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Mystery of the Funding System.
once or twice bankrupt, and necessitated to compound with their creditors. The knavery and sophistry of such reasoning would be apparent to all; but the majority being benefitted by the injustice, it is probable they would be inclined to wink at the transaction, and the poor fundholder become the scape-goat of the community.
It may appear improbable, at first sight, that a government, founded an the basis of “ social order, morality, religion,” and an abhorrence of
blasphemy,” should resort to such a disgraceful expedient, to such a pettifogging contrivance, to such unprincipled sophistry; especially, too, as a breach of national faith would be a violation of the principle to which they have been accustomed, on all occasions, to ascribe the prosperity, glory, and independence, of the empire. This, certainly, at first view, appears improbable; but, if we examine the subject more closely, we shall find that there is, as Malvolio says, “ example for't,” and that it would be less inconsistent with former practices than former professions of our rulers.
First, there is the Bank Restriction Act. This measure, in its nature, was full as unprincipled an attack on the rights of private property, the principles of morality and religion, and the sacredness of previous engagements, as a breach of national faith could possibly be. Secondly, there are various suspensions of the Habeas Corpus Act--the passing of bills of indemnity for all sorts of crimes--the forging of French assignats-and, lastly, the Irish Union : all these measures are so atrocious, so repugnant to every principle of law, humanity, and justice, that it would be chimerical, in the highest degree, to suppose that the men who could advise and participate in them, would be scrupulous in the observance of their engagements with the public creditor..
Yet the shame, the disgrace, the infamy of a breach of faith would be so great; it would lay bare so completely the unprincipled policy of the last thirty years; it would so entirely unmask the nature of the Pitt System, exposing its authors to such execration and derision, that we may expect it to be staved off to the last day; and when, at length, it is attempted, it will be disguised, under a thousand pretexts, to hide its deformity from the world. Come, however, it must; for there is no other alternative: the contest now is betwixt rent and tythe on one hand, and the payment of the dividends on the other: to pay the latter the former must be sacrificed. But can any one doubt the issue of the conflict? Can it be doubted which party will go to the wall? The “ lords of the soil” possess all political power; they have the boroughs, the barracks, and the powder-mills, at their
Mystery of the Funding System.
command; they will take care of themselves; and, judging from the acts we have enumerated, there is no reason to suppose their love of justice is so extreme as to induce them to abandon their ALL to preserve " inviolate public faith."
Before, however, the fundholders are sacrificed, all other classes will be degraded : so loth will be the Boroughmongers to touch their great stalking horse of “public credit,” that they will endeavour to support it on the ruins of the other orders of society. First, probably, as being most exposed to their attacks, the poor-rate will be attempted; next, in order, come the other unrepresented interests of the community, the profits of all the productive classes the farmers, merchants, and tradesmen. If the degradation of these classes, if the appropriation of the whole of their revenue, except that portion necessary to a bare subsistence, be insufficient, then the fundholder will be assailed, rather than rent and tythe should be materially reduced. This is what I call the catastrophe of the Funding System.
All classes will be sacrificed to the preservation of the “ lords of the soil." When the full payment of the dividends encroach on the sources of their own incomes, they will be forcibly reduced, and the only favour shown to the fundholder will be that of being last devoured.
The only mean for preventing the many being sacrificed to the few is a radical, or, according to its more courtly designation, A SOVEREIGN REFORM OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS. To continue the present amount of taxes would destroy the sources whence these taxes are derived; it would ultimately ruin every branch of productive industry, manufacturing and agricultural. That some sacrifice is indispensable is, therefore, clear to all men; and the great point to attain is to have the sacrifice fairly adjusted, so that one class may not be immolated for the safety of the rest. But this adjustment can only be effected by a reformed parliament. Constituted as the house now is, one or two interests predominate, and these interests will naturally endeavour to maintain themselves at the expense of the otbers., Such a reform, therefore, as incorporates all interests,' as gives to each its fair weight in the assembly of the people, is the first step in the settlement of our difficulties, and the only means by which they can be equitably apportioned. Any other remedy would be partial, transitory, and unjust; while reform would perpetuate and secure the safety of all classes, high and low. A shallow rapacious policy may suggest that the minority may best maintain themselves by refusing every thing ; that FORCE and TERROR may. be substituted for justice and common sense; but this is a fatal delusion. The public mind is too enlightened to be governed by such principles ;
Mystery of the Funding System.
they may succeed for a time, and barracks and bayonets prevail over the suggestions of reason and humanity; but the triumph would be short. A re-action fatal to the authors of such a coercive system would be inevitable: while, by timely concession, they may not only preserve themselves, but secure the happiness of all other classes of the community.
Illustrations of the Progress of the National Debt
and the Sinking Fund.
Summary of the Progress of the Debt from the Commencement of the
Funding System, at the Revolution, to the Death of George III.