A NEW Trade being now to be ſet on Foot, and in a New Manner, with a Capital Stock, and by the Encouragement of the Government, it has been long expected when ſome Able Pen would have undertaken to guide the People of this unſettled Age how to think about it.
There has not been in our Memory an Undertaking of ſuch Conſequence, and ſo generally to be engaged in; nor has there been an Undertaking, about which the People, even thoſe who are to be concern'd have been ſo uneaſie, their Opinions of it ſo confuſed, and their Knowledge of the Manner and Circumſtances of it ſo ſmall.
There has not been an Undertaking in this Age introduced in ſuch a Method, againſt which ſo many People, upon ſo differing Foundations, are [Page 6] pleaſed (perhaps ſome of them hardly knowing why) to oppoſe themſelves: Before it was formed it had the general Suffrage of all Mankind, every Man talk'd of it as a Thing fit to be undertaken, worthy of the Encouragement of Parliament, Government, Queen and Nation: The omitting it was tax'd in Print as a Token of National Blindneſs, and a Want of Judgment in the Miniſtry or Managers of all the paſt Years of this War. The Advantages the French made of it were look't upon as the great Supports of the War to them, and what encouraged them to carry it on; and we were reckon'd unaccountably Negligent, in that we either did not make thoſe Advantages ourſelves, or prevent the Enemy from making uſe of them againſt us.
Several Publick Printed Pamphlets diſpoſed to ridicule the carrying on a War in Spain, have laid down this as the main Point, which the firſt Contrivers of that War ſhould have attempted in the ſtead of it, and have made a Jeſt of their Politicks for the Defect; and when the great Quantities of Silver which the French Squadrons, and Private Merchant Ships, have brought Home from the South-Seas have been ſpoken of, it has been frequently accompanied with Reflections, and a general Regret, that thoſe happy Advantages ſhould paſs by us▪ alledging, that the Engliſh Nation, who are ſo much better qualified every Way, both by their Manufactures to Trade with, Iſlands to Trade from, and Naval Strength to manage and protect that Trade, ſhould ſo long lye ſtill, and leave unattempted, a Trade, which in the Enemies Hand is ſo fatal to us, and which in our Hands might be ſo fatal to them.
[Page 7] Yet notwithſtanding all this, ſuch is the evil Genius of our Times, that now ſuch an Undertaking is ſet on Foot, either it is ſo ill digeſted, or the Perſons uſhering it into the World are thought ſo Diſagreeable, or Unskilful, or the Thing itſelf ſo ill placed in our View, that no Undertaking of the Kind has met with ſuch a Fate as this; and if it muſt go on, it ſeems throng'd with Difficulties, calculated to deſtroy it in its Infancy.
To enquire out this, to weigh duly the Subſtance of the Objections, and ſet the whole in a true Light, that we may determine whether this Trade is to be carried on, or no, is the Deſign of this Eſſay.
The Act of Parliament, which gives the Power and Limits the Extent of this New Trade, has given it Birth, and a Name, but has not in the leaſt directed in what Poſture the Perſons to be concern'd ſhall put themſelves, in what Manner they ſhall carry it on, how they ſhall proceed, or where they ſhall begin; nor was it neceſſary [Page 8] that this ſhould be made any Part of the Foundation, which principally belongs to the Superſtructer: The Power of an Act of Parliament was neceſſary to eſtabliſh a Company, to give them Excluſive Priviledges, to limit and reſtrain theſe Priviledges, and ſettle Bounds between them and other Trades; but how this Trade is to be begun, how carried on, where they ſhall fix their Footing, from whence to go on progreſſively to the End deſign'd, this is left entirely to the diſpoſe of the Body, to whom the Power and Priviledge of ſuch Trade is deputed.
Now, tho' in the Order of Things we ſee nothing can be objected againſt the Regularity of this Proceeding, yet this ſeeming on one Hand to leave the World in the Dark, as to the Manner of carrying on this Trade, has on the other Hand filled us with the Crude and Indigeſted, or Ill-digeſted Notions, and Gueſſes of the Town; every Man giving his own Opinion in ſuch a Manner, that from the Variety of Propoſals, which every one makes, from the Difficulties raiſed, and from the Objections brought up againſt the Manner of carrying on this Trade, we are now brought, by Unhappy Degrees, to all Manner of Confuſion of Thoughts about it, and from every Body laying down a Way how to carry it on, to every Body crowding in their Suſpicions, their Suggeſtions of this and that being Impracticable, and the other too Hazardous; one Way not Safe, another not Juſt, a Third not Feaſible and the like, as if becauſe ye are not at a Certainty which Way it ſhall be done, or which is the beſt Way to do it, that therefore it cannot be done at all.
Whether it be the real Opinion of theſe Objectors [Page 9] that the Thing is impracticable in itſelf, or whether ſome Men, for Reaſons worſe grounded, think it convenient, if poſſible to have it appear ſo, is not the preſent Debate; if the Miſt may be taken off by cool Reaſoning, and People brought to ſee by a clear Light, they will be the leſs influenced by the Deſign of any, who may find it convenient for other Purpoſes, that this Caſe ſhould be as much perplex'd as poſſible.
To this End this ſhort Tract is made Publick, in which, if the Caſe may be ſtated clearly, the falſe Gloſſes, Miſts and Shadows, with which this Age is amuſed, taken away, and the Prejudices of People on either Hand removed, perhaps we may come to a right Underſtanding of the Caſe: Having premiſed this by Way of Introduction, it ſeems naturally to lead the Reader to a View of the Doubts, now ſtarted among us about this Trade.
- 1. Whether this Trade to the South-Seas can be carried on, or no?
- 2. Whether the Manner of propoſing this Trade be Rational and Juſt?
It ſeems indiſpenſably neceſſary to enquire into theſe Things firſt, before we meddle with the Manner how it is to be carried on, ſince the Objections that ſeem moſt to perplex the Town now, whether by Deſign or no, are laid againſt the Thing in general, that it will come to Nothing that it is a Chimera, a Sham, has Nothing, in it, is Impracticable, will be Dropt again, was taken up to ſerve a Turn, and the like.
[Page 10] 1. They ſay the Scheme is Impracticable; that you propoſe a Thing not to be done; impoſſible in the general Notions of Trade; that this was not a Seaſon for it; that the Countries you propoſe to Trade with are in the Poſſeſſion of the French and Spaniards, our declar'd Enemies; that 'tis Time enough to talk of Trading thither when you have ſome of the Country in Poſſeſſion; that Conquering Nations is a Work which do's not belong to Merchants and Companies, whoſe Stock will be exhauſted by any Attempt of that Kind; that to talk of Trade before Conqueſt, and Conqueſt before any Attempt made, are equally ridiculous.
2. That when any Part of this Country may be taken from the Enemy and poſſeſs'd, it ought to be proved that the Enemy ſhall not be in any Manner able to diſpoſſeſs you again, to attack or moleſt you; in which Caſe Commerce and Trade will not only be interrupted, but entirely diſappointed.
3. That neither of the Nations who poſſeſs South America, viz. The French or Spaniards, will ever Capitulate with you, or upon any Terms, whether in Peace or War, conſent to a Free Trade, and therefore it cannot be expected that the Scheme as it is propoſed can anſwer the Ends of Trade.
4. That it's evident the Affair of Trade was not the main End of the Propoſal, but other Aims are couch'd under this Pretence, which other Aims are not pleaſing to the Parties concern'd, and therefore were gloſſed over with this pretended Advantage, to make them paſs the more eaſily and undiſcovered with the People; but that the Pretence being equally liable to Objection, as the Thing deſign'd, ſo both together render the [Page 11] Minds of the People more uneaſie than they were before.
The Second Queſtion lies againſt the Manner of propoſing this Trade, which they ſay is violent and unuſual, a Force upon the People againſt their Will, inconſiſtent with their Liberty, and that therefore it is entred upon with a general Diſſatisfaction, curs'd by them that are to go into it, hated by thoſe that refuſe it, and ridicul'd by all; that it is a meer Project of a Party, a Contrivance to ſerve the Turn they are carrying on by it, and to put a Face of Payment upon a Debt which they know not what to do with, and which made them uneaſie; and all this without a Reality, that they might ſtifle the Clamour of thoſe whoſe juſt Demands upon the Government could no otherwiſe be anſwer'd.
If the Objectors have not full Scope given them here in relating their Objections, it is only becauſe the Reproaches and Reflections which they ſtudy to ſet them off with, and which they very plentifully beſtow upon the Government, and upon the Perſons who they think are the Inſtruments of it, are left out, as Things which ſeem not to be neceſſary at all, either to make their Argument more forcible, or add to the Number of Reaſons; and this Omiſſion 'tis hoped they will excuſe in an Author who is not writing to reproach any Side, but to calm and quiet the Minds of every Side, and bring Things, if poſſible, to a clear and right Underſtanding.
The Reader will pardon the Breach of Order, if in ſpeaking to the Objections the latter come firſt in Courſe; becauſe, as they lye rather againſt the Part already acted Introductory to the South-Sea Trade, rather than againſt the Part that ſhall afterwards [Page 12] be acted, they ſeem to demand to be firſt ſpoken to.
In Order to this it may ſeem neceſſary a little Hiſtorically to enter into the Steps taken on every Hand to introduce this Affair into the World, and this without excuſing or accuſing one Side or other, may be ſufficient to give a right View of the Thing, and reſtore People to their Temper in judging about it.
1. A Vaſt Debt, which, whether by the Miſconduct of the former Managers, or by the Neceſſity of the Publick Affairs, is not to the Purpoſe here, was lying upon the Nation in the ſeveral Offices of the Navy, Victualling, Ordnance, &c. together with other Deficiencies, amounting to ſeveral Millions, which as Juſtice on one Hand called loudly upon them to make good, ſo on the other Hand the Publick Credit was touch'd by it; and if ſome Proviſion was not made for it, there was Reaſon to fear Parliamentary Credit would receive a Blow which would not be eaſie to recover; and which might be fatal to all the Schemes and Propoſals for Funds and Loans which might follow, ſince the [Page 13] People who had truſted the Government with ſuch Great Sums of Money would too much influence the future Lending and Lenders of Money, if no Care was taken to make Payment to them, whoſe Debts were ſo Juſt as well as ſo Great.
2. The Second Weight was, the long omitted Article of attacking the Enemy in that moſt ſenſible Part, from whence they deriv'd ſo eminently their Chief Support, and from whence the Sinews of War (viz. Their Money) were conſtantly Supplied to them, I mean their Colonies in America; the Omiſſion of which ſeem'd a moſt unaccountable Neglect in former Times, and Perſons, and the Attempting which ſeem'd ſo inviting at this Time on Two Accounts. Firſt, as it would interrupt the Advantageous Commerce of the Enemy: And Secondly, As it would open a Door of Trade to our People, which they never yet had Opportunity to meddle with, and this Occaſion being loſt we were not to hope for another.
Note, This laſt Notion is founded on the Treaty of the General Confederacy, call'd more commonly the Grand Alliance, wherein by the 6th Article it is ſtipulated,—That, It ſhall be Lawful for His Royal Majeſty of Great Britain, and the Lords, the States-General, by Common Advice, and for the Benefit and Enlargement of the Davigation and Commerce of their Subjects, to ſeize by their Forces what Land and Cities they can belonging to the Spaniſh Dominion in the Indies, and whatſoever they ſhall ſo take, ſhall be their own. Vid. the Treaty of the Grand Alliance, p. 68.
[Page 14] Theſe Two material Articles coming into Conſideration at the ſame Time, it came into the Heads of ſome, whoſe Thoughts were more eſpecially Intent upon applying proper Remedies to both theſe Maladies,—That perhaps ſome Method might be found out to Cure them both with One Plaiſter, or as we ſay more vulgarly, Kill both theſe Birds with One Stone. To exexplain it more fully.—A Scheme is formed, wherein it is ſuggeſted, that bringing both Caſes together, (viz.) the Debt which was to be paid, and the attacking the Enemy in America, which was neceſſary to be done, One might be ſo made aſſiſting and concurring to and with the Other, that Both might be with the more Eaſe effected and brought to paſs.
1. The Diſpoſſeſſing the French of the Footin [...] they had gained among the Spaniards; togethe [...] with gaining ſuch a Poſſeſſion in that Part of Am [...] rica, now call'd New Spain, as might anſwer th [...] Great End, (viz.) Pinching the Enemy in that mo [...] ſenſible Part, (viz.) the Fountain of Wealth a [...] Treaſure, by which, as before, they have be enabled to carry on the War. And
[Page 15] 2. The Planting our own People in thoſe Rich Climates, where, by laying a Foundation of Trade which was never yet ingaged in, Our Subjects might come to be enric'd, and made full amends for the Loſs of their Spaniſh Trade; and alſo the Channel of Silver which has hitherto flowed with ſo full a Stream into France and Spain, to the Support of our Enemies, might be turn'd, and might with the ſame Fullneſs and Freedom empty itſelf among our Merchants; and farther, the Settlements to be made there might be ſo many Magazines of Wealth to us and our Poſterity.
It is Unhappy that a Deſign big with ſo many Advantages has met with this Misfortune, that the joining together theſe Two, tho' great and juſt Proſpects, has been caſually and eventually the Ruin of both; not that we grant them yet ruined, but that the Difficulties ſtarted, and the Uneaſineſſes among us rais'd at the Beginning, are the Cauſes of ruinous Quarrels, Breaches and Clamours about it, which it is moſt eaſie to prove are founded upon the want of a right Underſtanding and Diſtinguiſhing the Caſe; by which alſo if perhaps in the contriving and joining theſe great Events together any Miſtake has been made, it might with Eaſe come to be rectified, without gratifying thoſe who ſeem glad of private Miſtakes, in order to puſh on the greater Miſtake, viz. The Deſign of rendring the Whole abortive and ineffectual.
In its Separate or Pre-exiſtent State, we find, as before, Two Things upon the Wheel; or to ſpeak more plain, the Miniſtry had Two Things upon their Hands, either of them neceſſary to be done, and both having their reſpective Difficulties in the Management.
1. The Debt of the Navy, Ordnance, Victualling, &c. It is no Part of this Work to enquire how the Government came to be embarraſs'd with ſo great a Debt unprovided for; whether the concealing it from the Nation ſo long, or the very being a Debt, may be laid to any Man's Door, or no, is not the Caſe here: Perhaps the Writer of theſe Sheets differs ſomething from every Side in his Opinion, and may reſerve that Opinion to defend thoſe who may be defended, and charge thoſe who may be charged, at another Time; at preſent it is of no Signification to the Point in Hand, and is therefore much better let alone than meddled with.
The Caſe of the Debt is evident; the Act for making Proviſion for it has ſet it forth at large; there remain'd due and owing great Sums, for which there ſeem'd to be no Parliamentary Proviſion made, other than the Credit of the Publick; and which there ſeem'd to be an abſolute Neceſſity to make ſome preſent Proviſion for, both as it reſpected the People concern'd, who were in Diſtreſs for their Money, and as it reſpected the Publick Credit, which began to ſuffer by the high Diſcounts allow'd on Sale of theſe Debts.
Not reckoning into this Account the Principal and Intereſt of Money Lent the Year before upon the General Mortgage, and the Intereſt of the Whole Sum from the 25th of March to the 25th of December, 1711, being Nine Months, both which Sums amount to One Million Seven Hundred Fifty-ſeven Thouſand Seven Hundred Fifty-three Pound Nine Shillings One Peny more.
[Page 18] A Vaſt Debt to be clear'd in One Seſſion of Parliament, and that in a Seſſion too, in which ſo great a Sum for the ordinary Service of the coming Year was abſolutely neceſſary to be given, and was given accordingly, amounting to above Six Millions Sterling, ſo that Incluſive of the Sum above Voted to be provided for, this Parliament were oblig'd to raiſe ſuch a Sum as never was heard of in the World, and ſuch a Sum as when talk'd of in Foreign Countries in the Dialect of their Finances will make ſuch a Sound as muſt amaze the World, and make them conclude, That a Nation which can raiſe ſuch Sums can never be ſubdued for Want of Money; let any Man but think of Fourteen Millions Sterling to be rais'd in One Seſſion of Parliament, making in Spain Seven and Forty Millions of Pieces of Eight, or in French Livres, or German Florins, above One Hundred and Sixty-four Millions.
Theſe Things are not hinted to enlarge the Sound of Words; but the Sum being really thus great, which was of Neceſſity to be rais'd ſeems to argue very ſtrongly with thoſe Gentlemen, who being Creditors to the Government in the Articles above, ſeem to quarrel the Manner of their being paid, viz. by an Eſtabliſh'd Intereſt, that they ought to have been paid in Money, tho' with Time; that they ſhould have been left to Payments in Courſe, and that they had Intereſt running on their Bills, and were better before than now.
Where I an utter Enemy to the very Name and Perſons of the Preſent Managers of Publick Affairs; were I bent to quarrel at all they did, becauſe they did it; were I to ſet apart a Pen dipt in Gall to aſperſe and reproach every Action of their Miniſtry, [Page 19] and reſolv'd as far as in me lay to be a general Evil Genius, to blaſt and ſcandalize Things for the Sake of Men, Men for the Sake of Parties, and Parties for the Sake of Prejudice, a Practice too much the Mode among us for ſome Years paſt; were this Paper, I ſay, directed by ſuch a Spirit as this, yet I could not find any Room in this Part of the Affair to raiſe the leaſt Objection; for I cannot ſee, ſpeaking with the utmoſt Impartiality, that in the Circumſtances of Publick Affairs as they then ſtood, the Parliament could do any Thing Leſs or More than they did.
The Demand was Great and Loud; the Sum was branch'd out into Multitudes of Hands, and thoſe Hands ſuch as being the Trading Sort of People, could not the beſt of any be without their Money; this was attended with ſeveral intolerable Evils.
1. It cauſed the Poor People to run to the Stock-jobbers, to the Man-eating Diſcounters, and Money-lending Extortioners, either to pledge or ſell their Bills; and the Payments in Courſe appearing every Day more and more Remote and Uncertain, thoſe Cannibals, for in ſome Sence they are ſuch, made every Day their Advantage of it to prey upon the Neceſſitous and Indigent People, till the Diſcount of theſe Bills came to near 40 per Cent. and the Tickets of Poor Sailors to above 50 per Cent. Diſcount, if Sold; and Loans upon them were worſe, they being not to be had under 10 to 12 per Cent. Intereſt, which in a few Years would ſwallow up the whole Debt, Principal and Intereſt, as is plain without putting [Page 20] the Reader to the Trouble to run over Tables of Calculation.
2. This every Day ſunk the Credit of the Navy, &c. ſo that the Rates of every thing riſing in Proportion to the Diſcount of their Bills, would ſoon have brought the Queen's Affairs to the ſame or a wo [...]ſe Poſture than his late Majeſty King William ſtruggled with when the Sum given by Parliament, thro' the Extravagance of Diſcount, Prices of Goods, and Deficiences of Funds, &c. were generally to be accounted in real Aid of the Publick Service to be not above One Third of what they were called in the Votes of the Houſe.
Theſe Things being before them, it is left to any one to conſider, whether the Parliament only giving Money for the ordinary Service of the Navy, Victualling, Ordnance, Tranſport▪ &c. every Year, and ſo leaving Payments to be made in Courſe, had been either Prudent or Practicable, ſince every Year the ordinary Service brought us in Debt farther than the Sums demanded by Accidents unforeſeen, and impoſſible to be provided for.
There might be much more ſaid, but it is left to the moſt diſſatisfied rational Man in the Nation to ſay, whether to have left the Caſe to Payments in Courſe, as above, had been any Thing elſe than juſt a putting off the Evil Day, and leaving the Debt as a growing Diſeaſe, which may at preſent be borne with, but will at laſt infallibly prove mortal, bring a ſlow, but certain, Death upon the Body▪ encreaſing every Day till at laſt it ſhould have been ſo great, that they could never have paid it at all. This I take to be the True, Impartial State of the Caſe at that Time, and therefore I ſay the Parliament could not have done Leſs than they did, (viz.) to bring the Debt to a Point: [Page 21] fix the Sum; eſtabliſh a Fund of Intereſt for the Payment and Annual Diſcharge of the Increaſe, that they might know what they were in Debt, and might hereafter take a convenient Occaſion, as the Publick Affairs would permit, to diſcharge the Whole.
To ha' paid neither Principal nor Intereſt muſt at laſt have made the Debt intolerably Great, reduc'd the Creditor to unſufferable Hardſhips, and in Time the Diſcount of thoſe Bills would have run at 70 and 80 per Cent. and the Offices would ha' been able to have bought no Stores or Proviſions at all, but what they muſt have advanc'd ready Money for, which ready Money either they would not have to pay, or the Payments in Courſe muſt entirely ſtop.
Let any Man judge this with Impartiality, and cenſure it if they can; I muſt own I do not ſee what the Parliament could do Leſs than they did in the Caſe of the Debt, (viz.) to put it upon a Fund for the Payment of the Intereſt, till Proviſion may be made for the Principal, which Principal it is evident they were not in a Condition to make a preſent Proviſion for; and this leads me to the Second Head, (viz.)
2. That I do not ſee what they could do More. There are but Two Articles in the Caſe of a Debt. 1. Payment of Principal. 2. Payment of Intereſt.—If the firſt cannot be done, the laſt muſt; this is only a Conſideration for the Party's ſtaying till the other can be done. No Man tho' he cannot pay a Debt can be call'd a Bankrupt, if he offers Security, and pay the Intereſt; it is no Reproach to the Nation or the Government to ſay they cannot pay this Great Principal Debt, at leaſt Now; but you are offer'd in the Nation's Behalf [Page 22] the Payment of Intereſt, and that Intereſt continued till the Principal be paid: So that in the Common Courſe and the Nature of Things the Nation is no Way to be term'd Bankrupt; the Debt is ſecured, and were there not ſomething elſe in it, this Payment would have been allowed to be very good; for why ſhould we tread on one another's Heels to purchaſe Annuities of Intereſt at but Six per Cent. and pay our ready Money with ſuch Eagerneſs for them; and yet refuſe the ſame Intereſt for a Debt which we would before have ſold for 30 per Cent. Diſcount, or perhaps had bought with that Allowance. This is a moſt unaccountable Paradox, and to conſider the Debt in its ſeparate Capacity it is really ſomething Myſterious on other Accounts, of which hereafter.
I might add here alſo to encreaſe the Wonder that the Settlement allows the paſt Intereſt to be caſt up, and to be added to the Principal, and the running Intereſt for the Future to be paid upon the Whole; ſo that the Creditor turns Uſurer upon the Government, and receives Intereſt upon Intereſt, which he had no Title to before; and which I mention, becauſe it will occur again to be ſpoken of, as being a full Equivalent to all that Advance, which can be recalled out of his Hands for the Stock of the South-Sea Company, of which by itſelf.
(2.) This brings us to the Conſideration of this Affair in its Complex Poſture, in its Conjoin'd Circumſtances; (viz.) as the Payment of this Debt is blended together with a Thing Foreign, ſay ſome, in its Nature Exotic, and remote to the Notions and Underſtandings of the Generality of the People particularly concern'd in this Debt; out of their Way, foreign to their Buſineſs, [Page 23] and conſequently Diſagreeable and Unſatisfying.
The Miniſtry, if I may venture to ſay ſo, I believe had quite other Notions of this Part of the Caſe, and annexed this Article to the other as an Additional Conſideration to the Debt aforeſaid, expecting no doubt that the Excluſive Priviledge of a Trade to the South-Seas ſhould be receiv'd with a particular Satisfaction, ſhould be valued at ſomething in the Rate of their Debt, and ſhould have made the Subſcription more worth to thoſe that ſubſcribed; that it was given in as an Encouragement to all People who ſhould hereafter Truſt the Government; that in Conſideration of their having been kept out of their Money, theſe Things were thrown in, both to gratifie and oblige them. (1.) The turning their paſt Intereſt into Principal, and, (2.) The giving them an Excluſive Trade to the South-Seas, a Trade ſo improved in the Hands of the French, and ſo capable to be improved in ours.
I am perſwaded, ſpeaking without the leaſt Reſpect of Perſons, the Projectors who contrived, the Government or Miniſtry who managed, nay, the very Parliament who granted this Act, underſtood this Caſe in ſome Meaſure as I have put it, and the Reaſons are theſe.
1. Becauſe really in the Nature of the Thing, abſtracted from Prejudice and Party, it ſeems that it is certainly ſo. How infinitely then does the Plague of Parties influence all our Affairs! And how does it change the very Nature and Conſequence of Things!
2. Becauſe, had they not conceived thus of it, they would never have tack'd it to a [Page 24] Thing of this Value and Conſequence, ſince I believe it will be readily granted, that either of theſe Things, (viz.) the ſettling a Fund of Intereſt for the Debt, and the erecting a Publick Company for a Trade to the South-Seas, would have been leap'd at apart by every one concern'd in the firſt, or capable of venturing in the laſt; and I think I do not ſpeak without Book in either of theſe.
It remains to enquire, why that, which in a ſeperate Conſideration is ſo clear, and without exception, ſhould fall under ſuch a general Diſlike when brought together; that there are ſome Reaſons to be aſſign'd, which are Invidious, Perſonal, and which the Author of this cares not to mention, is a Thing rather to be ſigh'd for than diſputed; but ſome Reaſons other than theſe may be hinted at.
2. The unhappy ſorting of the People, in the Conſequence of the Act, putting them upon the Trade, who are neither qualified by Circumſtances or Genius to it, and who by their Ignorance have brought themſelves to diſlike it, even becauſe they do not underſtand.
Both theſe I take to be Misfortunes to the Propoſers of this Affair; and yet both are Things, which, 1. They could not eaſily foreſee. And, 2. Foreſeeing they could not eaſily prevent, without putting all upon a Hazard.
[Page 25] 1. They could not eaſily foreſee it; for who could have imagin'd that a Thing ſo generally applauded before, which we had been blam'd ſo often and ſo publickly for neglecting, which our Enemies the French have made ſuch Infinite Advantage of, ſhould not be eſteem'd an Advantage to us? Or that, to oblige them all to an equal and proportion'd Subſcription would be taken as an Impoſition? I muſt own I'm againſt all Manner of Force, and think it had been better here left more to Choice; But how better? I do not mean better for the People, but better for the Miniſtry; that their Work had been eaſier, and the Popular Clamour leſs without it; for the Advantage propoſed is to the People, not to the Miniſtry; and the Force then is no more than as you would have forc'd a Child or a Lunatick out of a Houſe that was on Fire; and I rather put it thus upon a Suppoſition, that there is ſome Conſtraint, than argue, tho' the Caſe might hear it, ſtrictly ſpeaking, that really here is no Force at all.
2. But ſuppoſe the Miniſtry had foreſeen that the Notion of a Force, how much ſoever to our Advantage, is ſo Irkſome a Thing, that it would hazard the bringing the Propoſal into a general Diſlike. Since Liberty is ſo Nice a Thing that it ſhould not be touch'd upon, tho' it was never ſo much to the Advantage of the Perſon; yet I own I do not ſee how they could go forward (viz.) in joining the Two Propoſals, and leave the Thing more to Choice, than they have done.
Liberty is an Invaluable Priviledge, and no Man can in his right Underſtanding be eaſily able to be too careful of it.—I remember a Story [Page 26] of Two Engliſh Soldiers in Catalonia this very War.—The General finding that the Liberty our People took in eating Grapes, and other Luſcious Fruits in thoſe hot Countries, was very deſtructive to the Health of the Men, that it threw them into Fluxes and Fevers, and deſtroyed great Numbers of them, made an Order that none of the Men under great Penalty ſhould eat any Grapes.—Two Engliſh Soldiers had tranſgreſs'd the Order, and carried the Puniſhment along with the Crime, for they fell into a Flux, and were dangerouſly III.—The Officer order'd them to be brought before him, in Order to puniſh them: One of the Men anſwer'd, ‘'The General may e'en let us alone, for we ſhall not trouble him long. However, Sick as they were, Orders in the Army muſt be obſerved, and they were brought before him, for go they could not. The Officer ask'd them how they durſt eat Grapes when they knew the Order▪ the Fellow boldly told him, That in all his Orders as to the Service they had obeyed punctually, and never tranſgreſt; but in this, a [...] what concern'd themſelves only, they were Engliſh men and Freemen, and thought they ought to be at LIBERTY to Kill themſelves whenever they had a Mind to it.'’
Indeed upon theſe Nice Principles of Liberty here may be ſome Force alledged, but in the main it cannot be ſo properly called Force; becauſe every Man that does not think fit to come in may remain in the State he was before; nor do I think that State is or can be made Worſe than before becauſe other Proviſion than a Parliamentary Fund of Intereſt could never be made, or be expected to be made; and if I judge right of the Additional Article, which they call the South-Sea [Page 27] Stock, which is reckon'd an Incumbrance, it ſtands upon this Foot, (viz.) that it takes nothing from the Subſcription which it does not firſt add to it; becauſe the Intereſt which is paid by this Subſcription upon the Arrear of Intereſt allowed to be added to the Principal, amounts in Time to much more than the 10 per Cent. which is to be called in by the Company to form the Stock for Carrying on the Trade.
Perhaps this has not been much thought of by thoſe who complain of the Hardſhips that this Trade is to them; and this may be farther improved by ſuch whoſe Buſineſs it is to defend the Propoſal in General: Theſe Sheets are not prepared to defend one Side againſt another, but as far as is poſſible to ſet the Matter in a clear Light between both, that they may ſee for themſelves what it is proper to do or ſay in the Caſe.
It ſeems very unhappy to this Nation that ſuch Uneaſineſs, and ſuch Strife, and Clamour, and Party-making, ſhould be among us, about not the Things themſelves, but the meer joining them together, ſince, as it is noted before, take them aſunder, and I make no Doubt but we ſhould be very ready to embrace them both: I explain my ſelf thus.
I cannot think but that all the Perſons concern'd in the Debt upon the Navy, Tranſport, Victualling, Ordnance, &c. whoſe Debt was in the Poſture and Condition as was before obſerved, would have been very well contented and ſatisfied with an Act of Parliament eſtabliſhing a Fund of Perpetual Intereſt at 6 per Cent. for their Debt till the Principal ſhall be paid, and would have taken it as a very great Advantage to have the Arrear of Intereſt added to the Principal [Page 28] Debt; had the Act gone no farther than this, I firmly believe every one had been fully ſatisfied and thankful: My Reaſons for it are theſe.
1. Why ſhould we not think ſo when we reflect on the precarious Condition of thoſe Debts before? (1.) How impoſſible to be paid in many Ages by the Courſe of the Navy? (2.) How certain to encreaſe every Year by the ſame Neceſſity that brought 'em to the Height they were at.
2. Why ſhould we not think ſo when we reflect how well content People were with the like Method? Tho' with but 4 per Cent. Intereſt in former Caſes, as in that of the Orphans Debts in the City of London, and how long and earneſtly the Creditors of the Exchequer Debt have been ſoliciting for the ſame Grace, in either of which Caſes the Debt was not leſs Juſt, or more unlikely to be ſome Time or other paid than this: But if theſe are thought remote Inſtances, there are other nearer our View which I need not name▪ Let ſuch as queſtion this look back to our Old Tranſport Debt, Parliamentary Deficiencies, Loans on Coals, and Culm, Glaſs, &c. Iriſh Eſtates Army Debentures, and many other the Odd Ends of the late Wars; for which, during the long Solicitation in Parliament, and at the Treaſury, this uſed to be the Plea, If they cannot pay us the Debt, let them give us a Fund for the Intereſ [...] and we are ſatisfied, then we can ſell it, then we can make ſomething of it.
3. Why ſhould not we think ſo when we ſee, as is hinted above, Annuities ſettled on Funds of Intereſt at the ſame Rate, or rather lower? And which Annuities are but juſt the ſame Thing a [Page 29] this, ſo eagerly purchaſed with ready Money, ſo eaſily filled before the very Signing of the Act, and bought afterwards at the Advance of a Year's and a Year and half's Purchaſe.
Theſe are ſome of the Reaſons why I think had this Fund of Intereſt ſtood by itſelf as a Security for the Payment of this Debt, adding the Arrear of Intereſt to the Principal Debt, and turning the Whole into an Annuity of 32 Years at 6 per Cent. with the Principal Money to be then repaid, nay, tho' the Principal Money had been then to ſink, it would gladly have been accepted.
Now let us ſee the Misfortune of our Diviſions and Breaches among ourſelves which occaſions all this Murmur.—The Annexing to this Fund of Intereſt, the Priviledge of this Trade to the South-Sea, to be carried on by a Stock to be raiſed upon 10 per Cent. only of this Debt; and even this 10 per Cent. obtain'd in the Subſcription over and above the Debt by giving an Intereſt upon the Arrear of Intereſt in the Debt. This is the Fly in the Sweet Ointment of the Apothecary, which cauſes it, however healing in itſelf, to ſend forth a ſtinking Savour.
Now it would be enquired here why this was added by the Government? Was it for ſome Gain the Miniſtry were to make of it? Or, Was it given in as a ſuppoſed Advantage to the Subſcribers, to encourage them, and to make amends, for the Loſs they ſuſtain'd by being out of their Money.
As to any Advantage to the Government by granting the Priviledge of a Trade to the South-Seas, and erecting a Company for that Purpoſe, [Page 30] I ſhall give full Space for any one that can to ſet thoſe Advantages down: I profeſs myſelf ignorant of any real Advantage made by it, no, not One Farthing to the Government, or to the Miniſtry, either Publick or Private:—If there is any ſuppoſed Advantage in the putting that Part of the Stock which remains in the Treaſury into a Form, ſo as it may be paſſed in Payment, &c. as it now is; I anſwer, this is no Advantage at all, becauſe the ſame would have been made in the Annuities or Funds of Intereſt without it, and perhaps more to the Satisfaction of the Receiver, as well as to the Credit of the Payer; and therefore this cannot be placed to the Account of the South-Sea Trade, or brought as a Reaſon why the Government joined it to the Intereſt of the Debt: Nor indeed upon the ſtricteſt Examination can I find that ever any Advantage was pretended either by the Miniſtry in propoſing it, or charg'd upon them by the Objectors to it; but that truly and bona fide the Miniſtry propoſed this meerly as an Advantage to the Subſcribers; as an Encouragement to the People concern'd, and as a Means to promote a Trade which might be in the End ſo glorious to the Nation, ſo profitable to the Parties concern'd, and ſo manifeſt a Foundation of the Increaſe of Wealth and Commerce to the Whole. If there are any other Clauſes of Advantage to the Government than theſe, I muſt own they are laid out of my Sight; nor I believe can the greateſt Enemies of the preſent Project find them out, at leaſt I have never heard them aſſign'd, and ſhall ſay more to it when I do.
[Page 31] On the other Hand, had the Miniſtry propoſed ſuch a Trade by itſelf; had Books been laid open in the City for a Voluntary Subſcription of a Stock to carry it on; had the Adventure been propoſed with the Favour, and under the Protection, of the Government, with all its Hazards, with all its ſuppoſed Impracticable Parts; had the Priviledges and Limitations of the preſent Act been offered, What think you, Gentlemen Objectors? Will you ſpeak your Thoughts Impartially, without Party Prejudice, under this Miniſtry, or any Miniſtry? Would it ha' been rejected? Would not any Sum ha' been ſubſcribed? Would Adventurers ha' been found, or no? I am perſwaded no Man will ſay it would ha' failed; no Man can doubt it, if they will conſider the forward Humour of the Age in New Adventures; or the long Interruption of Trade by the War, which has left the Merchants of this City and Nation leſs Room to extend their Commerce than formerly; if they conſider the Fluſh Stocks which our Trading People are furniſhed with, and their Readineſs to launch out, where there are probable Advantages: Theſe Things conſidered, there can be no doubt but ſuch a Propoſal ſtanding by itſelf had been very well reliſhed by the Generality of our People; nay, I will not ſay but they would have purchaſed the Priviledges and Protection, now ſlighted, with the Advance of Money, as was done in the Eaſt-India Trade, and has been offered in others. Nor am I alone, I believe, in my Opinion.
But have we not ſomething then Peculiar in the Fate of this Nation, which an indifferent [Page 32] Man muſt needs lament, that the Surface of Affairs can ſo much alter our Temper, and that our Judgments are ſo over rul'd by our Prejudices, that we cannot approve of that join'd together, which we would ſo freely embrace if offered apart? I am not writing Satyrs here, nor pleading for a Party, if I were I ſhould take ſome Freedom on both Sides; I ſhould perhaps reproach thoſe People who will reject Publick Advantages for the Sake of Private Prejudices; and becauſe they cannot go along with the Publick in all their Proceedings, will not therefore go along with them in thoſe wherein the general Good is evidently carried on.—I ſhould, on the other Hand, perhaps ſay, that the joining theſe Two Unhappy Happy Thoughts together was no Token of making a right Judgment of the Temper of our Times, and the only Cauſe of the Diſorder that has happened among us upon this Head.
Unhappy Conjunction! That Two Good Things ſhould make One Bad One; Two Things equally Happy aſunder, Advantageous, Pleaſing and Profitable, apart, but put together pleaſes every Body the leſs, and hardly and Body ſo well as they would do aſunder.
If any Man enquires why this is ſo? Why that, which in itſelf is Agreeable, Uſeful, and Profitable, ſhould not be ſo when join'd with another Thing equally ſo? Anſwer might be given ſeveral Ways, in Brief thus.
1. The Thing is Party-curſt, it is attack'd by a Variety of Claſhing, Quarrelling People; ſome [Page 33] cry it ſo much up beyond its real Merit, and others run it down ſo far below, that the Strife has rendred it a Bone of Contention.
2. Some find fault with it, becauſe they do not underſtand it, and ſome becauſe they think they do;—and the Multitude of Inquirers on one Hand, and Expoſitors on the other; ſome asking what it is, who know well enough before; others pretending to tell them what it is, while they know nothing of it themſelves; by this the Text is rendred Intricate, which in itſelf was plain enough, and we amuſe ourſelves with Difficulties where there are none.
3. The Project and the People are unhappily ill ſorted, by putting the Trade as an Appendix to the Debt; had the Debt been ſettled on a Fund, as above; had Six per Cent. been allowed for Intereſt till the Principal had been paid; or had they added One per Cent. more, and ſunk the Principal, the People had gone away well ſatiſfied, and they had ſold for the full Value; if the Government had had any reſerved Stock of them they would ha' been as Current as Chequer Bills, and might ha' been iſſued out on any Account whatſoever; but clogg'd with this South-Sea Trade, like Two Men in the Water, who are but Young Swimmers, alone they might make ſhift to get out well enough, and People at Hand would help them; but claſping together they ſink out of reach, and drown one another.
So of the Trade, it falls among People unacquainted with Trade, that have no Occaſion to venture to Sea, underſtand nothing of Merchandizing, [Page 34] and therefore they cannot think of it with any Temper. Butchers, Graſiers, Cheeſemongers, Ship chandlers, Carpenters. Smiths, (and other Handicrafts,) Brewers, Bakers, Coopers, and the like, and an infinite Number of theſe; to talk to theſe of a South Sea Trade is to talk Hebrew and Arabic: Like Eſop's Cock, they ſpurn the Diamond with Contempt, and will ſell Two of them for an Handful of Barley.
The Annuity is the worſe for the Stock thus far▪ (viz.) that 10 per Cent upon the Original Stock is liable to be call'd for, to be ſet apart as a Stock for carrying on a Trade to the South-Seas; ſo far you may ſay the Annuity is the worſe.—But then this is alſo upon a Suppoſition that this South-Sea Trade ſhall entirely miſcarry. And theſe Objections lye againſt that Suppoſition.
1. If it does miſcarry it does not follow that they muſt run out all their Stock; there are Inſtances [Page 35] of many Undertakings in Trade, where the Parties finding a Stop to the Proſpect, or an Improbability of Succeſs, have laid it down with little Loſs, perhaps. One Quarter loſt, or more; and is all this Clamour worth while for the Hazard of 2 and 1/2 per Cent. ſuppoſing it ſhould imſcarry; for it does not follow they muſt wind off all the Bottom; it is very probable the Company will ſee whether they are likely to ſtand or no, get or loſe, hold or fail, before they have run out One Quarter Part of ſo great a Stock as is propoſed to be adventured here.
2. If it ſhould not miſcarry, but the Trade be eſtabliſhed and thrive, all this Argument is then at an End; then happy would be the Day that the Stock was Subſcrib'd, happy the Thought that laid the Scheme; and he that cries it muſt down, now flatters us then ſooneſt with his good Opinion of it, and pretends he thought ſo from the Beginning; nor can the Trade be then the worſe for the Annuity.
But how can this be, ſay the Objectors? Succeed! It cannot ſucceed! the Thing is not Practicable, the Door is not Open for a Trade; to ſet People to trade now, is as if the Government wanted more Confederates, and were to incorporate a Body of Men to make War, not to Trade; that the New Company ſhall join in the Grand Alliance; and, like a little Republick, help to carry on the War; that we muſt fight our Way thro', and trade au coup de Canon. A Trade! ſays One, It muſt be a Trade in Blood, we ſee no other Trade in view; for let which Party ſoever prevail the Trade muſt be carried on by Force; neither King Philip, nor King Charles, will let their [Page 36] Subjects Trade with you but by Force, on Pain of the Gallows, and with all poſſible Difficulty and Hazard. It is therfore but an Amuſement of Trade, ſay they without any Reality; and this being ſo viſible a Colluſion, they tell us, makes all the reſt be ſuſpected, and is a great Argument of the General Diſlike.
And thus I am brought to enquire, as in the Title, Whether this Trade is to be carried on, yea, or No? Whether in Reality ſuch a Trade is Probable or Feaſible? Or, Whether it is Impracticable, and not to be attempted but with a Folly next to Lunacy, which is ſuggeſted.
To come at this Queſtion in a Poſture that may render the Anſwer intelligible, it ſeems neceſſary to ſtate the Thing itſelf queſtion'd about, and to lay down in as clear Terms as poſſible what this Thing call'd the South-Sea Trade is; what it means as it is now vulgarly accepted; and what we are to underſtand by it.
1. An Open, Free Commerce of the Britiſh Nation to and in the ſeveral Ports and Places of America, poſſeſs'd by the Spaniards, either ſuch as are, or ſhall be, Reduced by us, or by King Charles III. with Liberty to carry our Manufactures and Merchandizes, Ships and Factor, thither directly, without Stop in Old Spain, and to lade, return and bring back from thence ſuch Goods as ſhall be purchaſed there; and in ſhort, to Trade thither as the French do now with the Spaniards under King Philip, or as we do to the Eaſt-Indies.— [Page 37] And in this Senſe I think it can be no Offence to ſay this Trade can never be Carried on.
2. Or, We are to underſtand a Settling in ſome Part of the Spaniſh Dominions in America, whether by Way of Conqueſt, Factory, or otherwiſe, as by the 6th Article of the Grand Alliance (quoted before) we are allowed to do; and keeping the ſaid Settlement as our own, erect there a Free Market for our European Goods; the Spaniards having Free Acceſs to come thither to Buy, and we having Liberty from thence to trade to their Dominions above.—And in this Senſe it is as Impracticable to carry on this Trade as in the other.
3. Or, by a Trade to the South-Seas, we are to underſtand our Seizing ſome ſuch Part or Place in America, whether already poſſeſs'd, or not poſſeſs'd, as we ſhall think proper, and taking it as our own, by Virtue of the Treaty above noted, to ſettle, plant and inhabit the ſame as a Colony, erecting there ſuch Trade with the Adjacent Countries, whether Spaniards or others, and improving the Native Fruitfulneſs of the Place as much as poſſible, taking at the ſame Time all Opportunities to open a Trade with the Spaniards as much as Circumſtances will admit, and which there is no Queſtion will be conſiderable.—And this is the Way a Trade may be carried on.—This I am of the Opinion is the Way of Trade the Government propoſes, and what they mean by a Trade to the South-Seas; and this is ſo far from being little or inconſiderable, however it may be leſs than the Golden Mountains ſome People have form'd Notions of in their Imagination, [Page 38] that this Trade is not only probable to be Great, but capable of being the Greateſt, moſt Valuable, moſt Profitable, and moſt Encreaſing Branch of Trade in our whole Britiſh Commerce, well worth all the Hazard, Adventure, Expence, and Pains of the Undertaking; ſufficient to encourage us in the Proſpect, and reward us in the Execution; a Trade, which had it been offer'd to the Merchandizing Part of Mankind, who underſtood Trade, who were employ'd in Commerce, and accuſtom'd to Adventures, and not unhappily join'd in and tied down to a Rabble of caſual Subſcribers, neither inclin'd to, capable of, or in the leaſt having a Genius to trade, it would no doubt have met with another kind of Reception than now it has.
It were to be wiſht that in order to ſet Things right among us, People would give themſelves leave to diſtinguiſh a little between what is, and what is not, the Deſign in this Thing, called the South-Sea Trade, and between what may be done, and may not be done, that we may not preſently argue ourſelves out of all the Trade becauſe we have not the Gates of Mexico opened to us. This is no Part of the Thing, the very Word South-Seas in the Act of Parliament denotes otherwiſe, the Words find out and diſcover mention'd in the Act tell us otherwiſe.
We are to find out or diſcover ſome Place or Places in America, where we may fix and ſettle a Britiſh Colony, which by the Treaty is to be our own; and is not this enough? Will not Trade fall in? Will not the Country produce to us as well as to the Spaniards? Are we leſs induſtrious [Page 39] than they; if we fix in a barren Spot that's our Fault, but why not ſomewhere among the Gold, the Silver, the Drugs, the Indico, Cocoa, Cocheneal, and the like, as well as they; and being ſituated here, fixt, and ſettled, can we want a Trade? Did any Man think all we were to do was only to carry Goods to Cartagena and Panama, and bring home Money? This bears no Proportion to the Deſign, nor is of a Duration worth our depending upon; for it would be every Day in the Power of the Spaniards to put an end to it, and prohibit it again. But our Buſineſs is to ſeize and poſſeſs, mark the Word in the Article of the Grand Alliance, and to keep it for our own.
This is then what we are to underſtand by a Trade to the South-Seas, (viz.) that we ſhall, under the Protection, in the Name, and by the Power of Her Majeſty, Seize, Take▪ and Poſſeſs, ſuch Port or Place, or Places, Land, Territory, Country or Dominion, call it what you pleaſe, as we ſee fit in America, and Keep it for our own, Keeping it implies Planting, Settling, Inhabiting, Spreading, and all that is uſual in ſuch Caſes: And when this is done, what are we to do with it? Why, we are to Trade to it, and from it; Whither? Where-ever we can with Spaniards, or any Body that will Trade with us; and it is not ſaying we ſhall have no Trade with the Spaniards, when we ſay they will not ſuffer their People freely to Trade with us; but let the Engliſh get a good Footing on the South-Sea Coaſt of America, and let them and the Spaniards alone for Trading with one another, let the King of Spain prevent it if he can.
[Page 40] This is what I am willing to have called the True Deſign of this South-Sea Company; and I am the rather ſo, becauſe I have ſeen no Scheme, nor can I form any Scheme in my Thoughts upon any other Foundation that is Feaſible in its Nature, or Practicable in any of its Parts.
The Contrivers of this Undertaking know too well the Temper, Conſtitution, and State of Affairs, of the Spaniards in America, to have promis'd to themſelves, that by any Treaty, Capitulation, or Stipulation, either in New Spain or Old, they will ever be brought to lay open the Trade of their Indies to the Engliſh, or indeed to any Nation of the World.
Perhaps they might be brought to admit a Trade to particular Places for Proviſions, Fiſh, Corn, or ſuch Things as they may more particularly want in thoſe Places for the Subſiſtence of their People: Or, they may be brought to treat with you for an Aſſento or Permiſſion to bring Negroes to them; a Thing more proper for the African Company than any other; and the Reaſon for that may be only becauſe they know not where elſe to have them. But that they will permit you to a Free Importation among them of your European Manufactures, and Exportation of Bullion from them, is ſo contrary to the Nature of their Trade, ſo deſtructive to their own Intereſt, and would be ſo fatal to the very Life and Being of the Spaniſh Dominions in Europe, I mean as to Commerce, that unleſs the Spaniards are to be diveſted of common Senſe, Infatuate, and given up, abandoning their own Commerce, throwing away [Page 41] the only Valuable Stake they have left in the World, and in ſhort, bent to their own Ruin, we cannot ſuggeſt that they will ever on any Conſideration, or for any Equivalent, part with ſo Valuable, indeed ſo Ineſtimable a Jewel, as the Excluſive Power of Trade to their own Plantations in America.
It is always a Diſadvantage to any Undertaking to have it repreſented in Unintelligible Terms, and to have it make high Pretenſions, even to Things Impracticable in their own Nature; and nothing has been more the Misfortune of this Affair before us.
I have ſpoken to this largely elſewhere, and therefore ſhall ſay the leſs here; but without doubt they who firſt repreſented this Deſign, as an Undertaking to ſettle a Free Trade, with the Conſent, and by the Conceſſion, of the Government of Spain to the Ports and Places poſſeſſed by the Spaniards in America, either ignorantly amuſed themſelves by their own wrong Conceptions of Things; or formed theſe Notions, and ſpread them about to amuſe other People, with a deſign to perplex their Heads about it, and bring the Thing itſelf into Contempt, ſince no [...]ing can tend more directly to render a Project [...], than to fill the Peoples Thoughts [...] Notions of Things Impracticable in themſelves, [Page 42] and then Banter them with the Impoſſibility of putting them in Execution.
This is ſo much the worſe too in this Caſe by how much there was no Manner of Reaſon or Occaſion for this Miſtake; and that the Deſign of Planting, Settling, and Poſſeſſing, as is above noted on the Continent of America or South-Seas, is every Way ſufficient to all the Ends, and to all the Reaſonable Wiſhes, of the Government in the Firſt Propoſal: Fruitful of all Manner of Improvement, capable of as many, and indeed many more, Advantages than the ſuppoſed Free Trade with the Spaniſh Dominions, which are already planted; and this, if it were duly conſidered, would ſet us right in our Thoughts about it, I mean as to the Propoſal of ſuch a Trade being Advantageous to England.
Had the Subjects of this Project been Merchants, bred to Buſineſs, acquainted with Trade, and whoſe Buſineſs it is as well to underſtand as to ſeek out New Adventures, it had been embraced with all imaginable Eagerneſs and Satisfaction, far from being run down and blown up in this Manner by the Town; the Diſaſter lyes in this, as before noted, that the Debt and the Trade going together is ill ſorted with the People it falls upon; they that are qualified to claim the Debt, being ſome of them the worſt qualified to embark in the Trade of any People in the Town, and conſequently the beſt qualified to find Fault with, and make a Noiſe about it.
No Men are ſo apt to diſlike and complain of a Thing, eſpecially of this Nature, as thoſe who [Page 43] do not underſtand it; and as they are forwardeſt to complain, ſo are they hardeſt to be anſwered and ſatisfied by Reaſon; and this perhaps is not the leaſt Diſafter which at preſent attends this Project, which perhaps will never recover the Blaſt of Reproach, thus caſt upon it, but by length of Time, the Remedy which Cures many Diſtempers of the State beſides this.
I know there is another Popular Reaſon given us for the general Diſlike of this Thing, and that is, the obliging all the People to ſubſcribe whether they will or no; and much is ſaid on this Article, calling it a Force, an Invaſion of Property, and a Breach of Engliſh Liberty.
Now, tho' the Act of Parliament may be pleaded in Bar of this Charge; becauſe, what is done in Parliament is every Man's Act and Deed, and a Voluntary Conceſſion can be no Force; alſo it is no kind of a Force that the Law defends, and the Nature of the Thing obliges to; yet is here no real Force in the literal Senſe, nor does it ſay, that thoſe who will not comply to ſubſcribe his Debt ſhall never be paid; it does indeed exclude them from the preſent Benefit, but it takes away none of their Claim to both the Principal and Intereſt from the Government, as before. However, this is not my Buſineſs here, the Parliament no queſtion will defend the Juſtice of their own Acts.
My Buſineſs now is to enquire how this latter Trade, upon the Foot of a Colony or Plantation, can be carried on; for having Advanc'd, and, I think, with good Reaſon, that it can be done no [Page 44] other Way; if I do not ſhew you that it may effectually be done this Way, I ſhould be ſuppoſed writing a Satyr upon the Undertaking, which I aſſure you I am not.
The Deſign of poſſeſſing Part of America, I think a Project worthy the Nation, and worthy the Parliament; and that this War has been the only Juncture for it that has happened theſe Fifty Years, and the like whereof may never happen again; I ſee no Misfortune in it, but its being tack'd to the Debt above-mentioned; and conſequently, a Set of People, adapted to the Concern, who are every Way unſuitable to it, and uncapable of underſtanding it, better qualified to rail at it, than embark in it; this, I ſay, I count the Misfortune of the Nation in it, and nothing but an Exquiſite Management can prevent the Evil Effects of this Misfortune; nor had this Diſaſter happened to it, but from the earneſt Deſire the Propoſers had to make the People ſome amends, over and above, for the ſcop of Payment they had met with in their Publick Debts; and in any Age but ours perhaps it would ha' paſt for an Amends, and for an Advantage, nay, in ours it would ha' p [...]ſt ſo, had it not fallen upon ſuch a Promiſcuous Multitude of People, not in Circumſtances to receive the Advantages, to underſtand the Thing, or put any Hand to help forward the Succeſs of it.
If theſe Things have join'd in with the Publick Uneaſineſs of the Times, to render the Project, as it now ſtands, unacceptable, I cannot think that this does yet in the leaſt leſſen the Value of a South-Sea Undertaking in general, as [Page 45] ſuch and as it is; a taking Poſſeſſion of ſome Part of America, to eſtabliſh an Engliſh Colony, and erect a Trade thither from England, as aforeſaid, againſt which, (abſtracted from the Miniſtry, the Publick Credit, Parties and Factions, among us, with which, in this Argument, I have nothing to do) againſt this; I ſay, I believe no Man will raiſe One Objection, but all unanimouſly agree▪ that we wiſh to ſee it put in Execution, as a Foundation, upon which may be Built an Immenſe Trade, a New, and very much Wanted Vent, for our Manufactures of Britain, a New, and as much Wanted, Vent for the Proviſions, and Cattle, the Produce of our Colonies on the North of America; and a wonderful Encreaſe of our Navigation, Strength, and People.
It is Impoſſible for the Author of this to finiſh what he had reſolv'd to do here towards deſcribing the Nature of, and ſubſequent Meaſures for, purſuing this Deſign. If this ſhort Eſſay appears acceptable, I may in a Second Part go forward with it, and therein diſtinguiſh more plainly between carrying on this Affair as an Improvement of Trade▪ and carrying it on as a National Intereſt. I know the Endeavours uſed to make it appear a Teſt of Parties, and a Trial of Skill between Sides; of this I ſhall take no Cognizance; but if a Second Part of this Work comes to be Publiſh'd, I ſhall endeavour rather to ſhew what you may do, than what I fear you will not do.
I ſhall diſtinguiſh the Conqueſt of that Part we may plant in, and the planting itſelf; or, in ſhort, between the Queen's Part and the Merchants; and ſhew you how abſolutely neceſſary it [Page 46] is that they be kept aſunder. That the Trade muſt be entirely unincumbered with War; that it is the Governments Part, not only to take Poſſeſſion, but to keep the Poſſeſſion when taken; that Protection muſt be effectually provided for, or elſe no Attempt can be Succeſsful. I ſhall endeavour to explain what this Protection will be, againſt whom, in what Manner needful, what probable Oppoſition may be expected, and from who.
2. I may give you an Eſſay at the Great Queſtion Where this Settlement may, or can, or muſt, be made; and in doing this I may make Publick ſome of the Schemes which I had the Honour to lay were laid before his late Majeſty in the Beginning of this War, and which were ſo approved of both by himſelf, and ſeveral of thoſe whom his Majeſty was pleaſed to communicate them to, that nothing but the unhappy Death of that Glorious Prince prevented that this Attempt, (inſtead of that which has proved ſo fatal at Barcelona,) had taken up the laſt Seven Years▪ with the Blood and Treaſure of this Nation, which in all Probability e'er now would have brought back as many Millions as the other has carried out.
3. I ſhall in ſuch an Eſſay give convincing Proofs, that if ſuch an Attempt may be made, and in due Manner carried on, ſuch a Trade may be raiſed from it as ſhall ſufficiently recompence the Long, Tedious and Expenſive Fatigues of the Whole War.
2. That the Parliament may, if it pleaſes God ſo far to enlighten them, yet ſeparate them, or rather reſtore them to their Independent Exiſtence, which I doubt not would equally ſatisfie the People concern'd, the Firſt Propoſer, and the whole Nation.