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PARTY divisions, whether on the whole operating for good or evil, are things inseparable from free government. This is a truth which, I believe, admits little dispute, having been established by the uniform experience of all ages. The part a good citizen ought to take in these divisions has been a matter of much deeper controversy. But God forbid that any controversy relating to our essential morals should admit of no decision. It appears to me, that this question, like most of the others which regard our duties in life, is to be determined by our station in it. Private men may be wholly neutral, and entirely innocent; but they who are legally invested with publick trust, or stand on the high ground of rank and dignity, which is trust implied, can hardly in any case remain indifferent, without the certainty of sinking into insignificance; and thereby in effect deserting that post in which, with the fullest authority, and for the wisest purposes, the laws and institutions of their country have fixed them. However, if it be the office of those who are thus circumstanced, to take a decided part, it is no less their duty that it should be a sober one. It ought to be circumscribed by the same laws of decorum, and balanced by the same temper, which bound and regulate all the virtues. In a word, we ought to act in party with all the moderation which does not absolutely enervate that vigour, and quench that fervency of spirit, without which the best wishes for the publick good must evaporate in empty speculation.
It is probably from some such motives that the friends of a very respectable party in this kingdom have been hitherto silent. For these two years past, from one and the same quarter of politicks,
History of the Minority. History of the Repeal of the Stamp-act. Considerations on Trade and Finance. Political
a continual fire has been kept upon them; sometimes from the unwieldy column of quartos and octavos; sometimes from the light squadrons of occasional pamphlets and flying sheets. Every month has brought on its periodical calumny. The abuse has taken every shape which the ability of the writers could give it; plain invective, clumsy raillery, misrepresented anecdote. No method of vilifying the measures, the abilities, the intentions, or the persons which compose that body, has been omitted.
On their part nothing was opposed but patience and character. It was a matter of the most serious and indignant affliction to persons who thought themselves in conscience bound to oppose a ministry dangerous from its very constitution, as well as its measures, to find themselves, whenever they faced their adversaries, continually attacked on the rear by a set of men who pretended to be actuated by motives similar to theirs. They saw that the plan long pursued, with but too fatal a success, was to break the strength of this kingdom by frittering down the bodies which compose it, by fomenting bitter and sanguinary animosities, and by dissolving every tie of social affection and publick trust. These virtuous men, such I am warranted by publick opinion to call them, were resolved rather to endure every thing, than co-operate in that design. A diversity of opinion upon almost every principle of politicks had indeed drawn a strong line of separation between them and some others. However, they were desirous not to extend the misfortune by unnecessary bitterness; they wished to prevent a difference of opinion on the commonwealth from festering into rancorous and incurable hostility. Accordingly they en
Register, &c. &c.
deavoured that all past controversies should be forgotten; and that enough for the day should be the evil thereof. There is however a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. Men may tolerate injuries whilst they are only personal to themselves. But it is not the first of virtues to bear with moderation the indignities that are offered to our country. A piece has at length appeared, from the quarter of all the former attacks, which upon every publick consideration demands an answer. Whilst persons more equal to this business may be engaged in affairs of greater moment, I hope I shall be excused, if, in a few hours of a time not very important, and from such materials as I have by me, (more than enough however for this purpose,) I undertake to set the facts and arguments of this wonderful performance in a proper light. I will endeavour to state what this piece is; the purpose for which I take it to have been written; and the effects (supposing it should have any effect at all) it must necessarily produce.
that it is frequently far from being easy to com-
This piece is called The present State of the Nation. It may be considered as a sort of digest of the avowed maxims of a certain political school, the effects of whose doctrines and practices this country will feel long and severely. It is made up of a farrago of almost every topick which has been agitated on national affairs in parliamentary debate, or private conversation, for these last seven years. The oldest controversies are hauled out of the dust with which time and neglect had covered them. Arguments ten times repeated, a thousand times answered before, are here repeated again. Publick accounts formerly printed and re-printed revolve once more, and find their old station in this sober meridian. All the common-place lamentations upon the decay of trade, the increase of taxes, and the high price of labour and provisions, are here retailed again and again in the same tone with which they have drawled through columns of Gazetteers and Advertisers for a century together. Paradoxes which affront common sense, and uninteresting barren truths which generate no conclusion, are thrown in to augment unwieldy bulk, without adding any thing to weight. Be-ville; and, under the description of men of virtue cause two accusations are better than one, contradictions are set staring one another in the face, without even an attempt to reconcile them. And, to give the whole a sort of portentous air of labour and information, the table of the house of commons is swept into this grand reservoir of politicks.
His undertaking is great. The purpose of this pamphlet, at which it aims directly or obliquely in every page, is to persuade the publick of three or four of the most difficult points in the worldthat all the advantages of the late war were on the part of the Bourbon alliance; that the peace of Paris perfectly consulted the dignity and interest of this country; and that the American Stampact was a master-piece of policy and finance; that the only good minister this nation has enjoyed since his Majesty's accession, is the Earl of Bute; and the only good managers of revenue we have seen, are Lord Despenser and Mr. George Gren
and ability, he holds them out to us as the only persons fit to put our affairs in order. Let not the reader mistake me he does not actually name these persons; but, having highly applauded their conduct in all its parts, and heavily censured every other set of men in the kingdom, he then recommends us to his men of virtue and ability.
Such is the author's scheme. Whether it will answer his purpose I know not. But surely that purpose ought to be a wonderfully good one, to warrant the methods he has taken to compass it. If the facts and reasonings in this piece are admitted, it is all over with us. The continuance of our tranquillity depends upon the compassion of our rivals. Unable to secure to ourselves the advantages of peace, we are at the same time utterly unfit for war. It is impossible, if this state of things be credited abroad, that we can have any
alliance; all nations will fly from so dangerous a connexion, lest, instead of being partakers of our strength, they should only become sharers in our ruin. If it is believed at home, all that firmness of mind and dignified national courage, which used to be the great support of this isle against the powers of the world, must melt away, and fail within us.
"preceding it.-The conquest of the Havannah "had, indeed, stopped the remittance of specie "from Mexico to Spain; but it had not enabled England to seize it on the contrary, our mer"chants suffered by the detention of the galleons, as their correspondents in Spain were disabled from paying them for their goods sent to "America. The loss of the trade to old Spain was a farther bar to an influx of specie; and "the attempt upon Portugal had not only deprived us of an import of bullion from thence, but the payment of our troops employed in its defence was a fresh drain opened for the diminution of our circulating specie.-The high premiums given for new loans had sunk the price of the "old stock near a third of its original value; so "that the purchasers had an obligation from the "state to repay them with an addition of 33 per "cent. to their capital. Every new loan required new taxes to be imposed; new taxes must add "to the price of our manufactures and lessen "their consumption among foreigners. The decay of our trade must necessarily occasion a "decrease of the public revenue; and a deficiency "of our funds must either be made up by fresh "taxes, which would only add to the calamity; or our national credit must be destroyed, by "shewing the publick creditors the inability of "the nation to repay them their principal money. "-Bounties had already been given for recruits "which exceeded the year's wages of the plowman "and reaper; and as these were exhausted, and "husbandry stood still for want of hands, the "manufacturers were next to be tempted to quit
In such a state of things can it be amiss if I aim at holding out some comfort to the nation; another sort of comfort, indeed, than that which this writer provides for it; a comfort, not from its physician," but from its constitution; if I attempt to shew that all the arguments upon which he founds the decay of that constitution, and the necessity of that physician, are vain and frivolous? I will follow the author closely in his own long career, through the war, the peace, the finances, our trade, and our foreign politicks: not for the sake of the particular measures which he discusses; that can be of no use; they are all decided; their good is all enjoyed, or their evil incurred but for the sake of the principles of war, peace, trade, and finances. These principles are of infinite moment. They must come again and again under consideration; and it imports the publick, of all things, that those of its ministers be enlarged, and just, and well confirmed, upon all these subjects. What notions this author entertains we shall see presently; notions in my opinion very irrational, and extremely dangerous; and which, if they should crawl from pamphlets into counsels, and be realized from private speculation into national measures, cannot fail of hastening and completing our ruin.
This author, after having paid his compliment" the anvil and the loom by higher offers.to the shewy appearances of the late war in our favour, is in the utmost haste to tell you that these appearances were fallacious, that they were no more than an imposition.-I fear I must trouble the reader with a pretty long quotation, in order to set before him the more clearly this author's peculiar way of conceiving and reasoning:
Happily (the K.) was then advised by ministers, who did not suffer themselves to be daz"zled by the glare of brilliant appearances; but "knowing them to be fallacious, they wisely re"solved to profit of their splendour before our "enemies should also discover the imposition."The increase in the exports was found to have "been occasioned chiefly by the demands of our own fleets and armies, and, instead of bringing "wealth to the nation, was to be paid for by op"pressive taxes upon the people of England. "While the British seamen were consuming on "board our men of war and privateers, foreign ships and foreign seamen were employed in the transportation of our merchandize; and the carrying trade, so great a source of wealth and "marine, was entirely engrossed by the neutral "nations. The number of British ships annually "arriving in our ports was reduced 1756 sail, con"taining 92,559 tons, on a medium of the six years war, compared with the six years of peace * P. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
"France, bankrupt France, had no such ca"lamities impending over her; her distresses were great, but they were immediate and temporary; her want of credit preserved her from a great increase of debt, and the loss of her "ultramarine dominions lessened her expences. "Her colonies had, indeed, put themselves into "the hands of the English; but the property of "her subjects had been preserved by capitula"tions, and a way opened for making her those "remittances, which the war had before suspended, with as much security as in the time
of peace.-Her armies in Germany had been "hitherto prevented from seizing upon Hanover; "but they continued to encamp on the same
ground on which the first battle was fought; "and, as it must ever happen from the policy of "that government, the last troops she sent into "the field were always found to be the best, and "her frequent losses only served to fill her regi"ments with better soldiers. The conquest of "Hanover became therefore every campaign more "probable. It is not to be noted, that the "French troops received subsistence only for the "last three years of the war; and that, although "large arrears were due to them at its conclusion, "the charge was the less during its continuance.' If any one be willing to see to how much greater
lengths the author carries these ideas, he will recur to the book. This is sufficient for a specimen of his manner of thinking. I believe one reflection uniformly obtrudes itself upon every reader of these paragraphs. For what purpose in any cause shall we hereafter contend with France? Can we ever flatter ourselves that we shall wage a more successful war? If, on our part, in a war the most prosperous we ever carried on, by sea and by land, and in every part of the globe, attended with the unparalleled circumstance of an immense increase of trade and augmentation of revenue; if a continued series of disappointments, disgraces, and defeats, followed by publick bankruptcy, on the part of France; if all these still leave her a gainer on the whole balance, will it not be downright phrensy in us ever to look her in the face again, or to contend with her any, even the most essential, points, since victory and defeat, though by different ways, equally conduct us to our ruin? Subjection to France without a struggle will indeed be less for our honour, but on every principle of our author it must be more for our advantage. According to his representation of things, the question is only concerning the most easy fall. France had not discovered, our statesman tells us, at the end of that war, the triumphs of defeat, and the resources which are derived from bankruptcy. For my poor part, I do not wonder at their blindness. But the English ministers saw further. Our author has at length let foreigners also into the secret, and made them altogether as wise as ourselves. It is their own fault if (vulgato imperii arcano) they are imposed upon any longer. They now are apprized of the sentiments which the great candidate for the government of this great empire entertains; and they will act accordingly. They are taught our weakness and their own advantages.
He tells the world, that if France carries on the war against us in Germany, every loss she sustains contributes to the achievement of her conquest. If her armies are three years unpaid, she is the less exhausted by expence. If her credit is destroyed, she is the less oppressed with debt. If her troops are cut to pieces, they will by her policy (and a wonderful policy it is) be improved, and will be supplied with much better men. If the war is carried on in the colonies, he tells them that the loss of her ultramarine dominions lessens her expences, and ensures her remittances:
to it, his politicks will not suffer him to walk on this ground. Talking at our ease and of other countries, we may bear to be diverted with such speculations; but in England we shall never be taught to look upon the annihilation of our trade, the ruin of our credit, the defeat of our armies, and the loss of our ultramarine dominions, (whatever the author may think of them,) to be the high road to prosperity and greatness.
The reader does not, I hope, imagine that I mean seriously to set about the refutation of these uningenious paradoxes and reveries without imagination. I state them only that we may discern a little in the questions of war and peace, the most weighty of all questions, what is the wisdom of those men who are held out to us as the only hope of an expiring nation. The present ministry is indeed of a strange character; at once indolent and distracted. But if a ministerial system should be formed, actuated by such maxims as are avowed in this piece, the vices of the present ministry would become their virtues; their indolence would be the greatest of all publick benefits, and a distraction that entirely defeated every one of their schemes would be our only security from destruction.
To have stated these reasonings is enough, I presume, to do their business. But they are accompanied with facts and records, which may seem of a little more weight. I trust, however, that the facts of this author will be as far from bearing the touchstone, as his arguments. On a little enquiry, they will be found as great an imposition as the successes they are meant to depreciate; for they are all either false or fallaciously applied; or not in the least to the purpose for which they are produced.
First the author, in order to support his favourite paradox, that our possession of the French colonies was of no detriment to France, has thought proper to inform us, that "they put themselves "into the hands of the English." He uses the same assertion, in nearly the same words, in another place;§ "her colonies had put themselves "into our hands." Now, in justice not only to fact and common sense, but to the incomparable valour and perseverance of our military and naval forces thus unhandsomely traduced, I must tell this author, that the French colonies did not " put "themselves into the hands of the English." They were compelled to submit; they were subdued by dint of English valour. Will the five years' war carried on in Canada, in which fell one of the principal hopes of this nation, and all the battles lost. and gained during that anxious period, convince this author of his mistake? Let him inquire of Sir Jeffery Amherst, under whose conduct that war was carried on; of Sir Charles Saunders, whose steadiness and presence of mind saved our fleet, and were so eminently serviceable in the whole course of the siege of Quebec; of General Monckton, who was shot through the body there, whether France "put her colonies into the hands of the English."
Though he has made no exception, yet I would | be liberal to him; perhaps he means to confine himself to her colonies in the West Indies. But surely it will fare as ill with him there as in North America, whilst we remember that in our first attempt at Martinico we were actually defeated; that it was three months before we reduced Guadaloupe; and that the conquest of the Havannah was achieved by the highest conduct, aided by circumstances of the greatest good fortune. He knows the expence both of men and treasure at which we bought that place. However, if it had so pleased the peace-makers, it was no dear purchase; for it was decisive of the fortune of the war and the terms of the treaty: the duke of Nivernois thought so; France, England, Europe, considered it in that light; all the world, except the then friends of the then ministry, who wept for our victories, and were in haste to get rid of the burthen of our conquests. This author knows that France did not put those colonies into the hands of England; but he well knows who did put the most valuable of them into the hands of France.
In the next place, our author* is pleased to consider the conquest of those colonies in no other light than as a convenience for the remittances to France, which he asserts that the war had before suspended, but for which a way was opened (by our conquest) as secure as in time of peace. I charitably hope he knows nothing of the subject. I referred him lately to our commanders, for the resistance of the French colonies; I now wish he would apply to our custom-house entries, and our merchants, for the advantages which we derived from them.
In 1761, there was no entry of goods from any of the conquered places but Guadaloupe; in that year it stood thus:
Imports from Guadaloupe,
£. value, 482,179
In 1762, when we had not yet delivered up our conquests, the ac
Total imports in 1762,
In 1763, after we had delivered up the sovereignty of these islands, but kept open a communication with them, the imports were, Guadaloupe,
Besides, I find, in the account of bullion imported and brought to the Bank, that during that period in which the intercourse with the Havannah was open, we received at that one shop, in treasure, from that one place, 559,8107.; in the year 1763, 389,4507.; so that the import from these places in that year amounted to 1,395,3007.
On this state the reader will observe, that I take the imports from, and not the exports to, these conquests, as the measure of the advantages which we derived from them. I do so for reasons which will be somewhat worthy the attention of such readers as are fond of this species of enquiry. I say therefore I choose the import article, as the best, and indeed the only standard we can have, of the value of the West India trade. Our export entry does not comprehend the greatest trade we carry on with any of the West India islands, the sale of negroes: nor does it give any idea of two other advantages we draw from them; the remittances for money spent here, and the payment of part of the balance of the North American trade. It is therefore quite ridiculous, to strike a balance merely on the face of an access of imports and exports, in that commerce; though, in most foreign branches, it is, on the whole, the best method. If we should take that standard, it would appear, that the balance with our own islands is, annually, several hundred thousand pounds against this country.
Such is its aspect on the custom-house entries; but we know the direct contrary to be the fact. We know that the West Indians are always indebted to our merchants, and that the value of every shilling of West India produce is English property. So that our import from them, and not our export, ought always to be considered as their true value; and this corrective ought to be applied to all general balances of our trade, which are formed on the ordinary principles.
If possible, this was more emphatically true of the French West India islands, whilst they continued in our hands. That none, or only a very contemptible part, of the value of this produce could be remitted to France, the author will see, perhaps with unwillingness, but with the clearest conviction, if he considers, that in the year 1763, after we had ceased to export to the isles of Guadaloupe and Martinico, and to the Havannah, and after the colonies were free to send all their produce to Old France and Spain, if they had any remittance to make; he will see, that we imported from those places, in that year, to the amount of £. 1,395,300l. So far was the whole annual pro412,303 duce of these islands from being adequate to the 344,161 payments of their annual call upon us, that this 249,386 mighty additional importation was necessary, though not quite sufficient, to discharge the debts contracted in the few years we held them. The property, therefore, of their whole produce was
Total imports in 1763,