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DOMESTIC AND FINANCIAL CONDITION
A BRIEF SKETCH OF HER FOREIGN POLICY.;
AND OF THE
STATISTICS AND POLITICS
FRANCE, RUSSIA, AUSTRIA, AND
G. BRC WNING.
Of states, of empire, princely crowns, and altars,
LONGMAN, REES, ORME; BROWN, GREEN, & LONGMAN,
state of Europe. The question of war or peace is, in modern times, so interwoven with the internal and financial condition of nations, that in judging of the probable future policy of European governments, we must necessarily look to their power, revenue, and resources. How far the plan which, from such considerations, we have adopted, has detracted from that unity of design which ought to form a distinguishing feature in every historical and political work, remains for the reader to determine; but, if harmony of purpose is wanting in the succeeding pages, the deep interest which is felt by the public in the politics of Europe, and the frequent reference to continental affairs which of necessity occurs in the elucidation of the more material subjects here treated of, will, in some degree, justify the plan adopted. The facts advanced have been carefully collected from the most authentic sources, and whatever has been considered to bear upon the general system of European policy, has been briefly sketched. Many of the particulars contained in this portion of the work, have been deduced from personal observation, during a residence on the continent.
At the commencement of the second part of our work, we have investigated, at some length, the operation of our numerical advancement; and our conclusions, based on a careful review of facts, are, we trust, calculated not only to dispel the lugubrious anticipation of those who view with alarm the expansion of our population, but to inspire confidence in the prospective effects of its increase. In the latter part of the work, the buoyancy of the state revenues is clearly shewn to spring from the increase of people.
Few subjects have excited a greater share of public interest than the condition of the working classes, and the practical operation of poor
laws : these form the theses of the succeeding chapter. The necessity for remedial measures in this part of our domestic policy is fully demonstrated, and the probable effect of the means adopted by parliament to eradicate the abuses which have crept into the administration of our eleemosynary laws discussed.--The state of British agriculture, and the question as to the policy of the present restrictions to a free trade in corn, form the succeeding topics of disquisition; our suggestions on these important subjects, are founded on a careful research into the operation of past enactments.
The removal of present impediments to a free trade in grain, are not advocated without duly appreciating the claims of vested interests; and the policy of a return to a more liberal course of commercial legislation, is only recommended on the principle of reconciling a variety of private interests with public advantage.
The intricate topics of money, ccin, and exchange next succeed. Few subjects demand a greater share of attention on the part of our rulers, than the state of the currency. The questions which arise in the discussion, are full of vital importance. The national losses by the late defective plans of pecupiary legislation, cannot fail to impress the reader with the necessity of new ramparts of security; nor can he fail to see the danger to which the best interests of the state are exposed, under the operation of the present system. The expediency and novelty of those reforms, which we have, perhaps with too much confidence, suggested, are submitted to his judgment. Our chief aim in this part of the work has been clearness and perspicuity, and we have studiously avoided those mysteries of language in which the subject is too frequently enveloped.
In the investigation of our financial condition, we have entered on a rigid scrutiny of the British plan of taxation. The sweeping reforms we have suggested under this head, may appear to our readers far too bold, too extensive, and too dangerous for adoption ; yet the encouragement afforded by recent financial changes, is well calculated to inspire ministers with confidence in the prospective result of enlarged operations, and to induce an extended application of those principles on which their financial policy has of late years been so wisely based-witness the success of the measures of 1832, when a remission of duties to the amount of 1,600,000l. was concurrent with an actual increase of revenue exceeding 200,0001. To the advantages which would result from the remission of such duties as those now charged on foreign timber, or on such articles of domestic manufacture as glass, paper, &c., none can be insensible; and if our estimates of the disposable means of abolishing that portion of taxes which impedes the progress of the nation in wealth and power, are deemed too sanguine, and our anticipation of the progressive advance of the national means of contribution too favourable, we trust that they will not be attributed to deficient industry in the investigation of the springs of British power, but to that confidence in the buoyancy of the state resources which must, in the course of their researches, grow in the minds of all who attentively examine into the domestic and financial condition of Great Britain.
In discussing these subjects, we have ventured on questions of great difficulty and vital importance; in the review of which, any attachment to party politics would be unsuitable. Happily, in this age and country, a rigid scrutiny into the public actions of public men is permitted ; and we have thus felt free to commend and animadvert on measures in proportion as they appear well or ill adapted to our condition, without regard to the political principles of men in office, or of their opponents.
Convinced that in works wherein the leading design is utility, clearness and simplicity are especially desirable, perspicuity, rather than elegance of style has been our aim. We are far from being insensible to the imperfections which our work presents to the ingenious and intelligent critic; but, conscious that our pages bear the stamp of good intention, laborious investigation, and diligent research, we confidently claim the indulgence of the attentive reader.
Several changes have occurred since the beginning of the present session of parliament, when our manuscript was sent to press ; during the progress of the printing, we have yet found opportunity to notice some of the most important measures of the legislature; with these exceptions, which will be remarked on perusal of the work, the manuscript must be considered to be made up to April 1834. In our observations connected with the science of political economy, we have taken for our guide the doctrines laid down by Boileau, * a writer of great discernment and solid judgment. To Mr. Mc Culloch a special acknowledgment is due, for the use we have made of his able and profound work;t nor can we close our preface without expressing our thanks for the assistance we have received from the gentlemen of the House of Commons' Library, and from those of the British Museum. We have also derived great assistance from the writings of other authors, to which we have referred in various parts of the
Introduction to the science of Political Economy. + Dictionary of Commerce and Navigation.
LONDON, August, 1834.