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the first law in the national policy; and judging that the dominion of the land could not be preserved without possessing that of the sea, they made every effort to procure to the nation a maritime power of its own. They wished that the merchants should own as many ships, and employ as many native mariners as possible. To induce, and sometimes to force them to this application of their capitals, restrictions and prohibitions were devised. These affected not only foreigners, but natives; the interests of commerce were often sacrificed to this object. Trade was considered principally as the means of promoting the employment of ships, and was encouraged chiefly as it conduced to the naval strength of the country + Such was the system adopted by our ancestors to give vigour and effect to the maritime power of the nation: the laws they enacted were wise and comprehensive; that is, in Lord Verulam's nervous expression, "deep, not vulgar; not made upon the spur of a particular occasion for the present, but out of providence of the future; to make the estate of the people still more and more happy, after the manner of the legislators in an-tient and heroical times."
The war in which the country is engaged in support of its MARITIME RIGHTS-the additional number of ships and seamen, it is necessary to employ in various and distant stations, to protect his Majesty's dominions, and to preserve unsullied the lustre which adorns the naval annals of Great Britainforcibly point out the vital importance of the British carrying trade, and particularly that of the West Indies and the Fisheries, as constituting two of the most prominent features of the nursery of British seamen. The Newfoundland
See Bacon, Raleigh, Temple, Child, Lidiard, Law, Cary, Burchet, Anderson, Campbell, Postlethwaite, and all the other writers in support of this system they wrote for the country, not from interest, pique, or party motive. See also Dr. Johnson's introduction to the political state of Great Britain, in 1756.-" At present, amongst European nations, a naval strength, which is the portion of Great Britain, is more than ever of the greatest importance to sovereignty, as well because most of the kingdoms of Europe are not continents, but, in a good measure, surrounded by the sea; as because the treasures of both Indies seem but an accessory to the dominion of the seas BACON.
"The sea, which is our n mother (that embraces
fishery forms of itself a subject fit for separate consideration. The complaints which continue to be made of the interference of the American fishermen, shew the necessity in future negociations with the United States of excluding them from any participation in it: indeed, if treaties are contemplated to be renewed with the maritime powers of Europe on the principles of former ones, it does not appear how their subjects can be excluded from the enjoyment of these fisheries, and the other privileges which are conceded and granted to the subjects of the United States, if the former are to be put on the footing of the most favoured nation*.
It is considered unnecessary to urge further the national importance of this subject. It is correctly observed by Dr. Douglas †, "that the cod fishery is not only a considerable addition to the trade and wealth of Great Britain, but by the many men employed in catching and curing of the codfish is a good nursery for our navy and other navigation; the plantation trade, the fishery of Newfoundland, the coal trade, and the watermen on the river Thames, being the great nurseries or seminaries of our navigation."
It is, therefore,, "the policy of Great Britain to give her principal attention to MARITIME affairs; to carry on her own trade, in her own ships, directly to all parts of the world; and to encourage her fisheries in every sea: from these sources she may always hope to obtain A NAVAL FORCE adequate to guard her shores from hostile invasion, and to secure her domestic felicity, both public and private, firm and unshaken as the foundations of the island."
Le trident de Neptune est le sceptre du monde ‡.
These observations are offered to the public, with no other object, than from a sincere and disinterested wish to support the principles of that system, which enabled us, during a most arduous contest to triumph over all the naval powers
See the fifth article of the late treaty, in Appendix, No. 9. 2191
The last war.
"The numbers and native courage of our men, with the strength of our shipping, have for many ages past, made us a match for the greatest of our neighbours at land, and an overmatch for the strongest at sea." Sir William Temple's Miscellanea.
of Europe, and, by a statement of facts which are not perhaps generally known, to justify the Shipping Interest in their opposition to the American Intercourse Bill; to counteract the mis-representations which have been so industriously circulated on that subject; and to remove the prejudices which have been encouraged against the trade of the British Golonies in North America.
The present state of the West India planters, the British North-American colonists, and the British ship-owners, unfortunately proves, how dangerous it is to deviate from fixed and settled rules, which experience has shown to be wise and beneficial. It establishes the propriety of the observation of a great political writer, that "Ce n'est pas la fortune qui domine le monde: on peut le demander aux Romains, qui eurent une suite continuelle des prosperités quand ils se gouvernerent sur un certain plan, & une suite non interrompue de revers lors qu'ils se conduisirent sur un autre†,” and it points out the necessity of retracing those measures which have produced so much distress on these great commercial bodies. Permanent legislative regulations are essentially necessary to give energy and security to trade, and to create confidence in the people. The benefits which flowed from a steady adherence to the navigation and colonial system are evident, from the progressive increase of the trade, shipping, and manufactures of Great Britain, prior to the adoption of the suspending system, which its advocates are still anxious to extend, notwithstanding the evils which have resulted from it: "for, if every law of regulation, either of our internal or external trade were repealed, with the exception of those necessary for the collection of revenue," it is certain we could not rear or retain our seamen †, the grand support of our present pre-eminence, or preserve the country from falling even below the level of surrounding nations: therefore its extension "would" not, as represented, "be an • undoubted benefit to commerce, as well as to the community at large§."
, reject |
`Such mean, such dangʼrous counsels, which would blast
Your long establish'd honours, and assist
Buonaparte; who, it is asserted, is realising the dream of universal empire; his force declared to be irresistible, and contrasted with the total destitution of energy and genius, which is represented to be opposed to him; while the hand of † Providence is said to be manifested in the unusual concurrence of circumstances, which he has, with the most consummate art combined to rear and establish the military despotism under which the agonizing nations of Europe now groan. To what motive are such sentiments to be attributed? What tendency can they have, but to teach the people, that all resistance to his will is unavailing; "that all Kings shall fall down before him: all nations serve him;" and to render them dissatisfied and clamorous for peace, and so to humble Great Britain at the feet of France.
Alas! thy dazzled eye
Beholds this man in a false glaring light;
Which conquest and success have thrown upon him;
That strike my soul with horror but to name 'em ‡.
Upon the whole it is conceived, that the review which has been taken, in the preceding pages, of the resources of the British colonies in North America and of the depressed state of the Shipping Interest will not be altogether without its use, in the consideration which the present crisis
* Introduction to Mr Baring's Examination.
This allusion has frequently been made, and as variously applied by persons of opposite sentiments, which generally result from the difference of religious and political education. It is admirably expressed by an old English poet whose lines are peculiarly applicable to the present power, riches, and happiness, of Great Britain, as contrasted with the humiliated, pitiable, and degraded state of the European nations now under the controul of France. It was the leading argument, and constantly directed, for the two first ages of the church, against the Christians: after the Reformation, the church of Rome took it up, and pointed it with equal propriety, and, indeed, with equal success, against the Protestants!-See also Gibbon's Roman Empire, vol. 11.
Addison. Such is the character given by this admirable writer, of a Roman emperor: it applies with equal force to any other military despot, who disregards, like Buonaparte, the misery and deso lation he creates. Gaudetque viam fecisse ruinâ.
demands, of what measures should be taken not only to preserve our maritime ascendancy in its present high and palmy state, but to consider whether any of the indispensable articles we have hitherto imported from foreign countries can be raised or procured within the British empire. That his majesty's government have collected much important information on this subject, there can be no doubt: the nation, however, anxiously expects to reap the benefit of that knowledge, by seeing it concentrated and digested in such a shape as may render it generally and practically useful: and for this purpose, it is presumed a committee of the house of commons, appointed to investigate into the state of the corn,timber, and a few other branches of trade, would be highly beneficial, and give great confidence to the country, by contriving the means that the encouragement which the present circumstances of the war certainly gives to the improvement of the United Kingdom and the British dependencies, should be rendered permanent. All that is wanted, in that respect is that there should be some legislative assurance, that protecting duties, in the event of peace, shall prevent any extension and increase of British industry being rendered nugatory.
From the preceding observations it is obvious, the British West India planters are equally interested in the revival of the ancient system, as the British American colonists, and the British ship-owners; they have evidently one common interest, which they should consolidate, and by their mutual exertions endeavour to obtain a strict enforcement of our maritime rights, and a resumption of the navigation and colonial system, by which only they may hope to gain an amelioration of their present distressed condition. Any other means will prove inadequate, and the favourite scheme of admitting American*, or other neutral shipping generally, or even partially, into the British colonial trade, although it may afford a temporary relief to the planters, will render them more dependent on foreign nations; whilst it will enure to the serious injury of other great national interests, and ultimately produce depression on the naval power of the mother country.
The editor, having for many years studied to acquire a
*Mr. Baring's Examination, 167-also Petition to Parliament 12th March, 1807, from the West India planters. Cobbett's Debates, 9th vol. p. 88,