in genius, reasoning, force, and clearness. Second. That, as compared with other sciences, there appears a strange general ignorance of the history of monetary science. Oresme, the great master of this science in the fourteenth century, was acquainted with the writings on this subject of Justin, Saint Augustine, Cassiodorus, etc. But Copernicus, the great astronomer and economist of the sixteenth century, was ignorant of Oresme's work in this field, and Bacon, Locke, and Newton, in the seventeenth century, did not know of these writings of Oresme and Copernicus, and the English economic writers of the eighteenth century generally ignored the earlier continental monetary experiences.

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Preface to the Second Edition. xiii

Roscher, Professor of Political Economy at Leipsic, when he found a copy of Oresme's work in 1862, supposed that “this diamond of the first water hidden in the dust” had been entirely unknown for many years. Its existence, was, however, known to several French writers, but its importance not appreciated. That this treatise had caused the reform of the French coinage in the fourteenth century was generally forgotten until the publication, in 1864, of Wolowski’s" Etude sur le Tražá de la Monnaie de AWicole Oresme, and most recent writers show little knowledge of any of these great authorities, and total ignorance of their most important works.

It appears that at a critical period when it became necessary to reform the coinage, in order to save the country from ruin, some philosopher would adequately study up the matter, and prepare a plan which met the emergency, and then his work was soon forgotten. Old vicious coinage plans would then again be resorted to in would be a crisis in affairs, then another philosopher would save society by monetary reform ; and then his work would, in turn, soon be forgotten. In Oresme's time the coin had been so debased that it contained only one eightysixth part of its nominal quantity of silver; the late King John, strangely called “The Good,” having ordered the masters of the mint to exactly imitate the old coins in base metal, charging them under the most extreme penalty of treason to keep this fraud secret. Oresme discovered and explained why bad money drove out good money." One hundred and sixty years later Copernicus rediscovered how bad money was driving good money out of the great kingdom of Poland, which then embraced Prussia, etc. Similar conditions of affairs were afterwards repeatedly discovered in England and elsewhere. Some of the men who brought about great reforms of the coinage were the very greatest philosophers of their time. Preface to the Second Edition. xv

order to cheat the people. Again there 'Read before the Institute of France August 14, 1862.

* See note, page 154.

But, although they convinced those then in authority, their work in monetary reform was not generally understood or appreciated. The hidden but momentous workings of changes in the basis of money are among the things no people have as yet shown an aptitude to understand. Even to-day the importance of the following simple facts appears difficult of common comprehension, viz.: 7%až general prosperity in our country depends Zargely on the prices obtainable abroad for our chief exportable staff/es, and that the fall on these is direc//y caused by the demonetization of silver, because for every Aound ster/ong which a planter 27, Zndia, etc., receives for cottom or wheat sold in Ang/and, he can now employ twice as many native laborers as he could a few years ago, for their wages remain the same 272 sz/ver coin. In a country where monetary questions must be decided finally by popular vote, the importance of a right understanding of the science of money cannot be overestimated ; and its thorough study ought to appeal to those who have the necessary time and training. As most of the present depression in trade, agriculture, and other industries is clearly traceable to legislative ignorance of the history of money, and to attempts to retry unscientific experiments, the duty of the hour is to encourage and to facilitate real study of the money problem, which is again about to be discussed in Congress and in the newspapers, and ought not to be decided by ignorance, party spirit, and ad captandum appeals. Anarcharsis criticised the constitution of Athens because the Athenians had wise men to debate and fools to decide. O happy Athenians ! if you had always wise men to debate | I do not claim to be learned or wise ; I desire, like Oresme, “to submit what I have written to the correction of wise and prudent men, for, as Aristotle says, the civil needs are often doubtful and uncertain.” But I do claim to have made some little study of the currency question, and I desire to study it more, and to see

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