Abbildungen der Seite

were every where favourable to him ; and in the new Parliament Mr. Pitt had a decided majority. (Note 6.)

I will here close my chronological recollections. Whatever other remarks I may make, they shall be on subjects as they happen to recur to me,



From the Meeting of Parliament in March,

1784, to the Commencement of the French Revolution in July, 1789.

In 1786, Mr. Pitt established the Sinking Fund. While this measure was coupled with the pacific system, ít was extremely beneficial to the country. It raised the funds; it increased the value of land, and of every thing else; in one word, it gave every man the prosperity of a rising market. But when the pacific system was abandoned, the measure became injurious, because it enabled the Minister to increase the national debt with more rapidity.


Another measure which Mr. Pitt brought forward soon after, was a commercial treaty with France. This measure was also highly beneficial. I have always considered the Methuen Treaty with Portugal as injudicious. At the time when it was made, 1703, there were circumstances which might perhaps have rendered it advisable, but the perseverance in it has been unwise. To form a correct opinion on this subject, it is necessary to look back to the commercial state of Europe in the seventeenth century. At the commencement of that century, Holland possessed the East India trade, the fisheries, and the carrying trade of Europe. France was the principal manufacturing country. England had neither fisheries, nor the carrying trade, nor the East India trade, nor the West India trade, nor any colonies of importance; she had hardly any manufacture for exportation, except that of wool. She had neither the silk manufacture, nor the linen, nor the cotton, nor the hardware. Until after the great rebellion in 1641, England could scarcely be considered as a commercial state. Oliver Cromwell destroyed the freight trade of Holland, by the Navigation Act. The fisheries of Holland were ruined by other circumstances; first, from a considerable part of Europe having become Protestant, and relinquished the observance of fast-days; secondly, from the improvements in agriculture, which fürnished men with other animal food than fish during the winter season ; thirdly, from the establishment of the cod fishery on the banks of Newfoundland. The cod being a large fish, retains the quality of animal food, though it has been a long while salted; while the small size of the herring renders it in a short time a mere lump of salt. These circumstances have ruined the Dutch fishery. When we read in Sir William Temple's works, that the Dutch ememployed three thousand vessels in the herring fishery, we hardly credit it ; but other authors of that period give the same account.

The French were at that time the principal manufacturers of Europe. In Sir William Temple's account of what passed between himself and the Dutch ministers, while he was negotiating the Commercial Treaty with Holland in 1668, he tells us, that one of the Dutch commissioners proposed, that England and Holland should confederate, not to consume the manufactures of France; and then, added the Dutch commissioner, France will soon die of a consumption. But the Grand Pensionary De Witt, would not listen to the suggestion." Perhaps he had little reliance either on the. steadiness or good faith of Charles II. And he recollected the assistance which France had given to Holland, during the early struggles of that republic. It is a little curious that Buonaparte should have thought of the same means for destroying our opulence as had occurred to the Dutch Statesman with respect to France, in 1668. When we relinquished the consumption of French wines, and took in exchange the wine of Portugal, we exchanged commerce with twenty millions of industrious, opulent, and therefore much consuming people, for commerce with two millions of idle, poor, and consequently but little consuming people. As we have ourselves no growth of wine, we confer a considerable benefit on that nation from which we take our wine; and it must be our object that the wine which we consume should be paid for in our manufactures. I doubt whether Portugal takes manufactures from us to the value of the wine which we take from her. I consider the Brazil trade as distinct from the trade with Portugal.


« ZurückWeiter »