Графични страници
PDF файл


in price was promoted by the excessive issue of paper. The state of the exchanges too, has been adduced as an adequate cause, together with the high price of bullion, for the state of things which we have contemplated, and as a sufficient answer to the argument for the depreciation of bank paper. But, it may be asked, how could the balance of trade, when we had the dominion of the seas, and when our goods were in so great estimation where they could be obtained, have produced an effect like what we have seen 2 The answer we think will readily occur. It could not happen that the circulating medium of the country could have suffered so considerable a revolution from that cause, as the commerce of speculation, during part of the period in which the gold was above the paper circulation, was almost at its acmé. The cause must therefore be sought in the long and ruinous war in which the treasures of this country were sent to the continent to support our armies and to pay the foreign subsidies.

It is in this source of misfortune

and calamity that we shall see sufficient reason to account for the deterioration of the paper, and to establish the positions we have attempted to lay down. To men of science and reflection, both in our own country and abroad, the circumstances of Great Britain, with regard to her political economy, must be an object contemplated with high admiration. It was every where expected, it was even confidently predicted, and held to be inevitable, that we were in rapid progress towards national bankruptcy; it was, indeed, not more on military prowess that our enemies 1821.

relied for our destruction, than it was on the ruin of our finances: which they calculated would no less effectually and, as they believed, certainly accomplish the end they had in view. But what must be their surprize 3 To what, in the history of present or of past times, could they look for a parallel? And how could they believe the existence of the fact, when they learned, that instead of ruin, foreseen as it had been by the best calculators of that period, we are rising from a state of depression to one of comparative prosperity? The scale has, happily, turned in our favor; the trade of the country has improved; the exchanges are in our favor, and the price of bullion has fallen. We are, therefore, in a condition to attempt a restoration of the currency to its state previously to 1797, that is to return to a metallic circulating medium, or to have our paper convertible, at

pleasure, into gold. The influence of the high prices of provisions, induced by the paper circulation, was felt particularly on our manufactures, and the articles of British growth or manufacture, could not compete in foreign markets with articles produced in those countries where provisions were cheap. This consideration, in a commercial nation, was, of course, of the first importance. It was the recommendation of the bullion committee, therefore, that the Bank should resume cash payments; but in that event, either the Bank must . contract their issues, or, if the notes were paid at the current price of bullion, the loss to that establishment must be immense. Now, as it would be supposed that a legislative measure of that extent, affecting so deeply the vital R. interests

interests of the Bank, could not be
adopted without their concurrence;
so it would be supposed that that
body would withhold its consent
to a plan by which it was itself so
materially to suffer. The propriety
of returning to cash payments,
however, seemed to be acknow-
ledged on all hands; the only
question remaining related to the
period at which they could most
safely be resumed. On one side
it was viewed as the panacea for
all our political complaints, and on
the other, if immediately adopted,
as a measure fraught with infinite
mischief. Of this opinion was sir
John Sinclair, whose pamphlet on
the necessity of an extensive cir-
culating medium, takes this side of
the question. It was argued, too,
and no doubt with great propriety,
that if the circulation of the country
were contracted, every article must
proportionably fall in value. By
this circumstance every class of
traders would necessarily be af-
fected; but on the agriculturist it
would fall with peculiar weight.
It was, therefore, incumbent on the
legislature to devise a plan for re-
storing the currency to a healthy
condition, in which, too, the inte-
rests of the different classes in the
state, as far as might be, should be
considered. The Bank expressed
a wish to be permitted to pay in
cash, and had declared that they
were prepared to do so; but the
minister fearing the consequence
of a rapid change of the currency,
felt disposed to adopt a partial and
progressive system of restoring the
imetal circulation. In an experi-
ment of this description, the Bank
had given notice of their intention
of paying off all notes of one and
two pounds value, of a date prior
to 1817. This plan was carried

into effect. The fractional sums
under five and between five and
ten pounds in the dividends, too,
were paid in cash. From such a
measure, guarded by such peculi-
arities, little that is injurious could
have been anticipated. Yet, how-
ever remarkable it may appear, a
bill was brought into parliament
and passed, to prohibit the bank
from paying in specie, even to the
limited extent of the plan just re-
ferred to. The alleged ground of
this legislative proceeding was the
obstruction which it offered to the
complete resumption of cash pay-
ments, which, although to the
general reader it may seem para-
doxical, was considered by the
legislature as good and sufficient.
At this period several respectable
pamphlets on the subject appeared,
to none of which, however, was
more attention paid than to those
of Mr. David Ricardo. To the
sentiments of this gentlemen on
subjects connected with political
economy, the minister, it is well
known, has paid great deference.
He proposed that, in restoring the
metal circulation, the Bank should
be allowed to pay gold in bars in-
stead of coin, and it is not impro-
bable, that from this gentleman's
suggestions the secret committee
were induced to frame the reso-
lutions which were adopted with
some others, and on which Mr.
Peel's bill was brought in. The
substance of the resolutions is, that
the Bank should from 1st February
1820, be compelled to pay gold in
bars, of standard fineness, in return
for their notes, provided that por-
tions of not less than 600Z. be de-
manded. The price was fixed at

4l. 1s. per oz.
On the 1st November, 1820, they
were to pay in the same manner

at 31.19s. 6d. per oz. On the 1st May, 1821, the payments were to be at 31. 17s. 103d. or the mint price. By the bill, the Bank were not to pay their notes in coin till the 1st May 1823. It was afterwards found, however, that the Bank was accumulating bullion so fast that a collsiderable inconvenience to trade occurred. Mr. Vansittart then brought in a bill to enable the Bank to pay the small notes in cash, on the 1st, May 1821. The adoption of this measure has produced effects so important, and to many persons so injurious that having traced its history and narrated the circumstances that led to its introduction, little will be required in the way of reflection. We

cannot, however, close this paper, without congratulating our fellowcountrymen on the comparative success of a measure unparalleled in the history of the world, and the adoption of which will form an epoch in our annals as momentous as the change of a dynasty. Where now are the prognostics of national ruin? Where the prophecies of bankruptcy and dissolution? The evil day we believe is past, and we have now every thing to hope from the persevering adherence to political integrity and public faith with re

rd to the public creditor, and

m the extension of our trade and commerce with respect to the people.


state of France.—Spain.— Portugal.—The Netherlands.-Italy.— Greece.— Russia.-America.

THE French budget for the year 1821 presented to the chamber of deputies by the minister of finance, exhibits a statement highly flattering to that nation. It was introduced with feelings of great exultation, if we may judge from the minister's words. The budget, says he, “is no longer a task laborious to those who execute it, nor disquieting to those who listen to it; the promptitude with which we present it proves that our affairs are in order, and that little time is necessary to state all that we have to pay, and all that we have to receive.

And in a similar style he con

cludes, “The budget has even in its enormity something pleasing to the national pride, in the thought that it could be maintained at this elevation without depriving the king of the power of remitting 34,000,000 of taxes. “Such a result at the termination of calamities, which in any other country an age would scarcely be sufficient to efface, evinces among us resources triumphant over the most adverse situations. What other nation besides France would be able, after what she has suffered, even up to 1818, by war and other unhappy circumstances, to present in three 2 years years the spectacle which she this day offers? Her political engagements punctually fulfilled; her territory free and tranquil; her commerce and industry increasing in activity; her treasury always full; her securities advancing to par; all her capital in employment, whether to acquire, to construct, to repair, or to give an impulse to works of public utility. Finally, under the auspices of the royal government, affairs both public and private assume a firm position, the happy result of a peace whereof all the world has felt the want, and will now reap the advantages. “The spirit of order and good faith which governs our financial legislation, the probity with which public engagements of every nature are fulfilled, the abundance of capital which it reproduces continually in circulation, and the progressive clearness of the public accounts, inspire a confidence which descends to the direct creditors of the state—from them to all those with whom they have transactions, and from these is diffused through all classes of society. The general comfort which results from these ameliorations, and the satisfaction to you of having co-operated in doing so much good, is the gua

rantee of your perseverance in the

same principles, and of the constant conformity of your sentiments with the intentions of the king.” On the 20th of December the king opened the session of the chambers in the usual state, and delivered a speech which contained a gratifying view of the internal condition and external relations of that country. We wish we

could hear no more of censorships of the press, which, in the course of seventeen months, have suppressed nearly one-fourth part of the matter composed for one of the parisian papers. The change of administration in France has been the necessary result of the defeat sustained by ministers on the address to the king. The ultras and liberals united in opposition. The new ministers are all of the royalist party, but, with two exceptions, are little known in this country. M. de Villele, who, from his superior talents, is considered the leader of the new cabinet, was, with his friend Corbiere, a member of the ministry just dissolved: but neither he nor his friend took any decisive part in the measures of the administration: they were, in fact, only nominally ministers, not being intrusted with any distinct functions, but had been taken into the cabinet from a notion that their junction would have conciliated the royalist party, ef which they had been the leaders. Like all half measures, however, this coalition impaired instead of strengthening the power of the late ministers: for M. M. Villele and Corbiere were considered to be deserters from their party, which, under a new leader, showed itself more hostile than ever to the government; and the situation of the two friends, notwithstanding their acknowledged talents, became insignificant and almost ridiculous, as they held no places either of power or dignity. It has long been seen that they would take the first opportunity of emancipating themselves from a situation so degrading to men of talent; and they have at length - succeeded succeeded in acquiring that importance in the state, to which none will disallow their claim on the score of knowledge and ability. M. Peyronnet, the new keeper of the seals, is a lawyer, and was lately procureur-general, in which capacity he conducted, last summer, the state trial in the chamber of peers. The viscount Montmorency, the new secretary for foreign affairs, was formerly a deputy to the states-general, and in that capacity was one of the most violent of the revolutionary party; but soon became disgusted with the projects of his brother reformers, and withdrew to Switzerland, where he had the honour of the intimate friendship of madame de Stael: the death of his brother on the scaffold about this time threw a gloom over his character, which has never been entirely dissipated, and till lately he has passed his days almost entirely in seclusion. Buonaparte banished him in 1811, but afterwards recalled him, taking care, however, to have him closely watched. He seized the earliest opportunity of joining the Bourbons; and on their restoration became a member of the house of peers, where, for the last three years, he has distinguished himself by a strenuous opposition to the ministers. In 1818 he deliwered a speech against the proposed law of censorship, though he declared himself a friend of severe measures for the repression of the licentious character of the French periodical press, which, however, he thought offended rather by its immoral and irreligious, than by its political, excesses. He was one of the minority which voted that the cen

sorship should continue but for one year. He has ever professed himself a steady friend to the charter. He belongs to one of the oldest families in France: he is about 52 years of age. The duke de Belluno, the new war minister, is better known to the English reader by the name of marshal Victor: he is one of Buonaparte's marshals, and was the principal general under Joseph Buonaparte at the battle of Talavera. He was, however, one of the earliest of the marshals who adhered to Louis XVIII. after the first abdication of Napoleon, and kept his fidelity unimpeached during the hundred days: he has therefore been considered with particular favour at court, and has been trusted on several important occasions. Last year he was employed to repress the insurrectionary spirit which, during the first successes of the Italian revolution, manifested itself so unequivocally in the southern departments of France. He completely succeeded in his difficult mission, and without any measure of extraordinary rigour. He is celebrated for intrepidity, which is united with great mildness of disposition: but upon the whole is considered rather a man of inflexible honour, than of extraordinary talent. The marquis de Clermont-Tonnere, the new minister of marine, is a man of practical knowledge, and of considerable ability: he was the chairman of the committee of peers which was appointed to examine the propriety of abolishing the droit d'aubaine; and it was chiefly owing to his elaborate inquiry and earnest recommendation that the odious and unjust law was


« ПредишнаНапред »