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VIII.-OF THE FINANCES OF THE COUNTRY.
While the inhabitants of the United Kingdom appear to possess in a greater degree than formerly, all the enjoyments of a free, intelligent, and enterprizing people, is not THE STATE much embarrassed with debts? Yes: every war, since that of the Revolution in 1688, has left the public more and more in debt. When all those several debts of successive wars were summed up, in January 1786, a debt was found to be due, by the public, of 238,231,2481. Mr. Pitt, who then, happily, conducted the affairs of this country, not only made the annual income quite equal to the national expenditure; but, provided a sinking fund of a million, for the gradual payment of that debt. The Parliament, who effected his measures of finance, and the people, who heartily concurred with both, have covered themselves with glory. The sinking fund was strengthened by annual grants of money: it was energized by various measures of finance; and the sinking fund, as its manage.. ment had been wisely established, was providently applied to its real object; so that before December 1813, the whole of that vast debt was completely paid off, and a surplus remaining in hand of 20,000,000l. Here, then, is an example of a very large debt being paid off, by a sinking fund, when conducted under prudent management; and this example is one of the resources of the State. After liquidating that debt, and sustaining the public credit, throughout the pressures of such a war against the nation, and its commerce, there remained, on the 1st of February 1815, a sinking fund of 11,324,760l. the sheet-anchor of the State.
But the war of 1793, as it was the longest, and conducted on the largest scale, having other nations to sustain,
has involved the State in larger debts than all our former wars had created. The public, on the 1st of February 1815, owed a funded debt of And an unfunded debt of
But to these must be added the debts contracted for the various expences of the year 1815. And then the unredeemed debt for Great Britain, for Ireland, for Germany, for Portugal, and for East-India, will amount to 819,145,385
For interest thereon
For management thereof
For the sinking fund
The total annual charge thereon
Another resource of the State is the clearness, wherewith the public accounts are stated, and the publicity which is given to the incumbrances, and means of the community.
The people of the United Kingdom, during the reign of King William, could not have moved under the weight of such incumbrances. But, the much more numerous people of the present times, who are better instructed and usefully employed, with an agriculture infinitely superior, with manufactures vastly more extensive and profitable, with a foreign trade, and shipping, beyond all comparison greater, move with ease under such incumbrances. We have seen with what facility, notwithstanding the pressures of war, the people executed such numerous and various works, for the local improvements of their country, which, considering their vastness and utility, emulate the Roman
labours hence we may infer, that time is one of the resources of the State.
If we inquire from what source the people of the United Kingdom have derived such vast and increasing wealth, we shall find, that it was not owing to conquests, or mines; but to the perfect safety, which they derive from their salutary laws; to the energetic industry, which is urged and rewarded by that sense of safety; to the immense commerce, domestic and foreign, of inspirited people: so that from those causes originate those prodigious reproductions of opulence, which appear, at successive periods, to the astonishment of the world; and which have induced commercial writers to maintain, that the resources of such a people are inexhaustible, while fostered by circumspection.