« ZurückWeiter »
ture a high coloring, which does not belong to it, and he may very innocently lead his inexperienced readers into most serious and calamitous mistakes!!
Suppose a gentleman has 3001. a year, worth, in these times, 60001. He borrows 15001. at 10 per cent. 1501. a year of his income will be withdrawn. Let the 1501. a year be lent to him at 10 per cent. at the end of each successive year, and in about eight years the annuitant will have the whole income by means of the new loans, and the compounded interest thereon, at 10 per cent. !! This is precisely the state of the country, in regard to the funded debt, by means of new loans. The magnitude of the debt supplies the means of new loans, and increases the incumbrance on the property and energies of the empire, exactly in the same manner as the grantee of an annuity, who continually advances the produce of the annuity to the grantor on a new annuity, quickly brings the whole income of the property within his grasp. Few are more intimately acquainted with these melancholy results than the writer of these observations, deriving his information through the certain channel of professional experience!! and this is one of his motives for wishing to abolish redeemable annuities, on the one hand, and on the other hand, arresting the mad career of involving the property of the nation, and, in effect, the property, the happiness, and the comfort, of individuals, in the consequences of the like system, varying only in the period of ultimate ruin; by the difference in the rate of interest which is paid, unless indeed you can and will keep up the rental and value of property, and consequently the price of food in progressive advance, as the debt increases.
It is an error also to compare our present situation with our situation after the close of the American war.-1st. The state of the country is very different. The taxes were then, even in comparison with rent, &c. no oppressive burthen to the growers of corn. The quantity of money withdrawn from the country and agricultural interest could be paid from the then prices of corn and provisions, while at present they cannot be paid, for the expenditure is increased from a charge of twelve millions four hundred thousand pounds a year, to at least seventy millions, for a peace establishment, being nearly six for one and in the last year the Government drew from the subjects nearly as much money as it drew during the nine years of war with America, or the first eight years of the French Revolutionary war. The amount of the price of corn, &c. is nearly the same now as it was then. Wheat was then worth lid. per lb. and it is not worth 1d. at this moment, nor has been on the average of the two last years.
Besides, our distresses were great, our poverty extreme, during the American war, and were not aggravated or increased by the peace;
while in the present instance we were in the highest state of ap parent prosperity, during the war and up to its close, and have been hurled by a mistaken policy, into a state of insolvency and ruin, by those measures (the toleration of an importation of corn to the amount of from one to two millions,) which were suffered to follow one of the most glorious states of victory and national superiority which the country ever experienced. And the reverse is ruinous in the same degree as it was unexpected, and we were unprepared to encounter it.
At this moment also, with the feelings of the people reconciled to the necessity of supporting the agricultural interests, and of obtaining the means, through the farmer, of purchasing bread, it would be politic to advance the protection to the farming interests by making 12s. per bushel for wheat, 6s. for barley, and 4s. for oats, the prices at which the imported corn may be taken out of the warehouses for home consumption: By this arrangement the Government and the country may perhaps guard against the pros pect, and it is a very serious one, of scarcity, not to say famine, in the years 1817-1818; and the advance, if any should take place in corn, &c. would be more than compensated by plenty in future years; and by an equalization of prices. It is easy to foresee, that should the present state of things continue beyond the period for preparing the ground for seed-corn, that bread will be dearer in 1817-1818 than it has been in any one of the last 20 years; while there will not exist equal ability in the people to pay for the bread, or in the country, or the Government, to import the quantity of corn necessary to supply the deficiency.
Such is the general outline of the topics which present themselves as the remedy for the state of our existing difficulties. It is offered with great humility by one, who feels bound by every tie of gratitude to society, to lend his feeble efforts to the great object of a regenerating system; by one who loves the Constitution, from conviction and full persuasion of its value; and who would deplore, as one of the most serious calamities, any convulsion which should give a preponderating influence to those turbulent spirits, who delight in anarchy and confusion. No one can be more sensible than himself, that the nature of our Constitution, and some of its very essential qualities, have led in a great measure to render patronage and its attendant expenses, necessary to the continuance of the power of the persons engaged in the administration of the country. The spirit of opposition incidental, and almost necessary, to our free Constitution, and to the due conduct of our affairs, has ren dered it necessary for Ministers, anxious to preserve their power, to seek the preponderating influence of those who demand places
for themselves, and emoluments for their friends and dependants, as the price of their support.
This system of patronage has led to the great increase of our establishments, and become the worm of the State; a worm which has devoured the fairest flowers, and blighted the best prospects of our hopes. It is to be wished-it is a vain wish! that the wisdom which past experience has taught, may lead to a more just and economical application of public money, and to a system of retrenchment, under the full conviction that sooner or later, unless that system shall become more beneficial to the public, the industrious bees will drive from their hive those drones, who devour the fruits of their honest labor.
It would be presumptuous in any one to expect a general concurrence in the measures he may propose to the public. The na ture of this subject is too ample, and too diversified, to expect that jarring interests should be reconciled to the plan which he shall suggest. Every plan, which an individual can form, must receive modifications to reconcile conflicting interests, and must admit of many corrections, to give it a system of wisdom. That will be the best plan which, with a view to practical benefit, shall offer the best principle: and the best principle, whoever may produce it, should receive the most cordial support. < Early habits and early education, intense labor, and extensive practice in the arrangements of various concerns, and the patronage and support with which the public have honored and rewarded these labors, afford the author some reason to hope that the experience he has had of retrieving the embarrassed fortunes of families, and of individuals, may have afforded him some ground for ascertaining the cause and extent of our present difficulties. Had his warning been more successful, they would not have existed. Governed by mathematical truth, a great State may be compared to a family: the difference is only in the number of its constituent members; and that which would be correct to an honest, honorable, and just family, when in pecuniary difficulties, cannot be false, when applied to an honest, an honorable, and just community, constituting a State, placed in corresponding difficulties.
Should it be urged, that this is a wild, a visionary, or fanciful project, the author may urge in his defence, that he is sanctioned, confirmed, and supported by the authority of history, and of experience, as recorded by Parliament, and by parliamentary enactment; a circumstance which escaped his notice in forming his plan, and to which he never adverted till a sense of public duty, and a regard for his own character, led him to extensive research, to discover how far his sentiments, or his views, accorded with, or
differed from, those of the great men of former times, employing their labors for the welfare of the state, under circumstances of similar difficulties.
The Statute of the 12th Ann. c. 16., which passed after the funding system was established, and its burthens were felt, (being the last Statute which reduced the rate of interest,) recites that the reducing of interest to ten,and from thence to eight, and thence to six in the hundred, had, from time to time, by experience, been found very beneficial, to the advancement of trade and improvement of lands; and that the heavy burden of the late, long, and expensive war, had been chiefly borne by the owners of the land of this kingdom, by reason whereof they had been necessitated to contract very large debts, and thereby, and by the abatement in the value of their lands, were become greatly impoverished; and that by reason of the great interest and profit which had been made of money at home, the foreign trade of this nation had of late years been much neglected, and at that time there was a great abatement in the value of the merchandizes, wares, and commodities, of this kingdom, both at home and in foreign parts, whither they were transported; and that for the redress of these mischiefs, and the preventing the increase of the same, it was absolutely necessary, to reduce the high rate of interest of six pounds in the hundred pounds for a year, to a nearer proportion with the interest of money allowed in Foreign States.
That act was passed under circumstances which afford a precedent for our conduct on the present occasion; and the experience of the benefit of that act, justifies the adoption of a similar measure. Its benefits, as recorded, were to reduce interest within 2 years down to 4, and even 3 per cent.
To conclude: It is absolutely necessary either to keep up the rental of land, or to reduce the rate of interest, as the means of enabling the land proprietors to reduce their rents. It is also necessary to encourage the growth of corn, or to prepare for scarcity.
To the minister for the time being, and public creditor, the advance of prices is most desirable to make prices keep pace with taxation. To the people, the reduction of the rate of interest promises the greatest advantage.