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which enacted, that no joint-stock meinbers of these necessary estabbanking company should carry on lishments ? No doubt, there were business within a certain distance still restrictions in the bill which it of London, would be successfully would be difficult to justify on any evaded. The Bank of Ireland was sound principle; but to remove fenced by a similar protection in re these required a farther surrender gard to notes under 501.; but the pri- on the part of the Bank; and vate banks rendered it nugatory, by government had been unable to appointing, as their agents, bankers obtain more extensive concessions resident in Dublin, as if what they than the present bill contained. did by an agent were not as illegal Although, however, the bill was as if they had done it themselves. not what it otherwise would have The scheme, likewise, it was ar- been, it would be unwise not to gued, would give encouragement avail ourselves of the facilities to those who, from time to time, yielded to us, so far as they went. enriched themselves by preying Some slight alterations were made on the credulity of the publie, and in the bill, and were agreed to by who had never been more suceess- the Lords. The bill then passed ; ful in their nefarious pursuits than and, in virtue of the powers conthey had lately proved under this ferred by it, branches of the Bank very form of joint-stock associa- of England were soon after estab tions. The country would be in- lished in some of the principal undated with unsubstantial paper; trading and manufacturing towns, the notes of the country bankers while the ordinary banks, which would become mere local tokens; had escaped from the hurricane, the branches of the Bank of Eng were rapidly regaining confidence land, free from all the disad- and composure. vantages to which country banks But, while these two leading were liable, would monopolize the measures of government, in which paper circulation ; and it would they had received fully as much only be fair, therefore, to postpone support from their customary op the measure, until the privileges of ponents, as from their habitual that body had expired with its friends, bade fair to give new secharter. To this it was answered, curity to the pecuniary arrangethat the possibility of improvidence ments of the country for the future, being seduced, or knavery tempted, the ministers could not be blind to do what was foolish or dis to the widely-spread distress of honest, by any facilities which this the present. The total want of measure might afford, could be no demand for manufactures and reason for rejecting it, when it labour had suffered little diminuwould so certainly be productive tion; and, in the city, above all, of general and essential benefit to the absence of money, or rather the the country. It was acknowledged absence of that confidence, without on all hands, that the Bank alone which gold lurks as closely conwas insufficient to manage all the cealed as when buried in its native money concerns of the country; veins, kept the whole current of and the question then was simply, commercial transactions in stagnasince other banks we have, and tion. An expression in the commust have, in what lies the magic munication from the Treasury to of the number six, as applied to the the Bank, regarding the surrender

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of what was passing all over the vindicated the merchants from the
36] ANNUAL REGISTER, 1826.
of part of their charter, that “the grant no relief, and had referred
panic had subsided, and confidence the merchants to the Bank, who
was nearly restored,” had been se had it in their power to advance,
verely animadverted upon in par- money on the security of goods, a
liament; and ministers were twitted resource which, he said, no, mert
with it, night after night, as dis- chant could adopt without bring-
playing great ignorance, not only ing a stain upon his credit. He
country, but especially of the situ- aspersions which had been cast
ation of the metropolis itself. upon them, as having produced the
From the opening of parliament, present calamities by their own ima
the mercantile classes had expected prudence, and a fondness for

spethat government would take some culation, reckless of consequences. immediate step to give them pre- With the ephemeral schemes of the sent relief, and applications to this preceding year, the merchants, as purport

had been made at the Trea- a body, had had no more connecsury. The scarcity of money was tion than other people, and, in many the evil complained of, and an issue cases, much less. It was notorious of Exchequer bills was the remedy that these bubbles had been the generally pointed out; but

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creation of a few scheming attor. ment had resolved not to lend it- nies, and idle and needy speculaself to a system of artificial relief tors; not of the real merchants of for a disease which they thought London, who now, from mere inawould better cure itself without bility to convert their securities their interference. They had ex into money, were trembling on the pressed themselves willing, indeed, brink of ruin ; and these bubbles to keep the Bank harmless to the had been as keenly pursued in St. extent of two millions, if it should James's street, as they ever could think proper to go into the market, be in the alleys of the city. Even and purchase Exchequer bills to the imprudent speculator was often that amount; but no definitive a man worth saving, if not on his step had been taken, when Mr. own account, at least on account Wilson, one of the members for of others with whom he was conLondon, brought the subject be- nected in agricultural, commercial, fore the House of Commons (Fe- or monied interest. The merchants, bruary 23rd), on the occasion of in general, were far from deserving presenting a petition from the mer to be harshly told, “some of you chants, bankers, and traders of the have over-traded; some of you city, praying the House to take have speculated rashly; therefore into its consideration the present the whole body must be content to commercial distresses. He assured suffer, and suffer

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every the House, that, so far from dis- thing finds its own level." He tress having disappeared, or danger was not pleading the cause of gampassed away, every day displayed bling share-holders, but of a class new victims; and the privations of individuals, whọ, from the gene

difficulties of even the last ral want of confidence that precek, had brought many to the vailed, and particularly among the ground. The representations made banking part of the community, to ministers had been fruitless; were suffering under a pressure they had made up their minds to which could not easily be described,

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but whose sufferings, if not relieved, ing the committee, they did not
would describe themselves in a shrink from firmly announcing the
way which the House would not principles on which they had acted
be able to misunderstand. All in refusing the various applications
that was required was an issue of which had been made them, and
Exchequer bills--a measure which on which they were determined
on former occasions had been still to oppose them. Convinced
often adopted, to relieve temporary, that the proposed measure
but general embarrassments, and erroneous in principle, and mise
which, on no occasion, had either chievous in practice, tending to
failed in its object, or been pro- produce, even by its temporary
ductive of inconvenience to the efficacy, a future recurrence of the
government. He gave notice that same evil, and an improvident trust
on the 28th he would move that in the constant interference of go-
the petition should be referred to vernment, when other and safer
a select committee.

cures could be applied, they refused
A long discussion followed, in to accede to that, as a popular
which the same views were taken, expedient, which their knowledge
and the same sentiments expressed, informed them was not necessary,
by almost every member who spoke; and which their deliberate judg-
and Mr. Canning and the chan- ment taught them to reject as in
cellor of the Exchequer found them- itself prejudicial to the interests of
selves deserted even by some of the community.
their firmest adherents. The strong The most provoking, the most
est position taken against them unmanly, the most unjustifiable
assuredly was, not so much the weapons of their adversaries, were
threatening appearance of the mer. the insinuations thrown out that the
cantile horizon, which no man could resistance of government proceeded
deny, as the fact that the particu- from cold blooded insensibility to
lar preventive measure urged upon the misery which prevailed, and the
their attention was one of tried danger which threatened. “ For
efficacy, justified by the sanction of myself,” said Mr. Canning, “and
great names, and one which the my colleagues, I totally disdain to
country had been too much ac answer such imputations. I impute
customed to regard as a never-fail- to no man who now hears me, that
ing resource in evil times. Many, he is so insensible ; but for others to
who had the evil before their eyes, impute to those upon

whom

every would have allowed it to take its day and every night care and anxway, if it had been necessary to iety are brought by the considersearch for a remedy ; but when ation of these distresses, in addithey saw at hand what they be- tion to the common sympathy in lieved to be a known specific, they which they share as men, is to readily joined in the wish that it impute to them not only a want should forthwith be administered, of feeling, but a want of sense that they might escape, with all that would unfit them not merely speed, from a painful spectacle. for the situations they fill in the But, although ministers did not government of the country, but to enter at large into the question, appear here, in the midst of those which would

more properly be dis- among whom they have the honour cussed on the motion for appoint, to sit.

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The unanimity, however, with rities, which occasioned the evil, which all parties seemed to urge but the inability to convert that the necessity of providing some wealth into money. Many a mermeasure of relief for the mercantile chant had his cellars and wareinterest, rendered it impossible for houses filled with merchandize, government not to lend its aid to which, in ordinary circumstances, any arrangement which did not would have justified him in thinkrequire its immediate interference. ing himself a rich man; and yet, Although determined to resist the from the universal distrust which issue of new Exchequer bills, even prevailed, and the complete prosupon securities, lord Liverpool tration of almost every branch of had already stated, in the House of traffic, he found himself unable to Lords, that, if the Bank would go meet his ordinary engagements. into the market, and purchase a The arrangement made with the certain amount of Exchequer bills, Bank was, that the Bank should government would keep them make advances to private individuals harmless to the extent of two mil- upon the deposit of goods, merlions. The effect of these pur- chandize, and other securities; but chases would be, to bring forth an the whole sum to be advanced was equal quantity of currency, and not to exceed three millions. thus remove the stoppage of mer- Commissioners were appointed to cantile movements which only the carry the arrangement into execuwant of that currency had oc- tion in the principal commercial casioned. To this, however, the districts ; the gloom began to disBank would not consent, and seemed perse, and confidence to return. to be fully as unwilling as minis Yet the applications for assistters to involve themselves by any ance were far from being so nuextraordinary interference. But, merous as might have been exbetween the day on which Mr. pected from the loudness and unWilson presented the city petition, animity of the cries for relief ; and, and that on which he had given at some of the provincial stations, notice of a motion to refer it to a the office of the commissioners select committee, the force of pub- was almost a sinecure. In truth, lic opinion, joined to the increasing where the reigning misfortune is agitation of the mercantileinterests, want of confidence, such an expepersuaded government, that it was dient destroys, in a great measure, necessary to have recourse to some as soon as it is taken, the reasons expedient, and convinced the Bank, which made it necessary to take it that it would be prudent to com at all. The knowledge that a ply, as far as they could, with the public fund exists ready to advance wishes of government.

Besides money to those who can furnish the powerful voice of the city, substantial deposits, infuses a simideputations had arrived in London lar confidence into private indifrom Liverpool, Leeds, Glasgow, viduals; and when one body and other important manufacturing celebrated

for prudence and caution and trading districts, all calling has led the way in trusting its upon government to give its aid in neighbours, others are gradually removing, or relieving the existing encouraged to follow in the same pressure. It was not the want of path, and return to their ordinary substantial wealth, or good secus sources of gain,

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The information that govern- Bank charter empowered that ment had come to an arrangement body to make advances in the way with the Bank having been com which was now proposed, proved municated to the House of Com- that it had been foreseen that cirmons, before the motion for refer- cumstances might arise, in which it ring the City petition to a committee would be proper and desirable to had been made, that motion was exercise that power, and on the withdrawn by Mr. Wilson; but Bank would depend all the efficacy both on this, and on some other even of an issue of Exchequer bills. oecasions, the merits of the plan The commissioners for superinwhich had been adopted, and the tending that issue might direct superior efficacy and expediency of the funds placed at their disposal an issue of Exchequer bills directly in the way best calculated to relieve by government, were discussed at the public ; but this would be of great length. The general voice no avail, if the Bank refused to had, beyond doubt, been in favour cash the securities which the appliof the latter measure, and it was cants received. If the Bank resupported by the authority of pre- fused them, it was not to be excedent and experience; yet the pected that any other banker reasons why ministers rejected it, would accept them; and if nobody and preferred the interference of took them in, then, besides having the Bank, rested on sound policy. failed to increase the quantity of It was bad, they said, in principle, circulating medium, they would because government was going out add to the already over-stocked of its sphere when it intermeddled, market of Exchequer bills fall to a in a pecuniary view, with the com discount-be received at a premium mercial interests of the country, by the Treasury--and thus necesand became a liberal banker, as it sarily render the revenue of the were, or a generous, and not very country less capable of meeting the inquisitive, lender. To hold itself demands upon it. The question forth, likewise, as ready, on the would be different, if relief could occurrence of any general embar- be afforded in no other way; but rassment, to pour forth its funds for the Bank itself, a mercantile esthe behoof of the involved trader, tablishment, was able and ready was, in reality, to offer a premium to do all that was necessary to be to improvidence, and seducc indi- done to assist mercantile men, and viduals to rely more on the relief would do it far better than it could which they might obtain from go- be done by the government of the vernment, than

their own country. friends, their own prudence, or To the objection, that, in advantheir own exertions. When the ces made by government commisagricultural interests were suffer- sioners, the transaction itself, and ing under a similar pressure, they the necessary inquiries attending made a similar demand: it was it, were conducted with a degree refused, not from any difficulty in of secrecy most desirable to the the execution, but from objection continued credit of the merchant, to the principle; and if it were while the arrangement which had now granted under a commercial been adopted would expose his pressure, how could it ever again affairs and his difficulties to the be denied ? The very fact that the gaze of the whole body of Bank

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