Page images

before obferved to your lordship, has never been relaxed fince.

For this fordid purpose, they contented themselves with proceeding on the low capital, which neceffity had at first obliged them to fet out upon, and making a few paultry fettlements, barely fufficient to carry on the reftrained trade which fuch a capital could fupport. The event has in this also too well anfwered their defign. The inconfiderable amount of their exports, and confequently of the returns, have kept the trade in fuch obfcurity, as to feem beneath the attention of government, whereby it has remained, according to the letter, however contrary to the spirit of their charter, exclufively in their own hands.

It must be owned that the temptations to this conduct were powerful. Without hazarding, or even advancing more than a comparative trifle, they have long reaped, and do ftill reap a profit, which a capital ten times as large could not produce in any other channel of commerce; a reason, which too many inftances prove fufficient, in the prefent times, to over-balance national advantage, and juftify breach of faith; for by no other name can fo manifeft a violation of the profeffions of promoting that advantage, upon which all fuch charters are granted, ba called, without as manifeft a violation of truth.

I am aware, that it will be objected to this, by those who are interested to keep these affairs in their present state of darknefs, that the inports prove the fufficiency of the capital for the trade, and that it is abfurd and unnatural to think any men fhould be fo blind to their own advantage, as not to make large exports could they have adequate returns for them. The latter of these objections has been already obviated. I fhall now fhew the fallacy of the former, and in what manner the imports are kept down to their prefent low ftand; low, I mean as to what they might be, for they are high beyond all parallel, confidering what they cost.

Though the natives of the vast countries around Hudson'sBay, with whom the traffic of the company is carried on, are ftill in that ftate of natural ignorance, which people more informed, have arrogantly prefumed to call favage, heaven has not denied them the knowledge neceffary for the few purposes of their narrow fphere of life. They were not long engaged in this traffic, therefore, before they difcovered fome of the grofs impofitions practifed upon them, though they could not poffibly form even a conception of the whole.

I have obferved to your lordship, that the commerce of the Hudfon's-Bay company confifts in bartering fome of our manufactures and commodities, the cheapest and worst of their kinds, with the natives, for their furs. The first thing, which



reafon would fuggeft to be done in fuch a traffic, by thofe, who had the lead in it, must be to fix the rates of the feveral articles to be brought by them for barter, at fuch a standard, as fhould obviate their being ever under a neceffity of altering it, and thereby raising a fufpicion of injuftice in the others, who being neither able to judge of these terms, nor of the accidental circumstances, which might at particular times make an alteration in them neceffary, were they ftruck with exactness, would certainly take offence at fuch alteration, though they could not avoid fubmitting to the first establishment, in the making of which I have not prefumed to mention the least regard to justice.

But inftead of this, a new ftandard is arbitrarily impofed by the company every feason, not on pretence even of any alteration in the value of their own commodities, or those of the natives, but folely according to the quantity of the latter, the whole of which be it more or less than on other years, they calculate so as to get for their own, whofe quantity is nearly the fame every feafon. Such an impofition was too glaring to escape unnoticed even by favages, who though they could not thew their relentment of it, in the fame manner, as people in other circumftances, by difcontinuing the trade, yet did not fail to take the obvious means of preventing it for the future, by bringing no more furs, than their little experience had taught them would fuffice to procure in exchange all the commodities of the company, the quantity of which they alfo knew by experience. The remainder, for in their huntings for food they May many more of the various animals, than they bring the furs of to market, they either confume themselves in ufes they might difpenfe with, could they turn them to any better ufe, or actually throw away; practifing out of refentment the fame policy with the Dutch, in regaid to their fuperfluous fpices.'

The cause and confequences of the conduct, which has been invariably purfued by the Hudfon's-Bay company, ever fince it was established, having been confidered, let us now confider what would be the effect, had they adopted a different fyftem, or rather had no fuch eftablishment been made from the beginning, but the trade left open in its natural ftate; indeed the only ftate in which any trade can prove beneficial to a nation, all monopolies by their principles counteracting the public Intereft, and letting up a private one in oppofition to it. The only trade (or at least the only one worth taking any notice of) carried on at prefent by the Hudfon's-Bay company, is the fur-trade. But befide this, there are others already difcovered, which, if pushed to their proper extent, would very foon not

[merged small][ocr errors]

only equal, but most probably even exceed that; not to men tion the probability of difcovering ftill more.

The first of thefe which I fhall mention, and which, to the furprize of reafon, has not hitherto been thought of any confequence, is the fishery. I will take upon me to say, that the whale and feal fisheries in Hudfon's-Bay, and Baffin's-Bay, are capable of affording fufficient, and fufficiently profitable, employment to feveral hundred fifhing veffels. Nor is this a vague affertion. I fpeak it from experience, having been fome years perfonally engaged in the Greenland fishery, after my being at Hudson's Bay, and gained a clear infight into every Branch of it.

• Another moft valuable article of commerce, which those countries would fupply in the greateft plenty, is copper. In the year 1744, I myself difcovered there feveral large lumps of the fineft virgin copper, which in the honeft exultation of my heart at fo important a difcovery I directly fhewed to the company; but the thanks I met, may be eafily judged from the fyftem of their conduct. The fact, without any enquiry into the reality of it, was treated as a chimerical illufion; and a ftop arbitrarily put to all farther fearch into the matter, by the abfolute lords of the foil.

The advantages which would arife from a fufficient fupply of this metal, are alfo obvious to every capacity. It would afford employment to all our various artificers who work in it; and enable us to underfell all competitors at foreign markets; and this at a time, when our internal fupplies of it seem to be nearly exhaufted, and the ufe of it is daily encreafing in all parts of the world.

I have faid, that copper is to be found in plenty in those countries, for this reafon. Wherever any metal is found in Jumps, on or near the furface of the earth, it is a certain proof that the earth abounds with it deeper down; fuch lumps being protruded from the body of the metal, like fparks from a large fire. Nor is it unreafonable to expect, that metals still more valuable might be found in the purfuit of this; the richest gold-mines in the Eaft being intermixed with thofe of copper, as copper itself is with gold in proportion to the fineness of the former; and finer, than the lumps I found there, have I never fcen.

It must not be objected to what I have here advanced, that the intenfity of the froft in thofe climates would defeat all attempts of mining, or at the beft render them fo difficult and deftructive to the lives of the miners, as to make it not worth the attempt. This is only a vulgar error. It is known that froft penetrates but a little way into the earth; no farther than


the immediate action of the atmosphere; where the fphere of that action therefore ceafes, froft ceates of courfe; and the most ignorant labourer knows that the deeper he can work into the earth, the warmer air he will breathe.'

The Hudfon's-Bay company employ four fhips, and 130 feamen. They have four forts, which contain 186 men.And they export commodities to the value of 16,000 a year, and bring home returns to the value of £29,340-which yield to the revenue £ 3734.

If the trade were laid open, the fishery alone in Budfon'sBay, Baffin's Bay, and Davis's Streights, (in the last of which the Dutch find fifh as plenty as in Japan, where they kill them folely for their bone) would afford employment for 800 veffels of every kind, and 16,000 men.-

The trade would require and fupport twelve colonies, confifting of 3000 fettled inhabitants of both fexes.-And, the exports would, in the course of seven years at the very fartheit, amount to 320,000. the returns to 526,800, which would yield to the revenue £74,680, being twenty foli the prefent amount of each, with a certain profpect of farther increale. But so it is, that all these national and great advantages are facrificed to fatten a few worthy individuals.

Before fchemes are engaged in, from commercial views, for profecuting remote difcoveries, it would be well worth attention to cultivate, on permanent principles, thofe branches of trade, already enjoyed; and this cannot better be done, than by breaking down the barriers of exclufive monopolies, the original purpofes of which have not only been long fince effected, but the undertakers very amply gratified. It is now time therefore to listen to the claims of the public.

Remarks on the Review of the Controverfy between Great Britain and her Colonies. In which the Errors of its Author are expofid, and the Claims of the Colonies vindicated, upon the Evidence of hiftorical Facts and authentic Records. To which is fiibisired, a Propafal jer terminating the prefint unhaphy Dispute with the Colonies; recovering their Commerce; recen illating their Affection; fecuring their Rights; and eflablilbing their Dependence or a jut and permanent Bafis. Humbly fubmitted to the Conferetion of the Britifh Legifinture. 8vo. 2 s. 6 d. fewed. Becket, &c. 1709. HE Review of the American controverfy * is once more + fharply and fuccefsfully attacked, by an able hand; who by attending to the obvious import of words in the


See Review, vol. xl. p. 103. † See Obfervations on the Ro view,' &c. ib. p. 435.

REV. July, 1759.



charters of the principal colonies, and the general tenor of thofe tranfactions wherein they have been concerned, clearly proves them to be diftinct dependencies, not included within the realm of England, but having conftitutions framed after the fame model.

To avoid as much as poffible those repetitions which must be the confequence of tracing the particular arguments of many writers on the fame fubject, the following fummary recapitu lation may fuffice as a fpecimen of the Author's manner.

After this Review of the most important tranfactions relating to the moft ancient of our colonies, I flatter myself it will appear indifputable, that in their first fettlement, they were constituted distinct ftates, independent to the parliament of England, because I have fufficiently demonftrated that James and Charles, by whofe authority they were fettled, had a conftitutional right to grant the firft fettlers their title to the terri tories in America, with all the powers of diftinct legislation and government; and that thefe monarchs exercised that right, will appear fufficiently evident, from the tenor of the charters themfelves, confirmed and explained by their fubfequent conduct and declarations, than which nothing more was necessary to constitute the independency of the colonies, fince if their firft inhabitants received and fettled thofe countries, on the terms of independent legiflation and government, made by thofe who had a legal right to grant these terms, it is self-evident that no power whatever could afterwards unite them to the realm of England, without their formal and express confent, which has never been given, nor have they ever been confidered as within this kingdom. It will likewife appear, that from the æra of the first difcovery of America, to the twelfth of Charles the fecond, no act of parliament had ever been extended to the colonies, because they were "not within the realm or jurisdiction of parliament." At that time it will be found, that the legiflature of England firft exercised its authority in the colonies, for regulating their trade, and afterwards for directing their exterior policy, but, at beft, on a very obfcure, I will not fay, no right. If, however, it fhould be agreed, that the colonies were never annexed to the realm, or within the jurifdiction of its parliament, it will require no great fagacity to determine how far their fubmiffion to these acts, in their infant ftate, can preclude their future claims to the right of their original conftitution. It will likewife appear, that, from the difcovery of America, to the era of Grenvillian administration, the only act of parliament that can, with juftice, be faid to have impofed duties, or taxes, on the colonies for any purpose, is that of the 25th of Charles the Second; and that this was never defigned to raise money for any national service, or esta


« EelmineJätka »