« PredošláPokračovať »
G. BRITAIN, AND IRELAND,
THE EARLIEST TO THE PRESENT TIMES:
A COMPARATIVE ESTIMATE
THEIR POPULOSITY, AND AGRICULTURE, THEIR
MANUFACTURES, AND TRADE,
IN EVERY AGE.
A NEW EDITION,
BY GEORGE CHALMERS, F.R.S. S. A.
THE AUTHOR OF CALEDONIA,
Printed by David Willison,
AND CADELL AND DAVIES, LONDON.
URING the struggles of a great nation, for
her safety, or renown, conjunctures often arise, when the person, whose station does not ad. I mit of his giving advice, may offer his informa
tions. The present  seemed to be such a
Little have they studied the theory of man, or observed his familiar life, who have not remarked, that the individual finds the highest gratification, in deploring the felicities of the past, even amidst the pleasures of the present. Prompted, thus, by
temper, he has, in every age, complained of its decline, and depopulation, while the world was the most populous, and its affairs the most prosperous.
The reader, who honours the following sheets, with an attentive perusal, may probably find, that
though we have advanced, by wide steps, during 1 the last century, in the science of politics, we have
still much to learn; and that the summit can only be gained, by substituting accurate research, for delusive speculation, and rejecting zeal of paradox, for moderation of opinion.
Mankind are now too enlightened to admit of confident assertion, in the place of satisfactory proof; or plausible novelty, for conclusive evidence: He, consequently, who proposes new modes of argument, must expect contradiction, and he, who draws novel conclusions, from uncommon premises, ought to enable the reader to examine his reasonings; because it is just inquiry, which can alone establish the certainty of truth on the degradation of error: And little is, therefore, asserted, in the following sheets, without the citation of sufficient authorities, or the mention of authentic documents, which it is now proper to explain.
As early as the reign of James I., ingenuity exerted its powers to discover, through the thick
cloud, which then enveloped an interesting subject, the commercial value of our exports, and of our imports ; and from their notices, by an easy deduction, to find, whether we were gainers, or losers, by our traffic. Diligent inquirers looked into the entries at the Customhouse, as they knew, that since a duty of five in the hundred was col. lected on the value of commodities, which were sent out, and brought in, it would require no difficult calculation, to ascertain nearly the amount of both. And, during that reign, it was established as a rule, not only among merchants, but statesmen, to multiply the general value of the customs, inwards and outwards, by twenty, in order to find the true amount of the various articles, which formed the aggregate of our foreign trade.
Exceptionable as this mode was, it furnished, through several years of darkness, the only light, that our ancestors had to direct their inexperienced steps, notwithstanding the impatience of politicians, and the efforts of ministers. It is difficult to induce the old to alter the modes of their youth. When the committee of the privy council for trade, urged the commissioners of the cus. toms, about the end of Charles II.'s reign—" to enter the several commodities, which formed the exports, and imports; to affix to each its usual price; and to form a general total, by calculating the value of the whole,”-the Customhouse officers insisted, that, to comply with such direc