Page images

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 Manufac. turer, 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 rea. 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 Fur:ding System, 6 .


who (to do them justice) have for years spared no pains either in their language or their conduct, to verify their prediction; who have long since boasted that it was accomplished, and inculcated the impossibility of continuing the War, grounded on the impossibility of raising farther Loans; have now for the first time discovered, that the System of “Borrowing ought to be persisted in without a limit; that it is the only way in which the Supplies can at any time safely be provided for; and that we ought not even to attempt any other expedient. — And all this at a moment when they do not even venture (with the exception of a few individuals among them), to dispute the necessity of great and unusual exertion, and when (as we have already observed) they not only admit, but are now the foremost to maintain, the extent and sufficiency of our Resources.

The time is not long past, when, in order to induce us to submit tamely to the Enemy, it was their favourite cry, " That the Great Ally of France was the National Debt « of Great Britain.” We begin to believe they were sincere. A scheme has been proposed, to set limits to the amount of this Debt, to withstand the prosecution of the War, and to deprive France of the benefits which she expected from this Ally. They oppose this with more violence than they before decried the System of Loans. — They are now as anxious to drive us to the farther accu. mulation of Debt, and to divert us from every other expedient, as they had been to represent the actual burden as intolerable, and the farther increase as impracticable, while they thought no other plan could be proposed to meet the public exigencies, and to enable us to continue the contest. The arguments therefore in favour of the Measure, and the arguments, character, and conduct, of its Opposers,

equally equally tend to strengthen our opinion of the essential advantages to be derived from it in the present crisis, and of its tendency to disappoint the views and confound the projects of our Enemies..

The future effect of the increase (if the System of which it is the beginning is steadily persevered in for even a short period) has not been disputed. This view of the subject has perhaps attracted less general attention than its importance deserves. — Whoever looks at the present state of the World, will find reason enough to believe, that whatever may be the immediate issue of the actual crisis, the present Generation will have discharged very imperfectly its duty to the Country, if they confine their views merely to the difficulty of the moment, and do not look forward to the means of meeting, hereafter, those new emergencies which the course of public events always produces at no very distant intervals, and which the prospect of a new order of things (too likely to prevail in a great part of Europe) presses more urgently on their consideration.

Our present and immediate safety from that danger which threatens all Civilized Society, is undoubtedly our first object. It is more than almost any other European Nation but ourselves has the manliness and the courage to aim at. But our object ought to be more extensive; and in truth, the only means by which we can rescue ourselves from immediate danger, are those which are equally calculated to ensure our permanent security, and to place the future prosperity and power of the Country on a firmer basis than ever. It is a consoling and animating reflection, that the exertion which is necessary for our independence and existence at the present moment, will, if


successful, be repaid tenfold, by the advantages which it will secure to us after the termination of the struggle.

If the principle of the Measure now adopted, that of not allowing any addition to be made to the National Debt, beyond what the Sinking Fund already existing would redeem in the course of the same year, we shall, in a very short period indeed, have reached a situation, in which we may bid defiance to all pecuniary difficulties. -The Sinking Fund, happily established in 1786, and which, by the wisdom and firmness of Parliament, has ever since been invariably applied to its original purpose, has already reduced nearly Twenty-five Millions of our Debts. It amounts, with the addition of the expired Annuities, and of the Interest of the Debt redeemed, to above 2,000,000l. It will, in a period of from ten to twelve years (subject of course to variation, according to the price of the Stocks in the interval) reach the amount of 4,200,000l. per annum; after which it is no longer to accumulate at Compound Interest; but it is still to be laid out at Simple Interest, till the whole Debt ex. isting before the present War has been paid off, and will furnish annually a disposable sum * to the amount of the Interest on the Capital redeemed each year, applicable either to new Exigencies or to the diminution of existing Burdens. In addition to this original Fund, the sum appropriated annually to the discharge of the new Capital created during the present War, amounts at present to nearly 1,800,000l. This Sum, which is to accumulate at

• Supposing the Sinking Fund to be applied to the purchase of Three per Cents. at par, this sum would be annually 126,000l. – In proportion as the Stocks should be lower, it would of course be more considerable.


« PreviousContinue »