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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 71

Effects of Rising Prices

Effects of Rising Prices.

This long halt in the march of civilisation—a halt that had lasted with few intermissions ever since the era of Louis XIV.—was at length terminated by the adventitious discovery of extensive gold placers in California and Australia in 1848 and 1851—here began the third renaissance of Europe—again was the march of progress resumed—again did commerce stretch her wings over the seas—again did invention labour at the bench—this time to perfect and diffuse the great discovery of steam and electrical power—and again were the busy mind and energies of man stimulated into unwonted action by a "rise of prices, that for a time held out rewards for every branch of productive exertion." Into the details of this renaissance it is unnecessary to go, they are familiar to all, the evidences still surround us, for the golden period has not faded, at least from our memories, page 24 But is it not evident that we have long passed the zenith? and that henceforth, unless financial art can safely stretch the convertible note and credit systems still further, or find some better means of harmonising stationary measures of value with growing volumes of exchanges, we must look for another collapse—already have Austro-Hungary, Russia, Brazil and all the South American States suspended the use of coins—and many other nations must very soon be compelled to resort to do the same, from their immense paper issues and comparatively slender "coin reserves"—a result which will be looked upon as a calamity by a narrow and interested class, but which in fact opens to these countries a far more prosperous career than they could hope to fulfil whilst bound in the trammels of a dwindling metallic system.

If we await the coming of a general collapse may it not be too late? The intrigues to contract the currency in America through the demonetisation of silver have been answered there by a new clamour for expansion—and unless monetary laws are revised upon the enlightened and equitable principles of "National Numerary Systems," and justice thus done in reforming the present system—more than justice may be demanded.