Oldalképek
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

whom I have read on the subject of French law-Par “ Have you turned to those particularly from the comdessus, Bavard Veyrières, and Monsieur Troplong, who mercial States of America--for instance, from New York is now a member of the Court of Cassation, and has and from Boston ?-Yes. written two volumes on the subject of partnership; they "Do you think that the answers which have been given all agree that it is most desirable, and that it acts as a have made any difference in the opinion of those for great encouragement to industry.

whose benefit they were sent ?-Undoubtedly. Do you think that such a law of limited liability, if * What effect has it worked upon the minds of those it were fenced round with the safegnards that have been entlemen to whom they were sent?-Upon several it spoken of, and which, although they do not prevail alto. has changed their views of the subject, and they are now gether in Irance, do prevail in the United States, and favourable to that principle of limited liability in partnerseveral states of the Continent, would be likely to open ships which, at first, they conceived to be wrong; but I' fresh and useful investments for the small capital of the would rather that gentlemen should express their own middle classes ?-I think one of its great recommenda- opinions than that I should endeavour to express them. tions is, that it will afford a safe and desirable mode of I will express my own opinion, but I hardly like to preinvestment of small sums.

sume to express theirs. "Do you not think that some such opportunity for the · Hope and Co. write:It cannot be said that the investment of limited liability would be useful to the failures of commandite partnerships are more frequent middle classes in local enterprises of various kinds, which than others, and they are not worse; the amount of the are called forth by the increase of population in towns, capital employed must be published.' Messi's. Sichel and and so on ?-I have no doubt that is one way in which Co. write :--Commandite partnerships are proved by exits capital wonld be very usefully employed.

perienco to be advantageous to the community, bat are "Such, for instance, as waterworks, gasworks, and subject to all the vicissitudes of commerce.' Messrs. public enterprises, promising to pay moderate profits; Mendelsohn, of Berlin, write :- These partnerships such as lodging-houses, washing houses, and others, that appear to be useful. There is no reason why the law persons have been desirous of having such means of in- should prevent a person taking a share in the gain and loss vestment, but have been deterred by the unlimited of business, instead of merely lending his capital.' Mr. liability which at present exists ?—I have no doubt at all S. Brown, of Boston, writes :- The commercial effect of that is one way in which the institution would show its these partnerships has been beneficial; great activity is utility. I have been reading very carefully Livingstone's hereby given to trade; failures are not more frequent Code of Louisiana, and I have observed that he does not or more disastrous than in other partnerships, nor have') think any limitation is at all necessary; he is one of the they been abused in periods of excitement; and under greatest jurists that ever lived.

the laws creating them they are not liable to more abuse i “Do you not think that some of the wild speculations than other forms of partnership.' in railways and other things arose in a great measuru · Do vou consider that the establishment of the law en from no safe investment being open to parties of the commandite in this country, guarded by restrictions against middle class, and that they were speeulations in which fraud, such as perhaps our sagacity might enable us to they were obliged to invest their savings because no add with those which have been found practically useful others were open to them?-I have no doubt at all that in America, would work well for the benefit of the middle

6 if, for instance, such partnerships as I have mentioned/classes in this country?- Most undoubtedly; it is in my were more common, railway speculation anong the middle opinion the grcatest boon within the power of the Legis.... classes would not have been carried to the extravagant lat:re to confer upon the industrious classes. extent to which it was carried."

"Do you think it would open a fair ground for investMr. Howell, in his evidence, says:

ments of sums of a medium nature, which now it is diffiIn consequence of commnunications with other gentle- cult to invest ? -Certainly. men interested in commercial matters, has the question " Do you think that persons of moderate capital, living referable to the policy of introducing limited liability, or either in country towns or commercial districts, would feel what are called partnerships en commandlite, been one glad to have an opportunity of investing, under the matter which has engaged your attention ?-Yes ? management of persons selected by themselves for their

“ In consequence of that division of opinion, were honesty and for their skill, inoderate sums in manuqueries circulated by your committee, and sent to differ- facturing, or commercial, or other enterprises ?-1 do ent places abroad, from whence they thought valuable think so. information might be elicited ?-Yes.

“Do you think that to persons of energy, industry, and it “ Is this the title of the report you have received, talent, but who have not capital at disposal, in many in

20 • Replies from foreign countries to questions relating to stances persons of capital cognizant of those qualities the Law of Debtor and Creditor, and to the Law of Part- would be willing to give encouragement and asssistance?

in nership, circulated by the committee of merchants and -Undoubtedly. tsaders of the city of London, appointed to promote the “By affording to them the means of capital, lent to improvement of the Law relating to Debtor and Cre. carry out those plans which they may have put before ditor ?'-Yes.

them ?--Certainly. “ In that work there is given, in the first page or two, · On the whole your opinion, after having looked at 11 an introduction, stating the mode in which the inquiry the subject with a good deal of attention, is, that it would in was carried on, signed, by order of the Committee,' by be beneficial ?-Decidedly. · W. Hawes, Chairman,' and countersigned by the Secre. " Is not the American evidence, in the great commertary. Then there is stated a list of the cities and towns cial cities of New York and Boston, favourablc to it?--'9 from which information has been obtained, and the names Highly so; and the testimony deserves special attention, is of the firms, and others who have kindly afforded it.' It The general opinion is, that they are as safe as other comprises Paris, Rouen, Lyons, Marseilles, Grenoble, partnerships. There is very little distinction drawn as to it Bordeaux, Besançon, Cambria, Antwerp, Brussels, Aix- their relative safety.". la-Chapelle, Basle, Berlin, Leipsic, Amsterdam, Rotter Mr. Commissioner Fane, in his evidence, states:dam, Hamburgh, Bremen, Trieste, Cadiz, Madrid, “ Do not you think that such a law would enable Oporto, Milan, Venice, Turin, Naples, Stockholm, Got parties of moderate capital, combined together, to carry tenburg. Russian Finland, New York, Boston, Baltimore, out coterprises which separately they cannot do ?—Cer-18 and Philadelphia ?-Precisely.

tainly. " The answers in favour of it appear to be from Hol “Do you not think that it would enable parties desirland, and from the commercial States of America ?-The ous to run a certain amount of risk, but not desirous to answers, I conceive, are generally favourable ?

go to the risk of their whole fortune, to advance moderate is

)

but you

Do

sums for the aid of enterprising men of good character?- “ You have stated that there has been a considerable I have no doubt of it. I am myself convinced that there number of partnerships of this nature lately in the large would not have been such masses of money sent to South towns ?-Yes, in the large towns. America immediately after the war was over if persons “Does it appear to work well ?-My own opinion is could have invested their money in enterprises in England that it does work well; and that the number of failures without incurring a risk of (to use Lord Eldon's phrase) | (I can hardly use the word “ bankruptcies” because it losing every shilling and every acre that they had in the has a technical meaning) under that law is much less world ; saving persons who had got something to dispose than among those who are doing business in the ordinary of, which was the result of their acumulations, and way. This opinion also is one gathered from hearsay. which they had no immediate means of investing in any • Are the shares in such undertakings held by persons enterprise under their own eye, did not know what to do of moderate means ?-They may be held by those persons. with their money, for the law of England said, that they “Do many of your skilled tradesmen hold shares in should not risk a portion of their fortune without risking such things ?-In those sort of corporations, in banks, and every farthing they had in the world ; and, in order to in railways, the subscriptions are opened at some place invest their money at what they considered an advantage, for anybody to subscribe, and very frequently three or they were not unwilling to throw it away in South four shares are taken up by a person at 100 dollars a share America, because they did not dare to risk it in England, | (that is, 201.,) so that they are quite within the reach of and I really believe that the millions that were sent to anybody. foreign states about that time were merely sent because * Do the more industrious of the working classes, who there was such a desire in this country for investing have got up a little capital, frequently invest their capital money in speculations; and the law of this country did in shares of this nature ?-I should say they did ; not permit a man to invest a small portion without risking will remember that the state of society is different in the whole.

America from what it is hero. “ With reference, for instance, to waterworks, gas- you think that the humbler classes having shares works, bridges, highways, ferries, and, now lately, in the works which go on in these various towns which lodging-houses and wash-houses, and any other public you have spoken of, gives them contentment?-1 can enterprises connected with the accommodation and im- hardly conceive of any other state of things in America. provement of our great towns springing up around 113, do We are all working people there, and it is impossible for you not think that if there had been facility for obtaining a gentleman who has not been there to comprehend the limited liability, there would have been investments by state of society. The differences in condition are much the middle classes in such undertakings, very usefully less marked than in Europe ; there is less accumulated made ?-I certainly believe so; I think that limited lia capital, and labour becomes capital more rapidly than in bility would have produced as bold enterprises in the an older country. casez to which you have alluded as limited liability has “In point of fact, the superior portion of the working produced in the case of railways; clubs I might mention classes who have accumulated a little capital do take as another instance, for in clubs there is limited liability; shares in the various enterprises which are carried on in every member contributes a small portion, and he risks the towns around them?—They do; if there is any one nothing more; the consequence is, that we live in thing that distinguishes the people in New England, it is palaces.

that nobody is contented with his present condition, and “Do not you think that, generally speaking, people that will account for a good many things which I cannot might be left to manage their own afinirs, and that they account for otherwise. Everybody is struggling for some. are usually prudent enough to see whether they aro pro- thing better.

erly managed or not ?- Certainly. I do not think the - Do not you consider that such a feeling is a stimulus Government is to act as a nurse or a guardian.

to enterprise and activity ?--Certainly. • You stated that you are of opinion that the law of · And that it is beneficial to the classes ainongst whom unlimited liability prevents ingenuity and ability, as he lives, much more than a man sitting down in apathy discovered by the humbler classes in various ways, being and doing nothing?-I certainly do; I have been brought carried out successfully?-I think so. " And that it therefore acts unjustly and unfairly to

lip amongst it."

I fear the reading evidence, though short in itself, is yards those classes ?-I think so.

tedious, or I could greatly multiply citations to the same Mr. Bancroft Davis, Seeretary to the American Lega-offect, and could add much more from other sources. tion, gave the following evidence :

I will, before I read the Report, only add, that in the "Do you not think that, in countries in which the law appendix, p. 159, will be found the following queries: of limited liability does prevail, people of the humbler * It has been proposed to limit the liability of partners classes have a better chance of bringing forward inge- to the amount of their respective subscriptions in certain nious inventions than in a country where such a law does companies or partnerships duly registered. not prevail ?-I do.

" It has been thought by some persons that such a “And that, therefore, in the United States, for in- measure, properly guarded by regulations to prevent fraud stance, where such a law prevails in the northern parts, and rash speculation, may assist useful investments for the the working classes of inventive minds have a better combination of capital of the middle olasses, and aid useful chance of advancing and improving their condition than local enterprises. they have in a country where it does not prevail ?-Yes. " It is proposed that this measure should not extend to

• The upshot of your evidence relative to these diffi- banking, insurance, or other employments for capital of a culties attending the decision of disputes between partners very speculative nature. appears to be, that it amounts to an absolute denial of

“Such partnerships of limited liability, under certain equity and justice to persons of that class who may wish rules, are established in France, Germany, Holland, and to associate together for such purposes ?-It is so, cer- the United States of America. tainly. It leaves them all at the mercy of each other. " Šo that, putting aside the question of limited liability, should be introduced here.

“It is desired by some parties that such partnerships the difficulty of settling disputes between partners by going to the Court of Chancery, is such as almost to deter any

“ Your opinion is requested on this subject, with such sane man from ever thinking of entering into partner- suggestions as you may think useful." ship? That is so as to large partnerships--partnerships The replies to these queries, with the exception of those of inany.

from Lord Brougham and Mr. B. Ker, were generally 4 Is not that injustice to the middle and humble favourable to limited liability of these I shall, howclasses ?-I say, great injustice."

ever, mention only three English testimonies.

[ocr errors]

1st.-Nr. Stuart Mill, whose name stands high, and " The Committee of last Session, on Investinents of the

whose works are quoted at home and abroad, the iniudle and working classes, partially investigated the Adam Smith of this day, leading statesmen and law-question now referred to your Committee, but gave no yers to improvement by reason.

opinion upon it. Their Report contained two recommen, 2nd.-Mr. Babbage, whose name is known and honoured dations of great consequence to large classes :

wherever science and scientific discoveries are prized. " 1st. That Charters of Limited Liability, for useful 3rd.-Mr. G. R. Porter, a lost lamented friend, secretary undertakings, should be granted by the Crown with due

to the Bard of Trade, well known to all, learned in caution, but at a far more reasonable cost.
coinmercial statistics, and author of the “ Progress of tho 2ndly. That where several industrio's men work to.
Nation";

gether, with a small capital, the law should provide a reand all these were strong in favour of limited liability. medy against fraud on the part of any dishonest partner, Some able foreigners, and other persons acquainted with and a summary mode of enforcing the rules agreed to for the working of the law abroad, speak to the same point. mutual governinent.

A letter from the Bengal Chainber of Commerce to the “ In entering more closely on the consideration of the chairman, strongly advocates the alteration of the law of subject referred to them, your Committee would adept & unlimited liability. I venture to read some extracts: few lines from a former Report, and say

“ Understanding that the law relating to the co-part ". That the great change in the social position of mulnerships is likely to be brought before Parliament during titudes, arising from the growth of large towns and crowded the present Session, and this Chamber being of opinion districts, renders it more necessary that corresponding that partnerships with limited responsibility would prove changes in the law should take place, both to improve of the greatest importance to this country, I am desired their condition and contentment, and to give additional. to communicate the sentiments of the Bengal Chamber of facilities to investments of the capital which their industry, Commerce regarding the same; and the Chamber will be and enterprize is constantly creating and augmenting.' glad if you can make them known in the proper quarter, " Your Committee would also add, in the words of and trusts it may calculate upon your influence in bringing their predecessors, • That they doubt not ultimate benefit about the desired change.

will enstie from any measures which the Legislature may * Now it is equally clear that the redundant riches of be enabled to devise for sinplifying the operation of the this magnificent country must remain as hitherto unde- law and unfettering the energies of trade. veloped, and a large amount of funds, but in many hands, Your Committee also desire to record their conviction, kept unemployed, without the aid of such associations ; that if it be desired to promote association among the because no in lividuals can command a sutficient amount humbler classes for objects of mutual benefit, no measure of capital for the purpose, or would be likely to direct it will tend more directly to this end than one which will to such ends if they could.

give a cheap and ready means of settling disputes of the “All experience proves that it is to associations alone partners, and enforcing the rules agreed to for mutual that we can look for undertakings of magnitude connected government. with public interest and utility; as wit:ess the canals, Your Committee beg to state that in addittion to the railroads, &c., of England, to which sheis indebted for so augmentation in the amount of personal properiy, is to be much of her prosperity ; to say nothing of France, Holland, romarked its great division arnong large classes of the Belgium, and the United States of America, in all of community, in the middle (or even the humbler) ranks which countries this limited responsibility partnership of life, as is shown by the returns of amounts of publie which we advocate exists. In Holland, a large portion of stock held by each person, and other sources of informa, the land in the country has been reclaimed or gained tion. from the sea, through the operations of societies with - Your Committee would observe that the course of limited responsibilities. So, again, in the United States modern legislation (the wisdorn of which appears, in this and Belgiun. But it is not necessary to multiply instances particular, generally allowed) seems to have been grato prove their advantage, since every one in the present dually to remove restrictions on the power which every day must have sutlicient evidence of it before his eyes. one has in the disposal of his property, and to removo

** As regards this country, it is impossible to estimate those fetters on commercial freedom which long prethe good they might produce. We might have land vailed in this country. companies ; agricultural companies, embracing of course " Your Committee now proceed to consider whether any cotton ; carriage companies, roads and railroads, and steam suggestions of a like nature ought to be made in reference navigation companies, &c., &c.; all of which are required to the laws of partnership, and especially the unlimited in order to extend the production, as well as the con- liability of partners, as it exists at present in this country, sumption capabilities of the country.

“By the existing law, no person can advance any capital " The chamber is not prepared to say how this limited to any undertaking, public or private, in the profits of partnership law may be carried out, or whether the French which he is to participate, nor become partner or share." system of partnerships · en commandite' would be the best holder in any enterprise or profit, without becoming liablo adapted for the purpose.

This will, no doubt, be fully to the whole amount of his fortune, as expressed by a discussed in Parliament when the measure is brought great legal authority, to his last shilling and his last acre. forward; the immediate object of the Chamber is to draw “Such general and unlimited liability can be rostricted your attention, and to enlist your influence and assistance to any given sum or share only by Special Act of Parlia., in its favour.

ment or Charter from the Crown; neither of which is “ We are quite satisfied that many native and European obtained without much difficulty, expenso, and delay, and capitalists, as well as retired Indians, would very in many cases cannot be obtaired at all. willingly invest portions of their means in projects of which "It is contended, that, however advantageous the law of they approved, were they relieved of all liability beyond unlimited liability of partners may be, as applied to the the amount of the sum só invested, but who would have principal commercial transactions of this country, carried nothing to do with them if their responsibility were on by the most part by firms of few partners, that yet it unlimited."

would be of great advantage to the community to allow I now proceed to read the Report of 1851 :

limited liability to be extended with greater facility to “ The subject referred to your Committee is one of the shareholders in many useful enterprises, often pro. great and increasing interest. On account of its wide remising at the same time public benefit and private profit, lations to large classes of society, your Committee have which are constantly called for by the increasing populathought it incumbent to proceed with caution, and to weigh tion and wants of our towns and populous districts; such carefully the arguments and evidence adduced before as water works, gas works, roads, bridges, markets, piers,' them, urging alterations in the law.

baths, wash-houses, workmen's lodging houses, reading

..

rooms, clubs, and various other investments of a like na- it is no less consistent with the spirit of recent legislation ture, chiefly contined to spots in the immediate vicinity of than conducive to the public advantage, and the promothe subscribers. Large stores for the sale of provisions and tion of legitimate trade, to relax any restraints which other necessaries in populous districts, and supported by may now exist on the free action of individuals or applithe combined capital of small shareholders, may be con- cation of capital, due regard being paid to the importance sidered as belonging to the same kind of enterprises. of preventing the acquirement of undue or undeserved

" Your Committee think it would be a subject of re- credit, or giving encouragement to ignorant or reckless gret if cautious persons, of moderate capital, and esteemed speculation.' for their intelligence and probity in their several neigh This is the Report adopted by the committee, but the bourhoods, should be now deterred from taking part in draft drawn up by myself, as chairman, recommended such undertakings by the heavy risk of unlimited liability; " That the law of limited liability of partners as in yet such persons would in many instances be the best usage abroad should, under due regulations, be adopted guides for their humbler and less experienced neighbours, here, but not extended to Banking, Insurance, Mining, and their names would afford security that the enterprise foreign trade, or other enterprise of a like speculative had been well considered, and was likely to be well con- and uncertain nature.” ducted.

I may also state that, in the Comınittee on Partnership “ Your Committee think that it would be desirable to in 1837, the opinions were divided as to the policy of remove any obstacles which may now prevent the middle limited liability. Against it were:-Lord Overstone, and even the more thriving of the working classes from Messrs. Tooke, Larpent, Horsley Palmer, and Kirkman taking shares in such investments, under the sanction of, Finlay. For it were :-Lord Ashburton, long known as and conjointly with, their richer neighbours; as thereby Mr. Baring—the first name in commercial matters-in their self-respect is upheld, their industry and intelligence the House of Commons; Dr. G. Norman ; Hon. F. encouraged, and an additional motive is given to them to Baring; and Mr. Senior, the able political economist. preserve order, and respect the laws of property.

In the Committee on the Joint Stock Act (third “Your Committee would therefore reccommend that Report, 1844), there were examined thirty-eight witunder the supervision of a competent authority, rules nesses, some as to frauds, many as to the necessity of should be laid down and published for the guidance of improving the law, and some as to partnership. They persons applying for such charters, with requisite pre-were divided in opinion. Since the Committee in 1851 cautions to prevent fraud; and on compliance with such the question of limited liability has much advanced. It rules, that charters should be granted. Security for is supported by the press, by public opinion, and by compliance with such rules might be given and enforced several able works, including those by Lord Hobart; by at the quarter sessions, or before some other local tribunal Pr. Field, an able and experienced solicitor, published of requisite authority.

by Longman, 1854; by Mr. Woodford Brookes, Bar"Your Committee now proceed to consider the pro- rister, 1854; and by Mr. C. Buxton, in his treatise priety of permitting the introduction of partnerships, on entitled the “Pros and Cons of Partnership,” Spottisthe principle of limited liability.

woode, 1854—an able and concise work on this subject. " Your Committee have referred to the report and The Committee of 1851 recommended a cominission evidence given before the Commission on this subject in on the subject. This was issued by the present Govern. 1837, where opinions entitled to great weight, were ment, consisting chiefly of eminent lawyers, with a few almost equally divided ; in the Appendix to that Report great merchants, but containing no statesmen or repreis the outline of a proposed law on the subject, by Mr. sentatives of the industrial classes. I asked to be an Baring, a name highly respected in all commercial circles unpaid member of this commission, but it was not thought of the world.

fit to grant my urgent request. “ In the Report on Joint Stock Companies in 1914, The Commissioners have not yet published their Report, valuable information on matters closely connected with but I have seen a copy of it, and it is such as might be this subject will be found ; and in the Report on Invest - expected, hostile to limited liability, though in favour of ments, of the last Session, evidence bearing on this en charters at a cheaper rate. There was, it is believed, a quiry is worthy of perusal.

difference of opinion and divisions in it on some important Your Coinmittee, considering the extent and import- points. Still it is a step in advance, for charters are ance of the proposed alteration in the law, are unwilling recommended for many combined undertakings on easier to proceed in such a matter without the greatest caution. terms than before. They find that the best authorities are divided on the I believe the commissioners were altogether opposed to subject, and that it would require great care to devise the the principles of limited liability, unanimous in favour of checks and safeguards against fraud, necessary to accom: cheaper charters being granted, and divided on a propany such a general relaxation or change in the law. It position of a friend of mine, which may be considered a seems also the opinion of the best informed persons, that kind of compromise between limited and unlimited additional facilities are wanting to settle partnership dis- liability, by which loans might be granted to persons for putes in accounts, and that some cheaper and simpler carrying on commercial enterprises, such loans to bear inTribunal should be afforded than the costly and tedious terest varying with the profits, and to be postponed to process of application to the Court of Chancery.

the claims of their creditors wi ited liability. The "That the law of partnership, as at present existing, commissioners say that, with a view to obtaining well viewing its importance in reference to the commercial considered opinions on the subject, they framed a series character and rapid increase of the population and pro- of questions, which they thought calculated to elicit inperty of the country, requires careful and immediate formation, and caused them to be widely circulated both revision.

at home and abroad. The result was, that they had been “They recommend, therefore, the appointment of a much embarrased by the great contrariety of opinions enCommission, of adequate legal and commercial know- tertained by those who favoured them with answers. ledge, to consider and prepare, not only a consolidation Gentlemen of great experience and talent had arrived at of the existing laws, but also to suggest such changes in conclusions diametrically opposite, and in supporting their the law as the altered condition of the country may re- conclusions had displayed reasoning power of the highest quire, especial attention being paid to the establishment order. It was indeed difficult to say on which side the of improved tribunals to decide claims by and against weight of authority in this country preponderated. The partners, in all partnership disputes, and also to the opinions received from foreign countries preponderated in important and much controverted question of limited and favour of limited liability, but many of their foreign corunlimited liability of partners.

respondents, while bearing testimony to the beneficial “ Your Committee would express their conviction that I operation of the law as to partnerships with limited

liability in their countries, suggested that it might, never-evidence, names of important witnesses, and marshalled a theless, well be that the circumstances of the trading in. little before you the weight of authority of great names, terests in the United Kingdom might give it a very of benevolent and thinking men. There are those, howdifferent operation here. The Commissioners next pro-ever, in this great community--many, doubtless, in this ceeded to say that, having considered the question assemblage-and those the thinkers, and eventually the whether the proposed alteration of the law with leaders of society, who, whilst they respect (reasonably regard to limited partnership liability would operate bene- respect) authority, and pay due, but not devoted, deferficially on the general trading interest of the country, hadence to great names

, look still more anxiously than to come to the conclusion that it would not. They had not names and authority, to facts and reasons to support any been able to discover any evidence of the want of a suffi- proposition. To them I now turn myself, and hope they cient amount of capital for the requirements of trade, and will forgive me if I change from reading a paper to the annually increasing wealth of the country, and the address them from a few notes which I hold in my difficulty of finding profitable investments for it seemed hand, in a way which may relieve the monotony of a to them sufficient guarantee that an adequate amount mere lecture, and perhaps elicit some results useful to would always be devoted to any mercantile enterprise us all. holding out a reasonable prospect of gain, without any The greatness, the wealth, and the comfort of the people forced action upon capital to determine its direction. of any country depend, as it appears to me, upon three Now I do not want any such forced action, but what I do main causes:- First, the natural advantages of the counwant is this, that greater facilities shall be given for the try ; secondly, its acquired advantages; and thirdly, its profitable investment of tho wealth which the Com. social regulations. With regard to the natural advantages missioners admit is annually increasing, whilst there is a of this country, we have first our insulated situation, giving difficulty of profitably investing it. They further say, us for centuries past safety-giving us every advantage with regard to limited liability, that it cannot be doubted that can be had by our wide extended coasts for the comthat instances occur where men of probity and talent merce of the world—and giving us great and important would derive benefit from such a system, but they are of natural advantages. Secondly, we have a climate more opinion that such benefit has been greatly overrated. equable, perhaps, than that of any other country in Europe, Well, as I have stated, the Commissioners recominend that of which one of our monarchs remarked, that there are further facilities should be given for obtaining charters, more hours in the day in which a man may enjoy himself but on the whole subject of partnership they say that, out of doors in this country than in any other country in although the details of our mercantile laws are inbar: monious and imperfect, they " deem it unwise to interfere Europe. But is that all? It gives us a constant industry; with principles which in their judgment have, proved during the whole year. These are some of our natural

it gives the means of working from early morn till night beneficial to the general industry of the country.”

Having stated the general result of committees and advantages. It allows out-of-door work to go on continuworks on the subject, showing the great preponderance of ally... What have we besides?. We have vast mineral authority and names now in favour of limited liability being wealth, greater than the gold of California or Australiapermitted, under proper rules to prevent fraud, I must tell mines of iron and coal-short words, but having a wide you that there are eminent names on the other side. and extended meaning. Iron means arms and plough. They are chiefly eminent lawyers, great bankers, great shares, tools and engines, bridges and aqueducts. It means capitalists, governors of the Bank-in short, either timid those vast bridges that span the Menai Straits, one of men; unwilling to move at all, or millionaires, or the which now stands the monument of the genius of one who representatives of the class of capitalists who are anchored is an ornament to this or any other country-I mean Mr. and bound down to their present moorings by the weight Stephenson--and it means, moreover, railways, which are of wealth they stand on. I would not say this invi- now the highways for the whole world. These are some diously; doubtless they speak honestly, but it is almost of our natural advantages. But have we not more ? In impossible tor those benefitting by a monopoly not to be that short word.coal,” besides the fire which gives com(unknown to themselves) swayed by prejudice towards fort in our dwellings, it is the foundation of our great that which augments their wealth and power under the hardware manufactures ; it moves by steam all our factoexisting law. Hostile to all safe combinations anů invest- ries; it gives employment to myriads of women and ment of limited capitals, millions of small and moderate children—the tender sex and the tenderest age; it moves sums are swept by force of circumstances, at low interest, all our trains; it moves half our vessels. Coal and iron into the hands or tills of these bankers or capitalists. By together mean a moving power equal to millions of pairs of the same means the public funds, the only possible invest- hands, requiring neither

clothing nor food to maintain them. inent open to many, are kept at an unnaturally high price. The coal which is obtained in Great Britain alone amounts

I would contrast with those against the relaxation of to thirty-seven millions of tons annually, whilst the prothe law, those for it, and ask you to remark that ainong duce of all Europe amounts to only seventeen millions of them you will find men of high statesmanlike views, tons-not half what is raised in this island. Now, what desirous to give security to property, facilitating its are our acquired advantages ? They are still greater than peaceful acquisition by industrious multitudes, men who our natural advantages. First of all, after a century of would encourage enterprise and ingenuity, by allowing struggle, we get our religious freedom by the Reformation them to be duly rewarded. Above all, you will find of 1530, and after a century of contest we had our civil among them those who earnestly desire to improve the freedom established by the Revolution of 1688. This social condition of the middle and working classes-who country has afforded an asylum to foreigners from intoler. wish to give them the true means to help themselves by ance and bigotry in other countries, which has been repaid forethought, frugality, skill, industry, and conduct-to by a hundred inventions and discoveries. Our freedom create and preserve wealth in which they are permitted was won, as Burke says, by our ancestors, owing to their to participate, according to certain just and equitable spirit in the hour of contest, and their tenderness in the rules.

triumph of victory.

Freedom is the mother of many Thus, gradually and peacefully, might the broad dark blessings--of order and security, of industry, and enterprise, line which separates the opulent from the humble be of wealth and plenty. Now, let us look for a moment at softened, and improve, to the increased safety of one class, the effects of these natural and acquired advantages com the augmented contentment of the other, and the ulti-bined with the forty years' peace we have till recentiy mate and enduring benefit of both.

enjoyed.

Look at the changes they have produced, I have now ended an outline of what has lately taken calling for corresponding alterations in the laws and place respecting the great question of partnership. I have corresponding facilities in our commercial transactions given the reports of committees, extracts from the

But

have spoken of our social regulations as the

« ElőzőTovább »