صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

prejudices of the people, as to leave but little hope of its eradication. We do not, however, think that the difficulties in the way of the suppression of local notes would be found to be nearly so great, were it set seriously about, as Mr Loyd seems to inser. Were Parliament to enact that all local or provincial notes payable on demand should cease to circulate on the 1st of January, 1840, their withdrawal might, we apprehend, be effected with very little trouble and inconvenience. The circulation of notes, now that those for less than L.5 have been withdrawn, is far from being one of the principal sources of banking profits. The stamp duty, the expense of engraving, and the still heavier expense necessary to keep notes afloat, and to provide for their payment when they may happen to be presented, cut deep into the profits made by their issue. Our readers are aware that several country banks have, within the last half dozen years, withdrawn their own notes from circulation, and issued in their stead those of the Bank of England, according to certain terms agreed on with the latter. The banks in question would not certainly have done this had it made any serious inroad on their profits. But it has not sensibly diminished them; and the proof of this is, that the banks which have made this arrangement derive quite as large profits as are derived by those that continue to issue notes of their own. We submit that this is decisive of the whole question. It proves that the profits of the provincial banks are not sensibly impaired by the substitution for their own, of Bank of England notes. Had the project for suppressing local notes been productive of any considerable loss to the issuers, it would have furnished a plausible, though by no means a valid argument against it : for it would be contradictory and absurd to pretend that any set of persons can be entitled permanently to enjoy a privilege injurious to the community. But there is no room or ground even for an appeal, ad misericordiam, on the part of the private issuers. The fact that numbers of them have spontaneously, and without solicitation of any kind, abandoned the privilege of issue, and replaced their own notes with those of the central issuer in London, shows conclusively that the privilege in question is worth little or nothing; and, consequently, that it may be withdrawn without entailing any considerable hardship on any one. It is essential to the placing of the currency on a proper footing that all local notes should be suppressed ; and as their suppression would not be injurious to the issuers, what possible reason can be alleged for continuing their circulation ?

But it may be, and, indeed, has been said, that though the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

suppression of local notes might, under other circumstances, be desirable, it would be of no use to attempt it at present, seeing that the power to make unlimited issues would then be engrossed by the Bank of England ; and there is no security that she would act so as to preserve the value of the paper on a level with that of gold. We believe, however, that she would so act. An undivided responsibility would then rest with the Bank; her action in one direction would no longer beimpeded, as at present, by a contrary action in another direction; and she would be directly and individually responsible for every mismanagement that might occur. At the same time we are ready to admit that the engagements of the Bank, as a dealer in bills and money, have frequently a strong tendency to make her swerve from the strict line of her duty as an issuer of money; and we have previously endeavoured to show the operation of this disturbing cause since October last. We, therefore, are disposed to think, that in the event of a measure being introduced for the suppression of local notes, some security should be obtained from the Bank that her conduct as an issuer should be governed at all times, and under all circumstances, by the strictest adherence to principle. Mr Loyd suggests, that for this purpose, the business of the issue of money by the Bank should be entirely separated from her other business; that its superintendence should be committed to a committee of currency, chosen from among the directors; and that a representative of the Government should be present at all its deliberations. We see nothing in this that could be justly objected to; and if the Government commissioner had, as he ought to have, a veto on all proposals for adding to the issues, the public would have every necessary security for the proper working of the system, and the avoidance of all manner of fluctuations. At the determination of the Bank charter, measures might be taken either for separating the issue of paper entirely from the Bank; or, if that should be thought inexpedient, for participating in the profits such as they are derived from that source.

We are firmly persuaded that nothing short of some plan of this kind can be of any material service. The cardinal defects in the present monetary system are, The multiplicity of issuers, and the too great sympathy of the Bank of England with the mercantile class. The previous statements have shown how both these defects might be obviated. Various country banks having voluntarily abandoned the privilege of issuing notes without in any degree affecting their profits, no injury, it is plain, could be done them by providing for the total suppression of such issues within the space of two years. Neither could the Bank of England justly object to the appointment of a commissioner having a reio on her issues. This officer would have nothing to do with the ordinary management of the Bank; and bis influence would only begin to be felt when the directors were discussing whether they should not preser expediency to principle, and encroach on the rules they have laid down for their own guidance. Far, indeed, from objecting to the appointment of such an officer, the directors, we have little doubt, would be well pleased to have him amongst them. They would then be able to reply to the solicitations of the merchants -- We should be most happy to • meet your views, but it is impossible ; we cannot at this moment • sell securities, and the commissioner will not allow another note

to be issued !' They would in this way be able to escape that charge of illiberality of which they always seem to entertain a most unreasonable terror; and embarrassed and bankrupt concerns would cease to be bolstered up, as at present, at the expense of principle, and sometimes to the injury of the country,

We repeat our conviction that there is not really so much as the shadow of a foundation for thinking that any measure which does not involve the suppression of local notes can give equality of value to the currency, and obviate those fluctuations that are so destructive of the public interests. If we will have local notes, we need not flatter ourselves that we shall get rid of the 1luctuations inseparable from their issue. The one is the inevitable consequence of the other. They must stand or fall together.

We are surprised that a person so well informed as Mr Loyd should lay so much stress, as he appears to do, on the publication of proper' returns by the Bank of England. It is very true that the returns, as at present published, are good for little; but it is farther true that they never can be rendered good for much. We think that a distinction should be made between the town and country issues; but, except in this respect, little can be done for their improvement. The amount of bullion in the Bank furnishes those unacquainted with the circumstances that influence its supply with no rule by which to regulate their conduct as issuers of paper. It may be augmented by supplies brought from the interior at the moment when, perhaps, the exchange is either at par or declining; and it may, on the other hand, be diminished by the withdrawal of supplies from the provinces when the exchange is in our favour. The central issuers being aware of the circumstances, can govern their conduct accordingly; but the local issuers having no such peculiar knowledge, would, even if they regulated their proceedings by the official returns, be constantly liable to err. But this, as we have already seen, is


what they rarely if ever do. What is the business of all is uniformly neglected by every one. The responsibility under which they act does not come sufficiently home to their apprehensions. It is too divided and too remote to have any practical influence. Hence they look only to the state of credit and prices in their own immediate neighbourhood, and to the supposed stability of those with whom they deal; so that they are frequently increasing their issues when they ought to be contracting them, and vice

There was not a manager of a provincial bank in England who did not know, as well as Mr Loyd or Mr Horsley Palmer, that the exchange was most unfavourable, from April till September last, and that there existed, during the whole of that time, a heavy drain for bullion upon the Bank; and yet they went on, in the teeth of this knowledge, increasing their issues faster than they ought to have done, had the exchange been all the while in our favour! It is the veriest delusion possible to trust to amended returns or to any sort of publicity, for security in a case of this sort. Fluctuations and uncertainty are of the essence of a currency supplied by different issuers. If the country continue to tolerate the latter, it will unavoidably continue to suffer the perpetual recurrence of the former.

ART. IV.- Coleccion de obras y documentos relativos a la His

toria Antigua y Moderna de las Provincias Del Rio de la Plata, ilustrados con notas y disertaciones. Por PEDRO DE ANGELIS. 2 tom. fol. Buenos Aires: 1836.

is a sure sign of thrift when the heir to an estate, on coming into possession, falls to work at once with the arrangement of his papers, title deeds, and muniments. In like manner, when a young republic begins to search its archives, and publish the records of its early history, we are justified in concluding that the passionate period of its existence has already gone by; that it feels pleasure in looking back calmly on the past; and that the enquiring spirit which always expands with the enlargement of its sphere of operation, has already gained new force and elastieity within it, from a career of prosperity. We should have been pleased if these volumes had been published at the expense and risk of the republic; but we are still more gratified to see that they are ushered into the world underthe auspices of a long list of subscribers. The encouragement bestowed on the work of Señor de Angelis by his fellow-citizens, is a proof that he had consulted the general sense before heundertook it; and manifests, moreover, a sentiment of enlightened patriotism which the study of domestic history is reciprocally calculated to promote.

Every contribution to the history of the conquistadores, or first settlers in America, is intrinsically valuable; as it illustrates the character of a period when the human mind, shaking off the fetters of ignorance, displayed unwonted energy, and when the sudden enlargement of the sphere of human activity had begotten such an intoxication of hope, and had so completely overset the ancient landmarks of opinion, as almost to justify credulity, and to tinge with romance the speculations of even the wise and prudent. Of the collection of documents already published for we presume the work is to be continued), the first volume begins with the Historia Argentina; or account of the discovery and conquest of the countries on the Rio de la Plata, written in 1612, by Rui Diaz de Guzman. This extremely valuable work, the most complete extant relating to the Rio de la Plata, is scarcely known in Old Spain. It is followed, in Señor de Angelis's first volume, by Memoirs and tracts respecting the Pampas and the Patagonian countries. The second volume contains a variety of papers relative to the history of Potosi, and of Paraguay.

It is not, however, with the conquistadores, or the early history of Spanish America, that we have now to do. We shall hasten to lay before our readers the substance of the most recent narrative in the collection--the narrative of an expedition interesting from its design, from the perseverance with which it was completed, and from the singular event which foiled and rendered abortive the bold plans connected with it;-we mean the expedition of D. Luis de la Cruz in 1806, to survey a carriage-road across the Andes, and over the Pampas, from Southern Chili to Buenos Aires. But before we proceed to the narrative itself, we shall endeavour to put our readers in possession of the circumstances which led to the expedition; and shall offer such other preliminary explanations as appear necessary for the perfect understanding of our author.

At the time when the power of Napoleon had reached its greatest height, and the political independence of Spain was nearly extinguished, the situation of the Spanish colonies was truly deplorable. Left unprotected by the mother country, their commerce was almost annihilated; the British naval squadrons hovering round their coasts, continually threatened them with invasion, and effectually cut off all their maritime intercourse with one another. To establish overland communications between them, available for troops and military stores,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »