Lawrence John Lumley Dundas Zetland.

Cause of, and cure for, hard times: a definition of the attributes and qualities indispensable in money as a medium of commerce, and also an investigation of the effects of the banking system online

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Online LibraryLawrence John Lumley Dundas ZetlandCause of, and cure for, hard times: a definition of the attributes and qualities indispensable in money as a medium of commerce, and also an investigation of the effects of the banking system → online text (page 6 of 6)
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necessary and salutary are trampled on with impunity;
and that authority which ought to enforce, are fre-
quently among those who infringe them. If the foun-
tain is corrupt, it is impossible that pure streams should
flow from it. But good sometimes arises out of evil.
The manure of the agriculturalist stinks, but is of
use ; with it he feeds his I-imgary acres, it fertilizes
his fields ; and hence the labourers hope. From this
iniquitous scene great crops are expected to grow. Two
hundred learned sons of Esc ulapi us, rising like lermin
from putrefaction, are the annual anticipated harvest.
A formidable auxiliary, sure to those already armed
with pill and bolus, Lapes Infcrni, Syringe, knife and
saw, to attack the effects of luxury and vice. But can
they amputate idle vicious habits, purge out crimes*
and by their emetics compel the body politic to dis-
gorge its corruptions ? If so united with the humble,
harmless teachers of religion and morality, these mis-
sionaries of science may do much, and the torrent of
moral evil may meet a check. The acquisition of
science is the developement of truth. Truth needs no
Auxiliary nor requires any ornament, nor yet any aid
from political institutions. It requires nothing more
from government than to be left to recommend herself
by her native intrinsic excellence, and her votaries at
full liberty to pursue. Every interference of legisla-
tive authority is puerile, impotent and worse than vain.
It is the same as establishing by law, one orthodox sect
for the promotion of a true system of religion. In every
republic, where virtue and rectitude are the ruling
principles, and on which their laws are founded, the
advancement of science will keep pace with every other
interest, and it would be absurd to push it faster. In
a:i uncorrupted republic where merit is rewarded,^or



7o

rather where. merit is considered requisite in a public
character, there are sufficient inducements to prompt
men to the acquisition of science : and indeed there is
a possibility of its ou| running itself. This has absolutely
been the case in some of the eastern states, science has
been a staple commodity , and indeed it has bet-ome what
merchants term a drug in the market, and would have
been still worse : it would have hung as a dead weight
on society, were it not for the ignorance and stupidity
of their western neighbours.

In framing laws for the promotion of any particr^ar
object, the strictest regard should be paid, not only to
all the provisions of such laws, but to every poisible
circumstance bearing tendency and effect, either prox-
imate or remote. Viewing it thus, if it appears that
though the immediate effects will be salutary and de-
sirable, yet the remote consequences will be probably
pernicious and dangerous to the morality, and conse-
quently, to the happiness of society, which will require
the energetical interference of other laws. No object,
however important and desirable, can justify their,
adoption. The law authorizing lotteries, is a most
palpable casein point. The mischievous effects of this
law, has been .experienced to that degree, that legisla-
tures have been induced to enact laws with uncommon-
ly severe penalties, to restrain excesses to which this law
has given birth : yet notwithstanding the unusual se-
verity of the penalties of these restraining laws, in open
day, in the face of authority, in the most public man-
ner, a scene of gambling is carried on, disgraceful to
any society calling itself civilized, much more christian-
ized. And yet legislatures so far from removing the
cause, they tell us with great self complaisance and
approbation, that much greater sums may be raisecj
by lotteries to augment the revenue. We may there^



71

fore expect to hear of an office being established for
the purpose of granting licences to policy offices. And
since this vice cannot be restrained by law, it will be
consistent with modern politics to make it profitable.
It is the duty of a patriotic government, to have its
attention forever alive to the sentiments, manners, and
habits of the people, to encourage such as are favoura-
ble to virtue, and to check in (ho bud, such as may lead
to disorder, vice, and corruption. But how does their
conduct correspond with this maxim ? Government
plays the part of an unnatural stepmother, not that of
an efiectionate parent, when she contents herself by
vigorous punishments to revenge the commission of a
crime, of which she has herself set the example and
hung out a lure ; instead of imbuing the mind with
those principles of virtue, which would have rendered
punishment unnecessary. Nothing can be more un-
questionable, than that the manners and opinions of
mankind are of the utmost consequence to the general
welfare of society, for manners are nothing more than
opinions carried out into action, and such as the foun-
tain is, such will be the streams that proceed from it.
In truth, the whole system of restraining laws under
these circumstances is a perpetual struggle against
the laws of nature and necessity. The minds of the peo-
ple will in all instances be swayed by their own views
and propensities : no project can be more absurd, than
that of reversing those propensities by the interposition
of law. He that should command a conflagatiou to
cease, or a tempest to be still, would not display more
ignorance of the system of the universe, than he, who
with a code of penal laws, expects to restore a corrupt-
ed and vicious people, to temperance and virtue. The
character of a state or nation, is not thus to be altered,
when they are once debauched by the foul example ot"



ys

government. ; they never can be recovered to purlt j,
Laws are an empty name when emenatiug from an im-
pure source to operate upon a corrupted people.

All that is to be asked on the part of government in
behalf of morality, virtue and science, is a clear stage
upon which they may exert their own energies, to ab-
stain from holding out incentives to vice, to lay some
restraint on the violent disturbers of the peace of soci-
ety, that their principles may go on undisturbed to their
natural conclusion. There never was an instance where
error unaided by power, ever triumphed over virtue
and truth. "Who would be guilty of the absurdity to
believe that with equal arras, truth and virtue can ever
be defeated.

It has been shown that it cannot be the duty of le-
gislatures to do any thing detrimental to general hap-
piness, and it appears with equal evidence that they
have no right to do so. There cannot be a more ab-
surd proposition than that which affirms the right of
doing wrong. A mistake of this sort has been attend-
ed with the msst pernicious consequences in public and
political assemblies. It cannot be too strongly incul-
cated, that legislatures are in no case empowered to es-
tablish absurdity and injustice ; that though toe people
passively submit or assent to it, their submission or
consent is not, as has been rediculously asserted, the
voice of truth or the voice of God, nor can universal
consent convert wrong into right.

After duly considering the nature and tendency of
those laws which go to establish banking companies,
turnpike companies, and lotteries, the reader cannot
be surprised at <he universal complaint of hard times,
nor be at a loss respecting the causes that produce them.
Hard times is a hackneyed saying, on that account it
excites but little attention or interest, because it is



familiar to ail. It as old and as universal as the esta-
blishment of political government, which was its birth-
place and its clam ; and it is deplorably true, that it had
its origin in the derelection of honest principles, by po-
litical hypocrites of the old world, whose example is
strictly copyed by the political apostates of the new.
Though the expression might have been in vogue from'
the first settlement of this country, it could have had
no signification here, after the concomitant dif-
ficulties incidental and unavoidable in the settle-
ment of a new world were surmounted ; not until the
fell monsters, ambition and avarice, reared their accurs-
heads, obtained the seat, and corrupted the source of
law, order and justice, and trampled with contempt up-
on the rights of the people. If the expression was
used at all, it was founded on nothing more, than the im-
agination of the complainant, and the power rested with
himself to remove the cause. The prudent industrious
man was sure of a competency (though poor,) from the
fruits of his labour. The impotent were comparitively
few, and pauperism only historically known, The scene
is changed, hard times do absolutely exist, and some of
the immediate causes have been developed.

Let us pursue the inquiry a little farther, and see if
there are not causes more remote, which have originated
with ourselves, and which have contributed to produce
the effects of which we complain. Self-examination is
salutary, just and necessary, especially in those who
censure the conduct of others. Have we not suffered
ourselves to be deceived by political demagogues and
impostors, into this fatal thraldom, which without our
timely and vigorous exertions, will terminate in the to-
tal destruction of our invaluable republican institutions?
Not that we have been careless and remiss, but that we

40



74

have been guilty of a prostitution of the exercise of our
political franchise, which has operated as a cause
of the calamities which now beset, and which are fast
maturing to overwhelm us. I mean the mode pursued
by us for the appointment of men, to whom by our suf-
ferages we delegate the powers of legislation. Is it
not the case, that we suffer restless, weak and worth-
less partisans, to inflame our minds, and induce us to
form ourselves into political associations, the obvious
tendency of which, is to make a part stand for the whole.
A number of us sometimes more, and sometimes less,
combine together. Our intention is sometimes avow-
ed, but it is always with an intention or view to give to
our opinions weight and operation, which the opinion of
unconnected individuals cannot possess. A greater
number, some from the urgency of their private affairs,
some from a temper averse to concourse and confusion,
and others from a conscientious disapprobation of the
measures pursued, withhold them selvei from such com-
binations. The acrimonious, the intemperate, and the
artful, will generally if not always, be found among the
most forward in matters of this kind. The prudent,
the sober, the sceptical, and contemplative, Jhose who
have no resentments to indulge or gratify, and no sel-
fish motive to promote, will keep aloof, or will be over-
born and lost in this chaos. What justification can be
set up, for a few persons, who thus, from mere impe-
tuosity of temper occupy a post, the very nature and
principles of wjiich, ai* to pass themselves for some-
thing greater, and of more importance than they are ?
Are we likely to promote our most important concerns
by trusting them in such hands ? Can we, or have we
any reason to expect any thing but strife, peculation
and corruption of tlie blackest sort, as the fruits of



75

such combinations. Add to this, that associations for the
promotion of one particular set of political tenets, has
given birth to a counter association in favour of another.
Thus we have involved ourselves in annual mischief,
confusion and uproar, at our elections, which is a dis-
grace to humanity, and which savages would shrink
from with laudible disgust.

Folitieal improvement never can be effected or pro-
moted but through the medium of the discovery of po-
litical truth, but truth never will be investigated where
violence passion and weakness take the lead ; to whatever
property of the human mind, or accident affecting it, we
are to ascribe the phenomenon, certain it is, that truth
doth not lie on the surface ; it is laborious and patient stu-
dy and reflection that leads to its discovery .If therefore
we are desireous to liberate ourselves or our neighbours
from the influence of prejudice, we should suffer nothing
but dispassionate argument to bear sway in the discussion.

The writings, tenets and arguments which offer them-
selves to public attention, should rest upon their own
merits. No patronage, no recommendations, no list of
venerable names of committee men to bribe our appro-
bation and suflerage, no importunity to bestow on them
our consideration, and to receive them with favor. These
are however, small matters. It is much worse than this
when the press is taken under the patronage of these
political associations. The publications are far more
pernicious. They are then perused, not to see whether
what they contain be false or true, but that we may
learn from them, how we are to think upon the sub-
jects in which the leaders of our party wish to instruct
us. Thus by our political societies, political sects are
generated upon grounds not less irrational, than the
superstitions which once induced men to worship bull?,



76

cats, and onions, If we wish to arrive at political
truth we must inquire and think for ourselves. If a
hundred men spontaneously engage the whole energy
of their faculties on the solution of a particular given
question, the chance will be greater for success than if
only five were engaged upon it, for the same reason the
chance will also be increased, in proportion as the in-
tellectual operations of these men are individual, and
their conclusions are suggested by the reason of the
thing under consideration, uninfluenced by any force,
either by compulsion or sympathy. But in political
associations, each of our objects are to indentify our
creed with that of our party. We learn the shiboleth
of our sect, and we dare not leave our minds at large
in the field of inquiry, lest we should arrive at some ten-
net distasteful to our party. We have no inducement,
no temptation to inquire. Party has a more powerful
tendency, than perhaps any other circumstance in hu-
man affairs, to render the mind quiessant, ignorant and
stationary. Instead of making each man an individual,
which the good of the whole requires, it resolves all un-
derstandings into one common mass, and subtracts from
each, all the varieties which could distinguish man
from a bruit machine. Having learned the -creed of
our party, we have no longer any need of, or employ-
ment for those faculties which might lead to a detec-
tion of its errors. We have arrived in our minds and
opinions at the last page of the volume of truth, and all
that remains, is by some means to effect the adoption of
our sentiments as the standard of truth, to the whole
or a majority of the community. A necessary attend-
ant on these political associations, is harangue and de-
clamation. A majority look to these harangues, as the
gehool in which they are to study, in order to becomQ



^

ihe reservoirs of practical truth to the rest of mankind.
Harangues and declamation lead to passion and not to
knowledge. The memory of the hearer is crowded
with pompous nothings, with images not arguments.
He is never permitted to he sober enough to weigh the
subject with an unshaken hand. Truth dwells with
contemplation. When hope and fear triumph, and re-
sentment is perpetually afloat, the faculties of reason
and investigation are compelled to quit the field.

What then have we reason to expect from our repre-
sentation when they are formed from the most promi-
nent characters in those combinations of ignorance and
corruption ? If we reflect on and examine maturely the
conduct of the majority of our legislature in their last
session we must be convinced of the propriety of the
forgoing observations, and and also feel a conviction of
our own errors, in placing confidence in men totally un-
worthy of it. Compare the apparent zeal with which
they set about correcting the evils resulting from bank
institutions, and the disordered state of our currency,
With the final result of their proceedings thereon and
form your own conclusions. The only remedy for the
enormeties heretofore partially and imperfectly describ-
ed is alone to be found in the virtue and unanimity of
the great bbdy of the people, as has been before hinted.
On a due exercise of their constitutional powers and
rights (while they are allowed to retain them,) rests the
the fate of our invaluable republican institutions. We
must if we wish for reformation, turn our attention to
men of totally different characters from those who have
hitherto enjoyed our preference, to men belonging to
110 political faction, to men of immoveable patriotism*
to men whose liberal and comprehensive minds are ca-
pable of viewing, weighing, and equally balancing the



interests, of the whole political family, \vho will strive
to suppress all vice and immorality, and as far as the
nature of human affairs will permit, to remove every
incentive to it, and who never will consent to sacrifice
the interest of ninety-nine parts, to the interested views
of the hundreth, by making them tributary to that end \
neither consent, directly to barter the morals of the
people to promote the splendour of empiricism, 5 * lega-
lize ignorance, or make stupidity pass for native worth
and scientific excellence, nor authorize monopoly and
robbery.

SEVENTY-SIX.



* Those crities who are disposed to find fault with this
phraseology, are informed that this work is not designed to
enlighten the wise or instruct the learned.



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Online LibraryLawrence John Lumley Dundas ZetlandCause of, and cure for, hard times: a definition of the attributes and qualities indispensable in money as a medium of commerce, and also an investigation of the effects of the banking system → online text (page 6 of 6)