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straints upon industry, which, as the legislature has imposed them, so the legislature must remove them, by a cautious and careful enquiry into the operation of such restraints, and by repealing or diminishing them wherever it is practicable, which in most cases it will be found to be.
In war or peace,
or peace, and under every administration, whether tory or whig, our national industry has extended itself wherever it has not been checked or controlled by legislative provisions. This is a melancholy reflection, very humiliating to public men.* The business of government, or the science of legislation, is no light matter. It requires the cultivation of mind, the acquisition of knowledge, and the exercise of patient and diligent enquiry, inducive of habits of attention and application in youth, in order to qualify man to grasp principle, and to
* “ In retirement,” said a public man of no mean attainments, “ I became sensible that, when in place, I had been “ deficient in almost every thing but diligence." - Huskisson on the Bullion Question, 1809.
master practice in its details, as he advances in life. But are the modes of teaching, the matters taught, the moral discipline and habits acquired at our schools and universities, conducive to those attainments ?
In every session of Parliament, facts of the most useful kind are embodied in reports and accounts laid upon its tables, which seem to be thus loaded for no other purpose but to rise up in evidence against the negligence of those for
* This is not the first time the question has been put. In an essay in a little book, published seven years ago, (The Influence of Interest and Prejudice on Proceedings in Parliament;) after remarking upon the prejudice which excluded our great schools and universities by name, with
school that had a special visitor, from the enquiry concerning charities, I suggested, that the heads of those foundations should themselves be required to report upon them. This may be done by a royal sign manual ; or, if a royal commission "to special commissioners shall be deemed more advisable, such commission may be issued, as it has been issued in the case of Scotland : it is much more necessary in England. Let not the heads of our schools or colleges be startled; no harm is intended, or will be done, to them : but the wellbeing of the state requires that our youth should be well tutored, and wholesomely nurtured. Reports, however, are made in vain, if no use is to be made of their contents. The
powers of the current commissioners upon charities should be enlarged. They should be enabled to appoint managers,
manager's have lapsed, or even to correct abuses, where these can be immediately corrected, subject to special reports to Parliament in this behalf, that their acts may be forthwith corrected, if they appear wrong.
whose use these facts are collected. With the facilities afforded in the titles and contents delivered to them, it should be the business of every member of Parliament to have his sessional papers bound regularly in volumes; and, before he places them on the shelves of his library, to peruse every volume, and mark in it what he may deem useful. What would be the consequence, if the judges of the land did not “ read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” the acts of the session ? Would not such acts be badly executed, or altogether neglected ? But are they not often badly made, from the failure to read and understand the documents upon which they proceed? and, if these were read and understood, would not many laws that are made, never be made at all ?
Is it possible to attend to the facts disclosed in these pages without making these reflections ? Seeing our shipping has increased with the removal of restraints, and our foreign trade with the absence of restraints, can we believe that our home industry would not have increased also, but for the presence of restraints ? Can assent be refused to the consequences arising from the exclusive privilege of the Bank of England? When a rise in the exchangeable value of money is going on, are the Directors of that bank, who are ignorant of its operation, and
could not stay its course if they were aware of it, to be allowed to increase the mischiefs of its consequences, and to derange the general industry of the country? Are the evils of monopoly to be continued in an exclusive privilege, the most extensive in its operation of all monopolies, to the insecurity and uncertainty of all transactions ? Are the restraints arising from a dear currency to be continued, and the benefits of a cheap currency to be withheld from the country, in ignorance of the nature of coin, bills of exchange, and bankers' notes ? Are the products of industry to be limited by such restraints throughout the country? With the increasing demand of an increasing population for food, could the most important branch of industry of all have declined, and continue to decline, unless by reason of the restraints imposed upon it since 1815? Is land to be suffered to continue to be unproductive, and our agricultural labourers to be thrown out of employment, through the operation of the corn laws ? Is our population to be unwholesomely increased, and the morals as well as industry of our labouring poor to continue to be destroyed, by abuses in the administration of the poor laws ? And, in raising a necessary revenue for the state, are we not to raise it in the manner which shall press the least upon the general industry of the
country ? Amidst all our boasted love and cry for liberty, is the freedom of industry, of all kinds of freedom the most important, neither to be understood nor attended to ?
Ministers, legislators old and new, men of all parties, I call upon you not to take my positions for granted, but to enquire patiently and diligently, as I have done, in order to ascertain results by the evidence of facts, and then deny, if
you can, the conclusions I have arrived at. If I am wrong as to the causes of our distress, find out what those causes are. Are we to have enquiries about West India distress reiterated and renewed; and are we to have no enquiry into the causes of British distress? Can the latter have proceeded without a cause, or is it less deserving of inquiry, or less capable of being ascertained, than the former ?
Let an unrestrained impulse be given to general industry, by withholding from the Bank of England the renewal of its exclusive privilege, and by the issue of small notes, with our present standard ; or by the rejection of a standard of gold, and the adoption of a standard of silver. Let capital be enabled to return to the cultivation of the soil, by restoring to the home grower the advantages of the increasing demand of our increasing population for food, which he enjoyed previous to 1815, but which have been trans