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their notes; but not having like the bank of England, the privilege of refusing the payment of their notes when asked for, they now discharge their own at sight in those of the bank of England, which cannot be refused as being the substitute of national coin. The sum total of the notes of the bank of England amounts to about 31 millions sterling. It is supposed that the sum of the notes of all the provincial banks is about equal. The amount, then, of the paper money circulating in the British islands is about 62 millions sterling. Including old shillings and the tokens in silver and brass issued by the bank of England and the provincial banks, the whole of the specie of the three kingdoms does certainly not amount to a value of more than two millions of franks. Excepting these shillings and tokens the circulating medium of Great Britain has no intrinsic value, that is no value as material; but its value as money is real and could not be replaced but by an equivalent real value. The value of this paper money compared with the value of other articles is no longer liable to very great variations, a proof that the bank of England keeps up the issue of its notes in the same proportion, according to the wants of circulation. If the bank should reduce the amount of its notes in circulation, which might easily be accomplished by calling in , some of the notes due, and discounting no new ones, and if at the same time a law were passed limiting the amount of the issues of the provincial banks, it is probable that bank notes would soon be at par; that is with a note of
one pound sterling one might buy a pound sterling in gold or silver of the quantity and weight prescribed by law. I say that bank notes would be at par owing to the indispensable necessity, in a complicated social state in which an immensity of business is transacted, of the commodity called money, be its form and substance what they may. The question of discredit has nothing to do with all this, because the want of money greatly outweighs the bad opinion which may be entertained of the bank notes; and, indeed, in a country where there is no specie, what can be done by the man the most cautious in his dealings, but to keep in his hands, as short a time as possible, the money in which he places no confidence? This is what all do. This is even the case with specie when a man does not choose to lose the interest. But let the British do their best, let them rid themselves as soon as possible of the notes which come into their hands, let them employ what expedients they may to economise the use of notes, still it is not less certain that in the present state of things, England cannot do with less than about 62 millions sterling of paper money at the rate of its actual value;—that if its nominal value should be diminished by one fourth, (i. e.) if instead of 62 millions in circulation, there should be only 46 or 47 millions, the venal value of these 47 millions would increase, and could purchase as many goods as are now to be bought for 62 millions. It is then the quantity of the notes and not discredit which has an influence upon their value. The discredit, whatever it may be, has not the least influence upon that value; a result founded upon facts, very different, it seems to me, from the common opinion, and which ought to have a great weight in determining the idea to be entertained with respect to the paper money of England, to the means proposed for its discharge, and to the fears which the suspension of specie payments may occasion. If I were asked at what time I believe that the bank of England will pay its notes at sight, I should answer—I know nothing about it, but that my opinion, if I could give one, would be of no kind of importance. And indeed when money of any sort is used by people so cautiously that it is evident no confidence is placed in it, it matters not what it consists of; it is the same as if I were asked, when will a gold coin be substituted for a silver coin. These phenomena of money entirely new throw great light on its general theory, and will produce in the sequel some very extraordinary data. There is another topic which is not as intimately connected with our purpose, but upon which it seems to me that public opinion requires to be enlightened. It is the power which it is supposed Iongland derives from her colonies, and principally from India, the quarter where a company of British merchants possesses an extent of territory more vast than the three kingdoms, and reigns over forty millions of subjects. The English cannot draw wealth from India but as sovereigns or as merchants. They can bring thence nothing but the amount of taxes laid upon the people, or profits upon the goods sent there.
Let us see what amount of taxes they receive as sovereigns.
We find in Colquhoun that the several governments of India yield a gross revenue of eighteen millions, fifty-one thousand four hundred and seventy-eight pounds sterling.
The expenses of administration and defence, according to the same writer, amount L. to - - - 16,984,271
But we must add to this, the expenses for keeping up and repairing the establishments of the company in India and in Europe, and those of the factories of Canton, in China - 355,067 And besides this, the interest of the debt of the company, which is not less than forty-six millions, and which originated in the expenses and losses which it met with in establishing its sovereignty 1,691,363 Total of the expenses T
of the company - 19,030,701
Thus it appears, that the expenses, of the company exceed its revenues, by a sum of 979,223 pounds sterling. It is then a sojoigny more onerous than useul.
As a company of merchants, let us enquire what their profits may be. Upon an average of four years, from 1807 to
1810, the profits made L. by the company, were, 1,728,958
Out of which
36,226 There remains clear profit L.713,509
These profits for a company which has a capital of six millions sterling, and debts to the amount of 46 millions, are certainly not very considerable. Still they appear to be exaggerated. They are the result of the average profits of four years, which appear to have been more productive than the others. Several respectable writers affirm that the stockholders of the East India company do not gain as merchants what they lose as sovereigns; and this result seems confirmed by the loans which the company has often been obliged to negotiate, in order to afford a dividend to its stockholders. What are we to think of a company which borrows in order to make dividends! Nevertheless the partisans of the East India company maintain, that even admitting the East India
company to be losers, still the company is useful to England. They say that a very considerable part of its expenses in India goes to the enrichment of the civil and military officers employed by the company. I agree to this. But the greatest part of these salaries are for services performed in India. These salaries are spent there, and add nothing to the power of the British nation in Europe. They say that the British goods to which the India trade affords a market, bring profit to England. I agree to this likewise. But if the capital and the industry of the British were not applied to the supply of the East Indies, they might be applied to other objects; and what could prevent the British from trading with India, and from selling there nearly the same articles which they now do, if they were not its sovereigns. This circumstance does not enable the people of India to buy what they can not pay for, or what does not suit their habits and manners; and if offered what suits them, they would be willing enough to buy it, although they might not be the subjects of the East India company. We must not, either, make too high an estimate of the British goods which find a market in the East Indies. Every one knows that the countries of the East value specie more than the goods of of Europe. I find that in the space of six years from 1803 to 1808, the exportations of England to the East Indies amounted to a total sum of 16,306,825 pounds sterling, out of which 6,286,344 were exported in specie, which leaves for the exportations in goods, 10,020,4811., and exhibits, upon an average, for every year an
exportation in goods of 1,670,080l. This, then, is the full amount of the so much boasted encouragements, afforded by the East Indies to British industry, which encouragements would be the same, if Hindostan now were, as it will be sooner or later, an independent state. It is a fact acknowledged by every body that independent America is much more profitable to England, than when a colony. But this presupposes a time of peace, and accordingly nothing can be more impolitic on the part of the British cabinet, than the quasi war which they carry on constantly against the United States, and which must always end in open hostilities. The privilege of the East India company, which includes the faculty of exercising under certain conditions a political sovereignty over the countries which have been conquered at their expense, or acquired in virtue of the treaties which they have concluded, and of enjoying in certain respects, the commerce of the East Indies, this privilege, I say, has been renewed several times, and as, in proportion as nations become more enlightened, they are more sensible of the advantages which result from liberality of principles, at each renewal of the privilege, the fate of the Bri. tish subjects in India has been ameliorated, and a greater freedom allowed to commerce. For the most part, what has been said of the British colonies in India, applies to the other British colonies, with this difference, however, that government, which exercises the sovereignty in the latter, but is not engaged in commerce, is not compensated by commercial benefits for the losses which it ex
periences as a sovereign. The old colonial system will fall universally in the course of the nineteenth century. Nations will give up the ridiculous pretensions of administering countries situate at a distance of two, three, six thousand leagues, and when these countries shall have become independent, a profitable commerce may be carried on with them. There will be a saving of a multitude of military and maritime establishments, that resemble expensive props applied to support an edifice which is crumbling into ruins. Such is, at least in its principal points of view, the situation to which the events of our days have reduced Great Britain. Conceive a great land owner, prodigiously active and industrious, who from his lands and the manufactures he had established, could make every year 170 thousand francs, but who has had the misfortune of marrying a spendthrift wife who actually squanders 260 thousand; in such sort that this poor husband, notwithstanding all his genius and his intense labour, is compelled to borrow every year 90 thousand francs to face his expenses. This is the case of England. I have only suppressed four zeros. But it will be said that the money lent to the British government is lent by British subjects. Is the burthen of the debt the less oppressive on that account? In such a situation of things there are but two alternatives. The one is to continue to borrow. But the power of borrowing depends on that of paying interest; and already, notwithstanding all the resources of fiscal genius, it is not without the utmost difficulty that the British government can afford
to pay the present interest of its debt, and this interest is increasing every year. The other alternative is to quit, under some pretence, or other, paying the interest at all, to enact a bankruptcy more or less imperfectly disguised. But then there must be an end to the faculty of borrowing in order to cover the annual deficit, and the whole of the political system must give way from the moment thre government has become unequal to the expense by which it is supported. There is still a third expedient, to wit, a diminution of the expenses of government; and with a view to such diminution, Great Britain must desist from embroiling Asia, America, and Europe. But this is the course least likely to be adopted. I believe that I have neither disguised nor exaggerated the difficultics in which Great Britain is involved, for I feel myself free from all prejudice. I wish well to the British nation, not less so
than I do to France, and to every other country. The prosperity of one country, far from being incompatible with the prosperity of another, as men are too apt to believe, is, on the contrary, favourable.
It is my design to record some curious facts, and great experiments in political economy, because these experiments occur but seldom, and cost immensely dear. They may, perhaps, suggest some useful reflections to well informed and well disposed men. Events merely succeed each other in the opinion of the common run of men. In the opinion of a reflecting mind, events are concatenated, and dependent upon each other. At times, the thinking man may perceive some of the links which connect the present with the future. He then knows of futurity, as much as it is given to men to know, since fortune-tellers, and judicial astrology, have gone out of fashion.