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predecessors in the days of Calvin, who stood up to pray for no other reason but because the Roman Catholics knelt down. And what have been the results? Ireland, with some millions of paupers, in a state of anarchy and crime unparalleled in modern Europe; a hundred millions of property almost destroyed in the West Indies; the slave trade tripled in extent, and quadrupled in horror throughout the globe; an irresistible ascendency given in the Legislature to urban electors; all protection to agriculture destroyed; from ten to twelve millions of quarters of grain-a full sixth of the annual subsistence—imported in a single year; the national independence virtually destroyed, by being placed to such an extent at the mercy of foreigners, for the food of the people ; foreign shipping rapidly encroaching on British, so as to render the loss of our maritime superiority, at no distant period, if the same system be continued, a matter of certainty; the practical annihilation of the sinking-fund; the permanent imposition of the war income-tax, in the thirty-second year of profound peace; a falling off in the revenue at the rate of six millions, and in our exports at the rate of twelve millions a-year; the depreciation and destruction of property to the amount of three hundred millions in two years in Great Britain; and, finally, the general stoppage of railway undertakings over the whole country, and the shutting or putting on short time of half the mills in our manufacturing cities, for whose benefit all these changes were intended! We doubt if the history of the Fall of Rome exhibited such a uniform and multifarious decay in an equal period; certainly no parallel to it has yet been presented in the annals of modern Europe.
If we thought that this long and portentous catalogue of disasters was unavoidable, and could not be remedied by human wisdom, we would submit to it in silence, and we trust with resignation, as we do to the certainty of death, or the chances of plague, pestilence, or famine, arising from the dispensations of Providence, for wise and inscrutable purposes, but over which we have no control. But this is very far from being the case. We believe, as firmly as we do in our own existence, that they are entirely of our own creation; that they are the result solely and exclusively of false principles diffused among our people, and false measures in consequence forced upon our Government; and that, though the consequences of these false principles must be long and disastrous, yet it is still possible to remedy the evil, to convert a land of mourning into a land of joy, and restore again the merry days to Old England. The retreat from the ways of error never was to nations, any more than individuals, by any other path but the path of suffering; but if the retreat is made, and the suffering borne, we trust in the good providence of God and energy of the British character to repair all that is past.
The distress which prevails in the nation, and, most of all, in the commercial districts and cities, being universal and undeniable, the supporters of the present system, which has led to such results, are sorely puzzled how to explain so decisive and damning a practical refutation of their theories. The common theory put forth by the free-traders and bullionists is, that it is the railways and Irish famine which have done it all. This is the explanation which for months has been daily advanced by the Times, and which has been formally adopted by the leaders of government in both Houses. We are a miserably poor nation ; we have eaten up our resources; the strain upon our wealth has been greater than we could bear. This, of having eaten up our resources, has, in a peculiar manner, got hold of the imaginations of the able writers in the Times; and, forgetting that a large importation of food was the very thing which they themselves had held forth as the great blessing to be derived from free trade, they give the following alarming account of the food devoured by the nation in the first nine months of 1847 :
“Of live animals and provisions imported in 1847, there is an excess over last year of more than 100 per cent, of butter (duty paid) 35 per cent; of cheese 15 per cent; of grain and flour 300 per cent ; of coffee (duty paid) between 8 and 9 per cent; of sugar (duty paid) 15 per cent, and of spirits (duty paid) 25 per cent. This has all been eaten and drunk. But how, it will be said, is it possible it can have been paid for ? and what a splendid export trade the nation must have carried on, when all this has taken place, and only six millions of bullion have disappeared ! Unfortunately, however, the explanation lies deeper. Although we have been extravagant in our living, we have starved our manufactories. We have sold our goods whereever we could find a market for them, and we have abstained from purchasing the materials out of which we may make more. We have not increased our export trade. It shows, in fact, a diminution as compared with last year ; but in our avidity to consume luxuries, we have foregone, as we could not sustain the expenditure of both, keeping up the stock by which our mills and manufactories are to be fed.”—Times, November 24, 1847.
So that the Free-traders have at last discovered that the unlimited importation of food is not, after all, so great a blessing as they had so long held forth. They have found to their cost that there is some little difference between sending thirty millions in twelve months in hard cash to America and the Continent for grain, and sending it to Kent, Yorkshire, Essex, and Scotland. They have discovered that there is such a thing as a nation increasing its imports enormously and beyond all example, and at the same time its exports declining in the same proportion, from the abstraction of the circulating medium requisite to carry on domestic fabrics. All this is what the Protectionists constantly predicted would follow the adoption of free-trade principles ; and they warned government in the most earnest manner two years ago, that no increase of exports, but the reverse, would follow the throwing open our ports to foreign grain ; and that, unless provision were made for extending the currency when our sovereigns were sent abroad for foreign grain, general ruin would ensue. Two years ago it was observed :
Holding it to be clear that, under the free-trade system, a very large importation of grain into these islands may be looked for now, even in ordinary seasons, and an immense one in bad harvests, it is essential that the country should look steadily in the face the constant drain upon its metallic resources which such a trade must occasion. Adverting to the disastrous effects of such an exportation of the precious metals in 1839, from a single year of such extensive importation of foreign corn, it is impossible to contemplate without the most serious alarm the conversion of that drain into a permanent burden upon the specie of the country. As the change now to be made will undoubtedly depress agricultural industry, it is devoutly to be hoped that, as some compensation, the expected increase of our manufactures for foreign markets may take place. But this extension will, of course, require a proportional augmentation of the currency to carry it on. And how is that to be provided under the metallic system, when the simultaneous import of foreign grain is every day drawing more and more of the precious metals out of the country, in exchange for food?”–(England in 1815 and 1845, third edition, Preface, page xi.-published in April 1846.)
But let it be conceded that the government and the Times are in the right on this point ; that the importation of grain, coexisting with the absorption of capital in the railways, was more than so poor a nation as Great Britain could bear, and that the dreadful crisis which ensued was the consequence—we would beg to ask, who has made us so poor? We shall lay before our readers a few facts in regard to the resources of this miserably poor nation—this poverty-stricken people, who have eaten up their little all in the form of 10,000,000 quarters of grain and 176,000 live cattle, imported in the last nine months. We shall show what they were before the free-trade and fettered currency system began ; and having done so, we shall repeat the question,-“Who has made us so poor?”
This miserable poverty-stricken people, in the years 1813, 1814, and 1815—in the close of a bloody and costly war of twenty years' duration, during which they raised £585,000,000 by loans to government, and, on an average, £50,000,000 annually by taxes, from a population, including Ireland, not in those last years exceeding 18,000,000 of souls—made the following advances and contributions to government for the public service :
17,750,000 1813 268,748,363 £52,118,722 £55,478,938 £107,597,660 £176,346,023 17,900,000 1814 71,134,503 39,692,536 53,841,731 92,934,267 164,068,770 18,150,000 1815 72,210,512 50,964,366 46,968,138 97,932,501 170,143,016
£212,093,378 £142,175,624 £156,288,807 £298,464,428 £510,557,809
In 3 years,
If any one supposes these figures are inaccurate, or this statement exaggerated, we beg to say they are not our own. They are copied literatim from Porter's Parliamentary Tables, vol. i. p. 1; and we beg to refer to that gentleman at the Board of Trade, to whom, on account of his well-known accuracy, the Chancellor refers for all his statistical facts, for an explanation of these, we admit, astounding ones.
Was the capital of the country exhausted by these enormous contributions of A HUNDRED AND SEVENTY MILLIONS annually to the public service, in the twentieth year of the most costly war on record ? So far from it, the great loan for 1814 of £39,000,000 was made at the rate of £4, 11s. 1d. per cent; that of 1813 at £5, 10s. on an average ; that of 1815 at £5, 11s. per cent. * And it is evidently immaterial whether the immense amount of £100,000,000 debt, funded and unfunded together, was contracted in the form of direct loan to government, or of Exchequer bills issued from the Treasury, and forming the unfunded debt. Such bills required to be discounted before they were of any
; and their proceeds, as Mr Porter very properly states, were so much money paid into the public treasury. They were an exchange of the capital of the nation for Treasury bills, and were, therefore, just as much a draft on that capital as the exchange of the sums subscribed in loans for the inscription of certain sums in the 3-per-cent consols.
In the next place, this poor nation, which has now nearly eaten up its resources in a single season, in the year 1844 possessed, in the two islands, real or heritable property of the yearly value of £105,000,000 sterling, † corresponding to a capital, at thirty years' purchase, of £3,150,000,000; and at twenty-five years' purchase, to one of £2,625,000,000. These figures are ascertained in the most authentic manner ; that of England by the Report of the Lords' Committee on the burdens of real property ; that of Ireland by the Poor-Rate returns; and that of Scotland from an estimate founded on the amount of income-tax paid, as no poor-rate as yet extends universally over the country.
Further, we have the authority of Lord Palmerston, in the debate in last session of Parliament on foreign loans, for the assertion that this poor nation has advanced £150,000,000 in loans to republics since 1824, or to monarchies surrounded with republican institutions ; the greater part of which has been lost. Yet so far have these copious drafts been from exhausting, or even seriously trenching, on the capital of the nation, that it appears from the subjoined valuable table, furnished from returns allowed to be taken from the great bill-broking house of Overend
* See Parl. Debates, xxviii. 66, 67.