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personal connection with the study of the science, that have been bequeathed to us by this statesman; but, as an account of these disclosures would interrupt the course of my argument, if introduced here, I defer this account for a subsequent opportunity, which, however, will soon occur.
Account of Mr. C. P. Thomson's education and introduction into life given by his brother and biographer, Mr. Poulett Scrope. The biographer shows that Mr. C. P. Thomson failed in his capacity of merchant. — Notwithstanding his failure in comprehending and conducting the affairs of a large mercantile house, he is thought by the Administration of the day to be able and fit to comprehend and direct the commercial affairs of the nation. This minister hastily imbibes principles of Political Economy from the leading members of the Utilitarian School. He is commended and introduced to the people of Dover. - He is elected to represent them in Parliament. Is appointed to office in the Whig Cabinet. He undertakes to argue in Parliament the great subject of Usury laws.
SOON after the accession of William IV. to the throne, a vast and most important change was imparted to the government and policy of the nation. The influence and power of the Tory party, which had been gradually and continuously undermined and weakened by the series of attacks that had been directed against it by the Whig party, was seen to be on the decline; and a favourable opportunity occurring, by the advent to the throne of a willing king, the complete overthrow of the Tory Administration was accomplished. The Whig party was intrusted with the power of governing the nation.
A main feature of the new policy, advocated by this party, was that of continuing a change and reformation of the commercial principle and code of the nation, in a degree far larger than the Tory party, notwithstanding their announcements and promises, had been willing to sanction. Under the auspices of the Whig party, Lord Grey being its leader,
the important trust of considering, deciding on, and conducting the commercial policy of the nation was conferred especially on Mr. C. P. Thomson, who, in the first instance, was appointed the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, and afterwards its President.
It was discerned by the leading members of the Whig Cabinet, and their colleagues, that a statesman nurtured and educated in the ranks of practical mercantile life, was the person required for introducing to the nation, and recommending, a change and a reformation of commercial policy and law. Hence, a search for such a man was made within the ranks of the mercantile firms of the City of London; and although very young and devoid of experience, yet Mr. C. Poulett Thomson was selected, as a man who, in the estimation of the Whig Cabinet, was a person of high promise, who would prove a worthy successor of Huskisson and Horner.
It becomes, then, a matter of great interest to ascertain what had been the educational advantages enjoyed and used by Mr. C. Poulett Thomson, as also what was the character of that knowledge and proficiency which induced the Whig Cabinet to select this gentleman for the especial conduction of that important and most difficult branch of civil government which is comprised by commercial policy. In a work describing the life of this statesman, composed and compiled by his brother, Mr. Poulett Scrope, all requisite information is contained. It is from this work, therefore, that I will select the evidence required.
By the memoir thus composed, we learn that, being of a family that had long been connected with trade in the City of London, Mr. C. Poulett Thomson, having received his earlier instructions, and derived his knowledge of mercantile business, partly in the Russian branch of the house and partly
in London, was, at the age of twenty-four, admitted a partner, commencing his acquaintance with practical life, in the large establishment in London, then being carried on under the highly-respectable and well-known firm of Thomson, Bonar, and Co. We are then informed, that soon after he had commenced taking this active and responsible part in commercial affairs, a period of great excitement and speculation occurred, namely, the year 1825. So little conversant had Mr. C. P. Thomson become with the true and solid principles of trade, and so little were his feelings and his principles in accordance with them, that he permitted himself to be deceived into a participation in speculations which were of a very serious and weighty character, and which eventuated in great loss. His brother and biographer, on endeavouring to mitigate the character, and diminish the folly of these transactions, has described them as being merely indulgences in "brilliant dreams of the rapid creation of wealth." The description is as follows:
"The next year was one of an eventful and exciting character, and, when all the circumstances of that extraordinary epoch are considered, it will not appear surprising that a young merchant, naturally of a sanguine disposition, then almost for the first time taking his place as a member of one of the most respected firms in London, possessed of a secular reputation and of almost unlimited credit, should have been exposed to much solicitation from those who were planning and seeking to set afloat the bubbles of that day, and should have been led to indulge somewhat in the brilliant dreams of a rapid creation of wealth by combined association, which at that period of universal excitement carried away thousands of older and far more experienced heads."
"Accordingly, into some of the American mining speculations set on foot in the spring of 1825, Mr. C. Thomson
entered with the energy which was directed to whatever he undertook. He took an active part in the direction of one or two of these schemes; and, being a bona fide believer in their promised advantages, he, of course, like many others, suffered by the bursting of the bubbles on the arrival of the Panic."
"His elder brother had, throughout, remonstrated against any participation in such adventures, and it was probably owing to his prudent advice, that they were not embarked in to a seriously inconvenient extent."
The large and ambitious views of Mr. Thomson having thus met with obstruction and disappointment in the career of commerce, and having been attended by loss instead of by profit, he was induced to direct them, without loss of time, into another channel, that was, the channel of Politics. It would appear that, although he found reason to despair of becoming a good and successful merchant, he did not despair of becoming a successful politician and statesman. Such a man as he promised to be, fluent of idea and fluent of speech, being required by the Whig party, he was introduced to the notice of the electors of Dover, being presented to them as a man highly gifted by nature, and very fit to advocate in Parliament, not only their interests, but the interests of the nation at large, or even of the world at large. This new speculation, in which the expenditure of much money was required, occurring so soon after the sustainment of serious losses by other badly-founded speculations, appears to have alarmed the family, for the biographer has written of it as follows:
"In aiming at a seat in Parliament, however, Mr. Charles Thomson was unsupported by the assistance, or even by the countenance and advice, of his family. His father and eldest
* Memoir of the Life of Lord Sydenham, by G. P. Scrope, Esq., M.P.,