Page images

no power of itself to issue notes. Rich as we are, enlightened as we The issues, protected by State se- ought to be, we yet commit the curity, could only be made through folly of neutralising to a serious the banks; and no bank would extent our great advantages. What take from the State more notes should we think of a man who, than were needed by the commun- after constructing with years of ity, as it would be a loser thereby. labour a vast reservoir for the supIt is equally obvious that the public ply of his mills, should put upon would not take from the banks his reservoir sluices which cannot more notes than could be profitably be opened wide enough to utilise employed in business, because the the contents of the reservoir, and note-issues (then as now) would take in consequence has ever and anon to place almost entirely by means of see his mills stopped for want of an the discount-operations of banks; adequate supply of motive power ? and no man would pay interest (by Yet this is exactly our own case discounting a bill) for notes which under the present Bank Acts. These he did not require. Under the new Acts, passed under a misapprehensystem the amount of currency in sion, prevent us from reaping the circulation would be no greater than full benefit of our vast store of it is at present. But there is this capital ; for they restrict the means great advantage on the side of the by which capital can be lent, and new system, that the currency would thus raise in an artificial manner have a power of expansion in ac- the Rate of Interest. The effect of cordance with the varying require this is most injurious to our national ments of the community, which prosperity : it ever and anon puts a would be of great benefit in excep- clog upon the wheels of industry, tional times, as it would suffice to and is the chief cause of those startfree the measure of value from the ling ebbs of Trade, of those comenormous fluctuations which at pre- mercial crises, which checker the sent it so frequently undergoes. onward progress and natural expanAnd to attain this object all that is sion of our national industry. requisite is, that (under the above- As nearly all our trade is carried named conditions) every bank should on by means of credit, by loans of have a means of lending its capital capital, the Rate of Interest (one and utilising its credit by an issue form of which is the rate of disof notes when such notes are needed count) forms a deduction from the by the public. Thus, while the profits of industry, and it may rise validity of the note would be fully so high as to absorb all the profits. secured, the currency would be kept When the Rate is low or moderate, unchanging in value; and the rate many industrial undertakings can of interest would be regulated, not, be carried on, which must be abanas now, by a mere scarcity or super- doned when the Rate becomes high. abundance of notes, but by the Under a high rate of interest, the natural law of supply and demand only kinds of trade which can be -i.e., by the amount of loanable carried on are those which yield capital and the extent of the de- more than the ordinary rate of promand for it.

fits, or which are conducted by All trade is affected by the Rate great capitalists, who can afford to of Interest. Capital ---the realised stand a temporary loss. The trader wealth of a country- is like a of moderate means, or the rising vast reservoir, from which flow man who seeks to compensate his forth the streams which set in mo- lack of capital by industry and tion the thousand wheels of Indus- ability, have at such times to go to try. The capital of this country is the wall, and have the mortification enormous, our reservoir of motive to see their business appropriated, power is unparalleled in magnitude: or their stock bought up, by some but we must look to the sluices. large capitalist, who can not only withstand the hard times, but make be allowed to follow its natural a large profit by buying up the course, and that the value of capital depreciated goods of his smaller on loan shall not be artificially neighbours or rivals in the trade increased by the maintenance of a As the rate of interest rises, one legislative restriction upon the merchant after another fails,-one means by which capital can be class of business after another be- lent. We desire that legislation comes unprofitable. The national shall no longer interfere with the industry is contracted, labour is free action of Trade and Capital, robbed of its wages, and thousands shall no longer insist upon reguof the working-classes are thrown lating the size and movement of out of employment. Turgot, by a the sluices upon the reservoir, but grand and striking figure, bas lik- allow the supply to flow freely acened the Rate of Interest to a flood- cording to natural laws. It is level" below which all labour, all hardly to be expected that the supcultivation, all industry, all com- ply will at all times be adequate to merce, cease. It is like a sea spread meet the demand, but at least do over a vast country: the summits not let us cause a dearth, a great of the mountains rising above the national calamity, by artificially waters, and forming fertile and cul- restricting the flow, and thereby tivated islands. But if that sea imposing a heavy burden upon combegin to ebb, in proportion as the merce, which has to pay a double level of the waters falls, the slopes price for the commodity which is of the mountains, then the plains indispensable to its operations. and the valleys, come into view, and As a matter of practical politics, give birth to all kinds of produce. the reform of our banking and The rise or fall of the flood-level to currency laws is the most urgent the extent of a single foot suffices question of the day. To a great to inundate, or to give to cultiva- commercial country like ours, the tion, immense tracts of country.” economy of capital, and the aboliSo is it with the Rate of Interest. tion of the banking monopoly Every rise to the extent of a single which weighs so injuriously upon per cent tends to suppress certain Trade, are matters of paramount branches of industry, and when it importance. And the only means rises to 10 per cent, all trade be- of accomplishing this reform is by comes wofully contracted—the field laying before the public a broad, of labour is almost submerged, and clear, and intelligible measure. hundreds of our merchants and Hitherto the currency question has thousands of our working-classes been a mystery to the public, -not perish beneath the rising flood. from any mystery in the subject

This is an important consideration itself, but from the imperfect knowfor our statesmen; it is a fact to be ledge or confusion of ideas on the pondered by every one who has at part of those who have attempted heart the interests of his country to expound it. In no other branch and the welfare of the masses. A of political science has there been low rate of interest benefits indus- such an abundance of theories and try and expands trade ; a high rate assertions, and so little knowledge of interest contracts or kills them. of, or reference to, the hard facts This is simply the truth. Never of the case. The very language of theless, in these papers, we have writers on the currency has been a limited ourselves to a much humbler sort of embryo language, not easily aim than that which seems to have to be understood, and showing plainfound a place in the mind of Turgot. ly that the ideas of the writers were We do not desire “ cheap" money likewise in embryo. A man who any more than we desire “dear clearly understands his subject has money. All that we contend for no difficulty in writing clearly. It is is, that the Rate of Interest shall a confusion of thought on the part of


a writer which alone occasions con- no apathy. The Bank of England, fusion in the mind of the reader. and some of the other banks which Let a clear exposition be made- at present possess a monopoly of let a broad and intelligible measure the currency, would vehemently of monetary reform be brought for- oppose any interference with their ward in Parliament,-and there will privileges; but the commercial be no apathy on the part of the pub- classes as a body would as earnestly lic. But small measures won't do. support the measure ; and the pubDuring the last sixteen months, the lic at large would unquestionably Chancellor of the Exchequer has be in favour of the principle of brought forward two separate Bills freedom and competition. relating to the currency, and each On a future occasion we may preof them, from the same cause, has sent in detail our plan of reform, and fallen to the ground. In each of deal fully with the only knotty part these Bills - the one relating to of the question-namely, that which Scotland, the other to the English relates to the new arrangements to provincial banks of issue—there be made with the Bank of England. was something good and something But, for the present, we have done bad. But the main reason of their enough in showing plainly the evils failure was, that while they aroused of the existing system, and in proopposition in some quarters (as posing in outline a clear and comevery Bill does), they excited no prehensive measure of reform. Nocounterbalancing sympathy on the thing can be simpler than the prinpart of the public, or even of the ciple upon which that measure is supporters of the Government. The based. Let all banks equally have Bills were petty in character, and the means of lending their capital vague in their object. We do not and utilising their credit. Whatknow what are the views of Mr ever be the conditions imposed upGladstone on this important ques- on the issue of notes, let all banks tion. We are not sure whether (subject to those conditions) have he is an advocate of the existing an equal right to issue notes. This monopoly, or of a regime of free- is the cardinal point, the fundadom. Perhaps he still wavers. The mental principle, of our system : character of both the Bills shows and that system is so framed as to plainly that he is dissatisfied with insure practical results of the utthe existing state of things, but most importance. The validity of neither of them showed clearly to the Note—the unchangeableness of which side he leans—whether to the Measure of Value-the emancifreedom of banking, or to an in- pation of the Rate of Interest from crease of the present monopoly. all influences save that of the natAccordingly the public, and Parlia- ural law of supply and demand : ment itself, felt no interest in the these are the great objects which matter. They only saw that some we have kept in view. And in attrifling alterations were proposed, taining these objects, by the scheme for which no definite object was which we have proposed, we achieve assigned ; and the Bills fell to the also that freedom of banking wbich ground, not owing to the strength is indispensable to complete the of the opposition made to them, general system of Free Trade, and but because no one felt any interest to terminate a regime of monetary in supporting them.

monopoly which is a disgrace to a We believe the result would be civilised country—which ever and very different if the question were anon inflicts immense evils upon brought forward in the manner trade, and which is the chief cause which we have proposed. Doubt of those disastrous collapses which less there would be strong opposi- checker and retard the onward tion-but certainly there would be course of our national prosperity.



SOMEBODY ought to compile a stance, should not a select clique of handbook for débutants and début- Oxford Street shopkeepers give a antes, setting forth the most ap- series of parties which might beproved modes of procuring invita- come the rage for one season ? tions to balls and parties during They have only to get two or three the London season. Not only would leaders of ton to patronise them at it be a very invaluable guide now, first, and be very exclusive and but it would be interesting for pos- select in their invitations afterterity to refer to as illustrating the wards, to insure success. A year manners and customs of their an- or two ago the thing to do was cestors, and accounting for the here- Cremorne; why not have an Oxford ditary taint of snobbism which is Street year? The Bodwinkle tendprobably destined to characterise ency will result at last in its being in an eminent degree the popula- the great ambition of a man's life tion of the British Isles. “En to get his daughters asked to “a Angleterre," said a cynical Dutch little music and a few friends" at diplomatist, "numero deux va chez his bootmaker's. numero un, pour s'en glorifier au- In Paris, which is becoming raprès de numero trois.” Had he pidly impregnated with this spirit, gone to the Bodwinkle ball, he that city being in a very receptive would have remarked a curious in- condition for everything bad from version of his aphorism, for there all parts of the world in Paris, I it was numero un who went down say, they have made a very good to numero deux. But I must leave start, as any of my fair friends who it to Van den Bosch (that, I think, have patronised Mr Worth's afterwas his name) to discover what noon tea - parties in the Rue de there was to boast about to num- la Paix will readily acknowledge. ber three. He was evidently a They will bear testimony to the profound philosopher, but I doubt good taste of the milliner, and I his getting to the bottom of this to the bad taste of his customers. great social problem. To do so, he That vain women in the highest would have to look at it free from circles of Parisian fashion can, in all petty prejudice, recognising its an eager rivalry to display as much sublime as well as its ridiculous fea of their backs as possible, endeavtures. Why did Duchesses struggle our to obtain the especial patronage to be asked to Bodwinkle's? I of a man - dressmaker, by acceptalmost think a new phase of snob- ing his invitations to tea, should bism is cropping out, and the rivalry be a warning to you, O gentle will be to try, not who can rise English dames, of what you may highest, but who can sink lowest come to. Why sacrifice self-respect in the social scale. The fashion- and propriety to shoulder-straps ? able world is so blasé of itself that Why insist upon it that there is it has positively become tired of only one man in the world who worshipping wealth, unless its knows how to cut out a dress beowners possess the charm of ex- hind ? Supposing he can bring it treme vulgarity. Its taste has be- an inch lower down than anybody come so vitiated by being unnatu- else—if you give that inch, beware rally excited and pandered to, that of the ell. Why, oh why, advertise we shall have to invent some new your clothes in the newspapers ? object of ambition. Why, for in- Is it not enough to puff your dinnerparties in the public journals at so terprise upon which he had emmuch a “notice,” without paying barked, would occupy more space fifteen shillings a - piece to your than I can afford. To give a list dressmaker to put your names into of the guests would be superfluous, the Morning Post, coupled with as they were very accurately reyour wearing apparel, every time ported in the columns of the 'Mornyou go to Court? If you persist ing Post.' In spite of all Spiffy in the practice, let me recommend could do, Bodwinkle would insist you to put in your own advertise- upon inviting a number of his own ments. The press charge is 10s. friends, and nearly ruined the party 6d.; the dressmaker pockets the irretrievably, by allowing one man other 4s. 6d. Or else be generous; to bring his daughters. However, why keep the whole advertisement as Mrs B. did not take the slightest to yourself ? let the poor dress- notice of them, and as they knew maker put her name in as having nobody, they went away early. furnished the raiment, and she will, Nevertheless, as Lady Veriphast perhaps, let you off the four-and- said, “There were all kinds of peosixpence; otherwise, you may do ple that one had never seen in one's it still cheaper by bills on hoard- life before.” This was the great ings

mistake. People don't yet humili

ate themselves to get invitations to IMMENSE ATTRACTION ! meet people they never saw before. The Marchioness of Scilly will ap- They may come to that, but at pear at Court on the - inst. present nothing is worth going Train glacé poult de soie bouil- to unless all society wants to go. lionée, &c.

Then anything is. Now Spiffy had

so managed, that by a judicious sysI am not sure that to attend the tem of puffing he had excited improfessional social gatherings of a mense interest in the Bodwinkle ball Parisian “undressmaker” and pay he had been morally bill-sticking him twenty francs a “look” is not it in all the clubs for weeks past. He less objectionable, but this is the had told the most répandu young British way of worshipping the same dancing men that it would be imidol. This vein of reflection was possible for him to get them invisuggested to me by Bodwinkle's tations. If Bodwinkle had been ball. Talk of sermons' in stones! General Tom Thumb, and Spiffy they are nothing to the sermons had been Barnum, he could not contained in drums and balls. have achieved a greater success.

First, I have already let my He had insisted upon Bodwinkle readers into the secret history of having Mrs B. painted by the most that ball. I have told them how fashionable artist and exhibited in Lady Broadbrim and Spiffy Gold- the Academy, where the hanging tip combined their resources and committee, some of whom were at the launched the Bodwinkles in Vanity ball afterwards, gave it a good place, Fair with a gorgeous mansion and and the Times' critic gave it half a Lady Mundane's invitation list. column. Until then he had kept To describe all Spiffy's exertions in her dark. No one had ever seen the Bodwinkle cause for some days Mrs Bodwinkle, except three or prior to the ball would be impos- four literary men, who discreetly sible. To tell of the extraordinary and mysteriously alluded to her insuggestions that Bodwinkle was tellect, and a naughty duke, who continually making with reference indiscreetly and less mysteriously to the decoration of the banisters, alluded to her charms. People bethe arrangements for supper, and gan to want to make Mrs Bodthe utter ignorance he displayed winkle's acquaintance some time throughout of the nature of the en- before the ball, but she resolutely

« PreviousContinue »