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The tenth, eleventh, and twelfth Lectures, which contain an accurate explanation, and, in our judgment, a full vindication of the Newtonian Chronology, might, we think, have been more properly introduced in the third part of this course, in which the author treats of what is necessary or useful to be known previous to the study of history. After some general remarks on the manner in which other branches of science may be applied to history, Dr. P. explains the chief heads of chronology. As an article of informacion very useful in reading history, he relates the successive changes which have taken place in the value of nominal sums of money, and lays down rules for estimating the proportion between money and the necessaries of life. On the subject of money, he chiefly follows the accurate Arbuthnot.
The article might have been materially improved by consulting Clarke's Connexion of Roman, Saxon, and English Coins work of classical correctness, and profound erudition.
In the fourth Part of these Lectures, Dr. P. treats of various methods for facilitating the study of history. poses several mechanical modes of affifting the memory, partiCularly chronological tables, Grey's Method of recollecting Dates by technical Lines, and charts of bistory and biography. The author's own charts are here very properly introduced to the student's attention, as there is no doubt, that they may be used with great advantage in reading history. The Biographical Chart, particularly, is a very ingenious and useful invention. We are surprised that no notice is taken, in this place, of Playfair's Chronology.
The author next proceeds to point out a method in which the principal historical writers of antiquity may be read, so as to collect from them a tolerably regular series of facts; and adds a few strictures on the characters of the principal ancient historians, and a chronological series of original authors, with an account of other authentic documents, on the English history. Both these articles, in which Dr. P. chiefly follows Wheare and Nicholson, are, in our opinion, carried farther into detail than is desirable in a course of academical instruction. The lecturer's business is to open the door of history to the ftudent, not to conduct the writer into its recefles.
If however the perusal of this part of the work should be thought tedious, the reader will be amply repaid when he arrives at the fifth Part, in which upward of thirty Lectures are spent in pointing out the most important objects of attention in hiftory. Here the author treats diftin&tly of the several sources of population, security and happiness, such as Government, Law, Agriculture, Manufactures, Commerce, Finances, Manners, and Religion.
Of the great variety of useful information, and judicious observations, contained in this part of the Course of Lectures now before us, it is impossible, within the limits to which we are obliged to confine our ftri&ures, that we should give our readers ang adequate idea : we must therefore content ourselves with laying before them a single specimen, in the following observations on the Advantages and Disadvantages of National Debts :
• It seems not very difficult briefly to point out the principal advantages and disadvantages attending these national debts. The capital advantage of them is, that they afford relief in great emergencies, and may thereby give a greater permanency to states, which in former times, for want of such great occasional resources, were liable to be overturned without remedy. And if the taxes necessary to pay the interest of these debts be not immoderate, they are, as was observed before, of no disservice to a nacion upon the whole.
Some have represented the national debt as having the same operation with the addition of so much capital stock to the nation, encouraging the industry of it, &c. But whatever money is issued in the form of paper by the government, it is firft deposited in the form of calh by the individual. The man who pays the tax gives up so much of his property, so that it ceases to be productive to him, and it is generally expended by government in army and navy expences, revenue of officers, gratuities, &c. which yield no return. It is like a man giving his son a sum of money which he expends in eating and drinking. The money, no doubt, is employed, and thereby industry is encouraged; but it is only that kind of industry which raises the price of consumable goods. If any man, or any nation, should give all their property in this manner, they would certainly be impoverished, though those to whom their money was transferred would be gainers.
Some persons have paradoxically maintained that there can be no inconvenience whatever attending any national debt; that by this means the price of every thing is indeed raised, but that this affeating all persons alike, they will be as well able to pay the advanced prices, as they were the lower ones. The fallacy of this seasoning may perhaps be moft easily exposed by the following state of the case.
· Let us suppose a society to consist of a thousand labourers, and a thousand persons juft able to employ them. If this society be loaded with any debt, and consequently be obliged to pay a tax; fince all the labourers must fill fubaft, and their employers can give them no more than they do, some of these must become labourers themselves, so that the price of this additional labour fhall be equal to the amount of the tax. It is evident, therefore, that the whole power of the society will be exhausted when the thousand, who first employed the labourers, Mall be all brought into the fame state with them; and when the price of their labour shall be limited by the market to which it is brought. The tendency of a public debt, therefore, is to encrease the quantity of labour in a country; and 10, a certain degree this may be favourable, by promoting industry, but when carried to an extreme, the country must be distressed.
• So long as the labourers can raise the price of their labour, no tax can hurt them. If, for instance, each of them be obliged to pay one Thilling a week, and their wages have been twelve, they must de. mand thirteen Millings; for their wages must be sufficient to subfift them. But when the wages they must absolutely have, in order to pay all the demands upon them, cannot be given, the process must cease.
• We shall always deceive ourselves when we imagine that the case of a country is, in this respect, at all different from that of an indi. vidual, or of a number of individuals, and that though debis may ruin the latter, they will not hurt the former. The only difference
is, shat a state cannot be compelled to pay its debts. But when its . credit is exhausted, it will not only be unable to contract any more
debts, but may not have it in its power even to pay the interest of those already contracted ; and in ihac case it muft neceffarily be exposed to all the inconveniences attending the numerous insolvencies which must be occasioned by its own. And if the insolvency of one great merchant, or banker, produce great distress in a country, how dreadful must be the consequence artending the insolvency of such a nation as England! It must be so extensive and complicated as no politician can pretend to describe a priori.
• The inconvenience of such a debt as the English have now contracted, and which they rather leem disposed to increase than diminish, is great, and may be fatal. If foreigners should become poilefiors of the greatest share of our funds, we are in fact tributary to them, and the difference is very little if they be natives. For ftill the people are debtors to another body than themselves, though they may, in some respects, have the same interest. But the most we have to fear from the accumulation of the national debt will begin to be felt when the interest of it comes to be so great, that it cannot be defrayed by the taxes which the country is able to raise, and when, consequently, the monied people, notwithstanding their interest in keeping up the national credit, will not venture to lend any more. Then one of these two consequences must follow, which I shall introduce in the words of Mr. Hume. “When the new created funds for the expences of the year are not subscribed to, and raise not the money projected ; at the same time that the nation is diftrefied by a foreign invasion, or the like, and the money is lying in the Exchequer to discharge che interest of the old debt; the money must either be seized for the current service, and the debt be cancelled, by the violation of all national credit; or, for want of that money, the nation be enslaved.”
• What we have most to fear from the accumulation of our na. cional debt is not perhaps a sudden bankruptcy, but the gradual diminution of the power of the ftare, in consequence of the increase of taxes, which discourage industry, and make it difficult to vend our manufactures abroad. The private revenue of the inhabitants of Great Britain, Dr. Smith says *, is at present as much incumbered in time of peace, and their ability to accumulate as much impaired, as it would have been in cime of the most expensive war, had the
• Wealth of Nations, vol. iii. p. 528.
pernicioos system of funding never been adopted. The practice of funding, he says, has gradually enfeebled every state which has adopted it. The Italian republics seem to have begun it. Genoa and Venice, the only two remaining which can pretend to an inde. pendent existence, have both been enfeebled by it. Spain seems ta have learned the practice from the Italian republics; and (its taxes being probably less judicious than theirs) it has in proportion to its Datural strength been ftill more en feebled. The debts of Spain are of very old standing. It was deeply in debt before the end of the fixteenth century, about an hundred years before England owed a fhilling. France, notwithstanding its natural resources, languishes under an oppreslive load of the same kind. The republic of the Uoited Provinces is as much enfeebled by its debts as either Genoa or Venice. Is it likely then, he adds, that in Great Britain alone a practice, which has either brought weakness or desolation into every other country, should prove altogether innocent?
• When debts have been contracted, and a' fund appointed for paying the interest of them, it is generally contrived to be so ample, as to do something more than this, and the surplus is made a fund for finking, or paying off, the debt ; and is therefore called a finking fund. And as discharging the debt discharges the interest of the debt at the same time, it necessarily operates in the manner of compound interest, and therefore will in time annihilate the debt. But the tempration to apply this linking fund to other purposes is so great, that it has been of little use in this country.
• To facilitate the payment of these debts, it is customary with some nations to borrow upon lives, viz. either to give the lender an annuity for his own life, or an annual sum to a number of persons to expire with the last life. This last method is called a tontine. Both these methods have succeeded better in France than with us.
• Mr. Postlethwaite makes an estimate of what taxes these kingdoms may be supposed to bear, in the following manner. People who live in plenty, as in England, may part with a tenth of their income ; but so poor as Scotland and Ireland in general are, a twentietb.co ghen would be as much as a tenth to the English. By which, considering the number of the people, and their incomes, computed at a medium, he puts the amount of all that can be drawn from the three kingdoms annually at eight millions three hundred and seventyfive thoufand pounds.
• Experience bas taught us that we are able to bear a much greater burden than this, or than any person, even the most fanguine among us, had imagined we ever could bear; our national debt at present being about two hundred and forty millions, the interest of which is twelve millions. However, without naming any particular sum, if the national debt Mould be raised so high that the taxes will not pay the interest of it, and at the same time defray the ordinary expences of government, one or other of the consequences above mentioned muft ensue. And in the mean time our manufactures must be burdened, and consequently our ability to pay taxes must be diminished, by every addition to the national debt.
• Inftead of paying off any part of the national debt, some think it would be better, as soon as the produce of any tax would enable
the state to do it, to take off some of the other more burthensome taxes, especially such as tend to check manufactures, and thereby to diminish the power of acquiring wealth. For if the country grow more wealthy, the debt, though nominally the same, becomes in reality less, in proportion to the greater ability to discharge it. Thus a person in a good way of trade does not always find it his interest to pay his debis, because he can employ that surplus by which he could discharge them to a better account. For it is poslible that with an hundred pounds, by which he might have diminished his debts, he may acquire a thousand.
• It can hardly be expected, however, that ministers of state will have the magnanimity, or the judgment, to act upon this plan. Otherwise, by adding to fome taxes, as those on land and houses, acquired by wealth, and diminishing those on manufactures, by which wealth is acquired, a nation might become so wealthy, as that its debts would be of little consequence to it. But till mankind are cured of the expensive folly of going to war, it is not even desirable that nations should have any large surplus of wealth at the disposal of their governors ; as it would be sure to be squandered in some mischievous project. Wise nations therefore, not being sure of a Succession of wise governors, will be content to be just able to pay the interest of their debts, as the only security for peace, and indeed the only guard against destruction.'
Though we cannot entirely agree with our author in several of the opinions which he advances, particularly in his ideas of religious establishments, we make no scruple of recommending these Lectures to our readers, especially to young persons; who will find them of great use, not only to affift them in the study of history, but to awaken their attention to important objects, and lead them to a habit of reflection and inquiry.
These Lectures were drawn up many years ago, when the author was a Tutor in the Academy at Warrington. The introductory Essay was first published in the year 1764. Espood Art. II. Sketches of society and Manners in Portugal. In a Series of
Letters from Arthur William Costigan, Esq. late a Captain of the
genuine correspondence of an officer, who wrote from observation and experience; but they frequently breathe so much of the spirit of romance, and of fiétitious disguise, that a suspicious reader will be apt to question the authenticicy of the whole. We have, bowever, no doubt as to the truth of the general representation bere given of the character of the Portuguese nation, and of the contracted genius and illiberal maxims of their government. Much pains have evidently been taken to give us a molt unfavourable idea both of the politics and morals of our