Imatges de pÓgina

the great change in the relative posi- that of the raisers of corn. But tion of the different classes of society, if the sovereign comes to be worth and general suffering among the la- only a sovereign, and at last worth bouring ones, which terminated in the only half a sovereign, what will come Reform Bill. The precise reverse of of the holders of debts measured by this may be anticipated from the re- that standard ? Will they be able to currence of causes so much the reverse maintain the place won by the doubof those which had produced it. If ling of the value of money after it has the working classes are generally well been halved? Unquestionably they employed, and industry is adequately will not. In social not less than miliremunerated, it may with confidence tary contests, the last sovereign carries be anticipated that cheerfulness, the the day. The monied classes will not very reverse of the sullen discontent be ruined by the change, as the induswhich ensued from the opposite state trial well-nigh were by the measures of things, will ensue.

procured during their ascendancy; but One obvious and immediate effect their wings will be clipped, their prewhich will result from such a change ponderance diminished, and their abiin the position of the industrial classes lity to preserve their own interests in of society is, that the influence of the measures of the Legislature, withtowns will insensibly decline, and that out any regard to their effect upon the of the country be restored. The con- industrial classes of society, proporstant increase in the value of money tionally taken away. gave a vast increase of influence to the The landed interest also will, to a monied classes who dwelt in towns, certain degree, recover their wealth and a proportional diminution in that and importance under the operation of the agricultural interest who live in of the change of prices. As the price the country, and are supported by its of grain, and of all the produce of the labour. Not only were the landlords soil, will be materially raised, probaand their tenantry weakened by the bly, before five years have elapsed, diminished price which they received doubled by the gold discoveries, their for their produce, but they were ren- revenues must be proportionally aug. dered powerless in a still greater de- mented, and the weight of their debts gree by the exactions of their credi- in a similar degree lessened. This is tors, the amount of whose debts suf- a most important effect, which will fered no abatement, save from the re- not only relieve them of great part of duction of interest by the changes which their difficulties, but, by enabling them were making so vast a revolution in to increase their expenditure, restore the relative position of the different a considerable part of that influence classes of society. In proportion as which they formerly possessed, and these parties were rendered unequal in a certain degree alter the present to bearing the weight of their debts, subverted balance of society. At the were the creditors increased in wealth same time, it is not unmixed good and importance; and the whole monied which will result even to the landed and industrious classes who dwelt in interest from these changes in the retowns, and depended on the value of spective position of the different classes money, enriched and rendered more of society. The evil which was done powerful.

to them during the usurpation of power As the reverse of all this must ensue by the monied classes, from the opefrom the opening of the great banks ration of Peel's bill, cannot be taken of issue in California and Australia, away by the change in the value of 50 the opposite set of effects may with money which has now set in on the confidence be anticipated from their other side. Protection has been taken effects. The long preponderance of away, emigration has set in, and will money over labour will be first less- not for a long period, to all appearance, ened, and at last taken away. The be arrested. The enhanced value of Reform Bill was brought about by money will, of necessity, operate much the policy which, by rendering the more powerfully on the wages of lasovereign worth two sovereigns, ere bour in this than any of the adjoining long made the representation of states; and, in consequence, the cost, the holders of sovereigns in the le- especially of producing grain crops, gislature nearly double in number will be enhanced much more here than in the adjoining states. The neces- course, be, that the House of Comsary consequence must be a daily in- mons will be still further popularised creasing importation of foreign grain, than it now is; it will be returned by which will at length arrive at such a a constituency, the majority of which point as will turn nearly the whole of is composed of the WORKING CLASSES. our arable into grass lands, and render By the simple act of Providence, in us dependent for the greater part of our opening the mines of California and food upon the industry of foreign lands. Australia, power in Great Britain will Still, even then, how disastrous soever slip from the hands of the ten-poundthe change may prove to the indepen- ers—that is, the BUYING AND SELLING dence and security of the country, its CLASS—and fall into those of the fourbeneficial effect upon the incomes of pounders—that is, the WORKING AND the landed proprietors will be very PRODUCING CLASS. As the burgh great; and possibly England, like members are three-fifths of the House Rome when taken by the Goths, may of Commons, this class of men will, if come to be in the hands of a few thou- the present constitution remains unsand great landed proprietors, deriv- altered, and without any legislative ing their revenne from the profits of lowering of the franchise, acquire the pasture-lands, but many of them in entire direction of the state. possession of £150,000 a - year of As this change arises from causes rental.

beyond human prevention or control, One very curious and unforeseen and lasting in their operation, it beeffect may be anticipated from the comes of the very highest importance progression in the value of money to ascertain what alteration it is likely and rise in the money price of every- to produce on the course of legislation, thing else; and that is, the effect it and the commercial and financial pomust come, ere long, to have on the licy and destinies of the state. In class of persons entitled to the elec- venturing to speculate on the probable toral suffrage under the existing law. results of this great change, the only This is the practical lowering of the safe principles we can go upon are, franchise, which must result from the that men, when possessed of power, diminution of the value of money. If will use it for their own real or sup£10 comes to be only worth £5, the posed interests, and that those inteten-pounder practically becomes a rests must be such as are immediate, five-pounder, and the suffrage is, to and lying, as it were, on the surface. all intents and purposes, lowered a Experience has shed a broad light on half. Great, indeed, must be the this subject. The ten-pounders in effect of this alteration on the popular Great Britain got possession, by influence and balance of parties in the means of the Reform Bill, of supreme state. A similar change took place power, and they immediately made in former days, in consequence of the use of it to introduce the cheapening discovery of the mines of South Ame- system, in order to augment the range rica. The 40s, freeholder, who, when of their markets, and increase the prothe franchise was fixed, in the time of fits of buying and selling. Free Trade Henry VI., was originally worth £40 was a corollary from, and direct cona-year of our money, gradually fell, sequence of, the Reform Bill, which with the influx of silver, to be only gave the shopkeepers the command of worth, first, £20 a-year, then £10, a majority in the House of Commons. then £5, and at last only £2. A simi- The working classes, by means of uni. lar change may be anticipated as likely versal suffrage, acquired the direction to take place still more quickly from of affairs in France and America, and the influx of gold, which, as the more the first use they made of their power valuable metal, will affect prices much was to establish a rigid system of promore rapidly than silver did; and tection in both countries, in the former possibly, before twenty years have by ad valorem protective duties of 30 elapsed, if the produce of the mines per cent on every species of produce; continues to be as considerable as it in the latter by discriminating duties now is, the ten-pounder may in reality still more effective. These opposite become what a two-pounder was at results were the natural, and, in truth, the date of the Reform Bill being unavoidable, consequence of the same passed. The effect of this will, of principle-self-interest moulding the

measures of the legislature according tinental states, this effect will be greatto the class invested with the govern- ly accelerated by the enhancement of ment of the state. In the one, as this prices, owing to the increased goldcompower was vested in the shopkeepers, ing in. There will be more difficulty, everything was sacrificed to their real doubtless, in persuading the operaor supposed interests, which were uni- tives of towns that their interests are versally conceived to be, to buy cheap identified with protection to agriculand sell dear. In the other, as it was tural produce, because it tends to placed in the working classes, who, in augment the price of provisions. But every country, form a vast majority as the classes directly or indirectly under a universal or low suffrage sys- dependent on agriculture are double tem, this object was disregarded, and those dependent on manufactures, any the paramount consideration was to considerable lowering of the franchise, secure the interests of labour, by ex- either directly by law, or indirectly by cluding the competition of rival states. an enlarged currency, will gradually

We have often said, in reference to give them the majority, and the divithe plans for lowering the suffrage, sion of the country into electoral disthat there was such a thing as descend- tricts would at once do so. ing through the stratum of Free Trade The great danger to be apprehended into that of Protection. As the suf- from such a vesting of the government frage will be practically lowered, in a of the state in the working classes, is few years, to the extent of at least a not to the monarchy, but to the holdhalf of its existing amount, by the


realised wealth. Experience simple operation of the change in the has now opened the eyes of men value of money, irrespective of any generally to the important truth that legislative enactments, it deserves universal suffrage, in old states, leads serious consideration whether this ef- directly and inevitably to the estabfect will not take place in this country, lishment of despotic and monarchical and is not, in truth, inevitable. The power : the example of republican operatives, especially in the manufac- France seating Louis Napoleon on turing districts, are keenly alive to the throne by a majority of seven their own interests, and dread no- millions of votes, has not been thing so much as that beating down lost upon mankind. The reason is, and cheapening system, which is so that when power is so infinitely submuch the object of favour with the divided, it becomes, like air or water, shopkeeping class above them. At valueless in general estimation to its present they submit to it because they possessors; and the powerful agency cannot help it, and have been enticed of individual ambition being thus reinto this system by the cry of cheap moved from the social and national bread, and the exhibition of the big feelings of mankind, the instinct of and the little loaf. But let them get loyalty acts with undiminished force. the command of the state by the vir- We do not believe that the throne of tual or legislative lowering of the Queen Victoria would be endangered franchise, so as to admit the millions by the establishment of universal sufto sway the elections, and we shall frage in the British dominions; and but see what they will do. Rely upon it, for the fatalsupremacy of Paris, France, they will establish a system of protec- in 1793, would have supported the motion to exclude the competition of narchy, and maintained Louis XVI. rival states, just as they have done in on the throne. But the case is very France and America. Does any one different with the holders of realised suppose that the cotton-spinners of capital or great estates. They would England will look with a favourable run the most imminent hazard from eye on the importation, duty free, or any change which should admit the at a small cost, of the cotton goods of working classes into the direction of France or Germany, or the silk-manu- the state. What they would do may facturers of Spitalfields or Maccles- be guessed at with unerring certainty, field on that of the silks of Lyons ? by observing what, on a similar acThe thing is ridiculous, and out of the quisition, the ten-pounders have done. question. And as prices will, as a They have established Free Trade, matter of course, be much more raised relieved themselves of all direct taxes, in Great Britain than in the rival Con- and declared an absolute immunity from direct taxation in their own that we have been saved from a monefavour, under the penalty of instant tary crisis of the most severe, perhaps dismissal from office of any govern- unprecedented description, in these ment proposing such a monstrous times, entirely in consequence of the thing as the imposition of any bur- monetary system of Sir R. Peel having dens on them. They willingly lay it been counterworked by the discovery on the land in the shape of a duty on of the Californian and Australian successions, or on professions in that mines. With a balance of imports of an impost or income, because they over exports of from £30,000,000 to are below the taxable law; but any- £40,000,000 sterling a-year for five thing like a house-tax, which would in- years past, how is it possible to conclude themselves, is out of the question. ceive that a monetary crisis could have The household-suffrage men will be been averted, of the most dreadful not a whit behind the Magyars of character, if the plentiful supplies from Hungary, the notables of France, and the gold regions had not given us the the ten-pounders of England, in de- means of supplying the deficiency? claring an immunity from taxation in This explains how it happens that the their own favour; but as they have, gold does not remain in this country, in general, no income to tax under and how the bullion in the Bank of any line which they will permit to be England, though still immense, has drawn, and no property to succeed to, sunk £4,000,000 within the last twelve the immunity for which they will con- months. It goes abroad to pay the tend will be from the taxes on con- balance of imports over exports occasumption of such articles as they eat sioned by the Free-Trade system. But and do not produce. Tea, sugar, beer, for these immense supplies, the maktobacco, rum, spirits, and the like, if ing good that balance must, two years rendered duty free, would free them ago, have landed us in a crisis exceedfrom fifteen or twenty millions, great ing in severity anything recorded in part of which they do pay; and to English history—the crash of 1847 itthe removal of these taxes, as the self not excepted. Suppose at this real burden on labour, it may be con- moment the importations of gold were sidered as certain the efforts of the to cease, or to be seriously diminished, working classes, under any approach can any one doubt that a dreadful to universal suffrage, will be mainly monetary crisis would not at once endirected. The gap they will propose sue? The huge balance of imports over to fill up by increased duties on real- exports would speedily drain us of our ised property, in the form of property- gold, and, of course, under Sir Robert tax and succession-duties—that is, by Peel's system, drain us of our notes indirect_measures of confiscation. also. Even as it is, nothing is more “Free Trade,” say the Americans, certain than that any foreign events " is another word for direct taxation; likely to increase this vast drain upon and direct taxation is another word our metallic resources will occasion a for abolition of state debts." If the considerable embarrassment in the fundholders of Great Britain come to money market, of which the recent be threatened with direct or indirect raising of bank discounts to 3} per confiscation, it will be the consequence cent on the prospect of a war between of the system of government which, Russia and Turkey is a proof. If then for selfish objects, they themselves we are, and have for two years been introduced.

prosperous, it is not in consequence of, But whatever opinions may be form- but in spite of Free Trade; if we have ed on these speculative points, the un- avoided, and are avoiding disaster, it ravelling of which as yet lies buried in is not in consequence of our monetary the womb of fate, one thing is perfectly system, but because Providence has clear, and has already been proved, reversed it.

Printed by William Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh.



AUGUST, 1853.






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