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his death: it was estimated, by com ser of it, at the price of L.40,000. petent individuals, to be, upon a very He paid down L.10,000 of the purmoderate calculation, worth L.80,000. chase-money; and the seller, having Tohis eldest son he devised his estate, no immediate occasion for the recharged with the payment of L.10,000 maining L.30,000, allowed it to reto each of his six younger children: main on mortgage. This relation bebelieving and intending that under tween the parties subsisted until the this arrangement the eldest son should alteration of the standard in 1819. receive a double portion, or L.20,000. At this period the mortgager chose But mark the result. Instead of sell- to call for his money. The estate ing the family estate on his father's was again brought to the hammer; death, the heir was advised to raise and the same individual who had L.60,000, by way of mortgage, in sold it in 1810 for L.40,000, repurorder to pay off the legacies. From chased it, in the beginning of 1820, 1812 to 1819, things went on pretty for L.30,000. Thus repossessing him smoothly; he continued to pay the self of the estate which he had sold interest of the mortgage, and a rem about nine years before, and likewise nant was still left for himself. But putting into his pocket the L.10,000 in 1819, his affairs assumed a very which the old farmer had realised different complexion : the alteration by a life of persevering and successin the standard or measure of value ful industry. This property had in having brought about a great fall in no respect deteriorated since the pethe price of agricultural produce, and riod of its first sale in 1810; on the consequently in the rent of land, he contrary, it is but fair to presume was no longer able to pay even the that its condition must have been rainterest of the mortgagee. Hence it ther improved; for it is scarcely to became necessary to sell the estate; be conceived that the occupier beand when put up to auction, it did stowed less care and capital upon not realise quite enough to satisfy the this farm when it became his own, claims of the mortgagee. It is need than he had devoted to its tillage less to add, that for the unlucky own while it was the property of another. er himself, not one shilling remained. The reduction in the selling price Not many years ago, we found this sprung entirely from the alteration unfortunate victim of the currency which had been made in the standbill of 1819, in a little country town, ard of value. In 1810, the pound retailing the milk of a few cows, de- sterling was worth about fifteen shilpastured upon a small quantity of lings, and the property sold for forty meadowland which he rented, not thousand such pounds; in 1819, the far from the splendid property which establishment of a metallic standard once belonged to his ancestors. The raised the value of the pound stermisfortunes of this individual arose ling from fifteen to twenty shillings, from no extravagance, from no per- and the value of the same property sonal misconduct or indiscretion, but consequently and necessarily fell to solely from the alteration which had thirty thousand pounds. been made in the standard by which But fatal and disastrous as the efhis property was valued. This al- fects of the alteration in our standard teration added just twenty-five per of value proved to other classes, they cent. to the real claims of the mort- fell with peculiar severity upon the gagee, and left the owner entirely cultivators and occupiers of the soil. destitute.
This unhappy and devoted class has If any soi-disant philosopher or been not only grievously injured, but economist wish to see an illustration literally ruined and crushed to the of his theories with respect to the ground by this cruel and iniquitous : currency, when reduced to practice, measure. It is well known, that bewe will point out the man.
tween 1796 and 1815, the agriculture By a long course of industry and of this country flourished in an execonomy, an honest yeoman, on a traordinary degree; while all our fai which he rented, at no great other national interests necessarily distance from the metropolis, had participated in this prosperity: Duamassed about L.10,000. In 1810, ring that period, the body of British his farm was put up to be sold by farmers not only proved excellent auction, and he became the purcha- customers to the artisans and manu
facturers of the kingdom, but they absolute beggary. As we love facts, were also enabled to save money. In we will state a case or two of this 1812, they were unquestionably much kind which fell under our own cogmore wealthy, as a class, than they nizance. had been at any previous period of A farmer, possessing a capital of our history. Encouraged by the vast about L.6000, hired, in 1814,400 acres profits which had been realized in of land belonging to an ancient family agriculture, they were induced to in one of our midland counties : he accede to almost any advance of rent agreed to pay 40s. per acre as rent, which their landlords demanded; and and took it for a term of fourteen we have no doubt that, in 1819, two years: a wealthy money-lender had thirds of the whole cultivated sur a heavy mortgage on the estate to face of this country was held under which this farm belonged: about Jeases, having terms to run of seven, 1820, the owner of this property, hafourteen, or twenty-one years. But ving been compelled to make a great the measures which were taken pre- reduction in his rents, found that he paratory to the change of the cur could no longer continue to pay the rency in 1819, brought about a tre- interest of the mortgage: the mortmendous reaction. From the alter- gager foreclosed and entered into ation in the currency, combined with possession : against the tenant alother causes which accidentally came ready mentioned, who fortunately into operation at the same period, was the only one who held under the market price of agricultural pro- lease, he continued, notwithstanding duce fell thirty, forty, and sometimes the fall of prices, to enforce the full even fifty per cent. This enormous rent. The unhappy farmer perceived and unexpected reduction in the va the fate which inevitably awaited lue of his commodities, inevitably him, and did every thing that indusand irretrievably ruined every farm- try and rigid economy could do to er who held land under lease, espe- defer at least, if not altogether avert, cially where the landlord refused to the evil. He and his family instantly make any abatement in his rent. It gave up every superfluity and indulgives us, indeed, much pleasure to gence to which persons of their stastate, that the ancient gentry of the tion had been accustomed—they all country, the great landowners, did lived and worked like menials-but promptly consent to make a reduc- his money-lending landlord contition in the amount of their rents, and nued to exact the full rent, which in thus saved their tenants from utter effect robbed him of L.200 per andestruction. But unfortunately for num; and when he came to wind up the farmers, the change in the cur his concerns at the expiration of his rency forced an immense number of lease in 1828, he found, that of the the old proprietors to part with their L.6000 which he possessed
when enpaternal inheritances. These, toge- tering upon this farm, he had but a ther with the leases under which they small remnant still left; with this were let out, came into the posses wreck of his property he has taken a sion of the race of Jews, stock-job- small farm, on which with industry bers, and money-lenders, who had and economy he contrives to mainrealized princely fortunes at the ex tain his family. One other instance pense of the community, when the of a similar kind we must be permitstandard was altered; and these new ed to mention. A little farmer, who possessors of estates from which the by dint of hard labour and economy ancient owners had been ousted, had, in the course of a pretty long scouted the notion of abating one life, succeeded in amassing L.2000, jot from the amount set down in the was tempted to embark in a larger farmer's bond. When a tenant ap concern: in 1812, he took a farm of plied to any of these persons for an about 200 acres on a lease of fourteen abatement of rent, they laughed in years;
of the change his face. “What,” said they, “is not in the currency, this farm also passed the number of pounds set down in by foreclosure into the hands of a the lease ? that number you shall pay money-lender, who steadily refused while you are master of a sovereign." every application which was made They kept their word, and all their to him for an abatement of the rent: tenants were reduced to a state of nothing would content him except
VOL. XXVII. NO, CLXI.
the “pound” set down in the bond. abled to meet the demands of their The result need scarcely be added: landlords, while a small remnant of the old man's capital annually dimi- the produce was still left for their nished. At length his last shilling own subsistence. But the currency being gone, he was obliged to relin- bill of 1819 made a vast addition to quish the farm some time before the the real amount of the rent agreed term of his lease actually expired, upon; and wherever the landlords and it is not many weeks since we exacted the old rents in the new and saw this unfortunateindividual break enhanced
currency, they took to ing stones upon the road, for which themselves in many instances, not a he received from the parish overseer part only, but the whole, of the proone shilling per day.
duce. The effects which this must We adduce these cases as mere have produced upon the condition of samples of the ruin and misery in the Irish occupiers, and who were which the alteration of the currency not already overburdened with spare involved the farming classes; we capital, are so obvious that they need could, from our personal knowledge scarcely be pointed out;
for though and experience, swell the catalogue poor when contrasted with the tea thousand fold. But although we nantry of England, still most of them could perhaps calculate the amount had, during the reign of a deprecia. of their pecuniary losses, who can ted paper currency, accumulated adequately paint the mental misery some savings. To meet the addition experienced by the individuals while which the alteration of the standard they saw their hard-earned savings made to the real amount of their
-the provision which, by a life of rents, these savings were first appliindustry, frugality, and self-denial, ed: but this reserved fund having they had fondly laid up for their off been exhausted, they were at length spring-thus gradually melting away? compelled to part with their stock During the progress of the crisis re- of cattle, and in some cases even with sulting from the changes effected in their miserable furniture. Their reour monetary system, we are con sources having been thus entirely vinced that the classes immediately drained, the Irish population was left connected with land have suffered utterly destitute of any resource or distress more extensive and intense means to meet the trifling deficiency than could have befallen them from which took place in the potato crop the combined effects of all the bad in 1822 ; and the consequence-the measures of the worst ministers that unavoidable consequence-was, the ever were intrusted with the admi- dreadful scene of want, misery, and nistration of the affairs of the nation. suffering, which called for the sym
The alteration made in the stand- pathy and liberality of England at ard of value, when the legislature that memorable period. The subinstituted a metallic for a paper cur scription raised in this country in rency in 1819, we consider also as a 1822 to rescue the people of Ireland circumstance which incalculably ag from the jaws of famine, amounted gravated, if it did not even produce, to upwards of L.304,000; of this sum the intense misery which went near only L.30,882 was laid out in articles to destroy the Irish peasantry in of subsistence, and about L.9000 1822. The Irish population was dis more in potatoes for seed. The retressed at that period, not so much mainder being distributed in money, because the supply of food was great- went for the most part into the pocly deficient, or its price greatly en kets of the landlords in liquidation of hanced, but because an unusual de arrears of rent. gree of poverty had placed this food
The greater part of the mischief beyond their reach. Much of the occasioned by the alteration of the poverty which then prevailed among standard has no doubt been complethe people of Ireland may, we think, ted. The whole class of occupying be fairly traced to the change which farmers have been robbed of the had taken place in the currency. The hard and painful savings of many rent of the land which they occupied years: they are utterly ruined, and had been fixed in a depreciated paper their families are all beggared. Of standard: as long as this deprecia- the old gentry of the country--the tion continued, the tenants were en possessors of estates derived by de
scent from a long and honourable listen to no reasons except such as line of ancestors-a very considerable favour their selfish interests—that number have also disappeared from greedy band of jobbers, who lent mothe scene. Instigated by the ration ney in pounds intrinsically worth no al and laudable desire of improving more than fifteen shillings, and have, their patrimony, many of them were since Mr Peel's ever-memorable bill tempted in an evil hour to mortgage in 1819, received interest for it in their lands. These encumbrances, pounds worth twenty shillings, would contracted in a depreciated paper raise a loud and vehement clamour currency, they have been called up against such a measure. But the claon to liquidate in a metallic standard, mours of selfish and interested men which has added at least twenty-five must not be permitted to defeat an per cent to their real amount. This act of strict and impartial justice. We iniquitous measure has thus dispos- would, therefore, earnestly advise the sessed a great number of them of owners of estates which happen to their patrimonial inheritances, which be encumbered by mortgages or anhave passed into the hands of usurers nuities granted in a depreciated paand money scriveners, or cotton- per standard, to apply to Parliament spinners. But notwithstanding the for the relief to which, on every prinwide ruin which this act of enormity ciple of equity, they are entitled; and oppression has spread amongst and we call upon every lover of fair the agricultural classes, we have good and honest dealing, to back them in ground for thinking that numerous such an application. An application cases still exist, in which the interfe so perfectly just and reasonable in rence of the legislature might afford itself
, would unquestionably obtain the aggrieved parties some portion of the concurrence and support of every the relief to which, on every principle man who does not hold the opinion of justice, they are entitled. We en of the proverbially wise assembly, tertain no doubt, that of the encum which, in 1811, voted for Mr Vansitbrances which in the form of mort- tart's famous resolution, “ That a gages and annuities were imposed pound note and a shilling were, in upon estates during the depreciation public estimation, equivalent to a of the standard, a considerable mass guinea,” at a period when it was noremains still unliquidated.
torious that to purchase a guinea, it Now, no principle of moral equity required a pound note and six or entitles a creditor to expect in re seven shillings. payment more than he actually lent, To the principle of the measure of or an annuitant to claim more than relief here suggested, no objection the granter of the annuity intended can be opposed which is worthy of he should receive. Bare and tardy the slightest consideration. No class justice would therefore only be done of injured and oppressed constituents to this most injured class of his Ma- could present themselves before the jesty's subjects, if the legislature legislature with a clearer and more were to pass an act enabling the forcible claim to relief. Against this owners of real property encumbered plan of redressing the wrongs and by mortages or annuities, to make a grievances of the great body of debtdeduction from the amount of these ors who borrowed money and incurencumbrances equal to the difference red liabilities in a depreciated standbetween the present standard and ard, might perhaps be urged the practhat in which these liabilities were tical difficulty of ascertaining the contracted. It would be no more amount of the depreciation which, at than an act of common honesty to the period of any given transaction, protect this class of debtors from the had taken place in the actual and expalpable injustice of being called changeable value of the paper oneupon to pay in pounds sterling, each pound note; but we see no reason weighing one hundred and twenty to conclude that this difficulty would grains of gold, debts which were ori- be found insurmountable. The difginally contracted in paper pound ference between the market and mint notes, each of which represented no price of gold, together with a refermore than ninety-six, or perhaps ence to the rate of foreign exchanges ninety grains of that metal. It is at the period when
encumbrance very possible that those who will was imposed upon real property,
would, we apprehend, furnish a vocate this “ equitable adjustment!" basis of calculation sufficiently ac In 1829, he continues the same hebcurate and equitable for an adjust- domadal croak. Had such an adjustment. Even this mode of ascertain- ment, not only of the public, but also ing the metallic value of paper-mo- of private debts, of all debts of every ney engagements would operate kind contracted in a depreciated pagreatly in favour of the creditors; per currency, been effected in 1819, for we are to recollect, that the ces. contemporaneously with the estasation of all demand for gold to be blishment of the present standard, we used as current coin had, during the freely acknowledge that it would suspension of cash payments, pro- have been no more than an act of duced a positive reduction in the pure justice. No party would at exchangeable value of that metal that time have been wronged by this as a marketable commodity. No- equitable arrangement; the creditor thing appears more clear, than that would have received all that he really all persons possessed of estates en lent, and the debtor would not, as he .cumbered with mortgages borrow- is now, have been called upon to pay ed, or annuities granted, while the more than he had actually borrowed. currency was depreciated, are en But, having gone thus far with Mr titled to call upon the legislature to Cobbett, we must at once stop; for relieve them from the gross injus- it appears to us that such a measure, tice which, for upwards of ten years, although perfectly fair and equitable they have suffered. The weight of in 181ğ, would be a gross act of ingold represented by the paper money justice, an indefensible and palpable then lent on mortgage, or by the an breach of national faith, if carried nuities then granted, should be as into effect with respect to every
holdcertained, and the payment of that er of stock who has purchased into weight by the owner of the encum the funds since that period. The bered estate should, in all fairness, public, he argues, was grievously be declared a full acquittance of the wronged by Mr Peel's bill in 1819; original debt.
this we readily admit. But does Mr But if it be equitable that all pri- Cobbett really think it would be vate debts of a date anterior to 1819 right that the nation should turn should be thus adjusted according to round, and plunder the public crethe intrinsic, and not nominal value ditor, who was no party to that wrong, of the currency in which they were and who, in fact, neither derives, nor contracted, is it not equally, just and has derived, any advantage from it ? right, that the same principle should Does he really hold the doctrine, be applied to the debts of the public, that the body, called the public, may andthat the dividends of the fundhold- address its present creditors thus : er should be reduced in proportion “I was defrauded by my creditors to the augmentation which has taken in 1819. Having now discovered my place in the value of the currency in loss, I will rob you, although I know which they are now paid ? With that you were no party to, nor derived graceful self-confidence which so any advantage from, the robbery comwell becomes him, Mr Cobbett as mitted upon me at that period?” Acsures his readers, that he is the only cording to this morality, a man who man in this country who understands has been robbed on the highway may the subject of the currency; no great stop and plunder the first passenger compliment, by the way, to the sub- he meets with, in order to make up scribers to his Register, on whom he his loss. If, indeed, Mr Cobbett can has inflicted dissertations on this sub- catch any of the original wrong-doers, ject almost weekly, for these last ten we have no objection to his propoyears. This would seem to prove sal; if he can point out any governeither that he is a very inapt instruct- ment stock still remaining in the or, or that they are a very unpromi- names of the persons themselves (or sing race of pupils. On the ground of their representatives) who purthat a great proportion of the nation- chased and paid for this species of al debt was contracted in a depreci- property in a depreciated currency, ated currency, he contends that the there would certainly be no injustice dividends of the public creditor ought in reducing the amount of their dito be reduced. In 1819, he began to ad- vidends, in proportion to the aug