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standard of value, and an instrument of exchange. The remarks of our economist on gold and silver, and a circulating medium generally, without at all aiming at novelty, are well worth attention. He proceeds, however, to say that
• The present state of the currency in England, which restricts the circulation of paper to sums of five pounds and upwards, leaving the smaller payments to be made in coin, is perhaps that middle course between the two extremes of too great or too small an amount of metallic currency, which while it prevents coin from disappearing from circulation to an unsafe extent, does not on the other hand load the circulating medium by too heavy an amount of expensive coin. The public convenience too is effectually secured against too little coin, by the right, which the people have of demanding it in exchange for paper to any extent that may be required. — Vol. i. p. 452.
Our own views on this subject are somewhat different we confess: nor do we see, why we should not dispense at least with the golden part of our metallic currency altogether. Its cost is believed to be no less than ten per cent; that is to say, that all profit which the metal would have produced, through being employed productively, is lost by its being used as a circulating medium. To this must be added heavy items both for detrition and accidents at sea: besides which, much less employment is afforded by coining, than by working up gold for other purposes. Supposing the gold currency of the country to be thirty millions,* the charge of providing it would scarcely be reckoned at less than £4,000,000 per annum; a sum which it is certainly desirable to save, if it can be done. Harriet Martineau has illustrated this, if we remember right, in her story of Berkely the Banker; which we allude to, not as being an authority, but rather as being an ingenious little publication within the reach of almost every individual. Our plan would be, to have one national bank of issue, responsible to parliament, and keeping no accounts which the public may not inspect; least of all such as may be huddled up in a back-parlour. One of its special functions should be to watch the rates of exchange in the great market of the world, and adjust its paper issues to the necessity of the case ; so that an English note for a pound sterling should be equivalent to twenty shillings at all times, and in all places. It strikes us, that some such scheme as this, – depriving country-bankers of that prerogative of issuing money which ought never to have been separated from the executive, and which would save the nation an enormous annual charge in having to provide, as it now does, a currency of metallic sovereigns,—would also preserve us from those fluctuations in prices, which sooner or later prove ruinous to mercantile enterprize. The return to cash payments on the part of the Bank of England was an honest measure as far as it went : but a larger amount of justice than it afforded, at far less cost of suffering than it occasioned, might without doubt have been secured, we venture to think, had sound information on the subject been then as generally diffused as it is now. We can only further refer to several able articles in the Westminster Review, attributed to Colonel Peyronnet Thompson and his friends, which demonstrate, that an inconvertible paper currency might be adopted upon safe and upriglit principles, combining all the advantages, without the disadvantages, of a metallic medium, as we at present have it. It is perhaps hardly necessary to add, that we regard such schemes as Cobbett and his living admirers have termed an equitable adjustment, with the abhorrence which dishonesty deserves; whether it veils its designs under magniloquent harangues at Birmingham, or expiates its offences against society upon the drop at Newgate,
* Mr. Eisdell understates it at £20,000,000 gold, and £10,000,000 silver, p. 468 of his first volume. The quantity of metallic money all over the world is supposed to be above, rather than below, a thousand millions of pounds sterling!
Our author admits, that if the issue of paper money were, like the coinage, in the hands of government exclusively, there would ensue an uniformity in the value of the circulation, or, in other words, an equality of prices. Yet the objections to it he deems so strong, as altogether to counterbalance such benefits. He states them so acutely and candidly, that we should with the greatest pleasure transcribe them, did our limits permit; whilst we feel fearful of weakening them by abbreviation. In his apprehensions of political, instead of commercial panic, we do not participate; provided always, that the government in question shall be a constitutional and responsible one; that is to say, a realization of what we profess to have in this country. It appears to us that there would exist, under the circumstances supposed, an additional guarantee for good behaviour, on the side both of governors and subjects. If either failed in their duties, the punishment would be just so much the more prompt and severe, as to operate in the way of stronger motives to mutual vigilance. But the warlike character of government,' it is argued, should separate its pecuniary resources, as much as possible, from a dependence on credit or opinion, and present its means, like its weapons, of hard metal, efficient under all circumstances, and • fitted to withstand both open attack, and insidious underminings
of reputation. This is, however, where we differ from him ; and we cannot help thinking that metaphorical analogies have for the moment run away with his generally excellent judgment. A really valuable government can have no proper basis but opinion. The fewer weapons of hard metal' which it may be necessary for it to possess, so much the better. As public opinion gets additional enlightenment, which through providence it is doing every day, so much more will be understood the vast advantages of peace abroad, and economy at home. All that the expanding trade of our fellow-countrymen requires, is to be let alone in its vocations on the one hand, and to have fair calculable profits secured for it on the other. The last, at least, can never be the case, whilst it is in the power of half-a-dozen gentlemen, in any country or market town, from Cumberland to Cornwall, to add at their pleasure ten or a hundred thousand pounds to the circulating medium of the country. When we are told of the amazing "amount of credit thus afforded to industry,' our answer is, that a credit of this kind is precisely the delusion which turns honest traders into gambling speculators. Fair credit, resting upon substantial property, and acknowledged uprightness in commercial transactions, is like a wholesome atmosphere, in which industry flourishes and expatiates; whilst that sort of credit, which depends more or less upon provincial paper, reminds us of the laughing-gas, the source of unnatural spirits, and leading to convulsions as its catastrophe. Neither would we demand aught else of Mr. Eisdell himself, with regard to the working of a national paper system, than to act upon what he has truly observed in another page: 'In the case of the Bank of England paper, during the time it was inconvertible into cash, there was not in fact a certain belief that it would be paid in coin, but no one feared that the value which it represented, and for which s it was taken, would not ultimately be paid, or would ever be 'refused to be given for it: hence its continued currency. A • paper currency sets free a portion of capital from investment in “the precious metals, and it acts as capital in abridging labour, the
same as any tool or machine.'— Vol. i. p. 488. Indeed, we altogether agree with him in his section on the value of money, and the causes and effects of a change in that value.
So also in his admirable, though short chapter on the division of property, it affords us sincere gratification to find him demonstrating, that with respect to the distribution either of land, houses, money, or any other species of wealth or possession, in which industry is concerned, all right views of national economy are opposed to legislative interference. In truth, our laws of entail and primogeniture, with the various aristocratic associations which they involve, do their utmost to prevent, restrain, or paralyze production. They are the remnants of feudalism, with all its absurdities, which will ever be towards commerce, with all its blessings, precisely what the lean and hungry kine, or the thin blasted ears of Pharaoh, were to the seven fat-feshed and wellfavoured cattle, or the seven bountiful ears on one stalk, emblematic of the plenty of Egypt. Mr. Eisdell closes his first volume with the subject of Population. He alludes to the two opposite VOL. VI.
opinions held on the nature and tendency of the reproductive faculty in man: the one, that it exists in excess, tending to multiply human beings faster than provision can be made for their support; the other, that it is so regulated, as naturally to conduce to human happiness :
• The modern exhibition of the former and distressing view of the question, with its complete development and application, has been given by the late Professor Malthus and his followers. The overthrow of that view, and the substitution in its place of the latter and cheering one, is due to the labours of Mr. Weyland, and the late Mr. Sadler. These contrary views, whether individually or nationally entertained, point to maxims and conduct diametrically opposite to each other. The former leads to discourage, in a measure, the marriage union, or its postponement to a somewhat advanced period of life, especially amongst the
poor, who are unable to make an adequate provision for their offspring; and this with the view of lessening their number,assuming that the condition of the people is better in proportion as they are fewer in number, and worse as they multiply. The latter denies the position that their condition suffers as they increase, asserting, on the contrary, that it improves with every addition ; and denounces such discouragement as repugnant to nature, contrary to the laws of God, ineffectual to its intended purpose, and fraught with an immeasurable load of vice, suffering, and degradation. Analogy with the other operations of nature strongly points to the presumption, that no natural tendency should be found in population to outrun the provision which nature has made for its support.'— Vol. i.
We should concur with our author in his last assertion, were it not, that the original command given to mankind to increase and multiply was given previous to the fall. Sin marred the whole arrangement; and as transgressors, living in a state of probation, we must take things as we find them. Not that we intend going into the subject, which would supply matter for volumes, rather than for an article; and we hasten forward, therefore, to glance at his ideas upon Distribution.
This constitutes his second grand topic of discussion, under which he treats of the rent of land, the profits of stock and capital, and the rewards of labour. His theory on the first of these is, that our present agricultural rents consist merely of surplus profits, which cultivation affords to the labour and capital expended on the land, over what would be acquired by the same labor and capital otherwise employed. The rent of land, according to him, resembles that of a shop or house of business, and must be determined on the same principles. He deems it indispensable to its existence, that the quality of the cultivated soils, or the efficiency of the powers of labour in relation to that quality, should be such as to yield a larger quantity of the necessaries of life, than is required for the maintenance of the persons employed
upon the land. As much as this produce is more than sufficient • for the maintenance of these persons, a power exists of paying
rent, if it be necessary.' He maintains that the causes of its rising or falling must be sought for amongst such as affect the quantity and efficiency of the labour and capital which can be advantageously employed in husbandry ; as also amongst such as affect the profit accruing from that employment; yet not the absolute or gross profit, but the excess of profit over what is usually acquired in other occupations.
• The origin, the occasion, and the progress of rent may be thus stated. The insufficient supply of the productive agency of the soil, and the consequent increasing difficulty, as population and productive power advance, of raising an adequate quantity of food, cause the prices of provisions, and of every other kind of the produce of land, to be continually advancing. The effect of every successive increase in these prices is to allow of the cultivation of inferior land, and yet to derive from it the customary remuneration of labour and capital. In which case, the larger returns upon the old enclosures of superior quality render their cultivation highly profitable ; and as this proceeds not from superior skill in the farmer, but from the superior advantages of the land, the landlords, who grant permission to occupy these lands, are enabled to demand an advance of rents ; while the competition of persons who are desirous of occupying land compels them to offer its full value. In each of these successive advances, that last enclosed land, which paid no rent, becomes charged with a rent equal to the advance, or the excess of profit which the land affords over the fresh and more inferior land ; leaving only the new portion rent-free ; while the other lands, which had formerly paid rent, become severally charged with an addition to their previous rents, by the amount of the advance; or, which comes to the same thing, with a rent equal to the surplus profit their cultivation affords, above what could be acquired by employing the same capital in other occupations. In these advances, the gradation of rents remains unchanged; for the rent of land of the best quality must always be higher than that of the second best ; the second higher than the third ; the third higher than the fourth ; and so on.'— Vol. ii. pp. 22,-3.
He does not, however, imagine, as some have done, that the unequal fertility, and cultivation of poor soils, can be the cause either of the origin or progress of rent; the latter being the consequence, and not the cause; since it is to escape the payment of rent that inferior grounds are resorted to. He further conceives that high profits, which prevent the tillage of poorer lands, must always occasion lower rents; whilst on the other hand, low profits, with their usual accompaniment of large capitals devoted to agriculture, spreading thereby cultivation over such lands, usually cause rents to advance. He shows, also, how rent enters into the composition of prices, after a different manner from that which occurs with regard to either wages or profits. High or low wages and profits are the causes of high or low prices.