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Upon one topic, however, relating to the departments, we quite agree with Sir Henry Parnell. We think that in most, if not in all of them, the methods of keeping accounts are complicated beyond any possible necessity, and without any sort of reason. Let them be simplified by all means, and made so intelligible that a child may understand them. We further agree with our author, that the Treasury ought to have the entire and undivided supreme controul over the public income and expenditure ; and that the idea of having all the payments which are now made upon the responsibility of individual clerks in public offices, subjected beforehand to the inspection and approbation of a small Board of Commissioners constituted for that sole purpose, is one that ought forth with to be carried into effect.
When it is stated, that in 1806 a revenue of more than fiftyeight millions was collected at a less charge by 1,232,6151. than a revenue of not quite fifty-five millions in 1826, we apprehend that a case is made out at once for retrenchment in the system by which the public income is brought into the exchequer. The system of giving bounties for the encouragement of fisheries, and for the exportation of particular manufactures, savours of the dark ages of legislation, and ought to be abandoned. The reductions proposed under the heads of military and naval expenditure, are, perhaps, too sweeping, when we consider the state of Europe, the large armies that are kept up every where on the continent, and the increasing fleets of Russia and France. But we go the whole length with Sir Henry Parnell in his reasoning with respect to the enormous expense, and the real inutility to us of the greater number of our colonies. It is generally estimated,' he observes, * that from two to three millions are paid for their army, navy, and various civil charges ; but in addition to this, the public pay full two millions more for sugar and timber than they ought to pay, in consequence of the increased prices occasioned by the protection given to the colonists by the higher duties imposed on these articles, when imported from foreign countries. Sir Henry Parnell would first give a fair trial to the question,—how far are colonies of use to England ?-by removing all restrictions and monopolies from their trade, and by endeavouring to put them into a situation that would enable them to meet their own expenditure.
• The prevailing opinion, that large profits are obtained through the mo. nopoly, has always confused the question. This opinion has been held to be so completely beyond all doubt, that the great value of colonies has been considered as not admitting of dispute ; and no pains have been taken to trace by facts in what way they are valuable. Had such an examination been properly gone into, it would have shown that peither the British public nor the colonies have ever been benefited by the monopoly: and it would also have shown that the possession of the colonies affords no. advantages which could not be obtained by commercial intercourse with independent states.
• There are only three ways that the colonies can be of any advantage, 1. In furnishing a military force; 2. In supplying the parent state with a revenue ; 3. In affording commercial advantages.
1. Instead of furnishing a military force, the colonies are always a great drain upon the military resources of the country, particularly in war, when they occupy a large portion of the army and feet in their defence. In the last war, while our own shores were threatened with invasion from Boulogne and Brest, our means of defence were greatly crippled by the number of troops and ships we were obliged to keep in the colonies.
2. With respect to revenue, we have declared by the Act of the 18th Geo. III., that we will not levy any taxes or duties in the colonies, except for their use.
3. As to commercial advantages, if the colonial trade were quite free, our commercial relations with the colonies would resemble the intercourse between ourselves and independent countries ; and, therefore, whatever advantages we shall derive from them wil be embraced in two questions1st. Whether our commerce with them will be more beneficial than with independent countries? 2nd. Whether the capital employed in them will be more beneficially employed than it would be, if employed in the United Kingdom ?
• With respect to the first question, it is one easily solved, because, where the employment of capital is free, the net profit that may be obtained by the employment of it in commerce with independeot countries, will always be as great as if it were employed in the colonial trade. The trade we carry on with the United States proves this.
With respect to the second question, it is necessary to trace the opera. tions of capital when employed in the colonies, and when employed at home. In the West India islands it goes to feed and clothe slaves; to pay British agents, clerks, and managers; to employ ships and sailors; and although the gross profit upon it seems very high when all the charges and risks are considered, and also the effects of competition, the net profit cannot be greater than it is on capital employed at home.
• When capital is employed in the United Kingdom,—for instance, on manufactures, --it pays wages to English workmen, instead of buying clothes and food for slaves; it employs agents, clerks, and managers; it employs ships and sailors to import raw materials, and to export the finished goods, and the rate of net profit on it is full as high as that on capital employed in the colonies. The incomes derived by West India proprietors from their profits are spent like incomes derived from rent, and add nothing to the national wealth ; but the profits made on capital employed at home are added to capital, and thus promote the constant accu. mulation of it. It is clear, therefore, that, on the whole, the public derives no commercial advantage from the colonies, which it might not have without them.
• They do not even afford any advantage, as some persons suppose, by enlarging the field for the employment of capital; for there are still means enough for employing capital with profit at home; and if new means were wanting, they would be more effectually obtained by removing restrictions on trade and revising the taxes, than by increased trade in the colonies.
• This general reasoning, which the principles of trade suggest, in refutation of the imaginary advantages of colonies, is completely borne out by the experience of facts. The history of the colonies for many years is that of a series of loss, and of the destruction of capital ; and if to the many millions of private capital, which have been thus wasted, were added soine hundred millions that have been raised by British taxes, and spent on account of the colonies, the total loss to the British public of wealth, which the colonies have occasioned, would appear to be quite enormous.
• The only conditions on which it can be wise and politic for us to continue to keep colonial possessions are, that the number of them should be greatly reduced; and that those which we retain should contribute the whole expense incurred in their defence. Even with such conditions, no advantage would be gained, now or at any other time, unless the planters should prosper and accumulate wealth, and thus add to the general stock of public wealth. It is in order to secure this object that the public is particularly interested in giving to the colonies the full benefit of that perfect system of free trade, which everything connected with colonial reform and retrenchment shows to be wise and politic.
• Dr. Chalmers, in referring to the peace of 1763, says, “ The true objection to this peace was, not that we had retained too little, but that we had retained too much ;" namely, Canada, Louisiana, Florida, Granada, Tobago, St. Vincent, Dominica, and Senegal. “ Millions,” he adds, “ of productive capital were withdrawn from the agriculture, manufactures, and trade of Great Britain to cultivate the ceded islands in the other hemi. sphere; domestic occupations were obstructed and circulation stopped, in proportion to the stock withdrawn, to the industry enfeebled, and to the ardour turned to less salutary objects."
• In settling the conditions of the last treaty of peace, it was most unwise to retain so many of the conquered colonies. Trinidad, Demerara, Essequibo, and Tobago were but little advanced in cultivation; a large transfer of capital was necessary for their cultivation, and there was little or no local revenue belonging to them.
• At the close of the war, the East India Company was anxious to be allowed to have the Island of Ceylon, and it is not too late to give it up to them; but as large sums of public money have been expended since the war, in adding to its value, the Company should repay a large part of them, as the condition of becoming masters of this island.
• As the cape of Good Hope and the Mauritius are of no use except for the defence of the East India Company's possessions, the Company ought to be called on to defray all the expense of their military protection; and it is to be hoped that the opportunity, which the expiration of the Charter of the Company will offer, will lead to an arrangement which will secure all these objects.
• When peace was made in 1814, the English government wished to let Austria have the Ionian Islands, but France would not agree to ihis arrangement. There can be no real use in keeping these islands, with Malta and Gibraltar in our hands.
• The settlement of Sierra Leone, and the military posts on the west coast of Africa, should be given up. The public derives no benefit from these possessions, either in a commercial or military point of view; and with respect to the slave trade, the use they are of in contributing to put it VOL. XIII.
down is so questionable, as not to justify the waste of money, and of human life, which they occasion.
• With respect to Canada, (including our other possessions on the continent of North America :) no case can be made out to show that we should not have every commercial advantage we are supposed now to have, if it were made an independent state. Neither our manufactures, foreign commerce, por shipping, would be injured by such a measure. On the other hand, what has the nation lost by Canada ? Fifty or sixty millions have already been expended; the annual charge on the British treasury is full 600,0001. a.year; and we learn from the Second Report of the Committee of Finance, that a plan of fortifying Canada has been for two or three years in progress, which is to cost 3,000,0001.-pp. 249–257.
Our author looks forward with well founded hope, we think, to the effect which the total repeal of the penal laws will be likely, in due course of time, to produce in Ireland, and which, he apprehends, will eventually enable the Government not only to do away with the already useless expense of a Lord Lieutenant, and other charges among the miscellaneous estimates for that country, but also to obtain from it a considerable increase of income.
We should willingly follow our able guide through his chapters upon the national debt, upon future war expenditure, upon loans, upon terminable annuities, and the accumulation of capital, if we did not believe that we had already done enough to direct the public attention to this most elaborate, and yet most intelligible, and useful production. It must get into the hands of every body who wishes to become acquainted with our financial system. Even as a composition it may be read with pleasure, for, in this sense, it well sustains the literary name of Parnell.
The pamphlet by ' A Merchant,' though not always correct as to style, is, considering its brevity, one of the best practical answers that we have yet seen to all the nonsensical clamours which have been spoken and written by town and country gentlemen, upon the subject of distress. It clearly developes the mystery of the war prices, which raised the rent-roll of the land-owner to thrice what it was in the days of his father, and of the fallacious state of things that was generally produced by the restriction of cash payments; the mushroom factories which were thus so rapidly raised, and the vast increase of machinery to which it gave birth. For these, and many other points, upon which the writer touches with admirable good sense, we must refer to the pamphlet itself, as we have room only to extract from it a table of the most valuable character, which shews the total number of persons to whom halfyearly dividends became due on the different stocks by the last returns, and specifying the number respectively, whose dividends did not exceed certain amounts.
Not ex. Not ex. Not ex. Not ex. Not ex. Not ex. Not ex Exceed ceeding ceeding ceeding | ceeding ceeding ceeding | ceeding ing
1001. 2001. 3001. 5001. | 1,0001. 12,0001. 12,0001.
3 per Cent. Consols - · · - | 28,660 12,869) 32,096 9,352 6,300 2,262
Ditto Reduced . . . . . | 12,011 4,998 12,133 3,528) 2,215 804)
8,360 3,369 7,731 | 1,644 825 254
Not ex. ceeding
Not ex. ceeding