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Men have been unwilling to believe in the extent of their own danger, and the depravity of their species. — It was observed by Mr. BURKE, very early in the Revolution, that nothing had contributed more to the ruin of the King, and the Nobility, than that disposition to believe in the possibility of a returning sentiment of humanity or remorse in the minds of their Persecutors.
The artifice of accompanying a violent Declaration with an insinuated disavowal, has been already put in practice against this Country, and we must expect to see it repeated. We should not be surprized if the Directory were to tell us confidentially, that they are disposed to treat with such or such Ministers, upon such or such terms - They would in the mean while continue their open invectives, and declarations of vengeance, against us; and while, upon the faith of these unauthorized communications, we were looking for security in such domestic arrangements as we might conceive would be most acceptable to our Enemies -- while we were engaged in party cavils and recriminations, the ATTEMPT AGAINST THIS COUNTRY WOULD BE MADE.
N° X.-MONDAY, JANUARY 15, 1798.
Neque enim levia aut ludicra petuntur
VIRG. ÆN. 12.
THE important Measure by which a large proportion
1 of the Supplies for the present Year is provided for, having now received the final approbation of the Legislature, we think it right to take a review of the leading topics which have been brought under our notice, during this interesting discussion.
The great principles on which we have already conceived it to be founded, and which originally recommended it to our warmest approbation, were these: - That it tended to prevent a farther depreciation of the Funds, in consequence of the continuance of the War; and thereby to obviate the only striking circumstance in which the National prosperity and credit appeared to be either impaired or endangered by the exertions which the present contest has rendered unavoidable - That it was therefore calculated to strengthen and support the Public Credit at this important crisis, and to deprive the Enemy of their chief hope of success, in this present ambitious and destructive projects - That while it promised these salutary
effects at the present moment, it laid the foundation of a System, which, if persevered in steadily for a few years to come, must carry the credit and resources of this Country to a height hitherto unknown, and ensure to them as much stability and perpetuity as can ever belong to any human Institution-And that, while it may thus secure to us such important political advantages, it is at the same time a measure which, in point of mere Economy, and · with a view of rendering the whole real burden on the Subject as small as possible, must produce a saving, in comparison with the usual mode of raising the Supplies, which ought itself to be considered as decisive in its favour.
On these grounds of present Security and Credit, of future Strength, and of ultimate Economy, the general merit of the Measure appears to rest. The argument on all these grounds remains, in our judgement, strengthened and confirmed by the result of the whole discussion.
It seems to have been established by convincing proofs, that the general mass of Wealth and Capital in the Country, so far from being impaired during the War, is considerably augmented. The immense increase of our Exports and Imports; the state of our principal Manufactures ; the constant progress of improvements in Agriculture, in Machinery, in Navigation, and Public Works of every description, and the price of Landed Property, place this proposition out of the reach of dispute. And it happens singularly enough, that those who have hitherto for years been in the habit of depreciating our Resources, and predicting their total annihilation from the effect of the War, now admit their existence in the utinost.extent, and only endeavour to throw doubts on their solidity, by pretending
that they are in a great measure to be ascribed to the operation of the War itself! .
On the other hand, it is obvious, that in the midst of these symptoms of general opulence, the price of the Stocks is lower than at any former period. What is the necessary inference, but that our Funded Capital, .from the amount of Loans, has increased in a more rapid proportion than the demand for that description of property, through all the different channels by which it is gradually absorbed, and distributed among the different classes of Society? Perhaps the very circumstance before-mention- , ed, of the increased demand of Capital in every branch of productive industry, has left a less proportion applicable to the purchase of the Funds, than the same aggregate of wealth would have afforded, if the industi y and commerce of the Country had been stationary at any given point. - As far as the circumstance may be supposed to have operated, it is certainly (in a great point of view), not matter of regret, but the reverse. But whatever be the cause, the present effect is the same. It would be blindness, therefore, not to admit, that to persevere in raising the whole of the Supplies by a Loan in the ordinary mode, must reduce the Funds below the price at which they are at this moment. — This cannot happen without rendering the mode of borrowing more and more uneconomical, and the extent of the permanent Burden entailed on the Country more serious and alarming. Its effect on the value of subsisting Stock, in which so large a proportion of the Capital of the Country is vested, and such extensive classes of Society interested, is surely in itself no light object of National concern. — But it is equally evident, that if the price of Stocks be reduced below a certain point, the indirect operation must be
felt through every class. By raising the Interest of Money, by cramping and embarrassing Credit, it must be felt by the Land-Owner, the Merchant, and Manufacturer, in a way much more serious than the temporary pressure of any share which he is likely to sustain of the burden now imposed. Above all, to shew by our conduct, that under these visible difficulties attending the mode hitherto practised, we think ourselves possessed of no other means to meet the Public Exigency -- that at a crisis so new and extraordinary as the present, we manifest no new and extraordinary powers of exertion, but trust, for our safety and existence, to that Resource which forms the single weak point in our situation, and which would become every day less available -- What effect could all this produce, but to sink the spirits, and gradu. ally impair the real resources of the Public; to promote the purposes of those whose views and wishes are uniformly at
variance with the interests and hopes of their Country; · and, finally, to gratify our open and inveterate Enemies in
their professed and favourite project, that of wearying us out in this great contest; of exhausting what they have fondly conceived to constitute our only means of exer. tion; and, if possible, of at length breaking the National spirit, by the effect of a continued and indefinite accumulation of Debt, accompanied by the embarrassments and difficulties which, if carried beyond a certain point, it must inevitably produce ?
It happens here too (singularly enough) that their rez. soning has been chiefly contested by the same description of persons whose former and present language we have already had occasion to contrast, in speaking of our gene. ral prosperity. Those persons who, from the beginning, predicted the downfall and ruin of our Funding System,