Montesquieu

Besides the posi­tive abun­dance and scar­city of gold and sil­ver, there is also a rela­tive abun­dance and scar­city from one of these metals to the other.

Avarice holds onto gold and sil­ver, because, as it does not want to consume, it likes signs that do not dete­rio­rate. It would rather keep gold than sil­ver, because it always fears losing things, and can bet­ter hide what is smal­ler in volume. Gold the­re­fore disap­pears when sil­ver is com­mon, because eve­ryone has some to hide ; it reap­pears when sil­ver is scarce, because peo­ple are obli­ged to take it from its hiding-pla­ces.

This is the­re­fore a rule : gold is com­mon when sil­ver is scarce, and gold is scarce when sil­ver is com­mon. This makes clear the dif­fe­rence bet­ween rela­tive abun­dance and scar­city and real abun­dance and scar­city, a mat­ter I shall dis­cuss at length.