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of the 5th August 1892. It is however really to Mr. Lesley Probyn, formerly Accountant-General of Madras, and now Comptroller of Accounts to the Prince of Wales, that the credit of this plan is originally due. In a letter dated the 12th May 1881, which was presented by Lord Reay to the Paris Conference of 1881 on the 19th of May, Mr. Probyn proposed the abolition of half-sovereigns, ten-mark and ten-franc pieces, and also of the smaller paper notes founded on a gold basis.
M. Moritz Lévy's scheme, which is practically identical, is not dated the 27th of May, as stated by Professor Soetbeer, but the 27th June (Official Proceedings of Conference, p. 17, Vol. ii.) and was not presented to the Conference till the 30th June, so there can be no doubt that Mr. Probyn can clearly claim precedence, though M. Lévy had very probably not seen Mr. Probyn's scheme when he wrote his own paper.
The objects of Mr. Probyn and of M. Lévy are the same, viz. the greater employment of silver in small transactions, and the limitation of gold to the larger transactions. The only difference in the remedies proposed is that M. Lévy at first suggested the total suppression of all small notes, while Mr. Probyn advocates the use of “token-notes
to be “partially supported by a silver token coin reserve.” This part of M. Lévy's proposal would probably be found practically impossible (it was at once objected to by Italy), as the continental nations are so accustomed to the use of small notes, that they would probably never agree to the total abolition of them. On the other hand, in order to secure the object aimed at, Mr. Probyn's token-notes should not be "partially,” but entirely based on a silver reserve, so as to secure the retention of a similar amount of silver in the reserve.
Mr. Probyn only mentions the amount of coin affected as regards England, and estimates it as £18,000,000 in half - sovereigns. M. Lévy estimates the amount at £94,000,000 for the notes and £64,000,000 for the small gold coins, or £158,000,000 in all, without reckoning those small gold coins, which, being in the State banks, form practically part of the metallic reserve. This is for the seven great States, Germany, Austria, Russia, Italy, United States, France and England : and he believes that the above amount of gold could be withdrawn from circulation, and that a nearly similar amount of silver would be brought
Towards the end of his letter M. Lévy admits that the total suppression of the smaller notes would be impossible, and suggests the issue of small notes based on silver alone, provided that (1) the same amount of silver as the total of the notes be held in reserve ; (2) that the notes should be subject to the same limit of acceptance as the silver coins, for instance 40 shillings in England; and (3) that they should be redeemable, in States which had a single
single gold standard, under the same rule as silver.
If we now turn to Professor Soetbeer's proposals, we find that he commences by emphasizing the gravity of the present situation, and by stating that, though the number of bimetallists has considerably increased of late years, yet there is no doubt that general public opinion in England is, at present, still decidedly adverse to Bimetallism ; and he quotes Mr. Goschen's opinion (April 1890) that bimetallism might cause perhaps more dire consequences than even the most unbearable evils of the present condition. .
For these reasons he comes to the conclusion that England would not have joined the Conference, if Bimetallism had been the proposed solution of the Silver question ; but that, as the proposal was to consider the means of effecting an extended use of silver, there was no reason why England should not join the Conference, although she would no doubt positively refuse to consider any Bimetallic proposals, which would involve any alteration in her present Gold currency system ; that France and Germany would decline to consider any such proposals without the assent of England ; that nobody but a Bimetallic fanatic can believe that the Conference will have practical results based on Bimetallism; that practical men must therefore put Bimetallism on one side, and consider what other way exists by which permanent relief could be obtained by the concerted action of the great nations : and he then goes on to say that M. Moritz Lévy's proposal was the only practical one which he had met with, and that a deep study of “Conferences, congresses, commissions and the whole literature of the Silver question ” showed that there was but this one proposal which contained the promise of a real remedy, although as I have shown above he would have found Mr. Probyn's identical proposal, if he had turned back but a few pages in the Proceedings of the 1881 Conference, from M. Lévy's letter. However the fact of Mr. Probyn having anticipated M. Lévy, and being really entitled to all the credit of the plan does not affect its value ; and I quite agree with Professor Soetbeer that it is the most practical proposal which has yet been made to secure the advantages of an extended employment of silver, and a diminished drain on gold, without embarking on the risks and political difficulties of Bimetallism, which even those who, like myself, are confirmed Bimetallists, cannot deny to be great and at present apparently insuperable, * owing to the opposition of England.
Prof. Soetbeer, after detailing M. Lévy's proposals very clearly, states that they were repeated in 1882 by Herr von Delhend, the President of the Bank of Germany; but that both proposals received no attention and were forgotten, because on the one hand Bimetallists would listen to no compromise, while on the other Monometallists did not believe that Silver would fall below 39 pence per oz.; but that the events of the succeeding ten years (1882-92) have induced him to re-submit these proposals to the new Conference, in the shape of a basis for an International
* Sir W. Houldsworth said at the Conference on December 6th : “I recognize that an agreement to carry Bimetallism into effect as a complete system, may not yet be possible.”
Monetary Agreement to be comprised in 12 rules of which the following is a slightly abbreviated version :
1. A fixed weight of pure gold to be the universal and sole foundation and normal measure of currency.
2. The existing gold currency to be maintained in the several States, subject to a general agreement that in future no gold coins shall be minted or issued which contain less than 5.8 grammes pure gold (20 franc piece), and that all smaller gold coins shall be recalled within 10 years.
3. Seignorage to be always two per thousand.
4. All central treasuries to grant gold certificates for 500 grammes of pure gold, or any multiple, against effective gold coins deposited with them.
5. All Bank notes or other paper currency tokens of less value than 5.8 grammes of pure gold to be redeemed within 10 years, and no more based on a gold standard to be issued.
6. All previously coined silver coins, of higher value than one-tenth the value of the future lowest gold coin of that country, to be redeemed within 15 years; and all future. silver coins of a high value (afterwards called major silver coins) to be minted in the proportion of 20 pure silver to I pure gold, and only by the Government of each State. Each nation to do as it pleases with regard to minor silver coins, and other coins (copper, etc.).
7. Each Government to accept at its public treasuries all major silver coins of its own minting to any amount.
8. All persons to accept major silver coins to the amount of three times the value of the future lowest gold coin.
9. Silver certificates to be issued by chief treasuries against deposit to the full value of effective major silver coins : but not below half the value of the future lowest gold coin. Such certificates to be repaid on presentation at place of issue in major silver coins.
10. No credit notes to be issued against bar silver.
II. Each Government to report to all the others any Currency laws or decrees passed, and progress made in redemption of old and coining of new coins.
12. Any State to be able to withdraw from the Convention on giving 12 months' notice.
With regard to India Prof. Soetbeer proposes that it should join the Convention, the rupee remaining legal tender
up to 30 rupees, the mints being closed to outside coinage, and the existing rupees being called in, and a new silver coinage issued of the relative value of 20 to 1 (i.e., the rupee = is. 6d.): which is of course practically having a gold standard.
Prof. Soetbeer estimates the amount of half-sovereigns at £22,000,000 now, against Mr. Probyn's estimate of £18,000,000 in 1881 ; and the amount of small gold coins in other countries as follows:
I 2,000,000 kronen.
With regard to the last rule, about withdrawal from the Convention, he argues, and I think rightly, from the analogy of the Postal Union, that no State would wish to withdraw; that the more numerous the States in the Union, the more beneficial it would be to each ; and that, though each State would in the first instance seek its own convenience or profit, yet reciprocal advantages would follow to all in the end, which would ensure their remaining in the Union.
Prof. Soetbeer points out that a State joining this Union would not run any of the risks incurred by a State which joined a Bimetallic Union ; because in the latter the action of one State might disorganize the general currency system, whereas in the former it could not do so: and he believes that, if the 7 or 8 great nations joined in this Union “there would be every prospect of a fundamental and permanent solution of the Currency question, which at present agitates the whole civilized world. The progressive depreciation of Silver would be checked, and the consequent fluctuation