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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 28 of 40)
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time it was incurred ; that ministers, had they com-
prehended its extent, would have followed a much

B B 2



872 Pruhahilih/ if/'

more cautious course, aiul that no consideration
should again prompt tlieni to the once popuhu" sys-
tem of vigour. Never, we may add, chd a contest
close with more success in its main objects — the
change of government in France, and the restoration
of independence to Europe; while, as to territorial
acquisitions, it rested with us to retain or give back
whatever suited our policy. Would it be easy to
imagine circumstances more calculated to heal the
wounds of protracted warfare, or to prevent that
distress in which we have, notwithstanding, been
so deeply involved? After such dear-bought
experience, is it probable that our government
will be easily led to act an aggressive part ; or is
it not more likely, that its conduct will, in future,
be stamped with a prudence similar to that of a
Cecil or a Walpole, — to that which the unambi-
tious government of Holland has for ages studied to
exemplify ?

How far is this pacific prospect confirmed by
the situation of foreign powers ? The United
States of America passed, in February 1821, an
Act for reducing to one half, an army which
already was far from munerous j and the building
of ships of war, prosecuted only in compliance
with a temporary enthusiasm, is now also relaxed.
Next, as to our great European rival, France is no
longer to us the France of Louis XIV. or of Bona-
parte : not only is her national power comparati^•ely
very different, but the s})rings of court intrigue,
the hazard of secret influence on the executive
branch, are checked, as in this country, by the
freedom of parliamentary discussion. If it be
urged, however, that though the nation be inclined
to peace, the cabinet may be misled by foreign
influence or ministerial prejudices, and that in the



conti7uie(l Peace. 373

varying scene of European politics, there may
arise contingencies calculated to draw France into
war, let it be remembered, that her internal situ-
ation affords the strongest motives for a return to
peace. Her ministers cannot long be blind to her
real situation, — to the fact, that her })0])ulation is
in a more divided state, the ])reservation of her }n-e-
sent government less assured than was the case in
England a century ago, when, the Hanoverian
family being recently settled on tiie throne, it
rcxjuired a steady adherence to pacific ])olicy to
prevent a ru})ture, of which the result might have
been, that the regal prize Mould have been fought
for on British c^round.

Causes qJ'JVar that no longer eiist. — On taking
a retrospect of our history, we shall Hnd that
several of the most populai", as well as most sub-
stantial grounds of continental war, have ceasetl to
exist. This country began to take an active part
in foreign politics nearly a century and a half ago,
a time when France was so prejwnderant, that
during the reigns of William and Anne, continued
exertion was necessary to preserve the independ-
ence of Europe. The wars of 171-0 and I756
owed their origin chiefly to peculiarities in the
situation of Austria and Prussia, li' these no longer
iurnish a probable ground of war, it is still less
likely that we shall be involved in any contest for
colonies such as that of 177''^> o^' i" 'i" attempt to
regulate the government of our neiglihours, such
as that which called Europe to arms in 179^3.
Those liberal views in jjolitics, tliat conviction
of tlie barren nature of military troj)hies, anil of
the substantial fruits of })eace, which were so long
confined to the philosophic reader of history, have
at last reached our cabinet, and have influenced

B B S



37 4> Pro ba hilt t if of

it since 1812, to a degree greater than is generally
known. Neither the troubles of (rrecce or of
Spain have, for a moment, shaken the pacific
determination of our ministers. Add to this, that
the restrictive laws, so long connected with our
colonial system, have now ceased to fascinate our
rulers, and will soon cease to fascinate our mer-
chants. Our Board of Trade has expunged from
our commercial code, the acts most offensive to
foreigners : it no longer listens to scliemes of mo-
nopoly, or seeks to found our connnercial pros-
perity otherwise than in concurrence with that of
our neighbours. The discovery of the real sources
of national wealth, has show^n the folly of wasting
lives and treasure for those colonial possessions,
which, during the last century, in the reign of the
mercantile theory, were accounted the chief basis
of commercial prosperity. It is now above forty
years since the United States of America were
definitively separated from us, and since their situ-
ation has afforded a proof, that the benefit of mer-
cantile intercourse may be retained in all its
extent, without the care of governing, or the ex-
pence of defending these once-regretted provinces.
Mexico, Peru, Chili, Brazil, tiie regions so much
coveted by our forefathers, are now open to every
flag, and never likely to become, on commercial
grounds at least, a cause of wan

Is it necessary to add arguments to show the
fallacy of expecting any national advantage from
war ? If we cast our eyes on France, we find her,
after considering herself, during many years, the
mistress of the Continent, brought back, in 1814,
to her ancient limits : if we look at home, we find
our countrymen, after believing that our naval
superiority, our coiiquests in the east and west, had



continued Peace. S'JS

brought us unparalleled wealtli, have made the
mortifying discovery that our l)urdens far exceed
our acquisitions, and that the only substantial ad-
dition to our resources, arises from domestic im-
provement and augmentation of numbers ; cir-
cumstances that had little or no connexion with
a state of hostility. Frederic II. of Prussia af-
forded, perhaps, the most striking example of suc-
cess arising from keeping up a large standing army,
having acquired by it, in the first instance, »Silesia,
and eventually part of Poland : yet, whoever will
calculate, on the one hand, the amount of his
sacrifices, on the other, the natural progress of
population and wealth during so long a period as
his reign (Ibrty-five years), will find that the in-
crease of his power would have been fully equal,
had he confined himself to the plain and direct
course of remaining in peace and improving his
hereditary dominions.

To follow up such a course, to surmount our
financial difficulties, and to lieal the woinuls of
Ireland, are, doubtless, the chief objects of govern-
ment. When these grand points shall be attained,
the magnitude of our resources will be so evident
as to dispel all apprehension of attack, not only on
this country, but on the independeiice of the Ne-
therlands, the maintenance of which seems now to
form the only sufficient ground for our interfering
in a continental contest.

Our Prospect of ina^ased Resources. — We have
already expressed (p. 2,54.) a belief that if we can
so conduct our affairs as to get over a few years
of difficulty, our financial prospects would brighten
beyond those of any other country. The more
we examine our situation, the more we .shall find
B B 4



S7(') Our Prospect of

ourselves enal)le(l to trace its evils to transition,
derangement, and other causes of" a temporary cha-
racter. Our recent experience has shown, that a
season of peace will not always be a season of
stagnation, and that an increase of ])opulation, pro-
ducing consumers as well as producers, has no
tendency to over-stock. The order of Providence
evidently is, that the industrious should be at no
loss for employment. And the old adage, that
" England is England's best customer," will be
exemplified with ample effect whenever the course
of circumstances shall restore things to their level,
and whenever the unnatural effect of war and
taxation shall be removed.

In the belief of several of our countrymen, we
have arrived at that point beyond w^hich we can
hardly expect to carry either our numbers or our
wealth. Their apprehension, however, will be
found to require no lengthened refutation, and is
noticed here chiefly to satisfy those persons, neces-
sarily numerous in a commercial country, w^ho,
immersed in their respective occupations, have
little means of generalizing or of reasoning from
the past to the future. The fact is, that our im-
provements, whether in agriculture, manufacture,
or navigation, are at present no more arrive 1 at a
limit, no more threatened with obstacles to their
farther progress, than they were a century ago.
A negative impression of this nature w^as general
thirty years since, yet no age has been so fertile in
discovery, in invention, in increase of productive
powder j and happily no country possesses, in its
resources, whether physical or political, greater
means of continuing the career of advancement.
Our capital and labour, of which so large a portion
was long directed to military purposes, are nov/



increased Resources. .377

applied to objects of permanent utility. The two
great anomalies of our inland situation, ])oor-rate
andtitlic, can hardly fail to yield to the intelli*^ence
of the age ; and their removal Mould go far to-
wards healing the wounds of the suffering portion
of the connn unity.

To bring our calculation to a point, — what an-
nual sum may we consider as likely to be added to
our national revenue, in a season of peace ? This it
is no easy matter to reduce to a s})ecific form, but
after establishing (p. 262.), the intimate connection
between population and wealth, we may, we trust, on
very safe grounds, as far as regards England and Scot-
land (leaving Ireland, at least the cottagers of Ire-
land, out of the question), assume the increase of
numbers as the ratio of the increase of our taxable
income. Such certainly may be taken for graiited,
when the reduction of our taxation shall have
been carried somewhat farther, removing the chief
})art of the extra pressure on our national industrv,
and placing it, in regard to pul)lic burdens, more
nearly on a level with that of our continental com-
petitors.

We proceed to exhibit the result in the form of
arithmetical computation. First, as to our num-
bers: — instead of requiring our readers to assent
to the probability of an addition ainiualh angincMit-
ing, we shall confine ourselves to that wliieh is
past and ascertained ; viz. the individuals boni in
the early part of the century (1S02, S, 1.), who
are now entering, year after year, on flie age of
productive labour. Next, as to the fiiiits of iheii"
labour, represented in the Ibrm of money, we ha\ e
already (Ap])endix, j). 77-) calculated the animal
addition to our national income from that source
at .S,01X),()00/., and as our taxation, even on a



S7S



Oin^ Pros-peel of



reduced scale, will be iiilly ^0 per cent, on our
income, the consequent addition to our revenue is
aboNC 000,000/. Hut here also we shall make a
large abatement, and shall call the addition in
question only 400,000/.

Computated Increase of National Incomefrovi the Progress of
prodnctivi' Industiij and Population^ assuming such Increase
at 400,000/. a-ycar.





Annual Increase




Annual Increase


Years.


of the I'roduce


Years.


of the Produce




of Taxes.




of Taxes.


1823


£ 400,000


1837


£ 6,000,000


1824


800,000


1838


6,400,000


1825


1,200,000


1839


6,800,000


1826


1,600,000


1840


7,200,000


1827


2,000,000


1841


7,600,000


1828


2,400,000


1842


8,000,000


1829


2,800,000


1S43


8,400,000


1830


3,200,000


1844


8,800,000


1831


3,600,000


1845


9,200,000


1832


4,000,000


1846


9,600,000


1833


4,400,000


1847


10,000,000


1834


4,800,000


1848


10,400,000


1835


5,200,000


1849


10,800,000


1836


5,600,000


1850


11,200,000



This increase supposes neither new taxes or im-
pro'sed circumstances on the part of those who
pay them : if the latter merely escape deterior-
ation, the increase of numbers, the acquisition of
the additional labourers in the productive field, will,
by the augmented consum])tion of taxed articles,
make the computed addition to the revenue.

Diminution of public Eapenditiu^e. — If it be
accounted somewhat confident to anticipate so
regular an increase of national income from the
mere augmentation of our numbers, we shall call



increased Resources. 879

in an auxiliary of another kind, — the effect of
diminishing expenditure. Economy is evidently
tlie wish of ministers, and the rising value of
money bids fair to enable them to carry reduction
considerably farther, witliout injury to the indi-
viduals reduced. Wliat is, in this respect, the
effect of the repeal ot« 6,000,000/. of taxes in the
last two years ? To lower prices ; to bring money
more nearly to the value it bore in 179'2; to render
in the fourth year of the war, that
circumstances pointed out to Mr. Pitt, the neces-
sity of a radical change in his financial plans — the
substitution of war taxes for loans. The length to
which the latter had been carried, exceeded the
disposable funds of the monied interest ; while, on
the other hand, the increase of productive industry,
the rise of wages, salaries, rents, all concurred to
strengthen the hope of a liberal supply from tax-
ation. Mr. Pitt seized the distinction with his
usual promptitude, and erected on it a structure,



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 28 of 40)