Изображения страниц

would be, the attraction of an equal sum from all the neighbouring, kingdoms. Nor does there seem to be any neceffary bounds set, by the nature of things, to this practice of hoarding. A small city, like Geneva, continuing this policy for ages, might engrofs nine tenths of the money of Europe. There leems, indeed, in the nature of man, an invincible obstacle to that inimenfe growth of riches. A weak state, with an enormous treasure, would soon become a prey to some of its poorer but more powerful neighbours. A great ftate would dissipate its wealth on dangerous and ill-concerted projects;, and probably destroy, along with it, what is much more valuable, the industry, morals, and numbers of its people. The Auid, in this case, raised to too great a height, bursts and destroys the vessel that contains it ; and mixing itself with the surrounding element, foon falls to its proper level.'

After producing a variety of instances of vast sums amas fed by particular persons and states, towards the close this discourse he proceeds in the following manner. From these principles we may learn what judgment we ought to form of those numberless bars, obstructions and impofts, which all nations of Europe, and none more than England, have put upon trade ; from an exorbitant desire of amaffing money, which never will heap up beyond its level, while it circulates; or from an ill grounded apprehension of losing their specie, which never will fink below it. Could any thing scatter our riches, 'twould be such impolitic contrivances. But this general ill effect, however, results from then, that they deprive neighbouring nations of that free communication and, exchange, which the author of the world has intended, by giving them foils, climates and geniuses, so different from each other.'

The greatest part of our author's fixth discourse, in which he treats of the balance of power, is taken


with fhewing, that the idea of it is not entirely cwing to modern policy. He produces a variety of instances from antiquity to prove that the antients were not ignorant of it, and tells us that whoever will read Demosthenes's oration for the Megalopolitans, may fee the utmost refinements on the balance of power, that ever entered into the head of a Venetian or English Speculift.

Towards the clofe of this discourse he makes several observations on our national character and conduct, which we Thall present our Readers with in his own words.



has now, says he, for above a century, remained on the defensive against the greatest force, that eerr, perhaps, was formed by the civil or political combination of mankind. And such is the influence of the maxim here treated of, that tho' that ambitious nation, in the five last geneFal wars, have been victorious in four (those concluded by the

peace of the Pyrenees, Nimeguen, Ryswick, and Aix-laChapelle) and unsuccessful only in one, (that concluded by the peace of Utrecht) they have not much enlarged their dominions, nor acquired a total ascendant over Europe. On the contrary, there remain still fome hopes of maintaining the resistance so long, that the natural revolutions of human affairs, together with unforeseen events and accidents, may guard us against universal monarchy, and preserve thre world from so great an evil.

In the three last of these general wars, Britain has stood foremost in the glorious struggle ; and she still maintains her station, as guardian of the general liberties of Europe, and patron of mankind. Beside her advantages of riches and lituation, her people are animated with such a national spirit, and are fo fully fenfible of the inestimable blefsings of their government, that we may hope their vigour never will languish in so necessary and so just a cause. On the contrary, if we may judge by the past, their paffionate ardour seems rather to require some moderation ; and they have oftner erred from a laudable excess than from a blame. able deficiency.

In the first place, we seem to have been more poffeft witłr the antient Greek spirit of jealous emulation, than actuated with the prudent views of modern politics. Our wars with France have been begun with justice, and even, perhaps, from necessity ; but have always been too far pushed, from obstinacy and passion. The fame peace, which was afterwards made at Ryswick in 1697, was offered so early as the ninety-two ; that concluded at Utrecht in 1712 might have been finished on as good conditions at Gertruytenberg in the eight ; and we might have given at Frankfort, in 1743, the same terms, which we were glad to accept of at Aix-la-Chapelle in the forty-eight. Here then we fee, that above half our wars with France, and all our public debts are owing more to our own imprudent vehemence, than to the ambition of our neighbours.

In the second place, we are so declared in our opposition to French power, and so alert in defence of our allies, that


they always reckon upon our force as upon their own ; and expecting to carry on war at our expence, refule all reasonable terms of accommodation.

Habent fubjectos, tanquam fuos ; viles, ut alienos. All the world knows, that the factious vote of the house of commons, in the beginning of the last parliament, along with the profest humour of the nation, made the queen of Hungary inflexible in her terms, and prevented that agreement with Pruffra, which would immediately have restored the general tranquillity of Europe.

? In the third place, we are such true combatants, that when once engaged, we lose all concern for ourselves and our pofterity, and consider only how we may best annoy the enemy. To mortgage our revenues at so deep a rate, in wars, where we were only accessaries, was surely the most fatal delufion, that a nation, who had any pretensions to politics and prudence, has ever yet been guilty of. That remedy of funding, if it be a remedy, and not rather a poison, ought, in all reason, to be reserved to the last extremity; and no evil, but the greatest and most urgent, Mould ever induce us to embrace fo dangerous an expedient.

« Thele excefles, to which we have been carried, are prejudicial ; and may, perhaps, in time, become still more prejudicial another way, by begetting, as is usual, the oppofite extreme, and rendring us totally careless and supine

ith regard to the fate of Europe. The Athenians, from the most bustling, intriguing, warlike people of Greecey finding their error in thrusting themselves into every quarrel, abandoned all attention to foreign affairs ; and in no contest ever took party on either side, except by their flatteries and complaisance to the victor.

- ENORMOUS monarchies, such as Europe, at present, is in danger of falling into, are, probably, deftructive to human nature ; in their progress, in their continuance, and even in their downfall, which never can be very distant from their establishment. The military genius, which

ago grandized the monarchy, foon leaves the court, the capital, and the center of such a government; while the wars are carried on at a great distance, and interest so small a part of the state. The ancient nobility, whose affections attach them to their sovereigns, live all at court, and never will accept of military employments, which would carry them to remote and barbarous frontiers, where they are diftant both from their pleasure and their fortune. "The arms of the state mult, therefore, be trusted to mercenary - VOL. VI.



strangers, without zeal, without attachment, without honour; read; on every occasion to turn them, against the prince, and join each desperate malcontent, who offers to pay and plunder. This is the necessary progress of human affairs ; thus human nature checks itself in its airy elevations : thus ambition blindly labours for the destruction of the conqueror, of his family, and of every thing near and dear to him. The Bourbons trusting to the support of their brave, faithful, and affectionate nobility, would push their advantage, without reserve or limitation, These, while fired with glory and emulation, can bear the fatigues and dangers of war; but never would submit to languish in the garrisons of Hungary or Lithuania, forgot at court, and sacrificed to the intrigues of every minion or mistress, that approaches the prince. The troops are filled with Croats and Tartars, Huffars and Cossacks ; intèrmingled, perhaps, with a few soldiers of fortune from the better provinces : And the melancholy fate of the Roman emperors, from the same causes, is renewed, over and over again, 'till the final dissolution of the monarchy.'

After a very short discourse on taxes, our author proceeds to treat of public credit; in entring upon which subject, he observes, tiat it was the common practice of antiquity, to make provision in time of peace, for the necessities of war, and to hoard up treasures beforehand, as the instruments either of conquest or defence, without trusting to extraordinary imposts, much less to borrowing in times of disorder and confufion : but that on the contrary, the modern expedient is, to mortgage the public revenues, and to trust that pofterity, during peace, will pay off the incumbrances, contracted during the preceeding war. After shewing that the ancient maxims were, in this respect, much more prudent than the modern, he proceeds to examine the confequences of public debts, both in our domestic management, by their influence on commerce and industry, and in our foreign transactions, by their effects on wars and negotiations.

He mentions two circumstances, arising from our national debts, that have a favourable influence on commerce and industry ; the first is, that they furnish merchants with a species of money, that is continually multiplying in their hands, and produces sure gains, besides the profits of their commerce ; that this must enable them to trade upon less profit; that the small profit of the merchant renders


the commodity cheaper, causes a greater consumption, quickens the labour of the common people, and helps to spread arts and industry through the whole society. The second is, that more men with large stocks and incomes may naturally be supposed to continue in trade, where there are public debts; which is of some advantage to commerce, by diminishing its profits, promoting circulation, and encouraging industry.

But in opposition, says he, to these two favourable circumstances, perhaps of no very great importance; weigh the many disadvantages, that attend our public debts, in the whole interior economy of the state : you will find no comparison betwixt the ill and the good that result from them.

First, 'tis certain, that national debts cause a mighty confluence of people and riches to the capital, by the great sums, which are levied on the provinces, to pay the interest of those debts, and perhaps too, by the advantages in trade above-mentioned, which they give the merchants in the capital above the rest of the kingdom. The question is, whether, in our case, it be for the public interest, that so many privileges should be conferred on Londor, which has already arrived at such an enormous size, and seems still encreasing. Some men are apprehensive of the consequences. For my part, I cannot forbear thinking, that though the head is undoubtedly too big for the body, yet that great city is so happily situated, that its excessive bulk caufes less inconvenience, than even a smaller capital to a greater kingdom. There is more difference betwixt the prices of all provisions in Paris and Languedoc than betwixt those in London and Yorkshire.

Secondly, Public stocks being a kind of public credit, have all the disadvantages attending that species of money. They banish gold and silver from the most considerable commere of the state, reduce them to common circulation, and by that means render all provisions and labour dearer than otherwise they would be.

Thirdly, The taxes which are levied to pay the interests of these debts, are a check upon industry, heighten the price of labour, and are an oppresiion on the poorer fort.

Fourthly, As foreigners possess a share of our national funds, they render the public, in a manner, tributary to them, and may in time occasion the transport of our people and our industry,

D 2


[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »