restricted access Chapter X - Of Money and Exchange
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chapter x 141 nevertheless considerable tolls are exacted. A lord of a manor, who happens to possess a stripe of land terminating on a river, there establishes a toll, though he is not at a farthing’s expense in keeping up the navigation of the river, and rendering it convenient. This is a manifest extortion , and an infringment of the natural rights of mankind. For the division of lands, and their becoming private property, could never deprive any man of the right of passage, when not the least injury is done to the person through whose territory he passes. Every man inherits this right from nature, and cannot justly be forced to purchase it. But the arbitrary or customary law of nations at present tolerates this abuse, while it is not carried to such an excess as to destroy commerce. People do not, however, submit without difficulty, except in the case of those tolls which are established by ancient usage: and the imposition of new ones is often a source of disputes. The Swiss formerly made war on the dukes of Milan, on account of some oppressions of this nature. This right of tolls is also further abused, when the passenger is obliged to contribute too much, and what bears no proportion to the expense of preserving these public passages. At present, to avoid all difficulty and oppression, nations settle these points by treaties. chapter x Of Money and Exchange. In the first ages after the introduction of private property, people exchanged their superfluous commodities and effects for those they wanted. Afterwards gold and silver became the common standard of the value of all things: and to prevent the people from being cheated, the mode was introduced of stamping pieces of gold and silver in the name of the state, with the figure of the prince, or some other impression, as the seal and pledge of their value. This institution is of great use and infinite convenience: it is easy to see how much it facilitates commerce .—Nations or sovereigns cannot therefore bestow too much attention on an affair of such importance.§105. Establishment of money. 142 book i: nations in themselves The impression on the coin becoming the seal of its standard and weight, a moment’sreflectionwillconvinceusthatthecoinageof money ought not to be left indiscriminately free to every individual: for by that means, frauds would become too common;—the coin would soon lose the public confidence; and this would destroy a most useful institution. Hence money is coined by the authority and in the name of the state or prince, who are its surety: they ought therefore to have a quantity of it coined sufficient to answer the necessities of the country, and to take care that it be good, that is to say, that its intrinsic value bear a just proportion to its extrinsic or numerary value. It is true, that, in a pressing necessity, the state would have a right to order the citizens to receive the coin at a price superior to its real value: but as foreigners will not receive it at that price, the nation gainsnothing by this proceeding: it is only a temporary palliative for the evil, without effecting a radical cure. This excess of value, added in an arbitrary manner to the coin, is a real debt which the sovereign contracts with individuals : and in strict justice, this crisis of affairs being over, that money ought to be called in at the expense of the state, and paid for in other specie, accordingtothe naturalstandard;otherwisethiskindof burthen, laid on in the hour of necessity, would fall solely on those who received this arbitrary money in payment: which would be unjust. Besides, experience has shewn that such a resource is destructive to trade, by destroying the confidence both of foreigners and citizens,—raising in proportion the price of every thing,—and inducing every one to lock up or send abroad the good old specie; whereby a temporary stop is put to the circulation of money. So that it is the duty of every nation and of every sovereign to abstain, as much as possible, from so dangerous an experiment , and rather to have recourse to extraordinary taxes and contributions to support the pressing exigencies of the state.* * In Boizard’s Treatise on Coin, we find the following observations. “It is worthy of remark, that, when our kings debased the coin, they kept the circumstance asecret from the people:—witness the ordinance of Philip de Valois...


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  • International law.
  • War (International law).
  • Natural law.
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