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trous speculations. We do not share his alarms, and think that the error of the reasoning which leads to them can easily be exposed.
What Mr. Lalor calls "money-capital" is not gold and silver coin and bullion exclusively, nor even the whole currency, specie and paper, of which such coin is only the basis; but it is the vastly larger amount of floating capital which supplies the loan-market, seeking investment. It is the aggregate "purchasing power" of the community, which forms the basis of all commercial and industrial calculations, and immensely exceeds the aggregate of coin and bank-bills, because the same specific sum of coin, or bank-bills, or both, may be used to effect half a dozen payments in the same day; and the purchases made on credit, in any one day, may as much exceed the aggregate of payments on that day, as the total payments exceed the specific coin or bills with which they are effected. The magic power of credit swells "the purchasing power" of any highly commercial community to an incalculable extent. Whenever a capitalist, or the holder of actual property in a material shape, parts with it for the purpose, not of consumption, but of investment, he receives in exchange "a purchasing power," which he can reserve, and exercise at any future time at his own discretion. He deposits this sum for a time in a bank, where it will be available to him, at any time, as a bank credit. Many persons having such credits, payments may at any time be effected by a mere transfer of them on the bank-books. The bank, finding an average of such credits always remaining with it, can lend out the specie and bank-bills which were the original foundation of them, and still pay any of its depositors who call for payment, from the fresh sums brought in by other depositors, or by an entry on its books. The bank can even go further;
it can lend a certain amount of its own bills to a merchant who has made no deposit with it, trusting that such loan will be repaid before the bills with which it was effected come back upon the bank for payment. The merchant receiving such a loan can employ a portion of it in making payments, and allow the remaining portion to lie on deposit in the bank; and on the strength of these deposits — wholly
fictitious in character, be it observed-the bank may proceed to make fresh loans. Thus, on a very narrow basis, rises, story above story, a tall fabric of credit, till its top pierces the clouds. The security of the structure is in inverse proportion to its height. If public confidence be shaken, a general desire to realize property, as it is termed, or to convert mere evidences of debt into coin or other actual possessions, ensues, and then a failure of the architecture in any part causes the whole edifice to topple into ruin.
In a highly prosperous commercial community, like the English, the savings from income which form yearly accessions to capital are already excessive. They are estimated by some writers as high as fifty millions of pounds sterling per annum. A large portion of such savings are made by persons not in active business, who, having no employment of their own for such additional capital, wish only to invest it, or to lend it to others. Thus the loan-market becomes overstocked, the rate of interest falls, and rather than accept as little as two per cent. in safe investments, lenders are tempted by the offer of higher rates to expose their capital to great risks. Thus comes on a period of expansion and of all sorts of wild speculation, sure to be followed by failures, loss of confidence, and general agitation and distress. The state of trade, says Lord Overstone (formerly Mr. Jones Loyd), "revolves appar ently in an established cycle. First we find it in a state of quiescence-next improvement-growing confidence — prosperity-excitement-over-trading-convulsion-pressurestagnation-distress-ending again in quiescence."
Mr. Lalor augurs evil from the present immense influx of gold, because, he argues, "only a small fractional proportion of that amount of new gold will be drawn into the currency," and the remainder will be new money-capital, thus enlarging the stock of it, which is already too great, and augmenting tenfold the tendency to rash speculations, and the consequent liability to reaction, commercial convulsions, and distress. The remedy which he proposes is, that government should increase the weight of taxation, so as to lessen the power of making savings from income, and should employ the surplus thus brought into the public treasury in making permanent loans to
encourage agriculture, colonization, and emigration, loans having an effect to convert capital into income, while the new gold tends only to augment capital. In other words, he would thus change floating into fixed capital, it being the augmentation of the former only which increases the fever of speculation and menaces commerce with a constant succession of convulsions and disasters.
Even if we agreed with Mr. Lalor as to the nature of the evil to be apprehended, we should hesitate about adopting as remedies a great increase of taxation, and the conversion of the public funds into long loans to individuals. But the evil of a too rapid growth of capital, and the government coming in to dissipate it, by lending it to persons who will employ it în the drainage of land, or in ferrying away additional ship-loads of emigrants from the English shores, are alike chimerical. The new gold would form but an insignificant accession, at any rate, to the money-capital of England. The yearly savings from income in that country, as has been mentioned, have been estimated at fifty millions sterling; the new gold amounts only to twenty or thirty millions a year, which is to be distributed over the whole world, England receiving only her proportional share of it. Moreover, as habits of luxury and expense increase with every accession to capital, it would be only the savings from this fractional part of twenty-five millions a year which would form a permanent addition to capital. But further, we directly deny Mr. Lalor's fundamental proposition, that only a small fractional part of the new gold will be drawn into the currency. Except an insignificant portion retained for consumption in the form of trinkets, plate, and other manufactures of gold, the whole will go into the currency, not being available in any other way. Practically, we know that nine tenths either goes to the mint as soon as it is washed out of the earth, or is cast into stamped bars which perform all the purposes of coin. And this addi tion to the currency being only a nominal addition, —two millions of dollars, for instance, performing just the same functions that one million did before, the increase of the actual wealth, or capital, of the whole world must be very trifling. The addition being nominal, moreover, its great
extent forms no cause for apprehension. True, the increase of gold, affecting the specie basis on which all monetary systems rest, will affect successively, and in the same ratio, bank-bills, bank-credits, bills of exchange, and all other substitutes for money, which form the successive strata of the whole system. Mercantile transactions will then be represented in larger denominations of money; men will talk of millions, where they now talk of thousands; and this change of phraseology, except for the holders of obligations to pay which have a long time to mature, will be the whole extent of the evil. Mr. Lalor seems to think that there may be such a thing as the depreciation of capital, apart from the depreciation of money, and proceeding from "a general glut” of production, and consequently of wealth. He thus evinces a general confusion of ideas upon the subject, which he can unravel only by analyzing his notion of wealth, and seeing whether it is possible that there should be too much of it in the community.
But we must break off the discussion of a subject which would as easily transcend the limits of a volume as of an article. Though we have spoken freely of the errors of the three works under review, we can safely commend all of them, as written with ability and in a good spirit, and as throwing more or less light upon three great questions which, at the present day, much exceed in importance and interest all other problems in economical science.
1.-A Popular Account of the Ancient Egyptians. Revised and abridged from his larger Work. By SIR J. GARDNER WILKINSON, D. C. L., F. R. S. Illustrated with five hundred wood-cuts. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1854. 2 vols. 24mo. pp. 419, 436.
THE "larger work," too costly for general circulation, did more than all other English books toward erecting Egyptology into a distinct department of knowledge, and bringing into use its contributions to
numerous branches of art and science. Yet more, it not only gave us archæological facts, but so combined and vitalized the results of the author's inquiries as to reproduce to the fancy the men and manners of ancient Egypt. The work now before us is a careful condensation of the former, with some important additions, which bring down the history of discovery to the year 1853.
This work has suggested to us a course of argument which may be of no insignificant weight in the question concerning the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch. The neological hypothesis on this point is, that the "book of the law" found in the temple by Hilkiah, in the reign of Josiah, was a brief compend, of doubtful antiquity, and only the nucleus which, between that time and the age of Ezra, grew by successive accretions into the Pentateuch. But in the book of Genesis, which, of the whole five, is alleged to savor the least of authorship by Moses, occurs the story of Joseph, a narrative the scene of which is principally laid in Egypt. Now, if that story had been written by Hilkiah, or by Ezra, or by any intermediate or subsequent author, it is hardly possible that it should have been free from traits of Hebrew life, or should have been true to the condition of things in Egypt at a period of remote antiquity. If it bears not a trace of Levitical or post-Mosaic opinions or institutions, and if, in the Egyptian part, it is thoroughly Egyptian, the irresistible inference is, that it was not written at a late period of Hebrew history, that it was written by some person thoroughly conversant with Egypt, and that it was not improbably written by Moses, who fulfilled both those conditions. Our limits will permit us to specify but two of the very numerous lines of coincidence between this story and the records so recently disinterred.
One of these is the distinctively Egyptian character of the dreams of Pharaoh's butler and baker. The butler dreamed of pressing clusters of grapes into the king's cup. At or not far from this time fermented wine was under the sacerdotal ban; but the freshly expressed juice of the grape was a favorite article of luxury. The baker dreamed of carrying three white baskets of baked meats on his head. There are in the monuments recently explored numerous paintings of men carrying heavy burdens in this way; and Herodotus mentions, among the singular customs of Egypt, that "men bear burdens on their heads.”
Our remaining example of coincidence relates to the settlement of Joseph's father and brethren in Goshen. Shepherds are spoken of as "an abomination to the Egyptians," and yet the shepherd Abraham had been hospitably received in Egypt, and had been on intimate terms with the king. Here is a discrepancy glaring enough to form the slender capital of a neological critic. But what says Egyptian history?