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Joseph Lowe.

The present state of England in regard to agriculture, trade and finance; with a comparison of the prospects of England and France online

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Online LibraryJoseph LoweThe present state of England in regard to agriculture, trade and finance; with a comparison of the prospects of England and France → online text (page 22 of 40)
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284 J\ff'^^^ uflhc Idtc IVars on. Propcrtij,

crease, whether iiom interest, profit of stock, or
personal exertion, would, in a state of continued
peace, have been much less considerable.

Effect of the War on the Habits of Individuals.
— The increase of wealth arising from the war
was much more an increase of income than of
property. In the latter sense the war was bene-
ficial to those only who had formed their habits in
a season of tranquil occupation, of moderate profit,
and who, from their experience and time of life,
were capable of reaping the new harvest without
abusing it. The case was very different with those
who, entering on business during the war, took for
granted that circumstances would continue as they
found them, and made no provision for a reverse.
The characteristics of this youthful generation may
be said to have been a general confidence, a habit
of early expence, a repugnance to the cautious
perseverance of former days. The extent of evil
arising from such a source can be computed by
those only whose observation has embraced a wide
range, who have marked throughout the present
age the frequent substitution of adventure for
industry, and the reiterated loss of capital when
entrusted to the young and inexperienced.

Losses on ttie Transition from War to Peace.

No period of our history affords an example of a
change so sudden and so extensive as that which
took place in the state of our productive industry
after the peace of 1814. For the relinquishment
of foreign colonies, and for an active rivalship in
manufacture, on the part of the continent of
Europe, the public were prepared ; but they had,
in a manner, lost sight of the great diflference be-
tween government expenditure in peace and war ;



Individual and National. ^85

and the few who took this difference into account,
imagined that the diminution of demand at home
would be balanced by our exports to newly
opened markets in America and Asia. These
persons were by no means aware either of the mag-
nitude of our circulation at home arising from war
expenditure, or of the substantial difference be-
tween an assiu'ed payment in England, and the
hazard attendant on transactions with distant coun-
tries. Many anticipated a partial reduction of
wages, but not a general want of work ; a dimi-
nution of mercantile and manufacturing profit to
a certain extent, but in no degree proportioned to
that which took place. Yet the years of peace
have been marked by no calamity of a general
nature ; by no such bankruptcy as the South Sea
or Mississippi scheme ; by no territorial cessions,
like the relinquishment, at the peace of 1783, of
our North American provinces; by no insuruection
in our colonies ; no successful rivalship on the part
of competitors either in manufacture or navigation.
Magnitude of the Change. — ^\'hat, tlien, were
the causes of our great and unexpected embar-
rassments? Not a reduction of our means con-
sidered physically or intrinsically, but a general
change in the mode of rendering them productive ;
a sudden removal of the stimulus arising from tlie
war. In no former contest had our military esta-
blishments been carried to such a height : the
number of our militiamen, soldiers, and sailors, dis-
charged, amounted to between two and three hun-
dred thousand, while the individuals em])I()yed in
the manufacture of clothes, arms, stores, in the
supply of provisions, tlie navigation of transports,
amounted, perhaps, to two hundred thousand more.
The macfnitude of the transition will be best shown



28(i mH'f'f



Online LibraryJoseph LoweThe present state of England in regard to agriculture, trade and finance; with a comparison of the prospects of England and France → online text (page 22 of 40)