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AN

HISTORICAL AND CHRONOLOGICAL DEDUCTION

OF THE .

ORIGIN OF COMMERCE,

FROM THE EARLIEST ACCOUNTS, &c.

E I G H T E E N T H CENTURY.

Succeffion of PRINCES in this Century.

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1762 LOUIS XVI. 10

The CHARACTER OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

1701 DOSSIBLY some may judge it superfluous to draw the characteristic of the age we live in :

1 yet as it is merely our province to treat of its commercial state, we hope to be excused in briefly observing, that much might be said to distinguish this century even from that immediately preceding it, and much more from remoter ones, were it not that the entire scope of this part of our work renders such a task quite superfluous.

After the airy hopes, prospects, and expectations of all the preceding century, and of half. of the present one, concerning new discoveries of shorter courses .o the rich Afiatic countries, either by the north-west or north-east supposed passages; and after so many repeated attempis, more especially by British subjects, there seemed now and for some time past to be a genera! acquiescence of the impracticability of either of those supposed pallages. · Vol. III.

А

Concerning

A. D. 1701 Concerning that by the north-west, it has been already remarked, that although we have

had some probable signs and tokens from several of the explorators, that there is a communi. cation either above or under ground, between the great bay of Hudson and the seas of Northern Asia; yet, that probably such a passage, cven though above ground, may be in so frozen a climate as to be quite impracticable. Tlie same may be justly remarked of the more than barely supposed north-east passage: since though it seems now to be admitted that the fea of Nova Zembla communicates with the Asiatic one of China and Japan, yet the first-named fea, and also the Streights of Waygatz, being more than once in vain attempted, those icy seas seem to have put an end to all further attempts that way. It is indeed said, and perhaps with some probability, that from some remote north-east parts of Russian Tartary, less frozen than the other seas, a naval communication may hereafter be found practicable with the seas of China and Japan: but what would that avail even to Russia itself, and much less the rest of Europe, if the merchandize of China, &c. can be brought cheaper by long-lea to Europe, as at present, than by so long and rugged a land carriage as from North-eastern Tartary to the ports of Archangel or Petersburg. The south-west passage to India, round the further point of South America, has already been practised thirteen times from Europe ; but to no avail for an Asiatic commerce, much easier, safer, and sooner carried on by the common route. The discoveries, made long since, of the coasts of New Holland, New Zealand, and New Guinea, of what benefit have they ever been to the Dutch, their principal discoverers : so far has the Dutch East India Company been from settling those countries, though lying not far fouth of their Javan and Molucca territories, that, if Colonel Purry's narrative be true, his single proposal for their settling on then, (elsewhere related) occasioned his being obliged to leave Holland. Either that company thought, as others have likewise :

First, That they are already possessed of more territories than they can well manage; or, else,

Secondly, They apprehended, that their further discoveries there might excite other Eu. ropean nations to attempt settlements thereon, who might prove dangerous neighbours to them: or,

Thirdly, That new Spice Islands and countries might thereby be discovered, which would undoubtedly depreciate the old ones, and which also might fall into the hands of other nations : or,

Lastly, That their own people of Java, &c. might be tempted to desert them, for those new countries. But although these might be plausible reasons with ihat company, they can be none to other European nations for not attempting settlements on those coafts; which, sooner or later, may probably be effected, more especially as they are not quite destitute of certain of the necessaries of life, nor of human creatures, who, perhaps, may be more nu. merous in the inland parts, where necessaries may likewise more abound, and, perhaps also, the more precious metals and gems, and various other materials for commerce.

Africa's inland and more centrical parts are at present less known to all Christendom than they were to Carthage two thousand years ago. Hints have been given in our own times, by different authors, of its being practicable to form a correspondence, and even to make settle

ments A. D. 1701 inents there, by means of the great river Niger, or Senegal, where the precious metals, ivory.

and many drugs, &c. are confidently said to abound.

The independence of America will be a most important object of commercial confideration in the course of this century; and the new position in which Ireland stands, in consequence of the repeal of the declaratory act of George I. relative to the legislation of that kingdom, will claim a very particular attention. The change that has taken place in the British oriental possessions will be an object of considerable magnitude : the voyages of Captain Cooke and other circumnavigators will afford materials very interesting to commerce; while the commercial alliance with France, and other beneficial regulations, &c. refpecting the trade of the British empire, will compose a distinguished feature of the concluding part of this history.

Commerce is a mistress more eagerly courted by almost all nations in our age than in any preceding one: and it is highly probable, that, even before the conclusion of the present century, many new lights may he struck out for the further improvement of it:- more especially as our nobility and landed gentry are, at length, clearly convinced, that the increase of our national commerce is in effect, but another phraie for expressing the advancement of the landed interest, wealth, and felicity, of Great Britain and Ireland.

There were two particular points in the act of the ninth and tenth of King William, before-mentioned, under the year 1698, For settling the East India Trade, which proved afterwards extremely embarrassing, viz.

I. The giving leave to all corporations (the Bank of England excepted) to subscribe in their corporate capacity; by which permission the old East India Company got into the new one in the manner already related.

II. The inserting the words, or any, after the word all, in the clause of that act, giving the King a power to incorporate the contributors into a Joint-stock Company: thereby leaving room for some of the contributors of the General Society (as proved actually the cafe) to decline coming into the new Joint-stock Company, and, instead thereof, to go on as separate traders to India.

Both which points miglit easily have been prevented, especially that which is first-named; as an equivalent might have been asligned to the old company for their forts, privileges, &c. and the separate traders might also have Leen bought off, they amounting only to seveir thoufand two hundred pounds principal, with their annual fund of five hundred and seventy-fix pounds at eight per cent. who chose to trade on the bottom of that act solely and separately : whereby the capital stock of this new corporation was in fact but one million nine liundred and ninety-two thousand eighit hundred pounds, and their annual fund but one hundred and fifty-nine thousand four hundred and twenty-four pounds. Which separate traders did afterwards give much trouble to the new company, till by a law of the next reign we shall fee an end was put to them, and both companies consolidated into the present United Company of Merchants of England trading to the East Indies.

In this same year, the party humours were become more fierce between the two East India Companies; it being about the time that a new Parliament was to take place. Both companics ftrove to gain the court as well as the new members of the House of Commons. A 2

The

A. D. 1701 The spirit of this time may in some measure be seen, by many warm pamphlets then pub

lished; such as, “ The Freeholders Plea against Stock-jobbing of Elections of Parliament • Men. Quarto, 1701. The Villainy of Stock-jobbers detected, &c. Quarto, 1701." And many more. And at the two coffee-houses, near the Royal Exchange, which still retain the names of Garraway's and Jonathan's, affairs were in those pamphlets made so important, as to be said then to prepare and direct the greatest business of the nation. Both companies were at this time reckoned to have no less than fixty ships at sea; and great was the emulation at their public sales. These confiderations made the government see the absolute necessity of composing their fierce contentions by a coalition, which was at length complied with, though not formally concluded before King Williain died.

We have already mentioned the establishment of a new council of commerce by the French King, in the year 1700; and we shall now see how great a progress this famous new inftitution had made in little more than about one year after its establishment, in order to arrive at a perfect knowledge of the true commercial interests of France. All which we have gathered from the memorials of this council presented to the King's royal council, in this year 1701 : and, as it will display the great judgment, zeal, and diligence of that council and nation at this time for the improvement of their commerce and colonies, it will, also, afford us many very useful and interesting hints and notices, for putting us on our guard against the growing commerce of such an active and enterprizing people.

Fas eft et ab kofte doceri.

Nothing more fit.
Than from her enemies to learn wit.

I. In their memorial concerning their Guinea Company and their West India colonies, they give us the then present state of their American islands, &c.

“ They justly remark, that the commerce to Guinea has so close a relation to that of their “ West India isles, that the latter cannot subsist without the former.” And we need scarcely add, that this remark hoids equally just with respect to our own Guinea and West India trade.

" By those trades,” says this new council, “ we have deprived our competitors in traffic " of the great profits they drew from us.” Meaning our sugar, cotton, and ginger trade. • And may put ourselves into a condition, by their example, to draw profit, in our turn, from “ them; and especially from the English.

" That we may increase those trades considerably; as that nation," i. e. England, “ in " their islands, with less advantage than we, and in territories of less extent, as well as in " much less time, have found means to employ annually above five hundred sail of ships, “ whilst we do not, without great difficulty, employ one hundred in the same trade.

“ Every one is sensible of the benefits of navigation; and that the lappiness and glory of a “ state very much depend on it." No one is ignorant, that the navigation of France owes “ all its increase and splendor to the commerce of its islands. And that it cannot be kept up “ nor enlarged otherwise than by this commerce, which is more beneficial than all others of “ the long voyages which are undertaken by the French ; because carried on without the ex• portation of money, as well as without the aid of foreign goods and manufactures ; so as - none but the subjects of France reap the profit of it.”

The

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