« 前へ次へ »
thing, except he were sure of being able to lay it out before the next day. Each man would begin to estimate his possessions, not by pounds sterling, but by sheep and oxen, as in the heroic ages.
Mr. Attwood opines, that the multiplication of the circulating medium, and the consequent diminution of its value, does not merely diminish the pressure of taxes and debts, and other fixed charges, but gives employment to labour, and that to an indefinite extent. If we could work miracles, we would not be niggardly of them. Possessing the power of calling all the labourers of Great Britain into high wages and full employment, by no more complicated a piece of machinery than an engraver's plate, a man would be much to blame if he failed for want of going far enough. Mr. Attwood, accordingly, is for increasing the issues, until, with his paper loaves and fishes, he has fed the whole multitude, so that not a creature goes away hungry. Such a depreciation as would cause wheat to average 10s. the bushel, he thinks, would suffice; but if, on trial, any labourer should declare, that he still had an appetite, Mr. Attwood proffers to serve up another dish, and then another, up to the desired point of satiety. If a population thus satisfactorily fed should, under such ample encouragement, double or treble in its numbers, all that would be necessary, in this gentleman's opinion, is to depreciate the currency so much the more.
It is not that Mr. Attwood exactly thinks that a hungry people can be literally fed upon his bits of paper. His doctrine is, that paper-money is not capital, but brings capital into fuller employment. A large portion of the national capital, especially of that part which consists of buildings and machinery, is now, he affirms, lying idle, in default of a market for its productions; those various productions being, as he admits, the natural market for one another, but being unable to exchange for each other, for want, as he seems to think, of a more plentiful medium of exchange, just as wheels will not go with a spare allowance of oil. It was suggested to him, by some member of the committee, that a small nominal amount of currency will suffice to exchange as many commodities as a larger one, saving that it will do it at lower prices; which, however, when common to all commodities, are every jot as good to the sellers as high prices, except that these last may enable them to put off their creditors with a smaller real value. Mr. Attwood could not help admitting this ; still, however, it failed to produce any impression upon him; he could not perceive that high prices are in themselves no benefit; he could not get out of his head that high prices occasion " increased consumption," “ increased demand," and thereby give a sti. mulus to production. As if it were any increase of demand for bread to have two bits of paper to give for a loaf instead of one. As if being able to sell a pair of shoes for two rags instead of one, when each rag is only worth half as much, were any additional inducement to the production of shoes.
Whenever we meet with any notion more than commonly absurd, we expect to find that it is derived from what is miscalled “ practical experience ;' namely, from something which has been seen, heard, and misunderstood. Such is the case with Mr. Attwood's delusion. What has imposed upon him is, as usual, what he would term a “fact.” If prices could but be kept as high as in 1825, all would be well ; for in 1825, not one well-conducted labourer in Great Britain was unemployed. Now, the first liberty we shall take is, that of disbelieving the “ fact." In its very nature, it is one which neither Mr. Attwood, nor any one, can personally know to be true; and his means of accurate knowledge are probably confined to the great manufacturing and exporting town which he personally inhabits. Thus much, however, we grant : that the buildings and machinery he speaks of were not lying idle in 1825, but were in full operation : many of them, indeed, were erected during that frantic period; which is partly the cause of their lying idle now. But why vas all the capital of the country in such unwonted activity in 1825 ? Because the whole mercantile public was in a state of insane delusion, in its very nature temporary. From the impossibility of exactly adjusting the operations of the producer to the wants of the consumer, it always happens that some articles are more or less in deficiency, and others in excess. The healthy working of the machinery, therefore, requires, that in some channels, capital should be in full, while in others, it should be in slack, employment. But in 1825, it was imagined that all articles, compared with the demand for them, were in a state of deficiency. The extension of paper credit, called forth by speculations in a few leading articles, had produced a rise of prices, which, not being supposed to be connected with a depreciation of the currency, each man considered to arise from an increase of the effectual demand for his particular article, and so fancied there was a ready and permanent market for any quantity of that article which he could produce. Mr. Attwood's error is that of supposing, that a depreciation of the currency really increases the demand for all articles, and consequently their production ; because, under some circumstances, it may create a false opinion of an increase of demand ; which false opinion leads, as the reality would do, to an increase of production, followed, however, by a fatal revulsion as soon as the de. lusion ceases. The revulsion in 1825 was not caused, as Mr. Attwood fancies, by a contraction of the currency; the only cause of the real ruin, was the imaginary prosperity. The contraction of the currency was the consequence, not the cause, of the revulsion. So many merchants and bankers having failed in their speculations, so many, therefore, being unable to meet their engagements, their paper became worthless, and discredited all other paper. An issue of inconvertible bank notes might have enabled these debtors to cheat their creditors; but it would not have opened a market for one more loaf of bread, or one more yard of cloth ; because, what makes a demand for commodities is commodities, and not bits of paper,
It is no slight enhancement of the motive we have to rejoice in our narrow escape from marching to Parliamentary Reform through a violent revolution, when we think of the influence which would in that event have been exercised over Great Britain, for good or for ill, by men of whose opinions the above is a faithful picture. No man to whom we are less indebted, has it in his power to do so much mischief as these men. Their merits and services do but render their errors the more dangerous.
We have no dread of them at present, because, together with the disapprobation of all instructed men, they have to encounter a strong popular prejudice against paper-money of every kind. The real misfortune would be, if they should wave their currency juggle, and coalesce with the clearer-sighted and more numerous tribe of political swindlers, who attack public and private debts directly and avowedly.
But even thus, we do not fear that they should succeed. There are enough of honest men in England vet, to be too many for all the knaves ; and it is only for want of discussion that these schemes find any favourers among sincere men. The mischief, and it is not inconsiderable, is, that such things should be talked of, or so much as dreamed of; that the time and talents which ought to be employed in making good laws and redressing real wrongs, should be taken up in counselling or in averting an execrable crime : to the injury of all good hopes, but most to the damage and discredit of the cause of Radical Reform, which is almost undistinguishably identified in the minds of many excellent, though illinformed and timid people, with the supremacy of brute force over right, and a perpetually impending spoliation of every thing which one man has and another man desires.*
The moment that she looked up from her drawing, I remembered her at once by her eyes. It was full three years since I had seen them, during a tour in vacation, on entering the diligence from St. Omer to Paris. She was then a mere girl in her teens, but far more interest. ing than misses generally are at that dubious period; a curly-headed, rosy creature, arch and good-natured, with a pair of blue eyes which I must describe, for they were absolutely unique. Their colour was extremely full and deep ; the outline that of a prolonged oval; and usually seeming half shut, and shaded with dark eyelashes, they gave a sly or pensive expression to the curl of a red upper lip; but if aroused by surprise or mirth, they opened out beneath her arching brows with such a brightness of blue as was quite dazzling. They were eyes to sit and gaze upon, as you gaze upon the sky, for hours. She was travelling, under her father's escort, to Paris, to enter a pension there ; and as there were no passengers in the diligence besides ourselves, before nightfall I was already on good terms with both. The sire was a gentlemanly old militaire, on half-pay, as I conjectured, from his style of travelling. As it grew dusk, the shyness of the little maid gave way to the vivacity of her spirits; and as papa already gave tokens of drowsiness, she gradually addressed herself to me, in that vein of innocent communicativeness which flows so beautifully from young lips, and which is one of the first of their utterances that the world perverts. I listened as though I had been a friend of ten years' standing, while she prattled on of her school friends, of her flowers and pigeons at home in Leicestershire, of her joys and sorrows upon leaving it, of her curiosity as to her new com. panions, &c., so that in a very short time I knew most of her little his tory. When it grew chill at night, I folded my gay travelling cloak around her, and observed, almost with fondness, her little head begin to
• That our opinions may not be misunderstood, we think it right to explain that, while we object decidedly to any legislatorial depreciation of the currency, we advocate free frade in banking, as in everything else, and the unrestricted issue of bank notes, convertible on demand into the precious metals ; in short, the Scottish system of Banking, as explained in our article on The Bank Charter, in Magazine No. III. And while we maintain that the restoration of the currency to a sound state, gives us no right to deprive the fundholder of any part of his stock, we by no means contend that the huge debt shall be allowed to paralyze the national strength for ever. How it is to be disposed of, with the ncarest possible approximation to exact justice to every person, must be the subject of future articles.
nod, and her narrative to falter ; until at length, quite wearied, she fell into a slumber, so deep, that it was not disturbed when, at the first jolt which occurred, I laid her head on my shoulder, and, passing my arm around her, kept it in that position. I could never sleep in a stage. In those days, moreover, my imagination was in great force ; so as we lum. bered along, and I sat listening to the queer cries of the conducteur and postilion, and the gentle breathing of my young fellow-traveller, to which the paternal snore furnished a very tolerable counterpoint, I amused myself with various reveries concerning the destiny of the pretty creature then slumbering on my bosom. Sometimes, a fanciful idea arose, that our intercourse, so recently begun, and so soon to terminate, might be resumed on a future day; and I busied myself with imagining the lively girl expanded into the loveliness of womanhood, and again crossing my path by some accident, such as had already brought us together. There is, I am persuaded, a truth of prediction in these impressions, especially in those which visit us in the night season. “ Dreams," says a great poet, “ come from God.” When day broke, the giri looked so beautiful and quiet, nestling in my cloak, that I could not abstain from impressing a morning salutation upon her brow; so lightly, however, as not to disturb her slumber ; nor did she awake until the rattling of the vehicle along the pavement approaching the Barrière de St. Denis, announced our proximity to Paris. When the diligence stopped in the Rue de l'Enfer, I felt quite sad at parting from my charge; and as I lifted her down the clumsy steps, I asked her to tell me her name, and not to forget me. She told me that she was called Isabel Denham, and said that she had a good memory : but I little expected, on giving her the farewell au plaisir, that I should ever see her again.
Trisling as was this adventure, I was, at my then age of nineteen, so full of the dreamy visions of youth, and so great a stranger to the better part of her sex, that during my short sojourn in Paris, and long after returning to Oxford, the picture of those rich black curls waving on my shoulders, and the pair of blue eyes that opened on mine when she awoke in the diligence, perpetually recurred to my imagination. How angry was I at my stupidity in neglecting to “ ask of the whereabouts” of her Leicestershire home! Indeed I tormented all the men from that county with whom I had any acquaintance, with inquiries concerning the name of Denham, until silenced by the ridicule they excited. The dissipations and studies of college life did not, however, impair my memory; although, when I revisited the Continent, after taking my degree, it was only at leisure moments that I would ask myself," I wonder what has become of that pretty Isabel ; by this time she must be full woman, and, I doubt not, a fair one? I should like to know if she recollects her com. panion of the diligence."
A delightful summer ramble had terminated amongst the slopes and vineyards of the Pays de Vaud. On the afternoon of a day too sultry for walking, I was descending, on mule-back, a steep hill in the neighbour.. hood of Vevay, by an unfrequented road which overlooks the lake. The clouds began to creep heavily upwards from behind the western Alps; and I urged my lazy beast, in the hope of regaining my quarters before the storm should break. But mules are impracticable animals; and mine, upon a smart application of the whip, came to a full stop at the angle of the road ; and began to indulge himself in one of those intolerable howls which none but mulish organs can perpetrate, to the great alarm of a
young lady who was seated, quietly sketching, at the corner I had just turned. When she looked up, startled by the hideous bray, and amusement succeeded to her surprise, she opened to their full extent a pair of laughing blue eyes, which I felt certain I had looked into before. Yet of their splendidly beautiful owner I had no recollection. At once a thought, an inspiration it must have been, recalled my former companion of the diligence. I was sure it must be she. As I detest ceremony in investigations of this kind, I at once dismounted, took off my hat, and accosted the fair artist :
“ Madame,” (a delightful language is the French ; you can address a lady so respectfully without knowing her name !)- " Madame, veut. elle bien me pardonner pour l'avoir derangé ? Mais, je supplierais qu'elle me permit de l'engager à déscendre au plus vite, Tout annonce un orage.”
She coloured, and bowed slightly. « Remercie, monsieur,"—then, looking around, called, “ George !” The accent was of my native land; I was confirmed in my conjecture, and addressed her in English:
- If that be your servant, madam, I fear he is scarcely within call. It must have been the white-headed old person whom I passed, as he was plucking grapes in the clos of La Blaye, a full quarter of a mile from hence."-She gathered up her pencils, and appeared perplexed. At this moment, a few heavy drops of rain, and a far-off muttering of thunder, came on very opportunely.
I assumed a most humble and respectful mien :" Will you honour my quadruped by suffering him to bear you home before the storm descends ?"-She blushed again, and seemed to hesitate : but a loud clap of thunder aided my eloquence materially; and the preparation of a few moments beheld her seated upon my mule, wrapped in the very cloak which had kept her warm three years before, and me trotting at the animal's bridle, or occasionally seizing the apology of a steep descent or a rough patch of road, for supporting her in the saddle. However, before we reached her home, at a short distance from the suburb of Vevay, the rain came down with true Alpine fury; and I delivered my fair charge, dripping wet, into the care of an anxious-looking old gentleman, who was watching for her in the verandah, and in whom I at once recognised the papa of the diligence. From her I received a host of pretty thanks; and from him, what I valued far more, the permission to call on the morrow, and inquire whether she had taken injury from the exposure.
- George,” said I to the old blue-bottle, whom I met hurrying townward, “how long has Captain Denham been at Vevay?
The man seemed surprised, but answered respectfully, “ Sir George Denham, you mean, sir ; he is Sir George, now that the baronet in Yorkshire is dead.”
" Ah, indeed! I was not aware of the fact: and my lady ?" “ My lady ? God bless you, sir, she died before my master came into these foreign parts !”.
“ Indeed, I had not heard of that accident :-and is no one with your master but Miss Isabella ?”
“ No, sir; the young people were all left in Leicestershire when Sir George came abroad for his health.”
“ Do they see much company?”.