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the altering circumstances of a people, is the best and only test of a statesman. For every nation must be in one or other of these three conditions, advancing, stationary, or retrogressive; whence it follows, that legislation must fluctuate in its objects, and adapt itself to the spirit of the age. A system, which pushed a country forward to a given point of wealth, may become impolitic after that point has been gained, and a perseverance in it may cause a retrograde movement. The absurdity of continuing the same discipline with an adult as with a child is manifest, and it is equally ridiculous, though not so palpably glaring, to govern an old country on the principles which are applicable to a young and unformed community.

The first link in the chain of political society is the consciousness which every individual feels of being able to receive some benefit from his fellow man. This is the origin of barter, when a person, having a superfluous quantity of any article, exchanges it for an equivalent with some other person, who desires to obtain a portion of the redundant quantity held by his neighbour. This primitive mode of mercantile intercourse could only suit the limited wants of a limited population, inhabiting a very limited space of territory. Rude, however, as the system was, it is the origin of all commercial transactions.

It must bave been soon felt that some medium or instrument of exchange was necessary to carry on the increasing operations of an increasing community, and the invention of man, ever prompt to aid his reasonable wishes, quickly provided the object desired. Money was substituted for barter, that is to say, a middle term was established between the two commodities about to be exchanged, as between wine and wheat, which middle term became a common measure of value both of the wine and wheat. The first metallic currency was copper ; next was added silver : and this was followed by gold. With these representatives of labour and wealth, the commercial system went on for many centuries, but they were at last found inadequate to the wants of mankind. The same necessities which compelled the abandonment of direct barter, and led to the adoption of coined money, introduced promissory notes, bills of exchange, the banking and funding system. These three different modes of commercial intercourse, to wit, barter, the precious metals, and a paper currency, were established at different epochs, which are marks and boundaries in the history of civilization.

The instrument of exchange, of whatever it may consist, whether in the precious metals or in paper, is not wealth, but the conventional representative of wealth, the sign, but not the thing signified. Gold and silver have certainly an intrinsic value, us commodities, but this value is only the measure of the labour necessary to extract them from the mines. It is, therefore, essential not to confound their value as raw bullion, with their value as coin, for the former is real, while the latter is artificial.

People have agreed to take them in exchange for merchandize, and long usage has sanctioned the existing prejudice in their favour. But if we look below the surface, we shall find that all their superiority consists in their scarcity and indestructibility, for, in point of portability, or the faculty of representing a large value in a small compass, they are much inferior to paper, while their cost, as a circulating medium, is vastly higher. All money, whatever its description may be, ought to be considered as a mean to an end, and the end of society is the greatest happiness of the greatest number for the longest period of time.

When a nation has arrived at a high degree of civilization, and internal and external commerce has become extensive, the precious metals and paper currency combined, become insufficient to carry on mercantile operations. Another fictitious medium of exchange is established in the shape of credit. The wholesale manufacturer trusts the retailer, who trusts the consumer, and thus a new element of barter, to wit, time, is superadded. It is in this manner that government receives credit from the fundholder, who takes his dividend half-yearly, thus allowing six months to collect the taxes, the payment of which is, strictly speaking, a contingent event. All these operations are conventional, just as much as the instrument of exchange itself, whatever may be its description.

In tracing the monetary transactions of a country from that early period, when direct barter was the only medium of intercourse, down to the complicated machinery of funding, national mints, and banking establishments, it is obvious that the instrument of exchange has always expanded with the labour and necessities of an encreasing population. Not only has the circulating medium been augmented, and manufactured out of different commodities which have passed current together at the same time, but its efficient power has been greatly enhanced by the amazing rapidity with which it passes from hand to hand. Of this the changing house of the London bankers is a striking example, and the slightest attention must convince any person who attends to the subject, that the vast weekly fund of wages is no sooner paid to the operatives, than it finds its way into the pockets of the retail tradesman. This rapidity of circulation is one of the most efficient causes of national wealth ; for, as Lord Bacon has truly remarked, Money is like manure, it is of no use till it is spread.

It appears, then, evident that all the financial arrangements of a country should be regulated with a due regard to the peculiar circumstances in which that country is placed : whether it be stationary, retrogressive, or advancing : whether its resources be chiefly drawn from agriculture or manufactures ; whether its population be diminishing or augmenting ; whether it be free from, or burdened with, debt. Not only are these considerations recommended by general principles of reasoning, but they are fully supported by the evidence of history. The elements of change

are mixed up with all political institutions. From the foundation of the monarchy to the present period, these causes have operated both on the people and the government, and introduced numerous alterations in the law and the constitution. What suited the Norman and Plantagenet era, was unfitted for the age of the Tudors : the policy of the Tudors was not adapted to the time of the Stuarts: and the Hanoverian dynasty was in its turn compelled to vary from the system adopted in preceding reigns. All these changes have had their effect on the sources of national wealth, both in its production and distribution ; and, in reference to finance, we are now living in a new world, every link in the chain being so delicate and fragile, as to threaten to snap asunder on the slightest pressure.

Property is usually comprehended under two leading divisions, immoveable and moveable, the former including land and the structures raised upon it, the latter embracing all manufactured articles and raw materials. But there is another species of property, not commonly noticed by writers on law, government, or political economy, though it is in fact the most important of all; and this we deem to be industry and intellect. Without them, the land would have remained a desert wilderness, and man have continued to be an untutored savage. They are the parents of all wealth and the pioneers of civilization. Agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, are but the effects, of which industry and intellect are the efficient

causes.

We are told by the political economists, that the strength of a country consists in the numbers of its population, and its command over the precious metals. If the foreign exchanges are in our favour, we are to make ourselves easy, and rejoice in obtaining the gold and silver of our neighbours. When the funds are steadily rising, we are ordered to exult at the firm credit of the nation. Now, all these things may exist, and really do exist at this time in England, yet trade yields barely any profit, land with the greatest difficulty sustains rent, and industry looks in vain for remunerating employment. When corn is so cheap as not to repay the cost of production, it is declared that the harvests are too abundant, the seasons too favourable, and the land too scientifically cultivated. Notwithstanding this censure of the bounties of Providence and the skilful labour of man, the poor still find that bread is beyond their reach, and we behold, coexistent at the same time, the fact of glutted granaries and a starving population. The manufacturers have been assailed in their turn by similar animadversions. They have been accused of overtrading, and giving too great an encouragement to industry. But in the midst of this redundant supply, thousands and tens of thousands were deficient both in clothing and furniture. It is clear, then, that the theory of the political economist is refuted by the practical results, and therefore we are warranted in denying that population and a command over the precious metals constitute national wealth. We hold this doctrine to be partial, narrow, and false,

and productive of the most mischievous consequences. The nerves and sinews of a country are not physical, but intellectual. A people, without education, are but a cluster of bulrushes, which every puff of wind may lay prostrate in the dust. A people, without morals, are alternately the tools or the slaves of despotism. A people, without religion, are but a rope of sand.

We have already stated, that when a nation has attained to the point of civilization, the inhabitants are divided into the three sections of landlords, capitalists, and operatives. When land has been long appropriated to the uses of exclusive ownership, and stock has been largely accumulated, these three classes exhibit a very marked numerical disproportion among each other, and the difference is the more striking, where the law of primogeniture is recognized. The landed proprietors are but a fraction, in point of numbers, compared with the whole population : the capitalists, including all who live on the profits of stock, are greatly more numerous than they are : while the operatives, comprehending all who subsist on the wages of labour, vastly outnumber the other two classes combined.

It is in the nature of things, that this numerical disproportion should always exist. Land is limited in extent and in fertility, for if the whole earth were cultivated as a garden, a supposition more hypothetical than probable, its productiveness would still be confined within limited boundaries. It being impossible to increase the surface of the soil, every acre appropriated to exclusive ownership leaves a diminished quantity for future distribution, till at last the whole becomes allotted, and an insurmountable barrier is raised against further occupancy.

The landed proprietors thus become limited in numbers, precisely because the land itself, which constitutes their property, is limited in extent. The law of primogeniture, by disinheriting all the children of a family except the eldest son, perpetuates this system from generation to generation, and the manifest tendency of this process of concentration is to create a monopoly of the soil in few hands.

But this character of fixedness and limitation does not apply to stock, which forms the property of the capitalists, as the inventive faculties of man and the productive powers of machinery appear to be inexhaustible. The raw material, furnished by the earth, may be worked up into countless varieties of manufactured articles, and, by the aid of chemistry, air, fire, and water, become auxiliaries in the production of wealth. Land may be accurately measured, and thus its limits may be ascertained, but there is no assignable term to the products of industry and science created out of a combination of the elements of nature. It is on this account that the second section of society, those who live on the profits of stock, will always be more numerous than the landed proprietors, because there is always a wider field and more ample scope for the operations of the capitalists. Every generation witnesses some new invention, and some

novel application of machinery, each of which raises up a fresh class of traders, whose numbers are thus constantly progressing.

But it is not sufficient that there should be heads to contrive; there must also be hands to execute, and between them a mutual dependence must always exist. Science itself would be mere barren speculation, unless labour realized what science had planned, and labour would lack employment, if science did not distribute the materials on which labour could be exercised. Capital, or accumulated stock, is the fund of wages, and as it is increased or diminished, the power of employing labour is increased or diminished. Every augmentation, therefore, of the class of capitalists enlarges the number of the operative population. As each manufacturer requires the services of many workmen, any numerical increase of the former must be attended with a vast numerical increase of the latter, so that the numbers of those who are maintained by the wages of labour will always vastly exceed the combined numbers of those who subsist on the rent of land and the profits of stock.

It is in this state that England now finds herself placed. She has attained, in the sense of political economy, the point of civilization. The inhabitants are divided into the three classes above enumerated, and their numerical relations are disposed in the order stated. The land is cultivated on the most scientific system : her manufactures exceed those of all other nations ; her mechanics are the most skilful, the most enlightened, and the most industrious in the world. The country is studded over with vast cities; the harbours are crowded with vessels; the warehouses are stocked with goods; the roads are thronged with public and private conveyances. An external appearance of wealth and comfort strikes the eye of a casual passenger, from the Land's End to the northern extremities of Scotland. But, alas! all is deceitful and a vain shadow. All the three sections of society murmur at their condition. The landed proprietor complains that rents are so depreciated in value, and so uncertain in their reception, that he must retreat to the continent for economy. The capitalist declares that the profits of trade barely return the common interest of money, and prepares to retire from business. The operative deplores the reduction of wages, which barely provide the common necessaries of life. Are these the legitimate results of civilization ? If they are, then barbarism is enviable. Or, can this universal scene of discontent be ascribed to bad government and defective political institutions ? If so, then some remedy may be found for the evil. In order to discover the truth, we must not confine ourself to the surface, but penetrate sufficiently deep to arrive at the pure ore of financial knowledge. We must trace back the effects which we witness, to their remote causes, if we desire to ascertain the true character of the political disease which now gnaws the vitals of the country. Away with opiates and soporifics ; let us, with a bold hand, apply the caustic and the knife to arrest the progress of this destroying gangrene.

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