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The late S. T. Coleridge on the Sohoolmen 241
The “ Dublin Review," and Luther's
Work, and on the Work itself, by the
Turning to the East
Incomes of the Clergy
of Bristol, to his Grace the Lord Arch-
Lichfield and Coventry Church Building
ciety for Promoting the Increase of
JAN. 1, 1837.
COMMERCE OF THE JESUITS IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.
THE HISTORY OF FATHER DE LA VALETTE. The commerce of the Jesuits is a subject which deserves more consideration than it has usually met with in this country. It illustrates, by very plain facts, at once the wonderful power possessed by this extraordinary order of men and the means by which it was acquired and kept. The following narrative, it is hoped, will not be found Wanting in interest of another kind, as the history of a man of great enterprise and talent, while the facts which it unfolds serve more than any general statements could do to lay open the muscles and sinews,. by which this vast frame was moved.
In the year 1743, Father de la Valette, a member of the Society of Jesus, landed on the Island of Martinique, then occupied by the French, in the character of priest of the small parish of Carbet, situated a mile or two from St. Pierre. The Jesuits at that time had but a slender footing in the West Indies, but Father de la Valette was destined to change the face of affairs within a very few years. His superiors, although he was nominally attached to the cure of Carbet, considered him too valuable a man to waste his energies in evangelizing a small village, and we find accordingly that ere long his operations extended from one hemisphere to the other, and the streams that issued from the fountain head in the West Indies, spread in Europe into a thousand fertilizing rills. To descend, however, from metaphor to plain matter of fact, we find that he almost immediately engaged in the most extensive commercial transactions.
In order to understand the nature of his dealings, we must explain the condition of things at that time, with regard to Martinique and France. French money bore so high a premium at Martinique, that the French crown, of six livres, was worth nine of Martinique currency ; so that, in transmitting money to France, the colonists would lose one
VOL. XI.-Jan. 1837.
third of their fortunes. They did not, therefore, transmit silver; and paper was not usual, because bills can only be drawn upon debtors, and the mother country would naturally be the creditor of the colony. The plan usually adopted was, to send home colonial produce instead of money, and in this they only incurred a loss of about twenty per cent.
Father de la Valette undertakes to remedy this inconvenience, and offers to transmit money to Paris without any loss in fact, to receive 1000 crowns at Martinique, and to pay for them 9000 livres at Paris ; or, in other words, to receive 1000 and to pay 1500! This appears, at first sight, something like madness, and very unlike the sort of craft which is commonly attributed to the order of Jesuits. We must look, therefore, to the means which the priest of Carbet proposed to use in order to perform his engagements.
He takes a long credit, giving bills, in some cases, of thirty, and in some, of thirty-six months.
2. There is a certain gold coin of Portugal (called in French, moëtte,) which was worth, in France, forty-two livres, and in Martinique, sixty-six livres.
He, therefore, first converted the money into colonial produce, on which he lost only twenty per cent., and after selling it in France, his agents had orders to transmit the proceeds to Martinique in these Portuguese coins. To take a simple example-he would receive 6000 livres at Martinique which were worth in France only 4000, but by converting it into coffee and sugar, which were sold in France, he obtained 1800 livres, his loss being only twenty per cent.* These would buy him 114 Portuguese pieces, and twelve livres over. These were worth at Martinique 7524 livres, so that, during one voyage, he would gain at Martinique about 1524 livres on 6000. Now the passage might be made three times in the course of the year, so that a profit of about 4574 would accrue on this sum, without supposing any use to be made of the interest on the first two voyages. He would thus, in one year, have more than double the sum required to pay loss on a transfer.
Even allowing six months for a voyage and return, the profit would be in one year 3048, (without counting the twelve livres over,) which is more than 1000 livres clear above the loss incurred by exchange. In three years, of course, this would be tripled, and he would gain considerably more than 100 per cent., without supposing the first profits to be employed in further trading.
These preliminary statements were necessary to render what follows intelligible; but we may now proceed at once to the eventful drama,
# I must here observe, that the French authority from which this statement is taken, calculates the interest differently. "They say, 6000 at Martinique=4800 in France, if converted into produce. They add, that these 4800 would buy 117 Portuguese coins at forty-two livres each, with three livres over; and that at Martinique these 117 pieces were worth 7722 livres, which, with the three above mentioned, nake 7725, and that his profit was, therefore, 1725 livres on a single voyage. This appears to the writer an erroneous statement; he has thereiore made his own, without inquiring what the origin of the error may be.