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and sometimes leads to a military-despotic tone of mind, is true enough; and yet would seem strange enough at first sight. It would seem that nothing has so much tendency to frame a weak and ill-knitted socialism as the fervour of religious piety: yet it actually drew together the strongest, widest, and most elastic system of society the world has ever seen. While it purified society, it gave it radiating centres of strength. Instead of making the individual members of the social body lean too much on the general society, as is the case with all other socialisms, the general society received all its strength from the innumerable and impregnable spiritual strongholds which were garrisoned for it every where by a mere handful of sentinels. It was a system in which all the moral nerve that had left the old civilisations was suddenly restored a thousandfold. The new trust not only gave social strength, but solitary strength-strength to the smallest groups in a proportion as full as it gave to the largest. And this strength of trust often became confidence, audacity, zeal, intolerable dogmatism, iron cruelty. In truth, it gave all the military virtues; and these were often fostered into military vices. The process is clear enough. Men did not doubt, they knew that God was ruling the world and them. They leaned upon Him; they knew that He was. There is nothing that gives such edge, such keenness, such promptitude, to self-convictions of right and wrong as this. Till you believe that God is in you, you do not feel clear about your own convictions at all; you will take any one's word that you are right, any one's word that you are wrong, however much it confuses the simple undefined perceptions of your heart; you hope that you believe, you believe that you think, you think that you feel. All is in a mist. Any one's word is better than your own, for it adds more to the confusion. Suddenly trust comes; and then, "if your heart condemns you, God is greater than your heart, and knoweth all things." It is a word of command; if a rebuke, it is an inevitable condemnation,-a sentence to be executed and accepted. Every sentence that flashes through the heart is written also in the heavens; and, even if the sentence here is but half legible, still elsewhere-with God-it is clear as the sun. Here is the foundation of every military virtue,—of that instant and unflinching obedience, that sense that death itself is service, that uncriticising attitude of mind towards the superior, that severity of expectation from yourself and your subordinate, which is the essence of manly conflict. And only add to it blind confidence that your conscience and spirit is the measure of every other man's; that you may judge for him what it is written for him to do,—and you have all the horrors of bigotry of which Mr. Buckle speaks as one of the two worst evils of human society. If evil be measured by suffering, no doubt it is evil
enough; but the most pitiless persecutor, who identifies for the time his own cruel will with that of God, strikes less severely at civilisation than many who help to spread the infection of a soft sneering renunciation of all law except the law of selfish pleasure. But fortunately there is no need to choose between the two. The highest trust essentially gives decision and sharpness, determination,-spring, in short, to civilisation: but not in any way at the expense of liberty; for in its most personal form it is inconsistent with judging others. The humility it cannot help inspiring, saves it from persecuting rigour. No era of intense personal trust has been a persecuting period. St. Paul persecuted while he was in the old pharisaic stage of belief in a rigid system; but trust in a living person made him the most large-minded of men. The most genuine school of personal religion throughout the history of the catholic church, up to the time of Fenelon and Madame Guyon, has been the school with a bias to mysticism—a school noted for its humility and charity. Dogmatism is utterly inconsistent with a living trust; for it believes that it is saved by the anxious elaboration of connected views; and only dogmatists have ever been persecutors. And yet we imagine the average "mystic," George Fox, for example, who was far from enlightened, would be the very pattern Mr. Buckle desires of an ignorant and holy faith. It is only at the point where faith transcends the limits of its own experience, -the limits of personal trust,-that it hardens into a dogmatic standard for the belief of others.
Mr. Buckle's book is one of encyclopædic learning and great general ability. If we have seemed to depreciate it, it is only because we have dealt rather with the philosophy than the history; and that does seem to us pale, shallow, and almost pompous. But the power of seeing the right facts to classify, and the power of classifying them, which the book contains, gives much promise for the ability of the work as a whole. The great want of the book is a little more human nature; it is humane, but not human, and smiles on men and nations with the sort of benignity with which a kind-hearted person treats tame domestic animals. Mr. Buckle has no kind of perception how frightfully dull a thing civilisation would be if it were what he describes. The refutation of the main error of the book lies within the compass of every man's own nature. We know what it is that civilises us; and we know what it is in us that resists civilisation. Intellectual activity does neither the one nor the other. It is merely the instrument of discoveries which heighten social influences a thousandfold both for good and for evil. Railways and telegraphs would not be used much, we think, by pure intellects, though they had been invented by them. And were the intellect the overmastering power Mr. Buckle believes, the volcanic forces that tend so con
stantly to break up social unities would not be possible. In fact, without the bond of a common trust, civilisation would be unendurable by strong minds, and would enslave weak minds. The fever of society, its superficial courtesies, its external smothering of passions which it gives no spiritual power to restrain, its halflatent pressure of opinion, its unsatisfying intercourse, its glimpses of higher things, would far oftener draw men into solitude, but for that faith which not only gives access to an eternal solitude, but habituates them to see in faint signs the images of deeper realities, and to recognise the apparently shallow channels of social life, as conveying to them an influence which is not measured by the light action and the passing word.
ART. X.-THE MONETARY CRISIS.
Report from the Select Committee on the Bank Acts; together with the Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evidence, Appendix, and Index. Ördered by the House of Commons to be printed, July 30, 1857.
Debate in the House of Lords on the Bank-Issues Indemnity Bill, on the 11th December 1857. Reported in Times Newspaper of December 12th.
Debate in the House of Commons on the Reappointment of the BankCharter Committee, on the same day, and reported in the same journal.
FOR Once the serious attention of business-men is applied to the subject of the currency. The recent commercial crisis, bringing anxiety to all active merchants; the failure of many houses believed to be solvent, and of some who really were so; the suspension of the act of 1844, which, being a repetition of what happened in 1847, looks, to say the least, like an indication of defect in that famous piece of legislation, these circumstances and others have called to the topic of the currency the real minds of many who generally regard it as the peculium of dry economists, and the puzzle of captious speculators. In Lombard Street, on Thursday the 12th of November, there was no denying that the bank-note question was a practical one. Some months ago, a parliamentary committee elaborately investigated much of the subject: it was curious to compare the listless curiosity of its speculative interest with the eager queries," Will the act be upset?" "What will the Govern
ment do?" "Is the Governor come back from Downing Street?"
This crisis throws a more remarkable light on our banking practice and currency legislation, because it does not seem to be the result of any circumstances so peculiar that we may not often expect to see others of which the effects may be the same. The circumstances of 1847 have been put aside of late years as exceptional. The extreme errors of the Bank directors, the railway mania, the bad harvest, were singularities of that time, and might never be expected to recur; at least, not all of them at one time, or in so aggravated a form. The present year has no such peculiar features. Our domestic trade-the trades of banking and money-dealing perhaps in part excepted -is, on the whole, sound.* Considering the enormous development which our commerce, whether of export or import, has recently undergone, few thoughtful men looked without some apprehension at the probability of a severe pressure. Most of them perhaps really anticipated a good many mercantile failures from domestic and personal causes. There have scarcely been any; of large firms exceedingly few. The trade of two important foreign markets has been deranged by circumstances peculiar to them; we have been affected, naturally and inevitably, by these derangements; but, except among a few billbrokers and money-lending companies, no one, even with the acute anger of disappointed theory, has been able to find blamable error in our national trade.
The time is not yet come for attempting to estimate or analyse the causes of the American panic, or of the extensive failures in the North of Europe. We have hardly as yet the facts before us. We have enough to refute a few old popular fallacies. We know that they did not arise from any excess of paper currency; for in Hamburg, where the disasters have been greater than any where else, they have a pure metallic currency; and in New York, which seems the centre of the monetary disasters of America, it has been proved by figures that there was no extension of the bank circulation of any importance at all.+
The chief exception to the remark that our trade is of itself sound, occurs in the houses connected with the North of Europe, who, contrary to what might have been expected, have not stood so well as the American houses. This exception is not, however, one of sufficient importance to affect our general argument.
†The Economist of the 28th November 1857 gives the following figures as representing the state of the New-York banks at their respective dates:
Yet many considerate persons still impute the disasters of the country to the
Our knowledge is only as yet, however, sufficient for the purposes of refutation; we do not know enough to advance a comprehensive and positive theory. We clearly discern, however, that the trade of the North of Europe has been conducted for a very considerable period on a most unwholesome system of fictitious credit. Houses in Hamburg have given their names to acceptances for which they did not know what was the equivalent for which, in point of fact, there was no equivalent. These acceptances were discounted on the faith of the acceptor; and, though with changes of amount and detail, in reality renewed whenever they became due. The acceptor of course ran a great risk, as his liability was for a very large sum; but he considered that he was remunerated by a commission, of which doubtless the proceeds were considerable. Every system of renewed acceptance is, however, unpleasantly affected by a tightness in the discount market: the old bill becomes due with an unfailing rapidity, but the new bill which is to replace it can only be discounted slowly, after a hesitation, after a conversation with the banker-in the end, cannot be discounted at all. Such a pressure in the discount market was produced at Hamburg by the continued drain of silver to the East-silver being there the standard of value and the metal stored as bullionand by the American panic, which largely affected the continental city most immediately connected with the Transatlantic trade. After all that has been said of the "dashing" system of Liverpool trade, after every concession to the opponents of "rediscount" and "fictitious" bills, it is nevertheless not without pride that we may compare the consequences of the American panic on the North of England with its effects at Hamburg. The stability of Liverpool, Manchester, and of the vast industrial region which is situated round them, can only be explained by a generally sound state of industry. At what former period could a great failure of remittances, a great contraction of accommodation, a ten-per-cent rate of discount, have been borne by the most enterprising of our traders with so few disasters? We can only hope that the next time an American panic occurs, it may find us equally well prepared; very much better, we fear, looking to the past experience of commerce, it would be over-sanguine to expect. That panics will occur every now and then in many of the countries with which in our ramified trade we largely deal, it is impossible to question. We may not in many cases be able to trace them by very indismismanagement of the currency. Even Mr. Cardwell, in the debate on the reappointment of the Bank Committee, allowed himself to use language which would convey such an impression: "You have gone through a great disaster, emanating from a country, let it never be forgotten, that has this convertible currency, every bank of which has suspended payment," &c.—Times, Saturday, December 12th.