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Mr. Boyd ftates, from documents laid before the House of Commons, that the average circulation of bank notes for three years, ending in December 1795, was £.11,975,573; the circulation on the 26th Feb. 1797, was 8,640,2501. ; and the circulation on the 61b of Dec. 1800, 15,450,9701. ; and it is to this increase, which he calls, an exceffive multiplication; that he ascribes the high price of provisions, &c. It would have been but fair to state the average circu. 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 higheft circulation at any given period fince, viz. in Dec. 1800, which will give an augmentation of about three tenths. Now it must have occurred 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; beo 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 reasoning rests not one fyllable does he say upon the subject. We would fain fupply 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 appeass 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 ftatement will fuffice to thew the neceffity of a considerable mul. tiplication of the circulating medium. It was Mr. Boyd's business to prove that the multiplication has been excessive. Not having done this, his
argument falls to the ground. We have taken no notice of the lowest 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 aç that period. Had he been asked at the time what increase of circulation was requisite to restore the equilibrium of com. merce, we much quefțion whecher 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 assigned for the actual high price of articles of first ne. ceffity, without recurring to an increased circulation. Beside, if the cause afligned were the real cause of the rise, we should be glad mo learn from Mr, Boyd how the great disproportion between the cause F 2
and the effect 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 considerable fall, in the price of corn, previous to tlte last harvest ? And again, if the cause were real the effect would extend to all exchangeable property, which is not the case, as is manifest in respect of land and manufactures, in both which, though forming the bulk of the property of this country, the rise has been very trifling 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 digestive 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 assert; because the dia gestive 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' ro infatuated as well as so unprincipled, as to encourage such an excefs, they would very speedily be made sensible of the consequences 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 fach egregious folly; their past wiftlom and difcretion are the best pledge of their present and future good conduct ; and so long as they continue to "deserve they will enjoy that confidence which is fo 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 hake.
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 preffed apon 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 iheir notes, there would exist no ground of complaint against them; and secondly, “ that the
paper of the bank of England, in its prefent ftate, 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 to confidence ;" and, he afterwards admits that it not only does poffefs that confidence, to the fullest possible extent, but that it must continue to possess 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 (which is not even asserted) that the confidence in Bank notes has not continued. It may here be aked whether any Bank can or does exilt 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 digest." If, while he attacked the prejudices of others, he had dismifsed his own, he would have perceived, 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 muft 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 enillion 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 reit more upon the opinion entertained of a Bank's possessing property equal to its emision
upon the certainty of its being able to pay, on demand, the value in specie 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 folidity, in point of property, to the fatisfaction of the whole world, what reason could pollibly 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 wellintentioned men, to have been a neceifary 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 abused 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. F 3
his specie a single grain of corn more than he can purchafè 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 contidered, 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 ftill 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 circumstance as an exception, of a nature apparently trilling, yet certain it is, that the sums 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 present ftate of Exchange, which is considerably against this country, is another of Mr. B.'s preafs. But the large importation of grain, which he notices, (P. 34.) together with the remittances to the Corrinent for publiek services, sufficiently accounts for the un. favourable exchange without resorting to the hypothetis of too great 4 circulation. It is to be observed, tco, that the exchange upon Ham. þurgh has risen considerably fince 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 nor 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 apprehension has been confirmed or weakened. This circumstance alone would expose the fallacy of his reasoning. But the effect of taking 12,133,3711. for the redemption 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, inay very well account for the rise in the funds, when the nature of the two first causes iş considered ; 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 dges not therefore follow 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 manifejf tendency, cannot be too loudly condemned, nor too strongly reprobat:d. Dwelling on his favourite topic, the imaginary is depreciation of paper," Mr. Boyd obsesyes " 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 sol. 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 Atring of impertinent interrogatories to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by which it is followed, to a fortifh 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 former part of the quotation from Macbeth, the last line of which he has thought proper (how absurdly we shall 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 effech 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 fame ratio during the period to which the author looks forward. And nothing can be more obvious than that the increased wealth of a country, 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 set up no defence, but chearfully plead guilty to this charge of a hi 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 stationary, in order to enable him to purchase the fame quantity of them for 100l. 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 iħort, would certainly be entitled to infilt on a similar ftipulation in his favour. Could it be believed that any man of common undertanding would