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the manufactured articles, and the speculators withdraw from the business. Then comes the difficult question, What is to become of the laborers recently engaged in these branches of industry, and who, from want of practice, are wholly or par tially unfit for other kinds of work? The single speculator retires richer than before, but he leaves behind, to the care of the state, a host of men made poorer than before. The single man now becomes rich, ceases to manufacture, and so becomes a mere unproductive consumer in the state; he spends his money either directly in a foreign land, or else indirectly by the use of articles of luxury purchased from abroad. Money, the blood of the state, no longer circulates down to the lowest members of society, preserving life and health; it stops in certain places and flows outwards. Then comes feebleness, and then death of the body politic, or there follows a violent convulsion, a revolution.
This opinion is confirmed by a glance at the manufacturing districts of Europe. One chief cause of the violent fermentation now prevalent among the people is to be found in the complicated relations of manufacturing and other kinds of labor.
Another natural consequence of excessive duties is the oppressive dearness of articles of consumption. This restricts the natural course of trade, and must have an injurious effect on the sale of articles produced in the several countries. Nothing is more natural than this: that a country must cease to buy the productions of foreign states if its own productions are not purchased in return. Other nations would be much more able to pay for the productions of Russia if she did not close her frontiers against them by excessive duties. By this the Russian producer suffers a twofold loss-first, from the small prices of his own productions, and, second, from the dearness of foreign articles.
Finally, though it seems almost superfluous to do so, we will mention the demoralizing influence of excessive duties. They lead unavoidably to smuggling. This ought to dissuade a government not lost to all sense of shame, from imposing such duties. Induced by hope of gain, not only all the commercial part of Russia, almost without exception, are suspected of smuggling, but almost every man, in public, rejoices in the support of it, and the authorities themselves live in a great measure on their bribes! It requires the iron forehead of despotism to support so long a system thoroughly base.
In general, little need be said against the high Stamp-tax and Registration-tax. The chief thing to be desired is to diminish this in some cases where it now hinders traffic and presses heavily on the lowest classes of the population. But the application and execution of it must be declared too rough and reckless.
The so called Banks for Loans and for Commerce are among the worst means for improving the finances of the Russian government. The owners of real estate, in their pecuniary embarassments, resort to the first and borrow money on interest, pledging their land for security. The commercial banks discount notes for a commission, deal in exchange, and loan money on deposits of merchandise. This miserable usury only brings in about two millions of rubles a year; but it helps ruin a host of persons, and would disgrace any honorable government; but here many worse things are done to enable the government to keep up a respectable appearance. It is pretty openly said that the Emperor favors these lending banks chiefly to bring down the wealth of his nobles, and thereby get them wholly into his hands, for he regards money as one of the chief instruments of power. The following is completely in accordance with that design. The Emperor uses all possible means to draw the rich noblemen to his court, where they are led into luxuries of all sorts, and, if not brought to pecuniary ruin, they are kept from increasing their wealth. His anxiety in this matter goes so far that matrimonial engagements are made by the Emperor and Empress, and the wealth of an heiress is brought into the hands of a spendthrift who lives at the court, or a rich man marries some poor maiden of the court, who knows how to spend his money.
No one has any thorough and reliable account of the exact state of the finances of Russia. But from time to time public statements are made from which we learn that the State debt has been continually on the increase ever since the Oriental contributions failed. The English continually lend her money, and this is the explanation of the fact: the English know by their own experience how much a state may be burthened with debt without any sudden national bankruptcy, and do not think a revolution is possible in Russia, which would ruin her finances.
In 1818 the State debt amounted to about 300,000,000 silver rubles; in 1844 it was more than 500,000,000. It is said that the precious metals in the Fortress of Peter and Paul
in 1848 amounted to 102,500,000 rubles, while the paper money issued by the Bank of Assignats, it is pretended, amounted only to 600,000,000 or 700,000,000. But this must be rated higher. Well informed men maintain, with confidence, that the money in the State treasury is rated much too high, and add, "there may be paper there, indeed, but no money." It is true that at the yearly visitations of the treasury some merchants are invited to attend, and they say, "Yes, they did open one or two bags, but we do not know what was in the rest!" and thus show what sort of comedy has been performed before them. Men laugh when allusion is made to the immense productions of the mines of Siberia, for it is well known how carefully they are managed, and how insignificant is the return compared with the cost of working them. However, if we could believe there were 102,500,000 rubles in cash in the treasury, there are still some striking facts which force us to think very lightly of the wealth of the State. In 1847, when Russia so magnanimously sent the precious metals to support despotism abroad, all the coined silver and gold was withdrawn from circulation throughout the land. This shows how poor the population is. Every well informed statesman knows, also, the national poverty of Russia, notwithstanding her valuable natural resources.
We have much more reliable accounts of the expenses of the State than of its income, for less secrecy is practiced in the former than in the latter case. We may safely say of the general condition of the finances, that since the great contributions from Prussia and Turkey ceased there has been a great and continual increase of the national debt. We should say of a private man under such circumstances, that he stood on the verge of bankruptcy.
The annual expenses of Russia amount to 170,000,000 rubles: 36,000,000 for the land-forces; 32,000,000 for the ministry of the interior; 31,000,000 for miscellaneous expenses attending the collection of the revenue, &c.; 23,000,000 for the ministry of finance; 12,000,000 for the fleet; 9,000,000 for the private chest of the Emperor; 8,000,000 for the expenses of the imperial manufactories; 7,000,000 for the mines; and finally, 3,500,000 for the so-called ministry of public education, which here is a subject of merriment. These facts explain the continual increase of the national debt.
From the financial condition of the people, it is plain that Russia must borrow money not at home but abroad. But as
the foreign money-lenders in the most recent times would not accommodate Russia as before, so in 1848 there would have been a sad financial crisis in the state, if the price of grain had not been so high in 1847, and Russia had not accidentally been able to send abroad large quantities of breadstuff. The millions which Nicholas lent to Louis Philippe in the last part of his reign, and with which he hoped to prevent the revolution he feared, but which came at length from the necessity of the case these millions only gave France more time to pay for the corn she had received. Russia lent France money that she might buy bread of Russia; the money came back to Russia in payment for the corn, and the Emperor knew how, in the rudest and most brutal way, to draw the gold and silver money from the hands of his subjects, and put it into his own coffers again. In several provinces the government bought up paper money in great quantities, so that there was an inducement to speculate in the stocks. Every man who had coin on hand sought to exchange it for paper money, partly to escape the loss occasioned by the fall of the price of gold, partly to gain by the increased value of paper money. By and by it was not necessary for the crown to buy up paper money, for the public had fallen into the trap, and soon the millions which had come from abroad in hard money to pay for the corn, were brought back to the coffers of the State. In this manner a forced circulation was given to the paper money, which had been issued without restriction, and it was saved from all depreciation except what arose from stockjobbing, while Russia plainly showed how foolishly the people act when they even in their internal traffic-use metals as if they were money! for the government knew how to save them from the loss occasioned by such a use, and from the manifold inaccuracies of such a currency!
When attempts were made in Europe to put down the efforts for freedom, the Russian Emperor concealed the weakness of his finances, very simply, but by a process, if possible, yet more brutal. He levied forced contributions for the magazines; fixed the price of articles taken, according to his own discretion; paid a part of that in paper money; gave a bond for another part, and set off the balance to the account of future taxes not yet levied! This'action was in accordance with the private maxim of despots"L'etat c'est moi"; he did not see that, in spite of its convenience, it must soon lead to the ruin of the actor, for deeds of this character have been done so long. He learns
from history only what he wishes to learn, and pride and arrogance whisper to the despot in the ear, not: "this man and the other did so and so, and came to a bad end," but "if they had had our cunning and our power, even in their case, the end had been other and better." Spite of the illustrious example of America, men in power will not believe that the people, any where, will, at last, enjoy their freedom, and so they think they can put down the efforts and insurrections continually made for this end, because they have succeeded hitherto. As if the bandage of the soldier which is the only reason why he lends himself as the blind tool of the usurper would never fall from his eyes! These men close their ears to all demands of liberty for the people, knowing that every recognition of a right must be followed by the elevation of individual man.
In short, the best of them have faith in what they wish, but the sophisticated understanding of those pampered men can never attain the wisdom which is higher than their faith, but trust only to cunning.
Certainly there are some men in power whose eyes have been quickened by the fear which an evil conscience has awakened, but for the most part they are frivolous or selfish enough to subscribe to the saying: - "the ships will hold together as long as we are at the helm, and after us, let the flood come! Coming generations may see how wise they
The finances of Russia cannot improve without the blessings of freedom. The nation may go on in this rude, violent way, till the one pressure causes the counter-pressure which throws every thing into confusion, and produces a national bankruptcy, or a change of dynasty, or some other change. It seemed almost probable that the attempts to support Austria against the Hungarians would bring about this crisis. In the Hungarian war the demand of mankind for freedom became very plain; it showed that though the hour for a general rising of the people of Europe, and for putting an end to all monarchies. had not yet struck, still it was near at hand. The desire of freedom long ago had taken root in the Slavic nations, though this was not much talked of. The roots were long thought dead, when unexpectedly they sent up new shoots, and at some more favorable opportunity will rapidly grow up to a sturdy trunk. Hitherto it has been impossible for honorable, conscientious, and trust-worthy magistrates to be established in Rus