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Mr. Boyd states, from documents laid before the House of Commons, that the average circulation of bank notes for three years, ending in December 1795, was 6.11,975,573; the circulation on the 26th Feb. 1797, was 8,640, 250l. ; and the circulation on the 6ib of Dec. 1800, 15,450,9701. ; and it is to this increase, which he calls, an excessive multiplication; that he ascribes the high price of pro. visions, &c. It would have been but fair to state the
circua lation of the year ending on the 26th of Feb. 1797, and the average circulation of the three fucceeding years; but this would not have answered the author's purpose; we will, therefore, adopt his own mode of calculation, unfair as it is, and take the difference between the average circulation of three years ending in 1795, and the highet circulation at any given period fince, viz. in Dec. 1800, which will give an augmentation of about three tenths. Now it must have oca curred to Mr. B. that the only mode of ascertaining whether such in crease was right or wrong, a benefit or an evil, was by giving a com patative statement of the situation of our trade, manufactures, and commerce ; and of our exports and imports at the two epochs; ben cause he could not be ignorant of what every child must know, that an extended trade cannot be carried on with the same capital as a limi. ted trade. Yet, though this is the point upon which the whole of his reasoping rests not one fyllable does he say upon the subject. We would fain supply this strange defect of his, but, unfortunately, we have not the necessary tables at hand ; those before us coming down no lower than the close of 1798. From these it appeast that the average of our imports, for three years, ending with Dec. 1795, was 21,426,666 ; and the amount of them in 1798,'25,654,000 giving an increase, in three years, of 4,223,334. The average of our exports
. during the former period was, 24,812,000; and the amount of them at the latter, 33,800,000, giving an increase of 8,988,000. If our memory do not fail us, there has been a very considerable augmentation of both our imports and exports within the last two years; and this brief statement will fuffice to thew the neceflity of a considerable mul. tiplication of the circulating medium. It was Mr. Boyd's business
prove that the multiplication has been exceflive. Not having done this
, his argument falls to the ground. We have taken no notice of the loweft point of circulation, in Feb. 1797, because the author him. felf not only admits its total inadequacy to all commercial purposes, but even ascribes to it all the ditress which was experienced in the commercial world at that period. Had he been asked at the time what increase of circulation was requisite to restore the equilibrium of com. merce, we much question whether he would not have fixed it at as high a rate as that at which it now stands. At all events, it was his duty to specify the extent of the increase, then necessary, in opposition to that which he now condemns; and this appears
the more necessary in arguing from effect to cause, as in the present case, because various seafons may be affigned for the actual high price of articles of first ne. ceflity, without recurring to an increased circulation. Beside, if the cause afligned were the real cause of the rise, we should be glad op learn from Mr, Boyd how the great disproportion between the cause
and the effea is to be accounted for ; that is, how it happens, that when the increase of notes has been only three tenths the rise in price has been from 100 to 150 per cent? How too has it happened, that while the cause was increasing the effect should diminish ; as it evios. dently did, by the confiderable fall, in the price of corn, previous to the last harvest ? And again, if the cause were real the effect would extend to all exchangeable property, which is not the case, as is mapifeit in respect of land and manufactures, in both which, though forming the bulk of the property of this country, the rise has been very triling since Feb. 1797. Such an increase, if it really exceeded due bounds, would also occasion a reduction of the rate of interest, and an advance of the premium on the floating debt ; neither of which has taken place.
But we believe the fact to be, that the quantity of bank notes never have exceeded, and never will exceed “the natural digeftive powers of the country." It is both the duty and the interest of the bank di. rectors to prevent such an excess, whatever Mr. Boyd, from spleen, disappointment, or malice, may be pleased to affert; because the digettive powers of the country are like the digestive powers of the hu. man itomach, which immediately betrays the natural effects of re. pletion by throwing back the superabundant matter. Were the bank directors so infatuated as well as so unprincipled, as to encourage sucli an excefs, they would very fpeedily be made sensible of the confequences of their misconduct, by having the public confidence withdrawn from them, and their notes thrown back upon the bank. But they stand too high in the world, both in reputation and in judgment, to be suspected of such egregious folly; their past wiflom and difcretion are the best pledge of their present and future good conduct ; and so long as they continue to deferve they will enjoy that confidence which is so intimately connected with the credit and prosperity of the country, and which none but an enemy to the country would endeavour to destroy, or even to shake.
Two circumstances which Mr. Boyd is compelled to admit, because they are so obvious, that if he had not admitted them, they must have : been pressed upon his notice, are equally destructive of his main infe. rence with the reasons which have already been alledged. First ; that if the bank had fufficient specie or gold to take up all their notes, there would exist no ground of complaint against them; and secondly, “that the paper of the bank of England, in its prefent fate, unites, in a higher degree than any other paper, not convertible into specie, that ever was circulated in any country, all the qualities which entitle it 10 confidence ;" and, he afterwards admits that it not only does poffefs that confidence, to the fulleft possible extent, but that it must continue to poffefs it.* It is evident then, that, if the wealth of the
country * This avowal destroys the whole force of the arguments advanced on this head, unless it can be proved i which is not even asserted) thas the confidence in Bank notes has not continued. It may here be alked whether any Bank can or does exist on any other basis thap con..
country were so increased as to supply a circulating medium, in specie, equal in amount to the Bank notes now in circulation, “a confummation devoutly to be wished,” its effect on the price of provisions and other articles of use and consumption, would be precisely the same as that which Mr. B. imputes to the increased circulation of notes. And as the confidence of the nation gives the same stamp of value to the paper as to the gold, the ingenuity of man can demonstrate no differ. ence between them.
But Mr. B.'s indignation seems to be confined to the notes of the Bank of England; for he undertakes to defend the notes of the Country Banks against all the prejudices which have gone forth against them; inferring, from the mere circumstance of their being payable, even in Bank notes, on demand that no issues can possibly remain in circulation beyond what the increasing prosperity and industry of the country, where they circulate, can fairly absorb or digelt.” If, while he attacked the prejudices of others, he had dismissed his own, he would have rceived, that this reafoning was still more strongly applicable to the notes of the Bank of England. But, in the very next page, he observes that, “the Bank of England is the great source of all the circulation of the country, and, by the increase or diminution of its paper, the increase or diminution of that of every Country Bank is infallibly regulated.” Now, if there be any truth in this observation, if the Bank of England circulate too much paper the evil must infallibly extend to the Country Banks, and, of course, the inference noticed above will either fail, or, if it be valid, there appears to be no danger from too great an eission of paper by the Bank of England.
The author is very ftrenuous in his efforts to persuade the public, that the paper of the Bank of England is depreciated; and, on the word depreciation he rings the changes in various parts of his tract. But, how that paper can be said to be depreciated, when a man going to the Corn-market with five pounds-worth of it in one hand, and with five pounds in gold and silver in the other, cannot purchase with fidence, and whether that confidence does not rejt more upon the opinion entertained of a Bank's poffeffing property equal to its emilion of paper, than upon the certainty of its being able to pay, on demand,
, the value in fpecie of such emision; the impossibility of which, if the whole were to be demanded at once, must be obvious to every man. The Bank of England, having recently proved its solidity, in point of property, to the satisfaction of the whole world, what reason could poltibly exist for withdrawing from it any portion of the confidence which it is allowed to enjoy, notwithstanding the adoption of a public measure, felt and acknowledged, by all thinking and well. intentioned men, to have been a necessary precaution, of a temporary nature, to counteract the plans of our forcign and domestic enemies? Until it can be proved that the Bank of England has abufed the power of not paying all its notes in specie, there can be no ground for withholding perfect confidence in its paper, nor for attributing the high price of many articles to a depreciation of that paper.
his specie a single grain of corn more than he can purchase with his notes, it would require the acuteness of a Parisian banker to discover,
The collateral proof, in support of his frail argument, deduced by Mr. B. from the present high price of gold, is equally futile with his other proofs ; because, it is notorious, that this premium on gold has frequently exifted, without being attributed to a depreciation of paper ; and therefore cannot be considered, as arising, at this moment, from too great an extension of the circulating medium.
Notwithstanding the restrictions imposed on the bank, by the act of Parliament, it is fill allowed to pay, and actually does pay, in fpecie, all its notes under five pounds, and iffues gold for some other particular purposes. Though the author notices this circumftance as an exception, of a nature apparently triling, y'et certain it is, that the fums required for those particular purposes, with the amount of the small nores, will be found to form a very considerable part of its paper circulation.
The pre?ent ftate of Exchange, which is considerably against this country, is another of Mr. B.'s proofs. But the large importation of grain, which he notices, (P. 34.) together with the remitrances to the Corrinent for publick services, sufficiently accounts for the une favourable exchange without resorting to the hypothetis of too great a circulation. It is to be observed, tco, that the exchange upon Hamþurgh has risen considerably since the reverses of fortune which our Allies have experienced in Germany have led to a belief that no more subsidies will be remitted to the Continent, which proves that it is not an increase of paper currency which has hitherto depressed it.
In ng instance does he betray the weakness of his argument more krongly than in his imputation of the rise in the stocks, to an increased circulation of paper. If this be the case, how comes it that the ap, prehension of a war with the Northern Powers occafioned a fall in the funds of 19 per cent. ; and they have continued to fluctuate in proportion as that apprehenfion has been confirmed or weakened. This circumstance alone would expose the fallacy of his reasoning. But the effect of taking 12,133,3711. jfor the redemptidn of the Land-tax) out of the market, together with the operation of the Sinking Fund, and the general belief of an approach towards peace, may very well account for the rise in the funds, when the nature of the two first causes iş confidered ; at least, to a certain degree, a rise appears to have been an inevitable consequence of those measures. Their avowed object was to produce this effect, and, though it may have exceeded the coinputations of some persons, it does not therefore foļlow that it is not to be ascribed to the natural operation of those causes,
But it is not the fallacy of the author's reasoning that most exciteş our astonishment, in this branch of his subject; for it is followed by an observation, which it is impossible, even by the utmost stretch of modern candour and liberality, to refer to any good motive; and which, from its manifef' tendency, cannot be too loudly condemned, too strongly reprobat.d. Dwelling on his favourite topic, the imaginary depreciation of paper," Mr. Boyd observes the odium which it must entail upon the
country, standing, in this respect, in the character of a debtor, pay. ing a real debt with a nominally equal, but really inferior, value, is rather to be deprecated than described. If such a period should arrive, the public creditors will be juftly entitled to charge their debtor with having " kept his promise to their ear, and broke it to their hope." If a period should arrive when a dividend of 100l, in bank.notes will not exchange for more of the conveniences of life than gol, did a few years ago, will not the persons, receiving such dividend, be entitled to charge this country with having failed in its engagements as effectually as if an act of Parliament had ordered a guinea to pass for two-andforty shillings?"-Unwilling, as we are, to pay a compliment to the author's understanding at the expence of his integrity, we feel disposed to ascribe this remark, and the titring of impertinent interrogatories to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by which it is followed, to a fotrih imbecillity which suddenly invaded his mind, at the time when he (inposed the passage we have cited. But there is something worse than imbecillity in it; for Mr. B. must have known, when he put the case hypothetically, that the period, which he affected to deprecate, had actually arrived ; so that we shall not scruple to apply to him the for. mer part of the quotation from Macbeth, the last line of which he has thought proper (how absurdly we hall shew) to address to Mr. Pitt.
" And be those juggling fiends no more believed,
That palter with us in a double sense." The fact is, that this shocking period has arrived long since, and without producing any of those reproaches, the very dread of which seems to have produced fo powerful an effect on the delicate nerves of Mr. Boyd. It is pretty certain, that the difference in the value of most conveniencies of life had already taken place, fince the first erection of public annuities; and there appears to be very little probability of its increasing in the same ratio during the period to which the author looks forward. And nothing can be more obvious than that the increased wealth of a countıy, resulting from an extended commerce, will, inevitably, by the most natural and regular operation, produce a corresponding rise in the price of provisions and other articles of consumption. So that, according to Mr. B.'s curious hypothesis, thc Minifter is to be reproached with perfidy, for having rendered the nation prosperous and rich. Mr. Pitt, we conceive, will let up no defence, but chearfully plead guilty to this charge of a high crime and misdemeanour, against the patriotic speculations of Mr. Boyd. But the promise, with the breach of which he is accused, is somewhạt curious ; it is nothing less than a promise to every man who
; lends his money to the public, that the price of every necessary and convenience of life, fhall remain ftationary, in order to enable him to purchase the fame quantity of them for 1001. at any future period, as he could at the moment when he advanced his money. The landlord who lets his house on a lease, the man who lends money on a bond or mortgage, and every other species of private creditor, in mort, would certainly be entitled to infift on a funilar ftipulation in his favour. Could it be believed that any man of common undestanding would F