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Pitt
could not possess himself of any management of this sum, without setting
up the supremacy of Parliament; and when this was accomplished, it was
indifferent who should be Regent, as he must be Regent at his own cost.
Among the curiosities which this contentious debate afforded, was that
of making the Great Seal into a King, the affixing of which to an act
was to be royal authority. If, therefore, Royal Authority is a Great
Seal, it consequently is in itself nothing; and a good Constitution
would be of infinitely more value to the Nation than what the three
Nominal Powers, as they now stand, are worth.

The continual use of the word Constitution in the English Parliament
shows there is none; and that the whole is merely a form of government
without a Constitution, and constituting itself with what powers it
pleases. If there were a Constitution, it certainly could be referred
to; and the debate on any constitutional point would terminate by
producing the Constitution. One member says this is Constitution, and
another says that is Constitution--To-day it is one thing; and to-morrow
something else--while the maintaining of the debate proves there is
none. Constitution is now the cant word of Parliament, tuning itself
to the ear of the Nation. Formerly it was the universal supremacy of
Parliament--the omnipotence of Parliament: But since the progress of
Liberty in France, those phrases have a despotic harshness in their
note; and the English Parliament have catched the fashion from
the National Assembly, but without the substance, of speaking of
Constitution.

As the present generation of the people in England did not make the
Government, they are not accountable for any of its defects; but,
that sooner or later, it must come into their hands to undergo a
constitutional reformation, is as certain as that the same thing has
happened in France. If France, with a revenue of nearly twenty-four
millions sterling, with an extent of rich and fertile country above four
times larger than England, with a population of twenty-four millions
of inhabitants to support taxation, with upwards of ninety millions
sterling of gold and silver circulating in the nation, and with a debt
less than the present debt of England--still found it necessary, from
whatever cause, to come to a settlement of its affairs, it solves the
problem of funding for both countries.

It is out of the question to say how long what is called the English
constitution has lasted, and to argue from thence how long it is to
last; the question is, how long can the funding system last? It is a
thing but of modern invention, and has not yet continued beyond the
life of a man; yet in that short space it has so far accumulated, that,
together with the current expenses, it requires an amount of taxes at
least equal to the whole landed rental of the nation in acres to defray
the annual expenditure. That a government could not have always gone on
by the same system which has been followed for the last seventy years,
must be evident to every man; and for the same reason it cannot always
go on.

The funding system is not money; neither is it, properly speaking,
credit. It, in effect, creates upon paper the sum which it appears to
borrow, and lays on a tax to keep the imaginary capital alive by the
payment of interest and sends the annuity to market, to be sold for
paper already in circulation. If any credit is given, it is to the
disposition of the people to pay the tax, and not to the government,
which lays it on. When this disposition expires, what is supposed to be
the credit of Government expires with it. The instance of France under
the former Government shows that it is impossible to compel the payment
of taxes by force, when a whole nation is determined to take its stand
upon that ground.

Mr. Burke, in his review of the finances of France, states the quantity
of gold and silver in France, at about eighty-eight millions sterling.
In doing this, he has, I presume, divided by the difference of exchange,
instead of the standard of twenty-four livres to a pound sterling; for
M. Neckar's statement, from which Mr. Burke's is taken, is two thousand
two hundred millions of livres, which is upwards of ninety-one millions
and a half sterling.

M. Neckar in France, and Mr. George Chalmers at the Office of Trade and
Plantation in England, of which Lord Hawkesbury is president, published
nearly about the same time (1786) an account of the quantity of money in
each nation, from the returns of the Mint of each nation. Mr. Chalmers,
from the returns of the English Mint at the Tower of London, states
the quantity of money in England, including Scotland and Ireland, to be
twenty millions sterling.*[12]

M. Neckar*[13] says that the amount of money in France, recoined from
the old coin which was called in, was two thousand five hundred millions
of livres (upwards of one hundred and four millions sterling); and,
after deducting for waste, and what may be in the West Indies and other
possible circumstances, states the circulation quantity at home to be
ninety-one millions and a half sterling; but, taking it as Mr. Burke has
put it, it is sixty-eight millions more than the national quantity in
England.

That the quantity of money in France cannot be under this sum, may at
once be seen from the state of the French Revenue, without referring to
the records of the French Mint for proofs. The revenue of France, prior
to the Revolution, was nearly twenty-four millions sterling; and as
paper had then no existence in France the whole revenue was collected
upon gold and silver; and it would have been impossible to have
collected such a quantity of revenue upon a less national quantity than
M. Neckar has stated. Before the establishment of paper in England,
the revenue was about a fourth part of the national amount of gold
and silver, as may be known by referring to the revenue prior to King
William, and the quantity of money stated to be in the nation at that
time, which was nearly as much as it is now.

It can be of no real service to a nation, to impose upon itself, or to
permit itself to be imposed upon; but the prejudices of some, and
the imposition of others, have always represented France as a nation
possessing but little money--whereas the quantity is not only more than
four times what the quantity is in England, but is considerably greater
on a proportion of numbers. To account for this deficiency on the
part of England, some reference should be had to the English system of
funding. It operates to multiply paper, and to substitute it in the room
of money, in various shapes; and the more paper is multiplied, the
more opportunities are offered to export the specie; and it admits of
a possibility (by extending it to small notes) of increasing paper till
there is no money left.

I know this is not a pleasant subject to English readers; but the
matters I am going to mention, are so important in themselves, as to
require the attention of men interested in money transactions of a
public nature. There is a circumstance stated by M. Neckar, in his
treatise on the administration of the finances, which has never been
attended to in England, but which forms the only basis whereon to
estimate the quantity of money (gold and silver) which ought to be in
every nation in Europe, to preserve a relative proportion with other
nations.

Lisbon and Cadiz are the two ports into which (money) gold and silver
from South America are imported, and which afterwards divide and spread
themselves over Europe by means of commerce, and increase the quantity
of money in all parts of Europe. If, therefore, the amount of the annual
importation into Europe can be known, and the relative proportion of the
foreign commerce of the several nations by which it can be distributed
can be ascertained, they give a rule sufficiently true, to ascertain the
quantity of money which ought to be found in any nation, at any given
time.

M. Neckar shows from the registers of Lisbon and Cadiz, that the
importation of gold and silver into Europe, is five millions sterling
annually. He has not taken it on a single year, but on an average of
fifteen succeeding years, from 1763 to 1777, both inclusive; in which
time, the amount was one thousand eight hundred million livres, which is
seventy-five millions sterling.*[14]

From the commencement of the Hanover succession in 1714 to the time Mr.
Chalmers published, is seventy-two years; and the quantity imported
into Europe, in that time, would be three hundred and sixty millions
sterling.

If the foreign commerce of Great Britain be stated at a sixth part of
what the whole foreign commerce of Europe amounts to (which is probably
an inferior estimation to what the gentlemen at the Exchange would
allow) the proportion which Britain should draw by commerce of this sum,
to keep herself on a proportion with the rest of Europe, would be also
a sixth part which is sixty millions sterling; and if the same allowance
for waste and accident be made for England which M. Neckar makes for
France, the quantity remaining after these deductions would be fifty-two
millions; and this sum ought to have been in the nation (at the time Mr.
Chalmers published), in addition to the sum which was in the nation
at the commencement of the Hanover succession, and to have made in the
whole at least sixty-six millions sterling; instead of which there were
but twenty millions, which is forty-six millions below its proportionate
quantity.

As the quantity of gold and silver imported into Lisbon and Cadiz
is more exactly ascertained than that of any commodity imported into
England, and as the quantity of money coined at the Tower of London
is still more positively known, the leading facts do not admit of
controversy. Either, therefore, the commerce of England is unproductive
of profit, or the gold and silver which it brings in leak continually
away by unseen means at the average rate of about three-quarters of a
million a year, which, in the course of seventy-two years, accounts for
the deficiency; and its absence is supplied by paper.*[15]

The Revolution of France is attended with many novel circumstances, not
only in the political sphere, but in the circle of money transactions.
Among others, it shows that a government may be in a state of insolvency
and a nation rich.



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