Obrázky stránek
[ocr errors]

all restraints on usury. What follow- laws be wholly abolished. Those who ed? The consequences were so fatal, borrow on mortgage, or personal secu. that twenty-three days afterwards, rity, at a higher rate than 5 per cent, the enlightened measure was revoked. will be compelled to pay the interest From this example our Turgots and constantly in advance : and they will their followers will draw no instruc be deprived of all indulgence in retion.

spect of time. The lenders will not • But then Mr Thompson, in com- be able to give them much indulgence; passion to his illiberal and bigoted without losing the power of recovering opponents, does not ask for the total the rate agreed on by law. Here again abolition of the Usury Laws, although the borrowers are placed in a much he is exceedingly anxious for it. He worse situation, than they would be still will not suffer the usurers to obin in should the laws be wholly abolish tain more than 5 per cent by law, not ed. It is absurd to suppose that lendo withstanding that he suffers them to ers will lend to borrowers on terms, obtain any rate they please without itwhich the latter, after they have had If the House of Commons adopt his the use of the money, may pay or not; measures, we trust it will scoff no as they think proper; and it is wicked more at the ignorance and barbarism to give to men the power of violating of former ages. To declare that men solemn engagements, by which they have a clear right to do a thing, and obtain the money of others. But, then to incapacitate them for exerci. however, the lender in many cases sing this right by law+to declare con could recover usurious interest by law tracts to be just and necessary, and in one way, if he could not in another. then to prohibit the law from being He could arrest, or foreclose, for his called on to enforce their fulfilment principal; and this would be sufficient to encourage men by law to violate for obtaining any interest he might their agreements, to borrow money claim, provided he would let the prima on false pretences, and to vest money cipal remain. If it be right for bork on promises made only to be broken rowers to covenant to pay, and to pay to make the law the source of lying voluntarily, more than 5 per cent, it and cheating to proclaim that a prin- must be equally right to place them ciple is wholly at variance with know under legal compulsion to pay more ledge, right, justice, and the publie when they agree to do it: In genero weal, and then to fashion it into a sity to them, let the Usury Laws be negative law-all this forms such a abolished wholly, rather than to the specimen of barbarous, blind, childish extent contemplated by Mr Thompignorance and folly, as never disgraced son. any former Parliament.

And now when the repeal of the Now, what will be the real effect of Usury Laws will manifestly produce this reservation ? To a great extent such gigantic evils, what do the usu. in the discounting of bills, the dis rers promise as countervailing benefits? count is deducted when the money is Assuming that all they promise will be advanced ; the borrower here pays the realized, do they offer anything worio interést before he is suffered to touch thy of being put into the balance the principal; in truth, the former against these evils ?: Do they prove never comes into his hands; therefore that the repeal will, in general, make it makes not the least difference to him, loans more plentiful to all classes, or whether the laws be wholly abolished, any class, of borrowers? They canor be thus far spared. If the Banks not; for the common complaint is, that grant discounts and loans at a higher under the laws, lending even to the rate than 5 per cent to those who keep poorer borrowers is carried to excess. accounts with them, they will, instead They admit,they even make an ar of giving credit for the interest to the gument of the admission--that during end of the half year, or year, exact it peace the laws place no restraiut what at the moment when they advance the ever upon the mass of borrowers of all money. If they lend to chance cus classes, except for a few months occatomers, they will have the interest in sionally.. They here stand on the exadvance, instead of giving credit for it ception to the general rule. They do until the time for receiving back the not plead that even in these few principal. Here Mr Thompson's boon months the repeal will benefit borrowplaces the borrowers in a worse situa- ers in general; they only aver that it tion than they would be in, should the will benefit a comparatively small


[ocr errors]

number of individuals. Here again According; therefore, to the confese they stand on the exception to the sion of the usurers, laws ought to be rule. They do not assert that during destroyed, which are only injurious in war the laws injure borrowers in ge- the exception and the special case. On neral ; they merely maintain that they the ground that the exception and the injure an insignificant portion of them. special case should be followed instead Again they stand on the exception to of the general rule, eternity should be the rule. Do they prove that the laws disregarded for the sake of the passing prevent lenders from making just and moment, the body should be sacrifi, equitable profits? They cannot, for ced to the individual, and the sepait is notorious that no regular trade rate and collective interests of the com will afford more than 5 per cent formunity should be made subservient to borrowed money: we doubt whether abstract principle. at present any such trade will fairly This forms the general ground of afford 5 per cent; land will never af fashionable legislation, and one of its ford more than 3 or 4. per cent; farm- most baleful characteristics is, its evils ing, when times are good, will scarceo fall the most heavily on the lower ly afford 5 per cent, and in these days and middle classes. All the new laws we fear it will not afford anything. It made, or projected, touching trade, is manifest that if the lenders could currency, pauperism, &c., are calcuobtain more than the legał rate, they lated to injure these classes far more would deprive the borrowers of their in proportion than the higher ones. just and equitable profits : it would One takes away businessmanother dem be the gain of the few, to the loss of stroys employment a third annihi. the many. The usurers cannot say lates capital--a fourth cuts down wa. that business in general will afford ges-and a fifth seizes the means of more than 5 per cent ; and they can subsistence in distress; all operate only aver that occasional speculations harmoniously to second each other, will. Again they stand on the ex- and to enable one to destroy, what ception, and a very indefensible one, another may overlook or be unable to to the rule. They own that in gene- reach. The repeal of the Usury Laws ral during peace, the lenders cannot will benefit largely a part of the rich, obtain the legal rate, and they cannot while it will do comparatively small deny that if the latter could always injury to the remainder; but it will obtain a higher rate, it would be ex. injure the rest of the community in tremely injurious to the mass of the proportion to their want of riches, community and the interests of the and it will have the most pestilential empire. They cannot prove that in effects on the interests of the most times of trading distress, the mer- needy. It is a measure to sacrifice the chants and manufacturers can afford body of the population, to a few indi, to pay more than 5 per cent; or that in viduals. time of war the mortgage borrowers

Before this article will see the can afford to pay more ; on the con- light, the question, as far as appear. trary, it is notorious to all, that if in ances go, will be decided in the House either case more be paid, it is paid, of Commons; and we think it will be not out of profits, but out of capital ; decided as we have described. How it is at the best, the incurring of one it will fare in the House of Lords, is loss, to avoid another. The whole a matter on which we will offer no con. they promise in the way of benefit is jecture. This House may, like the in reality this-In general none shall Lower One, rush to the most perilous be benefitted ; occasionally a few shall conclusions, on no better evidence be benefitted, by being allowed to than erring abstract propositions ; it choose one loss instead of another, at may, like the literary teachers of the the risk of grievously injuring the Lower One, decide measures to be wise many. A little litigation shall be pre- and necessary, merely because they vented, a little expense shall be saved, emanate from this individual or that a few bankruptcies shall be avoided, party, or one dubbed with this or that certain estates shall be preserved from gorgeous party appellative; it may, in the hammer, and a small number of imitation of the great egotists of the money lenders shall be permitted to age, pronounce laws to be pernicious, make large profits, no matter what because they have been longer than evils it may bring on the community five years in existence, and have never and the empire.

been sanctioned by those whose legis


[ocr errors]

·lation has filled the empire with evils : menials; our limbs were not made for mit may do all this, but we hope it fetters, and we neither have had nor will do something far more consistent will have cause to regret it; we are with justice and wisdom. We hope it sure we shall render far more service to will decide at once, that no case that both by steadily opposing them when not the shadow of a case has been they do what is calculated to work produced to justify the repeal; and their own injury, than by daubing all that reason and experience are wholly their measures with panegyric. It has in favour of the Ūsury Laws. If it been most truly said, that the Duke will not do this, we hope that, at the enjoys a greater share of public confiJeast, it will institute an inquiry alto dence than any other Minister has ena gether different from that of 1818. joyed since the days of Mr Pitt. Does Parliamentary inquiries, when proper. he know why the country reposes this ly conducted, yield vast benefits; but confidence in him ? Is it on account when improperly conducted, they yield of his splendid military talents and only delusion and evil. It has been ase services No! Is it on account of serted, that of the twenty-one witness- his past political labours ? No, he es, who were examined touching the never before was placed in a situation Usury Laws, by the committee in to acquire fame as a statesman. It is 1818, two were lawyers, nine were at- because the country HOPES that he torneys, six were merchants, and one will employ his great powers in the was a stockjobber. Now, in the name right manner-it is because the counof common sense, ought the evidence try believes him to be a man of busiof witnesses like thesewitnesses ha- ness, a practical statesman-a Minisving, in their own estimation, a deep ter whose acute, solid, straight-forpersonal interest in the repeal-to de- ward understanding will terminate cide the question? They gave no in- that system of frantic quackery and formation touching several essential destructive experiment, from which it parts of the question, and on other has suffered so long and so deeply. On essential parts, they gave no inform this momentous point, let him not demation that was satisfactory. The ceive himself. If he continue this syscommittee acted, as Parliamentary tem, he will soon be as little confided committees too often act: it was led in by the country as any Minister ever by those whose object was, not to col- was, since the death of Mr Pitt. Proofs lect facts to enable them to make a just surround him in abundance. What decision, but to collect evidence to sup- stripped such a Ministry as the Liverport a decision which they had made pool one of public confidence in the previously. If the Lords find them- latter days of its existence, in spite of selves compelled to institute an en- nearly the whole Press ? What stripquiry, let it be a proper one; let it ped Mr Canning of public confidence embrace the interests of all classes of when he was made the Premier, in borrowers, and particularly of those spite of nearly the whole Press? Why which are the most numerous and va- was the Goderich Ministry shook to luable; and let it apply chiefly to facts, pieces by public contempt and deriwithout attaching too much importe sion, in spite of the chief part of the ance to individual opinions.

Press? And why has the retirement : We will conclude with saying a few of Mr Huskisson been made almost a words to the Duke of Wellington, matter of national rejoicing? The an. who, we think, is not publicly pledged swers to these questions are pregnant against the Usury Laws : they flow with instruction to his Grace, of ines. from that spirit which prompted us, timable value ; and he may find in not many months ago, on more than them what his duty is, touching the one occasion, to employ our pen in his Usury Laws. They may suggest to favour. We are the friends of him him that this duty is and his Ministry, but we are not their TO DECLARE THAT HE WILL NOT COUNTENANCE SPECULATIVE CHANGES WHICH ARE NOT CALLED FOR BY PUBLIC NECESSITY; AND THAT NO EVIDENCE EXISTS TO PROVE THAT SUCH A CHANGE OUGHT TO BE MADE IN THESE LAWS AS WOULD IN THE FIRST MOMENT OF ITS OPERATION DERANGE AND EMBARRASS AGRICULTURE, MANUFACTURES, COMMERCE, AND DOMESTIC TRADE-ADD LARGELY TO THE SUFFERING WHICH ALREADY EXISTS AMIDST THEM-AND, IN ALL PROBABILITY, PRODUCE A MORE TERRIBLE FIT OF RUIN AND DISTRESS THAN THAT OF 1825, AND THE FOLLOWING YEAR.


of obtaining emancipation, as that of I am going to say something new endeavouring to deserve it. They will upon the Catholic Question. Nay, terrify the English nation into subsuppress that incredulous laugh, my mission; and, with shame be it said, worthy friend; I am very serious, Í they find people in the British Senate assure you : I love a joke as well as with folly sufficiently monstrous to most people, but I can be serious too echo this sentiment. How miserably upon awful occasions. I think I would short-sighted is this policy. How inhave been serious in contemplating the adequately, how falsely do they judge ruins of what had been London, just of the English nation, who suppose it after the great fire in the year sixteen is to be bullied, or to be frightened, hundred and something, and I am into anything. We were not frightsure I am serious after reading three ened when all Europe stood in arms long long nights' debate upon the Ca- against us, led on by the unquenchtholic Question. I well know what a able hatred, and lofty abilities of Botedious tough subject I have got to naparte; and shall we give way to the deal with—'tis like a piece of Indian menaces of the Irish Papists ? rubber, and drag it out to what length “Oh,” but say the Catholic advo, you may, even to the length of three cates in general, and the Times news nights' debate, the moment it slips paper in particular,

- this is all very from your fingers, slap it goes back fine talk; you may pretend to be of again to its old place and dimensions. fended at intimidation, but we say the I do not mean, however, to grapple enemy is at the gate, and however gallwith the great question upon its own ing it may be to your pride, you must merits, if any it have ; but I have yield to their menaces, or they will something to say about the three nights' compel you after a fashion, to you debate, which hath not before been still more humiliating." Good God! said or sung; and in the course of my is it not enough to rouse the anger, brief remarks, I hope to expose some the loud determined opposition of of the fallacies which are but too com- every English heart, to hear such a monly attendant upon the considera- falsehood as this put forth in order to tion of the Roman Catholic claims. influence his vote, Falsehood! I wish

The first thing that strikes me, I could find a stronger word. It is from a view of the debate, is that impossible to conceive anything more this question is considered and argued false. There is no enemy, nor numa throughout as an Irish question. This ber of enemies, in Ireland or elsewhere, is perhaps natural enough, from the that England is not able to meet and very important share which Ireland to defeat, if they attempt to force her has in it; but still I cannot help to do that which she is unwilling to thinking it rather hard on the English yield. The Irish Papists force EngRoman Catholics, that their claims land! Ridiculous !- But I return to should be lost sight of in the wide the

debate. and boisterous sea of Irish politics ;- The Catholic advocates rested their first, because whatever has anything claims upon two grounds, that of the to do with Ireland is pretty sure to obligation of treaties, and that of ex« go wrong-the course of Irish affairs, pediency; which two were subdivided like that of love, never did run into,-claims founded on the Treaty smooth ;” and next, because the Eng- of Limeric, claims founded on the lish Roman Catholics are a much more pledges given at the Union, the experespectable, better-behaved class of diency of doing something to relieve subjects than are the Irish, and there the dreadful state of Ireland, and the fore more deserving of being favour- expediency of giving the Irish Roman ably regarded. This claim, by the by, Catholics what they asked, to prevent on the ground of good behaviour, them rising up, and taking it by vioseems to be entirely lost sight of by lence. the Irish Catholics, or to be thrown The fate of the first two arguments by as a thing not worth regarding. was ridiculous enough, considering the No, no, they are an organized, pompous manner and the lengthy rent-paying, seditious-speech-making speech with which they were intropeople; quite above so homely a means duced. Sir Francis Burdett informed


his auditory that the case of the peti- of the men who could venture to bring tioners rested upon two grounds, the forward such arguments upon such a Treaty of Limeric, and the pledges subject. As to the treaty of Limeric, entered into at the Union. He assu. clear as the case is against the conred the honourable members, that he struction sought to be put upon it by should establish the violation of the Sir Francis and some of his friends, one and of the other; and on this yet he might perhaps have expected ground he called for their decision in that, from the remoteness of its date, his favour. Then he talks on for six he should be able, notwithstanding the columns good measure, addressing presence of Mr Peel and the Solicitore himself to these topics, and to these General, to make something of the topics only, and subjoins, that “this "ambiguities," as Mr Brougham was is the case on the part of the Roman pleased to call them, which must atCatholics, and he hopes and trusts tend the circumstances of a treaty he has made it out to the satisfaction made in a disturbed country nearly of the House. Such was the Quinbus 140 years ago. But to attempt to Flestrin of the Catholic claims which argue the House into what Mr Pitt's Sir Francis set up, adorning his cham- pledge was at the Union, while those pion with a curious quilted garmenty were still living and sitting in the composed of numerous irrelevant quo- House, who had heard Mr Pitt declare, tations, pedantically culled from all in words as plain as words could be, manner of Latin authors. But lo! on that no pledge at all was given-this, the third day of the debate we find him indeed, was a stretch of oratorical augenubus minor, down on his knees, dacity that Sir Francis and the Knight cheated of his fair proportions, biting of Kerry have some reason to take the dust, with North, and Huskisson, credit for. I shall pass over the inand Brougham, (et tu, Brute!) pelting decent-attack of Sir Francis upon the him into contempt and derision. Mr venerable ornamentof the Upper House North, while he takes up the helmet of Parliament, the late Lord Chancellor. of necessity, and the sword of expe- If he be not himself sorry and ashamed diency, hopes that the advocates of by this time that he was betrayed into this measure will never again found such indecency, Sir Francis is not the any argument upon such untenable man I took him for. With all the vio, footing as the Treaty of Limeric, or lence of his party spirit, I thought he the Articles of Union, and deeply de possessed some of the good feelings of plores that these shambling legs were the class to which he belongs, and as ever allowed to put their foot into the one of the landed gentlemen of Enga debate. Mr Huskisson most unkind- land, I believed him incapable of the ly protests that he agrees not in Sir low malignity which a deliberate apFrancis's view of these questions, but probation of his own language conin Mr Peel's, and the Solicitor-Gene cerning the late Lord Chancellor would ral's; but Winchelsea Harry gives the indicate. unkindest cut of all, by hastening to Another matter seemingly ratherout say, that though he still thinks there of the record, into which Sir Francis are perhaps some ambiguities, which thought proper to travel after the six might be favourably construed, he columns on the treaty and the pled will not drag back the honourable ges were got over, was the “ scandal members to the consideration of argu- about Queen Elizabeth ;" for if she ments, which are now below par on indeed had displayed any favour or every side of the House. Such was affection for the Roman Catholic body, the fate of this grand case, ushered in she would have shewn herself a very with so pompous an air of irrefragabi- foolish old woman, and not what she lity. These notable arguments, which most certainly was, one of the greatoccupied the attention

of the House of est sovereigns that ever a great people Commons of the United Kingdom for was blessed withal. How sickening the greater part of two nights' debate, it is to hear such stuff talked in the are on the third abandoned by all as House of Commons! Who does not too absurd and ridiculous to be worth know, that Elizabeth, (glory and hos any consideration in the question at nour to her memory,) after a long and issue.

patient endurance of Popish plots for Nor is there any wonder in this, her assassivation, for insurrection, and but rather in the extraordinary front invasion, was at length compelled to

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PředchozíPokračovat »