No Man can charge them with want of Cunning in what they now puſh at, [Page 4] and had they us'd as much Honeſty in their Argument as they ſhew Art in their Deſign, ſome plain Queſtions and Anſwers wou'd bring us all to the End of the Diſpute; and the Houſe of Lords had not had the Trouble of this Act.
The Papers they have hitherto publiſh'd, have generally aim'd at two Things, and both of them ſeem to be unfair, and ſomething ſophiſtical: I am loth to call it Shuffling, with reſpect to the Perſons of the Gentlemen concern'd; but Neceſſity obliges me to ſay, That what they offer, evidently looks one Way but means another; the ſpecious Pretences they make for the publick Good of Trade, Encouragement of Manufactures, and the like, are only Covers to conceal the grand End of ſeparate Intereſt; which, 'tis manifeſt, is the Thing they aim at.
- 1. They pretend in their Papers, to advocate for the Good of their Country, againſt the Encouragement given by the Italian Merchant to the French, to ſell their [Page 5] Cloth in Turky, by taking off the Raw Silk, which is the Return; whereas really, they are in their Capacity as a Company, the Reaſon of all the Encouragement the French meet with in the Turky Trade; and if it were not for the ill Conduct of the Turky Company, the French wou'd have no Silk to ſell, nor vend any Cloth in Turky worth naming.
- 2. They pretend, that the ſupporting the Turky Company is the Intereſt of the Trade; whereas their being a Company, in the Senſe of their preſent Management, is the great Obſtruction of the Trade; and will, if not reſtrain'd, be the Ruin of it.
In their Papers, therefore, it is evident, they aim (1.) at ſuppreſſing the Italian Merchant's Trade to Turky; and (2.) at engroſſing the Trade of ſelling Cloth in Turky, and of Silk in England, in order to impoſing their own Price upon the Buyers of Cloth Abroad, and the Manufacturers of Silk at Home. Both which would, if [Page 6] obtain'd, effectually declare them a Monopoly, in the groſſeſt Senſe of that Word.
Their Oppreſſions Abroad, their unfair Dealings with the Merchants, who from Leghorn interfere, as they call it, with their Trade; their By-Laws, their arbitrary Proceedings upon them, and all the reſt of their ill Conduct, they give up, and ſeem to plead Guilty to them all, ſo they can but get this Bill.
With ſo much Eagerneſs they puſh for this Bill, that they not only manag'd their Introduction into it with the utmoſt Art, and puſh'd it on with unweary'd Application, to hinder their Books being look'd into, but they ſaid they were willing to conſent to any future Laws, to limit, nay, even to puniſh their Exorbitance, ſo they may but be indulg'd with the Advantages they drive at in this Bill.
In a Word, they were in ſuch a Paſſion for this darling Bill, that they are willing to give up their Reputation as a Company, ſubmit to all the Parliament may think fit to do with them, or all the Puniſhment that may be inflicted upon them, provided they may but ſave THIS BILL.
[Page 7] It is their own Expreſſion in one of their Caſes: Poſſibly the Turky Company may have committed Faults, and made unfitting By-Laws: If they have done both, yet THIS BILL may be neceſſary. And in another Place, All that can be objected against the Turky Company, may be remedy'd by a BILL in another Parliament, and they may take ANOTHER TIME for the remedying of it. If a Company oppreſſes, the Parliament may curb and reſtrain it by FUTURE LAWS. And the like.
I wou'd not treat the Company with Indecency, but this ſeems to me to be little more than that of a Man detected of a grievous Treſpaſs, craving Leave for an immediate Power to oppreſs and injure his Neighbour, and putting off the Examination and Puniſhment of his own Crime to another Seaſon; as if the remedying the Grievance on one ſide, had not the ſame Juſtice in it, and did not call for the ſame Concern of the Publick to rectify, as the other. I might have illuſtrated this by a more ſevere Simily, if I were willing to carry Things to the heighth.
[Page 8] But let us take theſe Gentlemen in their own Way, and uſe their own Words, as above: Poſſibly the Company have committed Faults, and made unfitting By-Laws: It is moſt certain they have, (and I inter what I believe every one will grant, viz.) Therefore it is not reaſonable, thoſe that have already abus'd their Power, ſhou'd be now enabled to abuſe it farther. And I humbly hope that the Nature of the Companies By-Laws and Orders may be inſpected.
What they now aſk, is neither more or leſs, than to have a Power granted them to oppreſs and injure the Traders to Turky by way of Italy; who, they grant already, they have injur'd and oppreſs'd. As to the Bill they demand, the Nature of it ſhall preſently appear, when the Fraud of the Deſign is more effectually laid open. Something extraordinary muſt ſure be the Caſe, that theſe Men are ſo very earneſt to have the Examination of the Conduct of the Turky Company put off; it is a ſhrewd Suſpicion of Guilt, when Men are ſo extraordinary ſhy of coming to an Examination; ſee how it runs thro' all their Arguings: If the Bill paſſes, ſay they again, the Conduct of the Turky Company, all their By-Laws, and [Page 9] even their Charter, if lyable to any juſt Exceptions, may be examin'd afterwards by Parliament. Very good, and why not now? Why muſt not the Parliament be allow'd to examine Now into their Conduct, their By-Laws, their Oppreſſions, their arbitrary Proceedings, and their Charter, if lyable to Exceptions, as there is ſome Reaſon to believe they all are?
Nor is the examining into theſe Things ſo incongruous to the Bill depending as they would inſinuate: I alledge, and undertake to make it appear, that the Bill they ſeek cannot be rational, if the other Conduct of the Company is fully examin'd into; and therefore it is not at all unreaſonable to demand, that both be enter'd into together; 'tis a great Miſtake to ſay, that the Conduct of the Company has no Relation to this Bill. On the contrary, if the Company have miſbehav'd, if they have oppreſs'd and injur'd the Fair-Traders, if their by-Laws are unjuſt, and they are a real Monopoly, and ablove all, if they ſeek to be able to act as a Monopoly by Virtue of this Bill, then 'tis abſolutely neceſſary to examine their Conduct before this Bill ſhould paſs. As for Example.
[Page 10] If this Bill in its Nature tends to making the Company a Monopoly; if it is evident, that in ſoliciting this Bill, they aim at a Power to monopolize; if it appears, that this Bill, if paſs'd, will put that Power into their Hands: Then, with humble Submiſſion to the Houſe, it is abſolutely neceſſary to examine into the Abuſe of the Power they have, and the Reaſon of the Power they ſeek, and of their ſeeking it, and all before this Bill be ſuffer'd to paſs.
And what can it be, but this plain Dependance of theſe Things, one upon another, that makes theſe Men ſo backward to have their Conduct examin'd? But that they are ſenſible, that if the Houſe ſhould ranſack their Behaviour and the Uſe they have made of the Powers and Privileges which they have been entruſted with, they would ſee very good Reaſon to conſider well of it before they entruſted them any farther.
Nor is this an unjuſt or an unfair Reflection, becauſe we that are oppreſs'd by the Company, and have Reaſon, feelingly, to mention the Abuſe of the Powers they have been entruſted with, have much [Page 11] more Reaſon than other Men to conclude what Uſe they would make of it, if farther Powers were committed to them as a Company.
And here, becauſe I am neceſſarily to enter with Plainneſs and Freedom upon the Detecting a general Scheme of Fraud and Injuſtice, which evidently ſeems to run thro' the whole Courſe of this Matter, and that, as above, much leſs Honeſty than Art ſhews itſelf in the earneſt Solicitations which are and have been made for this Bill, I muſt be allow'd to diſtinguiſh between the Gentlemen concern'd in their perſonal and private Capacities, and in their Capacities as a Company.
In their former Capacities, I have nothing in the leaſt to ſay; here is no perſonal Satyr intended, nor do I direct any Reflection, in this Affair, to this or that particular Man. There are, without Doubt, many worthy and honourable Perſons in the Turky Company.
But their Conduct, as a Company, is another Thing; and no Man's private Reputation is concern'd in it; and yet [Page 12] I muſt acknowledge my ſelf to be of the ſame Mind which King Charles IId gave as his Opinion to a certain Lord Mayor of London, (viz.) That it was not poſſible for a Man to act in a Society with the ſame Honeſty and Juſſice as in their ſeparate and private Capacities; but that all Societies and Companies were Tyrants and Oppreſſors by the Nature of the Thing.
I have mention'd how ſtrange it is that theſe Gentlemen ſhould be ſo very Earneſt for this Bill, and for its paſſing, without enquring into their Conduct. I ſhall now unravel this Myſtery, and lay it open to the World; and when I have done ſo, the Wonder will ceaſe.
- 1. The firſt Reaſon is, becauſe enquiring into their paſt Conduct, will neceſſarily diſcover the True, but conceal'd Deſign of the Bill.
- 2. It will diſcover the Reaſon for endeavouring to obtain it.
- 3. It will diſcover the Conſequences of it, if obtain'd.
That the Diſcovery of any, or of all theſe Things, would moſt effectually overthrow the Bill, ſeems reaſonable for me to conclude, from the Knowledge I have of the certain Application of the Houſe of Peers, to detecting all clandeſtine Meaſures, Projects, and Attempts, couch'd under the ſpecious Pretence of Right, Property, Publick Good, and the like; by which the Subjects are frequently impos'd upon, the Publick abus'd, and private Perſons injur'd.
It will be impoſſible the Houſe can ſee the exact Connection that there is between the former Conduct of that Company and the Attempt couch'd under the Cover of this Bill, and not ſee how artfully they ſeek to protect their paſt ill Conduct, by obtaining an Authority for worſe; and to ſupport the Oppreſſions of their former Meaſures, by enlarging them in thoſe they ſhould now get Power to act by. [Page 14] To bring this Home to the Point in Diſcute, that is to ſay, the Bill.
[Page 15] The chiefeſt Evidence they bring of it, is, That in the Years 1714 and 1715, a very great Quantity of Raw Silk was bought in France, brought to Leghorn, and ſhipp'd to England. Now, tho' I ſhould grant this, that in thoſe two Years a great deal of French Raw Silk was brought from Marſeilles, yet that will neither prove that it has been ſo in other Years, or that it can ever happen ſo again: Nor if it were to happen again, can they argue from it any Advantage to the French Trade, or Diſadvantage to the Engliſh, but juſt the contrary, as will appear in the following Heads:
- 1. From the Reaſon and Occaſion of the French Merchants having that great Quantity of Raw Silk upon their Hands at that Time (viz.) That they had a Proſpect of an open Trade with England for their Wrought Silks, the Treaty of Commerce being then on foot here; Which failing, and the Alteration of their Coin happening at the ſame Time, they were oblig'd to ſell off the Silk Raw at a very great Loſs; ſo that half the Banquiers of Paris, half the Banquiers of Lions, and almoſt all the Merchants [Page 16] at Marſeilles were ruin'd by it, and became Bankrupt, having loſt above one third of the Value of their Capital Stock. If this be the Way that the Italian Merchants ſhall always encourage the French Trade, the French will have little to boaſt of, and the Levant Company little to complain of.
- 2. It is well known that the French did not receive that great Quantity of Silk, which was then upon their Hands, in Return for Cloth, or any Manufactures; all the Cloth that cou'd have been in France cou'd not have purchas'd it; but they ſent away Ready Money, and bought up ſuch a Quantity, upon the Proſpect of Advantage by the Treaty of Commerce in England, as above; the Diſappointment of which was the Ruin of ſo many Merchants there.
- 3. When the Raw Silk in France was thus cheap, and bought by us ſo much to their Loſs, it was greatly wanted in England; and the Price in January 17 14/15, refus'd by Turky Merchants here was 30s. and 32s. [Page 17] per lb. and there was not Silk enough to be had in England to employ our Weavers, or to carry on our own Silk Manufacture; ſo that at this Time, which theſe Men dwell ſo much upon, the Importation of French Turky Silk, was infinitely the Advantage of our Trade, and in Proportion ruinous to France. And the Silk ſo Imported was about June 1715 ſold to our Manufacturers in London, at 23 s. And the Price will be always kept low, ſo long as there can be two Importations.
This ſufficiently anſwers the great Importation in the Years 1714, 1715, on which theſe Men inſiſt ſo much; and proves that it was a Circumſtance of Trade which can never happen again; and if ever it ſhou'd, wou'd, every Bale of it, be an incredible Advantage to England, and a Diſadvantage to France. And 'tis hop'd that an extraordinary Caſe, which can never in the ordinary Courſe of Trade happen again, will not be look'd upon a ſufficient Reaſon to break into an Act, which is the ſupport of our Navigation.
[Page 18] That it cannot be thus now, is plain, and the Italian Merchants have made it appear ſo, by the Calculation of the Price of Silk at Leghorn and at London; which generally is, and for the laſt three Years has been, from 1 s. 6 d. to 2 s. 6 d. per lb. cheaper in London than at Leghorn; which is a ſure Rule to judge by, why this Importation cannot be conſiderable; for that Merchants never extend or continue a Trade that they cannot carry on but to Loſs. Nor, indeed, can there ever be any conſiderable Importation of Raw Silk from Leghorn, but when the Turky Company, by their oppreſſive Limitations, and other monopolizing Arts, reſtrain or with-hold the Importation of a Quantity ſufficient for the Market, on purpoſe to advance the Price for their private Gain. And this Engroſſing is ſo eaſy to them, ſuch a Grievance to Trade, and ſo injurious to our Manufactures in England, that even the Poſſibility of their doing ſo is an unanſwerable Reaſon againſt their Bill, and proves, that it not only is not NECESSARY, as they pretend, but that it is abſolutely neceſſary their Power of impoſing upon the Market, as above, ſhould be reſtrain'd.
[Page 19] The ſecond Head, is the Quantity which they pretend is Imported, to which the Turky Merchants have annex'd no Evidence, expecting to be taken upon their Words. This Quantity they alledge to be about an hundred Bales a Year; but this the Italian Merchants deny, and appeal to the Cuſtom-Houſe Books for their Proof: Alſo they have prov'd, at the Houſe of Commons, that in the current Year, all the Raw Silk imported at Leghorn from France, amounts to no more than thirty ſix Bales: And that Italy, for expence of their own Silk Manufacture, annually uſes two or three hundred Bales of Turky Raw Silk.
- 1. That it is the Return of the French Cloths ſold in Turky, and conſequently aſſiſts the French in their Sale of Cloth in Turky.
- 2. That it ruins the Market for the Turky Raw Silk here at London, by ſinking the Price of it ſo, as to make [Page 20] the Merchant loſe by his Goods, or keep them on his Hands unſold.
The firſt is incumbent on the Levant Company to prove, which they only barely aſſerted; when, on the contrary, the Italian Merchants prov'd, that from Leghorn, according to the conſtant courſe of Trade, all the Turky Raw Silk imported from Italy, was the Return of Engliſh Manufactures: And to this they offer'd to call Merchants who had reſided there for theſe Forty Years laſt paſt.
The Appearance of theſe Things being thus, and all theſe Pretences for the Bill being thus repeal'd and expos'd, it leads me to the original Deſign of the Turky Merchant's puſhing this Affair ſo warmly, [Page 21] and to enquire what muſt be the true Reaſons for their deſiring the Bill to ſtop the Importation of ſo ſmall a Quantity of Raw Silk, as, communibus annis, is brought into England from Leghorn.
The Trade to Turky is carry'd on in a Company; their Charter, their Privileges, their Manner of carrying on their Trade is known. The Number of Perſons concern'd in their Trade, or Free of their Company, is great; they tell us, they are above Two Hundred; and others may, and indeed all, even the Italian Merchants themſelves, may be Free of this Company, paying the uſual Fine at their Admiſſion, and taking the Freedom of the City alſo.
But, I ſuppoſe, it will not be contended, that the Groſs of the Trade to Turky is carry'd on by a very few Men, and even of thoſe few, a yet fewer Number have the governing Influence of the Trade, and can go far, very far, to limit the [Page 22] reſt by their Intereſt, to Ship or not to Ship, Trade or not to Trade, as their Quantities of Goods, Abroad or at Home, want a Market, or want a Price.
And as this is an Article which renders the Company a moſt effectual Monopoly, when they make Uſe of it; ſo it is evident, that it is but a little while ſince they did effectually make Uſe of it, to the great Injury of the Trade; and this Power, together with an Oath every Merchant muſt take, if he will come in to be Free of this Company, and which ſubjects him to be ſubject to ſuch monopolizing Arts as thoſe, is the Reaſon why the Italian Merchants have always declin'd the Company, and carry'd on their Trade to Turky by the Way of Leghorn.
In Favour of this Trade, which, as it is a fair and juſt Branch of Commerce, and was found to be very conſiderable; but above all, as it was found to be a juſt Check upon the Turky Company, and calculated to prevent the Encroachment they were always apt to run into for their private Ends, to the Injury of the Engliſh Trade and Art of Navigation, a Law particularly calculated for the [Page 23] Encouragement of Trade, and the Encreaſe of our Shipping, thought fit, by a Clauſe on Purpoſe, to make Proviſion for the Trade of the ſaid Italian Merchants, and that they ſhou'd be allow'd to import the Aſiatick Goods by Way of Leghorn.
And here, I muſt ſay, lies the whole Streſs of the Bill now depending: It is this Trade to Turky, by the Way of Leghorn, that the Turky Merchants puſh at. The bringing ſome French Raw Silk by Accident, and on an extraordinary Occaſion, when it may be very cheap in France, and very dear in England; this is made the ſpecious Pretence, but is nothing in the Caſe; it is the Italian Merchant's Trading to Turky, Viâ Leghorn, that is the Grievance. This is that they ſhoot at, tho' they ſet up the other as a Blind.
To clear themſelves of this, and if they would have the Houſe believe them to be as good Patriots as they pretend, why do they not declare openly, that they deſire nothing but to prevent the bringing in Turky Raw Silk bought of the French, that the French may not be encourag'd to carry on the Turky Trade [Page 24] to their Diſadvantage, and to ſend greater Quantities of French Cloth to Turky, and the like?
Had this been the real and only Thing they had ſought, what Need had they to ſtrike at the Root of the Italian Trade, which is ſo much more conſiderable and advantageous than their own? Why Petition for the Repeal of a Clauſe, which admits them to bring Home the Returns of their Trade to Turky? Why had they not only pray'd, that an ACT might paſs to prohibit Raw Silk from France being imported by Way of Leghorn? in which all the Italian Merchants would readily have concurr'd, and are ſtill ready to do it.
Or, on the other hand, if they were not aſham'd at thus publickly aiming to monopolize both the Cloth Trade in Turky, and the Silk Trade in England; I ſay, if they were not aſham'd of ſuch an open Attempt to engroſs an excluſive Trade, and that they could think a Houſe of Commons, the Guardians of Liberty, could be capable of being brought into ſuch an Invaſion of the Liberties of Trade, why did they not petition fairly, That [Page 25] the Italian Merchants might not carry Engliſh; Cloths, and Tin into Turky Viâ Leghorn; or, in a Word, that, if they did, they ſhould not be allow'd to bring back the Returns of it into England.
This had been, indeed, to have acted with leſs Cunning, but with more Honeſty, than to aim and ſtrike fairly at this Prohibition, under Pretence of prohibiting bringing in French Turky Silk; a Thing, which, as it is prov'd, is ſeldom done, ſo it is plain it can never be done, but to our Advantage, and the Loſs of the French Merchants; unleſs it be, as above, when the Turky Merchants have put the Dice upon the Market, and rais'd the Price to an unreaſonable and injurious Heighth; and then the Refuge of a French Market, or of any other Market, would be but a Juſtice to the Manufactures, and a juſt Check upon the Engroſſers.
[Page 26] The Turky Merchants take much Pains to repreſent this Article as very ſmall and inconſiderable; but why then do they not propoſe to the Parliament, that in the Bill they ſolicit for, a Clauſe be reſerv'd for leaving this little, ſmall, inconſiderable Trade entirely free, and its Returns free to be brought Home? If it be ſmall, the Damage to them muſt likewiſe be ſmall: Why is it ſo hotly oppos'd and attack'd, if it were really ſo ſmall and inconſiderable, as they repreſent it? I can anſwer for the Italian Merchants, that they would not have ſtruggled with them for the preſerving it; and even the Oppoſition made to them by the Italian Merchants, is an Evidence to all the World, that it is very far from being a ſmall and inconſiderable Trade.
By this very Thing the whole Quarrel may be decided: If the Turky Merchants aim only at, and deſire only the preventing the bringing French Turky Silk hither, and are willing to leave the Italian Trade to Turky, and back to England, by the Way of Leghorn, open, as it always was, let them ſay ſo; aſk for that, and the Italian Merchants will heartily join with them; but, while they thus puſh at one [Page 27] Thing, under Pretence of another, they moſt plainly diſcover what they endeavour to conceal.
It is meet, therefore, to put this Affair in a clear Light. The Italian Merchants Trade to Turky by Way of Leghorn, is far from being ſmall or inconſiderable; they export and ſell in Turky from 40 to 50 Thouſand Pounds a Year in Engliſh Cloth, and in Tin, Lead, &c. a conſiderable Sum, and they bring back the Returns of it to Leghorn.
Great Part of those Returns being ſold in Italy, the Produce of which muſt be clear Gain to the Publick Stock of Great Britain, it would be very hard, if they ſhould be deny'd the Privilege of Engliſh Men, and of bringing Home the reſt to ſell in their own Country, as Markets may preſent.
Except in the Caſes already mention'd, they bring no Silk from Marſeilles, and nothing but the Exorbitances of the Turky Company impoſing upon the Markets, as before, can make it practicable. If the Houſe thinks fit, even to prevent it under thoſe Exorbitances, they ſubmit it wholly [Page 28] to the Wiſdom of Parliament; but they humbly hope they have a Right of Property, in common with the reſt of his Majeſty's faithful Subjects, to bring back, and vend in open Market, the Returns of the Engliſh Woollen Cloths, and other Products of their own Country, which they export, and without which they cannot carry on their Trade.
While the Company oppoſe ſo juſt a Requeſt, how can they take it ill, that we ſay they are a dangerous Monopoly? and how can they clear themſelves of the Charge, while they ſeek to be the only Exporters of Cloth to the whole Turkiſh Empire, and the only Importers of Raw Silk to the King's Dominions? Is it not plain, that in this Caſe they would conſult their own Advantages rather than the Demands or Occaſions of the Manufacturers?
This is the Article the Company viſibly preſs for; and it cannot be deny'd but it is of great Conſequence to them, that is to ſay, to them perſonally, and as a Company: but the more it is ſo, of the more fatal Conſequence would it be to the Trade in general, ſeeing they would, [Page 29] as above, put their own Price upon their Woollen Cloth at home, to the Impoveriſhing, if not Deſtruction of the Manufacturer; and their own Price upon their Silk at Home: Nor would it weigh with them, that by this Conduct they would leſſen the Conſumption of Engliſh Cloth in Turky; and, to hold it up to a Price, for their private Gain, keep it always ſcarce at Market, forbidding their Members in England to ſhip but in general Ships, ſometimes once a Year, ſometimes once in two Years, or more, as they think fit; without regarding, that by this Means there would be many Thouſands of Cloths leſs exported than the Markets would otherwiſe carry off, to the irreparable Damage and Diſcouragement of Woollen Manufactures, and the Encouragement of the French; and the Ruin of the Clothiers, who, when they had made large Quantities of Cloth for the Turky Trade, muſt be oblig'd to keep them on Hand, or, perhaps, ſell them under Price to two or three rich money'd Men, who make Uſe of the Neceſſities of the poor Clothiers for that very Advantage; all which ſtill proclaims them a Sett of Monopolizers, in the worſt Senſe of the Word.
[Page 30] And this very Practice throws another Charge back upon them, which they never can get off from, and which they now endeavour to put upon the Italian Merchants, viz. That whereas they alledge, that the Italian Merchants are the Supporter of the French Trade to Turky, (the contrary of which is manifeſt,) the Turky Company, by not duly ſupplying the Markets, by laying Mulcts and Reſtraints upon the Engliſh Cloth which comes there by Way of Leghorn, by ſwearing their Factors and Servants not to ſell any of their Goods, but for preſent Payment; whereas the French give Credit, where there is any Certainty or Security of being paid. By theſe, I ſay, and many ſuch like Methods, they are themſelves the Encouragers, and, indeed, the Supporters of the French Trade to Turky, who, on the contrary, were the Markets conſtantly and fully ſupply'd, and proper Meaſures for Trade purſu'd, as would be, if the Trade were open'd, as it might be, would not be able to vend one quarter Part of the Cloth which they now ſell there. I do not mean by this, totally to lay open the Turky Trade, but humbly hope your Lordſhips, in your great Wiſdom, will put it on the foot the Ruſſia [Page 31] Company was, by an Act of the 11th of King William and Queen Mary; and I do believe ſuch an Act would effectually drive the French out of the Turky Trade, and have the ſame effect that had, viz. That inſtead of ſix or ſeven Sail of Ships the then Ruſſia Company annually employ'd, and the now Turky Company annually employs, the next Year the Ruſſia Merchants ſent 40 Sail of Ships, and do now annually employ above a hundred and twenty, and our Engliſh Manufactories are now carry'd to Places where before they were never ſo much as heard of: And this would be the Caſe of the Turky Trade, were the Levant Company regulated by a like Act of Parliament; and the Honour of the Engliſh Nation kept up with a much leſs Charge on our Manufactures than it now is; for the Trade being more diffuſive, half per Cent. inſtead of two, would be ſufficient to defray the neceſſary National Charge.
So that, in a Word, it is the Turky Company who encourage the French; and many Ways this may be made out: As for Example, the 23d of May, 1707, by laying a Mulct of five Dollars per Cloth on all Engliſh Cloth, which comes thither [Page 32] from Leghorn, when the French Cloth comes in Free, forbidding Engliſh Cloth from Leghorn to come in Engliſh Ships; but permitting Engliſh Ships to bring French and Dutch Cloth Free, as above. They tell us, if we ſtop the French Silk from coming hither, we deſtroy them at once. How can they impoſe this upon Mankind, when 'tis known, that all the Cloth the French Merchant can ſend to Turky, will not ſupply the Demand they have for Silk in France? But they buy a great deal with ready Money, as was the Caſe thoſe two Years 1714 and 1715, when they loſt ſo much Money by it, as almoſt ruin'd them all. And what muſt our poor Manufacturers have done in England in thoſe two Years, had they not been ſupply'd by the Italian Merchant's buying that Silk cheap? Is it not evident their Goods muſt have coſt them here 40 l. per Cent. more than the French and Italians cou'd have imported them at; the Conſequence of which muſt have been, that our Engliſh Manufacturers muſt have been ſtarv'd, and Wrought Silks, from all our neighbouring Manufactories, inſtead of Turky Raw Silks, wou'd have been run in upon us from Abroad.
[Page 33] It is deny'd and has already been explain'd that Turky Raw Silk ever did or ever can come from France hither, by Way of Leghorn, in the ordinary Courſe of Trade: 'Tis plain, it can never come but when their Markets in France are ſo full, and ſo low, as that they muſt ſell it to great Loſs; or when our Markets, ſtarv'd by the Cunning of the Company, are ſo extravagantly dear, that to reduce the Price will be our Gain; ſo that, in ſhort, to bring the Turky Silk in either of thoſe two Junctures, will be always to our Gain, and to the Loſs of the French. And in which of theſe two lies the Advantage to France, I would fain have theſe Gentlemen anſwer.
But let us examine next, what Diſadvantage the Turky Company can pretend to ſuffer from the Italian Trade: Can any Merchants complain of the Competitors, who cannot trade under them, but at a Diſadvantage of 10 or 12 per Cent. and, if they pleaſe, 20 or 30 per Cent. unleſs Means can be found to evade the Force of their Impoſitions; it cannot be, the Advantage muſt lie ſomewhere elſe, and it is manifeſt it does ſo, viz. in the having Power, by an excluſive Trade, to impoſe [Page 34] other Rates and Prices upon the Markets Abroad and at Home, than they have ever yet been able to do: This it is they aim at, and this they find they can come at no other Way, but by putting a Stop to the Merchants ſending Cloth to Turky, by Way of Leghorn, and bringing back the Silk to London; and this they cannot expect, but by perſwading the World to believe, than which nothing can be more falſe, that this Silk comes from France.
Again, to prove the Inconſiſtence of this Pretence, I would deſire thoſe Merchants to calculate the Price which this Silk coſts the French Merchants in Turky, whether it be bought for Cloth or for Money; let them add to it the Charges of carrying firſt to Marſeilles, then bringit from Marſeilles to Leghorn, then ſhipping it again for England, Commiſſion in all thoſe Places, and Charges of ſundry Sorts, alſo Inſurance, and the like; and then let them take the Price in France and at London, at the ſame Time, and tell us if the French gain, or loſe, by the Trade: If the firſt, let them prevent it, by ſuch legal Methods as they ſhall think fit; If the laſt, which I affirm is true, what can be the Meaning of ſo warmly [Page 35] engaging againſt a Trade which the French loſe Money by.
I obſerve, in ſeveral of the Caſes given out by the Turky Company, they would be thought very popular, and claim it of the World, that they are the great Encouragers of the Woollen Manufacture, and that they not only export great Quantities, but that they take all proper Meaſures to encourage the Conſumption of it in the Country whither they carry it.
But, were this true, how comes it, that there are ſo many By-Laws for the Diſcouraging any one to bring it thither but themſelves; ſuch as laying a Mulct, or Duty, of 25 Dollars per Bale, upon all the Engliſh Cloth that ſhall come by Way of Leghorn, not allowing it to be brought in Engliſh Ships, when, at the ſame Time, as before, the Dutch and French Cloth, as I have obſerv'd already, may come in Engliſh Bottoms; alſo forbidding their Factors there to ſell any Engliſh Cloth, but for the Company, and the like.
With what Aſſurance can theſe Men bring a Rabble of Packers and Cloth-Dreſſers, Clothiers, and Dyers, and other Mechanicks, up to the Door of the Houſe to ſolicit in their Cauſe, as if the whole Manufacture was concern'd? which is making the poor ignorant Clothworkers and Manufacturers ſo many Soliciters againſt themſelves, and bringing them to be Parties to their own Deſtruction, as Manufacturers.
So alſo they bring the Pewterers and Dealers in Tin; inſinuating, that they are great Benefactors to the Tin-mines; ſuppoſing, perhaps, that this may have ſome Influence on ſuch Members as repreſent the Stannary Towns, and who are ſuppos'd to have Eſtates in the Mines of Tin in the Counties of Devon and Cornwal: But are they ſo ignorant as to imagine, that the Corniſh Gentlemen do not know that the Italian Merchants are much greater Exporters of Tin than the Turky Merchants, even to above double the Quantity, and that as well to Turky as Italy? Which Things if duly known, [Page 37] and if the Italian Merchants were as much enclin'd to make themſelves popular, and needeed it as theſe Men do, would preſently bring the Manufacturers, Dyers, Dealers in Tin, and the like, to appear on their Side, rather than on the other.
But I leave all theſe little Things, as Artifices too mean to be taken Notice of, and fit only to aſſiſt a bad Cauſe. I come next to enter into the Merit of this Queſtion, with Regard to the Navigation. It muſt be of ſome Concern to let the World ſee how many Ways this Company, who value themſelves ſo highly, are an Obſtruction and Diſcouragement to our Navigation, and to the employing both Shipping and Seamen, even in this very Trade, in which they would pretend to recommend themſelves.
They were indeed enquir'd of at the Bar of the Houſe, how many Ships they employ'd to Turky in a Year, and tho' I hear they anſwer'd falſly, and ſaid, Ten; which is more than they employ, and in ſome Years ſend none at all; yet, at beſt, what Number of Ships is this to boaſt of, or to give them any Claim to be Encouragers of Navigation?
[Page 38] On the other hand, the Italian Merchants alledge, That they hinder, by their Limitations upon the Trade, ten times more Ships being employ'd than all the Trade they carry on employs. Tho' they have all the Grand Seigniors Dominions for their Trade, the others only Italy, they employ 6 or 7 Ships a Year, the Italian Trade near 150, to 200, many of which lie mouldring in Port, while the French and other foreign Veſſels (Thanks to the Company's By Laws and Reſtrictions) run away with all the Freights to Turky, whilſt our Ships, for want of Employ as uſual in the Levant, are oblig'd to return home Empty.
Which Way ſhall theſe Men be diſcours'd with? Let impartial Men but hear their Argument: How incoherent! How inconſiſtent with itſelf! If they talk of our Importation to England, 'tis exceeding great. On the other hand, if they talk of our Exportation from England, 'tis exceeding ſmall, tho' we vend and ſend 40 or 50000 l. a Year in Engliſh Cloth to Turky, by Way of Leghorn,
If we ſpeak of our Trade to Turky, they tell us, one Ship a Year will bring [Page 39] all our Returns, and there is not above 500 Cloths a Year brought into Turky; and yet, at the ſame Time, ſpeak of our Returns as a Thing fatal to their Trade. To avoid the Abſurdity of theſe Things, they inſiſt and affirm, That the Silk we import, is from France; offering nothing to prove it, but their affirming poſitively, that it is ſo; the Credit of which the Italian Merchants deſire to be excus'd, as to their giving any Weight to, and as poſitively deny it.
But there is a Way how the Turky Merchants may obtain all that they aſk'd, and which, if it may be obtain'd, no Cloth will be carry'd to Turky, Viâ Leghorn, any more; and no Raw Silk be brought from France, Viâ Leghorn, any more; no Clamour againſt the Turky Company's being a Monopoly, will be made any more; no Interruption to our Navigation will be made by the Company more; but the Trade will flouriſh, the Company will be enrich'd, and the Nation alſo: And this is but by laying open the Trade to all Mankind, on the foot of the Ruſſia Company, to trade freely and unconfin'd; to ſend out Ships when they will, and by what Ways they will; and every body being [Page 40] left to puſh their own Trade, there is no doubt but the Grand Seignior's Dominions, and the Kingdoms and Countries of Perſia, Georgia, Armenia, and the Caſpian Sea, might, if Encouragement was given them, conſume much more Engliſh Cloth than is now ſold among them.
This, and no other, is the Way effectually to encreaſe the Trade, to Ruin the French Manufactories of Cloth, and to encourage both the Engliſh Manufacture and Navigation; and, in this Caſe, a few Years wou'd bring the Turky Trade not to employ ſeven Ships a Year, but ſeventy, and perhaps, ſevenſcore Ships.
For then wou'd all the Trade be encourag'd together, and thoſe Ships that had a Hundred, and perhaps two Hundred Bales of Cloth on Board, wou'd run away, take in Freight for other Places, as for Genoa, Leghorn, Naples, Meſſina, and ſo to Smyrna, or Conſtantinople; and thus, inſtead of few Ships; there wou'd be many Sail in a Year employ'd.
The Ruſſian Company is an Inſtance of this, who, while they were under the like Limitations as the Turky Company, ſent uſually 6 or 7 Ships a Year to Archangel, whereas they now employ above 120 Sail of large Ships a Year, one Year with another; and they export infinitely more Woollen Manufactures to that Country, than ever they did before; and thus puſhing the Trade on with all the Art, and with the utmoſt Diligence, they have brought Infinite Numbers more of People to uſe the Britiſh Manufacture, than ever uſed it before.
The like is before us, and the like Advantages offer themſelves; for by this one Act, (viz.) of laying the Trade open, Induſtry wou'd have her Hands at liberty, to ſtruggle and to puſh the Trade into Countries, and among Inhabitants that were never heard of before. Methods wou'd then be uſed by the vigilant Merchant, to ſend his Goods, and to ſell his Goods, without exacting ready Money where Payment was ſure; leaving the Factor a diſcretionary Power to act as for himſelf.
[Page 42] As The Trade wou'd thus be better'd, ſo the Encouragement to Shipping, the Encreaſe of Seamen, and above all, the Conſumption of our Manufactures wou'd be enlarg'd, and then the Mock-Complaint of the Importation of Raw Silk from Marſeilles, wou'd be at an End; neither wou'd there be any Occaſion of a Bill to prevent the Importation of Aſiatick Goods from Leghorn; every Merchant having a Liberty, in the Courſe of his own Buſineſs, to bring away the Returns directly.
Likewiſe as a far greater Number of Ships wou'd go to Turky, having but Part of their Loading thither, from England, and having the Liberty, to take in Goods for Leghorn, Naples, and Meſſina, in their Way to Turky; ſo, in their Return, having Part of their Loading for Italy or England, there being a conſtant Trade to and from Turky to Italy, the Freight of which is conſiderable, they will be enabled to take the reſt of their Loading in Italian Goods at Meſſina, Naples, or Leghoſn, as Opportunity preſents, or as their Employers direct. So that in this Caſe, the End of the Act of Navigation, which, as I ſaid before, was to encreaſe and encourage Engliſh Seamen and Engliſh Shipping, [Page 43] eſpecially Ships of Force, wou'd much better be anſwer'd, than by carrying on a narrow contracted Trade, as now they do, manag'd by about thirty Merchants only; and thoſe Thirty managd again by Two or Three, by which the whole Commerce is ſtraighten'd, the Conſumption of Engliſh Cloth hinder'd, and the Dutch and French encourag'd to carry Cloth to Turky, and worm us out of the Trade.
This laying open the Trade may with Eaſe be ſo regulated, as that the Ambaſſadors, Conſuls, and other Officers neceſſary to act there, may be ſtill maintain'd, and all the neceſſary Expences of the Trade be ſupply'd, either by the Commerce itſelf, or by the Publick, for which ſuitable Proviſion may be made, as to the Wiſdom of the Parliament ſhall ſeem meet. And for the compleat and eaſy Direction Whereof, a Scheme of ſuitable Meaſures ſhall be preſented to the Houſe, whenever ſuch a Thing ſhall come upon the Stage; nor is there any Doubt to be made but that the Italian Merchants will be able to anſwer all the Objections that can be juſtly brought againſt ſuch a Change of the Company's Conſtitution.
[Page 44] By the aforeſaid Caſe (which I think I have ſtated impartially) it is humbly hop'd that the Italian Merchants, as Engliſhmen, have a natural Right to the Trade to the Grand Seignier's Dominions. I ſhall only give the Heads of ſome few reſtrictive Orders, and inſtance others, whereby they have Tax'd our Woollen Manufactures and Navigation, and prohibited even their own Members from Trading in ſuch Manner and at ſuch Times as they thought proper, and your Lordſhips may then judge, whether a Company with Power, or aſſuming a Power, to make reſtrictive Laws, be a Monopoly or not.
- The first is, A Mulct of 20 per Cent. upon all Cloth which ſhould by Freemen be ſent to Turky, other than in General Ships, laid about Ap 1718.
- 2. Reſolv'd that no Ship go to Turky till October 1718, and that then they would conſider when General Ships ſhould go. That Order was continued for ſix Months longer, which produc'd a Motion in the Houſe of Commons againſt the Exorbitant [Page 45] Power of the Company, to the Prejudice of the Woolleu Manufactures in general; and Sir John Eyles, Sir Peter Delmé, and others, in particular, had large Quantities of Cloth by them ready for the Turky Market.
- 3. An Oath againſt Truſting, which will be atteſted to be prejudicial to the Woollen Trade by their own Factors, who reſided ſeveral Years Abroad.
- 4. Letters wrote to their Conſul at Smyrna, in Caſe Mr. Elliot and Mr. Smith refus'd to take an Oath, ordering him to deſire the Embaſſador's Warrant for ſeizing and ſending the ſaid Gentlemen home.
- 5. About the Year 1709, an Order to prevent their own Members ſending Cloth by Way of Leghorn to Turky; and whereas no Penalty could be levy'd before without Conviction, the Words [whereof you ſhall be convicted] ſhall for the future be left out.
- [Page 46] 6. An Affirmation exacted from their own Members before they ſhould be permitted to load their Goods on the Ships then bound to Turky, that they had not from the 26th of October, 1710, to the 24th of July, 1712, laden any Goods, or Merchandize for their own, or any others Account, during the ſaid Time, for Turky.
- 7. To prevent their Factors, tho' for Italy, trading with Unfreemen, the Affirmation to be taken. The Penalty, if refus'd to make the Affirmation, to be depriv'd of his Trade, and pay double Duties.
- 8. About the Year 1707, an Order to their Conſuls, to Levy, before it ſhould be Landed, five Dollars upon all Engliſh Cloth, which upon any Engliſh Ship, or Ships, for Account of Foreigners, ſhould be Imported into the Grand Seignior's Dominions, from Legborn.
- 9. The uſual Conſulage to be paid on all Goods and Money imported into Turky by Engliſh Ships, who come to load Corn; and over and above, the [Page 47] Commander, or Commanders of ſuch Ship or Ships, to give Bond of 500 Dollars, to ſecure the Company from any Avania of the Turks, and upon Oath to give the Embaſſador or Conſul, an exact Account of the Ship, and to pay one Dollar per Ton of 40 Killows of Corn, if for Account of Unfreemen.
- 10. A Broke, or Duty, of 20 per Cent. upon all Engliſh Goods or Manufactures carry'd into any Port of the Grand Seignior's Dominions, on Enggliſh Ships, from Italy, or any Port of Chriſtendom, for Account of Aliens or Perſons not Free of the Company, and the Lord Embaſſador, or Conſuls, to require Payment before they ſuffer ſuch Engliſh Ships to depart. This Order was made about the Year 1716.
- 11. An Order to their Factors not to load any Goods or Merchandize whatſoever, on any Engliſh Ship or Ships for England, which from Italy may or ſhall bring any Engliſh Cloth.
- 12. An Order made in the Year 1719, reciting, That whereas Captain Beal had by Freights in the Levant Seas [Page 48] gain'd a ſufficient Sum to purchaſe a Loading of Currants, and had on the Value of the ſaid Loading of Currants paid only the cuſtomary Conſulage, it is order'd, That in Caſe Mr. Porten here, of whom the Company had made a Demand of double Conſulage, ſhould not pay it, that in ſuch Caſe, if ever the ſaid Captain Beal ſhall return to the Grand Seignior's Dominions, they deſire their Embaſſador, and require their Conſul, to Batulate both Ship and Captain. And it is further order'd, That no Engliſh Ship whatſoever, but ſuch as belong wholly to Freemen of the Levant Company, or are Freighted by the Levant Company, ſhall for the future load any Fruit.