[our own Correspondent.
Norfolk, Jan. 15.
‘"Do you call this money?"’
Leaning over the counter, a puzzled volunteer was endeavoring to reckon up the change just paid out by the sleek haired clerk Before him lay a quantity of mutilated bills, ragged and dirty pieces of paper, bits of cardboard, printed checks, a few copper pennies, milk tickets, postage stamps, and other interesting specimens of the present outrageous ‘"coin of the realm"’ Over and over again the puzzled volunteer essayed to count the pile of villainous currency, and over and over again he failed to find it satisfactory — It was too much for his rustic arithmetic the problem was too difficult to solve upon only ten fingers.
The bystanders laughed.
The money was spread out upon a show case, as young ladies lay cards upon a table in telling fortunes, and the soldier stood before it searchingly examining every piece.
‘"Do you call this money?"’ he asked, taking up a small, yellow parallelogram looking very like the brass card on the top of a sardine box. ‘"Do you call this money?"’ holding up an advertisement of fine Havana cigars
-- ‘ "And this"’--a bill for 15 cents, in which some weak minded printer had gone raving mad in different kinds of type.
‘"Good for one shave;
(reading slowly) Dick, the Barber--
Do you call this money?" ’ The sleek-haired clerk was puzzled also.
‘"It'll pass all over town; indeed it will, sir"’ Once more the soldier scrutinized the ragged and incongruous pile, and grasping it in one hand, soliloquized: ‘"So, this is money — money?
ha ! I call it stuff.
Why, a man might hold his hand full, and then have but thirty seven and a half cents money !"’
A few days ago I spoke of the currency in the ‘"days of 76."’ Allow me to recapitulate a little for the purpose of going more into detail.
To carry on the revolution colonial bills of credit were issued to the amount of two hundred milions of dollars.
For six years this was almost the circulating medium of the country, and was exclusively used in domestic Trade.
After a time owing to the presence of the French
army and trade with Spanish smugglers, specie became plentiful, and the Colonial notes grew valueless and went out of circulation.
Hundreds of private individuals and companies, especially in New England
, issued notes upon their own responsibility, and theme, too, became worthless.
No one thought of redeeming them.
The whole history of this Continental paper money is a history of au immense front, originating with Boston
speculators, who patriotically shouted ‘"down with the King
!"’ and clamored loudly for revolution and war. As soon as peace was declared the paper issues entirely ceased to circulate — the specie was sent off to pay for foreign goods, and, the importation being large, the country was soon drained of its gold
and silver --Once
more the people began to cry out for want of change, and many of the States had recourse again to the same wretched expedient to supply themselves with money.
This, after a short time, impoverished the merchant, and embarrassed the planter by driving all the specie beyond his reach.
A shinplaster would not be noticed when coin could be had, and every, possible plan was resorted to to keep it in circulation.
The State of Virginia
tolerated a base practice of allowing people to cut dollars and smaller pieces of silver for the purpose of making change without recourse to paper note of small denominations.
followed, and speculation soon became the rage.
A piece of silver was cut into five parts, each part passing for a quarter, the owner making one by the operation.
When there was no silver to speculate on, everybody went to making paper money again, until the country was completely flooded with vile shinplasters.
The consequence was that when foreign trade was established, the States found themselves in an indescribable prostrate condition.
Half the people were utterly ruined; only the bankers making money.
The same necessity for change exists now that existed eighty years ago; there is the same mania for speculation, which if not checked by timely legislation, will be attended by the same results.
Hundreds of corporations and even individuals, regardless of the law, are engaged in the pernicious business of issuing private money, not for public convenience, but that profit may accrue Banking has become a rage.
The notes of ‘"Dick
, the barber."’ circulate the same and lie in the same portmanteau beside those of ‘"Gunny Rags, the ship chandler"’ Norfolk
is disgustingly full of these personal shinplasters.
Men advertise their wares on a bit of paper, sign their names to it, and out it goes as good as ‘"legal tender."’ We have boat money bridge money, river money, road money, store money, and dry goods
we have bills ‘"good for one copy of the daily Dispatch,
"’ "good for one cigar." good for this, than and the other thing, of a market value equal the stamped upon the note.
All people enquire about is the signature.
A printed piece of paper with a name in the corner, is good — and I really believe one could pass the label from a bottle of olive oil
Strangers coming here are apt to look with suspicion upon some of the issues that pass perfectly well, and of ten times ask, like the puzzled volunteer mentioned above, ‘"do you call this money ?"’ A week's residence, however, cures them of all scrupulous feeling.
The use of postage stamps is getting some what our of fashion, as they wear out with little handling.
A short time ago the newsboys used them considerably, and were accustomed to give as change stamps from which the gluten had departed, and so dirty that no one could tell whether the figure was intended for Jeff Davis
or the eagle-bird.--It was out of the question to use them on a letter unless they were pinned on as the backwoodsman attached his stamp a few years ago.
When the new three-cent U. S. stamps were first put in circulation, a letter was dropped into one of our post-offices that at the time attracted attention.
It appeared to have been written with the greatest care; the envelope was nicely ruled, that the address might be perfectly straight; it was sealed to a nicety, and directed in a cramped but careful hand to a Miss in the country.
Only one thing remained — a stamp ! The writer was evidently a tyro in the art of paying postage, and his nice, white envelope attested the fact.
The stamp appeared to have been soaked, and the letter licked from one side to the other.--In vain endeavors to make it stick the stamp had been pressed here and there, leaving in each place a spot of dirt and gluten.
The trial seemed to have been a severe one.
But at last the tyro conquered, and running a pin through the letter, stamp and all, wrote underneath, seemingly in a fit of desperation, ‘"Paid, if the d — d thing sticks."’
--Beware how you use P. O. stamps for change.
The fact exists that the country is being rapidly flooded I with shiplasters and worthless personal notes.
How the pernicious evil can be stopped I leave wiser heads to determine.
I have spoken of the matter as it exists — in a spirit of levity, may be — but nevertheless have called attention to some patent truths, But, joking aside, this is a matter that calls, at least, for an examination, not so much on account of its being a present outrage as on account of the evils it entails upon the future.
A bout the Burnside
Like ‘"his illustrious predecessors,"’ (intended for sarcasm, as Artemas Ward
went to sea in a storm, after allowing six weeks of lovely weather to escape him. Soon after the expedition sailed a huge wind arose, and from that time to this old Boreas
has kept out his scouts in the shape of storm-clouds, which scud rapidly across the sea. The ocean has been rough and turbulent.
It must have been a musing to have seen the condition of these transports yesterday and day before and to have seen eight or ten thousand soldiers paying their devoirs to Hatteras
as the ship rounded the cape.
Old seamen say the storm was very severe outside, and we have been piously hoping that every vessel may go to the bottom before it is over.
If the expedition escapes the Scylla of the sea, it has a Charybdis on land to encounter.
I believe its destination to be either Wilmington
or to rein force Gen. Stevens
on the Carolina coast
; but something must be heard from it before this supposition reaches you.
In the local line there is little to relate.
An incident or two; a furious storm; the promise of a hop at the ‘"Huger Barracks;"’ and a fair for the benefit of the Fiftieth Virginia, which opens to night, are about all I believe.
The question of the collectorship is exciting some talk, especially as the Yankee
prints are making a great handle of Mr. Garnett
It is fortunate that the fault of an expose
does not rest on some honest and hard working newspaper reporter or a civil ‘"Aunt Betty,"’ or a military ‘"Grandmother"’ might issue and edict of excommunication against him. The true state of the case I believe to be this; An appointment was made here which, whether justly or not, gave rise to some complaint.
After that, no person came forward to take the place.
And why ? Because the salary is only $800 and a bond of $40,000 is required.
In these military times there are few persons who care to give much monstrous bonds for the paltry sum of $800 a year.