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ing various essentials of the question, we shall not write in vain, even though we create no impediments to their success. We shall strengthen those feelings, which, if we are not greatly mistaken, will speedily make mighty changes and innovations amidst seats in Parliament.
We derive much comfort from the knowledge, that if we err on this question, we err in reputable company. Saying nothing of various foreign names of the first eminence, we think as Bacon, Locke, Child, D'Avenant, Adam Smith, the late Lord Erskine, &c. thought. Here is an assemblage, which comprises philosophy, learning, talent, and practical knowledge, quite sufficient to shield us from disgrace. It may be very true, that no authori ties on any subject ever existed, until these great living men were born, who call themselves the only authorities on all subjects; and that the names we have cited are below contempt, when compared with those of Bentham, M'Culloch, Thompson, Warburton, Brougham, &c. All this may be very true, but if we doubt it we shall be pardoned by those whose favour we
Mr Thompson proves that he is very poorly qualified for attempting to change the Usury Laws, by the ignorance he manifests touching their origin. He asserts, that they origina ted in superstition. It is, however, due to him to say, that he has been led into this error by the great teachers of the school to which he belongs; he only repeats what they printed for the use of their pupils.
Laws against usury existed in the Roman empire many centuries before they were known in this country. They were re-considered, altered, extended, and enforced on public grounds, in the most enlightened days of the Empire, by the greatest of its children. From such an example they were introduced into this country. To what our Usury Laws owed their birth, is in truth of no moment, for their establishment was in reality for some time a mere matter of experiment. In 1545, the interest of money was fixed by statute at ten per cent. This statute continued in force for seven years, and was then repealed. Then for nineteen years the interest of money had no le gal limit. Then the statute of 1545 was restored by Queen Elizabeth on
In 1625, the rate of interest was reduced by law to eight per cent; the preamble of the Act assigns these as the reasons." Whereas there is at this time a very great abatement in the value of land, and in the mer chandizes, wares, and commodities of the kingdom, both at home and also in foreign parts, whither they are transported; and whereas divers sub jects of the kingdom, as well the gentry as merchants, farmers, and tradesmen, both for their necessary occa→ sions, for the following of their trades, maintenance of their stocks, and employments, have borrowed, and do bor row, diverse sums of money, wares, merchandizes, and other commodities, but by reason of the said general fall and abatement of the value of land, and the prices of the said merchandizes, wares, and commodities, and interest on loan continuing at so high a rate as ten pounds in the hundred pounds for a year, doth not only make men unable to pay their debts, and continue the maintenance of trade, but their debts daily increasing, they are forced to sell their lands and stocks at very low rates, to forsake the use of merchandize and trade, and to give over their leases and farms, and so become unprofitable members of the commonwealth, to the great hurt and hinder ance of the same.
Now for the effects which were be lieved to flow from this reduction of interest. Sir Thomas Culpepper, in a treatise written some years afterwards, states," This good success doth call upon us not to rest here, but that we bring the use for money to a lower rate, which now, I suppose, will find no opposition, for all opposition which before the statute was made against it, is now answered by the success; and most certainly the benefit will be much greater to the commonwealth, by calling the use for money down from eight to six, or even five per cent, than it was from calling it down from ten to eight per cent."
Sir Josiah Child, an eminent merchant, writes," In 1635, within ten
years after interest was brought down to 8 per cent, there were more merchants to be found upon exchange worth each a thousand pounds and upwards, than were formerly, that is before 1600, to be found worth one hundred pounds each. That in 1621, before the reduction of interest, the current value of land was twelve years purchase, which soon after rose considerably higher."
Cromwell reduced the rate of interest from 8 to 6 per cent in 1651, and the reduction was confirmed, after the Restoration, on these grounds,"Forasmuch as the abatement of interest, from ten in the hundred, in former times, hath been found, by notable experience, beneficial for the advancement of trade, and improvement of lands by good husbandry, with many other considerable advantages to the nation," "and whereas, in fresh and recent memory, the like fall, from eight to six per cent, hath found the like success to the general contentment of the nation, as is visible by several improvements," &c. &c.
Touching the effects of this reduction, Sir Josiah Child thus speaks,
Now, since interest has been for twenty years at six per cent, notwithstanding our long civil wars, and the great complaint of the dulness of trade, there are more men to be found upon the Exchange now worth ten thousand pounds, than were then of one thousand pounds.
"Which ever way we take our measures, to me it seems evident, that since our first abatement of interest, the riches and splendour of this king dom are increased above four (I may say above six) times as much as they were. Our customs are much improved, I believe above the proportion of six to one, which is not so much an advance of the rate of goods, as by the increase of the bulk of trade. If we look into the country, we shall find lands as much improved since the abatement of interest as trade in cities. I, and those I converse with do perfectly remember, that rents did generally rise after the late abatement of interest."
In 1714 the rate of intercst was finally reduced to five per cent, on the ground that the reducing of interest to ten, and from thence to eight, and thence to six in the hundred, hath
from time to time, by experience, been found very beneficial to the advancement of trade, and improvement of lands," &c. &c.
We have said abundantly sufficient to prove, 1. That the Usury Laws had their origin in public necessity; they were enacted to remove great and manifest evils.
2. That they were re-enacted, after having been for some time abolished, because it was believed their abolition had been prolific of individual and national injury.
And, 3. That they have been again and again, at distant intervals, discussed, revised, and confirmed by the greatest men of different periods, solely upon principles of individual and public benefit, and without any reference to superstition and prejudice.
And now, what are we to think of that Member of the House of Commons, who attempts to destroy these laws, on the ground that they are the offspring of superstition and prejudice; and what are we to think of his law-making brethren who support him? In this House intellect marches in a very odd manner, and knowledge displays itself in a manner equally odd.
We have said this much of the ori gin of the Usury Laws, because asser◄ tions like this of Mr Thompson have, in these distempered times, infinitely more weight than valid evidence of pernicious nature and effect. capacity of our present race of lawdestroyers is capable of very little, be yond heaping slanders on the laws they wish to destroy; and the conviction of those, by whose aid they work, can scarcely comprehend anything save such slanders.
The following are the great objects of the Usury Laws. To keep the price of the loan of money at the lowest rate, compatible with the just rights of the lender-to make it the same to all borrowers, the poor as well as the rich, and thereby to protect the mass of the community from scarcity of loans-to keep it from sudden and violent fluctuations, and make it, as far as possible, the same in all times and circumstances-and to prevent lenders of money from taking unjust and ruinous advantages of borrowers, and place both on an equality.
Of course, to prove that these laws are erroneous in principle, the usurers
ought to prove, that what they are intended to do ought not to be done. They ought to prove that scarcity of loans to the mass of the community sudden and violent fluctuations in the rate of interest—a high rate of interest -a rate of interest varying according to person, favouring the rich, and ruinously high to the less wealthy, are things highly beneficial, or at the least, not pernicious. They ought to prove that lenders of money should possess baleful advantages over borrowers. Do they prove this? They do not attempt it; on the contrary, they own that the state of things, which the laws are intended to prevent, ought not to be.
At any rate, the usurers ought to prove, not by assertions of their own, but by evidence tendered by the community at large, that these laws operate perniciously. Do they cite such evidence? No. A Parliamentary committee examined witnesses, and reported on the Usury Laws in 1818; and not one of the witnesses, even of those who were hostile to the laws, had ever heard it remarked, that this country, as a great commercial one, was subject to inconvenience in consequence of their existence. Previously to the last few years, not a complaint was made against these laws by the community, but, on the contrary, the belief that they were highly beneficial was universally entertained. In late years, a very few petitions were presented to Parliament against them; but they were manifestly dictated by other things than practical suffering. Up to the present hour, the community at large has never made the least complaint, and this forms the most decisive proof imaginable, that the Usury Laws, at any rate, have not operated injuriously. To abolish laws of such gigantic and incessant operation, in the teeth of a proof like this, is, in our poor judgment, what would be proposed only by the most crazy theorist, and what would be attempted only by a government regardless alike of its duty and its reputation.
As the usurers cannot plead any of the rational and valid reasons, which alone can justify the abolition of laws of great operation, what do they plead? They naturally take their stand chiefly upon abstract principle. Casting practical effects to the winds, they affirm that money is a commodity, similar to
commodities of trade; taking this as their fact, their inference is, that money ought to be treated by law like such commodities. Their strength lies principally here. This fact and inference are with them irresistible evidence, that the Usury Laws ought to be abolished, independently of other
Now, is it a fact in reality, or is it a fiction miscalled a fact, that money is a commodity similar to other commodities? If the fact be demolished, nothing, of course, can save the poor inference. Men of common sense are well aware, that in regard to this question, money employed as trading capital is a perfectly different thing from money employed in making loans. Money employed in buying and selling land, merchandize, manufactures, &c. is a commodity like other com→ modities, and so the law treats it. When so employed, it is exempted from the operation of the Usury Laws, and its owner may charge any rate of interest whatever.
But money as a loan differs wholly from commodities of trade, in both nature and circumstances. Speaking generally, the price of the commodity is regulated by the intrinsic value, and it is the same to all; but the price of the loan of money is regu lated by the credit of the borrower, and to almost every borrower it varies. The poor can buy the commodity as easily and cheaply as the rich; but the difficulty of procuring the loan is increased, and its price is raised, in proportion to the poverty of the borrower. The commodity is an article of barter, and all who traffic in it can obtain about the same rate of profit, and can proportion their selling to their buying price, so as to make it commonly yield them a profit; but the loan is a thing which is only lent to be returned-borrowers can only gain about the same rate of profit from employing it, while each has to pay, for the use of it, a different price from what is paid by the others. They cannot alter their rate of profit, as the price for the use of it is raised to them. The profit derived from trafficking with the commodity is often the greatest when the price is the highest ; the profits derived from the loan com monly fall as its price rises.
But it is with reference to its effects amidst the community that we must
ground. In matters of this sort he is a complete Bourgognoni, vivid, vigorous, and spirit-stirring, in all his delineations of broil and battle. Our readers shall not take all this praise upon trust. Let them read the fol lowing extract, and charge us with exaggeration if they dare:
torted members, are always accompanied with loathing. Thus it is, too, in description. Scenes which human nature would shrink from beholding, should not be obtruded on the imagination. Mind is the proper object of sympathy with mind. True, bodily anguish may occasionally be thrown in to heighten the effect, and deepen the colouring, of the picture of mental agony, but it must never be suffered to become the chief object in the group. Least of all, can we tolerate a picture, in which the mere horrors of corporeal suffering engross the whole powers of the artist's pencil. We are not quite sure, that in these remarks we have expressed ourselves very clearly, but we trust to our author's intelligence to seize the precise extent and bearing of our objections, and to his candour to give them such weight as they may appear to merit.
Passing over, therefore, this portion of the story, we come to a long episode, which is somewhat clumsily introduced, in the story of a young merchant, with whom Ismael becomes acquainted in the course of his adventures in Mushed. By this digression we think an unpleasant break is occasioned in the continuity of the story, though considered as an isolated story it is altogether unexceptionable. The merchant is a great traveller, and carries us through many lands, giving pleasant sketches of the manners of the different nations, among whom his erratic calling had made him a sojourner. We then return to the adventures of Ismael, in whose society we continue to travel on, both plea santly and profitably, till the end of the work. Nader goes on from conquest to conquest; Sultan Mahmoud is vanquished and slain; and the glory of the feeble Shah is completely overshadowed by that of his victorious commander. All this portion of the arrative is full of descriptions of nartial exploits, which are executed by a masterly hand. Whether the auther belongs to the military profession weknow not, but his knowledge, not onl of the general character of Eastern warfare, but of all minute circumstances connected with its tactic andstrategy, is evidently very extensive His military sketches are complet in all their particulars, and he neve falls into the error of fighting mere European battles on Persian
"It was a gallant and spirit-stirring sight to see them bearing down upon us, more than thirty thousand strong, all admirably armed and equipped. Hundreds of the small flags of companies, so much in use among the Affghauns, waved over their heads; and the points of their spears, and their drawn swords, gleamed with a flick ering above the dark and compact masses. Two of these bodies were entirely composed of cavalry, while that which occupied the centre consisted both of cavalry and infantry, accompanied by the greater part and in good order to the brink of the ri of their artillery. They moved on gently ver's bed below them: it was an object with their leaders, no doubt, to pass this obstacle without the confusion which might attend a more rapid course. But scarcely had they formed upon the nearer bank, than uttering a fearful yell, the greater part of their cavalry dashed forward at full speed to the charge.
"The space between the water-course and our position might be something less than half a mile, but we were quite prepared for this onset; the word was rapidly passed along to keep steady till the signal should be given, and then to pour upon the advancing enemy the full discharge of our matchlocks and arrows. On they came; the thunder of their innumerable hoofs increasing every moment till it shook the very earth; their spears in rest and their naked scymetars gleaming over their heads, filling the air with their war-cries. It was a moment of breathless suspense; not a sound was to be heard throughout our host until the foremost of the Affghauns had reached within eighty yards. Human nature could have endured no longer, when the report of three cannon parting in quick succession rose above the uproar. Instantly they were answered by a volley from forty or fifty other pieces, and by the quick dropping fire of muskets, which soon increased to a continued roar. The whole
line was enveloped in smoke, which for a
few moments hid the enemy from our view; but when the light breeze of morning wafted it in part away, a striking change was seen in their condition. From the close order of the enemy, who had charged in a dense body, every shot we fired must have taken effect, and the front ranks were therefore almost totally destroyed: the plain was now strewed with men and horses, and those behind, who were spur
ring up at full speed, increased the con-fusion by stumbling over the bodies of their fallen friends. The deadly fire of matchlocks and of arrows still continued; and ever and anon the cannon scattered havoc among the amazed Affghauns, who, confounded at a resistance so determined, wavered, drew up, and then turned and fled beyond reach of our shot.
"A strong body of cavalry from each wing was immediately dispatched to take advantage of their disorder, and for a while the fugitives were slaughtered almost unresistingly; but as they fell back upon their reserve, and our firé ceased, they recovered somewhat from their panic, and drawing off on either hand, left our horsemen exposed to a heavy fire from the cannon and musketry of their centre divi sion. This checked us in our turn; but instead of forming and making an orderly retreat, as they should have done, our men, flushed with success, thought only of carrying all before them-of galloping on, and cutting down the topechees of the Affghauns at their guns. This unlucky mistake was observed simultaneously by Nader and the enemy: the latter de tached a farther force of horsemen to complete the confusion which their fire was fast effecting among our men, while his Highness pushed forward a strong body of cavalry, including the remainder of his own guards, to support and bring them off; and moved on himself in good order, with the matchlockmen and infantry, to act as circumstances should determine.
"The engagement now became general and furious: what the Affghauns lacked in discipline, they possessed in personal strength and courage. They charged the most compact bodies of our cavalry in parties of ten or twenty, and often broke them with great loss, by dint of determi ned bravery; and though their desultory devotion generally proved fatal to them in the end, it was not without a serious expense of lives to ourselves. So bloody was the struggle, that even the portion of his Highness's guards which had accompanied the first detachment in pursuit, thinned by discharges of cannon in front, and furiously assailed on either flank by the heavy battle-axes and long spears of the horsemen, began to fall into confusion and give back. I had hastily collected a small number of men to rally another corps of cavalry, which was shrinking under its heavy loss, when, casting my eyes towards my own companions, I saw them strug gling with a fresh and powerful troop of Cadanharaes, who were led by some of the Sultaun's gholaums. The crisis was urgent in the extreme: calling out to my followers, and shouting aloud the wellknown cry of the Shurtee Naderee!' we charged the new assailants, who, thinking VOL. XXIV.
that a fresh reinforcement had come up, were checked in their career.
"At this moment, I observed Caleb Allee Beg, who was actively cheering on his men, hurled with great violence from his horse to the earth. A cannon-shot had struck him on the shoulder, and carried off his arm, with half the muscles of his side. I flew to him as he lay gasping on the ground, when, gazing wildly at me for a moment, he recognised me, and said with a ghastly smile, Ah, my friend, you will not laugh at me now! But go-you are required; take my place and do your duty; mine is over! There was, truly, no time for delay; consigning him to the care of two trusty men, I flew to the front, where the ground was still hotly contested, though the superiority of the enemy became every moment more decided. My presence and my voice, calling on them to remember who they were, exhorting them to fight for Nader, who was even now at hand with assistance, restored their sinking spirits; and by a strenuous effort, we once more gained ground upon our adversaries, and placed them between us and their own cannon. The junction of a party of our comrades, who succeeded in cutting their way through to where we stood, enabled us to support the struggle with better advantage; but by this time I discovered that the body of the guards, of which I was now the leader, had been completely separated from the rest of the army in the fluctuations of the fight, and was opposed, unassisted, to a large force of cavalry, with the infantry and artillery still threatening in front. There was nothing for it but to fight while we could; so, shouting out once more to those around me, that Nader was driving them before him on our left, and that we must open ourselves a path to join him, called on them to close their ranks, and charge in that direction.
"The name of Nader, echoed from hun dreds of tongues in reply, startled the enemy, and aided the force of our charge. Their horsemen were borne down and fled before it, and we found ourselves fast clo sing with the line of artillery and musketeers. But from them we did not meet the reception I expected;-they seemed to have their attention divided. C Charge them also,' cried I; charge them, in the name of God, and they are ours!' The spirits of my companions were elevated by the suc« cess of our first effort, and the effect of this order was electrifying; scarcely was there time for the guns to be fired, when the gunners were cut and trampled down, and their infantry were flying in all directions. At this moment an unlucky shot struck our banner-man, and the colours, as they fell, were seized upon by one among the enemy more bold than the rest; fortu