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commits extraordinary blunders when But Mr. Southey's error lies deeper he writes on points of which he ac- still. “All wealth,” says he, “was knowledges himself to be ignorant. tangible and real till paper currency He confesses that he is not versec in was introduced.” Now, was there ever, political economy, and that he has since men emerged from a state of neither liking nor aptitude for it ; utter barbarism, an age in which there and he then proceeds to read the pub- were no debts? Is not a debt, while lic a lecture concerning it which fully the solvency of the debtor is undoubted, bears out his confession.
always reckoned as part of the wealth “ All wealth,” says Sir Thomas of the creditor? Yet is it tangible More, “in former times was tangible. and real wealth? Does it cease to bo It consisted in land, money, or chattels, wealth, because there is the security of which were either of real or conven- a written acknowledgment for it ? tional value.”
And what else is paper currency ? Montesinos, as Mr. Southey some- Did Mr. Southey ever read a bankwhat affectedly calls himself, answers note? If he did, he would see that it
is a written acknowledgment of a debt, "Jewels, for example, and pictures, and a promise to pay that debt. The as in Holland, where indeed at one promise may be violated : the debt time tulip bulbs answered the same may remain unpaid : those to whom purpose.
it was due may suffer : but this is a " That bubble,” says Sir Thomas, risk not confined to cases of paper " was one of those contagious insa- currency : it is a risk inseparable from nities to which communities are sub- the relation of debtor and creditor. ject. All wealth was real, till the Every man who sells goods for any extent of commerce rendered a paper thing but ready money runs the risk currency necessary; which differed of finding that what he considered as from precious stones and pictures in part of his wealth one day is nothing at this important point, that there was no all the next day. Mr. Southey refers limit to its production."
to the picture-galleries of Holland. “ We regard it,” says Montesinos, The pictures were undoubtedly real " as the representative of real wealth; and tangible possessions. But surely and, therefore, limited always to the it might happen that a burgomaster amount of what it represents." might owe a picture-dealer a thousand
Pursue that notion," answers the guilders for a Teniers. What in this ghost," and you will be in the dark case corresponds to our paper money presently. Your provincial bank-notes, is not the picture, which is tangible, which constitute almost wholly the but the claim of the picture-dealer on circulating medium of certain districts, his customer for the price of the picpass current to-day. To-morrow tid- ture ; and this claim is not tangible. ings may come that the house which Now, would not the picture-dealer issued them has stopt payment, and consider this claim as part of his what do they represent then? You wealth? Would not a tradesman who will find them the shadow of a shade." knew of the claim give credit to the
We scarcely know at which end to picture-dealer the more readily on begin to disentangle this knot of ab- account of the claim ? The burgosurdities. We might ask, why it should master might be ruined. If so, would be a greater proof of insanity in men not those consequences follow which, to set a high value on rare tulips than as Mr. Southey tells us, were never on rare stones, which are neither more heard of till paper money came into useful nor more beautiful ? We might use ? Yesterday this claim was worth ask how it can be said that there is no a thousand guilders. To-day what is limit to the production of paper money, it ? The shadow of a shade. when a man is hanged if he issues any It is true that, the more readily in the name of another, and is forced claims of this sort are transferred from to cash what he issues in his own ? hand to hand, the more extensive will be the injury produced by a single | industry in the kingdom, and feeds failure. The laws of all nations sanc-half the mouths. Take, indeed, the tion, in certain cases, the transfer of weight of the national debt from this rights not yet reduced into possession. great and complicated social machine, Mr. Southey would scarcely wish, we and the wheels must stop.”. should think, that all indorsements of From this passage we should have bills and notes should be declared in- been inclined to think that Mr. Sonthey valid. Yet even if this were done, the supposes the dividends to be a free gift transfer of claims would imperceptibly periodically sent down from heaven to take place, to a very great extent. the fundholders, as quails and manna When the baker trusts the butcher, for were sent to the Israelites ; were it not example, he is in fact, though not in that he has vouchsafed, in the following form, trusting the butcher's customers. question and answer, to give the public A man who owes large bills to trades- some information which, we believe, men, and fails to pay them, almost was very little needed. always produces distress through a “ Whence comes the interest ?" says very wide circle of people with whom Sir Thomas. he never dealt.
“ It is raised," answers Montesinos, In short, what Mr. Southey takes for" by taxation." & difference in kind is only a difference Now, has Mr. Southey ever consi. of form and degree. In every society dered what would be done with this men have claims on the property of sum if it were not paid as interest to others. In every society there is a the national creditor? If he would possibility that some debtors may not think over this matter for a short time, be able to fulfil their obligations. In we suspect that the “momentous beneevery society, therefore, there is wealth fit” of which he talks would appear to which is not tangible, and which may him to shrink strangely in amount. A become the shadow of a shade. fundholder, we will suppose, spends
Mr. Southey then proceeds to a dis- dividends amounting to five hundred sertation on the national debt, which pounds a year ; and his ten nearest he considers in a new and most conso- neighbours pay fifty pounds each to the latory light, as a clear addition to the tax-gatherer, for the purpose of disincome of the country.
charging the interest of the national “You can understand,” says Sir debt. If the debt were wiped out, a Thomas, “ that it constitutes a great measure, be it understood, which we by part of the national wealth."
no means recommend, the fundholder “So large a part,” answers Monte- would cease to spend his five hundred sinos, that the interest amounted, pounds a year. He would no longer during the prosperous times of agricul- give employment to industry, or put ture, to as much as the rental of all food into the mouths of labourers. the land in Great Britain; and at pre- This Mr. Southey thinks a fearful evil. sent to the rental of all lands, all But is there no mitigating circumhouses, and all other fixed property stance ? Each of the ten neighbours put together."
of our fundholder has fifty pounds a The Ghost and Laureate agree that year more than formerly. Each of it is very desirable that there should them will, as it seems to our feeble unbe so secure and advantageous a de-derstandings, employ more industry posit for wealth as the funds afford. Sir and feed more mouths than formerly. Thomas then proceeds :
The sum is exactly the same. It is in * Another and far more momentous different hands. But on what grounds benefit must not be overlooked ; the does Mr. Southey call upon us to beexpenditure of an annual interest, lieve that it is in the hands of men who equalling, as you have stated, the pre- will spend it less liberally or less judisent rental of all fixed property.” ciously? He seems to think that no
“That expenditure," quoth Monte- body but a fundholder can employ the sinon, "gives employment to half the poor ; that, if a tax is remitted, those who formerly used to pay it proceed which Mr. Southey can possibly mainimmediately to dig holes in the earth, tain that a government cannot be too and to bury the sum which the govern- rich, but that a people may be too rich, ment had been accustomed to take ; must be this, that governments are more that no money can set industry in mo- likely to spend their money on good tion till such money has been taken by objects than private individuals. the tax-gatherer out of one man's But what is useful expenditure? “A pocket and put into another man's liberal expenditure in national works," pocket. We really wish that Mr. says Mr. Southey,“ is one of the surest Southey would try to prove this prin- means for promoting national prosciple, which is indeed the foundation of perity.” What does he mean bg nahis whole theory of finance: for we tional prosperity? Does he mean the think it right to hint to him that our wealth of the state ? If so, his reasonhard-hearted and unimaginative ge- ing runs thus : The more wealth a state neration will expect some more satis- has the better; for the more wealth a factory reason than the only one with state has the more wealth it will have. which he has yet favoured it, namely, This is surely something like that fala similitude touching evaporation and lacy, which is ungallantly termed a dew.
lady's reason. If by national prosperity Both the theory and the illustration, he means the wealth of the people, of indeed, are old friends of ours. In how gross a contradiction is Mr. Southey every season of distress which we can guilty. A people, he tells us, may be remember, Mr. Southey has been pro- too rich: a government cannot: for a claiming that it is not from economy, government can employ its riches in but from increased taxation, that the making the people richer. The wealth country must expect relief; and he of the people is to be taken from them, still, we find, places the undoubting because they have too much, and laid faith of a political Diafoirus, in his out in works, which will yield them " Resaignare, repurgare, et reclysterizare."
We are really at a loss to deternino “A people,” he tells us, “ may be too whether Mr. Southey's reason for rerich, but a government cannot be so. commending large taxation is that it
"A state," says he, “cannot have will make the people rich, or that it will more wealth at its command than may make them poor. But we are sure that, be employed for the general good, a if his object is to make them rich, he liberal expenditure in national works takes the wrong course. There are two being one of the surest means of pro- or three principles respecting public moting national prosperity; and the works, which, as an experience of vast benefit being still more obvious, of an extent proves, may be trusted in almost expenditure directed to the purposes of every case. national improvement. But a people It scarcely ever happens that any may be too rich."
private man or body of men will invest We fully admit that a state cannot property in a canal, a tunnel, or a bridge, have at its command more wealth than but from an expectation that the outlay may be employed for the general good. will be profitable to them. No work of But neither can individuals, or bodies this sort can be profitable to private of individuals, have at their command speculators, unless the public be willing more wealth than may be employed for to pay for the use of it. The public the general good. If there be no limit will not pay of their own accord for to the sum which may be usefully laid what yields no profit or convenience to out in public works and national im- them. There is thus a direct and obprovement, then wealth, whether in the vious connection between the motive hands of private men or of the govern- which induces individuals to undertake ment, may always, if the possessors such a work, and the utility of the work. choose to spend it usefully, be usefully Can we find any such connection in spent. The only ground, therefore, on the case of a public work executed by
a government? If it is useful, are the stand it rightly, that no man can do individuals who rule the country richer? any thing so well for himself as his If it is useless, are they poorer? A pub- rulers, be they who they may, can do lic man may be solicitous for his credit. it for him, and that a government apBut is not he likely to gain more credit proaches nearer and nearer to perfecby an useless display of ostentatious tion, in proportion as it interferes more architecture in a great town than by the and more with the habits and notions best road or the best canal in some re- of individuals. mote province? The fame of public He seems to be fully convinced that works is a much less certain test of their it is in the power of government to utility than the amount of toll collected relieve all the distresses under which at them. In a corrupt age, there will the lower orders labour. Nay, he con. be direct embezzlement. In the purest siders doubt on this subject as impious. age, there will be abundance of jobbing. We cannot refrain from quoting his Neverwere the statesmen of any country argument on this subject. It is a permore sensitive to public opinion, and fect jewel of logic. more spotless in pecuniary transactions,
“Many thousands in your metropolis,' than those who have of late governed says Sir Thomas More, rise every morning England. Yet we have only to look at without knowing how they are to subsist the buildings recently erected in Lon, they are to lay their heads at night. All don for a proof of our rule. In a bad men, even the vicious themselves, know age, the fate of the public is to be that wickedness leads to misery; but many: robbed outright. In a good age, it is even
among the good and the wise, have yet
to learn that misery is almost as often the merely to have the dearest and the cause of wickedness. worst of every thing.
“There are many,' says Montesinos,' who Buildings for state purposes the state know this, but believe
that it is not in the
power of human institutions to prevent this must erect. And here we think that, | misery. They see the effect, but regard the in general, the state ought to stop. We causes as inseparable from the condition of firmly believe that five hundred thou- human nature." sand pounds subscribed by individuals Thomas, so surely there is no such thing
“As surely as God is good,' replies Sir for rail-roads or canals would produce as necessary evil. For, by the religious more advantage to the public than five mind, sickness, and pain, and death, are not millions voted by Parliament for the
to be accounted evils.” same purpose. There are certain old Now if sickness, pain, and death, are saws about the master's eye and about not evils, we cannot understand why it every body's business, in which we should be an evil that thousands should place very great faith.
rise without knowing how they are to There is, we have said, no consis- subsist. The only evil of hunger is that tency in Mr. Southey's political system. it produces first pain, then sickness, But if there be in his political system and finally death. If it did not proany leading principle, any one error duce these, it would be no calamity. which diverges more widely and va. If these are not evils, it is no calamity. riously than any other, it is that of We will propose a very plain dilemma : which his theory about national works either piysical pain is an evil, or it is is a ramification. He conceives that not an evil. If it is an evil, then there the business of the magistrate is, not is necessary evil in the universe : if it is merely to see that the persons and pro- not, why should the poor be delivered perty of the people are secure from at- from it tack, but that he ought to be a jack-of- Mr. Southey entertains as exagall-trades, architect, engineer, school- gerated a notion of the wisdom of gomaster, merchant, theologian, a Lady vernments as of their power. He speaks Bountiful in every parish, a Paul Pry with the greatest disgust of the respect in every house, spying, eaves-dropping, now paid to public opinion. That relieving, admonishing, spending our opinion is, according to him, to be dis.. inoney for us, and choosing our opinions trusted and dreaded ; its usurpation for us His principle is, if we under- ought to be vigorously resisted ; and
the practice of yielding to it is likely to be said to be the basis of government, ruin the country. To maintain police in which religion is not also the basis is, according to him, only one of the of the practices of eating, drinking, and ends of government. The duties of a lighting fires in cold weather. Nothing ruler are patriarchal and paternal. He in history is more certain than that goought to consider the moral discipline vernment has existed, has received some of the people as his first object, to esta-obedience, and has given some protecblish a religion, to train the whole com- tion, in times in which it derived no munity in that religion, and to consider support from religion, in times in which all dissenters as his own enemies. there was no religion that influenced
the hearts and lives of men. It was "Nothing,' says Sir Thomas, “is more certain, than that religion is the basis upon not from dread of Tartarus, or from which civil government rests; that from belief in the Elysian fields, that an religion power derives its authority, laws Athenian wished to have some instituSion; and it is necessary that this religion tions which might keep Orestes from be established as for the security of the filching his cloak, or Midias from breakwould otherwise be moved to and fro with ing his head. “It is from religion,” every wind of doctrine. A state is secure says Mr. Southey, “ that power derives in proportion as the people are attached to its authority, and laws their efficacy.” its institutions : it is, therefore, the first From what religion does our power people be trained up in the way they should over the Hindoos derive its authority, 80. The state that neglects this prepares or the law in virtue of which we hang its own destruction; and they who train Brahmins its efficacy? For thousands them in any other way are undermining it. Nothing in abstract science can be more
of years civil government has existed certain than these positions are.'
in almost every corner of the world, in “* All of which, answers Montesinos, are ages of priestcraft, in ages of fanaticism, novertheless denied by our professors of the in ages of Epicurean indifference, in in the audacity of evil designs, and others ages of enlightened piety. However in the glorious assurance of impenetrable pure or impure the faith of the people ignorance.""
might be, whether they adored a beneThe greater part of the two volumes ficent or a malignant power, whether before us is merely an amplification they thought the soul mortal or imof these paragraphs. What does Mr. mortal, they have, as soon as they ceased Southey mean by saying that religion to be absolute savages, found out their is demonstrably the basis of civil go- need of civil government, and instituted vernment ? He cannot surely mean it accordingly. It is as universal as the that men have no motives except those practice of cookery. Yet, it is as cerderived from religion for establishing tain, says Mr. Southey, as any thing in and supporting civil government, that abstract science, that government is no temporal advantage is derived from founded on religion. We should like civil government, that men would ex- to know what notion Mr. Southey has of perience no temporal inconvenience the demonstrations of abstract science. from living in a state of anarchy? If A very vague one, we suspect. he allows, as we think he must allow, The proof proceeds. As religion is that it is for the good of mankind in the basis of government, and as the this world to have civil government, state is secure in proportion as the and that the great majority of mankind people are attached to public instituhave always thought it for their good tions, it is therefore, says Mr. Southey, in this world to have civil government, the first rule of policy, that the governwe then have a basis for government ment should train the people in the quite distinct from religion. It is true way in which they should go; and it is that the Christian religion sanctions plain that those who train them in any government, as it sanctions every thing other way are undermining the state. which promotes the happiness and vir. Now it does not appear to us to be tue of our species. But we are at a loss the first object that people should alto conceive in what sense religion can ways believe in the established religion