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The impression, with a view to our Public Credit at present, is perhaps still more important. Its general effect also on the rate of Interest, might ultimately have an influence on all Commercial and Landed Property, and on pecuniary transactions of every description. Besides this, it is obvious, that in proporţion as the price of the Funds sinks, every objection which before existed to the system of borrowing increases. It must at all times be ultimately a more expensive mode to the Public of procuring Money, than that of raising it by a Contribution within a short period; but the proportion in which it is so, grows heavier as the Rule of Interest, and the amount of Capital to be created, is greater. The Interest, and the One per Cent. Sinking Fund to redeem the Capital, cannot now together amount to less than Eight and a Half per Cent. Granting even that, for the sake of present convenience, it might be wise to create a greater permanent burden, to the extent necessary for borrowing at an annual charge of Four or Five per Cent.; it is a very different question now, that the annual and permanent charge is increased in the proportion we have stated, and when Each successive Loan on the old Plan would be likely to increase it still farther.
It has been shewn by calculations which cannot be disputed, that the ultimate loss to the Public by borrowing Fifteen Millions in the old mode, would, in the course of the next forty years, amount to no less a sum than near Thirty-five Millions. These circumstances would press more severely in each successive year of War, if the ambition and obstinacy of the enemy should prolong it, They are, in fact, what that enemy avowedly looks to as its chief grounds for hoping to wear us out in the Contest; and it is not a little remarkable, that all those who are the VOL. I.
Partizans of France here, who have for years been decrying our Resources of every description, and particularly predicting the failure of the Funded System, now, for the first time, affect to dwell on the sufficiency of our Resources, particularly if applied in that very mode of funding which they have so long been attacking. This is a striking proof of the sincerity and zeal with which English Jacobins, on every turn, are willing to serve the French Cause. It shews us at once what the great difficulty on our part is, on which our Enemies build their hopes, and that their abettors here have no other object in view, in recommending a conduct directly contradictory to all their former pretended opinions, but that such hopes may be realized. These considerations alone might be enough to determine us to disappoint such a project by a new and spirited exertion, which shall provide for our present Security, and save the Country from future and pera manent embarrassments.
If, during a few years to come, we have the determination and vigour to provide for the Public Exigencies, without allowing the Capital of our Debt to gain upon us too rapidly, we have the satisfaction of knowing that the quick progress of the Established Sinking Fund will soon have brought it to such an amount, that we may hope to provide for the expence of all future Wars, without creating a greater Debt in any one year, than we shall be in the course of discharging in the same period. Such a system, cffectually followed up, would indeed render this Country INVINCIBLE. Surely no present sacrifice could be too great to secure such an object; but it is still less possible to hesitate, if the system by which it may be accomplished, appears (as we think we have proved) to be at the same time the best, if not the only effectual mode, of providing for our present security.
For these reasons, we approve warmly of this Plan, as it proposes to raise a considerable part of the Supplies within the year. We cannot, however, push this reasoning so far as to agree with another very small description of persons, who have expressed a wish to go, at once to the extreme of raising the whole Supplies in the mode now proposed, without having recourse to a Loan for any part of them. If, indeed, at the present moment, we had no burdens to sustain in consequence of past expences; or, if the expences of the War could be brought within a much narrower limit, such a Plan might perhaps be found practicable and expedient;-but to attempt suddenly to raise as large a Sum as Nineteen Millions, within the year, over and above the Permanent Taxes, must obviously be attended with a degree of present pressure, very far beyond what is now proposed, and greater than the Circumstances require. No degree of burden really necessary to carry us through this Contest, can, in our opinion, be too great, because the Contest is, and is admitted to be, FOR THE WHOLE. But if the present proposal both reduces the amount of the Loan within such limits as to prevent material embarrassment at present, and provides a mode of Redemption which avoids permanent burdens and ultimate loss, we do not think it wise to carry the principle to an extreme, and, by doing so, to endanger or impede its execution.
After remarking on the two opposite extremes of opi. nion, with respect to the sum to be raised within the year, we are led next to consider what has been stated by those who admit the propriety and necessity of such a measure to the extent proposed. The Statements on which we have now to comment, have assumed the appearance of Objections, not to the Substance and Principle of the
Measure, Measure, but to its Details, and to the mode by which it is to be executed. In fact, however, some of these more properly rank under the head of Objections (though a little disguised) to the Principle of the measure itself They cannot be admitted as valid, without relinquishing, as we believe, all chance of ever raising any large part of the Supplies by an extraordinary and occasional Contribution. Of this nature is the observation made, from different, though not from very numerous quarters, that the Plan does not extend the Contribution to all the Classes of Property to which it might apply. We admit it to be desirable that a Plan of this nature should be as extensive as is practicable. It is certainly (generally speaking) more just and expedient that such a burden should be difo fused over the whole Property of the County, above a certain amount; but the question to be considered is, whether any Practicable Plan can be found which will not leave room for Property of some description to escape ; and whether the present Plan does not apply to as large a proportion, and distribute the burden as equitably, as any that has been, or can be suggested ?
Would it be preferable, or, indeed, is it possible, to establish a General Inquisition into the state of every man's dealings and affairs, in order to ascertain precisely the amount of property of every description? If such a plan is not adopted, is it best that each person, apparently in a situation to contribute, should be assessed, in the first instance, at some given rate, arbitrarily, and by guess; or that, instead of leaving such a task to the discretion of persons who can have generally no sufficient information, some visible criterion should be selected, by which a presumptive judgement may be formed of every man’s Income, according to his establishment and the nar, indeed, is it possible, si tion into the state of eve? in order to ascertain precise every description? If suci est that each person, apparere ute, should be assessed, in 3
ture given rate, arbitrarily, 2017 of leaving such a task to the use
-asure itselfat relinquishing
any large part of casional Concibe on made, from dit us quarters, that the 2 to all the Classes of
W e admit it to be should be as extensive - (generally speaking)
a burden should be dif De County, above a cer. o be considered is, whe
e found which will 27 me description to escape; pes not apply to as larza Durden as equitably, 23 3!
ture of his Expenditure, leaving open to him the means of obtaining abatement, in any case where the criterion may be found to apply unequally? If the latter alternative is preferred (as on the bare statement it must be), there remains only the question, What is the best criterion ? That which had been chosen is the general amount of the Assessed Taxes. These certainly afford, on the face of them, a reasonable test of every man's Expenditure, according to the size and value of the House he resides in, the number of his Servants, his Horses, his Carriages, and some other articles of less importance. It is true that Expenditure, under these heads, is no universal proof of Income proportioned to it. One man, from inattention, vanity, or speculation, may spend more than his Income. Another, from frugality or avarice, may spend less; but this observation must be true equally of every visible criterion. Various sorts of Income and Property can never be known but to the Possessor, unless by that General Inquisition which we have before spoken of; and if we stop short of this (nay, perhaps, even if we attempt it), it is in vain to suppose that some degree of inequality can be avoided.
But it should be observed here, that if (in consequence of this inequality, from the want of a visible criterion perfectly exact) the charge on any person is beyond his fair proportion, means of effectual relief are provided, on his declaring that the sum required from him would exceed a given part of his Income. The worst therefore that can happen is, that in some cases, particular persons may be charged less than was intended : but no one is in danger of being charged more. -- If then a Great Effort is indispensibly necessary for the Public Safety, if the burden is diffused over the different Classes of Society, with com
can have generally no sufic pie criterion should be selected" udgement may be formed of ek ding to bis establishment and the