صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

security, not regulated by a bank responsible to the nation, nor by any principle but the boldness of its issuers.

In the province of Ulster, however, the seat of the linen manufacture, where the proprietors of the land and the trading part of the community have stedfastly refused to receive bank notes, these evils are not felt, and gold having continued to be the circulating medium, the exchange has there been maintained, at what may be compated as its natural rate in proportion to the balance of debt; namely, about two per cent. in favour of Ireland. This is exemplified by the table No. 11. in the appendix to Mr. Foster's work, containing the rates of exchange of Newry in London, in 1803 and 1804, distinguishing the rates when the bills were presented in specie, and when in bank notes. The average of the exchanges exhibited in that Table is 6 per cent., when the bills were purchased with specie, and 157 per cent. when purchased with bank notes, which forms a forcible and practical illustration of the author's position, that the unfavourable state of the exchange arises solely from the depreciation of the paper currency:

To point out the existing evil, and its causes, was not, however, which the sole object Mr. Foster had in view. He also

proposes a remedy. The resumption of payments in specie by the bank would be the most effectual means of relief to Ireland; but the policy, as well perhaps as the possibility, of carrying such a measure into effect, may justly be doubted. Mr. Foster, however, proposes that the bank of Ireland should be compelled to make their payments in bank of England notes, or, which is the same thing, in bills on London at par. This would probably be effectual for the reduction of the exchange, and the re-appearance of specie; but it is likewise admitted that its inevitable consequence would be a universal call on the private bankers for payment of their paper in bank of Ireland notes, in that case equivalent to those of the bank of England; which, as the

paivate bankers can possess no means of commanding bank of Ireland notes in proportion to their excessive issues, it is inferred would compel them instantly to contract their paper in order to avoid inevitable bankruptcy. Now we would ask whether it could ever be in the power of a private banker, under these circumstances, instantly to contract his issues without failing in his payments, and thereby, in a locally congenial way of speaking, becoming a bankrupt in order to avoid bankruptcy. The consequences of such a run upon the private bankers in Ireland, numerous as they are, and many amongst them possessing very inadequate means when compared to the extent of their circulating paper, might be productive of very serious general calamity. The remedy would be worse than the evil, and it

might be apprehended that a catastrophe would ensue similar to that which Mr. Foster inforins us, from the evidence of Mr. Colville, occurred in 1754, upon the total annihilation of bank paper in Ireland in consequence of the failure of all the bankers in Dublin but two. The exchange it is true, fell froin three per cent. above par, to two or three per cent below par, and the whole circulation of Ireland was turned from paper into gold, but the result was, that multitudes of people were ruined, the convulsion was exceedingly severe, many tenants threw up their lands, and there was no person connected with the three southern provinces of Ireland,' (Ulster being safe, having no bank paper,) 'that did not suffer severely. If, however, the measure could be so modified as 10 prevent too great and sudden a call upon the private bankers, and at the same time compel them gradually to lessen the amount of their paper in circulation, it might produce the beneficial consequences ex. pected from it, without the evils to be apprehended from its unlimited operation.

• The expense of such a measure, it is allowed, would be considerable, but it is urged that the bank of Ireland, who have been the delinquents, not only ought to bear that expense as a very. inadequate retribution for the mischief they have occasioned to the publie, but that they are also very well able to afford it, even out of the extra profits that have accrued to them from the restriction. It appears that the average expense incurred by the bank in purchasing bullion, in the three years preceding ihe restriction, amounted to £ 288,827; and that in 1798, when the restriction existed, it was no more than £ 23,170, which, added to the advantage obtained by the greater facility with which the bank could take discount, enabled them to increase their dividends froin 61 to 7į per cent., and in 1803 to add a bonus of 5 per cent. In fact, the select committee of the . house of commons, in their report on the subject, say

• that neither the difficulty nor the expence attendant on the measure would be so great, as that to wbich the bank, by the constitution, is necessarily subject at all times, when not protected by a restriction from performing its engagements; and that whatever funds the bank formerly applied, or intend again to apply, on the removal of the restriction, to provide for the difficulty and expense of providing a supply of gold, might, in the interim, be applied to the procuring of English bank notes.'

In the course of Mr. Foster's inquiries, and after taking a review of the question, who are the gainers and who are the losers by the high exchange, a perspicuous calculation is entered into of the profits of the dealers in exchange with Ireland, which, to those who are unacquainted with the systematic and extensive

combinations among the agiotcurs and exchange-dealers on the continent of Europe, must be novel and interesting.

The case of the Irish absentees is not so clearly or convincingly stated as the other objects that excite our author's attention, as connected with his subject. We are ready to allow that the reinittances to absentees force the production of an adequate quantity of exports to answer the bills in which those remittances are made, and this on that account, those sums which are estimated to amount to about £ 2,000,000 annually, create a proportional increase of produce, and Ireland is thus enabled to pay this species of tribute to England, without being impoverished of specie: but the mischief is, that the progressive amelioration of the country, of its industry, and its wealth, are impeded in the same proportion which those annual £2,000,000 bear to the general rental of Ireland. Hence, as far as this goes, no more is produced than what is absolutely necessary to pay its foreign expenditure ; while, if the absentees were to consume their incomes in Ireland, they would create new spurs to industry, new sources of consumption, and a progressive yearly produce, which, according to the present system, is more likely to remain stationary. It is not the capital, nor its immediate use, that is lost to Ireland, but the unborn millions' that might have been produced by the money so expended abroad. The following passage is also liable to the charge of inconsistency:

Had the proprietor remained at home, he would have called forth industry probably on his own estate, and in its immediate neighbourhood; but when settled in England, the proprietor of an estate in Mun. ster may perhaps to a much greater degree encourage the ivdustry of Ulster. The traveller who sees the neglected fields and miserable habitations of his tenants, often can trace out by ditches and hedges the ling of demarcation between the estate of the absentee and the resident ; but as he cannot see, so he omits to recollect the circumstance, that the prosperity of the tenants of the resident may possibly be in consequence of the demand for their produce occasioned by the absentee.'

Until flax cannot be produced on one side of a hedge while it grows abundautly on the other, or until Munster and Ulster become contiguous provinces, such argnments can have no weight to convince us that the absentee produces the same quantum of exertion and of produce as the resident. Neither can we agree with the author in his representation of the depreciated value of English bank notes. It is not the fact that they are purchasable for four Spanish dollars ; they are, it is true, purchasable for four dollars, stamped by the bank with a token of currency; but four Mexican dollars will purchase only 198. or thereabouts, of bank paper: nor can he convince us that the measure of the depreciation of English bank paper, as compared with gold; is almost three per cent.

But we have already extended this article beyond the limits we had prescribed for expressing our opinion on a publication which made its appearance before our labours commenced; and which the importance of the subject, and the general merit of the work, have been our motives to overstep. We shall therefore conclude our observations with the remark, that it will appear obvious to the reader of this essay that the title is too comprehensive; properly speaking, it is an essay on the exchange between Great Britain aad Ireland; for whatever is said on the principle of commercial exchange in general, is merely introductory and illustrative of the main subject, and does not occupy more than twenty pages.

There are a few instances of verbal inaccuracy, which however are slight deviations from the general clearness, force, and precision, with which Mr. Foster expresses his ideas.

Art. IV. The Nature of Things: A Didactic Poem translated from the

Latin of Titus Lucretius Carus, accompanied with the Original Text, and illustrated with Notes Philological and Explanatory. By John Mason Good. In two volumes. 4to. vol. 1. pp. 671. vol. 2. pp. 674

41. 4s. Boards. Longman & Co: 1805. A MONG those refinements of polished society whose ad

vancement seems to have borne a direct proportion to the progress of knowledge and the extent of its diffusion, the practice of translations is not the least observable. In antient Greece and Rome, during their periods of classical purity, this practice was little employed, except as a rhetorical exercise in the course of liberal education. The diffusion of divine truth by the general circulation of the holy scriptures, in the early ages of Christianity, and the consequent necessity of possessing the inspired books in every vernacular idiom, had, probably, a considerable share in exciting men of learning and leisure to extend more widely the province of translation. Through the dark ages of popery, it was chiefly restricted to the humble labour of aiding the necessities of the schools with the furniture of dry logo macbies. But, when the invention of printing, the patronage of the Medicean family, and the catastrophe of the Eastern Em. pire, had given a new impulse and a higher tone to the cultivated minds of Western Europe; the resuscitated treasures of Grecian genius were rapidly exhibited in a variety of Latin versions; and the best works of antiquity, in both languages, began to be very generally transfused into modern dialects. The office of a translator was not then deemed the fit occupation only of mere industry and plodding mediocrity. Petrarch and Politian, Valla and Poggio, thought it no disparagement of their genius

nor degradation of their original powers, to perforin the arduous labour of voluminous versions from the Greek authors

But, in the business of translation, there is a wide distinction, between works purely addressed to the understanding, and those which are designed to engage the passions and excite the inagination. The former may, with nearly unimpaired advantage, be rendered into any language that is possessed of sufficient terms, and is susceptible of perspicuity, and precision. The case is far different with compositions of the latter order. In poetry the conceptions form only one essential part; the port and habit constitute another. The first may be translated, but the latter can, at best, be only imitated: and for any version fully to represent those essential characteristics of is original, the translator obviously, should possess a degree of poetie al genius and versatility of talent, even superior to the original author.

How arduous, vext, perhaps, to impossibility, must be the attempt to produce a worthy version of those great and exalted works of antiquity which are, in the truest sense, originals! Wondrous, indeed, inust be that translation, which, faithful and spirited as it may bę, does not deprive them of their characteristic peculiarities; as the most careful transportation of some tropical plants from their native habitation to more rugged regions, though by skill and diligence they may be preserved in life, yet deprives them of their fragrance, beauty, and fruitfulness. Hence professed imitations may be frequently considered as conveying a more just idea of the character and peculiar merit of the best Greck and Roman Poets, than any direct translations. The mere reader of Pope or Cowper, preeminent

very
different excellencies are,

forms a less perfect conception of what HOMER is, than the man who, with true taste and enthusiasın, derives his ideas by analogy from the study of Paradise Lost. The satires of Pope and Boileau may be taken as a better specinien of the Horatian manner, than any avowed version of the delicate and good-humoftred, yet pointed, castigation of folly, and vice in the Augustan age.

We have extended these observations to their length, because we deem the subject important and the caution seasonable. late years, poetical translations of all descriptions have been engendered with extraordinary fecundity, and poured forth in swarms on the willing public. It is far from unusual 10 meet with writers, who, with becoming modesty, shrink from the awful effort of a long and serious original composition, yet who unblushingly demand the public sanction of translations, whose chief praise is that they are entirely new. The effects of this practice are very pernicious to the cause of sound literature. Classical learning is discouraged by the prevalence of the false

as their

« السابقةمتابعة »