Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

low; 1 and he will form on that account some judgment of the author's candour or information.

Admit however that a great part of our export, though nothing is more remote from fact, was owing to the supply of our fleets and armies; was it not something?—was it not peculiarly fortunate for a nation, that she was able from her own bosom to contribute largely to the supply of her armies militating in so many distant countries? The author allows that France did not enjoy the same advantages. But it is remarkable, throughout his whole book, that those circumstances which have ever been considered as great benefits, and decisive proofs of national superiority, are, when in our hands, taken either in diminution of some other apparent advantage, or even sometimes as positive misfortunes. The optics of that politician must be of a strange conformation, who beholds everything in this distorted shape.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Here is the state of our trade in 1761, compared with a very good year of profound peace: both are taken from the authentic entries at the customhouse. How the author can contrive to make this increase of the export of English produce agree with his account of the dreadful want of hands in England, p. 9, unless he supposes manufactures to be without hands, I really do not see. It is painful to be so frequently obliged to set this author right in matters of fact. This state will fully refute all that he has said or insinuated upon the difficulties and decay of our trade, p. 6, 5.

and y

So far as to our trade. With regard to our navigation, he is still more uneasy at our situation, and still more fallacious in his state of it. In his text he affirms it "to have been entirely engrossed by the neutral nations.”1 This he asserts roundly and boldly, and without the least concern; although it cost no more than a single glance of the eye upon his own margin to see the full refutation of this assertion. His own account proves against him, that, in the year 1761, the British shipping amounted to 527,557 tons-the foreign to no more than 180,102. The medium of his six years British, 2,449,555 tons-foreign only 905,690. This state (his own) demonstrates that the neutral nations did not entirely engross our navigation.

I am willing from a strain of candour to admit that this author speaks at random; that he is only slovenly and inaccurate, and not fallacious. In matters of account, however, this want of care is not excusable: and the difference between neutral nations entirely engrossing our navigation, and being only subsidiary to a vastly augmented trade, makes a most material difference to his argument. From that principle of fairness, though the author speaks otherwise, I am willing to suppose he means no more than that our navigation had so declined as to alarm us with the probable loss of this valuable object. I shall however show, that his whole proposition, whatever modifications he may please to give it, is without foundation; that our navigation had not decreased; that, on the contrary, it had greatly increased in the war; that it had increased by the war; and that it was probable the same cause would continue to augment it to a still greater height; to what an height it is hard to say, had our success continued.

But first, I must observe, I am much less solicitous whether his fact be true or no, than whether his principle is well established. Cases are dead things, principles are living and! productive. I affirm then, that if in time of war our trade had the good fortune to increase, and at the same time large, nay the largest, proportion of carriage had been engrossed by neutral nations, it ought not in itself to have been considered as a circumstance of distress. War is a time of inconvenience to trade; in general it must be straitened, and must find its way as it can. It is often happy for nations

P. 7. See also p. 13,

that they are able to call in neutral navigation. They all aim at it. France endeavoured at it, but could not compass it. Will this author say, that in a war with Spain, such an assistance would not be of absolute necessity? that it would not be the most gross of all follies to refuse it?

In the next place, his method of stating a medium of six years of war, and six years of peace, to decide this question, is altogether unfair. To say, in derogation of the advantages of a war, that navigation was not equal to what it was in time of peace, is what hitherto has never been heard of. No war ever bore that test but the war which he so bitterly laments. One may lay it down as a maxim, that an average estimate of an object in a steady course of rising or of falling, must in its nature be an unfair one; more particularly if the cause of the rise or fall be visible, and its continuance in any degree probable. Average estimates are never just but when the object fluctuates, and no reason can be assigned why it should not continue still to fluctuate. The author chooses to allow nothing at all for this: he has taken an average of six years of the war. He knew, for everybody knows, that the first three years were on the whole rather unsuccessful; and that, in consequence of this ill success, trade sunk, and navigation declined with it; but that grand delusion of the three last years turned the scale in our favour. At the beginning of that war (as in the commencement of every war) traders were struck with a sort of panic. Many went out of the freighting business. But by degrees, as the war continued, the terror wore off; the danger came to be better appreciated, and better provided against; our trade was carried on in large fleets, under regular convoys, and with great safety. The freighting business revived. The ships were fewer, but much larger; and though the number decreased, the tonnage was vastly augmented; insomuch that in 1761 the British shipping had risen by the author's own account 527,557 tons. In the last year he has given us of the peace, it amounted to no more than 494,772; that is, in the last year of the war it was 32,785 tons more than in the correspondent year of his No peace average. of the year exceeded it except peace one, and that but little.

The fair account of the matter is this. Our trade had, as we have just seen, increased to so astonishing a degree in

1761, as to employ British and foreign ships to the amount of 707,659 tons, which is 149,500 more than we employed in the last year of the peace. Thus our trade increased more than a fifth; our British navigation had increased likewise with this astonishing increase of trade, but was not able to keep pace with it; and we added about 120,000 tons of foreign shipping to the 60,000, which had been employed in the last year of the peace. Whatever happened to our shipping in the former years of the war, this would be no true state of the case at the time of the treaty. If we had lost something in the beginning, we had then recovered, and more than recovered, all our losses. Such is the ground of the doleful complaints of the author, that the carrying trade was wholly engrossed by the neutral nations.

I have done fairly, and even very moderately, in taking this year, and not his average, as the standard of what might be expected in future, had the war continued. The author will be compelled to allow it, unless he undertakes to show, first, that the possession of Canada, Martinico, Guadaloupe, Grenada, the Havannah, the Philippines, the whole African trade, the whole East India trade, and the whole Newfoundland fishery, had no certain inevitable tendency to increase the British shipping; unless, in the second place, he can prove that those trades were, or might be, by law or indulgence, carried on in foreign vessels; and unless, thirdly, be can demonstrate that the premium of insurance on British ships was rising as the war continued. He can prove not one of these points. I will show him a fact more that is mortal to his assertions. It is the state of our shipping in 1762. The author had his reasons for stopping short at the preceding year. It would have appeared, had he proceeded further, that our tonnage was in a course of uniform augmentation, owing to the freight derived from our foreign conquests, and to the perfect security of our navigation from our clear and decided superiority at sea. This, I say, would have appeared from the state of the two years:

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

The two last years of the peace were in no degree equal to these. Much of the navigation of 1763 was also owing to the war; this is manifest from the large part of it employed in the carriage from the ceded islands, with which the communication still continued open. No such circumstances of glory and advantage ever attended upon a war. Too happy will be our lot, if we should again be forced into a war, to behold anything that shall resemble them; and if we were not then the better for them, it is not in the ordinary course of God's providence to mend our condition.

In vain does the author declaim on the high premiums given for the loans during the war. His long note, swelled with calculations on that subject, (even supposing the most inaccurate of all calculations to be just,) would be entirely thrown away, did it not serve to raise a wonderful opinion of his financial skill in those who are not less surprised than edified, when, with a solemn face and mysterious air, they are told that two and two make four. For what else do we learn from this note? That the more expense is incurred by a nation, the more money will be required to defray it; that in proportion to the continuance of that expense, will be the continuance of borrowing; that the increase of borrowing and the increase of debt will go hand in hand; and, lastly, that the more money you want, the harder it will be to get it; and that the scarcity of the commodity will enhance the price. Who ever doubted the truth, or the insignificance, of these propositions? what do they prove? that war is expensive, and peace desirable. They contain nothing more than a common-place against war; the easiest of all topics. To bring them home to his purpose, he ought to have shown that our enemies had money upon better terms; which he has not shown, neither can he. I shall speak more fully to this point in another place. He ought to have shown that the money they raised, upon whatever terms, had procured them a more lucrative return. He knows that our expendi ture purchased commerce and conquest: theirs acquired nothing but defeat and bankruptcy.

war.

Thus the author has laid down his ideas on the subject of Next follow those he entertains on that of peace. The treaty of Paris upon the whole has his approbation. Indeed, if his account of the war be just, he might have spared him

« PredošláPokračovať »