« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
clusion of the treaty of Utrecht. The principle of the treaty was to open the trade between the two countries, by removing as much as possible the reciprocal duties. But the merchants and trading companies took the alarm. The public opinion, by the assistance of the Whigs, overpowered the influence of the ministers, and the bill by which the eighth and pinth articles of the commercial treaties were to be sanctioned, was lost.
The arguments which prevailed on this occasion were, that in 1674 a committee of the most able merchants had considered the nature of our trade with France; and that it appeared, we lost every year a million of money by it.
Again: that we should lose our trade with Portugal by the preference given to the French wines; and that the trade to Portugal was invaluable.
These reasonings proceeded upon the supposition that no trade with any country was beneficial, unless we exported to that country more value in goods than we imported, and consequently received the difference in money : which was considered as the measure of the profit, and was called “having the balance of the trade in our favour.” But the whole of this principle of the balance of trade has been shown by Adam Smith to be a mistake.
It was also argued, that since our Revolution, the French had set up the woollen trade, and no longer took our woollens, and we had set up the silk trade, and no longer took their silks; and the inference was, not that both nations had done very unwisely, had each very improperly endeavoured to contend with the natural advantages of the other; and that the sooner a mistaken rivalship of this kind was at an end the better. But the inference was this, that England had thus saved and gained vast sums of money, and had employed an infinite number of artificers, who would be reduced to beggary if the importation of French goods were allowed, because the French had their work done for less money, and consequently would sell their commodities cheaper (Cob. 1212).
I mention these particulars for the sake of recommending to your attention, as I have before done, the study of political economy, the writings of Adam Smith.
Statesmen and nations may be distinguished for their knowledge of the great leading principles of civil and religious liberty; but they might also be distinguished for their knowledge of the great leading principles on which their agriculture and manufactures, their commerce, foreign and domestic, depends. Their progress, however, in the last subjects of reflection has been less than in the former; for it so happens that the first impressions and most natural conclusions of the mind on all such questions are erroneous. The public, therefore, always have been, and must always be expected to remain, liable to the most serious misapprehensions of their ultimate interests in affairs of this nature. In our own country, however, since the publication of the Wealth of Nations, our statesmen, and all persons of regular education, have been rendered totally inexcusable if they no longer understand the real principles of that production and that commerce, internal and external,
which occupies so much of their thoughts and contributes so much to their enjoyments.
It is quite necessary to observe, that those who are more particularly engaged in the business of our prosperity, our merchants and manufacturers, are little fitted by the habits of their lives for the comprehension of those abstract principles, distant views, and ultimate conclusions in which the science of political economy so peculiarly abounds; and it belongs more particularly to those who are men of influence and education to endeavour to comprehend, explain, and circulate the reasonings of philosophers on these important subjects. They who engage, either in private or public, in such meritorious labours, will find reason enough for the exercise of their patience, and will often receive the greatest obstruction from those very persons who might have been expected, from the occupations of their lives, to bave been both able and willing to furnish them with every possible assistance. But as the progress of knowledge on these subjects has now been for some time distinctly visible, all such more intelligent men have full as much reason to be encouraged as any of their fellow labourers in the service of mankind.
Hanover Papers, and Bolingbroke's Letter to Windham. The Hanover Papers for 1711 are interesting, as are the Stuart Papers for 1712, containing (among other particulars) the calumnies that were then propagated against Lord Somers, Prince Eugene, Duke of Marlborough, &c. &c.
The greatest difficulty with which the pretender had to struggle, seems to have been his religion. The scheme in contemplation was, if possible, to have called him over in the lifetime of his sister, Queen Anne, and in this manner, to have gradually introduced him to the throne. The Hanover Papers of 1713 are somewhat curious, so are the Stuart Papers of 1714.
To each of these sets of papers there is a sort of dissertation prefixed, which may be always read.
In the course of these papers, the merit of Harley appears (340, 379); he seems to have been considered by the agents for the Stuarts, as never entitled to their confidence; and it is on this darkness and hesitation, and the probability that it arose from a secret wish to serve the House of Hanover, that the chief part of this merit must be left to depend.
After these papers have been consulted, Boliogbroke's letter to Sir W. Windham should be read, not merely as a curious document from a most celebrated man, relative to the most important concerns of this period, but as one of the classic productions of our literature, and as the best specimen of an exculpatory narrative that can be found in our language. No better model can be offered than this, to those who would wish to form a style, of all others the best fitted for statesmen, whether speaking in the senate or writing in the closet; the best fitted, because it is of all others the most adapted to convey information to the man of business, and delight to the man of real and matured taste : nothing superfluous in the ornaments, nothing
unmeaning in the expressions; the whole clear, natural, and easy, moving on with a rapidity which never slackens, and a spirit which never languishes, and scarcely suffering the reader for a moment to reflect on the exact truth or propriety of the matter that is delivered.
Life and Conduct of the Duchess of Marlborough. Tuis publication contains a detail, chiefly of the duchess's merits with the queen; but it is still not without reference, and sometimes important reference, to the opinions of the times, and the changes that took place; and it is valuable as giving incidentally a general notion of the intrigues of the court of Anne, during a very singular era of the English history.
The style and thoughts indicate a clear, rapid, able mind, and are those of one bred in courts, and used to the world and its business. It is not favourable to King William, still less to Queen Mary, and shows very strongly the bias of Queen Anne's mind to the opinions and principles of the Tories. On the whole it is not long, sometimes important, and always entertaining.
Protestant Succession. “What party,” says Hume, “an impartial patriot in the reign of King William or Queen Anne, would have chosen amid these opposite views," views, which he states, “ may perhaps to some appear hard to determine."
In the old edition of these essays (the edition of 1754) may be found the following sentence, which involves a consideration which would have enabled any such impartial patriot to determine, without all the difficulty which Mr. Hume supposes. “For my part,” says Mr. Hume, “I esteem liberty so valuable a blessing in society, that whatever favours its progress and security can scarce be too fondly cherished by every one who is a lover of human kind."
This paragraph Mr. Hume afterwards thought proper to expunge; thinking, perhaps, that it would appear but a literary flourish, coming from a writer who was considered as the apologist of the Stuarts; or losing, perhaps, as he grew older, that quickness of sympathy by which sentiments in favour of liberty are happily rendered dear to us in all the earlier stages of our existence.
ANNE-UNION OF ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND.
THE great domestic event by which the reign of Anne was
distinguished was the union of the two kingdoms of England and Scotland. I am very desirous to recommend this subject to your diligence and reflection.
I will make a few observations, and endeavour to convey to you some general idea of the interest which belongs to it.
England has been connected with Scotland, with Ireland, with America. In each of these relations a sort of termination and crisis has at last taken place. In Scotland we adopted the measure of an union under the immediate apprehension of a rebellion ; in Ireland, after a rebellion, which had but too nearly torn the two countries asunder; in America the rebellion was successful, and we lost the country for ever. We have still another country with which we are connected on the other side of the globe, the immense continent of India.
The political questions that arise from the connexion of nations with each other seem to me among the greatest that history or that human affairs can ever present to you. Such connexions of different nations have often occurred, and will never cease to occur, in the annals of mankind. Spain has been connected with Portugal; both kingdoms with South America; France with America and the West Indies; the house of Austria with the Netherlands and Italy. By proximity of situation or by colonization kingdoms have been, and always will be, vitally dependent on the conduct of each other. The duties that hence arise are often very difficult, the best systems of policy not obvious. Happy would it have been, and would it still be for mankind, if something more of good sense and good feeling either had been or could
yet be introduced into the cabinets of their rulers, and into their own misguided understandings and selfish minds.
It is very true that when philosophy has exhibited all its reasonings and exhausted all its efforts, it is very true that the most serious difficulties will still remain on subjects like these; that the interests of connected nations cannot be entirely reconciled, nor their separate wishes be gratified. Nations must often be reduced to compound with evils, and at last to make such sacrifices as are necessarily accompanied with mortification and regret; but it is for political wisdom to encounter and reconcile men to these evils, to proclaim aloud that on these occasions nothing has happened at variance with the common necessities of our imperfect state.
The misfortune is, that nations can never submit to the circumstances of their situation in time, or with any grace or good humour. Human life, however, at every turn, and in every stage of it, is continually requiring from us a wisdom of this melancholy cast. It is the great discipline to which the Almighty Ruler of the world has subjected us through all the successive changes of our state, and all the affecting relations of our domestic feelings, from infancy to the grave. On all such occasions, on the small scale of our social connexions, and in what relates to ourselves, we submit to necessity; we compound, we balance, we understand what is our best wisdom, and we endeavour to practise it; the father expects not that his son shall for ever remain dependent on his kindness, and moulded by his directions; men with their inferiors, neighbours with each other, act always on a system of mutual sacrifices, reciprocal duties, and interchanged offices of sympathy and good will.
But on the larger scale of the intercourse of nations, particularly of connected nations, the same moral truths, though equally existing, are not so obvious, and when apparent, not so impressive. We are, therefore, fretful, ill-humoured, outrageous; we contend against reason, philosophy, and nature itself; forget the great rule of doing to others as we would they should do unto us; and after wasting our blood and treasure to no purpose, we at last sit down faint and exhausted, abandon our vain projects only because it is impossible to pursue them, and then leave it to the reasoners of a