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good writers by their posterity, sufficiently shows the merit of persons who are thus employed. Who does not now more admire Cicero as an author, than as a consul of Rome! and does not oftener talk of the cele. brated writers of our own country, who lived in former ages, than of any other particular persons among their contemporaries and fellow subjects !
When I consider myself as a British freeholder, I am in a particular manner pleased with the labours of those who have improved our language with the translation of old Latin and Greek authors; and by that means let us into the knowledge of what passed in the famous governments of Greece and Rome. We have already most of their historians in our own tongue ; and, what is still more for the honour of our language, it has been taught to express with elegance the greatest of their poets in each nation. The illiterate among our countrymen, may learn to judge from Dryden's Virgil of the most perfect epic performance: and those parts of Homer, which have already been published by Mr. Pope, give us reason to think that the Iliad will appear in English with as little disadvantage to that immortal poem.
There is another author, whom I have long wished to see well translated into English, as his work is filled with a spirit of liberty, and more directly tends to raise the sentiments of honour and virtue in his reader, than any of the poetical writers of antiquity. I mean the Pharsalia of Lucan. This is the only author of consideration among the Latin poets, who was not ex: plained for the use of the Dauphịn, for a very obvious reason; because the whole Pharsalia would have been no less than a satire upon the French form of government, The translation of this author is now in the hands of Mr. Rowe, who has already given the world some admirable specimens of it; and not only kept up the fire of the original, but delivered the sentiments with greater perspicuity, and in a finer turn of phrase As undertakings of so difficult a nature require the greatest encouragements, one cannot but rejoice to see those general subscriptions which have been made to them; especially since, if the two works last-mentioned are not finished by those masterly hands, which are now employed in them, we may despair of seeing them attempted by others.
No. 41. FRIDAY, MAY 11.
Hor. As the care of our national commerce redounds more to the riches and prosperity of the public, than any other act of government, it is pity that we do not see the state of it marked out in every particular reign with greater distinction and accuracy, than what is usual among our English historians. We may, however, observe in general, that the best and wisest of our monarchs have not been less industrious to extend their trade, than their dominions; as it manifestly turns in a much higher degree to the welfare of the people, if not to the glory of the sovereign.
The first of our kings who carried our commerce, and consequently our navigation, to a very great height, was Edward the Third. This victorious prince, by his many excellent laws for the encouragement of trade, enabled his subjects to support him in his many glorious wars upon the continent, and turned the scale so much in favour of our English merchandise, that, by a balance of trade taken in his time, the exported commodities arnounted to two hundred and ninety-four thousand pounds, and the imported but to thirty-eight thousand,
Those of his successors, under whose regulations our trade flourished most, were Henry the Seventh and Queen Elizabeth. As the first of these was, for his great wisdom, very often styled the English Solomon, he followed the example of that wise king in nothing more, than by advancing the traffic of his people. By this means he reconciled to him the minds of his subjects, strengthened himself in their affections, improved very much the navigation of the kingdom, and repelled the frequent attempts of his enemies.
As for Queen Elizabeth, she had always the trade of her kingdom very much at heart, and we may observe the effects of it through the whole course of her reign, in the love and obedience of her people, as well as in the defeats and disappointments of her enemies.
It is with great pleasure that we see our present sovereign applying his thoughts so successfully to the advancement of our traffic, and considering himself as the king of a trading island. His majesty has already gained very considerable advantages for his people, and is still employed in concerting schemes, and forming treaties, for retrieving and enlarging our privileges in the world of commerce.
I shall only in this paper take notice of the treaty concluded at Madrid, on the fourteenth of December last, 1715; and, by comparing it with that concluded at Utrecht, on the ninth of December, 1713, show several particulars in which the treaty made with his present majesty is more advantageous to Great Britain than that which was made in the last reign; after this general observation, that it is equally surprising how so bad a treaty came to be made at the end of a glorious and successful war; and how so good a one has been obtained in the beginning of a reign disturbed by such intestine commotions. But we may learn from hence, that the wisdom of a sovereign, and the integrity of his ministers, are more necessary for bringing about works of such consequence for the public good, than any juncture of time, or any other the most favourable circumstance.
We must here premise that, by the treaty concluded at Madrid in 1667, the duties of importation, payable upon the manufactures and products of Great Britain, amounted upon the established valuation in the Spanish book of rates, (after the deduction of the gratias,) in Andalusia to 11 one third per cent. in Valentia to 5 per cent and in Catalonia to about 7 per cent. or less; and consequently upon the whole aforesaid trade, those duties could not exceed 10 per cent. in a medium.
After this short account of the state of our trade with Spain, before the treaty of Utrecht under the late queen, we must observe, that by the explanatory articles of this last-mentioned treaty, the duties of importation upon the products and manufactures of Great Britain were augmented in Andalusia to 27 one fifth per cent, at a medium.
But by the late treaty made with his present majesty at Madrid, the said duties are again reduced according to the aforesaid treaty of 1667; and the deduction of the gratias is established as an inviolable law; whereas, before, the gratias of the farmers particularly were altogether precarious, and depended entirely upon courtesy.
That the common reader may understand the nature of these gratias, he must know, that when the king of Spain had laid higher duties upon our English goods than what the merchants were able or willing to comply with, he used to abate a certain part: which indulgence or abatement went under the name of a gratia. But when he had farmed out these his customs to several of his subjects, the farmers, in order to draw more merchandise to their respective ports, and thereby to increase their own particular profits, used to make new abatements, or gratias, to the British merchants, endeavouring sometimes to outvie one another in such indulgences, and by that means to get a greater proportion of custom into their own hands.
But to proceed: the duties on exportation may be computed, to be raised by the Utrecht treaty, near as much as the aforesaid duties of importation: whereas, by the treaty made with his present majesty, they are reduced to their ancient standard.
Complaint having been made, that the Spaniards, after the suspension of arms, had taken several New England and other British ships gathering salt at the island of Tertuga, a very full and just report concerning that affair was laid before her late majesty, of which I shall give the reader the following extract;
“Your majesty's subjects have, from the first settlement of the continent of America, had a free access to this island; and have, without interruptions, unless in time of war, used to take what salt they pleased there: and we have proofs of that usage for above fifty years, as appears by certificates of persons who have been einployed in that trade.
“It doth not appear, upon the strictest enquiry, that the Spaniards ever inhabited or settled on the said island; nor is it probable they ever did, it being all either barren rock, or dry sand, and having no fresh water or provisions in it.
“We take leave to lay before your majesty, the consequence of your majesty's subjects being probibited to fetch salt at Tertuga; which will in part appear from the number of ships using that trade, being, as we are informed, one year with another, about a hundred sail.
“ The salt carried from thence to New England is used chiefly for curing of fish, which is either cod, scale-fish, or mackrel : the former of which is the principal branch of the returns made from the continent to Great Britain by way of Spain, Portugal, and the Straits, for the woollen and other goods sent from this kingdom thither. Besides which, the scalefish and mackrel are of such consequence, that the sugar-islands cannot subsist without them, their negroes being chiefly supported by this fish: so that if they were not supplied therewith from New England, (which they cannot be, if your majesty's subjects are