« PreviousContinue »
of law, to prevent the introduction of our Manufactures into France; for, if they were not suffered to be imported directly into the Ports of France, they found their way in great quantities indirectly, from Germany or Flanders. It was from a sense of the impossibility of excluding our Manufactures, that the Government of France, in September 1786, consented to a Commercial Treaty with this Country, and permitted the importation of our Manufactures into the Ports of France, on regulated duties. Thus we have a direct acknowledgement from the ancient Government of France, that they could not exclude our Manufactures from that Country.
From the time, when Great Britain was forced into a War with France, the new Politicians, who have composed the several Governments of that Country which have succeeded to the Monarchy, entertained an idea, that notwithstanding the experience before stated, they could prevent the importation and sale of British Merchandize and Manufactures, and have endeavoured to alarm the British Merchants and Manufacturers, with the menace of a Prohibition of this nature. — There are proofs of it even at an early period; but we shall confine ourselves to the proceedings that gave rise to the Law of the roth Brumaire, that is, the 31st of October, 1796, when the Two Councils and the French Directory exerted all their talents, to contrive a law sufficient to prevent the importation and sale of British Merchandize and Manufactyres in France.
In a Report made to the Council of Five Hundred, on the 20th October 1796, it is expressly said " It is not “ by Victories that we will compel our Enemy (that is, “ Great Britain) to make Peace A check is reparablem “ The severest blow which we can strike against the
, 511 “ English Government, is to destroy its Commerce. — “ If it shall longer resist the wish of that People (that « is, the People of Great Britain) we will have it to “ know, that it approaches the moment when all the « channels of its Commerce shall be drained. - In vain “ have they stored all the Northern Nations with their « Goods — they have no way to sell them off. Some “ Merchants had endeavoured to open for them a channel " by Berne, to the prejudice of their own interest ; but « They will also be disappointed. Frenchmen, if you « wish for Peace, reject all English Goods - Dread not « Privation ; * the produce of our Manufactures is suf« ficient for our Exigencies - Encourage the National “ 'Industry, and you will obtain the end of your wishes." And the Reporter then presented the Plan of certain Resolutions for prohibiting, or (as he expresses it) for continuing the Prohibition on the Importation of British Goods; and on this Report was founded the Law of the Ioth Brumaire.
About the same time, the French Directory, by a Message to the Council of Five Hundred, called upon that Council to pass severer Decrees against the importation of British Merchandize and Manufactures into France and Flanders. — They acknowledge, that every effort is made in vain, to “ hinder the introduction of English « Merchandize, if no steps are taken to prevent their « consumption in the interior of the Republic,” - They recal to the attention of the Council, a Law passed early
* This word, Privation, is of itself an acknowledgement, on the part of the French, that they cannot conveniently dispense with the use of British Manufactures.
in the second * year of the Republic, for the same purpose, by the 4th Article of which, all persons who introduced or sold such Merchandize, should be deemed Sise pected Persons, † and punished accordingly, pursuant to a former Decree. — And they conclude their Message with the following words—« Would you deprive our Enemies “ of their great Resources for carrying on the War against
? Would you force the British Government to treat « sincerely for Peace? One of the most powerful means “ of promoting this great end of Public Prosperity, would « be to take the most efficacious measures for prohibiting, « until the return of Peace, the Sale or Consumption of “ English Merchandize, in every part of the Republic.”
In consequence of the proceedings before stated, the famous decree of the roth Brumaire was passed. By this, the Importation by Land or Sea, of all articles, either of the Manufacture or Commerce of Great Britain, is prohibited through all the extent of the French Republic. I
Our Readers will observe, by these expressions, that even so early as the Second Year of the Republic, and long previous to the Law of which we are now giving some account, there existed a severe Law, prohibiting the Importation of British Merchandize.
+ We need not remind our Readers, what is the true meaning of the words “ Suspected Persons," and how severe the punishment annexed to this description of persons was.
I There is, in the 5th Article, a minute description of the several species of Goods so prohibited. No vessel laden with any of them, in whole or in part, is to enter the Ports of the Republic, unless forced by stress of weather, and in such case, is to be put under the strictest watch till she departs.
If any of these articles are brought in as Prize, or taken out of vessels shipwrecked, they are to be lodged in Magazines, under the inspection of Public Officers, till they are again exported. — All persons are forbidden to sell, or expose to sale, any such articles, and to
This Decree, however, did not pass without many
Pe. titions from the People of France against it: and it was
give notice that they are to be sold ; – all Signs, or advertisements, notifying an intention to sell any such articles, are to be taken down in twenty-four hours. — All persons having such articles in their possession, are to give notice to the Municipal Administration, who are to make an Inventory of them, to take measures for preventing the sale of them in the interior of the Country, and for securing their reexportation.
Violations of the before-mentioned Decree are to be punished with arrest; - the Criminal 10 be brought before the Tribunal of Correctional Police; - all Goods, and the vessels, carriages, horses, and beasts of burden, concerned in transporting them, to be confiscated; and the Delinquent is, besides, to be condemned to a Fine, not less than treble the value of the object seized, and to Imprisonment for a period not less than five days, nor more than three months. - In case of a repetition of the offence, the fine shall be doubled, and the Imprisonment for a space of six months. — The value of the Goods confiscated shall be given to the persons who seize them, deducting onesixth, which is to be given to the Municipal Administrators. - The names, surnames, ages, and places of abode, of the Violators of this Law, and their Agents, are to be stuck up in all Public Places, and inserted in the Periodical Papers, under the general title of “ Brokers of England, Destroyers of French Industry.” - Domiciliary visits, of the strictest kind, are authorized to be made, for the purpose of discovering any articles of the above description ; - not only the Officers of the Customs, but all Public Factionaries, and the Military, are requi. red to exert themselves, in the strict execution of this Law.
We may perhaps have tired our Readers, in giving so long an abstract of this Decree; but we thought it right to be thus particular, in order to convince the Public, that the present Measure of the Directory is not new; and that a prohibition of British Manufactures, through all the extent of the Territories of the French Republic, under the severest penalties, has been in force, at least from the 10th Brumaire, that is, the 31st of October, 1796; and yet the Morning Chronicle, who must have known of this Decree, and must have published some account of it at the time it passed, has now, with a view to impose on VOL. I.
then alledged, in the Council of Five Hundred, that a host of 50,000 Civil Officers would not be able to carry it into execution.
The French Government may pass Decrees of this nature, but they have not the power of executing them, as we shall proceed now to shew. — They perhaps never had even the intention to execute them.
It appeared, at the time of passing this Decree, by the Debates in the Council of Five Hundred, that several of its Members, even then, entertained suspicions of the sincerity of the Directory in this business: – In a subsequent period their suspicions increased :—They applied, by Message, to the Directory, conveying in strong terms their suspicions on this subject ;- several evasive answers were at first given, but the Council of Five Hundred forced them at last to an express avowal, that they themselves had violated this Law, and that they knew it was violated to a great extent, by their own Subjects.
By a Message from the Executive Directory to the Council of Five Hundred, of the 22d of August (or, as they call it, the 5th Fructidor) 1797, they acknowledge, that they are not ignorant of the “dreadful activity” with which Smuggling is carried on in the Departments of Mont Blanc, Aine, and the ci-devant Dutch Flanders, by armed bands of two or three hundred men, who break open and plunder the Custom-house Magazines, carry off the Goods seized and deposited there, and massacre the Officers. They acknowledge (or at least pretend) that their Generals, as well as their Officers of the Customs, are employed to en
the People of this Country, the impudence to call such a Prohibition of British Manfactures, one of the new measures of the French Directory.