The History of British Commerce/Volume 2/Chapter 9

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


A.D. 1688–1760.

The Revolution, by plunging us into a war with France, at once altered a condition of things under which our foreign trade was rapidly growing and strengthening, in the peace and free intercourse between the two countries which had subsisted ever since the prohibitory act of 1678 had been repealed on the accession of James II. In the course of the eight years of war which followed the Revolution the customs fell off considerably; and in the interval between 1688 and 1696 the English shipping annually cleared outwards appears to have declined from 190,533 tons to 91,767, the foreign from 95,267 to 83,024, and the value of the merchandise exported (as officially estimated) from 4,086,087l. to 2,729,520l., or by about a third of its whole amount.[1] "Within the same space also the revenue of the post-office is stated to have been reduced from 76,318l. to 58,672l.; which may be taken as an evidence that the pressure of the war was not confined to our foreign trade, but was felt throughout our social system.

At the same time, no doubt, several branches of domestic industry might receive an impulse from the foreign supply being cut off. But those of our manufactures that derived an advantage in this way appear to have been only a few of inferior importance. Before the war we were accustomed to import considerable quantities of men's hats from Havre-de-Grace and other places in Normandy: this article we now set about making for ourselves with such success, that after some time English hats came to be both better and cheaper than French. The finer glass used in England had hitherto been almost entirely French, "for not only," observes Anderson, "very near all the plate glass of our coaches and chairs, and of our fine looking-glasses, came from France, but likewise our finest window-glass, which was usually called Normandy glass and French crown-glass; both which we have since made entirely our own manufacture in the highest perfection." This writer conceives, also, that the improvement of the various manufactures introduced some years before by the French Protestant artizans who fled to this country on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes could not have been so speedily nor so effectually accomplished, had it not been for the complete prevention of intercourse between the two countries by this war. To this cause he attributes the progress made by us in the manufacture of cutlery, watches, toys, ribbons, and especially of broad silk; in all of which branches we came in course of time even to outdo the French. In other cases, however, it is admitted that the failure of the usual supply from France merely occasioned the importation of the article from another quarter. Thus, before the war, we had been accustomed to consume the coarse linens of that country, called dowlases and locksams, chiefly manufactured in Normandy and Britany, to the annual value of above 200,000l.; but now, "England," says Anderson, "not being well able to be without those two sorts of linen, set the Hamburghers on imitating them so well, that the very names of those French linens with us are buried in oblivion." Here, then, the consolation was, that, if we were no gainers, our enemies at any rate were losers—that France was almost entirely deprived of a most profitable manufacture, which she was never likely to recover.

On the whole, however, the war, wasting capital on the one hand, and impeding its accumulation on the other,—augmenting the public burdens, and generally diminishing private gains,—could not fail, ere long, seriously to affect our economical prosperity; and accordingly, when it had been brought to an end by the peace of Ryswick, in 1697, the kingdom seems to have felt like a man staggering with fatigue and weakness. One writer of the day affirms, "that so great had been the losses of a seven-years' war, if a great stock be absolutely necessary to carry on a great trade, we may reasonably conclude the stock of this nation is so diminished it will fall short, and that, without prudence and industry, we shall rather consume what is left than recover what we have lost."[2] Dr. Davenant, in replying to this writer, although he does not take so desponding a view of the state to which the war had reduced us, yet admits not only that it put a stop to a course of constantly augmenting prosperity that had gone on without interruption from the Restoration, but that it had consumed much of the wealth accumulated in that previous long period of peace, as well as inflicted the most serious injury upon various branches of our trade. "Besides the ordinary expences of the war," he observes, "our dead losses at sea, in nine years' time, have amounted to a greater sum than is fit here to mention."[3] In regard to our foreign commerce, he thinks it will be a great matter for the present if we can recover the ground we had lost during a contest which had left us, there and all over, sore with wounds. "By the unlucky conduct of our naval affairs," he proceeds, descending to particulars, "the trade to and from this kingdom was chiefly done by princes and states in neutrality, such as Denmark and Sweden to the northward, Portugal and the state of Genoa, who have hereby not only increased in their shipping but in the knowledge of our trade; and, unless care be taken to regain to England, in the very beginning of this peace, the ground we have thus lost, in all likelihood it will never be recovered." He goes on to complain of encroachments that had been made upon the Navigation Act through "the slack administration which war occasions;" and then he adds the following account of the state to which some of the most important branches of our trade bad actually been reduced:—"The Norway and the Baltic trade have been lately carried on in a more disadvantageous way than ever; they always drained us of money; but this in some measure was compensated by giving employment to near a hundred sail of ships; but now they do not employ five ships, and for a great while have exported between 3000l, and 4000l. per annum. As to the Guinea trade, this war has brought it to a very low ebb, the French having disturbed our colonies, and destroyed our fortresses and places of strength upon the coast of . The neglect in settling the African trade has forced the plantations [in America] for their support to deal with foreigners for negroes, and consequently to traffic with them in return for those negroes. Some of our West India plantations have been likewise very much dispeopled lately by plagues and earthquakes; and in some parts, during the late war, the natives are grown upon us; and in other places we have been harassed and ruined by the French. Our East India Trade is also in a very bad condition; losses abroad and discouragements at home have very much diminished the capital stock. The late piratical attempts on the Mogul's subjects and allies in the Red Sea have brought difficulties upon the Company's affairs in India not easily to be overcome; and these piracies are partly the effect of that loose administration with which war is accompanied; for the ships which have committed these depredations have been chiefly fitted out from the West India ports: if the governors there had kept a jealous eye over these freebooters and buccaneers—if they had narrowly watched their goings out and their comings in—if, instead of sharing in the spoil (which perhaps has been practised), they had compelled suspected persons to give good security for their behaviour, or laid an embargo on their ships—and if they had been vigorous in seizing and prosecuting these pirates at their return (the contrary of which is but too notorious), such wicked actions and breaches of the laws of God and nations could never have been committed."[4]

Davenant, however, argues that, notwithstanding all it had suffered, the country had the principle of life still strong within it; and that even from the manner in which it had stood the severe strain of this war great consolation was to be derived, and hope for the future. After remarking that we had been able "to maintain a war abroad, with a fleet at the yearly charge of 2,500,000l., and a land army at the yearly charge of above 2,500,000l., of which a great part for some time has been spent in other countries,"—and "(the ordinary revenues of the crown not included) to give in taxes upwards of 39,000,000l. of which about 25,000,000l, have been actually levied, 14,000,000l. are in a way of payment, and the rest remains a debt to be provided for,"—he proceeds, in the following passages, to give as comprehensive and trustworthy a description as is probably anywhere to be found of the real state in which the war had left the kingdom:—"Our stock in stored goods, plate, jewels, money, and merchant-ships, is apparently not so great now as it was in 1688; however, we have still so good a prospect, and such a remainder of strength, as, if it be well managed, our affairs may be restored in some moderate term of time. A good symptom, for the present, of remaining health and vigor in the body politic is, that we see nothing abated in the price of our native commodities. And, besides, without doubt, we have yet felt no such poverty as has reduced us to let our buildings and farmhouses go to ruin. As yet, there has been no where a visible fall in the rents of land and houses. It is true the interest of money is risen; but that has plainly proceeded from the advantage men have found by dealing with the exchequer. It is to be feared our stock of shipping for trade is less at present than before: however, our fleet and naval strength is apparently more powerful now than ever it was; and undoubtedly this war has bred us more able seamen than formerly we had. But the truest sign of our vitals not being tainted, and that we are not wounded in any noble part, is, that our manufactures and all our home produce, generally speaking, hold up to their former rates. For this is a direct evidence that we are not at all, or very little, diminished in the numbers of our people; and it is a mark that, though we may have been interrupted in our importations, yet that we export rather more than in former times. If we decreased in people to any degree there would be less consumption, and consequently our home commodities would have become cheaper; and, if there were not a great call abroad for our product and manufactures, they must sink in value here. Not only now, but during the whole war, they have sold well at home and abroad, which is a sign that we did not quite consume and live altogether upon the capital, but that our annual produce and income did go a great way towards maintaining our foreign expenses." The war, finally, he observes, had not been unproductive of some advantages to our domestic industry, which helped to enable us to sustain the heavy pressure it had laid upon us:—"As it hindered our trade, and was expensive to us, so it interrupted the tillage, labor, and manufactures of other countries, and created there a necessity of our commodities; to which must be attributed, in some measure, the great call that has been during nine years for our corn, barreled beef and pork, tallow, leather, cheese and butter, and coarser sort of drapery......The returns of these commodities have helped us to maintain our foreign expenses, and have kept the radical moisture within the kingdom, which otherwise must have been quite exhausted by drawing out those sums that were necessary to subsist our troops in Flanders. This exportation, occasioned by the wants which war only had brought upon our neighbours, has stood in the room of money, which else must have been exported; so that, comparing the present species with what was in the kingdom in 1688, there seems to be still more money left than we could reasonably hope to find after a war so long and so expensive. By the stock that had been gathered in peace, and by the benefit of these more than ordinary, and in some sort accidental, exportations, we have maintained ourselves for nine years; and now, at the end of the business, our condition is very far from desperate."[5]

The fact, often exemplified, of the rapidity with which a country recovers from the obstruction and waste of war, as if the spirit of enterprise started forth on the return of peace like a spring from which a heavy pressure had been removed, and the very vacuum to be filled up occasioned a sudden rush of activity and consequent gain into the re-opened channels of industry and commerce, verified Davenant's hopes and prognostications. The total tonnage of English ships cleared outwards rose again in 1697, the very first year of the peace, to 144,264 tons, and that of foreign ships to 100,524: and the entire official value of the exports to 3,525,907l. On the average of the three years 1699, 1700 and 1701, the last of the peace, the value of the annual exports was 6,709,881l., conveyed in 337,328 tons of shipping, of which no less a proportion than 293,703 was English, the foreign having by this time fallen to 43,625.[6] Comparing this state of things with the point to which our commerce had been depressed (as above recorded) in the last year of the war, we find that in five years of peace our exports had very considerably more than doubled, and our mercantile marine more than quadrupled. It appears also, that, whereas the net average annual income of the Post Office during the eight years of the war was only 67,222l. (it had fallen, as we have seen, to something considerably under this sum in 1697), its average amount for the space from 1698 to 1701 inclusive was 82,319l.[7] These figures look insignificant enough at the present day, but they do not for that the less distinctly indicate the movements of what may perhaps be styled one of the best barometers we possess of the commercial activity, and even of the general economical condition, of the country.

Having cast this summary glance over the progress of our trade and public wealth during the reign of William, we will now proceed to notice some of the most important or most illustrative particulars by which this portion of the history of our national industry is marked.

It was in this reign that the Bank of England was founded, principally through the exertions of Mr. William Paterson, famous also as the projector of the Scottish Darien Company. Paterson, according to his own account, commenced his exertions for the establishment of an English bank, similar to those already existing at Amsterdam, Venice, Genoa, and Hamburgh, in the year 1691. A principal object which he had in view from the first, in addition to the accommodation of the mercantile community, appears to have been the support of public credit and the relief of the government from the ruinous terms upon which the raising of the supplies and other financial operations were then conducted. The lowest rate, he tells us, at which advances used to be obtained from capitalists, even upon the land-tax, which seems to have been considered the surest part of the national revenue, was eight per cent., although repayment was made within the year, and premiums were generally granted to the subscribers. On anticipations of other taxes, counting premiums, discount, and interest, the public had sometimes to pay twenty, thirty, and even forty per cent. Nor was the money easily obtained when wanted even on such terms. It was no uncommon thing for ministers to be obliged to solicit the common council of the city of London for so small a sum as a hundred or two hundred thousand pounds, to be repaid from the first returns of the land-tax; and then, if the application was granted, particular common councilmen had in like manner to make humble suit to the inhabitants of their respective wards, going from house to house for contributions to the loan.[8] In these circumstances Paterson might have laid his account with the opposition of the monied interest, whose inordinate gains his proposed Bank was to put an end to; the disaffected, also,—that is, the enemies of the revolutionary settlement,—were all, he tells us, against it; their argument was, that the new Bank would engross to itself all the money, stock, and riches of the kingdom; but what he conceived he had less reason to anticipate was the difficulty he experienced in prevailing upon the government to go into his scheme. King William was abroad when the proposal was brought before the cabinet in 1693, where long debates took place upon it in the presence of the queen; but at last an act of parliament was passed (5 and 6 W. and M. c. 20), which, in imposing certain rates and duties on tonnage of ships, and upon beer, ale, and other liquors, authorised their majesties to grant a commission to take subscriptions for 1,200,000l. of the whole 1,500,000l. which the new taxes were expected to raise, and to incorporate the subscribers into a company, under the name of the Governor and Company of the Bank of England. Interest at eight per cent, was to be allowed upon the money advanced, and also 4000l. a year for management;[9] making the whole annual payment to the company 100,000l. The company were to be enabled to purchase lands, &c., and to exercise all the usual powers of bodies corporate; but were not to trade in the buying or selling of any goods or merchandise, except that they might deal in bills of exchange, and in buying and selling of bullion, gold, or silver, and in selling of any goods or merchandise which should be pledged to them for money lent thereon, and might also sell the produce of their own lands. This act received the royal assent on the 25th of April, 1694; the subscription for the 1,200,000l. was completed in ten days, twenty-five per cent., or a fourth of the whole sum, being paid down; and the royal charter of incorporation was executed on the 27th of July following. It gave to the establishment the same constitution which it still retains, under a governor, deputy governor, and twenty-four directors, of whom Paterson was one. The new institution, though loudly clamoured against for some time, principally by interested parties, soon proved its usefulness to the general conviction. "The advantages," says Burnet, " that the king and all concerned in tallies had from the Bank were soon so sensibly felt that all people saw into the secret reasons that made the enemies of the constitution set themselves with so much earnestness against it."[10] Paterson himself ascribes to it no less an effect than the successful termination of the war:—"The erection of this famous Bank," says he, " not only relieved the ministerial managers from their frequent processions into the city for borrowing of money on the best and nearest public securities at an interest of ten or twelve per cent, per annum, but likewise gave life and currency to double or treble the value of its capital in other branches of public credit ; and so, under God, became the principal means of the success of the campaign in the following year, 1695, as particularly in reducing the important fortress of Namur, the first material step towards the peace concluded at Ryswick in the year 1697."

A great operation in which the Bank, almost as soon as it had been set up, was called upon to assist the government and the country was the entire re-coinage of the silver money, which was undertaken in 1696. The inconveniences arising from the clipping of the silver currency began to be felt about the close of the reign of Charles II., and to a greater degree in that of James II., but only very seriously after the Revolution. In 1692 we find a clause in an act of parliament reciting that "the receivers of the revenue and aids given to their majesties, and divers other persons, have in many places of this kingdom refused to receive or take in payment any sort of cracked money, which by law is and ought to pass as the current coin of this realm, by reason of which refusal many of their majesties' good subjects are under great hardships and difficulties for want of money to pay their taxes and supply their other necessary occasions, whilst the said cracked money lies dead by them, and is rendered wholly useless to their majesties and their subjects."[11] The clause goes on to enact that whoever should refuse to take in payment any cracked money being the current coin of the kingdom should for every such offence forfeit five pounds, to be recovered by action by any person who would sue for the same. But the evil was not to be cured in this way; no act of parliament could make a piece of silver intrinsically, for instance, worth only ninepence or tenpence pass for a shilling ; if dealers could not have the price of their goods in money of sufficient weight, they raised the price; and the law which compelled them to take the clipped money did not, and could not, prevent them from allowing discount to those who brought them shillings, sixpences, or half-crowns of the full weight, or from receiving gold coin for more than its legal value in silver; so that, except that it occasioned some inconvenience, this enactment proved quite ineffectual. Then, in 1694, an act was passed expressly "to prevent counterfeiting and clipping the coin." "It is manifest," says the preamble, "that of late years the current coin of this kingdom hath been greatly diminished by rounding, clipping, filing, and melting the same, and likewise many false and counterfeit coins have been clipped for the better guising thereof;" and then it is declared to be apparent that these practices are "very much occasioned by those who drive a trade of exchanging broad money for clipped money, and by other acts and devices." To remedy this state of things it is now enacted, that, if any person should at any one time either exchange, lend, sell, borrow, buy, receive, or pay any broad silver money, or silver money unclipped, of the coin of the kingdom, for more than the same was coined for, and ought by law to go for, he should forfeit ten times the amount of the money so illegally exchanged. A variety of new restrictions were at the same time imposed upon the trade in bullion; such as, that no person should cast ingots or bars of silver, under a penalty of five hundred pounds; that none should buy, sell, or have in custody any clippings or filings of coin under the like penalty; that no person should export any melted silver without having it first stamped at Goldsmiths' Hall, and taking oath that no part of it had been before it was melted current coin of the kingdom, or clippings therefrom; that none but goldsmiths and refiners should deal in the buying or selling of silver bullion, under pain of suffering six months' imprisonment, &c.[12] But it might as well have been attempted to stop the flowing of the tide by act of parliament. Before this measure was devised, guineas were passing for thirty shillings, and exchequer tallies were often at from thirty to forty per cent, discount. The new act did as little good as the other passed two years before; "and," says Anderson, "as the diminishing of the old hammered money daily increased, so far that it is said shillings scarcely continued more than threepence in silver, the condition of the nation became very alarming; which gave the greatest joy to the disaffected at home, who hoped thereby for a total overthrow of King William's government. The French king also had great expectations from this calamity, so far as to have been .heard to say, that King William would never be able to surmount the difficulty."[13] The wretched state to which the coinage had actually been reduced is most clearly set forth in an "Essay for the Amendment of the Silver Coin," which appeared in 1695, and the author of which evidently writes from official sources of information. He computes the entire silver money coined by Queen Elizabeth to have amounted to 4,632,932l.; that coined by James I. to 1,700,000l.; and that coined by Charles I. to 8,776,544l.; making, in all, 15,109,476l. By this time all Queen Elizabeth's crowns, half-crowns, groats, quarter-shillings, half-groats, three-halfpenny pieces, three-farthing pieces, and halfpence, were wholly gone; and also great numbers of her shillings and sixpences. The crowns, groats, twopenny pieces, pence, and halfpence of James I. and Charles I. had likewise all disappeared; with many of their half-crowns, shillings and sixpences. On the whole, this author calculates that there did not remain in circulation more than a third part of this old coinage, or not much above 5,000,000l. sterling. This, however, constituted by far the greater part of the existing silver currency; for the unmelted coins of Charles II., James II., and King William did not amount to more than about 563,000l. Thus the nominal value of the whole silver money of the kingdom, clipped and unclipped, hoarded and current, was about 5,600,000l. But of this about 4,000,000l. consisted of clipped money; while the remaining 1,600,000l. was either hoarded up, or current only in the remote counties. The most curious part of the statement, however, and that also which proceeds upon the surest grounds, is the calculation of the extent to which the clipping had been carried. There had, it seems, been brought into the Mint, in the three months of May, June, and July, 1695, 572 bags, each containing 100l. of silver coin, promiscuously collected, which, according to the standard, ought to have weighed 18,451 lbs. 6 oz. 16 dwts. 8 grs. troy; but the actual weight of the whole turned out to be only 9480 lbs. 11 oz. 5 dwts., or very little more than half what it ought to have been! The exact diminution amounted to about five shillings in every eleven. The whole four millions of clipped silver money, therefore, were really not worth much more than two millions sterling; and the loss consequent upon calling in the whole and re-coining it would not amount to much less than that sum. The prospect of this great outlay, however, notwithstanding considerable opposition on the part of some members, did not deter parliament from resolving upon the only course that could effectually remedy the evil. By a succession of acts passed in the course of the years 1696 and 1697, provision was made for gradually calling in all the old silver money, and replacing it by another currency of the full standard weight; and before the end of the latter year the entire operation was accomplished, and "our silver coins came forth from the Mint," to quote Anderson's expressions, "the finest and most beautiful of any in all Europe." The new money was coined partly at the Tower, partly at the country mints of Bristol, Exeter, Chester, Norwich, and York. According to an account which has been printed, of the receipts and issues of the Exchequer during the reign of William, the entire cost amounted to something under two millions and a half—a sum sufficiently near the estimate of the author of the essay from which we have taken the above view of the actual state of the silver currency before this re-coinage, to entitle us to place considerable confidence in the general accuracy of his facts and calculations.[14]

To the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Charles Montague, afterwards Earl of Halifax, is ascribed the main credit of suggesting and carrying through this great reform, which was undoubtedly the mightiest financial operation that had yet been achieved or undertaken in England. In the mean time, however, it had, before its completion, very nearly brought down the infant establishment of the Bank, whose notes, together with the new Exchequer Bills, (also a contrivance of Montague's,) had chiefly supplied, while the re-coinage was proceeding, the vacuum occasioned by the abstraction of the old clipped silver money. But these notes, being payable on demand, were presented so much faster than the new coin could be supplied from the Mint, that the Bank, in the course of the year 1697, was obliged to resort to what amounted in fact to a suspension of payments—giving coin for its notes, first by instalments of ten per cent, once a fortnight, and afterwards only at the rate of three per cent, once in three months. The consequence was, that Bank paper fell to a discount of from fifteen to twenty per cent. In the preceding year the directors had made two successive calls of twenty per cent, each upon the proprietors ; but such v/as the difficulty of procuring money, that we find them, in the Gazette of the 6th of May, 1697, urging the defaulters upon the last of these calls, which should have been attended to on the 10th of the preceding November, "and also those indebted to the Bank upon mortgages, pawns, notes, bills, or other securities, to pay in the said twenty per cent., and the principal and interest of those securities, by the 1st of June next." But these difficulties were soon removed and the credit of the Bank completely restored by the effects of an act passed in the ensuing session of parliament, adding above a million sterling to the stock of the corporation, and extending the term of its exclusive privileges to the year 1711.[15] In 1708 its charter was farther continued to the year 1733; in 1712 to the year 1743; and in 1742 to the year 1765. Meanwhile also its capital, or the amount of the advances it had made to the public, had gone on increasing, till at the close of the present period it had risen to be nearly eleven millions. The establishment of the Bank of England was immediately followed by that of a similar institution in Scotland, also mainly through the exertions of the public-spirited and indefatigable Paterson. But, while the great corporation in Threadneedle-street remained the only privileged banking association in England, the Bank of Scotland was compelled within the present period to submit to the intrusion, first of one chartered rival, the Royal Bank, in 1727, and then of a second, the British Linen Company, in 1746.

Of the old incorporated trading associations, the only one the history of which offers much matter of interest during the present period, is the East India Company. This Company underwent a complete re-organisation in consequence of measures that were taken respecting it in the reign of William. We have seen that for some time previous to the Revolution the exclusive privilege of the Company had been extensively invaded by numbers of private traders. These interlopers, as they were styled, taking advantage of the natural invidiousness of a monopoly, seem to have at length succeeded in exciting a very general feeling of hostility to the Company; to which were imputed various delinquencies and acts of mismanagement most injurious to the national interests; so that in January, 1692, the House of Commons, carried along by the prevailing clamour, sent up an address to his majesty requesting him at once to dissolve a body that had so misconducted itself, and incorporate a new company. This was the commencement of a long series of proceedings, of which we can here notice little more than the results. On the question being submitted to the privy council, they proposed that a new company should be incorporated for twenty-one years, to consist of the members of the old company, and as many new subscribers as should make up a capital of from 1,500,000l. to 2,000,000l., of which the existing company's capital should be considered as making 740,000l. But the Company maintained that, reckoning everything they possessed, and looking to the current price of their stock in the market, their capital could not be fairly estimated at a less sum than 1,500,000l. They also contended that their forts, towns, and territories in India were by their charters theirs for ever, whatever might become of their privilege of exclusive trading. No steps were taken to carry into effect the recommendations of the privy council; nor did the enemies of the Company succeed in getting it broken up, even when the following year, by an unaccountable piece of neglect, it had legally incurred the forfeiture of its charter by the non-payment on the appointed day of a tax upon its capital imposed by a recent act of parliament. On the contrary, on the 7th of October, 1693, it obtained from the king a renewal of its charter, with a full restoration of all its former powers and privileges. Two years after, an investigation was made by parliament into this transaction, when it appeared that the Company had, in the year 1693, expended for special (but unspecified) services little less than 90,000l.; of which, among other persons in power, the Duke of Leeds, the president of the council, was all but proved to have been a sharer to a large amount, while his majesty himself was strongly suspected to have benefited to a still larger. These disclosures, or exposures, did not tend to allay the public feeling against the Company which about the same time fell into further disfavour by being obliged to suspend for some years the payment of any dividends in consequence of a train of severe losses it had incurred. Indeed, the Company now scarcely derived any advantage at all from its charter, the validity of which was denied by parliament, and which even the government openly disregarded, granting licences to the private traders in the most unreserved manner. To this pass had matters been brought, when, in the beginning of the year 1698, the government, being in want of money, bethought itself of trying what could be made of the monopoly of the India trade, which was thus contested or in abeyance. The Company now offered to make an advance of 700,000l., at four per cent., on condition of obtaining a parliamentary confirmation of their charter; but on this, at the instigation, as it is alleged, of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Montague, the private traders offered 2,000,000l. at eight per cent., for an incorporation conferring upon them the exclusive privilege of the trade; and their proposal was accepted. An act was accordingly passed in July of that year, empowering the king to incorporate the new company; and on the 5th of September following his majesty signed a charter investing the subscribers of the two millions, under the name of The English Company trading to the East Indies, with the exclusive possession of the commerce of that part of the world for ever, subject only to the right of the Old Company to continue their trade for three years longer. Meanwhile, however, the Old Company had, through its treasurer, subscribed no less than 315,000l. of the loan of two millions, and had thus become by far the largest shareholder in the new and rival association. Hence a confusion and conflict of claims and interests such as a legislative arrangement has seldom produced. There were now trading all at the same time, first, the Old Company, expressly authorised to go on as usual for three years longer, and even after the expiration of that term left in possession of all its forts and factories in India, and of whatever privileges it had acquired there from the native authorities; secondly, the New Company, without any Indian possessions whatever, and with the rival body, which aimed at its destruction, permanently, as it were, seated upon its shoulders, and invested with almost a controlling power over its operations; thirdly, a few of the subscribers to the late loan, who had declined joining the New Company, but who in terms of the original contract with the government were nevertheless entitled, so long as the two millions remained unrepaid, to trade each for himself; and fourthly, all such separate traders as had cleared out from England previous to the 1st of July, 1698, the right of all such to carry on the trade till they should think fit to return to England having also been provided for by a clause in the act which created the New Company. It is said that no fewer than sixty ships in all were now engaged in the trade, which seems to have been reduced to a state in which all the inconveniences of a free trade and of a monopoly were combined, without any of the advantages of either. The home manufactures were extensively injured by a glut of India goods, the prices obtained for which at the same time entirely failed to remunerate the importers. And still the bitterest hostility divided the two companies, whose quarrel, indeed, gradually became one in which the whole nation took part, the Tories siding with the Old Company, the Whigs with the New, after the manner in which the whirlpool of political faction is wont to draw all things to it. In the city of London in particular, ever since the passing of the act of 1698, which had called the New Company into existence, all the powerful interest of the other company had been strenuously and perseveringly exerted against the government; and Burnet acknowledges "that this act, together with the inclinations which those of the Whigs who were in good posts had expressed for keeping up a greater land force, did contribute to the blasting the reputation they had hitherto maintained of being good patriots, and was made use of over England by the Tories to disgrace both the king and them."[16] And the Tory majority in the new House of Commons which met in February, 1701, appears to have been the effect of the returning popular feeling in favour of the Old Company, and of the exertions of their partisans throughout the kingdom, more than of any other cause. The elections, indeed, had turned principally upon the contention between the two companies; but Burnet himself is constrained to admit that what systematic bribery of the electors took place was chiefly, if not exclusively, on the part of the New Company and his own friends and theirs, the Whigs. When the House met, he tells us, "reports were brought to them of elections that had been scandalously purchased by some who were concerned in the New East India Company. Instead of drinking and entertainments, by which elections were formerly managed, now a most scandalous practice was brought in of buying votes, with so little decency, that the electors engaged themselves by subscription to choose a blank person before they were trusted with the name of their candidate." But he adds, with considerable naivete, "the Old East India Company had driven a course of corruption within doors with so little shame, that the New Company intended to follow their example; but with this difference, that, whereas the former had bought the persons who were elected, they resolved to buy elections."[17] The general interest that was taken in the dispute between the two companies did not abate till towards the very close of William's reign; but at length the parties principally concerned began themselves to perceive that the contest was only exhausting and ruining both; and shortly after the accession of Anne an arrangement that had been for some time negociating was completed under the sanction of the queen, by which their differences were composed in the mean time, and provision was made for their ultimate union into one body. The fixed property, or dead stock, as it was called, of the Old Company in India, being valued at 330,000l., and that of the New Company at 70,000l., a fair adjustment of their respective claims and liabilities in regard to that matter was made by the latter paying over to the former the sum of 130,000l., so that each might be regarded as contributing 200,000l. to this part of the common stock; and then the money capital of 2,000,000l. was in like manner divided equally between the two, by the Old Company purchasing at par as much stock from the New Company as made up their original subscription of 315,000l. to 1,000,000l.[18] These terms were embodied in a tripartite indenture, which was signed by her majesty and both Companies on the 2nd of July, 1702; and by which it was also stipulated that after the expiration of the term of seven years all separation of interests should cease, and the whole incorporated shareholders should form one body, to be called the United Company of Merchants of England trading to the East Indies. This final and complete union, accordingly, took place in the year 1708. After this the Company's charter was three times renewed, and its exclusive trading privileges continued to it, within the present period; first, in 1712 till the year 1736; secondly, in 1730 till the year 1769; and lastly, in 1744 till the year 1783.

A few other branches of our colonial and foreign trade, during the reign of William, require only a slight notice. The plantations, as they were called, or settlements on the continent of America, went on steadily increasing in population and wealth; and by the end of the century the trade with these rising dependencies and the adjacent West India islands is said to have given employment to no less than five hundred sail of ships. Of these doubtless a considerable number were engaged in bringing negroes from the opposite coast of Africa—a trade which had originally been in the exclusive possession of the African Company, but which now, after having been for a considerable time practically open, was in 1698 made so legally by an act of parliament permitting all the king's subjects, whether of England or of America, to trade to Africa on payment of a certain per centage to the Company on all goods exported or imported—negroes, however, being exempted even from this tax. The change thus made was "at that time," remarks Anderson, "in every one's judgment much to the benefit of the nation, more especially with relation to the commerce to our sugar colonies; for it was confessed by all that the separate traders had considerably reduced the price of negroes to our negro colonies, and consequently had so far the better enabled them to undersell our rivals." In the Newfoundland fishery the French had for some time before the Revolution been encroaching more and more upon the exclusive rights claimed by the English; the first specific complaint in King William's declaration of war against France in 1689 was, that, whereas not long since the French had been accustomed to take licences from the English governor of Newfoundland for fishing in the seas upon that coast, and to pay tribute for such licences, as an acknowledgment of the sole right of the crown of England to that island, yet of late their encroachments upon his subjects' trade and fishery there had been more like the invasions of an enemy than becoming friends who had enjoyed the advantages of the said trade only by permission. The capture of Nova Scotia, however, at the commencement of the war, would probably make us again sole masters of the neighbouring island. An act passed in 1698, for the encouragement of the trade to Newfoundland, may be taken as evidence that it was then of considerable value. The preamble declares it to be "a beneficial trade to this kingdom, not only in the employing great numbers of seamen and ships, and exporting and consuming great quantities of provisions and manufactures of this realm, whereby many tradesmen and poor artificers are kept at work, but also in bringing into this nation, by returns of the effects of the said fishery from other countries, great quantities of wine, oil, plate, iron, wool, and sundry other useful commodities, to the increase of his majesty's revenue, and encouragement of trade and navigation." Then follow a number of regulations for the orderly carrying on of the fishery, of which the principal is, that, "according to the ancient custom there used," the master of the vessel from England first entering any harbour or creek in the island after the 25th of March should be admiral of the said harbour or creek during that fishing season, and should see the rules and orders laid down in the act duly put in execution within the limits of the jurisdiction thus assigned to him. It is expressly ordered that no subject of any foreign power "shall at any time hereafter take any bait, or use any sort of trade or fishing whatsoever." in Newfoundland, or in any of the adjacent islands. But this complete exclusion of other countries from the fishery was not long maintained. Measures were also taken a few years after the Revolution to revive tho Greenland fishery. In 1692 a company was incorporated I for carrying on this branch of trade, by the name of the Company of Merchants of London trading to Greenland, with a capital of 40,000l., and a charter conferring upon them the usual powers of succession, &c., and the exclusive possession of the trade for fourteen years. The preamble of the act gives a sort of history of the way in which the old English trade to Greenland had come to be "quite decayed and lost." It recites that several merchants and others had been by an act passed in 1673[19] "encouraged to fit out and send to the said Greenland seas some ships or vessels for the catching of whales, whereby some small quantities of oil, blubber, and whale-fins were imported into this kingdom; but, they not being able to carry on the said trade upon their single or separate interests, in regard that the neighbouring nations did yearly send far greater numbers of ships into those seas, the said merchants and other persons of this kingdom were forced to desist from following the said trade, which is now wholly engrossed by foreigners; and since the expiration and revival[20] of the said act there hath not been any ships sent from England to the said Greenland seas, or any oil, blubber, or whale-fins imported into England but such as have been bought of foreigners, whereby great sums of money are yearly drawn out of England for those commodities, and the rates and prices which are now paid for the same are now above six times more than heretofore they were; and, the said trade having been for above these twelve years last past wholly lost to this kingdom, there are very few or no English harpinierers or English seamen skilled and exercised in the said trade of whale-catching, so that the said trade cannot now be regained to this kingdom, nor can be carried on, by or[21] without the assistance of foreign harpinierers, or upon the single interests or stocks of any particular persons, or by any other way than by a joint-stock."[22] The trade, however, throve under this new system no better than before: after a year or two the Company subscribed an additional capital of 42,000l., and in 1696 they got a new act exempting them from all duties upon the oil, &c., imported by them during the currency of their charter; but some years before that term expired they had expended their second capital also, on which they resolved to abandon the speculation. In these circumstances the trade was in 1702 thrown open by parliament, the act declaring that it had been wholly neglected by the Company and lost to the nation.[23] But no further attempt appears to have been made by any English adventurer in this field of enterprise for many years. In 1699 the trade with Russia, now becoming every day of greater importance in the new position to which that country was raised by the reforms of Peter the Great, was also practically thrown open by an act entitling any person to admission into the Russian Company on payment of an entrance fee of 5l. The Turkey Company appears to have been at this date in the possession of an active and prosperous commerce. The French Council of Commerce, in a memorial drawn up in the year 1701, admit that the English then carried on the Levant trade (which was in the hands of this company) with much more advantage than the French, chiefly in consequence of our woollen cloths being both superior in quality and lower in price. "The English," adds the Memorial, "also carry to the Levant lead, pewter, copperas, and logwood, which are goods they are masters of; together with a great deal of pepper; and, that they may not drain their country of its gold and silver, they also take in dry fish of their own catching, sugar of their own colonies, and other goods of their own produce, which they sell on the coasts of Portugal, Spain, and Italy, for pieces of eight, which they carry to the Levant to make up a stock sufficient for purchasing their homeward cargoes."[24]

The French Council of Commerce was established by Louis XIV. in the year 1700. From its erection Anderson, writing about the middle of the last century, when it still subsisted, thinks there is good reason to date "the great and almost surprising increase of the commerce, woollen manufacture, mercantile shipping, and foreign colonies of France.[25] We have noticed in the last Chapter, the English Council or Board of the same kind established by Charles II. in 1668, which, however, was kept up only for about five or six years. From the time when it was allowed to drop matters relating to commerce and the colonics had been usually referred to committees of the privy council specially appointed to consider each new subject as it arose; but in 1696 King William issued a commission appointing a permanent Board of Trade, to consist (in addition to the great officers of state, whose attendance was expected to be only occasional) of a first lord and seven other commissioners, each having a salary of 100l. Among the first commissioners were the celebrated John Locke, and Pollexfen, the writer on commerce. They were styled "Commissioners for promoting the Trade of this Kingdom, and for inspecting and improving the Plantations in America and elsewhere;" and their instructions more particularly directed them to examine into and take accounts of the general trade of England, and of our foreign commerce in all its departments—"to consider by what means profitable manufactures, already settled, may be further improved, and how other new and profitable manufactures may be introduced"—"to consider of proper methods for setting on work and employing the poor, and making them useful to the public"—and, in regard to the plantations, or colonies, to superintend not only their commerce but their government in all respects.[26] From this last class of duties the Board of Trade must have been relieved, we presume, on the institution of the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies, or the American department, in 1768; but its other functions were understood to remain nearly the same as at its first establishment down to its abolition in 1782, when the business of this department of the executive government was made over to a permanant committee of the privy council, according to the arrangement that still subsists.

The Revolution was immediately followed by an innovation, which demands our special notice, in the law regulating the foreign trade in the most important of all productions, the article of corn. As far as the subject can be historically traced, the first law permitting the exportation of corn from England, without the royal licence, was passed in 1394 (17 Rich. II. c. 7). By this law exportation, which appears to have been hitherto strictly prohibited, was made free in all circumstances, that is to say, whatever might be the price at home. The only check reserved was, that, as the king had formerly the power of allowing exportation in particular cases, so now he might forbid it when to do so appeared to him to be for the profit of the realm. The matter, therefore, in fact remained still, as before, under the control of the crown—with this difference, that, whereas non-exportation had been the general rule formerly, liberty of exportation was established as the general rule now. The alteration of the law may be taken as indicating the increased political power of the agricultural interest, and probably also the increased cultivation and produce of the soil. And these same two causes we find operating, with almost uninterrupted constancy, in moulding our corn laws more and more into the form most accordant with the interests of the producer down to the date at which we are now arrived. In 1436 (by 15 Hen. VI. c. 2), the right of exportation, in the case of the home price being under a certain point, was given absolutely, without any restriction or reservation whatever; the old power of prohibition was wholly taken from the king so long as prices remained below the sum specified; it was merely provided that he should have his customs and duties, as usual, upon the exported commodity. And, of course, by the unrepealed act of 1394, exportation, whatever might be the state of prices at home, was still also free, unless when expressly forbidden by royal proclamation. The limit fixed by the act of 1436, as that within which the right of exportation remained independent of the crown, was so long as the home price (of the quarter of wheat) did not exceed 6s. 8d. In 1463 (by 3 Ed. IV. c. 2) a new advantage was given to the producers, by importation being for the first time forbidden whenever prices should be under that point. In this state the law remained for seventy-one years. But then in 1534 an act was passed (the 25th Hen. VIII. c. 2) which (in so far at least as regarded the exportation of corn) swept away all the legislation of the preceding hundred and forty years, and suddenly restored for a time the old original state of the law, by which exportation was prohibited in all circumstances except under the royal licence. The importation of the article, indeed, still remained fettered by the act of 1463; but probably that act was now nearly inoperative from the rise of prices that had taken place since it passed;—a change that would, to be sure, make the act of 1436 also a dead letter; so that what was really done by Henry VIII.'s act of 1534 was principally to repeal Richard II.'s act of 1394, which first made free exportation the rule and non-exportation the exception, time itself having done the rest. However, the law, as we have said, was now (except as to the partial and probably inapplicable and harmless restriction on importation) brought back in all respects to the state in which it was before the course of legislation in favour of the agricultural interest began. But this lasted for twenty years only. In 1554 (by the 1 and 2 Phil, and Mary, c. 5) the law of 1463 was revived, and exportation again made free when the price was under 6s. 8d. It is expressly stated in the preamble to this new act that the general prohibition of exportation by the act of 1534 had been extensively evaded or completely disregarded: "yet notwithstanding," are the words of the preamble, "many and sundry covetous and insatiable persons, seeking their own lucres and gains, had and daily do carry and convey innumerable quantity as well of corn, cheese, butter, and other victual [the prohibition had extended to all oilier articles of food as well as grain], as of wood, out of this realm into the parts beyond the seas; by reason whereof the said corn, victual, and wood are grown into a wonderful dearth and extreme prices." So that we see even this short solitary suspension of the onward movement of the land-cultivating, or rather of the land-owning, interest was rather nominal than real. But at any rate the subsequent advance of the landed interest in this course of acquisition was both steady and open enough. In 1562 (by the 17th, or, in the common editions, the 26th section of the 5 Eliz. c. 5, curiously entitled " An Act touching certain politic constitutions made for the maintenance of the Navy") the limit within which there should be a free exportation of wheat was enlarged by the elevation of the terminating price to 10s. the quarter; a corresponding alteration being at the same time made for other descriptions of grain. In 1571 (by the 13 Eliz. c. 13) the law of 1394 was restored, and exportation was made free, whatever might be the home price, at all times when no proclamation had been issued to the contrary. Then by a succession of acts the limits within which the right of exportation was made absolute, and independent even of the control of the royal prerogative, were gradually extended, by the elevation of the terminating price in 1623 (by the 21 Jac. I. c. 28) to 32s.; in 1660 (by the 12 Car. II. c. 4) to 40s.; and in 1663 (by the 15 Car. II. c. 7) to 48s. Up to this point, however, although the landed interest had been successful in breaking down to a considerable extent the ancient policy of the kingdom, which was prohibitory of exportation in all circumstances, it cannot be said (if we except the law of 1463 forbidding importation while the home price was under 6s. 8d., which had now long ceased to be operative, if it ever had been so) that any unfair advantage had been given to the growers of corn; all that had been done in their favour had only tended to make the trade in corn more and more free, by removing part of the restrictions that had been laid upon the export of the commodity. But soon after this a new system was begun. In 1670 (by the 22 Car. II. c. 13) not only was the home price up to which exportation should be tree raised to 53s. 4d., but for the first time (for we may disregard altogether the obsolete act of 1463) importation was restrained, by being loaded with a prohibitory amount of duty so long as the price in the home-market was under 53s. 4d., and even with a very heavy duty, 8s. per quarter, when the home price reached that point and until it rose to 80s. This was the law in force at the time of the Revolution. Corn could not be brought from abroad at all till the price at home rose to 53s. 4d., and even not then without the payment of a tax which made it necessary that the cost of purchase and charge of conveyance should not together have amounted to so much as 45s. 4d.; and at the same time its exportation was perfectly free (except that it paid a moderate custom duty, like all other commodities) until it rose at home to a price which it might be safely presumed would make the sending it abroad no longer profitable. This, we might suppose, would have been deemed protection for agriculture enough. But not so; immediately after the Revolution an act was passed (the 1 Will. and Mary, c. 12) which introduced the new principle of actually paying the landlords for sending their produce out of the country, by allowing a bounty of 5s. upon every quarter of wheat exported so long as the home price did not exceed 48s. Nor was even this all that was done to promote exportation; in 1699 (by the 11 Will. III. c. 20), "for the greater encouragement of tillage," corn sent abroad was relieved even from all custom-house duties. It was time, indeed, to cease levying duties, with the one hand upon that which we were paying bounties to encourage on the other.

Under the system of bounties, which was maintained throughout the present period and long after its close (for it was not till the year 1773 that the law of 1689 was partially, and not till 1815 that it was wholly, repealed), England became a corn-exporting country to some, though never to any very considerable, extent. In 1697, for instance, 14,699 quarters of wheat and flour were sent abroad; in 1699 the quantity fell to 557; but in 1700 it was 49,056; and in the ten following years, while it rose in 1706 to 188,332, it never was under 74,000, till 1710, when it fell to 13,924. In the ten years from 1711 to 1720 it ranged from 71,800 quarters to 176,227, except in 1717, when it was only 22,954. In 1722 it was 178,880; in 1723, 157,720; in 1724, 245,865; and in 1725, 204,413. But in 1727 it had fallen to 30,315; and in 1728 to 3,817; nor in 1729 was it more than 18,993. After this, with the exception of a few unproductive years (1740, 1741, 1757, and 1758), in which it was very insignificant, it was seldom less than from 200,000 to 400,000, and sometimes it was considerably more: thus, in 1733 it was 427,199: in 1734, 498,196; in 1737, 461,602; in 1738,580,596; in 1748, 543,387; in 1749, 629,049; in 1750, 947,602 (which was the highest amount it ever reached); and in 1751, 661,416. It has often been contended, and formerly it was an opinion almost universally held, that, by the extension of tillage which it occasioned, the system of bounties upon the exportation of corn in fact operated to keep down the price of the commodity in the home-market. "In other states," observes the Count de Boulainvilliers, "private persons pay the government for the exportation of grain; England acts quite otherwise, and pays them. All common means made use of to that time to increase the fruits of the earth had been insufficient, or at least of little use. Before that epoch the agriculture of England was of little account in Europe. As long as that monarchy thought only of its own subsistence, it always found itself short of the necessary; it was very often obliged to have recourse to foreigners to make up the deficiency of the growth of the nation; but, when it made its agriculture an object of commerce, the cultivation of its land became one of the most abundant in Europe. Without that stroke of slate, the best concerted of all those which have yet appeared in modern politics, England had never sown but for herself; for what could she have done with the surplus of her grain? It was the bounty only which could assure her of the sale in foreign markets, and, for that reason, be the only source of the augmentation of her harvests. Let us combine all the means which that monarchy hath put in use, for an age past, to establish its power, and we shall find that it is to this in particular that she is indebted for her elevation,"[27] In later times this reasoning has generally been considered to be as mistaken as it is paradoxical, and the effects which it attributes to the bounty system have been traced to quite other causes; but it is at least certain that, howsoever caused, a reduction rather than a rise of the price of corn did follow this artificial encouragement given to its exportation. Grain was in general, according to Charles Smith, from fifteen to twenty per cent, cheaper during the seventy years that followed the enactment of the law of 1689 than it had been for forty years before that time.[28] For some years after the Restoration the average price of wheat exceeded 50s. the quarter; nor was it under 41s. at the date of the Revolution: for the ten years ending with 1695 it appears to have been about 39s. 6d.; for the ten ending 1705, about 43s.; for the ten ending 1715, about 44s.; for the twenty ending 1735, about 35s.; for the ten ending 1745, about 32s.; and for the ten ending 1755, about 33s.

According to an account given by Davenant, the official value of our entire exports for the year 1699 was 6,788,166l. ; of which sum the woollen manufacture alone furnished not less than 2,932,292l., or considerably nearer one-half than one-third.[29] Elsewhere the same writer estimates our total exports to France in that year at 103,961l.; in 1700 at 287,049l.; and in 1701 at 213,004l.: the values of the imports from that country being 76,272l. for 1699; 94,641l. for 1700; and 123,940l. for 1701.[30] The only articles he particularizes are, among the exports, woollen goods and lead; among the imports, linen, paper, wine, brandy, and kid-skins. On the whole it appears that the trade with France was considerably less now than it had been in the time of free intercourse which immediately succeeded the Restoration. The trade with Holland, on the other hand, had greatly increased. Up to the year 1669, according to Davenant, our exports to that country consisted of only 45 species of rated goods, whereas by the beginning of the reign of Anne we exported thither 120 or 130 different kinds. Formerly our principal exports to Holland were woollen goods, tin, lead, brass, molasses, wrought silk, butter, and morkins (hides); our principal importations thence, linens, wrought silk, thrown silk, threads, inkles, spicery, madder, battery, stock-fish, whale-fins, hemp, flax, un-wrought copper, Rhenish wine, safflower, and iron ware. Of our woollens exported to Holland, the value in 1669 was 79,953l.; in 1703, 1,339,526l.: of our lead, 297l. in 1669; 38,283l. in 1703: of our tin, 1,635l. in 1669; 17,051l. in 1703. Altogether the value of our exports of the eight principal articles was 153,799l. in the former year, and 1,404,920l. in the latter. Of molasses, however, of which we exported thither to the value of 67,510l. in 1669, there appears to have been no exportation at all to Holland in 1703. On the other hand, many foreign, colonial, and East India goods entered into our exports in the latter year, which either formed no part of them, or a much smaller part, in the former. Of sugar and foreign fruits, we re-exported to Holland in 1703 to the value of 114,416l.; of pepper, drugs, and dyeing substances to the value of 63,865l.; of tobacco to that of 143,596l.; of foreign wool to that of 7,800l. ; and of cotton yarn to that of 1,783l. The East India goods re-exported to Holland this year amounted, in value to 345,647l. We also now sent a considerable quantity of corn to the Dutch, a commodity of which in 1669 none was exported. Davenant says that in the year 1703 there was entered for exportation in all sorts of grain to the value of 12,202l. from London, and of 168,067l. from the out ports; making altogether 180,269l.: but this appears to have been to all foreign parts. The imports, however, from Holland in these two years do not exhibit so great a difference: their total amount in 1669[31] was 501,674l.: and in 1703, 522,413l. The principal articles of which there appears to have been an increase of importation are linen (from 170,972l. to 213,701l.), thrown silk (from 2,878l. to 15,966l.), and threads (from 11,694l. to 51,138l.): on the other hand there was a falling off in wrought silk, spicery, Rhenish wine, and several other articles. In the seven years from 1699 to 1705 inclusive, the average value of our exports to Holland is stated to have been 1,937,934l., and that of our imports from that country, 549,832l. The latter, Davenant remarks, had "continued for several years in a manner at a stand, seldom exceeding half a million per annum." If we add the outports, which the account does not include, that sum might be increased by about a fourth. Our exports to Holland, on the other hand, had been constantly augmenting, their excess over the imports having, in some of the seven years, been not less than 1,500,000l. But, whether or no this seeming overbalance in trade with the Dutch had been all to the profit of this kingdom, Davenant, with a degree of good sense and sagacity superior to his time, is inclined to doubt. "If," he continues, "according to the vulgar notion, this large overbalance had been all clear gain to England, it would have been some kind of recompense for the interruptions so long a war has brought to other branches of our foreign traffic; but nothing can be more fallacious than, because a country takes off" more of our commodities than we do of theirs, to argue from thence that our dealings with that country are always beneficial to us...If, for the last twenty-three years, the Dutch had so far augmented their luxuries as to want for their own consumption that vast bulk of commodities they have so constantly fetched from this kingdom, and if we had been all along so reformed in our manners as to stand in little need of foreign goods, Holland must have been great losers, and we great gainers, by the dealings that have been between us. If they had not found their accounts in the prodigious quantity of effects annually exported thither from hence, and if so wise a state had perceived itself to carry on a losing trade, they would have put a stop to this mischief, either by prohibitions of, or high duties upon, our product and manufacture, for which they had a sufficient pretence from the additional impositions we have been compelled to lay upon their linens and other goods; but they have been too prudent to be frighted with the false appearance of an overbalance, well knowing, the more they brought from hence, the better opportunities they had to enlarge their general traffics." He then proceeds, by an examination of details, to show that the greater part of the commodities taken from us by the Dutch were in reality re-exported by them to other countries. In the course of this investigation he notices various facts which throw a light upon the then state both of our own commerce and of that of the world. The total value of our exports of woollen manufactures to Holland, which in 1703, as we have seen, was 1,339,526l., was in 1663 only 79,953l. Of three articles alone, perpetuanas, serges, and stuffs, we sent the Dutch in 1703 to the value of 798,527l., or ten times the amount of our whole exportation of woollens to them forty years before. That people cannot possibly, argues Davenant, have within the period in question so increased in numbers, wealth, and luxury, as to want for their own consumption so great a quantity of these articles over and above what they were wont to call for. "The fact is," he continues, "that they purchase those immense cargoes to re-export to other countries, and so they are become, in a more extended degree than heretofore, the carriers of our commodities to foreign markets; that is to say, they supply those parts which we, for want of industry, have not embraced, or where our traffic has been interrupted by the war. It is easy to prove that for the last twenty years[32] great parcels of our hue draperies, and other woollen manufactures, went into France through Flanders by the connivance of governors, and by compositions with the French farmers,[33] to the value (as I am well informed, when in Holland about six years since) of near 300,000l. per annum. Since the trade with the Spaniards has been interrupted, they must have carried of the same goods great quantities to Portugal; otherwise, how could they dispose of all the baize sent from hence to Holland, which article of baize, from 1699 to 1704, amounts to, at a medium of the said five years, 92,526l. per annum—a larger proportion than they can possibly be conceived to consume themselves; and from Portugal it must have found its way to Spain and the West Indies. The same may be said of perpetuauas, serges, says, and other stuffs; as also of stockings, woollen and worsted, for men, women, and children. During both the wars, not only the fine draperies, but manufactures from the long wool, got into France from the frontier places, which turned to the profit of Holland; and of late years, since they have so much enlarged their traffics, and accumulated such a stock of wealth to support their trade, they have carried up the rivers into Germany great parcels of fine cloths, stuffs, says, and serges, which our merchants were wont formerly to export to Hamburgh and other parts of the German empire upon their own accounts." So likewise with regard to the tin taken from us by the Dutch. Our export of tin to all foreign countries amounted in 1663 to 153 tons; in 1669 to 240; in the three years of peace, from 1698 to 1700, on an average, to 1297; and in the ten years of war, from 1700 to 1710, on an average, to 1094. In these last ten years the Dutch alone bought from us annually, on an average, 5937 cwt,, or nearly 300 tons, of the estimated value of 21,374l. "It is not difficult," says Davenant, "to account for the reasons why our late exportations of tin so far exceed those of former times. All our neighbours, as well as ourselves, have increased in the luxurious ways of living; such who heretofore were content with pewter are now served in plate, and such as made use of trenchers, wooden platters, and earthenware will now have pewter; all which is visible within forty years, and has occasioned this great call of a commodity almost peculiar to us." The quantity of tin raised from the mines, however, was still greater than the demands of the home-market and of foreign countries together took off our hands: at the time when Davenant wrote, her majesty, for whose behoof the mines were wrought, had unsold between 4000 and 5000 tons, or as much as would supply the consumption of the next four or five years. "As the case stands at present," he adds, "Holland is the great magazine for tin; the necessities of such as have it upon their hands, either in merchandize or security, drive it thither, and the Dutch set what price they please upon this rich product of England, to the damage of the public." He proposes that a thousand tons of the dead stock should be coined into tin halfpence and farthings. The annual quantity of tin that was raised in England, however, went on increasing from this time instead of being diminished:—the quantity which had accumulated in Davenant's time is only about a years produce of the mines at present. He next proceeds to our exports of corn. This, he observes, "is, in a manner, a new exportation, arising to us from the war, which has in other countries so employed the hands of their people that they could not till the ground, or from dearths or plagues, wherewith divers nations have been afflicted for these last twenty-three years." Formerly, only a very small quantity of grain was sent from the port of London to Holland, Spain, Denmark, Africa, the Plantations, Italy, and Portugal: in 1663 the entire estimated value of the com so exported was only 4315l., and in 1699 not more than 2011l. "Whereas now," continues our author, "we export grain of all sorts to Africa, Canaries, Denmark and Norway, East Country, Flanders, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Madeiras, Newfoundland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Venice, Isles of Guernsey, &c., and English Plantations." In the eleven years from 1700 to 1710, inclusive, the average total export of grain from England was of the estimated value of 274,171l.; of which the value of that entered for exportation to land alone averaged 151,934l. "What part of this commodity," says Davenant, " is for their own consumption, and what part they re-export to other countries, does not appear to me; but so far is certain—when corn bears a high price in foreign markets they send large cargoes of it to the places where it finds a good vent; and it has been known that in years of scarcity they bring us back our own wheat, because of the premium we give upon exportation, and which they are enabled to do by having large granaries almost in every great town, wherein they store large quantities in cheap years, to answer the demands of other countries." Of tobacco, our average annual importation from Virginia, for the ten years from 1700 to 1709 inclusive, had been 28,858,666 lbs.; and we had annually re-exported to foreign countries 17,598,007 lbs., of which quantity Holland alone took from us 7,851,157 lbs., or not much less than the half. "This product of our plantations," Davenant observes, "earned to Holland, brings considerable profit to that country; besides that the manufacturing of it, when there, employs a great number of their people. What proportion of it they consume themselves cannot well be stated; but so far is known, that they mix it with the tobacco of their own growth, viz., for France, one-third inland and two-thirds Virginia; making it finer or coarser, and adding to or diminishing the quantity of Virginia, and making some up only with our tobacco-stalks mixed with their own leaves, according to the use of the country whereunto they export it," According to an account which he had seen, and which he believed to be authentic, the Dutch had come by the year 1706 to grow at home, in their three provinces of Utrecht, Guelderland, Overyssel, and part of the duchy of Cleves, 13,000,000 lbs. of tobacco, although seven years before they did not raise more than 8,000,000 lbs. It appears from this account that, in the beginning of the last century, the consumption of tobacco in England exceeded 11,000.000 lbs.; at present, with probably thrice the population, it is only about 16,000,000 lbs. Nor is our entire annual importation of tobacco much more than it was then: in 1831, for instance, it was only about 33,000,000 lbs. The last class of our exports to Holland which Davenant examines is that of our East India goods. He begins by observing, that Amsterdam and Rotterdam were then in a manner the magazines for the wrought silk, Bengal stuffs mixed with silk or herba of the manufacture of Persia, China, or East India, and for all calicoes painted, dyed, printed, or stained in those parts; which commodities, since their use had been prohibited here,[34] were chiefly sent to Holland, that country taking off, on the average of the four years from 1702 to 1705 inclusive, above 94,916l. worth of them annually. He apprehends that the Dutch in this way drew into their pockets the greater part of the profits of our East India trade; and that such would continue to be the case so long as our own merchants were, by the law preventing the home consumption of the commodities in question, confined to that one foreign market. As for the supposed interference of these India fabrics with our woollen manufactures abroad, he does not think there is much or anything in that objection. "For these last thirty years," he observes, "in which the East India trade has been carried on to the highest pitch, we are not decreased in the manufactures from long wool, but rather the contrary, and to a large degree nor does it appear to me, from any observation I can make, that East India goods have hurt the general traffic of our woollen manufactures in foreign markets; these silks and stuffs seem rather a commodity calculated for the middle rank of people; they are too vulgar to be worn by the best sort, and too costly for the lowest rank; so that the use of them remains in the middle rank, who (the luxuries of the world still increasing) would wear European silks if they had not East India stuffs and painted calicoes, whereby the vent of our woollen goods abroad would certainly be lessoned." "On the whole," Davenant concludes, " the truth of the case appears to be, that, especially during this last war (while our trade with France and Spain has been interrupted), large quantities of the woollen manufactures, com, tin, tobacco, with divers other commodities, have been sent to Holland, which goods in the former course of trade we exported directly ourselves, and mostly in our own shipping, to the increase of our navigation, which the war having rendered difficult, and their ports being less exposed than our's to the danger of privateers, as well in ships outward as homeward bound, the Hollanders have in a great measure got to be the carriers of our goods; but, as our exports thither have increased all along, so our exports to other parts must, in proportion, have diminished, and what we seem to have gained in our dealings there we have lost in the general balance of our trade with other countries." Taking the year 1703, it appears that the value of our exports to all foreign parts was 6,644,103l., while that of our exports to Holland alone was 2,417,890l., or more than a third of the whole. Of the 2.417,890l. there was exported in English bottoms 1,502,169l., and in foreign bottoms 915,720l. Of the imports from Holland for that year, to the value of 289,844l. was brought in English, and 232,568l. in foreign vessels. And these same proportions Davenant believes would nearly hold for other years. We may hence perceive the extent to which the carrying trade, both in goods for the English market and in English produce and manufactures, was at this time in the hands of foreigners, and principallv of the Dutch.

As for the prevalent notion which Davenant takes so much pains to combat, that this trade with Holland must needs be a profitable one, simply because our exports so much exceeded our imports, it was as irrational as it would be to maintain that the productive labourer must always be a greater gainer upon the article he produces than the capitalist who employs him. The Dutch here stood in the position of the capitalist, and the English of the labourer. The former, in fact, employed the latter to work for them—to produce the goods which they sold at a profit to other countries. Of course, in such a connexion, while the Dutch had the goods the English had the money—just as while the master has his goods the workman has his wages; and thus, and thus alone, was brought about, in the exchange between the two countries, that excess in our receipt of money or bullion constituting the so called favourable balance of the mercantile and manufacturing theories. But that the excess of profit or real advantage should be with the labourer rather than with the capitalist may fairly be presumed to be as unusual, and as little likely in the nature of things, in the case of nations as of individuals.

Davenant incidentally mentions in the Report from which we have abstracted these notices, that, on an average of the seven years from 1699 to 1705 inclusive, our exports to Germany had amounted to the estimated value of 838,591l., and our imports thence to that of 677,721l.[35] This, he observes, "is no considerable excess from so large and populous a country, especially when it is considered what quantities of German linens have been imported hither since the first war with France, which German linens must have been answered by an adequate quantity of our woollen manufactures, if the Dutch did not intercept us in the traffic by our own commodities." Such as it was, however, this excess of exports over imports made our trade with Germany be considered a profitable one, as well as that with Holland. In our dealings with the countries in the north of Europe, on the contrary, as in those with France, we were losers according to this way of calculating, if we may trust an account from which it appears that in the trade with Denmark and Norway, on the average of the four years from 1698 to 1701 inclusive, our annual imports amounted to 76,215l., and our exports only to 39,543l.; in that with the East country our imports to 181,296l., and our exports only to 149,893l.; in that with Russia, our imports to 112,252l., and our exports only to 58,884l.; and in that with Sweden, our imports to 212,094l., and our exports only to 57,555l.[36] These figures may at any rate be taken as showing the extent of our commercial intercourse at this time with the countries in question.

Down to this, and indeed to a much later date, our chief article of produce and export continued, as of old, to be our woollens. This important manufacture was the subject of various legislative regulations in the reign of William. Immediately after the Revolution an act was passed, renewing and strengthening the former laws against the exportation of the raw material, which, the preamble alleges, had of late years been extensively violated, "through the remissness and negligence of officers and others."[37] In 1698, however, we find the parliament again complaining that, nevertheless, the sending of the commodity abroad was still "notoriously continued, to the great prejudice and discouragement of the woollen trade and manufacture of England."[38] The next year the jealousy with which this great staple was watched over was strikingly evinced by the passing of an act which, after declaring that "the wool and the woollen manufactures of cloth, serge, baise, kerseys, and other stuffs made or mixed with wool, are the greatest and most profitable commodities of this kingdom, on which the value of lands and the trade of the nation do chiefly depend," proceeds to state, that "great quantities of the like manufactures have of late been made and are daily increasing in the kingdom of Ireland and in the English plantations in America, and are exported from thence to foreign markets heretofore supplied from England, which will inevitably sink the value of lands, and tend to the ruin of the trade and the woollen manufactures of this realm;" and thereupon strictly prohibits the exports in future both of wool and of woollen goods to any part of the world except to England, from either Ireland or the plantations.[39] Finally, in the following session, by the same act which put an end to all duties on the exportation of corn, all subsisting duties upon the exportation of home woollen manufactures were also taken off, on the ground that "the wealth and prosperity of this kingdom doth in a great measure depend upon the improvement of its woollen manufactures, and the profitable trade carried on by the exportation of the same."[40] The system of artificial protection, however, was not in this case carried to the length of actually stimulating the exportation of either wool or woollens by bounties, as had been done with regard to corn.

In 1697 Davenant estimated the value of the wool yearly shorn in England at about 2,000,000l.[41] At a general medium he conceives the material to be probably improved about fourfold in the working; so that the entire annual value of our woollen manufactures at this time might be set down at about 8,000,000l. Of all the cloth made he allows a fourth for exportation; there would, therefore, remain for home consumption about 6,000,000l. worth. These inferences, however, are probably considerable exaggerations. More reliance may perhaps be placed upon an account which he says he had procured "from a very skilful hand," and from which it would appear that the quantity of fine cloth manufactured in England from Spanish wool in the year 1688 was about 19,000 pieces, of which about 9000 were exported (8420 from the port of London, 614 from the outports), and 10,000 reserved for home consumption.[42] "Some people," this writer elsewhere observes, "have been apt to fear that we sink in the woollen manufacture, because the accounts of the draperies exported have been heretofore larger than of late years; but such do not contemplate that, though the old may have lessened, what are commonly called the new draperies have increased, consisting in bays, serges, and stuffs; so that, upon the whole, infinitely more of the material of wool has of late years been wrought up for foreign use than in former times; and herein our merchants have been only forced to follow the modes and humour of those people with whom they deal, and the course they have pursued has hitherto not been detrimental to the public. Nor is there any cause to apprehend but that we may increase from time to time in the general manufacture of wool, though the exportation of particular commodities may now and then vary; for, upon the whole, our material is better and fitter for all uses than that of most countries. It were better, indeed, that the call from abroad were only for the fine draperies, because then we should be in a manner without a rival; no country but England and Ireland having a sward or turf that will rear sheep producing the wool of which most of our draperies are made. It is true the wool of Spain is fine above all others; but it is the wear only of the richer sort, and of Spanish cloths not above 9000 pieces are sent abroad communibus annis; and even in the working up of this wool perhaps it may be made out that our very climate gives us an advantage over other countries."[43] This was written in 1699. The act allowing woollen goods to be exported duty free came into operation the following year, and apparently produced a considerable increase of exportation; the duty received in the three years before the repeal having amounted to 129,640l., and that which would have been payable upon the quantities of woollen manufactures entered for exportation in the three following years to 150,829l.,—a difference which, as the duty was an ad valorem one of five per cent., implied an increase of exports upon the three years to the value of 425,040l., or of about 142,000l. per annum. But Davenant maintains that, "to carry on some mystery of trade," the merchants, now that it cost them nothing, were accustomed to enter larger quantities than they really exported, especially of the perpetuanas, serges, and other coarser descriptions of cloth. By the books of the Custom House, he says, the exportation of woollens would appear to be growing every year larger and larger, while at the same time there was a general complaint all over England of wool being a drug.[44]

The amount of the trade of England, in so far as it gave employment to our own shipping, whether for intercourse with foreign parts or for coasting purposes, and also its distribution over the country, at the end of the reign of King William, may be collected from an account of the mercantile marine of the kingdom as it existed in January, 1702, which has been drawn up from returns then made to inquiries instituted by the Commissioners of the Customs. From this account it appears that there belonged to the port of London 560 vessels, of the average burden of about 151 tons, and 10,065 men; to Bristol 165 vessels, of 105 tons on an average, and 2,359 men; to Yarmouth 143 vessels, of 62 tons on an average, and 668 men; to Exeter 121 vessels, of the burden of 58 or 59 tons on an average, and 978 men; to Hull 115 vessels, of nearly 66 tons on an average, and 187 men (80 of the Hull vessels were at this time laid up); to Whitby 110 vessels, of 75 tons on an average, and 571 men; to Liverpool 102 vessels, of between 84 and 85 tons on an average, and 1,101 men; and to Scarborough 100 vessels, of nearly 69 tons on an average, and 606 men. None of the other ports had so many as a hundred vessels; but Newcastle had 63, measuring in all 11,000 tons, or above 173 tons on an average, and Ipswich 39, measuring 11,170 tons in all, or above 286 tons on an average. The number of vessels belonging to all the ports in England was 3281, measuring 261,222 tons, or nearly 80 tons on an average; and the total number of seamen 27,196. The vessels carried among them 5660 guns.[45] According to the account laid before the House of Commons by the Navy Office in 1791 which we have referred to on former occasions, the royal navy at the end of William's reign was of the estimated burden of 159,017 tons. A statement given on the authority of Pepys, the author of the Diary, who had been Secretary to the Admiralty in the reigns of Charles II. and James II., makes the number of ships, of fifty tons and upwards, forming the royal navy in 1695, to have been above 200, measuring in all above 112,400 tons, and manned by 45,000 sailors.[46] The entire number of seamen, therefore, which the kingdom could furnish at this time was probably above seventy thousand. It was in 1696, we may here mention, that the noble institution of Greenwich Hospital was founded for aged and disabled sailors (though not opened till 1705) by an act of parliament, which at the same time established a registry in which mariners, seamen, watermen, fishermen, lightermen, bargemen, keelmen, and other seafaring persons, between the ages of eighteen and fifty, were invited to enrol their names and places of residence, to the number of 30,000, on which they were to receive a bounty or retaining fee of 40s. annually, on condition of holding themselves at all times in readiness to man the royal navy.[47] This registry, however, which aimed at furnishing a substitute for impressment, was discontinued in 1710, on the alleged ground that it had not produced the good effects intended for the service of the crown, or the encouragement of seamen, but, on the contrary, had occasioned much charge, vexation, and trouble.[48] In this same year, 1696, the first light-house was begun to be erected on the Eddystone rock, off Plymouth, by Winstanley, at the expense of the corporation of the Trinity House. It was not, however, completed till the year 1700, and it was blown down on the 26th of November, 1703, when Winstanley himself, happening to be at the rock superintending some repairs, perished with all his workmen. A new light-house, entirely of wood (Winstanley's had been partly of stone), was some years after erected by Rudyerd, which stood till it was burned down in 1755, when it was succeeded by the present admirable stone structure, the work of the late Mr. Smeaton.

On the whole the reign of William, notwithstanding the pressure of the war which extended over the greater part of it, certainly did not by any means either reverse or interrupt the progress the country was previously making in economical prosperity, although it may have somewhat slackened the rate of its advance. It may be asserted, in the words of a late writer, "that manufactures flourished in the mean time; that there was a great demand for labour; that the foreign traffic and navigation of England doubled from the peace of Ryswick to the accession of Queen Anne. For the re-coinage of the silver, meantime, produced an exhilarating effect on industry, in the same proportion as the debasement of the current coin is always disadvantageous to the lower orders, and dishonourable to the state. The revival of public credit after the peace of Ryswick, and the rising of the notes of the Bank of England to par, strengthened private confidence, at the same time that these causes invigorated our manufactures and our trade. And the spirit of population was still more animated by the many acts of naturalisation which were readily passed, during every session, in the reign of William, and which clearly evince how many industrious foreigners found shelter in England from the persecution of countries less tolerant and free."[49] The national industry and enterprise, indeed, could not fail to receive new animation and vigour, in all their departments, from the increased security or' person and property which the Revolution brought with it to every inhabitant of the kingdom, and from the very spirit of freedom that might now be said to vivify and enrich the air of England.

A still larger proportionate as well as actual part of the reign of Anne than of that of William was spent in war, and, both from the greater extent to which military operations were carried on, and from the accumulation of the debt, the public burthens were now considerably increased; but, notwithstanding the cry which was as usual kept up by faction about the continued decay of the national resources, well established facts sufficiently prove that, even during the course of this second war with France, the country, as soon as it had rallied from the first effects of the shock that again broke up and threw into confusion the relations to which it had begun to accommodate itself during the short previous interval of peace, rather made way than fell off in commercial and general prosperity, and that after the war was over its unfettered energies carried it forward at a rate such as it had perhaps never before experienced. It appears that the estimated value of our exports had been reduced by the year 1705 to 5,308,966l.; but from this point of greatest depression our foreign trade gradually so rar recovered, that in 1709 the value of our exports to all countries had risen to 5,913,357l.; in 1711 to 5,962,988l.; and in 1712, when indeed hostilities had nearly ceased except in name, to 6,868,840l. In 1713, 1714, and 1715, the three years that immediately followed the war, their average amount was 7,696,573l.—which was nearly a million sterling beyond their amount during the preceding peace. In another respect our foreign trade had now become moi'e advantageous than it then had been: the total tonnage of the ships annually cleared outwards on the average of the years 1699, 1700, and 1701 had been 337,328 tons, and in the years 1713, 1714, and 1715, its average amount was 448,004 tons; but the portion of it that was foreign at the former period was 43,625 tons, whereas now that was only 26,573 tons—so that the native shipping employed in our foreign trade had increased in this interval from 293,703 to 421,431 tons, or by considerably more than a third.[50] The progress of the post-office revenue does not indeed afford an equally favourable indication; but this we believe to be attributable to the great extent to which franking was now carried—an evidence of which we have in the fact that in the year 1722, when the net revenue of the post-office was only about 98,000l., it was calculated that there was withdrawn from the gross revenue by franked letters no less a sum than 33,397l. The practice of franking is traced back to the Restoration; but it was probably not extensively practised till after the Revolution; from about which time, however, notwithstanding several attempts to regulate it and protect it from abuse, it appears to have been, in part by fraud and forgery, in part by merely the more liberal or unscrupulous use of the legal privilege, carried to a greater excess every year down to the close of the present period. In the first four years of the war, that is, from 1702 to 1705 inclusive, the nett average annual revenue of the post-office declined to 61,568l.—a falling off which it seems impossible to suppose could have been owing simply to the war. On the average of the four years from 1707 to 1710 inclusive it was still less, having fallen to 58,052l.; nor did the augmentation of the rates one-third in 1711, and the restoration of peace together, raise it on the average of the four years ending with 1714 to a higher sum than 90,223l., although the Scottish post-office, contributing about 2000l. a-year, was now incorporated with the English. It may be taken as an evidence of the growth of capital that the legal rate of interest was in 1714 reduced from six to five per cent., at which it still continues.

One of the most important events affecting our foreign trade that took place in the reign of Anne was the conclusion, in December, 1703, of the famous commercial arrangement with Portugal, commonly called the Methuen Treaty, after the ambassador by whom it was negociated, by which, on condition of our admitting the wines of the growth of Portugal on payment of a duty one-third less than was paid upon French wines, his Portuguese majesty agreed to admit our woollen cloths on the same terms as before they were prohibited, which they appear to have been for about twenty years. This treaty, which continued to be maintained till the year 1831, was, in great part, no doubt, owing to the anti-Gallic temper which prevailed in the public mind, generally regarded at the time as one of the greatest advantages ever secured for our trade and manufactures, and it long continued to be the theme of boundless laudation with all our writers on subjects of commerce and political economy who aspired to the reputation of either orthodoxy or patriotism. As a specimen of the style in which it was wont to be spoken of, and of the beneficial effects that were attributed to it, the reader may take the following passage from Mr. Charles King's Dedication of the collection of papers entitled The 'British Merchant' to the son of Methuen:—"Your father, often ambassador extraordinary to the King of Portugal, procured for Great Britain that glorious treaty of commerce, by which she gains above a million a-year. By this treaty we paid our armies in Spain and Portugal, and drew from thence in the late war considerable sums for our troops in other parts, without remitting one farthing from England; and at the same time coined in the Tower above a million of Portugal gold in three years. By this treaty we gain a greater balance from Portugal only than from any other country whatsoever; and at this time it is the only country from whence we have any balance worth the naming. By this treaty we have increased our exports thither from about three hundred thousand pounds a-year to near a million and a half." One of the writers in the British Merchant declares that Mr. Methuen deserved to have his statue set up in every trading town in the island.[51] In the same spirit Anderson, the industrious and generally sensible historian of our commerce, earnestly expresses his hope that "this most just and beneficial convention," as it had remained unviolated to his day, may continue so for ever. But the Methuen Treaty is now looked back upon by most thinking persons as having been, if not at the moment when it was contracted, at least during the greater part of the time it was allowed to remain in force, an entanglement on the whole very prejudicial in its effects both commercially and politically. If it gained us the market of Portugal for our woollens, it excluded us from the vastly more wealthy and extensive market of France. In forcing upon us the wines of Portugal, it deprived us of those of France, although such used to be the preference given by our national taste to the latter, that it has been doubted if a single pipe of port was ever brought into this country previous to the Restoration, So great, however, was the change of sentiment and fashion gradually wrought by the wars and other events that had occurred since then, and finally fixed and made permanent by this treaty, that we soon nearly ceased to import or drink French wines altogether, and the belief in the superiority of port came to be held as much part and parcel of the creed of eery true-born and true-hearted Englishman as his belief in the eternal fitness of the corn-laws and the game-laws. An instance, as it has been remarked, perhaps the most remarkable in the history of commerce, of the course of trade and the taste and habits of a people being altered by a mere custom-house regulation! Worst of all, this treaty, by rivetting in the manner it did our connexion with Portugal, and binding us both politically and commercially to that country, without question materially contributed to keep us from ever forming any really cordial or intimate alliance with France, even when there was no war between us. Sufficient evidence of this was given in what happened at the peace of Utrecht, in 1713, when the proposed commercial treaty with France, almost the only part of the arrangements then made that was creditable to the English government and their negociators, was prevented from taking effect mainly by the adverse interests and prejudices created by this previous treaty with Portugal. By the 8th and 9th articles of the Utrecht treaty it was stipulated, in substance, that the subjects of the two contracting powers should, as to all duties on merchandise, and all such things as related either to commerce or to any other right whatever, be placed in each other's dominions in the position enjoyed by the most favoured foreign nation; and that, within two months after the English parliament should have repealed all laws prohibiting the importation of any French goods which were not prohibited before the year 1664, and enacted that no higher duties should be paid upon any goods or merchandizes brought from France than were paid upon articles of the like nature imported from any other European county, the French tariff made in 1664 should again come into operation in regard to imports from England, and all prohibitions that had since been issued against English produce and manufactures should be withdrawn or annulled. These propositions obviously went to do away with the Methuen Treaty; and the clamour raised against them on that express ground was instant and general. It was upon this occasion that the paper called The British Merchant was established by Mr. Henry Martin (afterwards Inspector-General of Exports and Imports), assisted by Sir Theodore Jannsen, Sir Charles Cooke, Mr. James Milner, Mr. Nathaniel Torriano, and other eminent London merchants, in opposition to the Mercator, or Commerce Retrieved, a paper published thrice a-week, in defence of the French treaty and the government, by the celebrated Daniel Defoe. "As this author," says the somewhat unceremoniously expressed preface to the collected lucubrations of his antagonists, "had a knack of writing very plausibly, and they who employed him and furnished him with materials had the command of all the public papers in the Custom-house, he had it in his power to do a great deal of mischief, especially amongst such as were unskilled in trade, and at the same time very fond of French wines, which it was then a great crime to be against. Several ingenious merchants, of long experience and well skilled in trade, joined together to contradict the impositions of this Writer: they knew he had many heads, besides the advantages of public papers, to help him, and therefore thought this the most feasible way to confute him and set the state of our trade in a clear light." The paper they put out, they go on to state, was, in opposition to his title, called The British Merchant, or Commerce Preserved, and was published twice a-week. The discussion, it is admitted, was carried on in a somewhat loose and desultory way, and the facts bearing upon the question were stated without much method; but the reason of this was, "that Mercator whenever he was close set, always quitted the point he was upon, and trumped up something new." No doubt Defoe would give his opponents enough to do in attempting to cope with his activity and dexterity at fence and thrust. Their publication, however, they tell us, and the convincing arguments Sir Charles Cooke and others concerned in the work laid before both houses of parliament, in speeches pronounced at the bar, had the good effect of throwing out the pernicious bill of commerce; and that although ministers had attempted to gain their point by a sort of stratagem, and, knowing that "French wine was a relishing liquor to English palates," had moved, in the first instance, to take off the duties from the article only for a couple of months—a motion which "was very accidentally, though very wisely, opposed as it was ready to pass, and dropt." The bill for rendering effectual the treaty of commerce was, after it had passed through the committee, lost on the motion that it should be engrossed—only 185 members in an otherwise very subservient House of Commons voting for the motion, and 194 against it. Among those, it seems, by whom the opposition to the treaty had been most zealously promoted, both within doors and without, were Charles Montague (who soon after was made Lord Halifax), and General (afterwards Lord) Stanhope, who became secretary of state in the reign of George I. "My Lord Halifax," says the preface before us, "was the support and the very spirit of the paper called The British Merchant: he encouraged the gentlemen concerned to meet, heard and assisted their debates, and, being zealous above all things that the trade of Great Britain should flourish, he not only continued his influence and advice to the last, but, out of his usual and unbounded liberality, contributed very largely to this work; a considerable sum being raised to carry it on." Stanhope, again, was the person who, suddenly coming into the House of Commons when the vote was about to pass for taking off the duties on French wines for two months, got up a debate on the question, and prevailed upon the House to consent that, before it was carried, the merchants should be heard. The consequences, indeed, that were represented as certain to follow from the treaty were sufficiently alarming, and might well make the legislature pause. "I shall make it appear," says one of the writers in The British Merchant, "that, if the 8th and 9th articles of the treaty of commerce between France and us had been rendered effectual by a law, this very thing had been more ruinous to the British nation than if the city of London were to be laid in ashes. This city has been once burned to the ground, but the people were still in being. They were, notwithstanding this calamity, a constant mart for the product and manufactures of the country. But, if such a law as I have mentioned had passed, France would have gone on from that moment to exhaust the treasures of the kingdom. We should have presently lost our best markets both at home and abroad, our gentlemen must have felt a sudden and universal decay of their rents, and our common people must have either starved for want of work, come to the lands or the parish for subsistence, or have retired to foreign parts for bread." The controversy, this eloquent gentleman proceeds, was not party against party, Tory against Whig, protestant against papist, or church-man against dissenter; but nation against nation—the trade of Britain against the trade of France:—"The questions upon this bill are, whether France, after all her ill successes in the late war, be suffered during the present peace, under the colour of a commerce, to exhaust our treasure, beggar our gentlemen, and starve our common people; and whether the gentlemen of Britain, after all their glorious victories, ought at last to be contented to become hewers of wood and drawers of water to the nation they have so often beaten."[52] In a subsequent part of the paper it is maintained, as used to be done by most reasoners on this side down to our own day, that by the treaty of commerce with Portugal we were absolutely bound to admit the wines of that country at a lower duty than those of France for ever, or at least so long as the Portuguese chose to admit our woollens at the then duty—a construction which the following express stipulation in the treaty itself sufficiently refutes:—"But, if at any time this deduction or abatement of customs, which is to be made as aforesaid, shall in any manner be attempted and prejudiced, it shall be just and lawful for his sacred royal majesty of Portugal again to prohibit the woollen cloths and the rest of the British woollen manufactures."

With all its extravagance upon some points, The British Merchant contains a good deal of information on the state of our commerce at the close of the reign of Anne, and most of its facts may probably be confided in, whatever may be thought of many of its inferences and reasonings. Notwithstanding all the methodising the original papers are stated to have received on their republication in a collected form, the three volumes of which the book consists are still a confused enough miscellany; but we shall endeavour to select from the mass some of the particulars that seem most curious or otherwise worthy of notice.

In his preface the editor, enumerating the peculiar commercial advantages of Great Britain, states that in a list he had seen of the merchants in and about London, printed in the year 1677, they were 1786 in all: "I know," he adds, "above 400 of them, who are all true merchants, that is, importers and exporters of goods, for no other are such. It the whole list, then, is true, as it probably is, and we add to those the merchants in Bristol, and other trading towns of Great Britain, Ireland, and our plantations, with those who are abroad in Turkey, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Germany, Russia, Norway, the Baltic, Africa, and the East Indies, I am of opinion we have, at least, two-thirds as many as all the rest of Europe put together, if not more." The account, at least, shows us the foreign countries in which English merchants were at this time resident.

The following passage on the comparative prices of labour and habits of the labouring classes in France and England is very interesting:—"The French did always outdo us in price of labour: their common people live upon roots, cabbage, and other herbage; four of their large provinces subsist entirely upon chestnuts; and the best of them eat bread made of barley, millet, Turkey and black corn; so that their wages used to be small in comparison with ours. But of late years, their crown pieces being made of the same value as ours, and raised from sixty to one hundred sols, and the manufacturers, servants, soldiers, day-labourers, and other working people earning no more sols or pence by the day than they did formerly, the price of labour is thereby so much lessened, that one may affirm for truth they have generally their work done for half the price we pay for ours. For, although provisions be as dear at Paris as they are at London, it is certain that in most of their provinces they are very cheap, and that they buy beef and mutton for half the price we pay for it here. But the price of meat and wheat doth little concern the poor manufacturers, as they generally drink nothing but water, and at best a sort of liquor they call beuverage (which is water passed through the husks of grapes after the wine is drawn off); they save a great deal upon that account; for it is well known that our people spend half of their money in drink. The army is a notorious instance how cheap the French can live; it enables their king to maintain 300,000 men with the same money we maintain 112,500; their pay being five sols a day (which is exactly threepence English), and our soldiers' pay is eightpence. However, they subsist upon that small allowance; and, if there be the same disproportion between our manufactures and theirs as there is betwixt our soldiers and their soldiers as to pay, it is plain that the work in France is done for little more than a third part of what it is done for in England. And I am confident it is so in most of their manufactures, of which I could give many instances if it were needful; but let these two following at present suffice:—At Lyons, which, next to Paris, is the best city in France, they pay nine sols an ell for making of lustrings, which is little more than fivepence English money; and the price paid here for making lustrings is twelvepence an ell. In the paper manufacture abundance of people are employed for sorting of rags in the mills, who earn in France but two sols a day, which is less than five farthings of our money; and the price paid here for such work is fourpence a day."[53] Elsewhere it is stated that the common annual subsistence of working people in country places in England, taking old and young together, is about 4l. per head: "I have not known," says the writer, "anywhere in the country that a husband, his wife, and three or four children, have asked any relief from the parish, if the whole labour of such a family could procure 20l. per annum,"[54]

The sum of the doctrine of the writers of the work on the subject of foreign commerce is given in the following words:—"That trade which makes money flow in most plentifully upon us, enables our people to subsist themselves better by their labour, raises the value of our lands, and occasions our rent to be better paid, must always be reckoned the best trade; for these are the only rules by which it is possible to state and determine the value of any particular trade, or of the general trade of the whole nation." Upon this principle it is affirmed, that we then carried on an advantageous trade with each of the following countries: 1. Portugal, from which kingdom, although we brought home wine, oil, and some other things for our own use and consumption, yet the greatest part of our returns were gold and silver: "so much, therefore, the Portuguese pay to the employment and subsistence of our people, and for the product of our lands; so much as this balance is in gold and silver they contribute to the prosperity and happiness of this nation." 2. Spain, our imports from which used to consist of wine, oil, wood, cochineal, indigo, fruit, iron, &c. Of these things a great part were used in the manufactured goods we exported, and to that extent they contributed to the employment of our people and the improvement of our lands. "But a very great part of our returns from Spain was money, for the overbalance of our manufactures sent thither; and this undoubtedly was so much added to the prosperity and happiness of this nation." 3. Italy, our exportations to which were made good to us by returns in oil, wine, thrown and raw silk, wrought silk, currants, paper, drugs, &c., and the rest in money. "This last," it is again observed, "is so much added to the happiness and prosperity of the nation; and so, indeed, are many of our other returns, since they are manufactured by our own people, and contribute so much to their maintenance." 4. Turkey, from which, indeed, it is admitted that we brought home little or no money, the full or very nearly the full value of our exports being paid in raw silk, grogram-yarn, cotton, wool, cotton-yarn, goats' hair, coffee, dyeing goods, drugs, &c. These, however, were all materials used in our manufactures, and things, therefore, which contributed to the employment and subsistence of our people. 5. Hamburg and other places in Germany, from which, although our returns were chiefly made in linen and linen-yarn, yet we also received a balance in money. 6. Holland, our exports to which "are," says the writer, "prodigious, whether we consider our woollen manufactures, the produce of our own country and our plantations, our East India, Turkey, and other goods." In return, we received from the Dutch some spices, linen, thread, paper, Rhenish wines, battery, madder, whale-fins, clapboard, wrought silks, &c.; but nearly three-fourths of the value of our exports were paid for in money, making, as has been already shown, what was called a balance in our favour of not much less than a million and a half sterling per annum. And many of the goods imported from Holland were also useful in our manufactures.[55]

It is afterwards admitted, however, that every trade on which we paid a balance in gold or silver was not to be set down as "guilty of exhausting our treasure;" on the principle that the goods we thus buy from a foreign country we may re-export, in whole or in part, for a greater sum of money than we paid for them. Thus, the following trades are also allowed to be profitable, or, at the least, not disadvantageous:—1. The East Country trade, "We buy," it is observed, "hemp, pitch, tar, and all sorts of naval stores from the East Country. Unless we did this, we could not fit out a single ship to sea. The goods we send to that country are by no means sufficient to even the account between us; we are forced to pay the balance in gold and silver, and this, as I have heard, amounts to 200,000l. per annum. Shall we be said, then, to lose so great an annual sum by our East Country trade? No, certainly; for, not to insist upon the numberless people that are employed and subsisted by shipping and navigation, we gain much more by our shipping than the above-mentioned sums from other countries with which we trade; and it is certain we could gain nothing this way if we had not first bought the naval stores." This may be true enough, bur it is subversive of the whole doctrine of the mercantile and manufacturing theories: if we are to account the trade with a foreign country beneficial when, although there is an excess of imports over exports, and consequently a balance to be paid for in money, the imports are yet such as are necessary to enable us to carry on some other gainful branch or branches of commerce, then we might be said to trade profitably even with a country from which we imported nothing but food, to be consumed as fast as it arrived, and to which we exported nothing but the money to pay for that food; for, assuredly, without the means of keeping ourselves alive, we could carry on no gainful trade or occupation whatever. And the same thing may be said of the purchase from abroad of any other article whether of necessity or convenience: if the article is one which we can procure at less cost in that way than by producing or manufacturing it at home we shall be gainers by so procuring it, and leaving the labour that would have crone to furnish it free to be employed on something; else (if any such thing is to be found) tor the production of which we are more favourably situated, and which we either require ourselves or can dispose of profitably to some other country. Or even if the article we import be one of mere luxury, still, if we will have it, it is manifestly more economical, for the same reason, to pay money for it to a foreign country than to produce it at home by the expenditure of an amount of labour more than equivalent in value to that money, and which we could employ profitably in some other way. Our author goes on to argue, in regard to the advantages of the East Country trade, that, taking our shipping to amount in all to 500,000 tons, and estimating the freight at 5l. a ton, it might be said, seeing that the freight of all exported goods falls upon the purchasers, that more than a fifth of the 2,500,000l., which might thus be called the annual value of our shipping, was paid by the nations with whom we traded. "Then," he concludes, "we pay the East Country about 200,000l. per annum for our naval stores, which could not be had but from that country, and gain above twice as much by our shipping from other nations. Therefore, though we pay so great an annual balance upon that trade, yet our treasure cannot be said to be exhausted by it: we have such goods in exchange for it as make us very ample amends, and enable us to supply that loss by our other commerce." We may here mention that, early in the reign of Anne, an act was passed "For encouraging the importation of naval stores from her majesty's plantations in America," which, after reciting in the preamble that such stores were then (in 1703) "brought in mostly from foreign parts, in foreign shipping, at exorbitant and arbitrary rates," while they might be provided in a more certain and beneficial manner from the vast tracts of land lying near the sea, and upon navigable rivers, in the colonies and plantations in America, which were at first settled, and were still maintained and protected at a great expense of the treasure of this kingdom, ordered that certain bounties should be paid upon the importation from the said colonies of tar, pitch, rosin, turpentine, hemp, and masts.[56] The good consequence of this reasonable law, according to Anderson, was soon felt; so that at the time when he wrote both the New England provinces and also Carolina furnished us with great quantities of pitch and tar, "fit for most uses in the navy." "Of late, also," he adds, "good hemp and flax are raised in the said provinces, where there are such immense quantities of proper and excellent lands for the raising of those commodities," But this result was probably not produced to any considerable extent till a date a good deal later than that to which the details in the British Merchant refer. At the time when the act was passed it was computed that the quantity of pitch and tar, chiefly from Sweden, but in part also from Norway and from Archangel, imported by England, was about 1000 lasts; by Holland, for home-use and also for re-exportation to Spain, Portugal, and up the Mediterranean, 4000 lasts; by France 500; and by Hamburg, Lubeck, and the German ports, to the same amount.[57] By a subsequent act, passed in 1712, the same bounties were granted upon the importation of naval stores from Scotland; but this, as Anderson admits, was to little or no purpose, the lands and woods which might yield such naval stores being there, as the act itself states, "mostly in parts mountainous and remote from navigable rivers."[58] "This," he observes, "the York Buildings' Company experienced, to their cost, some years after this time: the timber they felled in some of those woods, at a great expense, being left to rot on the ground, the carriage of it to the nearest places of navigation being found impracticable, which will probably ever be the case with respect to Scotland, notwithstanding the bounties allowed by that act, or any larger bounties to be reasonably granted," 2. Another trade, which the writer in the British Merchant admits might also possibly be advantageous, although it occasioned an annual export of bullion in the first instance, is that which we carried on with China and the East Indies. Besides goods and merchandises, we sent yearly to those countries between four and five hundred thousand pounds in money; but then, besides that there were some of our imports thence, such as saltpetre, pepper, and a few drugs, which perhaps we could not well do without, we re-exported all the silks and stained calicoes we brought home, the use of these articles being prohibited in England; and even of the white calicoes and muslins, of the coffee, tea, pepper, saltpetre, and other goods we procured by our East India and China trade, very great quantities were also re-exported, and for much more money than all that we sent to the East. "The consequence is," concludes our author, "that our treasure is not exhausted by that trade, since we have those goods in exchange for our money as procure us much greater sums from other countries, and since our whole loss is more than repaired by exporting part only of those goods at a much higher price than we paid for the whole."[59] This reasoning, however, would not have been deemed satisfactory by many political economists of the day—by Pollexfen and others, for instance, who still maintained that the East India trade was in reality little else than an exchange for useless and even pernicious luxuries of the only true wealth, and, as it were, the very life-blood of the kingdom; but some of the writers in the British Merchant were probably concerned in that trade, and members of the now comparatively flourishing company by which it was carried on. The United East India Company had resumed the payment of their dividends in 1709, first at the rate of only five per cent; but it was raised to eight in the latter part of the same year, soon after to nine, and, at last, in September, 1711, to ten per cent.[60]

A curious illustration of the value of the Turkey trade is afterwards given in an account of the manufacture of 100 broad-cloths, and their export to and sale in that country, which is stated to have been communicated by a correspondent, and is probably therefore an account of an actual transaction. To begin at the beginning and follow the progress of the manufacture as well as the commercial history of the finished commodity, a clothier is first introduced who buys at market 50 packs of wool, picked and sorted, at 10l. per pack, or for 500l. With this wool he makes 100 broad-cloths, the manufacture of which, in carding, spinning, weaving, milling, dressing, &c., as such cloths were "usually brought to and sold white at Blackwell Hall," would amount to about the first cost of the wool, or 500l. more; making the whole cost of the article 1000l. The clothier's profit, of course, is on the manufacture, and is included in this sum, which is that for which he sells the 100 cloths to the merchant, being at the rate of 10l. per cloth. Then, the merchant has the cloths dyed, one-third in grain colours at 7l., and two-thirds in ordinary colours at 30s. per cloth; making in all 333l. 6s. 8d.; and he also pays 15s. per cloth for selling, drawing, pressing, packing, &c.: so that they have cost him altogether 1408l. 6s. 8d. To repay him for this outlay, and for all other charges, including interest and insurance, he must get at least for his cloth in Turkey 2200 pounds of Persian fine raw silk (called Sherbaffee). Having brought this home, he manufactures the half of it into plain coloured tables, for which he pays at the rate of 13s. 7d. per pound, or 747l. 1s. 8d. in all; and the other half into rich flowered silks brocaded, which will cost him 1l. 19s. 9d. per pound, or 2186l. 5s.; besides which the charge of dyeing only an eighth part of the silk into grain colours at 9s. per pound will be 123l. 15s. Add the freight of the cloth and the silk, computed at 40l. 12s. 6d.; the duty on the import of the silk, 156l. 15s.; and his factor's commission abroad on the sale of the cloth, and the investment of the proceeds in silk, 100l.; and it will be found that the entire expenditure of the merchant, omitting some petty charges, has amounted to 4762l. 15s. "If any is to be added for the merchant's and the mercer's gain," continues the statement, "(and we may depend upon it they will not be at the trouble of driving their trades for nothing), we may very well affirm that the whole cost of this manufacture for consumption cannot be less than the sum of 5000l.; so that 2200 pound weight of Turkey raw silk manufactured here pays the sum of 5000l. to the subsistence of our own people." Our total annual export of cloths to Turkey is stated to be about 20,000 pieces, for about the half of which our returns were in raw silk.[61]

A very minute and complete account of our trade with France for one year in the reign of James II., 1686, when the trade was free, as drawn up from official returns, and laid before the House of Commons during the discussion on the Utrecht Treaty of Commerce, is here adduced simply to show that our imports from that country then amounted annually in value to 1,284,419l.—namely, into the port of London 569,126l., into the outports 715,293l.; and our exports thither to only 515,228l.—namely, from London 409,563l., and from the outports 105,665.; so that the former exceeded the latter by the sum of 769,190l., or in other words that we lost by the trade to that amount, even by such goods as were entered at the custom-house. "This were loss sufficient, if annually repeated," exclaims the alarmed writer in the British Merchant, "to ruin this kingdom in a very few years." Dismissing that apprehension, we w ill here note a few of the entries in the account which throw a light upon the intercourse that formerly subsisted between the two countries in a social rather than a commercial point of view. Among the imports from France are the following items:—229 cwt. of unbound books, valued at 20s. per cwt.; 37 small gross of bracelets or necklaces of glass, valued at 44l. 8s.; 3876 fleams to let blood, at 2d. each; 162 dozen fans for women, at 40s. per dozen; 1487 cases of glass for windows, at 30s. per case; 20 reams of blue paper, at 10s. per ream; 20 of cap paper, at 7s. 6d. per ream; 77,336 of copy paper, at 5s. per ream; and 1659 reams of royal and larger paper, at 40s. per ream; besides 11,617 reams (probably of copy paper) into the outports at 5s. per ream; 70 tons of Caen stones, at 15s. per ton; 1188 ells of tapestry with cadclas, at 8s. per ell; 162 ells of tapestry with silk, at 13s. 4d. per ell; 16,648 tuns of wine, at 17l. 10s. per tun; 400 mill-stones, at 10l. each; 302 pounds of coral, at 3s. 4d. per pound; 4266 pounds of garden seeds, at 8d. per pound; 268 gallons of orange-flower water, at 6s. per gallon; and 400 pounds of rose-leaves, at 1s. per pound. Among the exports to France are, 1075 dozens of old shoes, at 10s. per dozen; 3 pairs of virginals, at 5l. per pair; 49 cwt. of printed books and maps, at 20s. per cwt.; 3 pictures, at 40s. each; 49 barrels of salmon, at 4l. per barrel; 11 horses, at 10l. each; 50 cats, valued altogether at 7s. 6d.; 141 dozen dogs, at 6s. per dozen; and 561 pounds of tea, at 10s. per pound. The writer before us asserts that even in his time, besides the goods from France entered at the Custom-house, great quantities were every day clandestinely imported,[62] He states also that, notwithstanding the higher duties that had been imposed, either our luxury or our substance had so much increased, that nearly as much wine was still imported from France as in the time of James II. "And are we," he asks, less fond of clarets now than heretofore?"[63] It was also understood that, besides the quantity mentioned in the above account, the importation of French wines into Scotland amounted to three or four thousand tuns a-year.[64] Comparing the four years from 1682 to 1685 inclusive, during which French wines were excluded from this country, with the four from 1686 to 1689 inclusive, during which they were admitted, it appears that the removal of the prohibition, while it brought us an average annual importation of French wines to the amount of 13,400 tuns, reduced our average importation of Portuguese wines from about 1 1,000 to little more than 400 tuns, of Spanish from about 6700 tuns to less than 4000, and of Rhenish from above 1400 tuns to between 600 and 700. In 1685 we imported no French wines and 12,185 tuns of Portuguese; but the next year, when the prohibition was taken off, 12,760 tuns of French wines were imported, and of Portuguese only 289.[65] And it is admitted that even at the time when the prohibition was in force great quantities of French wines were every year imported under the names of Spanish and Portuguese, by the direction of the court and the connivance of the Custom-house officers.[66] The British Merchant, while he laments and condemns, very frankly admits, not only the general preference of his countrymen for French wines, but even the reasonableness of this preference as a mere matter of taste. "Not to insist," he says, glancing at the threatened infliction of the Utrecht Treaty of Commerce, "upon the general inclination towards everything that is French, these wines will be the cheapest; but they are so preferable in themselves, that I believe at a third-part greater price they would be the common draught in England.[67]

From an account of tho manufacture of paper at this date, both in France and in England, we abstract the following details:—"There are seven provinces in France where the manufacture of paper is settled, viz., Champaigne, Normandy, Britany, Angoumois, Perigord, Limousin, and Auvergne; the three last provinces are full of large forests of chestnut trees, and abound so much in that kind of fruit, that the common people have no other food all the year round, and no other drink but water; so that they can afford their work very cheap, and do it for next to nothing, except some of the upper workmen, who earn a small salary by the week. This is so true that considerable parcels of paper were imported lately from thence, although the duties paid here exceed one hundred per cent, on the first cost." To the objection made by De Foe, that a Frenchman living "on an onion and a draught of water, a bunch of grapes, and a piece of bread" never could do such a day's work—could do so much in a day, and that much so well,—as an Englishman who had his beef and his pudding, our author replies, "I have had the curiosity to inquire into the paper manufacture, and I find that five pair of hands are employed at every fat; that so many hands are necessary in England, and that more cannot be employed in France. I am taught, too, by our own manufacturers, that they do not dispatch here above eight reams of paper in a day at a single fat, and that they dispatch above nine in France with the same number of hands; and yet I believe there is not any man in England so hardy as to affirm that either ours, or indeed any paper in the world, exceeds that of France." He accounts for this on the principle, that there is a slight of hand in almost every manufacture which is more effective than mere strength. "Before the Revolution," the account proceeds, "there was hardly any other paper made in England than brown; but, the war ensuing, and duties being laid from time to time on foreign paper, it gave such encouragement to the paper-makers, that most of them began to make white paper fit for writing and printing; and they have brought it by degrees to so great perfection, both for quantity and goodness, that they make now near two thirds of what is consumed in Great Britain; and several of them make it as white and as well-bearing as any comes from abroad, as Sir William Humphreys, Mr. Baskett, and several others can witness. And I make no doubt, if further encouragement was given them by taking off the twelve per cent, excise which was lately laid upon home-made paper, and which, by the multitude of officers, brings in little or nothing to the queen, and the said twelve per cent., for an equivalent to the fund, was laid upon outlandish paper, but that they could in a little time make enough to supply all the occasions of the nation; there being above 120 fats within sixty miles of London, besides several more in Yorkshire and Scotland, which all, more or less, make white paper, and will undoubtedly go on daily improving and increasing that useful manufacture, if the present high duties be kept on French paper, being that which they dread most, by reason of its extraordinary cheapness." Then follows a description of the process of paper-making, which it is unnecessary to extract: the rags, it is stated, which are the main ingredient, were formerly cast away, and thrown to the dunghill, "but are now gathered with great care by poor people, who get honestly their livelihood by it, and would otherwise beg their bread; this employs abundance of hands." There is no mention of any importation of rags from abroad. The consumption of paper in Great Britain, the writer thinks, was not greater than it had been in the reign of King William; he rates it at about 400,000 reams per annum, of which the 120 fats within sixty miles of the metropolis, making each on an average eight reams a day, furnished nearly three-fourths, and those in Yorkshire and Scotland, and our importations from Holland and Italy, the remaining 100,000 reams.[68]

The Union of Scotland and England, which took place in the reign of Anne—an event important to both countries in every point of view—laid a foundation for the extension of the commerce of Scotland particularly, which was not one of its least important consequences. Till now the two kingdoms, though under the rule of the same sovereign, regarded each the other as a foreign state, commercially as well as in respect to most of their political relations. The privileges of foreign trade enjoyed by the one were withheld from the other; and their interchange of commodities with each other was extremely inconsiderable. An account has been published from the books of the Inspector-General of Customs of the value of the merchandise received by the one from the other by sea during the ten years preceding the Union, from which it appears that (independently of the little that might be conveyed by land-carriage) the amount of all the goods that passed between the two countries in a year much oftener fell short of than exceeded the small sum of 150,000l. In 1698 England imported from Scotland merchandise to the value of 124,835l., and in 1700 to that of 130,087l.; but with the exception of these two years the English imports never reached 100,000l. And they went on decreasing almost every year: in 1697 they were 91,302l.; in 1699, 86,309l.; from 1701 to 1703 they never reached so high as 77,000l.; from 1704 to 1706 they were when at the highest under 58,000l.; and in the year 1706 they had fallen to 50,309l. The imports into Scotland from England, again, were never higher than 87,536l., which they were in 1704; but they were more generally between 50,000l. and 60,000l.; in 1705 they were only 50,035l.[69] Except that she obtained a share in the Scottish fisheries, which for a long time she took very little advantage of, the chief direct commercial benefit of which the Union put England in possession was merely the increase of this intercourse with Scotland, which was now thrown as fully open to her manufacturers and merchants as Yorkshire; but Scotland, which had no colonies or distant dependencies of her own, her solitary attempt at Darien having not only failed in itself, but well nigh bankrupted the mother country, was at once admitted to a participation in all the colonial commerce of England, in so far as it was free to the subjects of the latter country themselves, and more especially to that both with the American plantations and with Ireland. The market of England, of course, was also opened to her for the sale of any native produce or manufactures she might have to export which suited the wants or the tastes of that part of the island. "By this union," writes Anderson, about half a century afterwards, "Scotland's coarse woollen stuffs and stockings, and her more valuable linen manufactures, now of many various, beautiful, and ingenious kinds, have a prodigious vent, not only in England, but for the American plantations." He also notices the consumption to a large extent of the black cattle and peltry of Scotland by their southern neighbours—a branch of trade which has continued to increase down to our own day. Another economical advantage which the Scots derived from this political incorporation with England was the substitution of the coinage of the latter country for their own greatly depreciated currency. The Scottish gold and silver money was all called in on the occasion to be recoined; and the native antiquaries boast that no less a sum than 411,117l. 10s. 9d. was actually brought to the Mint at Edinburgh for that purpose; "besides perhaps as much more, hoarded up by the whimsical, disaftected, and timorous, who were strongly prepossessed against the Union, and were far from believing it would last any length of time; besides, also, what was then exported, and what was retained by silversmiths for plate, &c."[70] On the whole, it is calculated that the gold and silver currency of Scotland in the year 1707 was not less than 900,000l. sterling. It has been estimated that the money circulated in England at this time was about sixteen millions.

After the details into which we have entered respecting the quarter of a century that immediately followed the Revolution, during which our trade may be supposed to have settled itself in the new channels into which it was impelled principally by that great political change and the wars to which it gave rise, it will be sufficient that we notice only the most remarkable or significant facts in the commercial history of the remainder of the present period.

The accession of the House of Hanover, however much the national industry in all its branches may have benefited from the tranquillity and security resulting from the confirmed establishment of that family on the throne, and the final extinction of the hope of a second restoration of the Stuarts, would not seem at first to have operated favourably upon our foreign trade, nor, consequently, upon the spirit and activity with which production was carried on at home, if we were to regard our exports to other countries as measuring the entire produce of our land and labour. The value of our exports for 1714, the last year of the reign of Anne, was 8,008,068l., which was a higher amount than they overreached during the reign of George I. In 1715 they fell to 6,922,263l.; in 1716 they were 7,049,992l.; and in 1718 they had declined so low as to 6,361,390l. From this point, ever, they gradually improved: in 1723 they were 7,395,908l.; and their average annual amount for the three years 1726, 1727, and 1728 was 7,891,739l. The amount of shipping cleared outwards in each year corresponded generally with these valuations of the cargoes: in 1714 it was 478,793 tons (of which 33,950 were foreign); in 1715, 425,900 tons (of which 19,508 were foreign); in 1716, 456,309 tons (of which 17,493 were foreign); in 1718, 444,771 tons (of which 16,809 were foreign); in 1723, 419,683 tons (of which 27,040 were foreign); and on the average of the three years from 1726 to 1728 inclusive, 456,483 tons (of which 23,651 were foreign).[71] In connexion with the subject of the mercantile shipping, we may note here that the royal navy, which at the end of the reign of Anne is stated to have amounted to 167,171 tons, was reduced in 1721, according to a writer of the day, to 158,233,[72] but had increased again at the death of George II. to 170,860 tons.[73]

Among the minor events, or arrangements, by which our trade and manufactures were affected in the reign of George II., may be mentioned the following:—In 1715 a treaty of commerce was made with Spain, by which it was stipulated that British subjects were to pay no higher duties in the Spanish ports than they paid in the reign of the Spanish king Charles II. (that is, than they paid before the commencement of the late war); that they should nowhere pay any higher or other duties than were paid by the subjects of his Catholic majesty in the same places; and that the subjects of both kingdoms should be mutually treated in each on the footing of the most favoured nations. In 1717 the duty on the export of British-made linen (which, however, was only sixpence on the piece of forty ells) was taken off, as that on the export of corn and woollens had been some years before, on the ground that the said linen manufacture employed many thousands of the poor of the kingdom.[74] In 1721 parliament passed an important act for the encouragement of the trade and manufactures of the kingdom, by which, first, certain bounties were granted upon the exportation of home-made silken stuffs and ribands, and mixed stuffs of silk and grogram, silk and inkle or cotton, and silk and worsted; secondly, all duties whatsoever payable on the exportation of native produce and merchandises were taken off, except only those on alum, lead, tin, tanned leather, copperas, coals, wool-cards, white woollens, lapis calaminaris, skins, glue, coney wool, hare's wool, hair, horses, and litharge of lead; thirdly, all substances used in dyeing, saltpetre only excepted, were allowed to be imported duty free; and, lastly, a reduction was made in the duties on the importation of pepper, mace, nutmegs, and cloves. Half the duty paid on furs was also ordered to be returned on their re-exportation.[75] In 1719 an annual sum of 2000l. per annum out of the revenues of customs and excise in Scotland was allotted for ever to be applied towards the encouragement of the fisheries, and such manufactures and improvements in that country as might most conduce to the general good of the United Kingdom.[76] And in 1726 certain new facilities were given by another act for the importation of salt from England into Newfoundland and the northern parts of America, where, as is recited in the preamble, the river Delaware, the bay and coast of the province of Pennsylvania, and the seas adjoining, had been found to be very commodiously situated for carrying on the fishing trade, and to abound with great quantities of shad, sturgeon, bass, and several other kinds of fish, which might be caught and cured, and made fit for foreign markets, "whereby," it is added, "the trade of Great Britain and the inhabitants of the said province would reap considerable benefit, which would enable the said inhabitants to purchase more of the British manufactures for their use than at present they are able by reason of the little trade and produce the said province affords."[77] Of how little value our American settlements were still esteemed may be understood from the fact, that, when only a few years before this, in 1715, a bill was brought into parliament (which, however, did not pass) for enabling the crown to purchase what were called the charter and proprietary colonies, William Penn had agreed to sell his lordship of Pennsylvania for twelve thousand pounds! He had himself asked only twenty thousand in the first instance, when the negociation was begun with him in the reign of Anne. In 1724, on the application of the South Sea Company, who had resolved to re-enter upon the long abandoned whale fishery, an act was passed by parliament taking off the duty of three-pence per pound on whale-fins, and allowing fins, oil, and blubber to be exported duty free in British ships for the term of seven years. The company forthwith directed twelve ships of 360 tons each to be built for the Greenland trade; and "hired," says Anderson, "the Duke of Bedfords great wet-dock at Deptford, for the use of their ships and stores, and for curing of their oil and whale-fins." "In the year 1725," he afterwards relates, "the South Sea Company commenced their unfortunate whale-fishery. Their twelve new ships brought home twenty-five whales and a half; and, though this was scarcely a saving voyage, it was, nevertheless, the very best year of any of the eight in which they carried on that fishery. It must, however, he observed, that, the nation having entirely relinquished this trade for so many years past, there was not an Englishman to be found who knew anything of the Greenland or whale-fishery. The Company was, therefore, under the necessity of having all their commanders, harpooners, boat-steerers, line-veerers, and blubber-cutters, from Fohrde in Holstein (some few natives of Scotland excepted, who on this occasion left the service of the Hollanders), who had before this time been constantly employed either by Hamburghers, Brerners, or Hollanders, Those Holsteiners cost the Company this year 3056l. 18s. 3d., although but 152 in number; not only because they were all what is usually called officers in that fishery, and consequently had more wages and allowances than the common sailors, but had also their charges borne by the Company both in coming every year from and returning back to Holstein to their families, as was also their constant practice when employed by other nations; whereas above double their number, namely, 353 British subjects, employed on those twelve ships, cost but 3151l. 15s. 5d." The Company, however, the next spring built twelve more ships, and in 1726 the whole twenty-four proceeded to Greenland and Davis Straits. "In which," says our annalist, "they succeeded considerably worse than in their first voyage, having brought home but sixteen whales and a half." In 1727 they sent out twenty-five ships, manned by 762 British subjects and 344 foreigners; when two of the ships were lost, and the rest brought home only twenty-two whales and a half—being not quite one fish for each. At last, in 1732, the Company determined to retire from the trade; their expenditure upon which during the eight years they had carried it on had been 262,172l., while their returns had amounted only to 84,390l., leaving them losers to the extent of 177,782l. "It has been usually computed," observes Anderson, "that, if a Greenland ship brought home but three whales, it would be a reasonably gainful year; but, most unfortunately for the South Sea Company, they had not, in all the eight years' fishery, brought home at the rate of one entire whale per ship, taking one year with another. It has, moreover, been a maxim among the whale-fishing adventurers, that one good fishing year in seven usually makes up the losses of six preceding bad years. But it was very unhappy that all the said eight years happened to be bad, not only to the Company, but to most of the adventurers of other nations." The next year an attempt was made by parliament to revive the trade by the forcing system of a bounty upon the ships employed in it; and other similar artificial encouragements were afterwards on several occasions applied fo the same purpose; but, although the English whale fishery was thus kept from absolutely expiring, it never was prosecuted with any considerable or general success, nor could be regarded as one of the regular branches of the national industry, till after the close of the present period.

The year 1720 is memorable in our financial history for the famous South Sea scheme, or project adopted by the Government and the legislature of effecting the liquidation of the national debt by the instrumentality of the mercantile company of that name, which had been incorporated in 1711 by act of parliament, for the very different object of carrying on a trade to the South Seas. As soon as the company was placed in its new and extraordinary position, the eagerness to purchase its stock became a universal mania. But, wild as was the epidemic phrensy that seized men's minds on this occasion, and disastrous as it proved in its consequences to the fortunes of numerous individuals, it was probably neither in its beginning symptomatic of anything unsubstantial or tending to a decline in the national wealth, nor in its ultimate consequences very much of a public or general calamity. We have just seen, that for some years after the accession of George I. our exports to foreign countries rather diminished than increased; but we should probably misinterpret that fact if we assumed it to be an evidence of any falling off in our produce and manufactures, as if we sent less of them abroad because we had less at home. It is much more likely that the contrary was the case—that we had less to spare to our neighbours because we were able to consume more ourselves, or, in other words, that our merchants were partially withdrawn from the foreign market by the temptations of an improved market at home. If it was so, the importance of our home trade is and always has been so prodigiously superior to that of our foreign trade, that is to say, the demand for our produce and manufactures abroad has at all times been so insignificant in comparison with their consumption among ourselves, that a slight falling off in the quantity of our exports may very possibly have been compensated ten times over to our manufacturers and producers by the readier vent and higher prices they obtained for their goods without crossing the seas. The single circumstance of the decline that now took place in the rate of interest may be regarded as a proof of the growing abundance of capital, seeing that it cannot apparently be attributed to the only other cause by which such an effect could be produced, a diminution of the field for the employment of capital; for the rate of interest always represents the effective value of capital, which again (as with all other things that are marketable or exchangeable) varies directly as the demand and inversely as the supply. Now, at this time the national interest of money had fallen to three per cent.: even the government, which, from the extent of its necessities always made its loans at a disadvantage, seldom throughout the reign of George I. borrowed at more than four. And other indications pointed in the same direction, disclosing in like manner an economical condition of the nation, and a temper of the public mind, from which the chief danger to be apprehended was the wanton and impatient recklessness of unwonted plenty and prosperity;—among the rest the taste for lotteries, projects, and other short cuts to wealth, which appears to have been ever since the Revolution more and more gaining possession of the popular mind. For it is a mistake to suppose that the history of projects and babble companies in England begins with the year of the South Sea delusion. They had never, indeed, come in so great an inundation before, but we had had less considerable outbreaks of the same kind of spirit on other occasions since the Revolution. The years 1694 and 1695, for instance, were remarkable project-years. Among many more schemes that were then set on foot, and which eventually came to nothing, were the famous Dr. Hugh Chamberlain, the man-midwife's, Land Bank, for lending money at a low interest on the security of land, and establishing a national paper currency on that basis; another scheme of the same kind proposed by one John Briscoe; various projects of fishing for lost treasure in the sea; projects for pearl-fishing, for mining, for turning copper into brass, for the manufacture of hollow sword-blades, glass bottles, japanned goods, printed hangings, Venetian metal, &c. "Some of which," says a writer of the day, who has given full details on the subject, "were very useful and successful whilst they continued in a few hands, till they fell into stock-jobbing, now much introduced, when they dwindled to nothing. Others of them were mere whims, of little or no service to the world. . . . Moreover, projects, as usual, begat projects—lottery upon lottery, engine upon engine, &c., multiplied wonderfully. If it happened that any one person got considerably by an happy and useful invention, the consequence generally was, that others followed the track, in spite of the patent, and published printed proposals, filling the daily newspapers therewith; thus going on to jostle out one another, and to abuse the credulity of the people."[78] Here we have, on a smaller scale, all the phenomena of the year 1720. Again, under the year 1698, we find the chronologist of our commerce noting—"London at this time abounded with many new projects and schemes, promising mountains of gold;" and quoting contemporary authorities as complaining heavily "that the Royal Exchange of London was crowded with projects, wagers, airy companies of new manufactures and inventions, stock-jobbers, &c." This was the reason, it seems, why soon after the business of stock-jobbing was removed from the Royal Exchange, first to 'Change Alley, and afterwards to Capel Court, where the building called the Stock Exchange now stands. The author of an Essay on Projects, printed about this time, speaks of having seen "shares of joint-stocks and other undertakings blown up by the air of great words, and the name of some man of credit concerned to perhaps one hundred pounds for one five-hundredth part or share [the meaning probably is, for the fifth part of a hundred pound share], and yet at last dwindle to nothing."[79] Jobbing in the stock of the great chartered companies was now carried to such a length, that within the first nine or ten years after the Revolution shares in the East India Company had—"by the management of stock-jobbers," as Anderson affirms—been sold on the Exchange at all prices from 300 per cent, down to 37 per cent.—an extent of fluctuation belonging to a game of chance rather than to any legitimate commercial speculation. Successive acts of parliament testify to the rage for lotteries which had long prevailed, "Whereas," begins one passed in 1698, "several evil disposed persons for divers years last past have set up many mischievous and unlawful games called lotteries, not only in the cities of London and Westminster, and in the suburbs thereof and places adjoining, but in most of the eminent towns and places in England and dominion of Wales, and have thereby most unjustly and fraudulently got to themselves great sums of money from the children and servants of several gentlemen, traders, and merchants, and from other unwary persons, to the utter ruin and impoverishment of many families, and to the reproach of the English laws and government, by colour of several patents or grants under the great seal of England for the said lotteries, or some of them, which said grants or patents are against the common good, trade, welfare, and peace of his majesty's kingdoms;" and then the lotteries in question are declared to be one and all public nuisances, and all the grants to be void and illegal.[80] The evil, however, was not effectually remedied; for in 1710 and 1711 we find parliament still complaining of its existence, and resorting to new measures for the suppression of lotteries and other such delusive and fraudulent projects, of which advertisements, it is declared, continued to be daily published in the common printed newspapers and otherwise.[81] The phrensy of the year 1720, therefore, we may say, was only the height and crisis of a fever that had been long at work in the public mind. And, although it is commonly assumed that it was the temporary success of Law's Mississippi conjuration in France which provoked the delirium and credulity of our own South Sea Company speculators, the truth rather appears to be that the example of the French project only suggested to the contrivers of the scheme for paying off the English national debt a method of proceeding by which, under that pretence, they could turn to the best account for themselves a general pre-disposition of their fellow-countrymen that prepared them for being readily duped by such extravagant promises of sudden wealth, and that would have certainly exploded about the same time in some other fashion, but with results nearly the same, if neither the South Sea scheme nor the Mississippi scheme had ever been thought of. And, after all, as we have observed, the calamitous effects of the madness were rather individual and immediate than permanent or general. There was little if any absolute destruction of capital; the whole mischief consisted in a most quick and violent shifting of property from one hand to another; many rich persons were made suddenly poor, but many poor persons were also made suddenly rich; and, if some old families were thrown to the ground, some new ones were at the same time raised from the ground and established in their places. Not a social revolution, certainly, which it would be desirable to see often repeated—on the contrary, an interruption of the natural, even course of things fraught with much temporary inconvenience and misery—a wrench or shake given to the body politic which it cannot but feel sharply at the moment, but by which, for all that, its general health will suffer nothing, Nay, the shock may do good in the long run rather than harm. In the present instance, that would appear to have been the case. The catastrophe of the South Sea delusion—the ruin many of the eager adventurers had brought upon themselves, and the well-merited punishment that was inflicted upon others—had probably a considerable effect in sobering down the extravagant spirit of cupidity, bred under the influence of an unaccustomed prosperity and abundance, in which the recent mania had originated, and in turning people's thoughts from the dream of making money by mere legerdemain and gambling to the slower but surer ways of regular commercial industry and enterprise.

During the short time it lasted, however, the excess to which the general intoxication, excited by the mounting up of the South Sea Company's stock, proceeded is almost incredible. Anderson has given us a curious table of the crowd of new projects that jostled one another in the money-market, and also an interesting description of the general scene of competition and clamour among the dealers and purchasers of the various stocks, which seems to be taken from personal observation. Of the great legal corporations whose stock was raised for the time to extravagant prices he enumerates, besides the South Sea Company, whose original 100l. shares came at last to sell for 1000l. each, the East India Company, whose 100l. shares rose to 445l.; the Bank of England, whose shares, originally worth about 96l., rose to 260l.; and the Royal African Company, whose 23l. shares rose to 200l. Besides these there were, having doubtful charters, the Million Bank, whose stock rose from 100l. to 440l.; the York Buildings' Company, whose 10l. shares rose to 305l.; the Lustring Company, whose shares originally of 5l. 2s. 6d. rose to 120l.; and others. Another class of funds was founded on the revival of old companies, such as the Mine Adventurers, the Sword Blade Company, &c., which had long been deserted and defunct. Other schemes were for local and personal objects, such as the Temple Mills Brass Works, whose 10l. shares rose to 250l.; and Sir Richard Steele's Fish Pool, for bringing fresh fish by sea to London, the shares in which rose in the market to 160l., although no money at all was paid for them originally. Then there was a vast number of what Anderson describes as "Projects or bubbles, having neither charter nor act of parliament to authorise them; none of which were under one million, and some went as far as ten millions;" "very many whereof," he adds, "are distinctly remembered by the author of this work, how ridiculous and improbable soever they may now seem to many not acquainted with the infatuation of that year." The prices of the shares of only a few of those are given; but one example, that of the Orkney Fishery, the stock of which rose from 25l. to 250l., may show that the most unsubstantial among them did not fail to be turned into powerful engnies of swindling and plunder. Among them are enumerated eleven other fishing projects—four salt companies—ten insurance companies—four water companies—two companies for the remittance of money—two sugar companies—eleven companies for settlements in or trading to America—two building companies—thirteen land companies—six oil companies—four harbour and river companies—four companies for supplying London with coal, cattle, and hay, and for paving the streets—six hemp, flax, and linen companies—five companies for carrying on the manufacture of silks and cottons, one of which is described as Sir Richard Manningham's Company "for planting of mulberry trees and breeding of silk-worms in Chelsea Park, where two thousand of these trees were actually planted, and many large expensive edifices were erected, the remains whereof are scarcely now to be seen"—fifteen mining companies—and, bringing up the rear, a miscellaneous rabble, sixty in all, among which we read the following titles:—For building of hospitals for bastard children—for importing a number of large jackasses from Spain, in order to propogate a larger kind of mules in England; "for which purpose marsh lands were treating for near Woolwich; a clergyman, long since dead, being at the head of this bubble"—for trading in human hair—for fatting of hogs—for a grand dispensary, three millions—for a wheel for a perpetual motion—for furnishing funerals—for insuring and increasing children's fortunes— for trading in and improving certain commodities of this kingdom, three millions—and even, carrying the indefinite still farther than this, for an undertaking which shall in due time be revealed! For this last we are told a subscription was actually opened. The most absurd of these bubbles, indeed, seem not to have wanted dupes. "From morning till evening," says Anderson, "the dealers therein, as well as in South Sea stock, appeared in continual crowds all over Exchange Alley, so as to choke up the passage through it. Not a week-day passed without fresh projects recommended by pompous advertisements in all the newspapers (which were now swelled enormously), directing where to subscribe to them. On some sixpence per cent, was paid down, on others one shilling per cent., and some came so low as one shilling per thousand at the time of subscribing. Some of the obscure keepers of those books of subscription, contenting themselves with what they had got in the forenoon by the subscriptions of one or two millions (one of which the author particularly well remembers), were not to be found in the afternoon of the same day, the room they had hired for a day being shut up, and they and their subscription books never heard of more." The utmost that appears to have been paid even on those projects that "had one or more persons of known credit to midwife them into the alley" was ten shillings per cent. "Persons of quality of both sexes," continues our author, "were deeply engaged in many of these bubbles, avarice prevailing at this time over all considerations of either dignity or equity; the males coming to taverns and coffee-houses to meet their brokers, and the ladies to the shops of milliners and haberdashers for the same ends. Any impudent impostor, whilst the delusion was at its greatest height, needed only to hire a room at some coffee-house or other house near that alley for a few hours, and open a subscription-book for somewhat relative to commerce, manufacture, plantation, or of some supposed invention, either newly hatched out of his own brain, or else stolen from some of the many abortive projects of which we have given an account in former reigns, having first advertised it in the newspapers the preceding day, and he might in a few hours find subscribers for one or two millions—in some cases more—of imaginary stock. Yet many of those very subscribers were far from believing those projects feasible: it was enough for their purpose that there would very soon be a premium on the receipts for those subscriptions, when they generally got rid of them in the crowded alley to others more credulous than themselves. And, in all events, the projector was sure of the deposit money. The first purchasers of those receipts soon found second purchasers, and so on, at still higher prices, coming from all parts of the town, and even many from the adjacent counties; and so great was the wild confusion in the crowd in Exchange Alley, that the same project or bubble has been known to be sold, at the same instant of time, ten per cent, higher at one end of the alley than at the other end." In some cases what people got for their money scarcely professed to be anything else than simply a receipt for it—which, nevertheless, the purchaser was to try to pass off' at a higher price upon somebody else; as if it were to be attempted to circulate a description of bank-notes without either signature or promise of payment, on the mere chance of each successive receiver finding some other more sanguine or venturous than himself to take the worthless paper off his hands on a similar calculation. This might be called a paper currency resting not on credit but on hope. Anderson says that he well remembers what were called Globe Permits, which came to be currently sold for sixty guineas and upwards each in the alley, and which were, nevertheless, only square bits of a playing card bearing the impression in wax of the sign of the Globe Tavern in the neighbourhood, and the words Sail Cloth Permits for a motto, without any signature, and only conveying to their possessors the permission to subscribe some time afterwards to a new Sail Cloth Company not yet formed! We cannot help thinking that money must have been pretty plentiful when people could be found to give sixty guineas for any such article. Yet it is impossible to say how much higher the prices of shares in even the most nonsensical and absurd of these bubbles might have mounted if the system had not received a sudden check from the very quarter whence it had derived its beginning and original impulse. "The taverns, coffee-houses, and even victualling-houses near the Exchange," Anderson goes on to relate, "were constantly crowded, and became the scenes of incredible extravagance. The very advertisements of those bubbles were so many as to fill up two or three sheets of paper in some of the daily newspapers for some months." Even the wildest of the schemes, he adds, "had a very considerable run, much money being got and lost by them; and, as for the great bulk of them, there were almost incredible numbers of transactions in them daily and hourly for ready money, and mostly at very advanced prices . . . . . . Moreover, great numbers of contracts were made for taking many of them at a future time." About midsummer it was calculated that the value of the stock of all the different companies and projects at the current prices exceeded five hundred millions sterling, or probably five times as much as the current cash of all Europe, and more than twice the worth of the fee-simple of all the land in the kingdom. But now, on the 18th of August, came out writs of scire facias, at the instance of the South Sea Company, directed against certain of the pretended companies expressly by name, and generally against all other projects promulgated contrary to law, all the subscribers to which were ordered to be prosecuted by the law officers of the crown. "This," continues Anderson, "instantly struck so general a panic amongst the conductors of all the undertakings, projects, or bubbles, that the suddenness as well as greatness of their fall was amazing. York Buildings stock, for instance, fell at once from 300 to 200; and in two days after neither it nor the other three undertakings expressly named in the scire facias had buyers at any price whatever. The more barefaced bubbles of all kinds immediately shrunk to their original nothing; their projectors shut up their offices and suddenly disappeared; and Exchange Alley with its coffee-houses wvere no longer crowded with adventurers; many of whom, having laid out their substance in those airy purchases, now found themselves to be utterly undone; whilst, on the other hand, such as had dealt in them to great advantage became extremely shy of owning their gains." But the great mother of all the delusions and impositions soon felt that, though her progeny had become her rivals, in their life was involved her own. It was the spirit of gambling and madness that the mob of minor projects excited and fed by which the South Sea Company itself was sustained. From the day on which they were put down is to be dated the beginning of a decline in the price of the Company's stock, from which it never recovered. When the scire facias came abroad South Sea stock was at 850; by the 2-2nd of August it had fallen to 820; by the 30th, to 780; by the 8th of September, to 680; by the 20th, to 410; by the 29th, to 175. By this time all faith in the possibility of its being kept up at a price above its original cost and real value was irretrievably gone; the bubble was burst; the delusion over; the drunkenness passed away, and only exhaustion, aching, and repentance left. "And now, towards the close of this year of marvels," says Anderson, winding up his narrative, "were seen the great losses of many families of rank, and some of great quality, and the utter ruin of merchants before of great figure, and also of certain eminent physicians, clergy, and lawyers, as well as of many eminent tradesmen; some of whom, after so long living in splendour, were not able to stand the shock of poverty and contempt, and died of broken hearts; others withdrew to remote parts of the world and never returned." But, as we have intimated, the hurricane which so greatly disturbed the air in rapidly passing through it probably made it purer and healthier for a long time to come.

The reign of George II. may be conveniently regarded for our present purpose as divided into three periods of nearly equal length—the first extending from 1727 to the year 1739, during which, with the exception of the short war with Spain, which George I. had left as a legacy to his successor, and which was brought to a close soon after the commencement of the new reign, we were in the enjoyment of peace with all the world;—the second, the space embraced by the general war which broke out in 1739, and continued to rage till the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748;—and the third, consisting of the remaining twelve years of the reign, the first eight of which were years of peace, the last four of war.

The general condition of the country at the commencement of the reign mis undoubtedly one of considerable actual prosperity; and the rate of our economical advancement was probably also both higher and steadier than it had ever been before. Anderson has collected under the year 1729 the various evidences by which Walpole and the friends of his administration supported their assertion of the thriving circumstances of the time in reply to the factious declarations of their opponents:—the low rate of interest, demonstrating the plenty of money; the rise that had taken place in the price of land, from twenty or twenty-one years' to twenty-five, twenty-six, and twenty-seven years' purchase; the great sums that had been of late years expended in the enclosing and improving of lands and in the opening and working of mines; "the great increase of jewels, plate, and other rich movables, much beyond elder times;" the increased value of our general exports, and especially of our exports of the great staple articles of produce and manufacture, wool, coal, lead, and tin; and, lastly, the increase that had taken place in the quantity of our mercantile shipping.[82]

The progress of the two last-mentioned measures of the activity of our manufactures and commerce may be stated as follows for the whole of the reign:—The total estimated annual value of our exports, which, on the average of the three years 1726, 1727, and 1728, was, as we have seen, 7,891,739l.,[83] had grown to be on the average of 1736, 1737, and 1738, the three last years of the peace, 9,933,232l.; on that of 1739, 1740, and 1741 , the three first years of the war, it fell to 8,870,499l.; but in 1744 it was 9,190,621l.; in 1747, 9,775,340l.; and in 1748, which was rather the first year of peace than the last of the war, it mounted at once to 1 1 ,141 ,202l. Nor was this a mere temporary elevation: in the next three years, 1749, 1750, and 1751, the total value of our exports was on an average 12,599,112l. The amount slightly declined, indeed, in 1755, 1756, and 1757, on the average of which three years it was only 11,708.515l.—the depression being probably occasioned by the uncertain and threatening aspect of things that preceded the breaking out of hostilities; but the war when it came, unlike all former wars in which we had ever been engaged, rather assisted than injured our foreign trade; and our exports from this date continued to increase every year to the end of the reign, their estimated value being, in 1758, 12,618,335l.; in 1759, 13,947,788l.; and in 1760, 14,693,270l. Thus, in the course of the reign of George II. the amount of our exports was very little less than doubled. The increase in the quantity of the shipping employed in our foreign trade, however, was not nearly so great. The total tonnage of the ships cleared outwards, which on the average of the three years ending with 1728 had been 456,483 tons, was 503,568 (including 26,627 foreign) on that of the three ending with 1738; 471,451 (including 87,260 foreign) on that of the three years ending with 1741; 446,666 (including 72,849 foreign) in 1744; 496,242 (including 101,671 foreign) in 1747; 554,713 (including 75,477 foreign) in 1748; 661,184 (including 51,386 foreign)on the average of the three years ending with 1751; 524,711 (including 73,456 foreign) on that of the three ending with 1757; 505,844 (including 116,002 foreign) in 1758; 527,351 (including 121,016 foreign) in 1759; and 573,978 (including 112,737 foreign) in 1760. Thus the amount of native shipping employed in our foreign trade, which was 432,832 tons at the beginning of the reign, was not more than 471,241 at its close.[84] This, however, in the absence of any account of our coasting trade, proves nothing: as to the amount of the general mercantile marine of the kingdom. The tonnage of the royal navy, which at the end of the last reign was 170,862 tons, was in 1741, 198,387; in 1749, 228,215; in 1754, 226,246; and in 1760, 321,104.[85]

Another indication of the advancing wealth of the country throughout this reign is afforded by the regularly augmenting produce of the Sinking Fund, which was made up from the surplus yielded by the ordinary taxes over and above certain fixed payments with which they were made chargeable. The Sinking Fund, therefore, may be regarded as an index of the productiveness of the national taxation, which, again, was itself an index of the consumption of the people as determined by their numbers and their ability to purchase necessaries and luxuries. Now the surplus paid over to the Sinking Fund, which, at its establishment in 1717, was only 323,427l., and by 1724 had only reached 653,000l., had in 1738 come to be no less than 1,231,127l., and it appears to have gone on increasing at the same rate to the end of the reign, seeing that in 1764, the next date at which we find it noted, it is stated to have been about 2,200,000'l. Part of this increase is no doubt to be attributed to the increase of population; but that cause alone will not nearly account for the whole of it.

One of the sources to which the stream of our commerce owed its gradual and steady expansion throughout this reign was the growing importance of our possessions in the islands and on the continent of America. Of the attractions which the latter already presented to persons who found themselves in want of employment or in straitened circumstances in the old world, or for any other reason sought a new country in which to better their fortunes, we may judge from an account which has been preserved of the arrivals from Europe in the single province of Pennsylvania in the year 1729. There emigrated from Europe to Pennsylvania in that year no fewer than 6208 persons, of whom, as in the emigration of the present day, the great mass were Irish, driven from their native land, the account states, "by reason of rack-rents there"—in other words, by the same scarcity and high price of land, and utter want of any other means of subsistence, which still constitute the unhappy economical condition of that country. Of the 6208 individuals, 243 were Germans from the Palatinate, 267 English and Welsh, 43 Scotch, and the remaining 5655 all, or mostly all, Irish. The Germans were all passengers, the Scotch all servants, the English, Welsh, and Irish, partly passengers, partly servants. By this time, "in the province of Pennsylvania," says Anderson, "great improvements were constantly making in commerce, shipping, and agriculture; many ships and sloops were continually building at Philadelphia, Newcastle, &c., which they mostly dispose of to our sugar colonies, and the rest they use in the carrying their own product, consisting of cask-staves, lumber, pork, pease, flour, biscuit, &c., in exchange for sugar, rum, molasses, and British money."[86] As yet, however, as we learn from a report of the Board of Trade which was drawn up on an order of the House of Commons in 1732, there were no manufactures of any consequence established in Pennsylvania; even the clothing of the people and the utensils for their houses were all imported from Great Britain. The case was nearly the same, according to the report, in New Hampshire, New York, and New Jersey. The inhabitants only made a few coarse linens and woollens for their own use, and even of these a less quantity than they used to do. In Massachusett's Bay, however, industry had made somewhat greater progress. There they not only built ships for the French and Spaniards, as the Pennsylvanians did for their neighbours of the West India Islands, but they had already in that and other New England States six furnaces and nineteen forges for the smelting of iron, and they fabricated all sorts of iron-work for shipping. They also made great quantities of hats, many of which were exported, as was complained of by the Hatters' Company of London, to Spain and Portugal as well as to the West Indies. There were besides, the report states, several still-houses (for making rum) and sugar bakers established in New England. It is affirmed, however, that, after all, the iron-works in the province of Massachusetts were not sufficient to supply the twentieth part of what was required for the use of the country, and that, the quality of the little that was made was greatly inferior to that of the iron imported from Great Britain. Some iron was also made in Rhode Island, but not to the extent of a fourth part of the consumption. From another account of nearly the same date, a work published at London in 1731, entitled, "The Importance of the British Plantations in America to this Kingdom considered," we gather some other interesting particulars. Pennsylvania, this author states, though the youngest of our American colonics, had already a more numerous white population than was spread over all Virginia, Maryland, and both the Carolinas. The produce of this province for exportation consisted of wheat, flour, biscuit, barrelled beef and pork, bacon, hams, butter, cheese, cider, apples, soap, myrtle-wax candles, starch, hair-powder, tanned leather, bees'-wax tallow candles, strong beer, linseed oil, strong waters , deer-skins and other peltry, hemp, some little tobacco sawed boards and timber for building of houses, cypress-wood, shingles, cask-staves, headings, masts, and other ship-timber, and various dyeing substances, or drugs as they were called. The shipping which they employed in their own trade might amount to about six thousand tons, and the quantity they built for sale was about two thousand tons annually. "They send," the account continues, "great quantities of corn to Portugal and Spain, frequently selling the ship as well as cargo; and the produce of both is thence sent to England, where it is always laid out in goods and sent home to Pennsylvania. . . . They receive no less than from 4000 to 6000 pistoles from the Dutch isle of Curaçoa alone, for provisions and liquors. And they trade to Surinam in the like manner, and to the French part of Hispaniola, as also to the other French sugar islands; from whence they bring back molasses and also some money. From Jamaica they sometimes return with all money and no goods, because rum and molasses are so dear there; and all the money they can get from all parts, as also sugar, rice, tar, pitch, &c., is brought to England, to pay for the manufactures, &c., they carry home from us." The amount of the purchases thus made by the Pennsylvanians in England, he affirms, had not for many years been less than 150,000l. per annum. New York and Jersey had the same commodities to dispose of as Pennsylvania, except that they did not build so many ships; but there had lately been discovered in New York the richest copper-mine perhaps that was ever heard of, and great quantities of its produce had been brought to England. And, although this province sent fewer ships to England than some of the other colonies, yet those it did send were more richly laden, a larger portion of their cargoes being made up of furs and skins, which were obtained from the Indians. On the whole, this writer reckons New York to be at least of equal advantage to the mother country with Pennsylvania, both in respect of the money it sent us and the manufactures it took from us. Massachusetts, he goes on to state, had already at least 120,000 white inhabitants, employing about 40,000 tons of shipping in their foreign and coasting trades, making above 600 sail of one kind and another, about one-half of which traded to Europe. "Their fisheries," he adds, "have been reckoned annually to produce 230,000 quintals of dried fish, which, being sent to Portugal, Spain, and up the Mediterranean, yield twelve shillings per quintal, being 138,000l. sterling. . . . By this fishery they are said to employ at least 600,000 seamen; and, adding to the above sum the freight and commission, all earned by our own people, and reckoned at one-third more, the whole will be 172,500l., all remitted to Great Britain." To this was to be added their whale-fishery, employing about 1300 tons of shipping. They also sent to England great quantities of provisions, lumber, and the other descriptions of produce already enumerated as forming the exports of Pennsylvania; and many of their ships were loaded directly from the sugar islands for this country. "From New England, also," continues the account, "we have the largest masts in the world for our royal navy. From thence also, as from our other continent colonies, we receive all the gold and silver that they can spare; for we give them in exchange all manner of wearing apparel, woollen, brass, and linen manufactures, East Indian goods, &c., in all, to the value of 400,000l. yearly," Of the southern colonies, Virginia and Maryland are described as together sending over annually to Great Britain 50,000 hogsheads of tobacco, one with another of the weight of 600 lbs.; the value of which, at 2½d. per pound, would be 375,000l. The shipping employed to bring home this tobacco is reckoned to amount to at least 24,000 tons, in by far the greater part English-built, and always fitted out and repaired in England—though, it seems to be implied, owned by the colonists. From these provinces also we received annually about 6000l. worth of skins and furs; they produced, moreover, excellent flax, and wool equal to the best grown in England; and there were already at least one iron-work in Virginia and another in Maryland. But, of all our American colonies, the one perhaps of the most visibly rising importance was that of Carolina, This author relates how the cultivation of rice originated in that province about the beginning of this century:—"A brigantinE from the isle of Madagascar happened to put in at Carolina, having a little seed-rice left, which the captain gave to a gentleman of the name of Woodward. From part of this he had a very good crop, but was ignorant for some years how to clean it. It was soon dispersed over the province, and by frequent experiments and observations they found out ways of producing and manufacturing it to such great perfection that it is thought to exceed any other in value. The writer of this hath seen the said captain in Carolina, where he received a handsome gratuity from the gentlemen of that country, in acknowledgment of the service he had done that province. It is likewise reported that Mr. Dubois, then treasurer of the East India Company, did send to that country a small bag of seed-rice some short time after, from whence it is reasonable enough to suppose come those two sorts of that commodity—the one called red rice, in contradistinction to the white, from the redness of the inner husk or rind of this sort, although they both clean and become white alike." Before the year 1733 the Carolina rice exported to Spain and Portugal had nearly put a stop to the purchase of the article by those two countries from Venice and other parts of Italy. In that year the total exportation of rice from Carolina was 36,584 barrels; besides which the province also exported 2802 barrels of pitch, 848 of turpentine, 60 tons of lignum vitæ, 20 of Brasiletto wood, 27 of sassafras, 8 chests of skins, and a quantity of lumber, pork, peas, beef, and Indian corn. "This colony," adds Anderson, "is continually increasing by the encouragement they give to new comers, both British and foreigners."[87] By the year 1739 we find its exportation of rice raised to 71,484 barrels, and, among various additions to its other exports, above 200,000 feet of pine and cypress timber, and a small quantity of potatoes. The vessels that cleared out from the province this year were 238 of all sorts. The next year its exportation of rice amounted to 91,110 barrels. A few years after this the Carolina planters, finding they were overstocking the European market with their rice, began the cultivation of indigo, which had formerly been extensively grown in Jamaica and the other sugar islands. In 1747 about 200,000 lbs. of indigo was sent from Carolina to England, which had been heretofore wont to pay about 200,000l. a year to France for that article. Parliament the following year granted a bounty of sixpence per cwt. on all indigo raised in any of our American colonies, and imported into Britain directly from the place of its growth; and, aided by this encouragement, the cultivation of the plant continued to be prosecuted in Carolina with considerable success, so that by the end of the present period the quantity annually exported from the province amounted to about 400,000 lbs. In the year 1732 a new colony was established on the unoccupied territory between Carolina and the Spanish possession of Florida, by a society of gentlemen, headed by General Oglethorpe, whose primary object was to provide by this means a place of settlement for destitute debtors after their liberation from gaol, and for foreign protestants who might be desirous of emigrating to a settlement where they would have the free exercise of their religion. A charter was granted by the crown establishing the independence of the new province, which was named Georgia, in honour of his majesty. The trustees immediately erected two towns. Savannah and Frederica; planted a nursery of white mulberry-trees, with a view to the production of silk; and imported a number of natives of Piedmont to tend the worms, as well as other foreigners to dress and improve by cultivation the vines which grew wild in the country in great abundance. "Yet," adds Anderson, "by having several idle drones, drunkards, and determined rogues, the prosperity of this colony was at first much retarded, as it was also by frequent alarms from the Spaniards, and, it must be confessed, in part also by an ill-judged though well-meant Utopian scheme for limiting the tenure of lands and for the exclusion of negro slaves; both which mistakes have since been rectified."[88] The rearing of the silkworm was gradually extended both in Georgia and Carolina; so that before the end of the present period the quantity of raw silk produced in Georgia exceeded ten thousand pounds weight annually.[89]

The growing strength and importance of these continental settlements, however, was regarded with a jealous eye by the elder sugar colonies in their neighbourhood; and so early as the year 1715 loud complaints began to be made by the planters of Jamaica and the other West India islands of what they considered as the illegal traffic that was springing up between them and the French and Dutch dependencies in that quarter of the world, which they supplied, as we have seen, to a considerable extent, both with agricultural produce and with shipping, and from which they were themselves furnished in return with sugar, rum, and other articles of which the English islands maintained that they had by law a monopoly in regard to all the dominions of the mother country. The dispute produced several publications on both sides—among others, that entitled "The Importance of the Plantations," noticed above; and at last, in 1731, a bill was brought into Parliament, which passed the Commons, absolutely prohibiting, under forfeiture of ship as well as cargo, the importation into any part of English America of sugar, rum, or molasses grown in the plantations of any foreign power. This bill was allowed to drop in the House of Lords; but, two years after, the matter was settled by an act "for the better securing and encouraging the trade of his majesty's sugar colonies in America," which, while it granted a drawback upon the re-exportation from Great Britain of West India sugar, imposed certain duties upon the importation into the American settlements of the produce of the foreign plantations.[90] According to the preamble of the act our West India islands were at this time far from being in a thriving condition: their welfare and prosperity are asserted to be of the greatest consequence and importance to the trade, navigation, and strength of the kingdom; but of late years, it is added, the planters had fallen under such great discouragements as to be "unable to improve or carry on the sugar-trade upon an equal footing with the foreign sugar colonies without some advantage and relief be given to them from Great Britain." From an account of our West India Islands laid before the House of Lords by the Board of Trade in 1734, we learn various particulars of their trade and general condition. All our sugar islands together were reckoned to produce annually, on an average, 85,000 hogsheads, or 1,200,000 cwt., of sugar ; "of which," adds Anderson, in his comment on the report, "Great Britain was thought to consume annually 70,000 hogsheads, or 94,080,000 pounds of sugar; which, for 10,000,000 of people, if so many there be in Britain, comes to nine pounds and a-half of sugar to each person; or, if but 8,000,000 of people, then about eleven pounds and a-half of sugar to each person; and, as there are undoubtedly about 2,000,000 and upwards of people in Ireland, we may omit them in this computation, as there may probably be near that number in all the British dominions who use little or no sugar at all." In the present day, we may mention, our consumption of sugar is upwards of 400,000,000 of pounds, or between four and five times what it was a century ago. At that time it was computed that the shipping that went annually from Great Britain to the sugar islands amounted to about 300 sail, navigated by 4500 seamen; and that the value of the British manufactures annually exported thither was about 240,000l. On an average of the four years ending with 1732, our annual exports to Jamaica amounted to 147,675l. in value, and our imports thence to 530,499l. At this time the number of the white inhabitants of Jamaica was only 7644, which was much less than it had formerly been. "The diminution of the white people of Jamaica," Anderson observes, "was owing to the great decay of their private or illicit trade to the Spanish main; that trade having drawn thither many white people, who were wont to get rich in a few years, and then return to their mother country, and the Spanish money they got in Jamaica did at length centre in England. From Jamaica our said people privately carried all sorts of our manufactures, &c., to New Spain, which it is well known can only be legally carried thither by the flota and flotilla from Old Spain: they also earned thither great numbers of negroes." Barbadoes had a white population of 18,295; that of our Leeward Islands, consisting of St. Christopher's, Antigua, Nevis, and Montserrat, with their dependencies, Barbuda, Anguilla, Spanish Town (or Virgin Gorda), Tortola, and the rest of the Virgin Islands, was 10,262; that of Providence, the only one of the Bahamas that could yet be said to be peopled, was 500; and that of the Bermudas, 5000. Besides sugar and rum, considerable quantities of cotton, indigo, ginger, pimento, and cocoa were exported from Jamaica and some of the other islands; and the cultivation of coffee which had been grown in the Dutch continental settlements of Surinam since 1718, was introduced a few years after into the French and Spanish, and also into our own West India plantations. From Jamaica, as is well known, we now derive a large portion of our supply of this article.

During the latter portion of this period the affairs, and it may be said the essential character, of the East India Company underwent a complete revolution, under the influence of circumstances and events of which it is not here necessary to enter into any detail. The destruction of the authority of the Mogul emperor by the invasion of Thamas Kouli Khan Khan in 1739, and the consequent assumption of a practical independence, though still veiled under the old forms of vassalage, by the nabobs and other provincial Mahometan governors, had, in the course of the war which terminated in 1748, involved the agents of the French and English companies, as partisans of opposing competitors for various of the petty thrones which had thus arisen, in as fierce hostilities as were carried on by their respective countries in Europe or in any other part of the globe; nor did the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, which gave some years of repose to the swords of the combatants in the West, allay for more than a moment these oriental feuds, which had again burst into flame, and embroiled the two companies as furiously as ever, long before arms were again taken up by the two nations. It does not belong to our present subject to follow the course of the memorable contest that now arose, in which the brilliant successes of Clive at the same time levelled with the ground the already formidable fabric of political power which France was erecting in India, and elevated his own employers from a tracing company to be the rulers of an empire. What we are here concerned with are merely the results of these great changes upon the position and circumstances of the Company. The factory at Calcutta, which had been previously subordinate to Madras, had been declared an independent presidency so early as the year 1707; and in 1717 a firman granted by the Mogul had exempted the Company's trade from duties, and permitted them to purchase and hold possession of land in the neighbourhood of their several factories. In 1726 a charter obtained from the crown authorised the establishment of courts of justice at Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta, for the trial of all causes, civil and criminal, high treason only excepted. In 1746 the French took Madras, which however was restored two years after on the termination of the war. In 1749 the Company obtained possession of the town and district of Devicotah, in Tanjore, by a negociation with the rajah of that country, after they had unsuccessfully attempted to depose him at the solicitation of his half-brother, from whom he had shortly before wrested the crown—a transaction which may be regarded as the first in which they openly took part in the politics of India, and as that which laid the foundation of their subsequent military power. Clive's operations range from the year 1751 to the end of the present period, in the course of which space of time Calcutta was taken by Surajah-ul-Dowlah, the subahdar of Bengal, in June 1756, but retaken in January following; the French settlement of Chandernagore was captured in March 1757; the power of Surajah-ul-Dowlah was overthrown at the battle of Plassy, in June, that same year; and before the end of the year 1760 every fort and factory belonging to the French had fallen into the hands of their rivals, except Pondicherry, which also surrendered in January, 1761. All this time, however, while the Company was making such advances in the acquisition of political power and even of territorial possessions, no great increase appears to have taken place in its trade. On the average of the eight years ending with 1741 the value of the British produce and goods of all sorts annually exported to India and China was no more than 147,944l.; and on that of the seven years ending with 1748 it had only increased to 188,176l. The average annual export of bullion during the last seven years was 548,711l. For some years after this there was a considerable rise in the amount exported both of goods and of bullion. Thus in 1749 the value of the goods was 275,890l., of the bullion 909,136l.; in 1750, of the goods 305,068l., of the bullion, 816,310l.; in 1751 of the goods 341,633l., of the bullion 944,471l.; in 1752 of the goods 410,968l., of the bullion 840,417l.; in 1753, of the goods 418,015l., of the bullion 951,951l.—making together 1,369,966l., which was the largest amount to which the total exports rose within the present period. From this date there was, with the exception of one or two years, a great decline in the amount of the bullion, and some falling off also in that of the goods; so that in 1755 the value of the goods was only 245,030l. and that of the bullion 625,485l.; in 1758, of the goods 358,949l., of the bullion 174,099l.; in 1759, of the goods 366,974l., of the bullion 144,160l.,—making together only 511,134l., which was a lower point than the total amount of exports had descended to since 1715. In 1760 the value of the goods exported was 520,719l., but the amount of bullion was only 91,924l. The number of ships annually sent out usually ranged from sixteen to twenty; some few times it was twenty-two or twenty-four, but in other years it was only fourteen. Of the Company's imports the chief article in which there appears to have been a steady increase was tea: of that the home consumption gradually rose from 141,995 lbs. in 1711, to 237,994 lbs. in 1720, to 537,016 lbs. in 1730, to 1,380,199 lbs. in 1735, to 2,209,183 lbs. in 1745, and to 2,738,136 lbs. in 1755. In 1760 it appears to have fallen to 2,293,613 lbs.; but that proved only a temporary check. Perhaps it would not be easy to find a better evidence of the advancing refinement as well as comfort of the great body of the people than is furnished by this steadily extending preference for what may be called the temperate man's wine—"the cup that cheers but not inebriates."

The active spirit of the national industry, and the growth of our trade and manufactures, throughout the greater part of the present period, were shown by nothing more remarkably than Iw the continued extension of the metropolis and most of our other long established centres of population, and the rapid rise of several places formerly of inconsiderable magnitude to the rank of great towns. In London no fewer than eight new parishes were erected between the Revolution and the end of the reign of George II.:—in 1694 that of St. John, in Wapping; in 1729 that of Christ Church, Spitalfields, and that of St. George in the East; in 1730 that of St. George, Bloomsbury, and that of St. Anne, Limehouse; in 1732 that of St. John, Southwark, and that of St. Luke, in Old-street; and in 1743 that of St. Matthew, Bethnal Green. The act for the building of fifty new churches passed in 1710, the establishment of the Chelsea Water Company in 1721, and the building of Westminster Bridge, begun in 1739, and finished in 1750, are all further indications of the expansion of this mighty heart of our social system. Bristol, Hull, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Frome, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Dublin, had also each derived a large accession of population, some of them to the extent of several times the numbers they contained at the commencement of the period, either from the increase of trade and manufactures, or from that diffusion of luxury which is one of the common and natural consequences of commercial prosperity. Yet the spirit of improvement was still in a great measure confined to our cities and towns. In the country even the basis and first essential of a good economical system was still very deficient or altogether wanting; although turnpikes had been introduced soon after the Restoration, and in the reign of George II. it was made a felony to pull them down, our highways still continued to be generally kept in repair merely by the compulsory labour of the parish paupers, and even so late as 1754 we are told the traveller seldom saw a turnpike for two hundred miles after leaving the vicinity of London. Most of our great roads consequently still remained nearly in then ancient condition to the end of the present period.[91]

We must not close the commercial history of this period without adverting for a moment to the progress of the new science of political economy, some of the earlier cultivators of which we noticed in the last Chapter. The most remarkable work upon this science that had yet appeared was produced in 1691, on occasion of the proposed recoinage of the silver money, by Sir Dudley North, under the title of "Discourses upon Trade, principally directed to the cases of Interest, Coinage, Clipping, and Increase of Money." The immediate object of the work was to oppose the government plan (which was that ultimately adopted) of throwing the loss arising from the clipped money upon the public; and Sir Dudley's brother and biographer, Roger North, hints that means were taken to suppress it:—"it is certain," he says, "the pamphlet is, and hath been ever since, utterly sunk, and a copy not to be had for money."[92] But the author sought to establish his conclusions by the most rigorous and methodical deduction, and his Discourses accordingly presented a statement and elucidation of all the leading principles of commercial and economical science. "He is throughout," says a distinguished modern writer upon these subjects, "the intelligent and consistent advocate of commercial freedom. He is not, like the most eminent of his predecessors, well informed on one subject and erroneous on another. His system is consentaneous in its parts, and complete. He shows that in commercial matters nations have the same interests as individuals, and forcibly exposes the absurdity of supposing that any trade which is advantageous to the merchant can be injurious to the public. His opinions respecting the imposition of a seignorage on the coinage of money, and the expediency of sumptuary laws, then very popular, are equally enlightened."[93] One or two of the general propositions which Sir Dudley lays down will show how perfectly untrammelled he was by the prevailing prejudices and false notions of his day:—"That there can be no trade unprofitable to the public; for, if any prove so, men leave it off; and wherever the traders thrive, the public, of which they are a part, thrive also:—That money is a merchandize, whereof there may be a glut as well as a scarcity, and that even to an inconvenience:—That a people cannot want money to serve the ordinary dealing, and more than enough they will not have:—That no man will be the richer for the making much money, nor have any part of it, but as he buys it for an equivalent price."[94] Other writers who immediately followed North, and who all also promulgated some sound principles, though no one of them perhaps with the same complete elevation above the false or imperfect views of the time, were John Locke, in his "Considerations on the Lowering of Interest and Raising the Value of Money," published in 1691, and his "Further Considerations on raising the Value of Money," 1695; Nicholas Barbon, in a Discourse concerning Coining the New Money lighter, published in 1696; and the anonymous author of a very remarkable pamphlet which appeared in 1701, entitled "Considerations on the East India Trade." To a later part of the period belong Jacob Vanderlint's tract entitled "Money answers all things," 1734; Sir Matthew Decker's very able "Essay on the Causes of the Decline of Foreign Trade," 1744; Mr. Hume's "Political Essays," 1752; and Harris's "Essay on Coins," 1757, the views in which are chiefly systematized from the previous disquisitions of Locke and Hume, but which has been described as perhaps the best work, upon the whole, on the subject of money antecedent to the Wealth of Nations.[95]

The Money of this period will not detain us long. The gold coins of William and Mary are five-pound pieces, forty-shilling pieces, guineas, and half-guineas; the silver, all the usual pieces, from crowns down to pennies. On both the gold and silver money are the heads of their majesties in profile, both looking to the left, the queen's half-covered by the king's, which is outermost. Some tin halfpence and farthings were coined in 1690; but, being frequently counterfeited, they were replaced by a copper coinage of these descriptions of money in 1694. We have already given an account of the calling in of the old silver money, and its recoinage, in 1696. Each of the new coins has immediately under the king's head the initial letter of the name of the town where it was struck. The Scotch coins of William and Mary have their heads turned to the right. Their only Irish coins are half-pence and farthings, of copper, brass, and pewter. The escutcheon in the centre of the royal arms on the money of this reign is that of Nassau.

The gold and silver money of Anne consists of the same pieces as that of her predecessor. She likewise coined a few copper halfpence and farthings, the latter dated in 1713 and 1714, and now very rare. "Upon the Union of the two kingdoms of England and Scotland," says Leake, "the arms being altered, the same was observed upon all the money coined afterwards; the arms of England and Scotland being impaled in the first and bottom shields, France in the sinister, and Ireland in the dexter, according to this left-handed rotation, which, however irregular and absurd, has prevailed ever since the first milled money."[96] For some time after the Union a mint was kept up at Edinburgh, at which silver money was coined of the same stamp with that coined in London, but distinguished by an E, for Edinburgh, under the queen's head.

The coins of Geo. I. are remarkable as being the first on which the letters f. d. (for Fidei Defensor) appear. They have also his majesty's electoral titles on the reverse; and in the arms Ireland is placed on the bottom shield, and in the dexter (where those of Ireland used to be) are the arms of his majesty's German dominions. In this reign, in the year 1717, on the representation of the House of Commons, that the over valuation of gold in the current coins of the realm had produced a great and infinite diminution and scarcity of silver specie, it was ordered by royal proclamation that the guinea, which had for some time past been current at 21s. 6d. should for the future pass only for 21s., and the other gold coins at proportionate rates. In 1718 there were issued, for the first time, some quarter-guineas; but they were found too diminutive for use, and no more of them were coined within the present period. Of the famous Irish copper money coined by Wood in 1722 and 1723 the halfpence and the farthings of 1723, have on the reverse Ireland represented under the figure of a woman in profile, sitting, with a palm-branch in her right hand, and resting her left upon a harp, with the legend Hibernia: the figure on the farthing of 1722 is slightly different. "These," says Leake, "were undoubtedly the best copper money ever made for Ireland, considerably exceeding those of King Charles II., King James II., and King William and Queen Mary, in weight, goodness, fineness, and value of the copper." They were also much handsomer than the contemporary English farthings and halfpence, the king's head being in particular much better executed, as well as having more resemblance to his majesty. The violent opposition raised against them, although not one of the allegations on which it professed to be founded was ever either proved or attempted to be proved, compelled the crown to issue an order, in August, 1724, that only as many of the halfpence and farthings as had then been issued, amounting in value to about 17,000l., and as many more as should make up that amount to 40,000l., should be put into circulation. The amount for which the patent had been granted was only 100,800l. Before this it is stated that the Irish, in their want of small money, were wont to make use of counterfeit coins called Raps, of such base metal that what passed for a halfpenny was not worth half a farthing, and persons employing many workmen were obliged to pay them their wages with tallies, or tokens in cards.

Silver groats, threepenny, twopenny, and even penny pieces continued to be coined in the reign of George II. Upon the gold coins of this reign, the arms, Leake observes, arc properly disposed in one shield crowned, instead of being misplaced in four shields, as had been done upon all the milled money since the Restoration, some few coins of William and Mary excepted. At the commencement of the reign a great deal of the old hammered gold money of James I., Charles I., and Charles II. was still current, under the name of broad-pieces, half broad-pieces, and quarter broad-pieces, much of which was greatly diminished either by wear, or by clipping and filing; but in 1732 all this old money was called in, and paid for at the Mint at the rate of 81s. per ounce; after which it was declared no longer current. In one of George II.'s halfpennies of 1730 an extraordinary blunder occurs, the omission of the r in his majesty's name. Foreign gold coins still continued to form a great part of our currency in this reign, much to the general inconvenience. Leake, writing in 1745, gives a deplorable account, also, of the state to which the silver money was already reduced, although most of it was not yet fifty years old. "We have not, indeed," he says, "had any clipping, as formerly, for that is impracticable upon the milled money; but time has minished it in a manner equivalent to clipping. Our sixpences are, many of them, worn to groats, and some shillings are not much better in proportion. The half-crowns are not so bad, but then they are not so common; the latter ones, since King William, being most of them melted or transported; and crowns seem to have answered no other end; they disappear as soon as coined, and indeed are too burdensome for common use, two half-crowns better answering the purpose."[97]


  1. Chalmers's Estimate, p. 68, from accounts in the Exchequer books, communicated by Mr. Astle.
  2. Pollexfen. Discourse on Trade, Coin, and Paper Credit. 1697. Polexfen was at this time a member of the Board of Trade.
  3. Discourses on the Public Revenues and on the Trade of England, 1698; in Works, i. 371.
  4. Discourses on the Public Revenues, &c., in Works, i. 898.
  5. Discourses on the Public Revenues, &c., in Works, i. 380.
  6. Mr. Astle's transcripts, in Chalmers, p 72.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Paterson's Account of his Transactions in relation to the Bank of England, fol. 1695; and his Conferences on the Public Debts by the Wednesday's Club in Friday-street.
  9. "This is the first instance," observes Anderson, "of any national fund being managed by any other than the crown officers at the Exchequer: which new method of allowing a round sum for charges of management has ever since been followed, not only with respect to the Bank, but also to the East India and South Sea Companies; which allowances for the expense of management, that is, for salaries of governors, directors, clerks, office-rent, &c., were at first usually computed from what similar funds had formerly cost the crown when managed at the Exchequer, though generally, in later times, I conceive, with some saving to the public in this new method." Chron. Com. ii. 604. The entire management of the public debt has since been confided to the Bank; and the annual sum now allowed to it for that service is about 130,000l. Previous to the renewal of the charter in 1833 the allowance exceeded 250,000l.; and before 1786 it was at the still higher rate of 562l. 10s. for every million of the debt. But even this was a great reduction upon the original rate which was not less than 3333l. 6s. 8d. per million.
  10. Own Time, ii. 125.
  11. 4 W. and M. c. 14, § 7.
  12. 6 and 7 W. and M. C. 17.
  13. Chron. of Com. ii. 619.
  14. The amount referred to is printed in the Parliamentary History, vol. v. Appendix 19; and also in Sinclair's History of the Public Revenue (3rd edit.) vol. iii. Appendix, pp. 152—159. It is observed, however, by Leake, that the "provision by law to receive the clipped money was the greatest encouragement to promote clipping, and gave the clippers all the advantages they could desire, making the crime more general; for now they were sure of a market for their clipped money; so that what had been hoarded, and hitherto escaped the shears, now underwent the same fate; and it is not improbable that more was clipped and reclipped upon this general licence than had been before."—Historical Account of English Money, 2nd Edit. p. 392.
  15. 8 and 9 Will. III. c. 20.
  16. Own Time, ii., 209.
  17. Own Time, ii. 259.
  18. Strictly speaking, the amount of stock held by each company was only 288,500l., the remaining 23,000l. being held by parties who, although they had subscribed to the 2,000,000l. loan to government, had preferred trading separately to joining the New Company.
  19. 25 Car. II. c. 7, s. 1.
  20. n 1690 by 2 Will. and Mary, sess. 1, c. i.
  21. Qy. "by us?"
  22. 4 W. and M., c. 17.
  23. 1 Anne, c. 12.
  24. Quoted by Anderson in Chron. of Com. iii. 7
  25. Chron. of Com. ii. 646.
  26. See abstract of the original Commission in Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, ii. 680.
  27. Les Intérêts de la France mal entendus; 2 tom. 12mo. Amst. 1757; quoted in Mr. C. Smith's Tracts on the Corn Laws, p. 162.
  28. Tracts on the Corn Laws, p. 73 (second edition).
  29. Second Report to Commissioners of Public Accounts, Works, v. 460.
  30. First Report, Works, v. 356.
  31. Davenant. First Report, p. 413, where it is printed 1699; a misprint that also occurs in other places.
  32. He is writing in 1712.
  33. Of customs.
  34. These East India goods were prohibited in England, and only allowed to be imported for re-exportation, in 1699, by the 11 Will. III. c. 10, entitled "An Act for the more effectual employing the poor, by encouraging the manufactures of this kingdom."
  35. Second Report, p. 420.
  36. Quoted by Anderson, Chron, of Com. iii. 11, from the monthly periodical called the Political State of Great Britain, for November, 1721.
  37. 1 W. and M. c. 32.
  38. 9 Will. III. c. 40.M
  39. 10 Will. III. c. 16 (c. 10 in common editions).
  40. 11 Will. III. c. 20.
  41. Discourse on the East India Trade, Works, ii. 146. His calculation is, that there were annually shorn about twelve millions of fleeces, of the average value of 3s. 4d. per fleece, somewhat above eight fleeces making a tod of wool, the average price of which was 28s., or 1s.a pound. Gregory King, in his Political Conclusions (1696), estimates the value of the wool yearly shorn at the same sum with Davenant.
  42. Works, ii. 149.
  43. Essay upon the Probable Methods of making a people gainers in the Balance of Trade; in Works, ii. 235.
  44. Second Report on Public Accounts, in Works, v. 445.
  45. Note in Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, ii. 719. Macpherson, who does not quote his authority for this account, expresses a doubt as to the correctness of the figures in the case of the tonnage assigned to the Ipswich vessels. Chalmers, in Estimate, pp. 87, 88, refers evidently to the same account, as "A detail in the Plantation Office," although he assigns it to the year 1701, instead of 1702, and gives (apparently by a typographical error) the number of sailors as only 16,591.
  46. Given in Gibson's Translation of Camden's Britannia, 2nd edit. i. 234.
  47. 7 and 8 Will. III. c. 21.
  48. 9 Anne, c. 15 (21 in common editions).
  49. Chalmers, Estimate, p. 81
  50. Chalmers, pp. 89 and 90, apparently from Mr. Astle's transcript.
  51. British Merchant, iii. 51.
  52. British Merchant, i. 181.
  53. British Merchant, i. 7.
  54. Id. i. 237.
  55. British Merchant, i. 22.
  56. Stat. 3 and 4 Anne, c. 9 (or 10 in the common editions).
  57. Anderson, Chron. of Com. iii. 17.
  58. Stat. 12 Anne, c. 9.
  59. British Merchant, i. 26.
  60. Macpherson's European Com. with India, p. 168.
  61. British Merchant, i. 137.
  62. British Merchant, i. 279.
  63. Id. p. 293.
  64. Id. p. 297.
  65. British Merchant, i. 302
  66. Id. pp. 307, &c.
  67. Id. p. 319.
  68. British Merchant, ii. 228-238.
  69. See account published by Macpherson, in Ann. of Com. ii. 737.
  70. Anderson, Chron. of Com. ii. 26, referring to Ruddiman's Preface to James Anderson's Thesaurus Diplomatum et Numismatum Scotia.
  71. Chalmers, Estimate, 104, 105.
  72. Survey of Trade, by William Wood (afterwards Secretary to the Commissioners of the Customs), p. 15. Wood dedicates his book to George I.; and his object is to prove the progress that the navy, as well as all the other elements of the national power and prosperity, had made since the Revolution.
  73. Account laid before House of Commons in 1791.
  74. Stat. 3 Geo. I. c. 7.
  75. Stat. 8 Geor. I. c. 15
  76. Stat. 5 Geo. I. c. 20, § 14.
  77. Stat. 13 Geo. I. c. 5.
  78. Extracted, with much more, by Anderson, Chron. of Com. ii. (314, from "Angliæ Tutamen; or, the Safety of England: being an Account of the Banks, Lotteries, Diving, Draining, and Lifting, and sundry other Engines, Metallic, Salt, Linen, and many other pernicious projects now on foot, tending to the Destruction of Trade and Commerce, and the Impoverishing of this Realm. By a Person of Honour." 4to. Lond. 1695.
  79. Quoted in Anderson, ii. 642.
  80. 10 Will. III. c. 23 (10 and 11 Will, III. c. 17 iu common editions).
  81. See 9 Anne, c. 6, s. 57, &c., and 10 Anne, c. 19 (c. 26 in common editions), s. 111, &c. See also 5 Geo. 1. c. 9 (passed in 1718).
  82. Chron. of Com. iii. 156.
  83. Chalmers, Estimate, p. 105. At p. 112 the figures are printed 7,918,406l.
  84. From various accounts (apparently official) given by Chalmers, Estimate, pp. 112—132.
  85. This last number is taken from the account laid before the House of Commons in 1791, which was made up at the Navy Office. Chalmers, on whose authority the other numbers are given, makes the tonnage in 1760 only 300,416 tons.
  86. Chron. of Com., iii. 155
  87. Chron. of Com., iii. 201.
  88. Chron. of Com., iii. 189.
  89. Id. 309
  90. Stat. 6 Geo. II. c. 13.
  91. Chalmers, Estimate, p. 125.
  92. Lives, iii. 172.
  93. Principles of Political Economy, by J. R. M'Culloch, Esq., p. 43. Mr. M'Culloch, we believe, was fortunate enough to recover a few years ago the only known copy of the original edition of Sir Dudley North's tract. A small impression has been since privately printed from that copy.
  94. Quoted by Mr. M'Culloch, ut supra.
  95. Article on Political Economy, by Mr. M'Culloch, in Supplement to Encyclopædia Britannica; to which treatise, and to the same writer's Principles of Political Economy, we are indebted for the substance of the above notices.
  96. Historical Account of English Money, p. 405.
  97. Historical Account of English Money, p. 427.