Oldalképek
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

Bad effe&s of this arrangement,

The trade of Spain with her colonies, while thus fettered and restricted, came necessarily to be conducted with the same fpirit, and upon the same principles, as that of an exclusive company. Being confined to a single port, it was of course thrown into a few hands, and almost the whole of it was gradually engrossed by a small number of wealthy houses, formerly in Seville, and now in Cadiz. These by combinations, which they can easily form, may altogether prevent that competition which preserves commodities at their natural price; and by acting in concert, to which they are prompted by their mutual interest, they may raise or lower the value of them at pleasure. In consequence of this, the price of European goods in America is always high, and often exorbitant. A hundred, two hundred, and even three hundred per cent, are profits not uncommon in the commerce of Spain with her colonies. a) From the same ingrossing fpirit it frequently happens, that traders of the second order, whose warehouses do not contain a complete affortment of commodities for the American market, cannot purchase from the more opulent merchants, such goods as they want, at a lower price than that for which they fold in the colonies. With the fame vigilant

[ocr errors]

are

a) B. Ulloa Retablis. part. ii. p. 191.

Bad effeôs of this arrangement

.

over

jealousy that an exclufive company guards against the intrusion of the free trader, those grown monopolists endeavour to check the progress of every one whose encroachments they dread, b) This restraint of the American commerce to one port, not only affects its domestick state, but limits its foreign operations. Amonopolist may acquire more, and certainly will hazard less, by a confined trade which yields exorbitant profit, than by an extensive commerce in which he receives only a moderate return of gain. It is often his interest not to enlarge, but to circumscribe the sphere of his activity ; and, instead of calling forth more vigorous exertions of commercial industry, it may be the object of his attention to check and set bounds to them. By some such maxim, the mercantile policy of Spain seems to have regulated its intercourse with America. Instead of furnishing the colonies with European goods in such quantity as might render both the price and the profit moderate ; the merchants of Seville and Cadiz seem to have fupplied them with a sparing hand, that the eagerness of competition, amongst customers obliged to purchase in a scanty market, might enable their factors to dispose of their cargoes with exorbitant gain. About the middle of the last century, when the

Y 2

goods in America is always high, and elite

even three hundred per cent, are profissi

rican market, cannot purchase from the more culent merchants, such goods as they will

The trade of Spain with her colonies, vti tios fettered and restricted, came necefs to be conducted with the same spirit

, and a the same principles, as that of an exclus compary. Being confined to a single port, was of course thrown into a few hands, a a'moft the whole of it was gradually engece ty a small number of wealthy boules, I Derly in Seville, and now in Cadiz, Tbelki continations, which they can easily form

, o a'zogether prevent that competition which pa ferves commodities at their natural price; ty aciing in concert, to which they are press ed by their mutual interest, they may or louer the value of them at pleafure. confequence of this, the price of Europos

exorbitart. A hundred, two hundreds

uncommon in the commerce of Spain wit le colonies. a) From the fame ingrosting Hunting frequently happens, that traders of the few cicer, whole warehouses do not contain acte plete afiortment of commodities for the AB

b) Smith's. Inquiry, ii. 171. Campomanes, Educ. Popul. i. 438.

at a lower price than that for which they wid in the colonies. With the fame vigine

2) B. la Reablifla part, ii, p. 1916

de to Amers

the buta and Flota,

exclusive trade to America from Seville was in its most flourishing state, the burden of the two united squadrons of the Galeons and Flota, did not exceed twenty-seven thousand five hundred tons. c) The supply which such a fleet could carry, must have been very inadequate to the demands of those populous and extensive colonies, which depended upon it for all the luxuries, and many of the necessaries of life.

Remedies proposedo

Spain early became fenfible of her declenfion from her former prosperity, and many res fpectable and virtuous citizens employed their thoughts in devising methods for reviving the decaying industry and commerce of their country. From the violence of the remedies propofed, we may judge how desperate and fatal the malady appeared. Some, confounding a violation of police with criminality against the itate, conterded, that in order to check illicit commerce, every person convicted of carrying it on, should be punished with death, and confiscation of all his effects, d) Others, forgetting the distinction between civil offences and acts of impiety, infifted, that contraband trade should be ranked among the crimes reserved for

c) Campomanes, Educ. Popul. i. 435. ii. 110. d) M. de Santa Cruz Commercia Suelto, p. 142.

exc'ofre trade to America from Seville wat i:s mit furishing frate, the burden of b tuo united squadrons of the Galeons and file did not exceed twenty-feven thousand bir hundred toms. c) The supply which seeb ? licet cou'd carry, muft have been very

inade Ç"2?e to the demands of those populous ar estes se colonies, which depended upon it he a'l the luxuries, and many of the neceffit of life.

Remedies proposed,

Spain early became sensible of her des fun from her former prosperity, and many f frettable and virtuous citizens employed that thoughts in deriling inethods for reviving decaying industry and commerce of their cous try. From the violence of the remedies propos tid, we may judge how desperate and fatal de rra'ady appeared. Some, confounding a vis Jation of police with criminality againt de ftate, conter d-d, that in order to check c m:merce, every person convicted of caring it on, should be punished with death, andom fifcation of all his effects. d) Others, forgeting the diftinction between civil offences it's of impiety, infifted, that contraband trade

[ocr errors]

should be ranked among the crimes reservedic

the cognizance of the Inquifition; that such as were guilty of it might be tried and punished, according to the secret and summary form in which that dreadful tribunal exercises its juris. diction. e) Others, uninstructed by observing the pernicious effects of monopolies in every country where they have been established, have proposed to veft the trade with America in exclusive companies, which interest would render the most vigilant guardians of the Spanish commerce against the incroachment of the interlopers, f)

Beside these wild projects, many schemes, better digested and more beneficial, were suggefted. But under the feeble monarchs, with whom the reign of the Austrian line in Spain closed, incapacity and indecision are conspicuous in every department of government. Instead of taking for their model the active administÞation of Charles V. they affected to imitate the cautious procrastinating wisdom of Philip II. and destitute of his talents, they deliberated perpetually, but determined nothing. medy was applied to the evils under which the national commerce, domestick as well as foreign , languished. These evils continued to increase, and Spain, with dominions more extensive and more opulent than any European

No re

e) Moncada Restauracion politica de Espagna, p. 41.
f) Zavalla y Augnon Representacion, &c. p. 190.

6) Campomanes, Educ. Popul. i. 435. ii, 110.
1) M. de Santa Cruz Commercia Suelto, p. 142.

[ocr errors]

state, poffefsed neither vigour, nor money, 8) nor industry. At length, the violence of a great national convulsion rouzed the flumbering genius of Spain. The efforts of the two contending parties in the civil war, kindled by the

dispute concerning the succession of the crown ; at the beginning of this century, called forth,

in some degree, the ancient spirit and vigour of the nation. While men were thus forming, capable of adopting sentiments more liberal than those which had influenced the councils of the nionarchy during the course of a century, derived from an unexpected fource the means of availing itfelf of their talents, The various powers who favoured the pretensions either of the Auftrian or Bourbon candidate for the Spanish throne, sent formidable fleets and armies to their support; France, England, and Holland remitted immense sums to Spain. These were spent in the provinces which became the theatre of war.

Part of the American treasure, of which foreigners had drained the kingdom, flowed back thither.

of the moft intelligent Spanish authors dates the revival of the monarchy; and, however humiliating the truth may be, he acknowledges, that it is to her enemies his country is indebted for the acquisition of a fund of circulating spe

From this æra,

one

g) Sec NOTE LXV.

« ElőzőTovább »