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grate into his successors, and communicate once more with us through them. In either case, we shall have him with us still.
But, it will be said, the services here attributed to Scott, were, for the most part, rendered unconsciously. True ; and why should not the common methods of Providence have place here as in all other in. stances? Scott did voluntarily all that he could ; and that he was destined to do yet more involuntarily, is so much the greater honour, instead of derogating from his merit. That some of this extra service was of a na. ture which he might have declined if offered a choice, is only an addi. tional proof that the designs of men are over-ruled, and their weakness not only compensated for by divine direction, but made its instruments. Great things are done by spontaneous human action: yet greater things are done by every man without his concurrence or suspicion ; all which tends, not to degrade the character of human effort, but to exemplify the purposes of Providence. Scott is no new instance of this, nor de. serves less honour in proportion to his spontaneous efforts than the sages of Greece, or the historians of Rome, and the benefactors of every age, who have been destined to effect more as illustrators than even as teachers and recorders. He was happy and humbly complacent in his creative office : it is so much pure blessing that we can regard him with additional and higher complacency as a vindicator of genius, and an un. conscious prophet of its future achievements.
SONNETS TO IONE.
Man's lighter faith, occasion's sport, excerds :
Not well each hasty glance, sweet boaster, reads
And fair inscriptions, hid with clinging weeds,
But follow manly love through noble deeds.
With reverence, as for angels, tamed, and blest
His conflict's prize, his balm for toil's unrest ;
A jewel treasured in the hardest breast :-
Lap in rich waves, half wandering o'er thy cheek,
Flushed with sweet dreams, now swelled, and now grew wreak
Wrack'd by life's bitter winds; when glad and meek,
E'en that thon art most soft, and needing aid,
As though a breath might wound thee, I have made
Encompass round thy presence, still afraid,
THE CURRENCY JUGGLE.*
All friends of " The Movement"--all persons, be they Ministers, Mem. bers of Parliament, or public writers, who look for the safety and wellbeing of England, not through the extinction, but through the further progress of the spirit of reform,-commit, in our opinion, an egregious blunder, if they devote themselves chiefly to setting forth what innovations ought not to be made. Once open a door, and mischief may come in as well as go out—who doubts it? But our fears are not on that side ; else, like so many others, we should be Conservatives. We are as conservative as anybody of what we deem worth preserving ; but we have judged that Improvement, and not Conservation, is the prize to be striven for just now. This being a settled point with us, our conduct shall not vary from it. The tide of improvement having once begun to rise, we know that froth and straws, and levities of all kinds, will be floated in multitudes up the stream. We regard it as nowise our business to watch for their appearance, and break each successive bubble the moment it shews itself on the surface. We leave these to burst of them. selves, or to be swept away by the efforts of such as feel themselves called upon by their duty to make that their occupation. Be it ours to find fit work for the new instrument of government; it is enough that our silence testifies against the unfit. No one can suffice for all things ; and the time is yet far distant when a Radical Reformer can, without deserting a higher trust, allow himself to assume in the main, the garb and attitude of a Conservative.
There are, however, cases in which the rule of conduct which we have prescribed to ourselves must be departed from ; and the serious evil incurred, of a conflict between reformers and reformers, in the face of the common enemy. Purposes may be proclaimed by part of the multitudinous body of professed Radicals, which, for the credit of the common cause, it may be imperative upon their fellow-Radicals to disavow ; purposes such as cannot even continue to be publicly broached, (not being, as publicly protested against,) without detriment to public morality. In this light, we look upon all schemes for the confiscation of private property, in any shape, or under any pretext ; and upon none more than the gigantic plan of confiscation which at present finds some advocates,-a depreciation of the currency.
In substance, this is merely a round-about (and very inconvenient) method of cutting down all debts to a fraction. Considering it in that light, it is not wonderful that all fraudulent debtors should be its eager partisans; but what recommends it to them, should have been enough to render it odious to all well-meaning, even if puzzle-headed, persons, That men who are not knaves in their private dealings, should understand what the word depreciation means, and yet support it, speaks but ill for the existing state of morality on such matters. It is something new in a civilized country. Several times, indeed, since paper-credit existed, governments, or public bodies, have got into their hands the power of issuing a paper-currency, without the restraint of convertibility, or any limitation in the amount. The most memorable cases are those
Evidence of Thomas Attwood, Esq. before the Committee of the House of Common, on the Bank Charter. No. X.-VOL. II.
of Law's Mississippi Scheme, the Assignats, and the Bank Restriction in 1797. On these various occasions a depreciation did, in fact, take place ; but the intention was not professed of producing one ; nor were its au. thors in the slightest degree aware that such would be the effect. The important truth, that currency is lowered in value, in proportion as it is augmented in quantity, was known solely to speculative philosophers, to Locke and Hume. The practicals had never heard of it ; or if they had, disdained it as visionary theory. Not an idea was entertained that a paper-money, which rested upon good security, which represented, as the phrase was, real wealth, could ever become depreciated by the mere amount of the issues.
But now, this is understood and reckoned upon, and is the very foun. dation of the scheme. All mankind, Mr. Rothschild excepted, now know, that increasing the issues of inconvertible paper-money lowers its value, and thereby takes from all who have currency in their pos. session, or who are entitled to receive any fixed sum, an indefinite aliquot part of their property or income; making a present of the amount to the issuers of the currency, and to the persons by whom the fixed sums are payable. This is seen as clearly as daylight; and thereupon do men recoil from the idea ? No; they coolly propose that the thing should be done; the nore tabulæ issued; the transfer to the debtor of the lawful property of the creditor, and to the banker, of part of the property of every man who has money in his purse, deliberately and knowingly accomplished. And this is seriously entertained as a proposition sub judice ; quite as fit to be discussed, and as likely, a priori, to be found worthy of adoption as any other.
At the head of the depreciation party are the two Messrs. Attwood, Matthias and Thomas: the first, of the genuine Tory stamp, a nominee of the Duke of Newcastle ; his brother, the chairman of the Birmingham Union, one who, as a man of action, willing and able to stand in the breach, the organizer and leader of our late victorious struggle, has deserved well of his country. But the ability required for leading on a congregated multitude to victory, whether in the war of politics or in that of battles, is one thing; the capacity to make laws for the commerce of a great nation, or even to interpret the vulgarest mercantile phenomena, is another. If any one still doubts this truth, we refer him to Mr. Thomas Attwood's evidence before the Bank Committee.
Mr. Attwood has there given vent to speculations on currency, which prove that, on a topic to which he has paid more attention than to any other, he is yet far beneath his recent antagonist, Mr. Cobbett. Mr. Cobbett, in truth, sees as clearly as any one, that to enact that sixpence should hereafter be called a shilling, would be of no use except to the man who owed a shilling before, and is now allowed to pay it with sixpence. And, it being no part of Mr. Cobbett's object to produce any gratuitous evil, he has sense enough to see that it would be absurd, for the sake of operating upon existing contracts, to render all future ones impracticable, except upon the footing of gambling transactions, by making it impossible for a man to divine whether the shilling he undertakes to pay will be worth a penny or a pound at the time of payment. Mr. Cobbett, therefore, is for calling a spade a spade, and cancelling, avowedly, a part, or the whole, as it may happen, of all existing debts; permitting the pound sterling to be worth twenty shillings, as before. Future creditors would thus have the benefit of knowing what they bargained for ; though they might; indeed, feel a slight doubt whether it would be paid. In this
scheme there is only knavery-no folly ; except the folly of expecting that a great act of national knavery should be a national benefit. Mr. Attwood, on the other hand, is for the robbery too; but then it has not so much the character of a robbery in his eyes ; for, if it is done in his way of a depreciated paper-money, such a flood of wealth, he fancies, will be disengaged in the process, that the robber and the robbed, the lion and lamb, may lie down lovingly together, and wallow in riches. At the bottom of the fundholder's pocket, Mr. Attwood expects to find the philosopher's stone. As great a man as Mr. Attwood, the King of Brobdingnag, declared it to be his creed, that the man who calls into existence two blades of grass where one grew before, deserves better of his country than the whole tribe of statesmen and warriors. Mr. Att. wood has the same exalted opinion of the man who calls two pieces of paper into existence, where only one piece existed before.
But first, we must have a few words respecting the robbery itself: we will dispose, afterwards, of the accompanying juggle.
There is, there has been, but one sophism, which has enabled many well-intentioned men to disguise from their own consciences the real character of the contemplated fraud upon creditors. This sophism, we acknowledge, has some superficial plausibility. More than half (it is argued) of the National Debt, as well as a great multitude of private engagements, were contracted in a depreciated currency ; if, therefore, the interest or principal be now paid without abatement, in money of the ancient standard, we are paying to our public and private creditors more than they lent.
To this fallacy there are as many as three or four sufficient refutations, every one standing upon its own independent ground. But the most conclusive and crushing of them all is not unfrequently overlooked, such is the shortness of men's memories, even about the events of their own time. Many who abhor the “equitable adjustment,” join in condemning the restoration of the currency in 1819; admit that Peel's Bill plundered all debtors for the benefit of creditors; but contend, that the present fundholders, and other creditors, are, in great part, not the same men who reaped the undue benefit; and that to claim damages from one set of men, because another set have been overpaid, is no reparation, but a repetition, of injustice. This is, indeed, true and irresistible, even though it stood alone—there needs no other argument; yet there is another, and a still more powerful one.
The restoration of the ancient standard, and the payment in the restored currency of the interest of a debt contracted in a depreciated one, was no injustice, but the simple performance of a plighted compact. All debts contracted during the Bank Restriction were contracted under as full an assurance as the faith of a nation could give, that cash payments were only temporarily suspended. At first, the suspension was to last a few weeks, next a few months, then, at furthest, a few years. Nobody dared even to insinuate a proposition, that it should be perpe.. tual, or that, when cash payments were resumed, less than a guinea should be given at the Bank for a pound note and a shilling. And to quiet the doubts and fears which would else have arisen, and which would have rendered it impossible for any minister to raise another loan, except at the most ruinous interest, it was made the law of the land, solemnly sanctioned by Parliament, that, six months after the peace, if not before, cash payments should be resumed. This, therefore, was distinctly one of the conditions of all the loans made during that period.
It is a condition which we have not fulfilled. Instead of six months, more than five years intervened between the peace and the resumption of cash payments. We, therefore, have not kept faith with the fund. holder. Instead of having overpaid him, we have cheated him. Instead of making him a present of a per centage equal to the enhancement of the currency, we continued to pay his interest in depreciated paper, five years after we were bound, by contract, to pay it in cash. And be it remarked, that the depreciation was at its highest during a part of that period. If, therefore, there is to be a great day of national atonement for gone-by wrongs, the fundholders, instead of having any thing to refund, must be directed to send in their bill for the principal and interest of what they were defrauded of during those five years. Instead of this, it is proposed, that, having already defrauded them of part of a benefit which was in their bond, and for which they gave an equivalent, we should now force them to make restitution of the remainder !
That they gave an equivalent, is manifest. The depreciation became greatest during the last few years of the war; indeed, it never amounted to any thing considerable till then. It was during those years, also, that far the largest sums were borrowed by the Government. At that time the effects of the bank restriction had begun to be well understood. The writings of Mr. Henry Thornton, Lord King, Mr. Ricardo, Mr. Huskisson, Mr. Blake, &c, and the proceedings of the Bullion Commit. tee, had diffused a very general conviction, that the Bank had the power to depreciate the currency without limit, and that the Bank Directors acted on principles of which that evil was the natural consequence. Does anybody imagine that the loans of those years could have been raised, except on terms never before heard of under a civilized government, if there had been no engagement to pay the interest or the prin. cipal in money of any fixed standard ; but it had been avowed, that, to whatever point the arbitrary issues of the bank might depress the value of the pound sterling,—there it would be suffered to remain ?
What avails it, then, to cavil about our paying more than we bor. rowed ? Everybody pays more than he borrows; everybody, at least, who borrows at interest. The question is not, have we paid more than we borrowed ? but, have we paid more than we promised to pay? And the answer is,—we have paid less. The fundholder, as the weaker party, has pocketed the injury; he only asks to be spared an additional and far greater one. We covenanted to pay in a metallic standard ; we therefore are bound to do it. To deliberate on such a question is as if a private person were to deliberate whether he should pick a pocket.
So much for the substance of the fraud. There is, however, no political crime so bad in itself but what may be made still worse by the manner of doing it. To rob all creditors, public and private, is bad enough in all conscience; but, for the sake of robbing existing creditors, to give to a set of bankers the power of taxing the community to an unlimited amount, at their sole pleasure, by pouring forth paper, which could only get into circulation by lowering the value of all the paper already issued ; what would this be but to erect a company of public plunderers, and place all our fortunes in their hands, merely because they offer to lend us our own money, and call the twofold operation “affording faci. lities to trade ?" It were better worth our while to settle a Blenheim, or a Strathfieldsay, upon every banker in England. Civilization itself would shortly come to an end ; in a few months we should be in a state of barter. No man in his senses would take money in exchange for any