Page images


The author deems himself justified in a confident hope, that, on the strictest examination, the aggregate property of the Bri-> tish empire would be found considerably to exceed this enormous

When we consider that this prodigious mass of capital is every hour producing and increasing by accumulation of profits, and that the whole, under the protection and administration of a powerful and just government, is pledged for the security of the public creditors, whose claims, though of unparalleled amount, bear no proportion to the public estate, our wonder at the creation and growth of the debt must cease; the facilities with which each augmentation to it has been made, under the pressure of the most extended warfare, will no longer surprise us, nor shall we deem it strange, that, notwithstanding the immense sums which are continually brought into the stock-market, in the natural circulation of property, no difficulty has hitherto impeded the raising of any loan for supplying the necessities of the state. In truth, since the first creation of public debt, in the time of Charles the Second, or rather after the accession of King William, however rapid its growth has been in the successive wars which required its increase, the growth of the public estate has beyond calculation been more rapid. It is impossible to doubt that at the present instant the deduction of the whole subsisting debt, at its highest denomination, being made from that estate, would leave the remaining mass of property wholly unincumbered, perhaps of ten times the value of the whole public and private property of the empire at the time of the revolution. Hence we deem the apprehensions of those who doubt the stability of our financial system, as founded it utter iguorance of the subject on which they speculate. There are many who question its principles, and reason agafist conviction.. Their hope is to create the evils which they affect to dread. But the man of deep thought, no less than the patriot, reposes in the responsibility of the state, so long as the sfate shall endure, with undoubting confidence.

The third chapter is an estimate of the new property annually created in the empire by the labour of the people employed in agriculture, manufactures, trade, commerce, navigation, fishieries, and other branches of productive industry.

It might seem fastidious to object to expressions sanctioned by authority so respectable as that of. Mr. Colquhoun, but we think the words new property are here. misapplied, in the same manner as we erroneously call the tax on the profits of property, a tax upon property itself. Our author-is here treatiug of the subject matter of that tax, not-of that which when created be comes of decessity. the source of future gain, assuming tlies form


[ocr errors]

are computed the food of man,

to be

[ocr errors]

and character of permanently productive capital, which might
accurately be denominated nezely created property; but of that
which is the annual fruit of the labour of the country employed
upon the permanent capital already consolidated, a small por-
tion only of which (being the savings of a few persons) becomes
itself productive capital. The text before us correctly describes
it" as the means by which the nation subsists from year to year,
and the source from which revenues are obtained for the sup-
port of the state.”

These speculations are founded on presumption, that is sup
posed to approximate Tearly to truth, and sufficiently so for
every purpose of useful discussion, but not always on official

The agricultural labour of Great Britain giving support to
3,500,000 of the population (which since 1811 is supposed to
be increased to 18,000,000) is estimated to produce in value
annually £216,817,624, of which

the food of animals,

consumed in manufactures and

for miscellaneous purposes. $216,817,624

The mines and minerals of the British isles are supposed to produce annually 9,300,000 in value.

The manufactures supporting 3,000,000 of the population,
äre estimated to produce £114,230,000 yearly, of which, ac-
cording to the public accounts, including the produce of the
mines, 54,571,054 are yearly exported. This was the in-
mense exportation at a time when the general enemy had at-
tempted to exclude us from the Continent of Europe. Who
can calculate its increase when the universal peace shall be con-
firmed, and the nations of the Continent, resuming the pursuits
of industry, shall advance in opulence, and become more libe-
sal purchasers and more extendettonsumers?

The inland trade is estimated at £31,000,000, and is said to
be prosecuted by 4,500,000 persons.
... This trade is not confined to the consumers of Great Britain
and Ireland, but extends to the whole transmarine possessions of
the crown, and to all foreign nations with whom there is inter-
course. The first is conveyed directly to the consumers by the
inland traders themselves, the latter through the medium of the
merchants or exporters to the colonies and dependencies of the
crown, and to forsign countries.

6. In this manner inland traders acquire riches; but that pro-
portion of it which is not drawn from the colonial possessions and



[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

from foreign exportation, although it increases the property of the individual, does not appear to augment the public wealth of the nation. It adds however greatly to the resources of the state, through the medium of taxes and the more extended division of property, which operates powerfully in augmenting the revenues of the state."

Now we are of opinion that the value of the juland trade is here exceedingly under-rated, and much as we respect our author, ils nature and its advantages he seems to have misconceived.

“ All wholesale trade," says Dr. Smith, vol. ii. chap. 5." all buying in order to sell again by wholesale, may be reduced to three different sorts: the home trade, the foreign trade of consumption, and the carrying trade. The home trade is employed in purchasing in one part of the same country and selling in another the produce of the industry of that country. It comprehends both the inland and the coasting trade. The foreign trade of consumption is employed in purchasing foreign goods for home consumption. The carrying trade is employed in transacting the commerce of foreign countries, or in carrying the surplus produce of one to another. The capital which is employed in purchasing in one part of the country in order to sell in another, the produce of the industry of that country generally replaces by every such operation two distinct capitals that had both been employed in the agriculture or manufactures of that country, and thereby enables them to continue that employment. When it sends out from the residence of the merchant a certain value of commodities, it generally brings back in return at least an equal value of other commodities. When both are the produce of domestic industry, it necessarily replaces by every such operation two distinct capitals, which had both been employed in supporting productive labour, and thereby enables them to continue that support. The capital which sends Scotch manufactures to London and brings back English corn and manufactures to Edinburgh, necessarily replaces by every such operation two British capitals, which had both been employed in the agriculture or manufactures of Great Britain. The capital which sends British goods to Portugal and brings back Portuguese goods to Great Britain, replaces by every such operation only one British capital; the other is a Portuguese one. Though the returns therefore of the foreign trade of consumption should be as quick as those of the home trade, (and in the nature of things they must always be more slow and more uncertain) the capital employed in it will give but one half the encouragement te the industry or productive labour of the country.” And again.

* A capital employed in the home trade will sometimes make twelve operations, or be sent out and returned twelve times before a capital employed in the foreign trade of consumption has made one. If the capitals are equal, therefore, the one


[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

will give four and twenty times more encouragement and support
to the industry of the country than the other."

Yet Mr. Colquhoun tells us that this inland trade does not
appear to augment the public wealth of the nution.

The foreign commerce of the united kingdom is deduced from the official returns of the year 1818, which afford these splendid results :

The exports were ........ 73,725,603

The imports were ...........60,424,876
The vessels employed were 28,06 i ships of the burthen of
9,160,293 tons, navigated by 184,352 men. This iminense
trade, (not including the distinct and separate trade of all the
foreign dependencies, both of the crown and the East India
Comparry) is supposed to give employment to 406,250 indivi-
duals, and to yield a profit of £46,373,748. We cannot omit
to anticipate the observation which the future historian and po-
litician will make on this prodigious extent of our commerce at
the close of that eventful contest which lays our enemies pros-
tráte before us. It was a contest in which all Europe had ap-
peared in array against us, for the sole object of dissolving our
commercial connections, and excluding us from the markets of
Europe. The hostile jealousy of Europe was so entirely foiled
in the accomplishment of its object, that, as it were in revenge
for the injuries it had suffered in the prosecution of it, at last
great confederacy was formed against the rash projector of so
hopeless a warfare, which, under the guidance of our mighty
arm, terminated in his destruction.

The coasting trade, our great nursery for seamen, employs
8070 vessels, which make 27,370 voyages, convey 4,105,500
tons of merchandize, and yield a profit of £2,000,000 a year,
on a moderate computation.
5. Of the fisheries, which admit of incalculable increase, the
present profits do not exceed £2,100,000.

It is calculated that 871 banks, established in the empire, ins
cluding as well the great national corporations as those of the
most limited credit, employ capital to the amount of £40,700,000,
yielding direct annual profit to the amount of £3,500,000.

But the importance of the system of banking, extended over the whole empire, and brought to almost incredible perfection, is not to be estimated by the direct profits of those embarked in that concern; they are to be regarded, in their respective departments, as the administrators of a function the most important that can be imagined in political economy, the organs of public credit and the regulators of the credit to be enjoyed by all private adventurers. By their operations, which proceed with S

the VOL. IV. SEPTEMBER, 1815

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

the utmost precision and rapidity, and with an effect almost magical, all commercial transactions, both of the utmost magnitude and of the lowest denomination, are conducted, between persons at the most distant places, and respectively unknown, with a facility which no other system can afford, and which no other country now perfectly enjoys, or probably ever will enjoy. By their proceedinys, all the energies of industry and speculation are called into action, and the means of reproduction are almost rendered infinite. Theirs is the vast machine wbich gives life to every political and commercial principle, and impels through all society the otherwise stagnant accumulations of property. While their vast machinery supplies the want, nay even appears alınost to supersede the use of the precious metals as a circulating medium, it performs what all the bullion of the world would not be able to perform. Every day the bankers in Loudon alone pay and receive to the amount of £4,700,000. Ten or twenty times that amount would be required to make those payments in specie in the endless variety of sums into which it is divided. By the operation of banking, these payınents, amounting in the year to 1457 millions, are effected every night by the actual exchange of about £220,000) in bank notes, which is equal to all the differences of the several houses. The incalculable payments of the whole empire are accomplished by about 20 millions of Bank of England notes, circu. lating with astonishing rapidity, and imparting their velocity to the bills of private credit, which are current only as they are convertible at every instant into the notes of the Bank of Eng. land.

Our author calculates the foreign income remitted from all parts to support the proprietors residing in Great Britain at five millions.

His recapitulation of all the calculations of the annual proceeds of the empire, or as he terms it, the new property annually created, is for the year 1812, including the conquests given up at the peace of 1814: The United Kingdom

£430,521,372 Dependencies in Europe

5,818,000 Dependencies in America and the West Indies 41,927,940 Settlements in Africa....

800,300 Colonies and Dependencies in Asia

6,194,230 Possessions of the East India Company


[ocr errors]


We highly commend this first attempt “ to examine minutely, by the rules of political arithmetic, the various component parts

« PreviousContinue »