These required revenues on a quite unprecedented scale. Moreover, the taxes voted by Parliament, although initially adequate for war finance, took time to reach the Treasury. Meanwhile, allies and the armed forces had to be paid and equipped, necessitating the anticipation of revenues. This system of public credit was enshrined in the Bank of England, established in Other corporations were also involved in the new financial machinery.
The East India Company was frequently tapped for loans in return for the confirmation of its privileges. Reactions to this new financial machinery were mixed. Some welcomed them, but many criticised them. The fiscal-military state created huge vested interests which depended on the success of the novel experiment in public credit.
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The members of the financial corporations and those who serviced them in the stock exchange, together with the bureaucrats employed in the revenue system, not to mention the armed forces, all had a stake in it. Among those who welcomed its creation were the subscribers to the stock of the three great companies. These numbered around ten thousand individuals, about a third of whom were proprietors of Bank and East India stock.
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They were overwhelmingly based in London and the Home Counties and derived their incomes largely from non-landed sources. Thus J. The whole burden of this charge has lain upon the landed interest during the whole time. The men of estates have, generally speaking, neither served in the fleets nor armies, nor meddled in the public funds and management of the treasure. A new interest has been created out of their fortunes and a sort of property which was not known twenty years ago is now increased to be almost equal to the terra firma of our island.
Jonathan Swift inveighed against this new monied interest the following year in the Examiner, observing that. He pursued the same theme vigorously in The Conduct of the Allies. For the dispute over the conflict of interests allegedly created by the Financial Revolution got caught up in the disputes between the Tory and Whig parties of the later Stuart era. Tories claimed to represent the landed interest and accused the Whigs of cultivating the monied interest.
The reality was of course different from the rhetoric. While most landowners probably were Tory, a significant minority were Whigs. But the rhetoric of party propaganda and polemic has a life of its own quite apart from reality. Thus in the years between and the Conservatives were identified with the middle class and the Labour party with the working class, despite the fact that some business and professional voters voted Labour while many more workers voted Conservative. Certainly Whig writers like Joseph Addison set themselves up as spokesmen for the monied interest. On 3 March he published an essay in the Spectator shortly before an unsuccessful bid by the Tories to wrest control of the Bank of England from the Whigs.
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It described an allegorical dream in which Mr. Spectator saw Public Credit as a beautiful virgin on a throne of gold. Her health responded immediately to news reports which were hourly read to her, an allusion to the way that the stock exchange reacted to good and bad news. She was then menaced by six phantoms, Tyranny and Anarchy, Bigotry and Atheism, Republicanism and Jacobitism, the last in the person of the Old Pretender who brandished a sword in his right hand and was rumoured to have a sponge in his left.
The sword he pointed at the Act of Settlement, while the sponge was to wipe out the National Debt. At their approach Public Credit fainted, while money bags piled behind her throne.
Fortunately she was rescued by such friendly forces as Liberty and the future George I, the Protestant successor. John Arbuthnot, the Tory creator of John Bull, by contrast, was as critical as Swift of the City and its financial institutions. Not all Whigs were uncritical of the new machinery of public credit. Other Whig writers deplored not just the unscrupulous manipulation of the financial machinery but the machine itself.
The bursting of the Bubble, when many who had speculated in South Sea stock were ruined, seemed to confirm the gloomy prophecies of those like Briscoe and Swift who had predicted that the Financial Revolution would be a social disaster. In them they called for those responsible to be brought to justice, including corrupt politicians as well as the Directors of the South Sea Company.
What they shared with Tories was a suspicion of the Court, meaning the ministry and its adherents in the City, whom they accused of conspiring to create a government machine which would benefit monied and military men at the expense of the landed interest and the rest of the mercantile community. Since in their view the constitution was sustained by the stake landowners had in society and the economy, the new interests of money and the expanded machinery of the state brought into being to sustain a standing army threatened to subvert the constitutional freedoms enjoyed by freeborn Englishmen.
They were resisting the growth of the military-fiscal state. Virtuous citizens must therefore be perpetually vigilant to resist moves by those in authority to undermine their liberty. His investigation of English history in the previous two centuries had led him to the conclusion that power was ultimately based on landed property. Thus he argued that, before the advent of the Tudors, there had been what he termed a Gothic constitution in which the power of the Kings, the Lords and the Commons had been more or less equal. This was because the Crown, the nobility and the gentry had each owned roughly similar amounts of land.
Between and , however, the Crown and the nobility had alienated land to the Commons.
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This shift in landed wealth caused an accompanying shift in the balance of power, from the Crown and the Lords to the Commons. The readjustment resulted in the Civil War. As Harrington put it, the dissolution of the Gothic constitution caused the war, not the war the dissolution of the constitution. He was concerned to prevent a similar seismic movement which would cause the Commonwealth to collapse, and proposed an agrarian law which would stop men from acquiring enough landed property to threaten the stability of the republic. With the Restoration in the Gothic constitution was restored.
In constitutional theory the Crown, Lords and Commons were again equally balanced forces. This was regarded as a perfect polity, since at any time two of the three could offset the tendency of a third to acquire more power. During the s, however, the Crown came near to erecting an absolute monarchy by keeping parliament in abeyance. The Glorious Revolution was therefore held to have restored equilibrium. The Country writers, however, urged that the subjects should exercise eternal vigilance to prevent it being overturned again.
They argued that it was threatened by the development of the fiscal-military state. The growth of the armed forces posed a direct threat, while the Financial Revolution threatened it indirectly. The South Sea Edition: current; Page: [ 15 ] Bubble narrowly averted the complete subversion of the constitution. Hence the hostility of Country rhetoric to the new machinery of public credit.
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Professor Pocock sees this rhetoric in the form of civic humanism as the dominant paradigm of the period before the French Revolution. It certainly was influential, not least in the ideology of colonial resistance to British claims of sovereignty in the War of American Independence. But there were other ideological stances less inimical to the institutions of public credit. Bernard Mandeville was another who positively advocated the advantages of the fiscal-military state.
His Fable of the Bees took issue with those who criticised it for being a means of corrupting the constitution. Mandeville did not deny that it was corrupt—on the contrary, he depicted it as being soused in corruption up to the ears. But where its critics saw this as a source of weakness he asserted that it was a source of strength.
Mandeville was contributing to a debate which went beyond the pros and cons of public credit to the question of whether economic growth in general was beneficial to society. Mandeville was quite convinced that it was beneficial. Swift was convinced that Luxury was detrimental to social well-being. The dispute over luxury was thus at bottom a debate about the impact of overseas trade on society.
Reactionaries like Swift deplored its allegedly corrosive effect on manners and morals, while progressive thinkers like Mandeville welcomed its contribution to improving the standard of living and the quality of life. Among the enthusiasts for the burgeoning commercial activity in the middle of the eighteenth century was the poet John Dyer, who published a georgic poem in four books, The Fleece, in It celebrated the providential ordering of the global economy, whereby God had distributed different resources throughout the world, the exchange of which between nations benefitted mankind.
Commerce was therefore part of the divine plan, and did not deserve aristocratic disdain. The bulk of The Fleece was an encomium on the textile industry.
In it he claimed that there were three stages of commerce. The first was confined to the exchange of necessities.