Immagini della pagina
[ocr errors]

denly sunk from one hundred to fifty have reason to know, of the Commillions. Upwards of 300,000 per mittee of 1819, who is not convinced sons—men in the prime of life-were of the disastrous effect, at least for the discharged from the army and navy, ten subsequent years, of the measure, and all the numerous classes of in. which was then lauded by all the philodustry which were directed to the sophers of the age, as the summit of stores or munitions of war, and which human wisdom. Without entering had grown up to an unexampled height into this fiercely advocated controversy, during the enormous expenditure of its whether it was necessary or expedient latter years, were at once thrown out to make this great change or not, it of employment. It may safely be seems sụfficient to observe, that the affirmed that a nation never was, with change, when made, was attended with out some great external calamity, ex the most disastrous present conseposed to more general and searching quences; and that the power of the causes of distress; and their effect was Tory Government, from 1820 to 1830, such as completely to obliterate for to go on with the reduction of the many years all the benefits that might debt, was in a great measure paralysed have been expected to arise from the by the vast change, which at once termination of hostilities, and the gene- added a third to the amount of the ral resumption of pacific relations national burdens, and took away a third throughout the globe.

from the means which the people had The next circumstance which had a

to pay them. most powerful effect in impeding the In both these respects, the situation operations of finance during the last of the Whig Government, since their ten years of the Tory Government accession to power in November 1830, and from the effects of which the has been so widely different from that nation has, perhaps, not yet fully re of their predecessors, that one is alcovered-was, the famous resumption most tempted to believe that nature of cash payments by the bill of 1819, had been prodigal of her gifts to them, followed by that for the extinction of in order to render utterly inexcusable small notes in England in 1826. With their misapplication of her bounties. out entering into the often-debated and The harvests in the four years from difficult question of the currency, it

1832 to 1835, were so uncommonly seems sufficient to observe, that the vast fine, that the price of wheat in the change made by these two bills un

latter year fell to 39s. a-quarter-less questionably had the effect of perman. than one-third what it had been during ently lowering prices at least a third, the latter years of the war, and lower and of consequently throwing a loss to than it had been since the days of that extent upon all the holders of Oliver Cromwell. The effect of the commodities, and augmenting, in the vast accumulation of tho means of subsame proportion, the burden of the sistence which these fine seasons afwhole debt, public and private, in the forded, was not merely to diffuse plenty community. The simultaneous bene and contentment throughout the land, fit conferred by the same change upon

and enable the nation to bear in compaannuitants, and those whose income rative tranquillity the great political and money was fixed, afforded but a excitement and convulsion which took slender compensation for these mani place in those years, but to induce fold evils ; "for, in a manufacturing the more remote, though not the less country, where so very large a pro important, and now thoroughly unders portion of the people gain their live stood consequence of keeping the mer. lihood by buying and selling, to be cantile exchanges generally favourobliged to buy dear and sell cheap, was able to this country, and preventing the most ruinous of matters : and in the occurrence of that ruinous drain a country where the great bulk of the of the precious metals, which arises landholders were deeply involved in from the necessity of making extendebt, the combined effect of the dimin sive purchases of grain in foreign ution of their rents, and the increase parts for domestic consumption. The of the weight of interest, was such as immense harvests which annually reto produce universal distress, and very

warded the labours of the husband. general bankruptcy. These facts may man, produced a vast stock of grain in be considered as now historically cer

the country, which soon superseded and there is hardly a member, we all application to foreign quarters ;


prices fell so low as to render the traordinary combination of the fine protection of the corn laws for the harvests of those years with the ter. time unnecessary ; the low cost of mination of the transition from high provisions unaccompanied, from its to low prices. And as if to complete recent occurrence, by a corresponding the good fortune of the Liberal party, fall in the wages of labour, diffused general peace has been preserved in contentment and ease throughout the Europe, notwithstanding their ceaselabouring classes, and augmented, to less efforts to break it in the Low a prodigious degree, from the surplus Countries, Spain, and Portugal—the which they found at their disposal, the severe depression of the agricultural domestic market for our manufactures; interest, from the low prices of the five while the favourable state of the foreign years terminating in 1836, has been exchanges, produced by the non-im- relieved by the high prices of the last portation of grain, prevented the re three years; while, at the same time, currence of any drain for specie upon such has been the extent of our foreign the Bank, and averted during five commerce, in consequence of the conyears of sunshine the recurrence of tinued peace and rapid growth of our those commercial crises, which in a colonial settlements, that our manus complicated state of society spread facturing industry has undergone no such misery and consternation through diminution from the unfavourable state the manufacturing classes.

of the foreign exchanges which arose Add to this, the ruinous and dis. from the late bad harvests, and the tressing transition from high to low last year exbibited the prodigy of our prices which had been made before exports rising to one hundred and five the Whigs came into office ;-they millions, at the time when grain were wafted into power by the discon- had risen almost to the average price tent which that change produced, and at the middle of the war, and the they found the effects of the discontent agricultural classes of all descriptions nearly exhausted when they assumed were reanimated by the vivifying inthe reins of government. During fluence of more than remunerating the twelve years which had elapsed prices. from 1819 to 1831, the change in the What, then, during the nine years of currency had done its work, and the such extraordinary, unheard-of good great commercial crisis of December fortune, and external and internal 1825 had swept away nearly all the prosperity, have been the financial trading establishments which did not measures of the Whig Government? possess so strong a foundation of solid Have they taken advantage of this uncapital as to be able to resist the cala- looked-for flood of prosperity, arising mitous consequence of a fallof one-third from the bounty of nature and no in the average price of all the commo wisdom of their own, to effect a great dities, and the addition of one-third and annually increasing reduction of to every debt in the kingdom. This the national debt? Have they, by the

a circumstance of almost un. vigour and wisdom of their financial paralleled good fortune to the Whig operations, raised the three per cents party. They came into office just to par, and been enabled to realise in when the change had completed its that way the extraordinary commereffects; the numerous classes whom mercial prosperity of 1836, in the reit had consigned to beggary and ruin duction of the interest of the three per were dead, bankrupt, or gone into cents to two and a half, and thereby voluntary exile, and the inexhaustible saved the nation a sixth part of the energies of a free country had pro- interest of that portion of the funded duced a new race of active enterpris- debt, or nearly four millions sterling ing men, prepared to advance their a-year? Have they nursed up and own and their nation's fortunes with all increased the real sinking fund of the advantages of the reduced rate of L.2,600,000 a-year, which the Duke prices, and the extensive openings to of Wellington left them in November fresh enterprise which the unparalleled 1830, and brought it up now to the bankruptcies of the preceding ten standard of five millions, below which years had occasioned. No one can the House of Commons, by a solemn doubt, that the unprecedented com. and wise resolution in 1821, declared mercial prosperity of 1834, 35, and 36, it never should be lowered ? They is mainly to be ascribed to the ex. have done none of these things. So


far from having increased the sinking These facts will appear abundantly fund, they have entirely extinguished evident from the following details, it; nearly ten millions have been added exhibiting the contrast between our to the public debt during the nine financial condition on 1st January years of their administration ; and the 1831, when the Whigs were fairly clear annual surplus of L.2,600,000 seated in office, and Ist January 1839, a year, which they received from their when the country had experienced predecessors, has been converted, du- eight years of their almost uninterring nine years of unprecedented com- rupted administration. The public mercial prosperity, into a deficit of debt of Great Britain, on 1st January above fifteen hundred thousand a 1831, stood as follows :


[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

Addition to the debt in eight years of Whig government,


[blocks in formation]

Increase of charges of debt in eight years of Whig management,


The amount of the surplus or deficit in the two periods was as follows:

[blocks in formation]

Thus it appears, that during fifteen years of Tory profusion and misgovernment, the public debt has been diminished by

L.79,500,000 The charges of the public debt reduced by

4,480,000 And a clear sinking fund left of

2,665,000 While during nine years of Whig foresight and economy, the public debt has been augmented by

8,500,000 The charges of the debt increased by

940,225 The surplus of the revenue extinguished, and a deficit created of 940,000

[ocr errors]

Finance Account, 27th March 1839, pp. 14, 16, 102, Porter's Parliamentary Tables, i. 6; and Progress of the Nation, ii, 290.

And these results are the more re the population and resources of the markable, when it is recollected that British empire at that time, compared the Tory reductions were effected with those upon whom the burden of during fifteen years of extraordinary the supplies is at present to be laid. In pressure and suffering, arising from order to illustrate this matter, we have the transition from war to peace, bad compiled, from official and authentic seasons, and the change of the cur sources, a statement of the population, rency; while the Whig increase of exports, imports, tonnage, and revenue burdens during the last nine years of the British empire in the years 1815, has taken place when the suffering 1816, and 1839. And the contrast arising from the change in the curren- they exhibit is so extraordinary and cy had been got over, and in the midst so strikingly illustrative of the weakof unexampled fine seasons during the ness of the Government which, with first five years, and unprecedented such resources, has allowed the recommercial and manufacturing pro venue so miserably to dwindle away, sperity in the last four.

that we here insert it as illustrative This extraordinary reduction of the both of the elements and national revenue within the last few years ap- strength which were at the disposal pears the more extraordinary, when of Government, and the miserable use it is considered how vast a sum was 'which they have actually made of raised, with comparative ease, during them. the war, and how inconsiderable were

Population. 1815, 18,800,000 1816, 19,000,000 1839, 27,250,000

Exports. Official value. 58,624,550 49,197,850 105,170,549

Imports. Official value. 32,087,000 27,431,604 61,268,320

Tonnage. 2,681,000 2,783,933 2,785,387

Revenue. 72,210,000 62,264,000 47,333,459

Thus, since 1815, the population of which Government has been reduced the empire has increased nearly a half; ever since the peace, of courting poour exports have more than doubled, pularity on all occasions, and sacrifiour imports have doubled, our ship-, cing the ultimate interest of the state ping has advanced a sixth, while the to the passion for economical reducrevenue has been brought down to tion on the part of the middle classes little more than two-thirds of its former of society. amount. No one can doubt that a These middle classes possess many great reduction of taxation, upon the admirable qualities; it is in their intermination of the war, was both ne- dustry and accumulations that is to cessary and expedient; but it is also be found the source of almost all the apparent from these details, that the re wealth of the state, and their vigilant duction has been both uncalled-for and oversight is of the highest importance excessive, and that the vast increase at all times, to prevent the Governin the resources of the state in every ment from perverting the national department would have enabled the funds to the purposes of Parliamentnation, under any prudent or rational ary interest or patrician corruption. system of government, to have pro- But they are altogether unfitted to vided with ease a real sinking fund of assume the direct management of ten millions annually, to be applied to financial concerns, for this plain reathe reduction of debt-in other words, son, that present economy and reducto have paid off already four hundred tion of taxation is with them at all millions of the national debt.

times an absolute passion, while their The cause to which this woeful and habits of business and station in life unexpected result is to be ascribed, is prevent them from acquiring those obviously the same with that to which general and systematic views for the the large encroachments on the sink- regulation of public affairs, which are ing fund, and the abandonment of Mr indispensable to the durable welfare Pitt's admirable system for the reduc or prosperity of a nation. There is * tion of the debt, is to be ascribed, viz. nothing so easy as for any Govern—theundue preponderance of the voice ment, which has no regard for the of the unthinking many in the Legis- ultimate welfare of the state, to gain lature, and the increasing necessity to the suffrages and ensure the pre

What we

sent support of that class of society. classes are one iota inferior in mental They have nothing to do but to go on capacity to the higher, or that there taking off tax after tax every year,

are not to be found men in their ranks carefully to abstain from ever laying perfectly capable of filling the highest on a new one, and to hold ouť the offices, and wielding the greatest prospect of a still greater and bound- powers of government. less relief from burdens, to ensure the say is, that the science of government, support of the great bulk of the like every other complicated art or shopocracy throughout the empire ; science in the world, requires long and this popularity will continue as long previous study and preparation ; and as present relief can be purchased by that no persons can conduct it well, the progressive unwinding of the either directly by taking the lead, or springs of the state. Doubtless, such indirectly by governing the leaders, a system must ere long come to an

but those who have made it the object end. Present relief and ultimate of study for a course of years, and welfare cannot co-exist for any consi- devoted their lives to the acquisition derable time in an old state heavily of its principles and the mastery of burdened with debt; the day of reckon- its details. We say that the middle ing must come to the statesmen who and the lower classes are unfit to be thus live on the ultimate resources of intrusted with the duties of self gothe empire. The national security en vernment, not because they are infedangered, the national honour will rior in original capacity to the profesbetarnished_the national resources ex sional statesman, but because they tinguished by such a disastrous course have never learned his art. of proceeding; and certainly many

Turn to common life, and see how years cannot pass away before these universally the truth of this principle effects are sensibly felt, and the un

is understood and acted upon in the thinking applause of the moment is ordinary concerns of men. The whole converted into the lasting execrations of society is divided into different of ages. But still the evil is done, classes, trades, or professions; and no and is irreparable : the precious pe one ever imagines, that because he is riod of salvation, never to be regain- master of one profession or handicraft, ed, has passed away; the tide-stop of he is on that account capable of underthe flood has permanently changed taking another. Afarmer considers it no into ebb; and the means of regaining opprobrium to be told that he does not the former vantage-ground have for understand the business of a merchant ever disappeared. When the Roman -the most profound lawyer pretends legions drew their lines round the de to no acquaintance with the medical voted city of Carthage, the people saw

art, and a first-rate tailor advances no clearly how egregiously they had been pretensions to the skill in their several misled by their former demaogues, departments of a shoemaker, an upand lamented, with tears of anguish, holsterer, or a printer. But, unfortheir blind insensibility to the counsels tunately, all these different trades and of Hannibal; but all that could not recal professions, though perfectly aware the days of Cannæ and Thrasymenæ.

that their skill is confined to their own The Liberal journals, in opposition peculiar line of life, and that they are to arguments such as these, uniformly altogether incompetent to judge of exclaim, that to ascribe this devotiun the merits of other professions or to present objects, and insensibility to workmanship, conceive themselves ultimate consequences, to the middle perfectly qualified to exercise the classes, or the Government whom functions, or judge of the conduct of they support, is to suppose them to be statesmen-a profession requiring ten absolute fools or idiots; and that such times more study than all the handia supposition is not only contrary to

crafts in the island put together, and the equal distribution of mental qua

at least as much patient assiduity and lities throughout mankind, but is application as the sciences either of contradicted by the important part law or medicine. which the middle classes have, in all No one thinks, in civilized or raages, and especially in the present, tional society, of proclaiming the prinplayed in the great drama of human ciple of self-clothing, or self-furnishaffairs. We answer, that in making ing of houses ; and every body knows, these observations, we do not by any that the attempt to make every man means wish to argue that the middle his own doctor or lawyer, soon becomes

« IndietroContinua »