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is not his destiny, he may be assured, to work any revolution, or leave any impression whatever upon either the character or the creed
of his age.
All this Mr. Irving himself must ere now have felt pretty well convinced of. Any name he may ever have had in the literary world is already nearly dead. The more intellectual portion of his old auditors have almost deserted him; and he is once more a mere clergyman, whose trade and daily bread is religion, and to whose preaching hardly any person thinks of resorting, except in the regular way of religious observance. He is still, however, a popular and influential minister of the gospel, the petted idol of many pious coteries, and not only a distinguished professor of the faith, but, if we will take his own account of the matter, a sort of prophet to boot. We have a few words more, therefore, to say of him before we conclude.
That Christianity, which is spiritual and addressed to the heart, is little better than mere sentimentality in Mr. Irving's estimation. If we may judge from the whole tone and character of his recent preaching in particular, his bible is chiefly valued by him as a treasury of curious questions, which he may beat his brains in attempting to solve, in order that he may afterwards amuse and astonish his hearers by the display of his elaborate ingenuity or extravagant fancies And this is what he and his admirers call preaching the Gospel! Of å truth there is nothing which one of your modern saints may not do under the convenient cover of his sanctity, nay, and be vociferously applauded for by the whole multitude of the soi-disant godly. Here is a clergyman, who, if not altogether disregarding, at least throwing into the background whatever about religion is calculated either to direct the conduct, or elevate the affections, devotes the whole enthusiasm of his heart to the illustration of what we may 'airly call the mere Curiosities of Biblical Literature, if that be not too respectable a name for frivolities and absurdities that deserve to be classed only with the wild conclusions of Astrology, or the babble of itinerant fortune-tellers. But then he is one of the privileged -and his most eccentric vagaries are sacred from criticism. Never was there an esprit de corps like that of the religious public of our day. Mr. Irving knows this well, and has trusted fearlessly to the protection which it ensures to him. Having taken out his license to commit whatever extravagances he may find convenient, he has acted upon it with an audacity that is at least creditable to his nerves and his faith in the gullibility of human nature. He had exhausted all other shapes and attitudes of pretension, that were likely to extend his notoriety,—and nothing remained but to set up as a person favoured by direct communications from heaven, and specially gifted and commissioned to unfold a new and more satisfying revelation to Christendom. Such monstrous presumption as this would be called quackery or insanity in any one else—whatever name it may go by in Mr. Irving
Mr. Irving's is what we may call a very scientific Christianity. Had the writing of the New Testament been committed to him, he would have arranged it in a series of demonstrations, after the manner of “ Euclid's Elements." Religion to his taste wou:d be manifestly a very insipid affair, if it could not be talked and disputed about. With
him it is radically, not love, and peace, and gentleness, but anger, argumentation, and wrangling ;-the business, not of the heart, but of the head ;-whose life and being reside not so much in feeling, or even in conduct, as in mere creed, and profession, and ceremony. It is a pity that so vehement a predilection for the ceremonial and parade of godliness should have had no more congenial region to display itself in than what is afforded by the almost dreary simplicity of the ritual of the Scottish kirk. Mr. Irving was undoubtedly intended by nature for the Romish priesthood-let his accidental Protestantism be shocked at the notion as it may.
He would in that communion have been one of the fiercest sticklers for the formalities of the sanctuary that ever preached the saving efficacy of holy-water, or the divine institution of genų. flexions. Even as it is, he evidently rates the mere movements and attitudes of public worship as containing in themselves no little portion of the life and soul of Christianity.
Dogmatism and bigotry are probably necessary to season the other ingredients of such a Christianity as that of Mr. Irving; and in him accordingly there is enough of both. Dissenter as he is, he is distinguished at the same time in a remarkable degree by all that is weakest and worst in the mere churchman. This person, in one word, should have lived in the days when the public executioner was the grand cor, rector of théological errors, and fire and faggot formed the most approved logic of orthodoxy. In making his appearance among us in these times, he has come at least three or four ages too late. He might have delivered his raving prognostications too with quite as much acceptance and effect some hundred years ago as at present; and, with the aid of a few of those tricks of manner and attire which he understands so well, might have succeeded in passing for a genuine prophet, at least till the arrival of the time in which he had laid the scene of his fictions. The scepticism of our day will hardly, it is to be feared, allow him quite so long a trial.
SCOTCH NOTE BILL.
“ A COLLECTION of facts, however extensive," says an able writer of the present day," is perfectly useless for every practical purpose, that is, as a guide for future conduct, until it has enabled us to frame a theory which explains the causes and the consequences of those facts." There are few political questions with reference to which this observation is more true than that of the Currency. Exposed as this is to the exhibition of a number of striking, yet apparently inconsistent, phenomena, these are of a nature peculiarly calculated to mislead those who are unacquainted with the laws by which they are to be solved; and hence the very multiplicity of the facts becomes the prolific source of popular error. Surely we need not be surprised at the want of satisfactoriness which characterized the recent parliamentary debates on the Scotch Note Bill, when we find the highest financial officer in
the kingdom so ignorant of the most elementary principles of currency, that he is unable to draw a distinction between an advocacy of a paper currency in general, and an objection to its want of convertibility into specie*. Be it our endeavour to bring somewhat more of general principles to the elucidation of the measure at issue.
The exclusion of Scotch paper from the circulation of this country is only part of a system which has for its object the substitution of gold for all one pound notes whatsoever. One pound notes, however, are but one division of paper currency. The reasons for their suppression then can alone exist in objections common to all paper, or in objections peculiar to themselves. To ascertain then the policy of the measure in question, the preliminary inquiry will be the propriety of a paper currency in general.
The sole offices of any currency are--to furnish a standard to which commodities in general can be referred for the ascertainment of their relative values, and to supply a medium in which their exchange can be effected. It will be obvious then from its very nature, that “ currency may be considered as perfect, of which the standard is invariable, which always conforms to that standard, and in the use of which the utmost economy is practised †." We shall try the merits of a paper currency by this definition; and under its distinct divisions of invariability and economy.
Now, be the commodity selected for the standard what it may, its variability can alone depend either on the circumstances which regulate the intrinsic value of the commodity itself, or the quantity of that commodity relatively to those others to which it is to serve as the medium of exchange.
The intrinsic worth of all things capable of unlimited production, is dependant on the amount of labour which that production requires. Thus, for instance, a watch may cost fifty times as much as an hourglass, because its manufacture would require fifty times as much labour. The labour required for the production of the precious metals is, under all seasons and circumstances, more uniform than that which is requisite for the production of any other commodity that has yet been discovered. They are consequently less liable to fluctuation in their value; and a currency of which the basis is metallic, possesses accordingly the nearest approximation to invariability yet known. To secure this invariability, it is by no means, however, essential that the currency should itself consist to any degree of the metals. By securing the unqualified convertibility into themselves of any representative which can be substituted in their stead, that invariability necessarily becomes infused into the substitute. There is nothing in the nature of paper to prevent its participating in a common property ; nor is there any doubt that, under a sound system of banking, this convertibility might be secured. The fact has indeed been abundantly established by the most extensive experience. Scarcely any gold has circulated in Scotland for the last half century; and during all that time
* “He was, for his part, very much at a loss to understand how those who supported the return to cash payments in the year 1819, can now advocate a return to the small note system.”-Morn. Chron., June 4, 1828.
+ Proposals for an economical and secure Currency, by D. Ricardo, Esq., 3d ed., p. 6.
the bankers have been pushing their circulation to the utmost extreme capable of absorption. The number of banks is thirty-two; yet it was in evidence before the late committee on Scotch banking, that there have never been more than two failures in the history of their banks; and that the loss by those two occasioned to the public, was the comparatively insignificant sum of 36,3441. [p. 470.] In the state of Massachusetts there are forty-six banks; they have been in the habit of issuing paper money for so small a sum as a dollar; yet during all the convulsion of the American trade in the late war they remained perfectly solvent *.
To the fact that the standard of value is at the same time the medium of exchange, it is owing that the quantity in which it exists produces an effect upon its variability. “ The rationale of this principle," says Mr. Tooke ţ, “ may be thus illustrated. Suppose the circulation of the whole country to be confined to gold, and to consist of twenty millions of sovereigns of the present weight and standard ; if, by some sudden process each piece were reduced by one-twentieth, or five per cent., but the whole amount of pieces strictly confined to the same twenty millions, then, other circumstances being the same, the relation of commudities to the numerical amount of coin lying undisturbed, there would not, it is evident, be any disturbance of prices; and if gold bullion in the market was previously at 31. 175. 10£d. per oz., it would, other things remaining the same, continue at that price, &c. But if the quantity of gold thus abstracted from each piece were coined into one million of additional pieces, and re-issued into circulation, the twenty-one millions would then exchange for no more than the former twenty millions ; all commodities would rise five per cent., and among them gold bullion, which would then be at 41. ls. 9fd." It will be observed, that it is to a power of limiting the quantity of the circulation that this source of variation is alone attributable. But this power can, with reference to the metals, have no existence in a country, in which, like our own, their foreign interchange is permitted. Under such a state of circumstances, then, the second source of variation can never interfere with the steady conformity of a metallic currency to its intrinsic value. We have then to examine its operation upon a circulation of paper. This will be issued by that which, like the Bank of England, may, for the sake of distinction, be pronounced the government bank, or it will be supplied by individuals similar to our country bankers.
And first with respect to the former--the precious metals always participating in every fluctuation of price, produced by a disproportionate issue of the circulating medium, the result of an over-issue of paper
will consequently be a rise-of an under-issue a fall-in their value. But when gold is capable of purchasing more in the market than paper, or paper than gold, it will be the interest of all to possess themselves of the more valuable commodity. The Mint price of gold is 31. 17s. 108d. an oz.; but suppose, by an over-issue of paper, its price were to be raised in the market as high as 41. per oz., the holders of paper would immediately take it to its issuers, to have it exchanged for gold; because upon every hundred pound's worth of paper the transaction would yield them a clear profit of three per cent. But what was thus gained by the issuers would be lost by the holders, and this very loss the Bank of England did, in point of fact, for a series of years sustain * ; while in ignorance of the science, which can only explain the various phenomena of currency, they were left to gaze on in astonishment at the drain on their coffers, without knowing how to provide a remedy. On the other hand, suppose, by a capricious under-issue of paper, the market price of gold were to fall to 31. an oz. ; by enforcing on the Bank its purchase at the Mint price of 3l. 178. 10 d. the Bank would be made to sustain a loss of 175. 104d. upon every oz. they were compelled to buy. Such a principle, it will be easily imagined, might be embodied into a security for the complete uniformity in value of Bank paper; and, accordingly, we are indebted to the late Mr. Ricardo for the discovery of a process by which the most efficient effect is capable of being given to it. “ To prevent the rise of paper, (says he, in detailing his plan about the value of bullion,) the Bank should be obliged to give their paper in exchange for standard gold, at the price of 31. 17s. per oz.
* Sir H. Parnell on Paper Money and Banking, p. 80. + High and Low Prices, p.9.
Not to give too much trouble to the Bank, the quantity of gold to be demanded in exchange for paper at the Mint price of 31. 178. 10£d., or the quantity to be sold to the Bank at 31. 178., should never be less than twenty ounces. In other words, the Bank should be allowed to purchase any quantity of gold that was offered to them, not less than twenty ounces, at 31. 178. per oz., and to sell any quantity that might be demanded, at 31. 178. 10d." The substitution of bullion for coin was iutroduced with a view to saving the expense of a metallic currency; and we venture to assert, that never was a scheme more completely adapted to answer the object it had in view. So well did it work in practice, during the period of its operation, that “all over-issue was effectually prevented, and only a very few bars were demanded from the Bank t. Indeed it is a singular corroboration of the adequacy of this principle to furnish a security for invariability, that during upwards of a century in which the issues of the Bank were, by a lucky accident, limited by it “they were hardly ever depreciated above i per cent., and never more than 2 per cent., and that for a few days only:" even during the whole of the remarkable year of 1825, the fluctuations in the market price of gold,” says the author of some Remarks on the Currency, just published, (which we take this opportunity of recommending to perusal) “ did not, according to Mr. Mushett's Tables, exceed ), or the Paris Exchange vary, except on a single post day, so much as 1 per
cent. !" We pass on then to the paper of the country bankers. And here it must be borne in mind that the profits of a banker are measured by the excess of the profit, derived from the notes he has in circulation, over that of the profit he might have realized by the employment of the stock he is obliged to keep in his coffers to meet the demands of
* Wealth of Nations, vol. ii. p. 41. † Encyclopædia Brittannica. Supplement. Article, “ Money."