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and its present effects upon the merchants and traders, and so downwards, forms a specific subject, which must engage the immediate attention of Parliament.
"Men, equal in talent and intelligence, and who have apparently enjoyed equal means of observation, profess openly opinions the most various-nay, the most opposite-in regard to the origin of these distresses. As to their extent, all candid persons are agreed. The sudden declaration of hostilities with any power or powers-the stoppage of the Bank itself-the landing of a new Buonaparte in Sussex-nay, the actual investment of the metropolis, by a besieging army-could scarcely, we verily believe, have produced greater consternation than we witnessed a few weeks ago in the City of London: and this terror has since been diffused throughout every corner of England. The mental misery undergone here has been very great: and the real tangible suffering and privation among the lower classes, in many districts, have been frightfully so.
"And yet what was the situation of affairs immediately before this? No political movement had occurred: vast commercial activity prevailed: our labouring classes, agricultural and manufacturing, were employed: cur shipping was carrying profitable freights: an abundant harvest had removed not only the cause, but the existence of complaint, from among our farmers. And yet-from end to end, and at once, this country has been thrown into a state of perfect convulsion.
"It is of no use for practical people to enter into any discussion as to this, or indeed as to any subject, with one set of our theorists. They indeed make short work of the whole matter. According to them, the country was at the height of its population, wealth, power, and intelligence before the Reformation from Popery; and all our commercial difficulties now arise from the existence of a large National Debt,-Bankers, and a paper currency-none of which evils, they say, existed in that happy era. And what are the remedies? Have no circulation but gold and silver: have no Banks whatever: they all but speak out the third advice-wipe out the National Debt-in other words-Revolutionize England.
"Neither is it necessary to spend many words upon a very different set of persons who content themselves with saying, that the panic has been a mere panic. They assure us that a London banking house stopped a great establishment of the same kind in Yorkshire, when, if they had waited a little (some say but a single post) there could have been no pretence for doing so; that this stoppage led to a general run on all the country bankers; and that this run, occasioning all the country bankers to flock to London for supplies, led to all the consequences we have witnessed, But this sort of reasoning will never do-their syllogism has no major. Is it not obvious, granting the truth of all they say, that there must be something radically wrong in the system under
which such events can follow from such causes? Who can possind so bly tell whether the London banking-house in question acted ill or well? Who knows the history of their connexion with the Yorkshire house? But is it to be conceived for a moment that the whole peace and security of the commercial world ought to be at the mercy of any one banker--who may, any one day, or even hour of his life, choose to transact his business under the influence of folly, of cowardice, or of spleen?
"In our opinion the chief blame of this misery must be divided between the Government and the Bank of England.
"It was without question, the duty of Government to relieve the public burdens, by reducing the interest of the National Debt whenever this was practicable: but this duty was not to be considered absolutely. If by pushing an object in itself excellent, too far, or attempting it prematurely, greater interests were to be sacrificed, the general welfare of the State called on its Government to pause.
"It is obvious that a great change in the value of money never can take place without entailing serious consequences of some kind. Of what nature these may be it is difficult to foretell-but it is certain that come they will. Hence the necessity of making any such change as gradually as possible: and it may well be questioned whether Government sufficiently attended to this, when after other measures tending to a rapid decline in the value of money, they went so far as to reduce the interest on their Exchequer bills so low as three halfpence per diem, or two pounds five shillings and sevenpence per annum.
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"The practical evil which immediately followed from this last. step was, the general impression it established, that money was remarkably plentiful, and that there was no doubt of its remaining so. Hence incautious and inconsiderate speculation: hence persons, not in their general line of conduct venturesome, were tempted to proceed with less circumspection in their commercial undertakings of all kinds. This was the era of the Joint Stock Company mania.
"But was not, unhappily-was not-and we say it with real pain-that mania fostered and encouraged by the conduct of another great Joint Stock Company, the Bank of England? Now for the first time the Bank of England was seen to depart from all the legitimate principles of banking, by publicly offering to lend money on stock and on land, The money-market being so amply supplied, that the private bankers and money-lenders knew not how to obtain even a moderate rate of interest for their money, the Bank was seen running a race with them to find bor
We by no means wish to be understood as joining in the senseless clamour raised against all the Joint Stock Company undertakings of that period. Some of them were wise and laudable, and will turn out highly advantageous to the nation, and to the individuals concerned; but, the large proportion which mere frantic follies and absolute knaveries bore to these, is now undeniable.
rowers. Was this prudent? Was it decorous? Did it befit a grave chartered company, possessing vast and exclusive privileges and bound by that possession to look in some degree to the public interest, as well as to the mere question of dividends on Bank stock,-to betray all the eagerness and impatience of private traders? The cup being full, was it for them to make it run over?
"Thus did the Bank, following in, and co-operating with the steps of Government, so far as in it lay, tend to the fixing of that most dangerous impression in men's minds, that "money was always to be had for the asking for;" and hence the ordinary and necessary spirit of commercial confidence was seen transformed into utter recklessness and daring.
"The country bankers now received notice from the London banking-houses with which they were connected, that the latter could no longer afford to allow any interest on the balances in their hands. Need we ask, what the effect of such an intimation was likely to be, on a class of persons, who-taking them as a body-have never been remarkable for great circumspection in the conduct of their business?
"In a word, the private money-dealers first, and then all commercial men, and even persons formerly unconnected with commerce, were tempted or encouraged to vest their capital where it was not in their immediate reach. When the run took place, many bankers, not having funds at hand, failed; others made enormous sacrifices, all but ruined themselves, that they might stand. It was said (nay, the saying was acted on), that the bubbles only would burst; but the event showed the folly of this. Plagues and conflagrations are no respecters of persons.
But-if the Bank of England had its share in bringing on the state of things which we have been contemplating, no one will deny it the merit, when the crisis did arrive, of having put forth a degree of vigour and energy suited to the occasion. Every member of that establishment was seen putting his shoulder to the wheel. The Directors devoted themselves incessantly to the discharge of the anxious duties which devolved upon themstanding rules and orders were laid aside-a quantity of business was transacted unprecedented on any former occasion-the circulation was relieved-and immediate consequences, of the extent of which no man can form an estimate, were averted.
As it is all lawyers could tell, if they pleased, to what an unheard-of extent the tenures of property of all kinds are at this moment changing. We have no belief that we have, up to this hour, beheld the last of this private misery; we can all see the breaking down of the dyke, but it is a difficult matter to trace the inundation into every little field that it lays bare.
"The Government are, we doubt not, fully sensible of their error, and will immediately take some decisive steps to prevent
the possibility of scenes such as these arising in future out of the errors of any person or persons.
A general impression seems to prevail, that one of the measures to be submitted to Parliament, with the view of correcting the present unsound state of the provincial circulation, will be to negociate with the Bank for the surrender of so much of its charter as will allow of the creation of proper banks; that is to say, banks unlimited as to either number of proprietors, or extent of capital, all over the country distant fifty or sixty miles from London: thus leaving the metropolis and the surrounding district to the Bank.
It is, again, maintained by many, that the Government mean only to demand security from all private bankers, according to a plan long ago proposed by Lord Bexley, and discussed in Parlia
"A measure prospectively entertained both by Government and Parliament, may probably (it is further said) be carried into execution much earlier than had been intended,-in consequence of the lessons which late occurrences have taught. We allude to the absolute prohibition of any paper-currency, under notes for 51. We earnestly hope that this is as it has been represented to us. The use of paper-money was originally introduced for the convenience of those who have to transact mercantile affairs on a large scale, or at a distance; and should never have been adopted so as to bring it into contact with the daily petty dealings of the working classes; whose share in the present distresses is, we must say, the part of the whole subject to be contemplated with the greatest sorrow, since assuredly they are the only sufferers who have had no hand in the creation of the system, under the effects of which they are now languishing. The prospect of a considerably increased supply of bullion from Spanish America is an important consideration in the present circumstances of the
"It seems by no means unlikely that the subject of the Usury Laws will be taken up again, in immediate connection with the late distresses of the monied interest. Henceforth, people may fight as they please about the principle on which all such laws are founded; but who can defend ours, (as effecting any good purpose,) after seeing Exchequer Bills, the best of all possible securities, sold publicly at enormous loss, simply because the holders of had it not in their power to borrow money, a few weeks or days before, at 7 or 8 per cent,?
"The free trade system in general is as yet, we are told, only in the course of its trial. When any particular class of persons complain of its operation, as affecting them, the answer is, that it easy to lay one's finger on the partial evil, but not so to trace the far greater counterbalancing good that is diffused around it. Nor shall we say any thing to all this for the present, except that we devoutly wish practical statesmen would preserve, in all which
they do, a proper jealousy of those whose only vocation it is to talk, and who, in too many instances, suffer actual human misery to escape their notice, under the shelter of well-sounding generalities; no unnatural consequence of a one-eyed philosophy, which, seeing in man nothing but a machine, and assuming, in the face of all history and observation, that it is the nature of man to do always what is best and wisest, in regard to his own interests, appears to us to be entirely inapplicable to the real real business of a world, wherein individuals and communities alike are still influenced by their passions and prejudices, at least as much as by the dictates of absolute reason.'
PAINE'S BIRTH-DAY DINNER.
THE stewards for the management of this dinner, will be obliged to those who intend to dine with them, if they will send for their tickets on Saturday, that the number may be calcutated and dinner ordered accordingly. But a small number of tickets can be kept for sale on Monday and delay may occasion disappointment. For those who find this their first notice on the subject, we repeat, that the dinner will take place at the City of London Tavern, Bishopsgate-street, at five o'clock on Monday the 30th instant, and that the tickets are half-a guinea each. The object of the stewards. has been to unite respectability of place, comfort, and good company with a moderately priced ticket. Dining in this manner, at this time, upon the strength of the principles of Thomas Paine, is like gaining a march upon time, and many friends have thought it impracticable. A very large company is not expected, nor have the stewards engaged the largest room; but they are anxious to exhibit in the best light those principles, which dignify man, and which have given him a new moral character. They feel assured, that there are no principles, political or theological, superior to the principles of Thomas Paine: and, thus assured, they also feel, that, in thus exhibiting them, they are free from the charge of presumption or impropriety. It is more than probable, that annual dinners will take place on the same occasion, at the same tavern, and the stewards are anxious to begin well. While they will studiously prepare the most dignifying toasts and sentiments, they recommend the avoidance of the foolish custom, the mob-like habit, of ceremonial cheering. They wish to leave applause to the excitement of sentiment and to deviate from practices which no company nor circumstance can make prudent or respectable. Printed and Published by R. CARLILE, 135, Fleet Street.-All Correspordences for The Republican," to be left at the place of publication.