Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/315

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WILLIAM PATERSON. 109


ment, will, of course, enable its proprietors to give laws to both oceans, without being liable to the fatigues, expenses, and dangers, or contracting the guilt and blood, of Alexander and Caesar. In all our empires that have been anything universal, the conquerors have been obliged to seek out and court their con- quests from afar, but the universal force and influence of this attractive magnet is such as can much more effectually bring empire home to the proprietors' doors. But from what hath been said, you may easily perceive that the nature of these discoveries are such as not to be engrossed by any one nation or people with exclusion to others ; nor can it be thus attempted without evident hazard and ruin, as we may see in the case of Spain and Portugal, who, by their pro- hibiting any other people to trade, or so much as to go to or dwell in the Indies, have not only lost that trade they were not able to maintain, but have depo- pulated and ruined their countries therewith, so that the Indies have rather conquered Spain and Portugal than they have conquered the Indies ; for by their permitting all to go out, and none to come in, they have not only lost the people which are gone to the remote and luxuriant regions, but such as remain are become wholly unprofitable, and good for nothing. Thus, not unlike the case of the dog in the fable, they have lost their own countries, and not gotten the Indies. People, and their industry, are the true riches of a prince or nation, and in respect to them all other things are but imaginary. This was well understood by the people of Rome, who, contrary to the maxims of Sparta and Spain, by general naturalizations, liberty of conscience, and immunities of government, far more effectually and advantageously conquered and kept the world than ever they did or possibly could have done by the sword." Seeing clearly his way, Mr Paterson seems not to have had the smallest suspicion but that others would see it also, and " he makes no doubt, but that the affection we owe to our sister nation will incline the company to be zealous in using all be- coming endeavours for bringing our fellow-subjects to be jointly concerned in this great, extensive, and advantageous undertaking. That a proposal of this kind from the company will be other than acceptable ought not to be supposed, since by this means the consumption and demand of English manufactures, and con- sequently the employment of their people, will soon be more than doubled. England will be hereby enabled to. become the long-desired seaport, and yet its public revenues, instead of being diminished, will thereby be greatly increased. By this their nation will at once be eased of its laws of restraint and prohibi- tions, which, instead of being encouragements, always have, and still continue to be, the greatest lets to its trade and happiness." These liberal views seem to have made a greater impression on the public mind than at that time could have been anticipated. In the month of October, 1695, lord Belhaven, Mr. Robert Blackv^ood, and Mr. James Balfour, went on a deputation to London, accompanied by Mr. Paterson, where the subscription books were first opened, and in the course of nine days three hundred thousand pounds were subscribed ; one-fourth of all subscriptions being paid in cash. This promising state of things, how- ever was, by the jealousy of the English monopolists, suddenly reversed. The East India company were the first to take the alarm, and they communicated their terrors to the house of commons. The latter requested a conference with the lords on the alarming circumstance, and a committee was appointed to in- quire by what methods such an act had been obtained, who were the promoters, and who had become subscribers to the company. This was followed by an address to the king from both houses of parliament, stating, " That by reason