William Cobbett.

Cobbett's Paper against gold : containing the history and mystery of the Bank of England, the funds, the debt, the sinking fund, the bank stoppage, the lowering and the raising of the value of paper-money : and shewing, that taxation, pauperism, poverty, misery and crimes have all increased, and eve online

. (page 1 of 38)
Online LibraryWilliam CobbettCobbett's Paper against gold : containing the history and mystery of the Bank of England, the funds, the debt, the sinking fund, the bank stoppage, the lowering and the raising of the value of paper-money : and shewing, that taxation, pauperism, poverty, misery and crimes have all increased, and eve → online text (page 1 of 38)
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Containing the History and Mystery of the Bank of England,
the Funds, the 'Debt, the Sinking Fund, the Bank
Stoppage, the lowering and the raising of the value of
Paper-Money ; and shewing, that Taxation, Pauperism,
Poverty, Misery and Crimes have all increased, and ever
must increase, with a Funding System.



Bitley, Qth February, 1817.
The time is now come, when every
man in this kingdom ought to make
himself, if possible, well acquainted
with all matters belonging to the
Paper-Money System. It is that
System, which has mainly contri-
buted towards our present miseries ;
and, indeed, without that System those
miseries never could have existed in
any thing approaching towards their
present degree. In all countries,
where a Paper-Money, that is to say,
a paper which could not, at any mo-
ment, be conrerted into Gold and
Silver, has ever existed ; in all coun-
tries, where ^this has been the case,
the consequence, first or last, has
always been great and general misery,
and, in most such cases, such misery
has been productive of that confusion
and bloodshed, which I most anxiously
hope will be prevented, in this in-
stance, by timely measures ef a just
and conciliatory character and by the
good sense, patience and fortitude of
the people.

To |>e able clearly to trace our mi-
series to this grand cause, the Bank
and the Paper-Money, it is necessary,

that we inquire into the origin o\
money, how it acts upon the affairs oi
men, how prices depend upon its
quantity, and how money itself is
changed in its quantity and value.
Next it is necessary, that we come at
a clear idea of the origin of Paper-
Money and of its introduction into
this country. Next, we ought to see
the origin of the Bank and its Paper ;
to see how Loans have been made
and how and by what means a Debt
has been created. This compels us
to go back and trace minutely the
Bank and the Debt from their fatal
birth to the present time ; to show
how they arose both together, and
how they have gone swelling moun-
tains high, side by side while taxes,
pauperism, misery and, crimes have
all gone on increasing in the same
degree. We ought next to inquire,
whether it be possible to lessen the
Debt by that scheme, which has beea
called the Sinking Fund. Then we
ought to enter into all the facts of that
curious event, called the Bank-Re-
striction, which was a Stoppage of
Cash-Payments at the Bank, in vio-
lation of the Bank Charter and of the
laws of debtor and creditor. This
transaction ought now to be clearly
understood by ever/, matt in



All the actors in the transaction ought
to be put forth in their true character ;
for it is to this transaction, that we
may trace more immediately all those
sudden changes in the curreney, which
hare ruined the formers, the trades-
men, the land-owners, and which
have reduced the journeymen and
labourers to such intolerable misery
as that which they now endure, and
which never was endured in England
at any former period.

To enable every man, and especially
the youth, of this country, to come at
a competent knowledge on all these
topics, was the original object of this
work, and is now the object of its' re-
publication. It consists of a series
of Letters, addressed to the People
of Salisbury, in the year 1810 and
1811; because, at that time, those
people were suffering severely from
the failure of Country Banks. At
the same time, there was a proposition
before Parliament for making the
Bank pay in Gold and Silver at the
end of two years. Tin's was proposed
by the Opposition ; but the Ministers
said, that, though the Bank was able
to pay, it would not be wise to make
it pay, till peace came. I contended,
that, for the Bank to pay in gold and
silver was impossible, without wiping
away a part of the Debt; or, without
plunging the country into ruin and
misery. The Bank does not pay;
and, by only making one step towards
it, the whole nation, all but fund-
holders and tax-eaters, have already
been ruined.

In the writing of this work the
greatest pains were taken to make my
statements and my arguments, not
only as clear and as strong, but also,
as familiar as possible, and, by these
means, to render a subject, which has
always been considered as intricate
and abstruse, so simple as to be under-
stood by every reader of common ca-
pacity; and, in this object, I hope I
Lave \icceeded : because I have had

the satisfaction to witness numerous
instances, where person*, who would
generally be denominated illiterate,
have, by the reading of this work, be-
come completely masters of the whole

The truth is, however, that the
pride of those, who call themselves
learned men, lead them to misjudge
greatly as to the capacity of those,
whom they call the illiterate, or im-
learned. To arrange words into sen-
tences in a grammatical manner, to
arrive at correct results by the opera-
tions of figures, require a knowledge
of rules, which knowledge must be
acquired by art ; but the capacity of
receiving plain fads and of reasoning
upon those facts has its natural place
in every sound mind ; and, perhaps,
the mind the most likely speedily to
receive and deeply to imbibe a fair
impression is precisely that mind
which has never been pre-occupied by
the impressions of art or of school-
education. And, if there be men to
hold the doctrine, that the people in
general ought not to understand any
thing of these matters, such men can
proceed upon no principle other thaa
this, that popular ignorance is the best
security for public plunderers and

It will be seen, that the Letters,
composing the greater part of this
work, were written in, and dated from
the " State Prison, Newgate? For
six years before the date of these Let-
ters, I had been endeavouring to
rouse my country to a sense or* its
danger from the Debt and Paper-
Money, and had often foretold, that
national ruin and misery would be
the result. But, it was while I was
shut up in Newgate, that I made my
greatest effort. Tlie cause of my im-
prisonment, and of the other heavy
punishments inflicted on me, is pretty
well known; but, as this work is
chiefly intended for the use of schools
and of youny persons in general, aad,


as I hope it may be read many years
after its author will have closed his
eyes for ever, it is no more than jus-
tice to myself and to a family of chil-
dren, to whom their father's character
will always be as dear as their own
Kves, for me to make here, and to
send forth, inseparable from this
work, the following concise and un-
deniable record of facts, which record
was published immediately after the
expiration of my imprisonment, in the
month of July, 1812.


As illustrated in the Prosecution and

Punishment of

In order that my countrymen and
that the world may not be deceived,
duped, and cheated upon this subject,
Icy, in Hampshire, put upon record
the following facts ; to wit : That, on
the 24th of June, 1809, the following
article was published in a London
news-paper, called the COURIER:
" The Mutiny amongst the LOCAL
" MILITIA, which broke out at
" Ely, was fortunately suppressed on
" Wednesday, by the arrival of four
" squadrons of the GERMAN LE-
" under the command of General
" Auckland. Five of the ringleaders
" were tried by a Court-Martial, and
" sentenced to receive 500 lashes each,
" part of which punishment they re-
** ceived on Wednesday, and a part
" was remitted. A stoppage for their
" knapsacks was the ground of the
" complaint that excited this mutinous
" spirit, w r hich occasioned the men to
" surround their officers, and demand
" what they deemed their arrears.
" The first division of the German
" Legion halted yesterday at New-
" market on their return to Burv.*'

That, on the 1st July, 1809, I

published, in the Political Register,
an article censuring, in the strongest
terms, these proceedings ; that, for so
doing, the Attorney General prose-
cuted, as seditious libellers, and bj
Ex-OiHcio Information, me, and also
mv printer, my publisher, and one of
the principal retailers of the Political
Register ; that [ was brought to trial
on the 15th June, 1810, and was, by
a Special Jury, that is to say, by 12
men out of 48 appointed by the
Master of the Crown Office^ found
guilty ; that, on the 20th of the same
month, I was compelled to give bail
for my appearance to receive judg-
ment ; and that, as I came up from
Botley (to which place I had returned
to my family and my farm on the
evening of the 15th), a Tipstaff went
Jown from London in order to seize
, personally ; that, on the 9th of
Tuly, 1810, I, together with my
printer , publisher, and the newsman,
were brought into the Court of King's
Bench to receive judgment ; that the
three former were sentenced to be
imprisoned for some months in the
King's Bench prison; that I was sen-
tenced to be imprisoned for two years
in Newgate, the great receptacle for
malefactors, and the front of which is
the- scene of numerous hangings in
the course of every year; that the
part of the prison in which I was
sentenced to be confined is sometimes
inhabited by felons, that felons were
actually in it at the time I entered it ;
that one man was taken out of it to be
transported in about 48 hours after I
was put into the same yard with him ;
and that it is the place of confinement
for men guilty of unnatural crimes, of
whom there are four in it at this times
that, besides this imprisonment, I
was sentenced to pay a thousand
pounds TO THE KING, and to give
security for my good behaviour for
seven years, myself ia the sum of
3,000 pounds, and two sureties in Uie




sum of 1,000 pounds each ; that the
whole of this sentence has been exe-
cuted upon me, that I have been im-
prisoned the two years, have paid the
thousand pounds TO THE KING,
and have given the bail, Timothy
Brown and Peter Walker, Esqrs.
being my sureties ; that the At-
torney General was Sir Vicary
Gibbs, the Judge who sat at the
trial, Lord Ellenborough, the four
Judges who sat at passing sentence,
J^llenborough, Grose, Le Blanc, and
Bailey; and that the jurors were,
Thomas Rhodes of Hampstead Road,
John Davis of Southampton-place,
James Ellis of Tottenh am Court Road,
John Richards of Bayswater, Tho-
mas Marsham of Baker Street, Ro-
bert Heatheote, of High Street,
Marylebone, John Maud, of York
Place, Marylebone ; George Baxter,
of Church Terrace, Pancras ; Tho-
mas Taylor, of Red Lion Square ;
David Deane of St. John Street;
"William Palmer, of Upper Street,
Islington; Henry Favre, of Pall-
Mall ; and that the Prime Ministers
during the time were Spencer Perce-
val, until he was shot by John Bel-
lingham, and after that Robert B.
Jenkinsou, Earl of Liverpool; that
the prosecution and sentence took
place in the reign of King George
the Third, and that, he having be-
come insane during my imprisonment,
the 1,000 pounds was paid to his
son, the Prince Regent, in his behalf;
that, during my imprisonment, I
wrote and published 364 Essays and
Letters upon political subjects ; that,
the same time, I was visited

by persons from 197 cities and towns,
many of them as .1 aort of deputies
from Societies or Clubi ; that, at the
expiration of my imprisonment, on
the 9th of July, 1812, a great dinner
was given in London for the purpose
of receiving me, at which dinner up-
wards of 600 persons were present,
and at which Sir Francis Burdett
presided; that dinners and other par-
ties were held on the same occasion
in many other places in England;
that, on my way home, I was re-
ceived at Alton, the first town in
Hampshire, with the ringing of the
Church bells ; that a respectable com-
pany met me and gave me a dinner
at Winchester ; that I was drawn
from more than the distance of a
mile into Botley by the people ; that,
upon my arrival in the village, I
found all the people assembled tp re-
ceive me ; that 1 concluded the day
by explaining to them the cause ol
my imprisonment, and by giving them
clear notions respecting the flogging
of the Local Militia-men at Ely, and
respecting the employment of Ger<*
man Troops; and, finally, which is
more than a compensation for my
losses and all my sufferings, I am ia
perfect health and strength, and,
though I must, for the sake of six
children, feel the diminution that haa
been made in my property (thinking
it right in nie to decline the offer of
a subscription), I have the consola-
tion to see growing up three sons,
upon whose hearts, I trust, all the**
facts will be engraven.

, July 23, 181*.



Appointment of the Bullion Committee Main points of the Report Proposition for
the Bank to pay in two Years To merit the appellation of a Thinking People,
we must shew that onr Thinking produces Knowledge Go hack into the History of
Paper Money Definition of Money Increase of Paper What is the cause of thrs
Increase? Origin of the Bank of England How it came to pass that so much Paper
Money got afloat Increase of Bank Notes wanted to pay the increase of the interest
on the National Debt Progress in issuing Bank Notes from 20 to 1 Pounds Suspi-
cion awakened in 1797 which produced the Stoppage of Gold and Silver Payments at
the Bank of England.


DURING the last session of par-
liament, a Committee, that is to say,
ten or twelve members, of the House
of Commons, were appointed to in-
quire into the cause of tlie high price
of Gold Bullion, that is, Gold not
coined; and to take into consideration
the state of the circulating medium, or
money, of this country. This Com-
mittee have made a Report, as they
call it; but, it is a great book, that
they have written, and have had print-
ed; a book much larger than tha
whole of the New Testament. Of
tliis Report I intend to enter into an
Examination ; and, as you have re-
cently felt, and are still feeling, some
of the effects of Paper- Money, I
think it may not be amiss, if, upon
this occasion, I address myself to you.
I have introduced myself to you with-
out any ceremony; but, before we
part, we shall become well acquainted ;
and, I make no doubt, that you will
understand the distinction between
Paper-Money and Gold-Money much
too well for it to be in & power of
any one ever again to deceive you;
which understanding, will, in the
times now fast approaching, be of
great utility to all those amongst you,
who may have the means of laying up
money, however small the quantity
may be.

The Committee above-mentioned,
which, for brevity's sake, I call the
Bullion Committee, sent for several
persons, whom they examined as wit-

nesses, touching the matter in ques-
tion. There was SIR FRANCIS BAR-
ING, for instance, the great Ipan-
maker, and GOLDSMIDT, the rich
Jew, whose name you so often see in
the news-papers, where he is stated
to give grand dinners to princes and
great men. The Evidence of these,
and other money-dealers and mer-
chants, the Bullion Committee have
had printed; and, upon this evidence,
as well as upon the Report itself, we
shall have to make some remarks.

The result of the Committee's in-
quiries is, in substance, this ; that tlie
high price of gold is occasioned by the
low value of the paper-money ; that
the low value of the paper-money has
been occasioned (as, you know, the
low value of apples is) by the great
abundance of it ; that the only way
to lower the price of the gold is to
raise the value of the paper-money ,
and that the only way to raise the
value of the paper-money is to make
the quantity of it less than it now is.
Thus far, as you will clearly see,
there was no conjuration required.
The fact is, that, not only clo these
propositions contain well-known, and
almost self-evident truths ; but, these
truths have, during the last two or
tliree years, and especially during the
last year, been so frequently stated in
print, that it was next to Impossible
that any person in England, able to
read, should have been unacquainted
with them. But, having arrived at
the ooaclusum, that, U order to raist


tlie value of the paper-money, its
quantity must be lessened; having
come to this point, the rest of the
way was more difficult; for, the next
object was, to point out the means of
lessening the quantity of the paper-
money, and this is an object, which,
in my. opinion will never be effected,
unless those means include the de-
struction of the whole mass.

Not so, however, think the Gentle-
men of the Bullion Committee. They
think, or, at least, they evidently wish
to make others think, that it is, possi-
ble to lessen the quantity of the paper-
money, and to cause guineas to come
back again and to pass from hand to
hand as in former times ; they would
fain have us believe, that this can be
done without the total destruction of
the paper-money ; and, indeed, they
have actually recommended to tlie
House of Commons to pass a Law to
cause the Bank in Threadneedle
Street, London, commonly called the
Bank of England, to pay its notes in
real money, at the END OF TWO
YEARS from this time. Two years
is a pretty good lease for people to
fcave of this sort. This Bank promises
to pay on demand. It does this upon
the face of every one of its notes ;
and, therefore, as a remedy for the
evil of want of sold, to propose, that
this Bank should begin to pay in two
years' time, is something, which I
think, would not have been offered to
the public in any age but this, and,
even in this age, to any public except
the public in this country. The notes
ef the Bank of England bear, upon the
face of them, a promise that the Ban-
kers, or Barik Company, who issue
the notes, will pay the notes upon
demand. Now, what do we mean
liy paying a note? Certainly we do
not mean, the giving of one note for
another note. Yet, this is the sort of
payment, that people get at the Bank
f England; and this sort of pay-
ment the Bullion Committee dpes not
propose even to begin to put an end
to in less than two years from this

we, the people of this

country, have been persuaded to be-
lieve many things. We have been
persuaded .to believe ourselves to be
" the most thinking people in Europe ;''
but to what purpose do men think,
unless they arrive at useful knowledge
by thinking? To what purpose do
men think, if they are, after all their
thinking, to be persuaded, that a Bank,
which has not paid its promissory
notes in gold for thirteen years and a
half, will be able to pay them in gold
at the end of fifteen years and a half,
the quantity of the notes having gone
on regularly increasing ? If men are
to be persuaded to believe this, to
what purpose do they think? But,
before I proceed any further in my
remarks upon the Report of the Bul-
lion Committee ; before I proceed to
lay before you the exposures now
made by the labours of this Com-
mittee ; the facts now become evident
through this channel; the confessions
now made by these members ef the
House of Commons : before I pro-
ceed to lay these before you, and to
remark upon the remedies, proposed
by the Committee, it will be necessary
for me to go back into the history of
the paper-money ; because, without
doing this, I shall be talking to you of
things, of which you will have no clear
notion, and the reasonings, relating
to which, you will, of course, not at
all understand. It is a great misfor-
tune, that any portion of your time,
should be spent in reading or think-
ing abor.i matters of this kind ; but,
such is our present situation in this
country, that every man, who has a
family to preserve from want, ought
to endeavour to make himself ac-
quainted with the nature, and with the
probable consequences, of the paper-
money now afloat.

Money, is the representative, or the
taken of property, or things of value.
The money, while used as money, is of
no other use ; and, therefore, a bit of
lead or of wood or of leather, would be
as good as gold or silver, to be used as
money. But, if these materials, whiel|
are every where found in such abund-
ance, were to be used as money,


would be so much money made that
there would be no end to it; and, be-
sides, the money made in one country
would, however there enforced by
law, have no value in any other coun-
try. For these reasons Gold a
Silver, whieh are amongst the most
scarce of things, have been, by al]
the nations that we know any thing
of, used as money.

While the money of any country
consists of nothing but these scarce
metals; while it consists of nothing
but gold and silver, there is no fear
of its becoming too abundant ; but if
the money of a country be made of
lead, thl, wood, leather, or paper; and
if any one can make it, who may
choose to make it, there needs no ex-
traordinary wisdom to foresee, that
there will be a great abundance of
this sort of money, and that the gold
and silver money, being, in fact, no
longer of any use in such a state of
things, will go, either into the hoards
of the prudent, or into the bags of
those, who have the means of send-
ing or carrying them to those foreign
countries where they are wanted, and
where they will bring their value.

That a state of things like that here
spoken of, does now w exist in this
country, is notorious to all the world,
But while we are all acquainted with
the fact, and while many of us are
most sensibly feeling the effects,
scarcely a man amongst us takes the
trouble to inquire into the cause : yet,
unless the cause be ascertained, how
are we to apply, or to judge of a re-
medy? We see the country abound-
ing with paper-money; we see every
man's hand full of it ; we frequently
talk of it as a strange thing, and a
great evil; but never do we inquire
into the cause of it.

There are few of you who cannot
remember the time, when there was
scarcely ever seen a bank note among
Tradesmen and Farmers. I can re-
member, when this was the case ; and,
when the farmers in my country hard-
ly ever saw a bank note, except when
they sold their heps at Weyhill fair.
People, in those days, used to carry

little bags to put their money in, in-
stead of the paste-board r leather
cases that they now carry. If you
look back, and take a little time to
think, you will trace the gradual in-
crease of paper-money, and the like
decrease of gold and silver money.
At first there were no bank notes un-
der 20 pounds ; next they came to 15
pounds; next to 10 pounds: at the
beginning of the last war, they came
to 5 pounds ; and, before the end of
it, they came down to 2 and to 1
pounds. How long it will be before
they come down to parts of a pound,
it would, perhaps, be difficult to say ;
but in Kent, at least, there are country
notes in circulation to an amount so
low as that of seven shillings. It is
the cause of this that is interesting to
us ; the cause of this change in our
money, and, in the prices of goods of
all sorts and of labour. All of you
who are forty years of age can re-
member, when the price of the gallon
loaf used to be about ten pence or a
shilling, instead of two shillings and
sixpence or two shillings and ten
pence, as it now is. These effects
strike you. You talk of them every
day; but the cause of them you sel-
dom, if ever, either talk or think of:
and it is to this cause that I am now
endeavouring to draw your attention.
You have, during the last seven-
teen years, seen the quantity of paper
money rapidly increase ; or in other
words, you have, day after day, seen
less and less of gold and silver appear
in payments, and, of course more and
more of paper-money. But, it was
not till the year 1797, that the paper-
money began to increase so very fast.
It was then that the two and one
pound notes were first made by the
Bank of England. It was then, in
short, that paper-money became com-
pletely predominant But, you will
naturally ask me, " what was the
cause of that ?" The cause was tha
the Bank of England stopped pay-
ing its notes in gold and silver. What !
stop paying its notes ? Refuse to pay
its promissory notes? The Bank of
England, when its notes were present-


ed, refuse to pay them? Yes: and,

Online LibraryWilliam CobbettCobbett's Paper against gold : containing the history and mystery of the Bank of England, the funds, the debt, the sinking fund, the bank stoppage, the lowering and the raising of the value of paper-money : and shewing, that taxation, pauperism, poverty, misery and crimes have all increased, and eve → online text (page 1 of 38)