Page images

colonies and dependencies, the want of which has long been felt.*

As this estimate cannot be proved correct by reference to authentic data, I am quite ready to admit that the calculation I have made may prove to a certain extent erroneous, but with every allowance that can be imagined, there would still remain a saving to the public by the measure which must decidedly recommend its adoption at present. Suppose, for instance, that the circulation of the United Kingdom, and all its dependencies, instead of absorbing 175 millions as stated, yielding an interest of three per cent. the sum of £5,250,000 should upon trial only yield the one-half of that sum, besides the saving in getting rid of the interest upon the sums due to the Banks of England and Ireland, amounting to nearly half a million more, it would require very strong facts to justify the rejection of a measure holding out such a prospect of positive gain and national independence, added to the negative advantages already enumerated to commerce and manufactures. Should this plan be adopted, the specie put out of circulation will come into the hands of the Parliamentary Commissioners, and of course will be disposable according to the will of Parliament. The value of having such an amount to lay out in railroads and other national objects producing an annual

* In the details of the measure, many new advantages to the country and to the revenue might arise, and the certainty of succeeding in the establishment of an inconvertible paper currency in every British dependency is rendered easy by the formation everywhere of Joint Stock Banks, who might be restricted to the use of the national paper only.

revenue to the state, and at same time in a still greater degree promoting the prosperity of the country at large, can scarcely be over-estimated, for if the inconvertible paper is not over-issued, all the sovereigns now in circulation will inevitably be paid into the hands of the National Commissioners.

The foregoing plan, though for a length of time the subject of my own reflections, is now for the first time committed to paper, and during the progress of the manuscript my conviction of its correctness, and the great public advantage to be derived from its adoption, has been very much confirmed. It appears to me to accomplish everything sought to be attained by the return to cash payments without being liable to any of the objections to which that measure has been so generally considered liable-at the same time I am fully aware it would meet with the most decided opposition from all the Scotch and Irish Banking Companies who have been indulged with the privilege of issuing 20s. promissory notes of their own establishments, which is of course much more beneficial to them than issuing national paper, such as herein recommended. But it cannot be supposed that the public interest, if clearly perceived, could or would be sacrificed to such opposition, nor yet to the more formidable hostility of the Banks of England and Ireland, who, having large claims on the Government, might therefore be considered still more formidable opponents- but the plan proposed smooths away those difficulties, for the debts would become payable in the new and national paper, and could therefore be discharged without the slightest difficulty.

In conclusion, I beg of the unprejudiced reader calmly to consider the defects universally admitted to exist in the present monetary system – the efficient circulating medium which a bank-note currency has proved itself to be-the arguments and facts which show how the evils formerly experienced may be satisfactorily guarded against, by the appointment of Parliamentary Commissioners—the manner in which the objections likely to occur are set aside—the protection to commerce and manufacture which it may be expected to afford against those panics which have lately so often occurred—the national independence it tends to promote, and the great gain to the state, by taking to itself the profit on the issue of a national paper currency,—and then to say whether it is wise to persevere in the present system.— I have found that a patient consideration of the facts and arguments herein advanced has led me to abandon very strong prejudices in favour of a metallic basis, which I at one time considered absolutely necessary, as a check to the over-issue of paper moneybut, in abandoning this opinion, - which I have been driven to by seeing the ruinous effects produced by the monetary crisis in the United States, and the danger arising therefrom to our national power and independence,

- I have not given up the principle upon which all my arguments turned in the chapter on our monetary system in “ The Claims of the Landed Interests,” and I still maintain (in entire accordance therewith) that the circulating medium should be always kept up to the amount required by the extent of the transactions carried on through its agency, and that the denial of discount should at all times be rendered unnecessary, and it is merely for the better accom

plishment of these desiderata, that an inconvertible paper currency has here been substituted, as being a more effectual remedy than those therein proposed.

To those who remain incredulous as to the self-regulating principle, which I have endeavoured to prove will be brought into action under the plan recommended, and who may feel doubtful as to its efficiency in keeping the amount of the circulation within the proper bounds-to those I have only to say that the control of the currency does not ultimately depend on the working of this prin. ciple, or the practical results of the theory I have advanced-should there be any failure in its operation the absolute power over the circulation is placed in the hands of the Commissioners, who may lessen or enlarge it precisely as they think proper. And to enable them to exercise this power more effectually, and to give them a more accurate knowledge of the business doing by every bank, it might be enacted that all the balances in the clearance-room and elsewhere, in the mutual settlements of bankers, should be paid by cheques on the Commissioners, which would give a thorough insight into the business carrying on by every establishment, and would enable them to regulate the accommodation it might appear prudent to give to each, according thereto.

I cannot conclude without begging of the reader to pardon, in the foregoing, any expressions which may perhaps have escaped me, appearing to evince any unbecoming confidence in the correctness of the views which are advocated herein-an error which it is not easy for any writer entirely to guard against, who is strongly impressed with the truth of what he advances. I most freely acknowledge the deep sense I entertain of the great difficulty

of the subject, and the diffidence with which it behoves every one to approach its discussion-and with this declaration, I now venture to submit the facts and the arguments which have carried conviction to my own mind, as clearly as in my power, to the consideration of others.

« PreviousContinue »