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risk the whole money, were not within the statute of usury. He observed, "a man might purchase an annuity as low as possible, but if the treaty were about borrowing and lending, and the annuity only colorable, the contract may be usurious, however disguised."

In the case of Mr. Lawley, the same learned judge observed, "There has been a long struggle between the equity of this court, and persons who have made it their endeavour to find out schemes to get exorbitant interest, and to evade the statutes of usury. The court very wisely hath never laid down any general rule beyond which it will not go, lest other means of avoiding the equity of the court should be found out. Therefore they always determine upon the particular circumstances of each case; and wherever they have found the least tincture of fraud in any of these oppressive bargains, relief hath always been given."

At last the point was brought to a decision, and annuities granted with a right to repurchase them were determined to be free from laws against usury.

The decision, no doubt, was just and proper. Though an annuity for a certain term of years will be usurious if it be so granted as to repay the principal, and more than legal interest, at stated periods. It cannot be predicated of an annuity for a life, or lives, that there is a certainty that the principal will ever be repaid. There is a contingency, though it is merely nominal, by which the principal is put in risque, and the law against usury is inapplicable. As the contract for the repurchase is a stipulation on the part of the grantor, and for his benefit, it does not in the opinion of the judges make that transaction usurious which without it would be free from the objection. The clause does not give to the person who advances the money the power or the right of demanding his principal in the shape of a debt. A contract that the lender of the money might turn the annuity into a debt; in other words, compel the grantor to repurchase the annuity, would clearly bring the case within the enactments against usury. Then what is the difference in sound policy whether the grantor is bound by contract, or by his interest, to obtain this redemption? Every man who grants an annuity will for his own sake, repurchase that annuity as soon as his circumstances will admit and means are now in practice, in short they were introduced by the writer of these observations, by which a necessity combined with interest, may make it imperiously an obligation on the grantor to put an end to the annuity rather than sacrifice the benefit of his property.

One of the first measures therefore of a wise policy, with a view to restore the regular loans of money at legal interest, should be to put an end by law to the power and the right of granting redeemable annuities, except for purposes of family arrangement; thus

taking away the temptation to grant these annuities under the hope, in general a vain and frustrated hope, of soon redeeming them: and the temptation of buying annuities when the intention is to lend money at interest.

This act should leave those who choose it at liberty to grant absolute annuities for a life or lives; thus disposing of a part of their income; for it is fit that every man should in a free country be at liberty to dispose of his property in the manner most conducive to his own comfort and interest, as far as it can be permitted consistently with general policy. Many occasions and justifiable speculations will warrant a sale of part of an income as a means of realizing a capital in money and the general measure now proposed will even aid and benefit the views of persons raising money by annuities for this purpose, since it will give to these persons a market of diminished competition; but it ought not to be tolerated that extravagant heirs, or spendthrifts, or insolvent tradesmen, verging to the point of bankruptcy, should regulate the value of the interest of money.

While the present system shall prevail, no landed proprietor, even the first nobleman in the country, however ample his security, will be able to borrow money, except by way of annuity; nor will government be able to accomplish their object—an object which is ancillary to, and may be considered attendant on the sinking fund, of inducing persons to accept life annuities on the security provided for them: and the market for annuities will, in a great degree, influence the general market for those subjects which are purchased, not for the sake of the property, but of the income which they afford. Thus canal shares, and other property of that description, will be kept in a state of depreciation. Houses yielding rent will sell for ten years' purchase; and many freehold houses are now selling at that rate, and ground-rents will keep in the same relative state of market price, to the great injury and ruin of persons compelled to sell. Landed property will also be kept in a relative state of depreciation.

On the subject of taxes on agricultural capital, and agricultural exertions, nothing can surpass or equal the admirable and just ob servations of the Marquis de Mirabeau, in his economical table. Had certain statesmen, who chose to treat his name and his work with sneers and a degree of contempt, read it till they understood it, in the manner they now will understand it, with the experience of the two last years before them, and with the conviction which truth will always obtain when it can be applied to a state of things actually existing, or which has shortly past in review before us, this country would, instead of laboring under a revulsion of system, have been as high in internal prosperity, and circulation of her

wealth, as she is in her unrivalled glory for her military and naval achievements!!

The measure, however, from which most general relief and universal benefit to all the classes of the community is to be obtained, is the reduction of the rate of legal interest for money.

The professed object of those who opposed the Corn Bill was, to bring things to their level. One member gave, or was about to give, notice of his intention of moving a resolution which would take off one-third part of the rental of the kingdom, Delay in that great measure of domestic policy has accomplished this object, and more. It will not be possible to keep up the rental to its former standard. The alarm which farmers have taken; the confidence they had in prices, and which has been destroyed; their conviction of the inadequacy of the Corn Bill to protect them against mercantile speculation; and the annihilation to so great a degree of their capital; the competition to let farms, and the inability or reluc tance to take them; the channels too of trade and of manufacture, which open a source for more beneficial employment of capital; afford abundant grounds for the expectation that the rental will become universally reduced to the scale of from 25 to 30 per cent, on its former amount; even against liberal and moderate landlords. In the present state of the country, it is better to yield to this prospect of depreciation, and even to encourage it, than to attempt by unpopular measures to raise or preserve the rental to its former standard, It is now better to reduce other things to the standard of rental as depreciated, and to be depreciated, than to attempt to restore property to the state of its former rental. One system may produce content, while the other may excite great and alarming dissatisfaction!! So may the plan of a bounty on the export of grain, as raising prices by artificial means,

A depreciated property, however, cannot bear its present burdens, They who urged the argument of bringing every thing to its level, were not arrested in their career by the opposing argument, that neither the national debt, or the expences of government, could be regulated by their scale of reduction, nor would be reduced by their projected reduction of rents.

Generally speaking, and allowing that there are many exceptions from individual cases, the rental is for the most part burdened with incumbrances to one-half of its amount by jointure annuities, the interest of portions, and of mortgages, and of general debts, and the expence of management and repairs.

The sale price of property has fallen full one-third, in some instances 50 per cent. And in some cases, persons who have bought estates and paid half of the price, and given a mortgage for the

other half of the price, have been content to abandon their purchase, and to lose that half of the money they had paid. An estate for which 140,000l. was offered two years ago, is now on sale at the price of 80,000l., and the person who offered 140,000l. will not now give more than 70,0007.

Rents are so reduced, and so difficult of collection, that mortgagees are resorting to their remedies to obtain possession and enforce their securities; and the prisons are filled with insolvent farmers; in short, one general system of disappointment to the owners, and those who are entitled to receive parts of their income, has taken the place of prompt, regular, and well-paid rents. The heads of families, and those who were the favorite objects of settlements, must be sacrificed wholly, or in a great degree, to meet the demands which are the prior charges on their property, and their whole income must be exhausted to answer the interest of incumbrances out of this reduced and ill-paid rental, and their property, if brought to market, will not produce money equal to the incumbrances.

A return to a regular and beneficial circulation of money, corresponding with a rate of interest at the commencement of the French Revolution, would bring down well-secured interest on mortgages to 4 per cent. per annum. This is acknowledged and expected by monied men. It will be a benefit, and not only a benefit, but it will avert the impending ruin, to accelerate this reduction by early and positive enactment. The capitalist will not be materially injured in the sense of injury; he will be deprived only of taking undue advantage of the pressure of the times, in the supposition of that which is impracticable, except under circumstances of great cruelty, that he could collect his money; while, as part of the measure of the South-Sea Relief Bill, creditors were restrained from the harsh measure of arrest, execution, &c. for limited periods. His real loss would be only 21. on the interest of a hundred pounds for two years in other words, 17. per cent. of his interest for that period; considering that time as the period when by the advance of the 3 per cent. annuities to 75 per cent. the interest of money would be reduced in the market to 4 per cent.

The reduced income properly regulated will keep the moneylender in the like situation, and enable him to buy the same quantity of the necessaries, superfluities, and luxuries of life, and enable him to purchase the same quantity of land, and even more, as he could have done before the reduction of prices: and the landed interest will be preserved from utter ruin.

Government may wind up the expences of the war on more advantageous terms, and the sooner these are wound up, the quicker shall we return to a wholesome and salutary state of policy: for while government shall continue the system of funding further

parts of the debt, money, and in particular the dividends from the funds, exchequer bills, and the surplus of other incomes, will be directed to that species of investment.

By the proposed change of system, commerce and manufac tures will be benefited in a greater degree than the landed interest, by bringing quickly abundance of floating capital into the market. The ability to borrow at a reduced rate of interest, will allow to these classes of society ample profits from their trade, and will, in their view of the subject, enable them to cope with foreigners in foreign markets. The great objection to this measure, a measure on which mainly and principally depends the salvation of the country, is that an undue and preponderating advantage will be given to the public creditor, whose income will remain the same, and consequently leave him in a condition comparatively improved, rather than reduced, and with the power of realizing capital of corresponding value. This will in some degree be the consequence of keeping his income at its present amount; while the income of others is or shall be reduced. This is a difficulty which has occasioned great anxiety; a difficulty which at first view seems to deny the power of regenerating the system of public credit and financial resource, and general prosperity to the community. It is a difficulty, however, which, though great, is not insurmountable; it is one more of form than of substance, or, as far as it is substantial, it arises out of necessity, and the policy of the country, to secure the right and the hope of raising future loans when wanted on public credit, to meet future exigencies.


The effect of reducing the legal rate of interest of money will be an immediate advance in the value or sale price of the funds, placing them at the same price as if the abundance of money reduced the rate of interest to four.per cent.; on the other hand, it will keep the public creditor in his character of an annuitant, or compel him to come into the public market, as the purchaser of lands, or as a lender of money on the security of mortgages, &c. at the reduced rate of interest. True it is he will come with the advantage of having a capital, bearing its relative value, with his present income, while others are sacrificed by the reduction of their income; but then the increased price of land, which is the ultimate deposit of money, will protect land proprietors, the depending part of the country, and who are the main pillars in the state, and whose prosperity or adversity must influence in a corresponding degree all the other classes of the community, from the ruin, which must follow the continuance for two years, or even one year more, of the existing circumstances.

Besides, it will be practicable by an imposition of a well regu lated property tax, and by a just application of the sinking fund, without any breach of public faith, or with an advance, rather

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