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IT is always happy when private amusement can be I made subservient to general convenience. Having enjoyed a pleasure in collecting the Treaties between Great Britain and other nations, in adjusting their dates, and in comparing their provisions, I presumed to think that, were I to publish the result of my enquiries, statesmen, whose duty leads them to consult national conventions, might find an utility where I had discovered the gratifications of research and acquisition.
Without the correspondence of Du Mont, the learning of Barbeyrac, or the zeal of Rousset, it had been easy to print a voluminous collection of treaties. My object, however, was not to make a big book, but an useful book; a commodious selection, which might lie handily on the table, and be readily inspected. With this design, I have printed, in the following sheets, those treaties which are most frequently perused: I have referred to those treaties which are often consulted.
The collections of national conventions, which were published at successive periods, and in different countries, have not been always conveniently arranged, or accurately printed, at the same time that they were universally allowed to be useful. They generally followed, indeed, a chronological order. But, from the
vast mass of discordant matter, it was often a difficult task to collect the treaties which belonged to any particular nation, or to adjust the stipulations which related to any specified subject.
In the following collection, I have preserved a chronological order, while I have brought together the treaties which at various times have been formed with each different nation. Without any strong motive of choice, I began with Rufia, in the north ; I regularly proceeded to the south of Europe; 1 diverged afterwards to Africa and Asia; and ended finally in America. I fatter myself this arrangement will be found commodious. To the treaties, which belong to each particular country, and which form a distinct head, I have prefixed a chronological index of prior treaties, for the purpose of tracing a principle of connexion, and shewing where those preceding conventions may be found. The usefulness of this prefatory index will be acknowledged by those, who having been engaged in much study, or in much business, have felt the happiness of kncwing where to lay one's hand on the thing that the pressure of the moment required. But, the brevity which I prescribed to myself, did not allow me to swell this prefatory index with the mention of every agreement, either for the hire of troops, or the performance of temporary stipulations. I was directed by my notions of utility, either in publishing some treaties, or in not mentioning others. The public, whose convenience I have endeavoured to promote, and to whose opinion I respectfully submit, will ultiinately determine whether, in making this selection, I have been directed by judgment, or by caprice.
The first treaty which was ever published in this nation, by authority, was the treaty with Spain, in 1604, which was conducted by Sir Robert Cecil, the first Lord Salisbury, with such wonderful talents and address. No treaty was printed, without authority, during any preceding period. It had been extremely dangerous for private persons, in the reign of King James, in the former, or in the subsequent reign, to have published treaties with foreign Powers; because to have done this had been considered as medelling with matters of state, and punished as an infringement of prerogative. The treaties of Charles I. were published by authority. Cromwell made many treaties, because he was anxious, like John IV. of Portugal, to procure the recognition of other Powers: but, I doubt, whether he lived to publish them. The reign of Charles II. was fruitful in treaties, which were printed by authority, often singly, and sometimes collectively. The four treaties of Breda were published by the King's special command *, in 1667. A collection, comprehending seventeen treaties, beginning with the Commercial Treaty with Spain, in 1667, and ending with the Algerine treaty in 1682, was printed by direction of Lord Sunderland, the secretary of state, in March 1684 t. Such had been the smallness of this impression, or such the demand for it, that this useful code was reprinted in 1686. The falutary practice of publishing by authority what was so necessary to be known, which had been begun by King James, was continued by King William, and by his royal successors.
It was however in King William's councils, that it was first determined to print authoritatively the PUBLIC CONVENTIONS of Great Britain with other Powers . It was owing to that determination, that the reign of Queen Anne saw the publication of Rymer's FOEDERA.
* By the assigns of J. Bill and C. Barker, the King's printers, 4to, 80 pages.
+ By the assigns of J. Bill, and H. Hills, and T. Newcomb, the King's printers. Londin, 1635, 450, 269 pages.
I The warrani, empo.vering Thomas Rymer to search the public repositories for this great design, was dated on the 26th of August 1693. This warrant was renewed on the 3d of May 1707, when Robert Sanderson was appointed his aslistant. And, on the 15th of February 1717, Sanderson was continued the single coriductor of this laborious undertaking. A 3