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ded, and credit became reinstated, nistry could immediately devise in its customary channels. Some and accomplish something, which falling off in the revenue, was occa- would speedily and effectually resioned by the stagnation in busi- medy the existing evils. But the ness, consequent on the panic, but opposition members contended, only during the quarter in which that the plans proposed by the adthe pressure existed ; and in the ministration, and of which we shall . aggregate there was no dimu- presently give an account, were nition.
but partial and unsatisfactory. Parliament assembled, February They appear, however, to have ex- . 2d, 1826. The session was opened pected more from the government, by commission ; and the chancellor than it could possibly accomplish. being absent, lord Gifford presided Legislation could never completeas speaker, and read the king's ly, and at once, restore the system speech, which was chiefly occu- of trade and all its dependant inpied in calling the attention of terests, to a healthy state, after the parliament to such causes of the total derangement which they had late commercial embarrassment, as undergone. might be within its control. It al. The scheme of the ministers, luded to the peaceful state of the for restoring a sound and safe curnation, and all its dependencies, rency, consisted of a very simsave the continuance of hostilities ple expedient. They proposed, in India; and mentioned the desire first, to call in all small notes, and -of government to improve the con- substitute a metallic currency in dition of Ireland, which was now their place; and secondly, to altranquil, and in a course of gra- low chartered banking companies dual advancement.
to be established at the distance of Addresses, according to custom, not less than sixty miles from Lonin answer to the speech, were mo- don; the bank of England being ved and carried in both branches also authorised to fix branches in of the legislature. The debates the country. on the subject, turned chiefly upon Bills were accordingly introduthe state of currency, as connected ced, for carrying these designs into with the adoption of measures cal- operation. They enacted, that all culated to relieve the merchants promissory notes, payable to bearer and manufacturers. All classes of on demand, issued either by licenmen were anticipating the meet- sed banks, or by the bank of Enging of parliament with extreme land, for a less sum than £5, bearanxiety, expecting that the mi- ing date previous to October 10th,
next ensuing, might continue to be It being understood, that the preissued, reissued and circulated, sent parliament was to be dissolved until April 5th, 1829, and no long- shortly, and writs issued for another er; they provided for preventing election, a variety of subjects of the issue of any other notes, for a importance were, by common con less sum than £5; and authorised sent, deferred for the determination the establishment of country banks, of the new parliament. The conconsisting of a greater number sideration of the chancery practice; than six partners, in addition to of the corn laws, and of the usury branches of the bank of England. laws; a bill for consolidating into
So salutary were these measures one act the statutes, being ninetydeemed, that, immediately after the two in number, relating to theft, passing of the resolutions upon introduced by Mr. Peel; the afwhich they were founded, the fundsfairs of Ireland ; and several other rose, and new life seemed to be in- subjects, received this destination. fused into the mercantile interest. The affairs of Ireland could not be
On opening the budget, the chan- taken into consideration; as the cellor of the exchequer stated distresses among the English merthat he felt bound, by reason of chants at the beginning of the sesthe state of trade, to enter with sion, and the still greater distresses great fulness into the situation among the manufacturing poor, of the national finances. In which, as we shall presently state, order to show that the depres- came on afterwards, incessantly ension which now existed, did not grossed the time and care of parargue any permanent decline in liament and of the ministers.. the prosperity of the country, he Many petitions were presented gave an exposition of the pro- for the abolition of negro slavery duce of the taxes of every kind, and the slave trade, and the meliosince the year 1816. The total ration of the condition of slaves in reduction of taxation, since 1816, the colonies. Mr. Canning strongwas 27,522,000 ; but still the reve- ly insisted upon a plan for the granue was diminished only 6,000,000. dual improvement of the colonies, From this, it appeared, that the oth- maintaining that none other was er taxes had advanced in amount consistent with the safety of those 21,000,000; which he ascribed to possessions, and none other could the increased consumption of the be effected, without doing gross country, the surest indication of violence to the rights of the West stable prosperity.
India proprietors. And, although
the ministers were greatly censured spirited proceeding produced the for adhering to this principle, part- desired effect. ly by men, whose only aim was to Some alarm was felt for the life thwart the measures of the admi- of the king, he being attacked with nistration, and partly by members a severe fit of the gout. Bulletins of just intentions, but visionary and of the state of his health were isimpracticable notions; still the side sued for a time, but soon disconof equity and good sense prevail- tinued, on account of his conva. ed. It continued to be the fixed lescence. His death would have determination of the ministry, to been extremely unwelcome; beact upon the scheme, arranged in cause it was feared the accession 1823 and 1824, for the benefit of of the duke of York, might lead to the black population of the colo- a change in the cabinet, and the nies ; but not to be precipitated into adoption of a less liberal state poany rash and hasty acts.
Before coming to the proroga- A convention was concluded betion of parliament, it may be pro- tween Great Britain and France, per to recount a few political inci- for equalizing the tonnage duty dents, which occurred during the chargeable on vessels of both session.
kingdoms respectively, in the diIntelligence was received, that rect trade between the two counGreat Britain had exacted from tries, and for a reciprocity of duSpain, the promise of indemnity, ties on merchandize. A similar for spoliations on English property arrangement was, also, effected by pirates, and others, under cover with Prussia. of the pretended blockade of the Commercial and banking houses Spanish Main, by the royalists. continued to feel the effects of the The government of Spain had pro- pecuniary pressures of the winter. crastinated its decision in this mat- The eminent banking house of ter, as it has been wont to do, in B. A. Goldschmidt suspended payregard to all its public difficulties; ment in February ; and occasioned but instructions were given to Mr. embarrassment in respect to some Lamb, the English minister at of the foreign loans, for which they Madrid, to require a decision in were contractors. The home trade twenty-four hours; and, in case of suffered much depression, arising, refusal, to declare that England in a considerable degree, from the would immediately order reprisals deficiency of the local circulating upon Cuba and Puerto Rico. This medium, produced by the insolvency of the country bankers. It ly, the manufacturing population. affected the dealers in linens, cot- Owing, in part, to the late derangetons, and calicoes most severely. ment of the currency, and of creApplications were made to the go- dit in the country; but still more to vernment, for assistance to the the diminished demand for British - mercantile interest, in the shape of manufactures, and the overstocked a loan, of five millions ; which the state of the market, many manuministers declined granting. They factories had been compelled to threw into circulation, however, discharge their workmen, and sustwo millions of money, by causing pend their business. The conseexchequer bills to that amount to quent suffering felt in the great be bought up by the bank of Eng- manufacturing districts, was deland.
plorable. Driven by despair, the Repeated and urgent applica- famishing workmen, ascribing their tions had been made to the bank, misery to the use of power looms, by merchants, for advances, by way broke out into the most violent disof loan, upon the deposit of mer- orders, entering the different workchandize. At length, at the re- shops, in the very presence of the commendation of the ministry, the military, and, reckless of their bank agreed to make advances, in lives, proceeding to the destruc. this manner, for the period of three tion of the looms. In these tuor four months, according to cir- multuous scenes, a number of lives cumstances, to the amount of were unfortunately lost, and many £3,000,000 sterling. This assist- rioters committed to prison. At ance was confined, however, to length, by the prompt movement persons who had not become in- of troops upon the convulsed disvolved in pecuniary embarrassment tricts, and by the liberal distribuby over-trading, or by chimerical tion of benefactions among the pespeculations. The consequence rishing families, outward tranquilwas, that, up to the end of March, lity was restored, and the spirit of the whole amount of advances was disorder kept under, if not eravery inconsiderable, not exceeding dicated. a quarter of a million sterling. Large sums of money were vol
In the mean time, the operation untarily contributed for the relief of of these commercial embarrass- the manufacturers. The king prements had descended to a class sented 12,0001 from his private of people less able to meet a tem- purse. In London alone, the sum of porary pecuniary pressure, name- 100,0001 was quickly subscribed. Meetings were holden all over the of parliament, if in the opinion of country, and every thing done, for the cabinet it should be deemed nealleviating the distresses, which hu- cessary. The amount of bonded manity could dictate, or liberality corn in the sea ports was about execute. Wholly to remove them, 300,000 quarters; and the miniswas impossible.
ters were authorised to introduce The consideration and adoption 500,000 quarters more into the of suitable measures in parliament market; so at least, as Mr. Canfor relieving the manufacturers, ning observed, to do away the imformed the prominent business of pression, that the people were faits concluding weeks. It was at mishing in the midst of plenty. first proposed to make a national On the last day of May, parliagrant of half a million, for immedi- ment was prorogued by a speech ate distribution among the sufferers. from the lord chancellor, in behalf This idea, however, was relinquish of the king. He applauded their ed; and nothing was done, but to public spirit in promptly endeavorenact a slight modification of the ing to relieve the sufferings of the corn laws; and even this was ve- manufacturers, which, he trusted, hemently resisted by gentlemen of were in the course of gradual abatethe country interest. Nothing could ment. At the same time, he gave be more unfeeling than their con- information of his intention immeduct. In the very districts where diately to dissolve the present parthe keenest misery was felt, and liament, and cause writs to be issuwhere the poor were absolutely ined for a new election, at a period, a state of starvation from inability which seemed most convenient for to pay the extravagant price of that purpose. grain; the warehouses contained The writs were made returnable great quantities of bonded corn, July, 25th. Previous to that time, which could not be brought into the progress of the elections constithe market, owing to the rigorous tuted, of course, the engrossing prohibitions of the corn laws. object of interest in the civil history
Bills were accordingly introduced of the country. It is not probable in the house of commons, and after that any material change took a strenuous opposition passed into place in the political complexion of laws, provided for the sale of bond- the new house ; and we need not ed corn, on payment of a duty of enter, therefore, into a minute de12s. the quarter ; and which also tail of the incidents attending the provided for a farther importation elections. The venality of the of foreign corn, during the recess electors was not less remarkable