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certainly as nature shall hold her course in the production of vegetables, and the revolution of seasons. But because I would not swell this treaties to too expensive a bulk, I shall content myself with acquainting the reader that they have no doubt of the kindly growth of cotton, almonds, olives, &c. And in short, of every vegetable that can be found in the best countries under the same latitude.
I foresee an objection against what is here laid down : it may be said that all the countries under the same latitude do not produce the same commodities; that some of them are incapable of raising choice vegetables, which others of them nourish with the utmost facility. For answer to this objection, what was said in the second chapter should be considered : the intemperate heats of Barbary, Egypt and Arabia are there accounted for, from the vicinity of boundless sandy deserts; on the other hand, near Mount Caucasus in Asia, and particularly in the kingdom of Kaschmere, or Kasimere, (which is entirely surrounded by prodigious mountains) their seasons are almost as cold as ours in England, though they lie in the same latitude with Tangier, or Gibraltar.
. These instances of the temperature in countries equidistant from the Equator, are very opposite to each other, the medium between them is the happy portion of Georgia ; which therefore must be productive of most of the valuable commodities in the vegetable world.
Observations on the Commerce, Navigation, and Plantations of Great Britain,
compared with those of some of her Neighbors.
WHOEVER would be fully informed concerning the figure which England has made in all ages, in maritime affairs, may find abundance of curious matter in Selden's Mare Clausum, and from his time to ours may learn facts from the Gazettes, or read a faithful transcript of both in Burchet's Naval History. I shall take notice of two remarkable periods of our
ancient maritime story, because some useful observations may be made in comparing them, both with other nations, and with ourselves in our present situation.
We are told that Edgar, king of this island, had four thousand ships, by the terror of which he subdued Norway, Denmark, all the islands of the ocean, and the greatest part of Ireland. These instances of his power are specified in a record cited by that great lawyer, Sir Edward Coke, in the preface to his Fourth Report. This monarch made a naval progress yearly round this island, and once took it in his head to cause eight conquered kings to row his barge on the river Dee. But it seems that some of his successors bave had such pacific ministers, as either neglected to keep our fleets in repair, or were afraid to make use of them ; for, at several periods of time, since the days of King Edgar, we find that this kingdom has been miserably insulted on the seas, and even successfully invaded by other nations.
The British Neptune slept, or slumbered, most part of the time, from the reign of King Edgar to that of Queen Elizabeth. In her days he sprung up with vigor, being roused by Spain, which was then the greatest maritime power on earth. From Queen Elizabeth to our time, our naval strength has gradually increased, insomuch that at this day, the Spanish fleets opposed to ours, would make a very contemptible figure on the ocean: we now have it in our power to lord it over the watery world. It may be worth our inquiry to know how these fluctuations have happened in the dominion of the seas? And in the issue, that inquiry will be found pertinent to the project now on foot for planting a new colony in Georgia.
The tasks and course of life of sea-faring men are not to be learned in an instant; their employment is a laborious trade, to be acquired only by application and industry, Money will buy all naval stores except mariners, but unless a succession of-them be preserved, no wealth will be able to purchase them. The surest, the cheapest, I may justly call it, the only profitable method of supporting such a succession, is to have perpetual occasion for a multitude of seamen in a course of trade. It is indeed probable that Edgar's amazing power at sea was, for the most part, owing to his own great genius, attended with indefatigable industry in training up, and year by year augmenting the number of his mariners ; for in those days, England had no great share of foreign traffic, people generally contenting themselves with the produce of their native country. This great Prince must therefore have grievously oppressed his vassals to enable him to keep up so great an armament; and it is no wonder that it dwindled in succeeding reigns because it had not that solid aliment, trade, to nourish it.
The Spanish successes in America caused their shipping to increase beyond all their neighbors ; they had occasion in their beginnings there, for great numbers of transports, to carry not only men, but also horses and other cattle, and stores to their new conquests. Add to which, that Sicily and a great part of Italy belonged to them at that time. The communication with these places last mentioned, was by sea, so that they had a considerable part in the increase of the Spanish naval power. In this fourishing condition they continued for a great part of the long reigns of their Philip the IId, and that of our Elizabeth. She had not a fleet able to give their armada battle: her ships indeed were light and nimble, the Spanish, though larger and more numerous, were unwieldy ; therefore the lighter vessels being in no danger of a chase, fought, or stood off, as they saw occasion. But this advantage would not have been sufficient, if Providence had not interposed a tempest, for the protection of England.
The Queen knew to what causes she owed her danger and her deliverance, and became more attentive than ever to plant colonies in America. Death prevented her from executing her great designs; but some of her best and wisest subjects, and boldest seamen, had entered so deeply into the plan, and laid it so nearly to their hearts, that what she had intended in the settlement of Virginia was in a good measure effected in the reign of King James the Ist, though the undertaking was a great * difficulty upon his timorous councils, because the Spaniards, of whom he stood in servile awe, did not approve of it. But his shame, with much debate, barely got the better of his fears, and that mine of treasure was opened to Great Britian.
This, with what else has since been executed in favor of England, both on the continent, and in the islands of that new world, has added such a weight of maritime force to the
had intended and it so nearly to the entered so deeply into
* See a short collection of the most remarkable passages from the original to the dissolution of the Virginia Company.
natural strength which we owe to our situation, that we are able to give law to the ocean. Spain, indeed, has greater countries and more subjects in America than we have, and yet does not navigate in that trade a tenth part of the shipping that we do. By a lucky kind of poverty our dominions there have no mines of gold or silver: we must be, and ought to be contented to deal in rum, sugar, rice, tobacco, horses, beef, corn, fish, lumber, and other commodities that require great stowage; the carriage of these employs millions of tons of shipping. The value of five thousand pounds in these wares loads a vessel, which in the Spanish trade would be freighted homeward with half a million of pounds sterling. Thus has the Almighty placed the true riches of this earth on the surface of it; our rice and tobacco are more real and permanent wealth than their richest minerals. They are wealth which create a power to defend our possession of them: and without a sufficient force to defend it, the possession of all wealth is precarious. Should not Great Britain therefore be attentive to the new settlement of Georgia? What an addition will it quickly make to the tonnage of our shipping? And what a seasonable support will it prove to our island colonies, who stand in need of so near a neighborhood of their brethren.
The Dutch were esteemed all the last century the only match for England on the seas; but as a great part of their strength was merely artificial, it subsides like the vivacity of a wretch who has raised his spirits with a dose of opium. Commerce and that wealth and power which attend it may be either absolutely in the power of a state, or empire, considered in and by itself, without regard to its neighbors, which I call natural wealth, power and commerce; or they may depend upon treaties with other States, or be owing to their connivance, which pro tempore amount to a tacit agreement; these latter species I call technical wealth, &c. Such was the fishery of the Dutch, which they enjoyed by the inactivity of some of our English kings: and this must decline of course, because of our superior treasures of this kind on the banks of Newfoundland. Another branch of their artificial strength was, that by the indolence of all nations they were for a time the carriers of the universe: but the world is grown wiser, other nations begin to work for themselves, and the Netherlands will sadly find that this temporary fund of strength must also fail them. Their only natural foreign
wealth and strength is their East India trade; part of this is truly their own, because the land that produces spices is in their possession : but when the two former branches shall be cut off, they will find that possession every day more and more precarious.
Thus the British empire has a natural wealth in itself and in its dependent members; but it has also for many years past enjoyed an adventitious, or artificial traffic. We have been employed by all the world in the wollen manufacture, but other nations have begun of late to clothe themselves and their neighbors too. It is a fond fancy in us to imagine that there are no fleecy sheep in the world but our own, or that the rest of mankind will not learn the mystery of working in wool. We feel this trade decreasing daily, and yet there are those among us who would argue against demonstration. But when they hope, by any laws of Great Britain to hinder foreign nations from falling into the woollen manufacture, they may as well solicit an act of parliament to prevent their grass to grow, and to intercept their sunshine. I will consider one objection before I leave this point, because some imagine that we are secure in this trade, against the endeavors of all foreigners ; say they, we make better goods than can be made with any foreign wool, unless it be mixed with ours. Be it so. But then, does our great wealth and income by that trade consist only in our finest goods ? Do not our merchants complain that Ireland under-sells us in coarse goods at Lisbon ; that because their wares are coarse, they can be afforded cheap, therefore they have a ready market, while ours that are finer, but dearer, may rot in the ware-house? What says our Russia Company ? Has not Prussia supplanted us in the clothing of the Muscovite army? Who is ignorant of the extensiveness of the undertaking at Abbeville in Picardy? We are sending some armed sloops to check the Irish, but who will restrain the French and Germans? The multitude do not much value the fineness of their garments, they only desire to be warm ; it is the clothing of the millions that produces millions of money; and this is what other countries will certainly have their share in.,
Is not this a time to cast our eyes upon our natural wealth, and to augment it as fast as possible? If Muscovy supplies its own woollen goods, or is supplied by any other foreigner, it ought to make us resolve to bring our naval stores from North America; if Spain and Italy refuse our drapery, we