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against bank of England notes; but all those who thus compared them were either ignorant of fact, or guilty of misrepresentation.
Assignats, and all the other notes issued by the French were given out without a value deposited. They served the purposes of revenue for the time. Whereas our bank notes never serve the purposes of revenue. They are sometimes advanced to government, on the security of revenue, but that is a totally different business*.
The assignats augmented in quantity for a long period, at the rate of more than a million sterling a-week. The paper of America augmented very rapidly also, but we see that the English paper does not augment.
* It is curious enough that the same persons who have such fear about bank paper, are also those who trembled at the name of Buonaparte, and who thought that Lord Wellington and his brave army would be driven into the sea. It is more curious still that the same gentlemen boast of being a sort of political propbets.
THE RIGHT HONOURARLE
LORD VISCOUNT MELVILLE.
There is a disadvantage as well as an advantage in being the son of a man of great abilities. There is an involuntary comparison always made between the talents of the father and the son, and seldom to the advantage of the son. Expectations too are excited generally to a degree that occasions disappointment, and under the feeling of that mortifying sensation, men judge too harshly and unfavourably.
The late Lord Melville, still better known to the world by the name of Henry Dundas, was, in point of talents as a man of business, of political wisdom and sagacity, of industry, and boldness of character; (and taken altogether), perhaps never had an equal in this country, or in almost any other. It was greatly to his industry, sagacity, and business-talents, that Mr. Pitt's administration owed its success; and well were his enemies aware of this when a plan was laid for his destruction*; and with it fell Mr. Pitt and his ministry.
The world soon saw through the motives for persecuting that great minister, who was fully acquitted in the opinion of all; but it is not easy for the son of such a man, bearing the same name, to obtain the reputation that in other circumstances would be his portion. Lord Melville has been high in office, at an early period of life, and except with regard to the inferiority of our naval force on the American coast, has constantly given general satisfaction.
* The public Las long seen into the severity and injustice of the attack on the late Lord Melville, which in the moment of its delirious enthusiasm, parliament seemed willing to extend to all the ministers, on the declaration of Mr. Fox, that " it was a degraded administration."
Had Lord Melville wished to enrich himself, he might at any time previous to 1797, bave pocketed €100,000 a year or more, without risk or trouble. Till then navy bills were not payable at any fixed period, and were often at from 15 to 20 per cent. discount; but as soon as it was knowu when they would be paid, they rose to par. As Lord M. kdew before the public when this would be, he had but to order an agent (suppose Mr. Mark Sprot) to bay up a million at the discount, and there was £200,000 in a moment!
In place of this, a regulation was made to prevent such practices by any one else, (and the consequent loss to the public), by fixing the time of payment, at the time of issuing.
Lord Melville was the last man in the world to have played any under-hand trick for money, and the above fact about the navy bills proves it beyond the shadow of a doubt. It is in justice to the memory of a most able and zealous public that this note is introduced in the political portrait of his son.
With respect to the Americans, there are, however, a few observations to be made. It is well known that our naval officers are rather rough and ancourteous, and we have had several examples of their being much more likely to widen a breach, than to put an end to hostility. It was for this reason desirable not to have any superior force on the coast of America, till all hope of an amieable arrangement was over; and when men calculate on one of two contingencies, they must necessarily run a risk. So should we have judged of the unprepared state of our naval force on the American shore, had our efforts, after war was actually commenced, been such as England might have expected; but no such thing*. In the lakes, as on
* The inferiority of our navy is a consequence of the conduct of those who have been at the head of that department, who, like many others bigh in office in this country, are at considerable
the wide ocean, the Americans are victorions. When things are so, a true Englishman, who
pains to keep at a distance all those who have any improvenients to propose. The following facts I state as from myself.
In 1794, I offered gratuitously to impart to the Lords of the admiralty, the means by which fast-sailing ships were built; that is, to explain why the French ships in general sail faster than the English. Sir John Sinclair conveyed the offer to them, and the answer was, that they had got, from the arsenal at Toulon, all the ir formation they wanted.
I obtained, by accident, a description of the telegraph, when in Germany, at the time that there was no communication with France, and immediately set to work, composed an alphabet, and made two models, which worked and communicated across the street, at Frankfort on the Mayne. Lord Malmsbury's secretary, Mr. Ross, (who was lately Mr. Canning's private secretary), saw these telegraphs, which Major Ramsey, of the York Rangers, took with him to present to his Royal Highness the Duke of York. Immediately after the present heavy, expensive, and imperfect telegraph was contrived, and when I got a model made of one on a cheap plan, that could be raised to a much greater height, be seen from a greater distance, and not be so much affected by the colour of the clouds, the admiralty, refused even to look at it, saying that they were satisfied with the telegraph they had.
The way of proceeding at the ordnance is nearly the same; and so long as it is, and we have enemies like the French and Americans, who give encouragement to every improvement, we must expect such a fale as we have lately met with in the American seas.