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which he may accumulate ; and if he is desirous to receive liis principal, it is returned to him without delay, and without hurting the delicacy, or interfering with the profperity of any one, as easily as it was lent. The greatest evil which is apprehended from the increase of the national debt, is the perpetual augmentation of taxes, which, while they enhance the price of the first materials of commerce, caufe a proportionate advance in the price of labour ; and mult, although the government duties are allowed as a draw-back on exportation, enable foreigners to underfell the British merchants in the market. Although this apprehension has not yet been realized, it would be most unwarrantably presumptuous to say, that it never can; but it is materially impeded by the extensive capital, unrivalled ingenuity, and unblemished honour of British manufacturers and merchants; and will, it is trusted, as well as all other mischiefs to be apprehended from the national debt, be finally averted by the wife measures hereafter to be described under the title of Sinking Fund.
Loans. In times of peace, or when no extraordinary exigency obliges the state to demand from the public unutual supplies, it is understood, that the permanent and general taxes will be sufficient to defray all expences; but when war is either made or menaced, or in the first years of a peace, when all the outstanding accounts are not yet made up, it is usual for the minister to supply the deficiencies by a loan. The duty of the chancellor of the exchequer in explaining to the house of commons the nature of the supplies, ways and means, and the committees constantly formed for the investigation of them, have already been mentioned. The terms on which a minister can make a loan, depend on various circumstances; the facilities of raifing money; the state of public opinion with respect to affairs in general; and the popularity of the individual, with whom the monied men are to negotiate, are those which produce the greatest effect. When the amount of the intended loan is communicated to the merchants and bankers of London, they form feparate claffes under the head of some known monied man, or company; and each leader of these bodies attends the minister at a given day, proposing in writing the terms on which he, for himself and friends, can make good the fum required. The form of this proposal generally supposes a certain stock, either three or four per cent. at a certain value; and terminable annuities, at another value ; according to their calculations, the minister estimates the proportionate benefit or disadvantage which would accrue to the public from the acceptance of either proposal, and in course, clofes with that which furnishes the required fum at the lowest rate of interest.
Such is the modern way of raising supplies; others have been resorted to by various ministers; but this is found to be most popular, most just, and in the end most beneficial. It has been objected, that combinations may be formed to defraud the public; but, in fact, the rate of interest has never been exorbitantly advanced, nor has the nation any reason to complain of a measure fo open and liberal; consistent at once with an enlarged fyftem of commerce, and a government founded on freedom. In the reign of William III., when loans were first proposed, attempts were made to raise money at only 6 per cent. interest; but it was found necessary, the very same feilion, to offer 7 per cent.; and, from the year 1690, during the remainder of the war, 8 per cent. was uniformly paid. In the late, tremendously expenlive, contest with France, the interest on one loan amounted to 61. 45. 9d. per cent.; but this was deemed an alarming circumstance, and occafioned fome measures for taking a portion of the floating stock out of the market, and raising the supplies within the year; but with all the difficulties in which the nation was occasionally involved, and under the operation of all the mistaken principles, which conspired to alienate and terrify a portion of the public, the national credit stood so high, that the average interest of ten loans, was only 41. 15s.6d. per cent.
Yet it is not to be supposed, that persons possessed of large capital can advance the incredible sums frequently required by government, without strong motives of personal advantage. There are other circumstances, unconnected with the general effect of a loan on the public, which constitute what is termed a bonus or benefit to the contractor. The bonus arises in part from the allowance in temporary annuities, which are confidered as being sold by the miniiter somewhat too cheap, to make the loan acceptable; and from the periods of payment of the sums fubfcribed, which are fo divided as to accommodate the purchaser, and render his portion of the loan saleable in the market. When the subscription is full, the list of names, with the fums allotted to each, is sent to the bank; and as foon as conveniently may be, after the subscription is closed, receipts are made out, and delivered to the subscribers, for the several sums by them subscribed: and for the conveniency of sale, every subscriber of a considerable sum has sundry receipts for different portions of his whole sum, that he may the more readily part with what share he thinks proper; and a form of aflignment, which being figned and witnessed, transfers the property to any purchaser. Then if a person has subscribed in the list accepted by the minifter, any given fum, and is desirous to be eased of a portion before any part of the principal is paid in, he tenders it at the market, and generally felis it for a moderate premium. The
completion completion of the loan is generally made by instalments at given distances; and when any of these are paid, a receipt issues to the individual, and if he fells any part of his share after that, he expects to re allowed for the inftalments already paid, with a premium if the loan bears it, or making a deduction if the the public opinion renders that necessary; the interests disposed of in either of these are termed firin, the whole undivided loan is called omnium. The intereit of each loan, when funded, is to be met by taxes, which the minifter propofes in the House of Commons, and his speech, or scheme, on this occasion, is called the Budget.
NATIONAL Dibt. These borrowings by successive minifters, having accumulated from the period when the funding system began to be adopted, form what is called the national debt. Without entering minutely into the various political circumstances, which have occasioned the growth of this incumbrance, it will be susficient to exhibit in the following tables its amount at different periods.
Progress of the national debt from its commencement to March, 1801.
Princi;al. Intereft. National debt at the revolution
664,263 39,855 Increase during the reign of king William
Debt at the accession of queen
37,750,661 2,040,416 Debt at the accession of George I. 54,145,363 3,351,358 Decreafe during
during the reign of George I.
The apparent disproportion between the capital saved and the interest as annexed to ii, arises from the reduction in the rate of interest from 6 to 5 per cent., which took place in the reign of Geurge I. " It appears," Sir Jobn Sinclair observes, “ that the capiial of the n`cional debe, in 1714, and in 1727, was nearly the same ; particularly, if no audition is made to the principal, in the former period, on the fuppohtion, that the temporary annuities ought to be valued at the price they would ferch in the market, and not at the sum that was originally paid. The reader, at the fame time, will perceive how much the two periods differ in regard to the interest. In the reign of queen Anne, for the same capital of about fifty-two millions, was paid annually the sum of 3,351,3581., which, at the death of George I., was reduced to 2,217,5511. The difference amounting to 1,133,8071., is a full proof of the flourishing credit which this country enjoyed, and of what might have been done at that time, for retrieving our finances, by an able, decided, and public-spirited migiter."
Debt at the conclusion of the peace, 1762
146,682,844 Decrease during the peace - 10,739,793
Debt at the commencement of the
Debt at the conclusion of the American war
257,213,043 Decrease during the peace
Debt at the commencement of the.
French revolutionary war 252,461,782 9,52",866 Increase during the war
Total amount of the debt, An. 1801
- 579,931,447 21,778,018 Deduct paid by the finking fund, and redeemed by the land-tax 68,365,458
511,565,989 20,081,022 Deduct the capital of the temporary annuities
Amount of the national debt fund
ed and unfunded in March, 1801, with the interest and charges thereon
State of the national debt of Great Britain, deducting the diminution by stock transferred to the commissioners for the reduction of debt, and on account of land-tax redeemed.
d. Total created
582,131,385 34 Redeemed by the commissioners for the reduction of the public debt, up to the ift of February, 1805