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not the elements of 2 and 5, those of the American system. The numbers 2 and 3, with their composites, 4, 6, 12, 16, occur continually in these tables, being far more common than any others. Thus, 12 and 16 ounces make a pound, not 10 and 15; 4 quarts, not 5, make a gallon ; 3 feet make a yard ; 12 inches a foot; 12 hours (or 24, which consists of the same elements) a day; 12 months a year, and so in many other cases. Whether these tables were original, planned by ingenious men, who took into account, in constructing them, the necessity of having the several denominations easily divisible by 2, 4, and 3, or whether the tables formed themselves, as it were, the several divisions growing naturally, in process of time, out of the actual transactions of trade, is now unknown. In either case the fact is, that the elements 2, 3, and 4, and not 2 and 5, prevail everywhere, and the result is a far more convenient system than if the decimal ratio had prevailed. In fact, difficult as it proves to be to introduce the decimal system in actual practice for money, it would have been absolutely impossible to introduce it in weights and measures.
Another striking illustration of the importance of the elements 2, 3, and 4, in the composition of a number that is to be frequently employed, is the great use that is made among all nations of the number twelve, which is the smallest number in which all these three elements are contained. The number 12 has a distinct name in all languages-a dozen-and it is the first number above 2, which we call a couple, that has such a distinct name. Almost all articles that are sold in small quantities by count, are sold by the dozen. This is because that number can be halved and quartered, and also, if necessary, divided by three, a property which neither the number ten nor any other number, in fact, except twelve, possesses. The numbers 24, 36, &c., possess it, it is true, but 24 is nothing more nor less than two twelves, and 36 three twelves, and so on. The number 12, therefore, and its multiples,
, are the only possible numbers of which you can take evenly one-half, onethird, or one-quarter, as you may desire.
The substance of what has been advanced in the preceding paragraphs may be briefly expressed thus :
1. The American currency is a system constructed from the elements 2 and 5, and the several denominations are divisible only by these numbers and their composites.
2. The English currency is a system constructed chiefly from the elements 2, 3, and 4, and the several denominations are divisible by each of these numbers and their composites.
3. The American system, resulting, as it does, in a decimal ratio between the denominations, is much the most convenient for all written arithmetical operations.
4. The English system, being subject to the divisions which are most commonly required in practice, is much the most convenient for actual use in all business transactions,
5. The difficulty which has been and still is experienced in introducing the pure American system into common use is owing not to the difficulty of changing old habits, but to the intrinsic inconvenience of the system itself.
Whether there are any conceivable remedies for the evils of our present system, and if so, whether such conceivable remedies are at all practicable, are questions which may, perhaps, be considered in a future article.
Art. II.—THE FINANCES AND TRADE OF THE UNITED KINGDOM.
INTRODUCTORY REMARKS-REVENUE AND EXPENDITURES IN YEAR ENDING JANUARY, 1852- TINAN
CIAL CONDITION OF UNITED KINGDOM-SLAVE COMPENSATION LOAN-IRISH DISTRESS LOAX-CIVIL LIST-PENSIONS FOR CIVIL, NAVAL, AND JUDICIAL SERVICES-SALARIES AND ALLOWANCES COURTS OF JUSTICE-MISCELLANEOUS CHARGES--CONSOLIDATED FUND-RECEIPTS UNDER SEVERAL HEADS OF TAXATION AND INCOME FROM 1846 TO 1851-TAXES REPEALED OR REDUCED-LAND AND PROPERTY TAX-REVENUE OF STAMPA-LETTERS DELIVERED IN UNITED KINODOM TROX 1840 To 1851 -POST-OFFICE REVENUE---SUGAR AND LUMBER TRADE-IMPORTS AND CONSUMPTION OF VARIOUS ARTICLES-VALUE OF DRITISH MANUFACTURES-CORN, GRAIN, AND MEAL, IMPORTED IN EACH YEAR FROM 1845 TO 1851-BRITISH NAVIGATION LAWS--TONNAGE OF BRITISH SHIPS ENTERED AND CLEARED-FLUCTUATIONS IN TRADE--EFFECTS OF THE NAVIGATION LAW or 1850.
THE “ facts and figures” collected in the following pages, from parliamentary and other authentic documents, and published in pamphlet form in London in January of the present year, present a very complete outline of the present state of the finances and trade of the United Kingdom, as compared with their state at a recent period. The English people are not accustomed to rush headlong into political changes—they examine, discuss, and retlect; there are debates in Parliament; public meetings are held ; articles are written in newspapers and reviews; pamphlets and books are published; before a measure is sanctioned by an enlightened public opiuion, and passed by the British Legislature. But in proportion as the EngJish people are slow in adopting political changes, they are tenacious of real benefits which they have obtained. They watch the consequences of new laws, and, when they see that a measure has been followed by beneficial results, they recognize the connection of cause and effect, and they are not easily cajoled, or cheated, or terrified out of the valuable acquisition. When, therefore, they consider such facts as these set forth in the statements” of the intelligent author of the following pages, they will infallibly. continue not less reluctant than they have hitherto been, to part with a fiscal policy of which these are the legitimate fruits. Hence the effects of the new Derby administration to legislate back to the corn laws will assuredly fail.
“ There are some men,” says Dr. Johnson, in his Life of Drake, “ of narrow views and groveling conceptions, who, without the instigation of personal malice, treat every new attempt as wild and chimerical, and look upon every endeavor to depart from the beaten track as the rash effort of a warm imagination, or the glittering speculation of an exalted mind, that may please and dazzle for a time, but can produce no real or lasting advantage. These men value themselves upon a perpetual scepticism, upon believing nothing but their own senses, upon calling for demonstration when it cannot possibly be obtained, and, sometimes upon holding out against it when it is laid before them ; upon inventing arguments against the success of any new undertaking, and, where arguments cannot be found, upon treating it with contempt and ridicule. Such have been the most formidable enemies of the great benefactors to mankind.”
The class of persons so accurately described by Johnson in this passage, have given every opposition in their power to the various improvements in the fiscal and commercial legislation of the United States of America as well as the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Ireland, and Scotland.
We are indebted for an early copy of this pamphlet to Messrs. Delf and TRUBNER, importers in London of American books; and as it contains so much interesting information relating to the fiscal and commercial affairs of a nation with which we hold such important commercial and monetary relations, we presume that its republication in this place will be regarded as
an interesting and valuable contribution to the pages of a cosmopolitan work like the Merchants' Magazine, designed as it is to record and perpetuate the literature and the statistics of the trade and resources of the entire commercial world.
THE FINANCES AND TRADE OF THE UNITED KINGDOM, 1852. That operation which in the case of a private trader is called “taking stock," is not unbecoming to the dignity or unsuited to the interests of a nation. It is customary and convenient, at certain periods, to look into the economical position of the country; to examine the several sources of our public income, and the several branches of our public expenditure; to compare them with similar heads of revenue and disbursement in former years; and to survey the movements of trade, of banking, and of the other pecuniary interests which admit of being expressed in numbers.
The periodical returns and accounts which are printed for the use of Parliament, or which come before the public through other channels, are indeed sutficient to enable a person who has opportunity for statistical researches, and the habit of finding his way through rows of figures, to ascertain these facts for himself at any given time. Few persons have, however, the leisure or the facilities for reference which are necessary for obtaining a tolerably complete view of the state of the national finances at a particular moment; and as the present time is divided by an interval neither very short nor very long from legislative changes which have affected both our foreign trade and our internal interests, it seems to be suited for a fair judgment, and to call for such a survey as we have described. The following pages will, therefore, be devoted to this purpose ; and an attempt will be made, by the assistance of authentic materials, to give a summary view of the financial and commercial state of the country, as it existed at the latest date to which our information reaches.
The first document which we shall lay before the reader, is the most important for our present purpose, as well as the simplest and most comprehensive; namely, the account of the public income and expenditure for the year 1851. AN ACCOUNT OF THE NET PUBLIC INCOME OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND
IRELAND IN THE YEAR ENDED THE 5TH DAY OF JANUARY, 1852, (AFTER ABATING THE EXPENDITURE THEREOUT DEFRAYED BY THE SEVERAL REVENUE DEPARTMENTS,) AND OF THE ACTUAL ISSUES OR PAYMENTS WITHIN THE SAME PERIOD, EXCLUSIVE OF THE SUMS APPLIED TO THE REDEMPTION OF FUNDED OR PAYING OFF UNFUNDED DEBT, AND OF THE ADVANCES AND REPAYMENTS FOR LOCAL WORKS, ETC.
INCOME OR REVENUE.
ORDINARY REVENUE AND RECEIPTS.
£20,615,337 12 0 14,442,081 60 6,385,082 14 0 3,563,961 18 6 5,301,923 2 1 1,069,000 0 0 150,000 0 0
4,424 0 4 25,826 6 1 108,916 8 4
£413,155 16 11
90,297 11 9 60,000 0 0
£52,233,006 16 5
Total charge of funded debt, exclusive of £11,867
78. 8d., the interest on donations and bequests. 27,614,413 12 2 Unfunded debtInterest on exchequer bills.....
402,713 13 6
28,017,127 6 8 Civil list .....
397,730 00 Annuities and pensions for civil, naval, military,
and judicial services, &c., charged by various
acts of Parliament on the consolidated fund.. 378,341 13 7 Salaries and allowances
278,526 2 6 Diplomatic salaries and pensions..
152,798 77 Courts of justice.....
1,090,227 56 Miscellaneous charges on the consolidated fund. 295,056 30
2,587,679 12 % Army
6,485,498 1 10 Navy.
5,849,9!6 16 5 Ordnance...
2,238,442 8 0 Civil services
4,004,831 19 3 Kaffir war.
18,878,689 5 6
Unclaimed dividends (less than received).....
£49,483,496 3 4
23,114 8 3
Excess of income over expenditure...
49,506,610 11 7 2,726,396 4 10
£52,233,006 16 5 In order to understand the present financial condition of the country, it will be necessary to examine the principal items of this annual account; and, in so doing, we will observe the constitutional maxim which, by placing the Committee of Supply before the Committee of Ways and Means, gives expenditure the precedence of income; on the ground that ihe nation has no fixed income, and that its wants must be determined before the amount of taxation can be fixed. A private person regulates his expenses by his income, whereas a nation regulates its income by its expenses.
Following then this order, we may remark that the charge for the funded and unfunded debt in the year 1851 was £28,017,127. This sum has undergone some variation during the last twenty years, as will be seen by the following comparison, showing the total charge of funded and unfunded debt. 1830. 1810.
£28,017,127 It appears, therefore, that the charge of the debt was above a million sterling less in 1851 than in 1830. It is, however, to be observed that about £30,000,000 of fresh debt has been created since 1830; namely, the slave compensation loan of £20,000,000 in 1835-6, the Irish distress loan of £8,000,000 in 1847, and the deficiency loan of £2,000,000 in 1848. This reduction of the charge has therefore been effected, consistently with the additional loans, and also with the increased operation of the conversion of perpetual into terminable annuities ; a process which relieves posterity at the expense of a small present sacrifice.*
• The charge for perpetunl annuities in 1830 and the present time is as follows: January 3, 1830 £23,320,000; January 5, 1952 L 23,594,000; decrease £1,734,000. Whereas the comparative amounts for the terminable annuilies stand thus: January 5, 1830 12,681,000; January 4, 1832 £3,816,000 ; increase £1,134,000.
This large sum of £28,000,000, being in discharge of a national obligation, solemnly confirmed by acts of the legislature, and being moreover in the nature of an equivalent paid for money had and received, may be considered as practically out of the control of Parliament. The only wholesome control over this expenditure which the representatives of the people can exercise, is by adopting such measures, in the way of diminution of the rate of interest, or of commutation of the perpetual into terminable annuities, as shall alleviate its present pressure, or provide for its ultimate extinction.
The total expenditure for the year 1851 having been £49,506,610, and the charge for the interest of the debt having been £28,017,127, it follows that the expenditure properly under the control of Parliament was £21,489,483, which is considerably less than half of the total expenditure.
This sum of £21,489,483 is, considered as the subject of parliamentary control, divided into two portions. One portion, which amounted last year to £2,587,679, consists of fixed charges made upon the Consolidated Fund by various acts of Parliament passed in former years.
The first of these is the Civil List, fixed by agreement with the crown, and ratified by act of Parliament. This item consists of £385,000, out of which sum are defrayed the expenses of her majesty's household and privy purse, the salaries and retired allowances of the officers of the household, the royal bounty, alms, &c. This sum, together with £12,730 paid as civil list pensions to per. sons who have rendered personal services to the crown, or performed public duties, or who have been distinguished by their useful discoveries in science, and their attainments in literature and the arts, made up the sum of £397,730. The grants of civil list pensions are limited by act of Parliament to £1,200 a year.
The next item is “ Annuities and Pensions for Civil, Naval, Military, and Judical Services, &c., charged by various acts of Parliament on the Consolidated Fund," amounting to £378,341. The annuities under this head are very various; but they are principally compensations for public services, or for loss of office.
The next two items, “ Salaries and Allowances,” and “ Diplomatic Salaries and Pensions,” consist of the salaries of certain officers (such as the speaker and officers of the House of Commons, the Commissioners of Audit, the Controller-General of the Exchequer, &c.) which are fixed by act of Parliament, and also the salaries and expenses of the diplomatic service, which are limited, by the same authority, to a sum not exceeding £180,000 per annum.
The next item is entitled “ Courts of Justice," and it includes the salaries of the Judges of the Superior Courts of England and Ireland ; those of Scotland being a separate charge upon the customs revenue. Its amount is £1,090,227. The larger part of this sum is, however, in fact paid for the expenses of the constabulary in Ireland, and of the metropolitan police courts and police in England; the former of these charges amounts to about £580,000; the latter to about £130,000; making altogether £710,000.
The item of " Miscellaneous Charges on the Consolidated Fund” consists principally of the payments of interest on the Russian-Dutch, and Greek loans, which together form about £138,000. Besides these, there are certain expenses connected with the slave trade, allowances for the improvement of harbors, &c., amounting altogether to £295,056.
These several fixed charges on the Consolidated Fund have been made by a great variety of acts of Parliament, passed during a long series of years on the most multifurious grounds. That which has been done by the authority of Parliament can be undone by the same power; and therefore, in strictness, any one of the acts in question may be revised. Many of them, however, are in the nature of compacts with individuals; and as to the majority of them (such as those fixing the salaries of judges,) the policy of determining the payment by something more certain than an annual vote of Parliament is universally recognized. Practically, therefore, the attention of Parliament is only given at cer. tain intervals to these fixed charges; and thus the sum which comes annually under the close and ordinary review of the House of Commons, consists of the remaining portion of the sum of £21,489,483, to which we above adverted.