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cent. interest. It is the old story of the tailor who calls with his little account, and draws on his insolvent debtor at ninety days. If the insolvent debtor be not utterly gone as regards solvency he will take up the bill when due, even though he may not be able to pay a simple debt. But then, if he be utterly insolvent, he can do neither the one vor the other! The Secretary of the Treasury, when he asked for permission to accept these bills,-or to issue these certificates, as he calls them,-acknowledged to pressing debts of over five millions sterling which he could not pay; and to further debts of eight millions which he could not pay, but which he termed floating ;-debts, if I understand him, which were not as yet quite pressing. Now I imagine that to be a lamentable condition for any Chancellor I of an Exchequer,--especially as a confession is at the same time made that no advantageous borrowing is to be done under the existing circumstances. When a Chancellor of the Exchequer confesses that he cannot borrow on advantageous terms, the terms within his reach must be very bad indeed. This position is indeed a sad one, and at any rate justifies me in stating that the immediate want of funds is severely felt.
But the very arguments which have been used to prove that the country will be ultimately crushed by the debt, are those which I should use to prove that it will not be crushed. A comparison has more than once been made between the manner in which our debt was made, and that in which the debt of the United States is now being created; and the great point raised in our favour is, that while we were borrowing money we were also taxing ourselves, and that we raised as much by taxes as we did by loans. But it is too early in the day to deny to the Americans the credit which we thus take to ourselves. We were a tax-paying nation when we commenced those wars which made our great loans necessary, and only went on in that practice which was habitual to us. I do not think that the Americans could have taxed themselves with greater alacrity than they have shown. Let us wait, at any rate, till they shall have had time for the operation, before we blame them for not making it. It is then argued that we in England did not borrow nearly so fast as they have borrowed in the States. That is true. But it must be remembered that the dimensions and proportions of wars now are infinitely greater than they were when we began to borrow. Does any one imagine that we would not have borrowed faster, if by faster borrowing we could have closed the war more speedily? Things go faster now than they did then. Borrowing for the sake of a war may be a bad thing to do,-as also it may be a good thing; but if it be done at all, it should be so done as to bring the war to the end with what greatest despatch may be possible.
The only fair comparison, as it seems to me, which can be drawn between the two countries with reference to their debts, and the condition of each under its debt, should be made to depend on the amount of the debt and probable ability of the country to bear that burden. The amount of the debt must be calculated by the interest payable on it, rather than by the figures representing the actual sum due. If we debit the United States Government with seven per cent. on all the money borrowed by them, and presume that amount to have reached in July, 1863, the sum named by Mr. Spaulding, they will then have loaded themselves with an annual charge of 16,800,0001. sterling. It will have been an immense achievement to have accomplished in so short a time, but it will by no means equal the annual sum with which we are charged. And, moreover, the comparison will have been made in a manner that is hardly fair to the Americans. We pay. our creditors three per cent. now that we have arranged our affairs, and have settled down into the respectable position of an old gentleman whose estates, though deeply mortgaged, are not overmortgaged. But we did not get our money at three per cent. while our wars were on hand, and there yet existed some doubt as to the manner in which they might be terminated.
This attempt, however, at guessing what may be the probable amount of the debt at the close of the war is absolutely futile. No one can as yet conjecture when the war may be over, or what collateral expenses may attend its close. be the case that the government in fixing some boundary between the future United States and the future southern Confederacy, will be called on to advance a very large sum of money as compensation for slaves who shall have been liberated in the border States, or have been swept down south into the cotton regions with the retreating hordes of the southern army. The total of the bill cannot be reckoned up while the work is still unfinished. But, after all, that question as to the amount of the bill is not to us the question of the greatest interest. Whether the debt shall amount to two, or three, or even to four hundred millions sterling,—whether it remain fixed at its present modest dimensions, or swell itself out to the magnificent proportions of our British debt,—will the resources of the country enable it to bear such a burden ? Will it be found
It may that the Americans share with us that elastic power
of endurance which has enabled us to bear a weight that would have ruined any other people of the same number? Have they the thews and muscles, the energy and endurance, the power of carrying which we possess? They have got our blood in their veins, and have these qualities gone with the blood ? It is of little avail either to us or to the truth that we can show some difference between our position and their position which may seem to be in our favour. They, doubtless, could show other points of difference on the other side. With us, in the early years of this century, it was a contest for life and death, in which we could not stop to count the cost,-in which we believed that we were fighting for all that we cared to call our own, and in which we were resolved that we would not be beaten, as long as we had a man to fight and a guinea to spend. Fighting in this mind we won. Had we fought in any other mind, I think I may say that we should not have won. To the Americans of the northern States this also is a contest for life and death. I will not here stay to argue whether this need have been so. I think they are right; but this at least must be accorded to them--that having gone into this matter of civil war, it behoves them to finish it with credit to themselves. There are many Englishmen who think that we were wrong to undertake the French war; but there is, I take it, no Englishman who thinks that we ought to have allowed ourselves to be beaten when we had undertaken it. To the Americans it is now a contest of life and death. They also cannot stop to count the cost. They also will go on as long as they have a dollar to spend or a man to fight.
It appears that we were paying fourteen millions a year interest on our national debt in the year 1796. I take this statement from an article in “The Times,' in which the question of the finances of the United States is handled. But our population in 1796 was only sixteen millions. I estimate the population of the northern section of the United States, as the States will be after the war, at twenty-two millions. In the article alluded to these northern Americans are now stated to be twenty millions. If then we, in 1796, could pay fourteen millions a year with a population of sixteen millions, the United States, with a population of twenty or twenty-two millions, will be able to pay the sixteen or seventeen millions sterling of interest which will become due from them,-if their circumstances of payment are as good as were ours. They can do that and more than that if they have the same means per man as we had. And as the means per man resolves itself at last into the labour per man,
may be said that they can pay what we could pay, if they can and will work as hard as we could and did work. That which did not crush us will not crush them, if their future energy be equal to our past energy.
And on this question of energy I think that there is no need for doubt. Taking man for man and million for million, the Americans are equal to the English in intellect and industry. They create wealth at any rate as fast as we have done. They develop their resources, and open out the currents of trade, with an energy equal to our own. They are always at work, improving, utilizing, and creating. Austria, as I take it, is succumbing to monetary difficulties, not because she has been extravagant, but because she has been slow at progress ;-because it has been the work of her rulers to repress rather than encourage the energies of her people; because she does not improve, utilize, and create. England has mastered her monetary difficulties, because the genius of her government and her people has been exactly opposite to the genius of Austria. And the States of America will master their money difficulties, because they are born of England, and are not born of Austria. What! Shall our eldest child become bankrupt in its first trade difficulty; be utterly ruined by its first little commercial embarrassment? The child bears much too strong a resemblance to its parent for me to think so.
THE POST-OFFICE. Any Englishman or Frenchman residing in the American States cannot fail to be struck with the inferiority of the Postoffice arrangements in that country to those by which they are accommodated in their own country. I have not been a resident in the States, and as a traveller might probably have passed the subject without special remark, were it not that the service of the Post-office has been my own profession for many years. I could therefore hardly fail to observe things which to another man would have been of no material moment. At first I was inclined to lean heavily in my judgment upon the deficiencies of a department which must be of primary importance to a commercial nation. It seemed that among a people so intelligent, and so quick in all enterprises of trade, a well-arranged Post-office would have been held to be absolutely necessary,
and that all difficulties would have been made to succumb in their efforts to put that establishment, if no other, upon a proper footing. But as I looked into the matter, and in becoming acquainted with the circumstances of the Post-office learned the extent of the difficulties absolutely existing, I began to think that a very great deal had been done, and that the fault, as to that which had been left undone, rested, not with the Post-office officials, but was attributable partly to political causes altogether outside the Post-office, and partly, perhaps chiefly,--to the nature of the country itself.
It is, I think, undoubtedly true that the amount of accommodation given by the Post-office of the States is small, pared with that afforded in some other countries, and that that accommodation is lessened by delays and uncertainty. The point which first struck me was the inconvenient hours at which mails were brought in and despatched. Here, in England, it is the object of our Post-office to carry the bulk of our letters at night; to deliver them as early as possible in the morning, and to collect them and take them away for despatch as late as may be in the day;--so that the merchant may receive his letters before the beginning of his day's business, and despatch them after its close. The bulk of our letters is handled in this manner, and the advantage of such an arrangement is manifest. But it seemed that in the States no such practice prevailed. Letters arrived at any hour in the day miscellaneously, and were despatched at any hour, and I found that the postmaster at one town could never tell me with certainty when letters would arrive at another. If the towns were distant, I would be told that the conveyance might take about two or three days; if they were near, that my letter would get to hand,
some time to-morrow. I ascertained, moreover, by painful experience that the whole of a mail would not always go forward by the first despatch. As regarded myself this had reference chiefly to English letters and newspapers.—“Only a part of the mail has come,” the clerk would tell me.
With us the owners of that part which did not “come,” would consider themselves greatly aggrieved and make loud complaint. But, in the States, complaints made against official departments are held to be of little moment.
Letters also in the States are subject to great delays by irregularities on railways. One train does not hit the town of its destination before another train, to which it is nominally fitted, has been started on its journey. The mail trains are not bound to wait; and thus, in the large cities, far distant