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37, PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON.

1848.

LIBRARY
UNIVERSITY.
A13364

PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS, EDINBURGH.

BLACKWOOD'S
EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.

No. CCCLXXXVII.

JANUARY, 1818.

VOL. LXIII.

THIRTY YEARS OF LIBERAL LEGISLATIOX.

" EXPERIENCE," says Dr Johnson, system when reduced into execution. " is the great test of truth, and is per- The result is so curious, its lessons so petually contradicting the theories of pregnant with instruction, its warning men." "If an empire," said Napo- of coming disaster so terrible, that we leon, “ were made of granite, it would gladly avail ourselves of the opening soon be reduced to powder by po- of a new year, to portray them in a litical economists." Never was there few paragraphs to our readers. a period when the truths stated by The first great change which took these master minds were so clearly place in British policy was in 1819, by and strikingly illustrated as the pre- the famous Bank Restriction Act, sent; never was there an epoch when passed in that year. Every one knows the necessity was so fearfully evinced that the obligation on the Bank of of casting off the speculative dogmas England to pay in specie, was sns of former times, and shaping our pended by Mr Pitt in February 1797 ; course by the broad light which expe- and that under that system the emrience has thrown on human trans- pire continued to rise with all the actions. If this is done, if wisdom is difficulties with which it was suurlearnt by experience, and error ex- rounded, until in the latter years of pelled by suffering, it is yet possible the war it bore without difficulty to remedy the evils ; though not be an annual expenditure of from fore a frightful and yet unfelt amount £110,000,000 to £120,000,000 annuof misery has been encountered by the ally. But under the new system People.

introduced in 1819, the currency was For the last thirty years, the liberal restricted by imposing on the bank the party have had the almost uncon- obligation of paying its notes, when trolled direction of the affairs of the presented, not in gold or silver, but in nation. One by one, they have beat GOLD ALONE. The currency was down all the ancient safeguards of based on the article in commerce British industry, and given effect to most difficult to keep, most easy of the whole theoretical doctrines of the transport, most ready to slip away political economists. So complete has the most precious of the precious been their ascendency in the national metals. The result has been that the councils-so entire in general the ac. nation,—which, with a population of quiescence of the nation in their 18,000,000 of souls, raised without direction, that without one single ex. difficulty £71,000,000 annually by ception ALL their doctrines have been taxes, and from £30,000,000 to carried into practice; and the year £10,000,000 annually by loans in 1847 exhibits a fair, and it may be 1813, 1811, and 1815, of which at presumed average result of the liberal least a half was sent abroad, and

VOL. LXIII.—NO. CCCLXXXVII.

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