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or be locked up in the funds at a very unprofitable rate of interest. The present therefore has the character of a speculation in a superfluous commodity, or at most an adventure of the money the speculatist possesses unemployed. The objectors to them seem never to have objected to foreign loans. Now railways, canals, and mining in England or America, are objects that expose to less risk of ultimate loss than loans to the despots of the Continent. Austria shuffled us out of part of 17,000,000l. which she got as a loan of the nation. Now in the event of war with these powers, where is the interest to come from, when most needed? The money is locked up until a peace, and then a few shillings in the pound are all that in human probability would ever be recovered. So drained are the great States of the Continent after a war, that if they had the inclination, and were not given to cheat and evade, and appoint commissions to sit half a century to examine debts which they feel are just, they have not then the means to pay.* Joint-stock companies for foreign objects (always of course including the idea of their being bona-fide what they pretend to be,) employ their capital among States with which we can have little cause to fear a rupture.

But passing by these topics, and the fallacious projects that like weeds have grown up with the crop, it is proper that we proceed to make some enquiry into the principal object of our research. It will be granted that some half dozen of the companies formed in the City, which are headed by and divided among men of respectability and property, will be really carried into effect to the full extent of the proposed means. The present paper is penned merely to show that in all those impulses which chance, unemployed capital, or new adventures in manufactures may give, when sobered down, that they seldom fail to produce beneficial consequences, and with this view to endeavour, as generally and briefly as possible, to examine whether we should gain by the success of schemes too extended for individual capital to undertake, but easy of performance by a union of the means and power of many. Those who are of the old school in trade and politics, may style such an inquiry theoretical. Like his Highness of York, they may stand in the breach the champions of past prejudices, and still obstinately keep their position when all the world has abandoned them. The best reply for such persons is, to point to the effects of candid exposition, liberal action, and sound judgment in our financial affairs, and contrast them with the mean, shuffling and capricious measures of the "good old times" gone by for ever, even in imitation, it is to be fervently hoped.

Let us then beg a question, and suppose half a dozen of these companies to carry their intentions honestly into action. Let us suppose one a railway company at home, (or any thing but Sir Thomas Lethbridge's Utopian canal,) that is of magnitude too great for individual enterprise; and another a mining company abroad; and that these are prosecuted diligently to the object in view, with all the care and frugality, and all the effective force necessary. It will not be denied that, If a railway can be so constructed as to convey goods eight miles, and

* We have already seen in the newspapers that on a decline in the foreign funds, the adventures in the New World have uniformly risen.

passengers twelve or fifteen miles an hour,* another step in social improvment is obtained, and that the present has gained a fresh triumph over the past. The money employed in the rail-roads would have remained idle, but for the project to which it has been applied. The shareholder gains eight or ten per cent. for his money, which places so much the more in his hands to employ in some new source of emolument. The traveller gains time and saves money in like manner with the speculatists to lay out elsewhere, ond the ironmaster and mechanic reap a profit also in their branches. It is evident (it is almost too common to remark it here again,) that the more time is saved, and profit made, the more profit will again be made of both. The bulk of the national wealth will be constantly receiving fresh accessions or rather reiterated circulations, to be applied to fresh labours of industry-money and time making more money and time. Now this could not happen in any thing like an equal degree, if the cash of the capitalists lay idle, and if he, without employing others, and pushing things on en masse, contented himself with a low and uniform rate of interest. Let us say what we may on the subject, the establishment of any new branch of trade, or the setting on of a manufactory, partakes in no small degree of the character of a speculation; indeed, commerce itself can be deemed little else. By increasing the national activity, we increase the aggregate wealth, and it cannot be denied that joint-stock companies are so far beneficial. But they must be confined to great things to be so. Mining, roads, railways, canals, bridges, and in short, works that kings and Governments formerly undertook, seem to be their legitimate objects. They must not grasp at or interfere with what the means of individuals, separately, can easily master: in that case they will be pernicious.

The activity of the bulk of the people, the bustle and occupation of all in every corner of the land, may not be an object in a country that is contented to stand still in prosperity, or to increase by imperceptible degrees, careless whether a rival or a neighbour overtakes it in its career; but for this country, every energy-every muscle of the public frame must be kept in exertion, until a preponderating access of wealth and power be acquired, sufficient to make the overtaking us a hopeless task. We must do this before we rest upon our oars. It is essential to the preservation of our high character among nations, which we must not merely maintain, but continue to raise higher. The joint stock company mania raised the spirits, and set in accelerated motion the life-blood of the commercial body; and when it becomes sobered down, it will be productive, (in the schemes which survive and were properly planned,) of additional profit to the nation. As to the gambling part of the affair, unhappily it is no novelty; the funds foreign and domestic have been, and will, in bargains for account, continue as heretofore a regular play at hazard. Adventurers in them clamour loud enough at rivals, and, as in the case of De Berenger, when an attempt is made to hit them with their own weapons, will barefacedly bring men into courts of law upon charges of which they themselves have a hundred times before

* A greater speed is believed to be practicable, but the enormous increase of the price of iron has for a time paralyzed those rail-road undertakings that are engaged in-may not good be, bond-fide, reasonably expected from this mode of carriage united with steam, of which it is impossible to foretell the extent ?

been guilty. Besides, in the present case, this adventuring excess arises out of the abuse of joint-stock companies, and not from the character of the things themselves. A "merchant's venture" is an old phrase, and the chance of profit and loss is connected with the larger part of all mercantile transactions. When a capitalist ventures his idle capital therefore in a bona-fide joint-stock speculation, he calculates that he may lose as well as gain ; and naturally imagining that as such undertakings, if conducted with integrity and honour, could not be carried on without data of probable success to proceed upon, he feels that he runs as little risk (always supposing the honourable nature of the concern in which he ventures, and excepting bubbles and cheats) as he would in a speculation of merchandise to pass across the seas.

In respect to joint-stock companies in foreign nations, and the employment of capital out of the control of our own government, a great deal more may be said than I can afford space for here. Much must depend upon the political aspect such countries hold. Those which are independent and free in government, that have every thing to fear and nothing to hope in a contest with Great Britain, and are bound to her in a certain degree by a sympathy in their free institutions, while they regard her as a support or rallying point for nations that have rent asunder the chains of despotism, are undoubtedly the most honourable in character, and the safest with which to be concerned. In France, the most enlightened and powerful of the European states, the interference of a capricious government, directly or indirectly, in works of magnitude paralyzes every thing. Utterly ignorant of the true principle of trade and manufacturing prosperity, every person who proposes a new undertaking and ventures his capital in it, may be ruined by the intermeddling of authorities in one way or another; for though the property be safe, if the channel to a market be shut up, or fanciful rules prescribed for the manufacturer cramping him on every side, the principal of such an adventurer must be for ever in jeopardy, and the profit precarious. Add to this the chance of war, which may be protracted for a series of years, and no return ever more arise. In the other European Governments, the caprice of the tyrant is the law, and property is at best in such cases only held by sufferance. Where property is held sacred, and right and law paramount, which only happens under popular Governments, commerce is tenfold more flourishing than it ever can be under despotisms; there, and there alone, can safe adventures be made.* Europe is not therefore so safe, and the States of this quarter of the globe, approaching so near to ourselves in power, and being so formidable to us in influence over their neighbours, it is not so politic to add to their means of offence, by risking property, of which the will of one man may at any time bereave us. In America, the northern States have free institutions, and no one would impugn the security of property under their laws; and this is (as far as it yet can be) the case with the southern. These new southern republics have every thing to hope from us, and could gain nothing by a contest. A long series of years must elapse before they can become formidable as enemies; while as friends and allies the in

*

Tyre and Carthage in ancient times, and even Greece, as well as Venice and the Italian States in modern, show this-to say nothing of Holland, England, and America.

terest of both countries is simultaneous. We would see England the heart of free nations; they deriving support in time of infancy from her protecting power, and linking their future destinies with hers. We rejoice to observe her late approximation to friendship and alliance with such, and her standing aloof from the besotted and criminal objects which the vices and tyranny of the arbitrary governments of Europe are ever leading them into. The past interference of England in these unprincipled quarrels impeded the march of her power, and kept her down until the late fortunate change in the cabinet emancipated her from the old and slavish policy, and taught the advocates for the old system, that while she might be friendly with every state, she possessed strength and spirit enough to act in "her own orbit," and to enter into friendly connexion with nations whose governments assimilated more in freedom to her own. What has been the result but continued prosperity? What would be the result of returning to the late policy, but impoverishment and discontent? Free states are those, then, in which, if it be advisable to adventure at all, property is more secure, and likely to accumulate in a rapid ratio. It is probable that the employment of the immense superfluous capital of England, which is not needed at home, will give her a strong hold in those countries where it acts to any great extent. Thus some of the companies in America have taken her mines to share half the profits: these mines, if abandoned in consequence of a contest with Great Britain, would again fill with water, overpower the unscientific native managers, and be idle, impoverishing the natives equally as much as their late revolution did, and throwing thousands out of employ. Here then is a link of interest, binding directly and indirectly a state to Great Britain; while the latter, in exp to her advantage, and an influx of the produce of the industry of the members of her community abroad, no matter in what shape, whether in goods or gold, must feel a reciprocal tie to peace on her part.

Freedom in trade is the true source of its prosperity, as liberty is of the prosperity of a nation and her advance in knowledge. Let it be free in every shape-a chartered libertine, like the air. If but onefourth of the joint-stock speculations are effected, they will be sources of new branches of industry and wealth, and the bubbles and fraudulent schemes of the unprincipled will be soon forgotten. We must not confound them together. There are some seriously carrying into effect with the best prospects; and as far as the foresight of the .experienced can go, and the opinions of men duly qualified to judge have weight, they are as likely to succeed as similar undertakings, and have a chance of giving returns, in all events, above those of Waterloo-bridge. In considering the present question as is often the case, joint-stock companies have been censured too indiscriminately; the want of precedent to judge of them sadly astounded the gray beards. A deliberate examination of the subject, the dismissal of prejudice, and separation of the fraudulent bubbles from the sound and reasonable class of adventures, is the only way to form a correct judgment respecting them. Even now it appears that while the fraudulent schemes are dissipating or fallen in the market, those of real value keep firm. The passion for such speculations is subsiding. Those who have suffered have only themselves to blame for their credulity in not making, as they might have done, due

VOL. IX. No. 54.-1825.

72

examination into the plans in the support of which they are sufferers; while those who scrutinized them as they should have done, and made precautionary calculations, cannot have exposed themselves to very great loss; and even then the community may reap considerable benefit. Our monied men, ere they hazard their superfluous cash, have never been before told in our day, that even their lynx eyes require to be sharpened in pursuit of their own interest; and this class composes nine-tenths of the gainers and losers by the joint-stock mania. L.

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