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Ibn El Mua'ttaz says : [The propitious hour]
The Poet says : [Posthumous glory]. Thou seest men deny the merits of the man As long as he lives, but as soon as he goes (becomes gold) Then eagerness clamours about him as regards his specks And writes them about him in water of gold.
The Poet says : [Epitaph).
And from what is suitable to the Commander of the Faithful according to 'Ali Ibn Abi-Talib : [Content).
When man enjoys health in his body
To the Cadi el-Fâdhil : [Force)
Don't yield to blows of fate, but hold thee hard !
The poet says : [Contradictions].
The lion dies in the forests of hunger
And Bahlul recited : [The inconveniences of polygamy].
I married two by excess of my folly
Then one is enough and equals two armies !! The text of the above and other verses, with some further translations, will be published among the papers of the Oriental Congress of 1891.
THE BRUSSELS MONETARY CONFERENCE,
AND THE PLANS TO RESTORE SILVER.
Since I last addressed the readers of this Review in July on the Silver Question, three events of importance have occurred in relation to it. They are, in the order of their importance, (1) the meeting of the International Conference at Brussels to discuss the possibility of raising the price of Silver ; (2) the appointment of the Currency Commission in England to discuss the advisability of altering the Indian Currency law : and (3) the agitation in India, led by the merchants and Mr. Mackay, with the object of forcing on the Government of India the alternatives of Bimetallism or of a Gold Currency.
The English Currency Commission held several sittings and took a good deal of evidence ; but on the meeting of the Brussels Conference, it adjourned sine die, to await the results of the latter. It has held one meeting since, but nothing has transpired as to the object or result of that meeting. The Indian agitation is still going on, and in so far as it is an agitation for Bimetallism, we English Bimetallists are of course in sympathy with it; but in as far as it is an attempt to obtain a Gold Currency or Gold Standard, it is like the cry of a child for the moon, and is as impossible. The gold currency would be as unsuitable for daily use to India as the moon would be to the child. The effect of closing the Mints to the coinage of Silver, in order to artificially force up the value of the rupee, would be to greatly diminish the use of Silver, and therefore seriously to decrease its value, yet you must increase the value of the rupee, if you mean to have a gold standard : for, at the present value of the rupee, a gold standard would be impossible,
India and the United States are the only two countries which now maintain the value of Silver. If India gave up the attempt, and introduced a gold standard, the United
States would at once do the same, silver would be practically demonetized, and would fall probably to zod. an ounce.
The change which has really occurred is the Appreciation of Gold and not the Depreciation of Silver ; and India only suffers in common with all other countries, which have incurred Gold debts, and have to pay them in silver. India's losses are due, not to any special event affecting silver or the rupee; but to the general conditions which have led to the appreciation of Gold. If then, she does anything to lower the value of Silver, in which alone she collects her revenue, and in which she is forced to pay her debts, she effectually commits suicide, and ruins all those dependent on her.
By introducing a gold standard, India would probably lose as much in the one item of Opium Revenue, as she now loses by her whole losses on Exchange; for the Chinese pay in silver ; and, if that were seriously depreciated, even below its present level, as it would be by the action of India in establishing a Gold standard, India would have to bear the whole loss on the Opium payments from China, for China would pay no more in silver than it does now.
India would of course lose in many other items of Revenue ; and if she succeeded in artificially appreciating the value of the Rupee, she would open the door to an amount of illicit coinage, which would go far to neutralize the effect of closing the Mints; and would inevitably demoralize the people whom we should thus unnecessarily expose to temptation.* A Gold standard or currency is a Will-o'-the-Wisp which will inevitably lead India to ruin.
To turn now to the Brussels Conference. The delegates assembled on Nov. 22nd : the Belgian premier M. Beernaert opened the proceedings with a guarded and politic speech, somewhat in favour of Bimetallism, and pointed out
• Mr. Probyn denied this at the discussion at the Bankers’ Institute on the 15th, but I think it is obvious that, if you increase the nominal value of the rupee without increasing its intrinsic value, you will increase the temptation to manufacture it illicitly; and, among a poor people, increase of temptation will inevitably lead to increase of crime.
the extreme gravity of the present situation. On the 24th the United States delegates presented their proposals, which were for International Bimetallism ; and they requested that, besides their own schemes, those of M. Moritz Lévy (or rather Mr. Lesley Probyn), Prof. Soetbeer, and Mr. Alfred de Rothschild might be considered.
Since then, on Dec. 5th and 6th, M. Tietgen, the Danish Delegate, and Sir William Houldsworth, one of the English Delegates, have proposed two other schemes, so that there are no less than six separate plans for helping Silver to be considered; but, inasmuch as the scheme, originally propounded by Mr. Probyn, for giving up small gold coins and the small notes based on gold, is virtually the same scheme as M. Lévy's, which is admittedly the foundation of Prof. Soetbeer's more elaborate plan, these three may be considered as one; and the total number of plans is reduced to four.
Mr. A. de Rothschild's, which has been for the present rejected by the Conference, but which may very possibly be re-considered later on, is a scheme of an International agreement for the purchase of £5,000,000 worth of Silver annually for 5 years by the European nations at a price not exceeding 43 pence per ounce, on condition that the United States continues her purchases of 45 millions of ounces a month. He was also willing that silver should be made a legal tender in England up to £ 5. This plan is of course only in the nature of an alleviative : it would probably maintain the price of Silver at 43d. for those 5 years; but that price is in the first place far too low (it leaves the rupee at is. 4£d.); and the plan would do nothing to permanently augment the price of silver, or to increase its use, as apart from its purchase. What we want is a plan which will increase the demand for silver, and so automatically increase its price.
We now come to the scheme which is most often called M. Moritz Lévy's and which has been elaborately worked out in detail by Professor Soetbeer in his Memorandum