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thing, that the taxes are diminishing, and the public debt paying off. He is well lodged; has abundance of fuel; and that quantity of land, in general, which does not place him above the necessity of personal labour but far above want or privation, if sickness or age should prevent him from working. He has also no class above him; nobody who can look down upon him, or whom he or his family look up to either to obtain objects of a false ambition, or to imitate out of a spirit of vanity. He has a greater variety of food than the same class in other countries; for besides what his farm produces, which is mostly consumed in his housekeeping, the fjelde, the lakes and rivers, and the fiords, afford game, fish, and other articles. He has also variety of labour, which is, perhaps, among the greatest enjoyments in the life of a labouring man: for there is recreation in change. His distant seater,* his wood-cutting for fuel, his share of the fishery in the neighbouring river or lake, give that sort of holiday work which is refreshing. His winter toil is of the same kind; as steady agricultural labour in the field is out of the question. It consists in making all the implements, furniture, and clothing that his family may require; thrashing out the crop, attending to the cattle, distilling his potatoes, brewing, and driving about to fairs or visits. The heaviest part of it is driving wood out of the forests, or bog hay from the fjelde. He has no cares for his family, because he knows what their condition will be after his death. He knows that his wife succeeds to him, and as long as she lives unmarried the only difference made by his death is, that there is one less in the family.. On her death or second marriage, he knows that each of his children has a right to a share of his property; and according to their number he makes his arrangements for their either living on the land as before, or dividing it, or for being settled in other occupations, aud taking a share of the value when it comes to be divided.
'There is no circumstance in the condition of the people of this country which strikes the observer more than the great equality of all classes, not only in houses, furniture, diet, and the enjoyment of the necessaries and comforts of life, but in manners, habits, and character: they all approach much more nearly to one standard than in any other country, and the standard is far from being a low one as to character, manners, and habits. In those the educated and cultivated class are, to English feelings at least, far above the higher classes in other foreign countries. They seem to have more affinity to those of our own countrymen; but the lower classes appear to have made a nearer approach to the higher than in other countries. This is probably owing to the diffusion of property going on perpetually through all the ranks of society, and carrying down with it to the lower strata its humanizing influences upon the character, the civilisation, the self-respect, the moral restraint, the independence of spirit, and the amiable manners and consideration for others in domestic intercourse, even among the lowest of the people, which in other countries are found only among the classes in easy circumstances. The cause seems to be, that between the distribution and general dissemination of property by their peculiar law of succession, and the general simplicity of the way of living, a greater proportion of the people really are in easy circumstances than in any other country in Europe. The alternate descent and ascent of property through the
*Tract of land on the moors.
whole mass of society, like heat applied to the fluid in a cauldron, has brought the whole to a nearly equal temperature. All have the ideas, habits, and character of people possessed of independent property, which they are living upon without any care about increasing it, and free from the anxiety and fever of money-making or money-losing.'
The principle of equal partition of land among all the children, retained in Norway from the earliest period, prevailed also in England before the Conquest. A relic of it remains in the law of Gavelkind, still existing in Kent. The different effects produced on society by the retention of that law in the one country, and its general disuse in the other, are remarkable. In Norway, chiefly by its operation, a high standard of sufficiency has been preserved among the middle and labouring classes. Population has been prevented from increasing too rapidly by the fear which people have of falling below the general standard. There has, therefore, been a continual prevalence and diffusion of ease and well-being. But, on account of the absence of great inequalities of condition, and therefore of many of the usual stimulants to exertion, society has been kept at a low level. Great social freedom has indeed always existed, in consequence of the land being in the hands of the mass of the people; but there has been a want of ability, until a very recent period, to combine for the preservation of their political independence. During their earlier history, their political liberties were often variable and uncertain. After the union of their crown with that of Denmark, in 1380, it appears that the Danish nobility gradually encroached upon their privileges; for when, in 1660, the crown and the people combined against the nobility, and abolished the States in Denmark, a similar revolution also took place in Norway; and that country continued under absolute government until the establishment of its constitution in 1814. Their udal laws trained them in the management of their own affairs; and produced that feeling of self-respect which the possession of property, and of land in particular, is calculated to give. These, together with the civil institutions preserved or introduced whilst they were under the Danish crown, prepared them for the large measure of freedom to which they have now attained. The evil of their udal system is its tendency to obstruct the developement of intellect, and to keep society stationary. But since 1814 they have made great progress. Stimulants to mental activity are now no longer wanting. Their continual collision with Sweden, the problem of their internal restrictions on trade and commerce, the routine of their government, and the wholesome struggles always arising in a free state, will supply them. Their land will become more productive, by the appli
cation of science to its cultivation; their trade will also be expanded. If we open our ports to their timber, which we may one day see accomplished, their wealth will increase. And, according to the experience of the last twenty years, wealth will not materially disturb the peculiarities of their social system.
ART. IH.-I. A Letter to the Right Honourable Viscount Melbourne, on the Causes of the Recent Derangement in the Money Market. By ROBERT TORRENS, Esq. F.R.S. London: 1837, 2. The Causes and Consequences of the Pressure upon the Money Market, with a Statement of the Action of the Bank of England from the 1st October, 1833, to the 27th December, 1836. By J. HORSLEY PALMER, Esq. Londen: 1837. 3. Reflections suggested by a Perusal of the Pamphlet of Mr Horsley Palmer. By S. J. LOYD, Esq. London: 1837. 4. Reply to the Reflections, etc., of Mr S. J. Loyd. By J. H. PALMER, Esq. London: 1837.
5. Observations on the Recent Statement of J. H. Palmer, Esq. By SAMSON RICARDO, Esq. London: 1837.
6. The Cause of the Present Money Crisis Explained, in Answer to the Pamphlet of Mr HORSLEY PALMER. By W. BENNISON, Esq. London: 1837.
7. A Defence of Joint-Stock Banks. By DAVID Salomons, Esq. London: 1837.
THE commercial and pecuniary history of Great Britain during last twelve deserves to be carefully studied and meditated. In January, 1836, trade and industry were generally believed to be in the most satisfactory condition. The country was perfectly tranquil, mercantile and monied men had the greatest confidence in each other, the foreign demand for our manufactures was great beyond all former precedent, all sorts of labourers had full employment, prices were moderate, and the Bank of England had above seven millions of coin and bullion in her coffers. Now, as every one knows, no political convulsion has taken place in the interval, the public tranquillity has never been for a moment disturbed, the home and foreign demand for our manufactures continued till recently to be as great as ever, the gloomy anticipations that were at one time entertained with respect to the late harvest have not been realized, and many important public works have been undertaken in the course of the past year. Such being the case, a person unacquainted with the circumstances would naturally conclude, that there must now be more confidence than ever, that the extraordinary extension of manufactures and trade must, by making most foreign countries our
debtors, have determined the balance of payments in our favour to such an extent as to render the accumulation of bullion inconvenient to the Bank. But how reasonable soever these conclusions may appear to be, not one of them, we are grieved to say, would be consistent with the fact. Instead of increasing, confidence has been wellnigh destroyed, a great derangement has taken place in commercial speculations, and instead of being increased, the stock of bullion in the Bank has been reduced from above seven, to not more than three and a half millions, and that establishment has been placed in the greatest jeopardy! Such are some of the anomalous results we have lately witnessed. It is of the greatest importance that they should be satisfactorily explained; for, till this be done, it will be impossible to devise measures calculated to prevent their recurrence; or to hinder what seem well planned commercial speculations degenerating into mere gambling adventures. No wonder, therefore, that this matter should have excited the deepest interest, and that some of the ablest amongst our commercial and monied men should have publicly stated their views with respect to it.
There seems to be a very general, we might almost say universal, concurrence of opinion among those who have given any attention to the subject, that the late and present difficulties have mainly originated in something unsound in the state of the currency. Neither, as we apprehend, can there be a doubt as to the correctness of this conclusion. There might, indeed, and most probably would be, commercial revulsions, and a fall of the exchange, even though the currency were wholly metallic, or fluctuated exactly as a metallic currency would do; but there is not the slightest reason for supposing that they would be either half so frequent, or severe, as under the existing system. A mixed currency, or a currency of coin and paper supplied like that of England, is exposed to fluctuations in its amount, and capacity of transacting business, ten times greater than any that could attach to a purely metallic currency; or to a mixed currency fluctuating according to the demand for bullion. If the currency consisted wholly of gold, or if no additional supplies of paper could be obtained except upon the deposit of an equivalent amount of gold, no general rise of prices could take place, except when there was an influx of the precious metals; and these, as every one knows, cannot be accumulated in any one country to a much more considerable degree than in others. But when individuals or associations are allowed to issue notes, or paper fitted to serve all the purposes of money, not upon a deposit of bullion, but merely upon their receiving a promise to repay it, with interest, at some future period, a new and most powerful element of variation is brought into the field. The currency no longer fluctuates as it
would do, did it consist of bullion. Most provincial bankers never look to the state of the exchange in transacting their business, but merely to the state of prices and of credit among their customers. Suppose, to illustrate the principle, that the exchange is at par, that is, that bullion is neither leaving the country nor coming in: In this case, were the currency either metallic, or issued upon a metallic basis, it would neither be increased nor diminished, whatever might be the tendency to speculate, or the variation in the price of certain articles. But, under such circumstances, the existing currency of Great Britain might, and it is most probable would, fluctuate very greatly. When any thing occurs to occasion a rise in the price of corn, or of any other leading article; to allay any previous panic or discredit; or to increase the public confidence; the spirit of speculation is immediately at work, and an increase of the issues of the jointstock, and private banks invariably follows. The Bank of England might not, and, it is probable, in such a case would not, make any addition to her issues. But the provincial banks, seeing the exchange at par, and paying but little attention at any time to its fluctuations, by which they are only indirectly and remotely affected, would certainly increase their issues, and be more liberal of accommodation. The impulse once given, vires acquirit eundo. The additional facilities for obtaining money, would enable individuals to keep back a portion of their produce from market, in anticipation of an advance; the public confidence, which is always greatest when prices are rising, and the supply of money is increasing, would be still further augmented; and this in its turn would, no doubt, lead to an additional issue of notes. A period of adventitious and deceitful prosperity would most likely follow, till at length the currency becoming overloaded, there would be a continued drain upon the Bank for gold for exportation; and this, by narrowing the circulation, in London, and increasing the difficulties in the way of obtaining pecuniary accommodation there, would be sure in the end to occasion a fall of prices, and a general state of discredit and embarrassment, and it may be bankruptcy.
It is plain, therefore, that the ultimate check of paying in gold, on demand, affords no security, in a country like this, for the most indispensable requisite in a properly constituted paper currency, viz. that it should vary in amount and value exactly as the currency would do, were it metallic. On the contrary, it is clear that it may be increased, while a metallic currency would have been either stationary or diminished; and conversely, and that, consequently, it may occasion fluctuations in prices, and in the exchange, that would not otherwise have been heard of.
Were these only possible and contingent occurrences, still, as