« 上一頁繼續 »
can only be promoted, and preserved, by sending money constantly into the Stock-exchange. It is thus, by inciting an active industry, that the
payment of public debts, through the channel of a quarterly sinking-fund, enables the people to pay the greatest taxes with ease and satisfaction. And thus may we folve a difficult problem in political ceconomy, whether the surplus of the public revenue ought to be applied in the discharge of debts, or in the diminution of taxes : the one measure assuredly invigorates the industry of the people, in the manner, that we have just observed; the other may promote their indolence, but cannot procure them an advantage, in any proportion to the benefits of unceasing employments, and the accommodation of more extensive capitals: by means of industry the heaviest burthens seem light: by the influence of Noth the Nightest duty appears intolerable.
It was owing, probably, to the invigorating effects of an augmented circulation, that our agriculture and manufactures, our commerce and navigation, not only flourished, but gradually increased, to their present magnitude, amidst our frequent wars, our additional taxes, and accumulating debts. How much the scanty circulation of England was filled, during the great civil wars of the last century, by the vast imports of those times, and how soon the interest of money was thereby reduced, we have already seen. Similar consequences followed the wars of William, and of
Anne, owing to similiar causes. The sinking-fund, which, for several years after its creation, in 1716, did not much exceed half a million, produced, assuredly, the most salutary influences, even before the year 1727: The value of the public funds rose considerably, though the stipulated interest on them had been reduced, first, from 6 to 5 per cent. and, in that year, from 5 to 4 per cent. tural interest of money gradually fell : The price of lands in the mean time advanced from 20 and 21 years purchase to 26 and 27: And our agriculture and manufactures, our trade and our shipping, kept a steady pace with the general prosperity of the nation * Such are the salutary effects of a circulation, which, being replenished by daily augmentations, is preserved constantly full. And thus it is, that the people are eased in the payment of taxes, by being better enabled to pay them, while taxes are continually augmented, though there may be some imports, which ought to be repealed, as they press upon particular objects.
On the other hand, an obstructed circulation never fails to create every evil, which can afflict an industrious people : Scarcity of money, and unfavourable discounts; unpurchased manufactures, and want of employments; unpaid rents, and unperformed contracts; are the mischiefs, which dil. tress every individual, and embarrass the community, while circulation is impeded. The com,
* For the above-mentioned facts, fee And. Chrono Com. vol. ii. p. 316-22.
merce of England was well nigh ruined, during King William's reign, by the disorders in the coin, the want of confidence, and the high price of money. The foreign bankruptcies, in 1763, reduced the value of cargoes, which were exported in this year, from sixteen millions to fourteen, during several years, owing to the decline of general credit. How much the domestic businefs of Great Britain was embarrassed by the bankruptcies of 1772
and 1773, which, in England, amounted, in the first year, to 525, and to 562, in the second, is still remembered *.
The complaints, which were at those periods made of a decline of commerce, were merely owing to an obstructed circulation, as subsequent experience hath amply evinced.
Wars, then, in modern times, are chiefly destructive, as they incommode the industrious claf
* The following detail is alone sufficient to demonstrate how the manufactures of a country may be ruined by a languid circulation, without the interruptions of war. Of linen cloth there were stamped for sale in Scotland,
during 1771 13,466,274 yards.
Of woollen cloth, there were fulled, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in the year ended
Narrow. the 25th March 1792, 203,623 pieces 156,475 pieces Ditto 1793,
214,851 190,468 Ditto 1794, 190,332
ses, by obstructing circulation. Yet, general industry was not much retarded, however individual persons, or particular communities, may have been deranged, or injured, by the colony-war. The people were able to consume abundantly, since they actually paid vast contributions, by their daily consumption of exciseable commodities*. And though they pursued their accustomed occupations, and thus paid vast impofts, the established income of the state sustained considerable defalcations from various causes; from the abuses, which war never fails to introduce into certain branches of the revenue ; from the illicit traffic, that generally prevails in the course of hostilities; and from the new impositions, which somewhat leffen the usual produce of the old.
* Of malt there were consumed,
Those disorders in the public ' revenue have been at least palliated, if they have not been altogether cured, since the re-establishment of peace. The measures, which were vigorously adopted, for the effectual prevention of smuggling; the alterations, which have been made in the collection of fome departments of the public income; and the improvement, that has been happily effected in all; have brought, and continue to bring, vast sums into the Exchequer*. The public expenditure continually distributes this vast revenue among the creditors, or servants of the State, who return it to the original contributors, either for the neceffaries, or the luxuries, of life. The Exchequers which thus constantly receives and dispenses this immense income, has been aptly compared to the human heart, that unceasingly carries on the vital circulation, so invigorating while it flows, so · fatal when it stops. Thus it is, that modern taxes, which are never hoarded, but always expended, may even promote the employments and industry, the prosperity and populousness, of an industrious people. * The whole public revenue paid into the Exchequet, from Michaelmas 1783 } -£. 13,9950519
ditto Ditto, from Michaelmas 1784}
15,379,182 Ditto from 5 January 17851