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vations, 'he proceeds to enquire into their principles and reasons; and he argues that they tend to the encouragement of industry; that a fixed rate of interest secures property from fluctuation and uncertainty in value; that borrowing, in general, is an evil; and that the laws are in truth calculated to benefit the lender as well as the borrower, because they withdraw the temptation to lend money on insecure contracts.
" It seems to be assumed, that, as the facilities to borrow, and the temptations to lend, will encourage speculation and increase trade, so i he community must necessarily be benefited. But the quantity of trade is not the criterion of permanent advantage, or of durable wealth. One cannot, indeed, but suspect, that there is some mistake in supposing that we shall derive advantage in proportion as one class of society encounters risk, and the other runs in debt!"
The author goes on to maintain the justice and expediency of the laws, on the ground of the difference between money and other species of property. That the value of money is merely conventional; that it is only the representative of wealth, as paper-money is the representative of coin; that it is imperishable; that its value is comparatively immutable, and that there is little risk or speculation in dealing in it; that security is given for the return of money, which is not usually the case in the loan of other property; that dealing in money partakes of the evils of monopoly, it not being a production common to mankind, or, like other articles of property, capable by industry of increase; and that, consequently, they who hold it, if unrestrained by law, are enabled to dictate terms to those who want it. An historical view of the subject succeeds; and the author contends, that the laws against usury have kept exact pace with the progress of society and the general state of its affairs, and that five per cent., the present maximum, is in fact more than the farmer, manufacturer, or merchant, can afford to pay out of the existing rate of profit. The sixth section commences a review of the arguments against the laws, and, among others, those of Mr. Bentham ; and seven succeeding sections are similarly occupied. Our limits will not allow us to pursue this discussion, throughout which the objections to the laws are stated with great ingenuity on one side, and combated with an equal degree on the other. For the valuable lights to be obtained from such a discussion of this important question, we must refer the readers to the work itself; engaging that they will find much perspicuous reasoning, and much happy illus. tration.
Three sections are devoted to a review of some of the principal authorities in favour of the laws : Grotius, Puffendorf,
Vattel, Bacon, Blackstone, Paley, and Adam Smith. The author observes :
• It is remarkable that none of the eminent writers on the principles of morality and the law of pations should, in any respect, question the justice or policy of restraining, within certain prescriberl bounds, the rate of interest. It cannot be supposed that the point did not occur to their minds, or was not sufficiently brought before them. On the contrary, they discuss the very principles and foundation of the law.”
Grotius maintains, that, though allowing a compensation to be made for the use of money be not repugnant to natural or revealed law, yet, where the recompence exceeds what is reasonable, it becomes an act of extortion and oppression. Puffendorf, after adverting to the prohibition of the Mosaic law, admits, that as money is now borrowed for a very different purpose than any provided for in the legislation of the Pentateuch, namely, to increase and improve the wealth of the borrower, it is reasonable that he should allow to the lender some share of the gain; but he notices, among the conditions which are necessary to justify the taking of interest, that it shall not exceed the bound fixed by the law. Vattel does not write expressly upon the subject of usury, but regards immoderate gain as an offence against the law of nature. Bacon is in favour of a moderate restriction of interest; and it is reniarkable that, long before it was established by law, this great man was of opinion that five per cent. should be the legal interest in general. Blackstone is opposed to the permission of exorbitant interest, although he combats the doctrine of the sinfulness of usury: in opposing the latter opinion, he says, that “to demand an exorbitant price is equally contrary to conscience for the loan of a horse, or the loan of a sum of money; but a reasonable equivalent for the temporary inconvenience which the owner may feel by the want of it, and for the hazard of losing it entirely, is not more immoral in the one case than it is in the other. Mr. Bentham takes advantage of this, to contend, that the hiring of money, and the hiring of horses, should be placed on the same footing. This is opposed by Mr. Maugham.
“ With submission to Mr. Bentham, he does not fairly apprehend the argument of the late learned Judge, and neither meets nor refutes it. The point is plainly this : If an ordinary horse, in the usual course of business, may be hired for half-a-guinea, it would be an extortion to charge a man twice or thrice that amount, who wanted it upon a pressing occasion of life or death, or who was totally ignorant of the customary rate of hiring. Every honest man would object to such an act, and consider it as improper and unjust. Now, the lending of a sum of money at twice or thrise the established rate, under circumstances of distress or iguorance, is precisely analogous to the case of the horse',
so far as moral justice is concerned ; and yet consistency does not require that both causes should be subject to the same restraint, because the value of the two articles are not alike, and not equally capable of appreciation. There is no variety in the value of money. One bag of a hundred sovereigns is as good as another bag containing the same number ; [it is not to be supposed that bad sovereigns are lent!) but all horses are not alike; they are different in price, from five pounds to as many bundreds, and the amount of hire may also vary in a con. siderable degree, though not in the same proportion; and the only reason for the variation is, that horses of extraordinary value are never lent at all.
“ Mr. Bentham has attempted to turn into ridicule this comparison of the loan of a sum of money to the loan of a horse, and has taken the trouble to furnish a PARODY upon the occasion. By a little transposition of language, and substituting the selling of horses for the lending of money, he endeavours to reduce the supposed parallel to an absurdity. The pains which he has taken, in the occupation of ten pages upon this topic, have scarcely been sufficiently rewarded; for, at ihe best, it is but a criticisin on a single illustration, and, if it were given up as unhappily chosen, the argument itself would remain the same. The ridicule, however, is really unfounded. The value of horses,' says Mr. Bentham, differs not more than the value of money on different occasions. But this opinion has scarcely the slightest foundation in truth and accuracy: the value of horses is, of all
other species of property, the most fluctuating, not only in peculiar instances, but in the general trade. The price varies with the season of the year ; with the demand for particular kinds of horses, for agriculture, war, and other purposes ; with the age and condition of the animal;-its size, strength, form, and perhaps even its colour. All these qualities relate to horses in general; and, when we conie to hunters and racers, and those which are used for private riding, the value, or supposed value, depends so much on personal taste and opinion, that no general rate could possibly be fixed.
« On the other band, no such uncertainty accompanies the value of money. A guinea will last for centuries without being sensibly diminished, and it is perfectly ludicrous to contrast its qualities of size, form, age, or colour, with t!:ose of a horse. But then, says onr author, « The values of horses is not more different than the values wbich the use of the same sum of money may be of to different persons, on different occasions. This is a statement not very consistent with another, which is made in the same letter,--namely, the instance of a famous racer wbich was sold for 2,000l. The ordinary value of a horse is only twenty or thirty pounds; and it cannot, surely, be said that the value of money varies to so great an extent,- that is, from one pound to one hundred per cent.!”
Paley observes upon the laws of usury, that “ The policy of these regulations is to check the power of accumulating wealth without industry; to give encouragement to trade, by enabling adventurers in it to borrow money at a moderate price; and, of late years, to enable the State to borrow the subject's money itself.” Adam Smith affirms that, without these laws, the greater part of the money to be lent would be kept out of the hands most likely to make a thrifty and profitable use of it, and thrown into those which would waste it to the ruin both of themselves and the lender. The author before us comments with much ability upon the various authorities, and in the concluding section makes a general summing-up of his case.
Although the present work appears in the unpretending form of a pamphlet, it presents the clearest and most comprehensive view of the arguments against the abolition of the usury laws that we have seen. On the question itself we shall not here deliver an opinion ; but those who feel interested in it should peruse the present work, which will not only put them in possession of the arguments on one side of the question, but will also afford them considerable insight into those on the other.
Travels in the Republic of Columbia, in the Years 1822 and
1823. By G. Mollien. Translated from the French.
London, C. Knight. 1825. The reasons which induced us in our last Number to notice Mr. Bullock's work on Mexico, and previously others of a similar nature, have directed our attention to the one before us; and we shall proceed to lay before our readers as copious an analysis of it as our limits will permit. Availing himself of an opportunity which presented, of visiting the continent of America, the author embarked in the month of August, 1822, on board a ship of war destined to protect the French commerce in Antilles; his remarks upon those parts of North America which he visited, are pertinent, and, like most Europeans, he was struck with the view of social institutions, often contradictory to each other.
“The lash under which the negro slave still smarts, cracked in our ears ;* the prejudices under which men of colour groaned, shocked our sensibility; morals appear relaxed, which, indeed, they must have been to a great degree, to have provoked the censure of sailors, naturally not inclined to be severe in these matters. The police which, while it allows great liberty to foreigners, affords them but little security against the bad faith of traders, or the treachery of domestics, allowed but little room for admiration. Above all, great complaints were made of the remissness of the Americans in adopting precautionary measures against the yellow fever, thus exposing all the towns upon
* In 1820, the number of slaves in the United States amounted to 1,538,128.
the coast to its avnual ravages.” Such are the feelings experienced by all persons on visiting the United States, and, if they become less painful by habit, the evil continues the same. On landing at Carthagena, the eye is met by a combination of melancholy objects.
“ Long galleries, short and clumsy columns, streets narrow and dark, from the too great projection of the terraces, which almost prevent the admission of day-light, the greater part of the houses dirty, full of smoke, poverty-stricken, and sheltering beings still more filthy, black, and miserable; such is the picture at first presented by a city adorned with the name of the rival of Rome.” This place, containing about 18,000 souls, is hot and unhealthy; the condition of the persons of colour is very different from that of the black races in North America; they here enjoy entire freedom, and the least invidious comparison or assumption of superiority on the part of the whites, would be attended with danger; two sieges, which this city has sustained, have drained the resources of the inhabitants, and have shaken its commercial importance, which will receive its final blow whenever the Isthmus of Panama shall become the theatre of European speculation. In consequence of the proximity of the Spanish general Morales, the author deferred his departure for Santa Fé de Bogota, till the 1st of January, 1823. Turbaco, which is six leagues from Carthagena, and is decidedly healthy, is recommended as an eligible place for the residence of Europeans, who may have business at the latter. At Ajona, a glass of rum procured a change of horses, when a letter of recommendation to the Alcaide had failed to produce any effect; it is, in most cases, a powerful mediator, and, when properly applied, very serviceable to the traveller. At Barranca, the author embarked on board a Piragua, to ascend the Magdalena; the navigation of this river presents difficulties and dangers of a most appalling nature, seated in a slender and partly flexible bark, which is built in the slightest manner, that it may yield to the rocks upon which it is every moment in danger of being cast, by the force of the stream, the whirl of an eddy, or the unskilfulness of the boatmen, who are often inebriated, and never, in the smallest degree, under the control of their employer: he has need of all the firmness and constant exercise for all the patience he may possess; to this we nay add, that the water is infested with alligators, the air swarms with musquitoes, the neighbouring woods are the haunts of the jaquar and serpents; while scorpions and millipedes keep the traveller in constant dread of their bite. Such