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importance of Monfieur de Pinto's observation, and, with a spirit infinitely more honourable to him than any diligence that might have prevented the mistake, he insisted peremptorily upon its being corrected in the definitive treaty. The French minifter shrugged his Shoulders, refifted, cavilled, remonstrated, complained, grimaced, and submitted. Monsieur de Pinto's services on this important occafion were recommended by the duke, and rewarded by the company. They gave him five hundred pounds a year, which he now enjoys, and which, it is to be presumed, their gratitude and justice will always continue to him.!
In the first part of this work, the ingenious Author undertakes to obviate the principal objections that have been urged against our enormous national debt, and to evince the advantages arising from it under certain limitations and restrictions.
It is not foreigners only, (says our Author) who are unacquainted with the nature of the national debt in England; the natives them. selves mistake the matter. Many English men, as well as foreigners, consider the debt as a counterpoise to all their successes. Supported by the authority of Lord Bolingbroke, Sir Robert Walpole, Sir John Barnard, and other great men, they look upon ihe national debt as an unwieldy burthen, that oppreffes the kingdom, and enervates the power of the state. Their apprehenfions, I believe, are founded on the following principles. -The more a government is indebted, the more the nation must be loaded with taxes to satisfy the interest only; this of itself is a great inconvenience. The second resulting from the first, is, that increase of taxes raises the price of labour, and injures manufactures. The third is the tribute paid to foreigners, who have property in the funds. The fourth, which has been much and long infifted on, is the spirit of idleness, gaming, and Atock-jobbing introduced into the nation by the traffic carried on in the funds. There fuur objections seem, at first sight, to justify every declamation against the national debt ; yet I think I can demon. ftrare, from speculation and experience, that what has been said opon this subje&t is more specious than solid; and that people have talked, without entering thoroughly into the question.' • In answer to the first objection, our Author endeavours to prove, by a method of reasoning which, in our judgment, is far from being conclusive and satisfactory, that the national debe has enriched the nation : - "On every new loan the government of England mortgages a portion of taxes to pay the interest, and creates a new artificial capital, which did not exist before, which becomes permaneñt, fixed, and folid, and by means of credit circulates to the advantage of the public, as if it were in effect so much real treasure, that had en. fiched the kingdom. Let us take for an example the twelve millions borrowed in the year 1760, and see what became of them. Is it not true, that the greatest part of that money was spent within the na. tion ? Nothing but the subsidies, and a part of the sums expended in Germany, can be considered as loft. i say a part, for, even in a war upon the continent, the nation profits by furnilhing a variety of zrucles, as well as by the individuals, who are employed there,
When they water Germany, they only fertilise a foil, of which their commerce reaps the benefit. The riches of Germany always turn to the account of trading nations. But I content myself with observing, that it is indisputable that a great part of the above loan was employed and circulated within the nation. England then will have preserved a considerable Mare of these twelve millions, dispersed and absorbed in the nation itself; at the same time that the nu. merary * riches of her creditors, who are chiefly English, are augmented by twelve millions, which did not exist before. 4. As'a farther proof of the proposition here advanced, the Aus thor asks, in what the numerary wealth of about a hundred and thirty millions, which the English nation poflefles in annuities and other factitious funds, would have consisted, if the funds had never been?
In answer to this question (says the translator) it may fafely be affirmed, that the money, lend to government for the support of wars destructive of agriculture, commerce, and population might have been in a great measure absorbed in the cultivation of immense tracts of waste-lands both in Great Britain and Iceland, in the encou. ragement of industrious foreigners to settle among us, and in the improvement of our colonies, ad infinitum. Light taxes would have encouraged population, because they do not load the means of subfiftence. The price of labour would have been reduced; manufac, Cures found an easy, vent abroad; or, if the foreign market failed, the demands of the colonies would have employed all the induftry of the nation. Population and consumption would have increased ra. pidly together. Considering the colonies as consolidated with che mother country, and their mutual advantages improved as far as they might be, 'the Britih empire might sublift alone, and maintain its greatness, without any dependance on foreign trade. This is the Itate of political perfection, to which, as the Author himself acknowledges, every great kingdom should aspire. Instead of being employed to these falutary purposes, the hundred and thirty millions sent to the state have supported a constant war against population, and prevented the existence of millions of useful subjects,
Our Author's reasoning is grounded on these two principles, viz. that a light tax is drawn from the nation, into whose hands it returns, with a general benefit to the whole; and that the same piece of money may on one day pass through twenty different hands, and represent twenty times successively its nu merary value as a sign. ' Țaxes, for the most part, return into the hand that gives them. It is always the rich, or those who spend money, that pay taxes in the last resort, as well from their own expences, as by enabling
* By the word numerary the Author means the fictitious value of tocks, effects, and property of every kind,' supposed to be reduced into specie. As long as this reduction is performed partially and succesively, the numerary has a real value equivalent to fpecie. An attempt to relieve the whole at once wopld reduce its value to gothing,
.. Translator's Note. •
others, others. This circulation turns to the advantage of industry, which always finds itself indemnihed for the pretended burthen laid upon it.-The four millions sterling, annually raised by taxes to pay the interest of the funds belonging to the English, produce at lealt ifteen or twenty millions in circulation, which are laid out for the benefit of induftry. To suppress one million of revenue, would therefore deftroy a circulation of several millions, and diminish the contribu. tive power of the inferior ranks, by at least twenty millions in the course of the year.'
The Author replies to the second objection, by observing, that it is the debasement of gold and silver, in their quality of figns, and not the increase of taxes, which has trebled the nga minal price of commodities.
• When we fay, chat every thing is dearer, we mean that money is less valuable; and it loses its value, because there is more of it. It may be said, that a man, who has an income of three thousand crowns, is not richer now than his ancestor was formerly with a thousand; but there are twenty people in Europe, who have three thousand crowns a year, for one who, two hundred and fifty years ago, had a thousaod. And this is in a great measure, attributed to the discovery of America.' · The third inconvenience, attending the national debt, is, in our Author's system, deemed the greatest. :
. It is certain, says he, that the powers who borrow become tributary to the foreigner who lends. Yet this inconvenience, real as it is, is nothing in comparison with the advantages of which we have been speaking. Every thing has its inconvenience. This one however (inferior in itself to the advantages which it produces) is still farther extenuated by those derived from the foreigner, who furnishes on demand the foms wanted, part of which are frequently spent in the kingdom. But the point that deserves most to be considered, is, that, without this foreign supplement, by which the measure of power is filled up, which keeps the game alive, and of course promotes circulation, England could not have found such extensive refources. The want of this supplement might perhaps have checked and enfeebled all her operations. I
In obviating the last difficulty, our Author states the benefits which are derived both to government in raising loans, and to circulation in general, from the dealers in the stocks. These (he says) are unquestionably immense.
If after that, I thould be aked what I thought of the employment, I lhould frankly confess, that I would dissuade my children, friends and relations from meddling with it. It is a dangerous trade, and bas of late been grossly perverted.'
After all it is acknowledged, that the national debt may be accumulated to a lum that would greatly distress the kingdom
• There is a maximum of two forts to be equally avoided. One is the amount of the interest provided for by the taxes. The other concerns the mass of paper in circulation. I believe we are at a greater distance from the fir than the second,'.
As As a proof that we are very near the maximum of public credit, the Translator observes, that every little event or rumour 'has a sensible effect upon the stocks. While there was a power of credit in one scale considerably more than fufficient to raise the weight of debt in the other, the tricks of interested men, or the apprehension of political events, made little or no impression. The beam was immovable. Even at the higheft pitch of the rebellion, stocks were not below par. But the enormous addition of debt, incurred in the last war, has brought credit and debt so nearly to an equipoise, that the weight of a -grain, the breath of an infant, inclines the balance. A dextrous minister may keep it even for a time. A wise and honest minister will never rest till he has given a clear unquestionable preponderance to the scale of credit, which can no way be ef. "fected but by lightening the debt. That the weight of the debt is the only or principal cause of its depressed state is plain from this fa&t. In 175', that is, only three years after the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, when we owed only seventy-five mil. lions, the three per cents were at a hundred and one; whereas now, after a peace of eleven years, their constant regular price has been twelve, thirteen, or fourteen per cent. under par, The Author however seems to be of a different opinion from the Editor ; and he apprehends that the following principles, properly combined, will help to ascertain the utmost limits of the national debt : 1. • We should first compare the mass of gold and silver, with which America'annually enriches Europe, with the quantity funk in Afia. If, by an augmentation of specie, the balance inclines in favour of Europe, we are so much the farther from the maximum. The progress of commerce forms the second combination: particularly that with America in the consumption of European manufactures and commodities. The more the Englih improve this branch, the less Itheir debt will be a burthen co them. The third essential article is population and agriculture, which form the natural ftrength of every
But the Translator very jully remarks, that Mons. de Pinto has inverted the-natural-order of these three combinations. The first state of improvement depends on population and agriculture. The progress of commerce forms the second. The aug. mentation of specie or balance of trade is the last object of the three.
. Our Author admits, in the sequel of this essay, that it is er. sential to the credit and prosperity of England, and of every other state, to profit by peace, and to make a good use of their Sinking fund, by discharging one third of the national debt, and relieving the nation from a part of the taxes. A finking fund (he says) increases as fait as it is applied, and, with the
growing in the discharrtains many warrand on the
addition of the growing interest multiplied for some years, conftitutes a great power for the discharge of debt. · The second part of this essay contains many very judicious observations on the nature and powers of this fund, and on the proper method of applying and increasing it. The scheme which our Author proposes is that of converting a part of the public funds into life annuities, and of aiding the operation of the fink. ing fund by a new and more equal assessinent of the land-tax, a tax upon collateral successions, a light tax upon transfers, a capitation or poll-tax, a small duty upon articles of consumption, upon offices and employments, and a judicious concurrence of finance, as occasions offer. But this is a subject which has been so accurately and fully discussed, since the first publication of this work, by the ingenious Dr. Price, that we shall only refer our Readers to what he has written upon it. He has pro. pored several other schemes, much more eligible and effectual, chan chat of life annuities, and has clearly shewn in what re. fpects this would be comparatively deficient and improper, Seç Monthly Reviews, vol. xlv, p. 344, &c. and vol. xlvi. p. 402, &c.
We are surprised that, in enumerating the objections against a large public debt, the Author has omitted to mention one; which, in a free state, is unquestionably of very great moment ; viz. the system of venality, dependence, and corruption, which it creates.' To us this appears to be one of the most formidable objections: the influence of near one hundred and forty millions of debt is immense ; every considerable stock-holder is partial to the measures of administrasion, on whatsoever principles they are founded, and to whatsoever ends they are directed beside this farther consideration, that so large a lum furnishes many lucrasive jobs and douceurs, the benefit of which has been expérienced by the minister and regretted by the people in a shousand in. ftances.
The third part of this essay contains an examination of a treatise written by Mans. Mirabeau, intitled, The Theory of Taxation : and principally relates to the finances, taxes, and agriculture of France. The fourth part is a kind of Appendix to the shird, in which the Author suggests some farther considerations on the same subject. These, together with an excellent letter on the jealousy of commerce, we must refer to the perusal of those who may will to be farther acquainted with this ingenious Wilier, We shall only add, that the Translator's notes are pertinent and judicious; and, though not very numerous, they are a va. Juable addition to the original work. An Index to the whole fhould have been added.