Page images

was observed and noted down. The French government had active agents in England, as in every other country, whose business it was to transmit the most detailed report of all the political matters that came within their view,—to record the whispers of the drawing-room and the mutterings of the coffee-house. Such an agent was at work in England to prepare the way for Tallard. The Memorandum on the Affairs of England," written by the Abbé Renaudet, in February, 1698, contains some curious notices of the government and the people, which are not without a permanent interest.* He thinks that the country will be more difficult to govern during peace than it was during the war. He measures the political disposition of the aristocracy by a very different standard than that prevailing at Versailles. “ An English noble does not much mind being on bad terms with the Court, inasmuch as he is able to support himself by joining the popular party.” He thinks the existing ministry will fall, and therefore it will be necessary for the interests of the French king, “to discover, as far as possible, what are the feelings of the two Houses on this subject,” lest too inuch confidence should be placed in men who are in an unsafe position. He says that this precaution is the more necessary, as "the English nobility were never more discontented than they are at present with those who possess the entire confidence of the master whom they have set over them. They are all convinced that they have no share in his confidence. They see with indignation the Dutch loaded with wealih and honours, especially the last favourite, who is a young man of great insolence and dissipation." + The sagacious Abbé, holding that, “among the Peers, there is a party formed against the Court,' nevertheless recommends the greatest caution in all transactions with discontented persons, lest "the jealousy of the nation should be roused," to suspect designs “against religion and liberty.” Flatter the pride of the nobles, by all kinds of attentions ; take their part in trivial matters ; strive to gain the friendship of those who are in credit; and do nothing except through a third party, in all that may affect interests hostile to the Court,-such are the means by which France was to keep up its influence in England—far more dangerous as an intriguing friend than as an open enemy..

His last recommendation is the most insidious : “Too much esteem and respect cannot be shown to the prelates of the Anglican Church, several of whom entertain sentiments favourable to king James."


* Printed in Grimblot, vol. I. p. 228.

! A nold Jos: Keppel, earl of Albemarle, was of an ancient noble family of Guelderland, and came over with William as page of honour. He was not twenty-eight years of




The “ Instructions of count Tallard, his majesty's Ambassador Extraordinary to the king of England,” are conceived in the same spirit of concealed dislike to the government of William, and inculcate the same watchfulness over every manifestation of party hostility or popular discontent. The knowledge displayed of the English political system, and of the temper of the Parliament, shows the range and accuracy of the statesmanship of France. The advantage of having access to the accounts of income and expendi: ture, of commerce, of the state of the army and navy, of the Crown revenues, of all that relates to finances, is pointed out. These, being laid before Parliament, "are not kept secret; we may, there. fore, judge, to a certainty, by their contents, of the real state of England.” It is evidently a matter of great satisfaction to France that the Parliament has exhibited “much less submission” to the king; "that the reduction of the army, of the navy, and of the subsidies, disables him from undertaking anything in future without the consent of the nation;" and that, probably, “ the difficulties will be found greater in future Parliaments.” William had already tasted of the bitter cup which was preparing for him. At the beginning of March, he wrote to Portland, “I cannot conceal from you that I have never been more vexed and melancholy in all my life than I am now." * He was vexed and melancholy to witness the rash haste with which the Parliament resolved to leave the kingdom almost wholly defenceless. A week later, he again wrote to his ambassador at the court of Louis. “I confess that I have so heartfelt a desire to see no more of war during the short period I yet may have to live, that I will not omit anything, which in honour and conscience I can do, to prevent it.” He instructed Portland to say for him, that he so ardently desired the preservation of peace that he

was not averse from listening to any proposal calculated to ensure its continuance, even in the event of the demise of the king of Spain "--an occurrence which he feared, with the prescience of a sound statesman, might "again plunge all Europe in war.” In the same month,---when there was a general report that the king of Spain was so enfeebled “ that the slightest accident might carry him off in a moment,”-— William, in a letter to Heinsius, said, “ I shudder when I think of the unprepared state of the allies to begin a war, and of the dilapidated state of Spain. It is certain that France is in a condition to take possession of that monarchy, before we shall be able to concert the slightest measures to oppose it. Such is the state of matters here, that I shall be able to contribute little towards the land forces.” Rouse

• Grimblot, vol. t. p. 219.

the allies, on all sides, to the necessity of remaining armed, was the earnest exhortation of William to the Grand Pensionary of Holland. “I wish I could be armed too,” he sighed, “but I see little appearance of it."*

The lapse of a century and a-half produces mighty changes in the political aspects of the world. There was a sovereign in 1698 in England, who had no voice in the Congress of the Hague-no interests to assert at the peace of Ryswick. He came here in very humble guise-by no means like a ruler who was to found a mighty empire, whose growth has been the terror of Western Europe. "He is mechanically turned, and seems designed by nature rather to be a ship-carpenter than a great prince.

He is resolute, but understands little of war.

He is a man of a very hot temper, soon inflamed, and very brutal in his passion.” | Moreover, he is given to brandy drinking, and is subject to convulsive motions all over his body. This was Peter I., Czar of Muscovy, who, whatever Bishop Burnet might have thought, had really some notions of government and war-a tall man, with a taint of something savage in his handsome countenance-but one who knew what curbing savages meant. He was a very incomprehensible monarch to the English people. William hired Mr. Evelyn's house at Sayes Court for the czar, that he might see the building of ships in the dockyards at Deptford and Woolwich. Mr. Evelyn's servant writes to his master, “ There is a house full of people, and right nasty.

The king is expected here this day. The best parlour is pretty clean for him to be entertained in.” William paid his visit. “ The czar had a favourite monkey, which sat down upon the back of his chair. As soon as the king was set down, the monkey jumped upon him in some wrath, which discomposed the whole ceremonial.”' | Peter ruined Mr. Evelyn's holly-hedge; and after his day's work as a carpenter at Rotherhithe, upon a ship that was building for him, recreated himself with beer and brandy, and smoked his pipe, at an alehouse on Tower Hill. Burnet writes, " After I had seen him often, and conversed much with him, I could not but adore the depth of the Providence of God that had raised up such a furious man to so absolute an authority over a great part of the world.” Pieter Timmerman, who worked for wages at Saardam, and cooked his own dinner, became through his extraordinary process of self-edu. cation, the instrument of working out designs of Providence of which we are yet far from seeing the full development.

* Grimblot, vol. i. pp. 307-313.

Dartmouth Note on Burnei, vol. iv. p. 396.

+ Burnet, vol. iv. p. 396.




Commercial Policy of England. --System of Prohibition.-Restrictions upon the trade of

Ireland.-Restrictions upon the trade of Scotland.--Scotch spirit of Commercial Adventure. African and Indian Company, -Scotch Colony at Darien.


In the commercial policy of England, at the period of which we are now treating, there were two words of magical power, which represented the system upon which all industrial operations were conducted. These words were, Prevention-Encouragement. We open the Statute Book. At one page we find “ An Act to prevent.” We turn a few leaves, and we find “ An Act to encourage.” There is some home manufacture to be supported; there is some foreign product to be prohibited. To carry out these Statutes required a vigilance of no ordinary nature. Officers of the government were constantly scouring over the sands and marshes of the coast, to embarrass the operations of a most indefatigable race, known by the name of smugglers, with which we are still familiar, and by the name of owlers, which has lost its place in our language. Owling and smuggling were carried on upon a large scale, by considerable capitalists. In the Session of 1698, the Parliament proceeded against some dozen of opulent merchants with foreign names, by impeaching them of high crimes and misdemeanours, for fraudulently importing foreign alamodes and lustrings, and for illegally exporting native wool. They carried on this traffic in vessels regularly passing between France and the English coast, where the smugglers were waiting to bear away the silks to the interior, and the owlers were at hand with a return cargo of wool for Picardy. The delinquent merchants pleaded guilty at the bar of the Lords. One was fined ten thousand pounds; one, three thousand pounds; two, fifteen hundred pounds each; three, a thousand pounds each ; and one, five hundred pounds. These sums were applied to the building of Greenwich Hospital.

If the paternal system of prohibition, which all governments are so unwilling to relinquish, had been confined to countries then regarded as natural rivals, if not as natural enemies, a century and a-valí might have elapsed before even well-informed Englishmen would have regarded the principle as fallacious and injurious to

[ocr errors]

the real interests of a country. Not half a century has passed since those who advocated a contrary opinion were denounced as hard-hearted political economists. Logicians of this character still linger in a few provincial towns; and even a grave historian dates the certain ruin of our people from the establishment of commercial freedom. Great States in our own day look upon the vast extension of the trade of these islands, but make very small advances to accomplish the same ends by the same means. The most despotic government in Europe dares not encounter the monopolists of iron. The transatlantic government, that claims to be at the head of free institutions, clings to its exclusive tariff. Nations have their infancy as well as individuals. “When I was a child,” says the Apostle of the Gentiles, “ I spake as a child, I understood as a child ; I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things.” Nations, in their apparent manhood, do not readily "put away childish things.” The go-cart is still necessary to keep their feet from falling. They still delight to play with straws and feathers.

There is probably no manifestation of commercial jealousy more absurd than the interference of England, after the Restoration of Charles II., with the free course of the industry of Ireland and Scotland. The rural interests of England had prevented the importation of Irish cattle. In the Statute of Charles II. such cattle were called “a nuisance." The Irish farmers took to breeding sheep; and wool being abundant, woollen manufactures were set up. In 1698, the Commons went up with an Address to the king, in which they expressed their great trouble that “ Ireland should of late apply itself to the woollen manufacture;” and they implored his majesty " that he would make it his royal care, and enjoin all those he employed in Ireland, to use their utmost diligence to hinder the exportation of wool from Ireland-except imported hither--and for discouraging the woollen, and encouraging the linen, manufacture in Ireland.” Upon this representation, William wrote to the earl of Galway, “ The chief thing that must be tried to be prevented is, that the Irish Parliament takes no notice of what has passed in this, here ; and that you make effectual laws for the linen manufacture, and discourage, as far as possible, the woollen.” In their Address to the king. the Commons implored him to “find means to secure the trade of England, by making his subjects of Ireland to pursue the joint interests of both kingdoms.” We can now understand how these joint interests would have been better promoted, by leaving the productive industry and the commercial intercourse of both countries perfectly

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »