« PreviousContinue »
ing well balanced and diffused, is only decency and convenience, has perhaps as many, or more good than evil consequences attending it. It certainly excites industry, nourishes emulation, and inspires some sense of personal value into all ranks of people. What we want is to establish more fully an opinion of uniformity, and consistency of character, in the leading men of the state; such as will restore some confidence to profession and appearance, such as will fix subordi nation upon esteem. Without this, all schemes are begun at the wrong end. All who join in them are liable to their consequences. All men who, under whatever pretext, take a part in the formation or the support of systems constructed in such a manner as must, in their nature, disable them from the execution of their duty, have made themselves guilty of all the present distraction, and of the future ruin, which they may bring upon their country.
It is a serious affair, this studied disunion in government. In cases where union is most consulted in the constitution of a ministry, and where persons are best disposed to promote it, differences, from the various ideas of men, will arise; and from their passions will often ferment into violent heats, so as greatly to disorder all public business. What must be the consequence, when the very distemper is made the basis of the constitution; and the original weakness of human nature is still further enfeebled by art and contrivance? It must subvert government from the very foundation. It turns our public councils into the most mischievous cabals; where the consideration is, not how the nation's business shall be carried on, but how those who ought to carry it on shall circumvent each other. In such a state of things, no
order, uniformity, dignity, or effect, can appear in our proceedings, either at home or abroad. Nor will it make much difference, whether some of the constituent parts of such an administration are men of virtue or ability, or not; supposing it possible that such men, with their eyes open, should choose to make a part in such a body.
The effects of all human contrivances are in the hand of Providence. I do not like to answer, as our author so readily does, for the event of any speculation. But surely the nature of our disorders, if anything, must indicate the proper remedy. Men who act steadily on the principles I have stated may in all events be very serviceable to their country; in one case, by furnishing (if their sovereign should be so advised) an administration formed upon ideas very different from those which have for some time been unfortunately fashionable. But, if this should not be the case, they may be still serviceable; for the example of a large body of men, steadily sacrificing ambition to principle, can never be without use. It will certainly be prolific, and draw others to an imitation. Vera gloria radices agit, atque etiam propagatur.
I do not think myself of consequence enough to imitate my author, in troubling the world with the prayers or wishes I may form for the public: full as little am I disposed to imitate his professions; those professions are long since worn out in the political service. If the work will not speak for the author, his own declarations deserve but little credit.
O much misplaced industry has been used by the
by other writers, to infuse discontent into the people, on account of the late war, and of the effects of our national debt; that nothing ought to be omitted which may tend to disabuse the public upon these subjects. When I had gone through the foregoing sheets, I recollected, that, in pages 58, 59, 60, I only gave the comparative states of the duties collected by the excise at large; together with the quantities of strong beer brewed in the two periods which are there compared. It might be still thought, that some other articles of popular consumption, of general convenience, and connected with our manufactures, might possibly have declined. I therefore now think it right to lay before the reader the state of the produce of three capital duties on such articles; duties which have frequently been made the subject of popular complaint. The duty on candles; that on soap, paper, &c.; and that on hides.
Average of net produce of duty on soap, &c., for eight years ending 1767
Average of ditto for eight years ending
Average of net produce of duty on can
dles for eight years ending 1767. . . £155,789 Average of ditto for eight years ending
Average net produce of duty on hides, eight years, ending 1767
Ditto eight years, ending 1754.
£ 21,016 This increase has not arisen from any additional duties. None have been imposed on these articles during the war. Notwithstanding the burdens of the war, and the late dearness of provisions, the consumption of all these articles has increased, and the revenue along with it.
There is another point in "The State of the Nation," to which, I fear, I have not been so full in my answer as I ought to have been, and as I am well warranted to be. The author has endeavored to throw a suspicion, or something more, on that saiutary, and indeed necessary measure of opening the ports in Jamaica. "Orders were given," says he, "in August, 1765, for the free admission of Spanish vessels into all the colonies." * He then observes, that the exports to Jamaica fell 40,9047. short of those of 1764; and that the exports of the succeeding year, 1766, fell short of those of 1765, abcut eighty pounds; from whence he wisely infers, that this decline of exports being since the relaxation of the laws of trade, there is a just ground of suspicion, that the colonies. have been supplied with foreign commodities instead of British.
* His note, p. 22.
Here, as usual with him, the author builds on a fact which is absolutely false; and which, being so, renders his whole hypothesis absurd and impossible. He asserts, that the order for admitting Spanish vessels was given in August, 1765. That order was not signed at the treasury board until the 15th day of the November following; and therefore so far from affecting the exports of the year 1765, that, supposing all possible diligence in the commissioners of the customs in expediting that order, and every advantage of vessels ready to sail, and the most favorable wind, it would hardly even arrive in Jamaica, within the limits of that year.
This order could therefore by no possibility be a cause of the decrease of exports in 1765. If it had any mischievous operation, it could not be before 1766. In that year, according to our author, the exports fell short of the preceding, just eighty pounds. He is welcome to that diminution; and to all the consequences he can draw from it.
But, as an auxiliary to account for this dreadful loss, he brings in the Free-port Act, which he observes (for his convenience) to have been made in spring, 1766; but (for his convenience likewise) he forgets, that, by the express provision of the act, the regulation was not to be in force in Jamaica until the November following. Miraculous must be the activity of that contraband whose operation in America could, before the end of that year, have reacted upon England, and checked the exportation from hence! Unless he chooses to suppose, that the merchants at whose solicitation this act had been obtained, were so frightened at the accomplishment of their own most earnest and anxious desire, that, before any good or