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robe the first and leading principle in the government of any kingdom, to provide for the people the mere necessaries of life, yet we think that the greatness and happiness of every country depends so much upon the condition of its manufactures and marine commerce, that it may be wise and beneficial to sacrisice, in some instances, even the landed interest to ob. jects (o essential and important as those above-mentioned.
A little further we meet with another attack upon M. Colbert, who seems to be marked out by the author as the object of his vengeance. . He says, however infatuated the nobility of our own country have been to the splendid manufactures of France, the present taste and elegance of those now produced by our own rich fabricks of folks and velvets in England, are, I am convinced, by some patterns I have lately seen here, equal in beauty, and superior in quality to those of Lyons : and as other nations have also imitated them with good success, the superb city of Lyons, in which the famous Colbert had placed his future fame, hath, within my own memory, like the state of France itself, teen sinking and declining so very fast, that now it manufactures little more than is consumed by the French themselves.
• The proud city of Lyons, which hath long made fo great a figure in trade and commerce, will, it is more than probable, foon experience the same fate, as the once opulent city of Sevile hath met with ; which, though now sunk, from the vices of the Spanish government, into a state of poverty, had, but a century and half ago, according to Don Jeronimo ď Uztariz, a writer of great reputation, within her walls, not less than eight thousand looms, constantly employed in her costly rich manufactures, with which she supplied all the na. tions in Europe ; and however formal and pedantic the preSent Spanish dress may appear in the eyes of refined moderns, Spain was at that time, in its dress, as well as its language and manners, the model for all the courts of Europe.'
This is the first account we remember to have met with, so difgraceful to the city of Lyons ; but that the demand for French manufactured filks and velvets is not at all decreased in this country, is a truth which our own artificers of those branches in Norwich and Spitalfields can too fatally declare.
We cannot help congratulating ourselves that we were born Englishmen, when we read the following account.
• In France, the nobility, the gentry, the clergy, all the great proprietors of land, and every person holding any sort of employment under the state, are exempted from the taille, or the land-tax, whilst the inferior ranks of freeeholders, and all
tue the lower and subordinate classes of people, who, in common policy, ought as much as possible, to be spared, are oppressed by it in the most inhuman manner : even the day-labourers, who are not poffefsed of land, have a tax upon their industry, in proportion to what it is supposed they may, by the sweat of their brows, acquire: and it is a fundamental principle of the French government, that the lower classes of people must be kept poor, to secure their obedience to the state, and to force them to hard labour. This doctrine, however right and easy it may appear to ministers pampered with all the delicacies of life, is certainly carried to extremes, very inconsistent with true policy and the real interest of the state : for the peasants and labouring people, are, from their constant fatigues, and want of proper food to recruit their strength, exhausted and worn out, even before the age of fifty: the robust and full-fed people, who labour at the plough in England, would hear with astonishment, that the same classes of people in France, never taste any other reward for the sweat of their brows, and the curse of their existence, than a scanty support of bread, and water, and roots.'
The objections our author makes to the method of con. ducing their military affairs, are most of them just. His ac. count of the clergy is a very strong reproach against the political government of that country. To suffer one fixth part of the whole revenue of the kingdom to center in the hands of a fortieth part of the subjects, who are totally useless to agriculture or commerce ; and to suffer them to tax them felves, is such a solecism in the management of public con. cerns, that nothing could induce us to believe it, but the fact before our eyes. Our inquirer's solution may perhaps be right when he says, that the court submitted to the abuse, rather than inflame the fanguinary zeal of their Ravilliacs, their Clements, or their Damiens.
He tells us next, that by the method of farming the public revenues in France, a sum is gained by the contractors equal to that paid by them to the government; whereas in England the expence of collecting the same kinds of revenue amount to at most 12 per cent.
The expence of the king's houshold appears to be enormous indeed ; the methods of imposing upon the king in the charges of the great officers in that department, are infamous beyond measure. We find by this account that their monarch, however despotic, has suffered very severe remonstrances on that head from the parliament of Paris, though composed of a body of men without power, and, as our author says, held by the court in the utmost contempt.
The purchase of rank or degrees of nobility, is no doubt the principal source of the want of industry in the inhabitants. Our author reckons fixty thoufand families of that species of nobility, though there are only fifty. two real or hereditary peers.
It seems that the French, sensible of their inattention to the pronotion of agriculture, are upon the point of reforming that particular ; the king, attended by several of his nobles, has set an example of working at the plough with his own hands, which, according to custom in such cases, has occafioned a like fpirit to diffuse itself through the subordinate classes of the people, inasmuch as several bodies or societies in the different provinces have been formed for the advancement of tillage and culture : but our inquirer, according to his ge. neral notion of the French, is of opinion that those efforts will end in vapor, for a variety of reasons, drawn from the 'nature of that oppressive government, and which are worthy the attention of the reader.
Speaking of their circulating gold and silver, he estimates it at fixty or seventy millions, which, he says, is so far from being sufficient for effecting the cultivation of 140 millions of acres of land, and putting in motion the industry and commerce of twenty millions of inhabitants, that he thinks it is not one third part of what would be necessary to put those objects on as good a footing as those of England. Our author proceeds more minutely in this calculation. He says, that the French have, on a division upon the principles before laid down, only 31. per man to put their interest by sea and land in motion ; whereas England, with only twenty millions of coin, has by its punctual and immense credit, obtained an auxiliary of 140 millions of paper-money, equally efficacious as to the purposes before-mentioned; which, supposing fix millions of persons, gives 271. to each individual for putting bis industry and ingenuity in motion. This, says he, is the principal cause of the advantage and the great superiority we enjoy over France as a rival nation. . We are very far from thinking the calculation just with respect to England. The number of inhabitants, at this time, are rated by the most able calculators at eight millions; and as to the quantity of paper-money we think the estimate very erroneous : we suppose when he speaks of circulating papermoney, he means the amount of the out-standing notes from the bank of England, as we know of no other paper in this country that can be called circulating, and equally efficacious with the coin, which we will venture to assert, bears no proportion to the sum he has fixed it at. If he means any other
kind of government securities, which pass among brokers in Exchange-alley, we must be excused from admitting it to come under the denomination of circulating cash, and must also observe, that those kinds of securities are transacted in the fame manner in France.
After mentioning the expensive wars the French have so frequently and so deeply engaged in for the last hundred years, as the principal cause of the present poverty and distress of that nation, he adds thereto, the sums yearly paid by way of pensions, which, by all accounts, are most enormous. He estimates the gold and silver of France for use and ornament, at a sum equal to the circulating coin, which, as hath been already observed, is upwards of sixty millions.
What the author says concerning the rate of interest being an indication of the quantity of circulating cas, is certainly just. Low interest is a proof of superfluity in that article, as high interest indicates the contrary. We find that the difference between the expence of borrowing upon public loans in England, and in France, is as 4 to 6 ; and from thence we deduce that the difference between the circulating cash of the two nations bears much the same proportion, which corroborates our affertions before made. Thus far our author pro. ceeds in his Candid Inquiry, which he concludes with a cha. racter of the present premier of the French government.
• He is a man of excessive ambition and intrepidity, and of a moft refined address; and though brought up in a life of pleasure and diffipation in the army, and was, at the time he came into power, unacquainted with the first rudiments of government, yet, by the favour of his sovereign, he was en. trusted to conduct both the late war, and the late peace. Born of a family in Lorrain, more diftinguished for its an. tiquity than its opulence, he, soon after he came into power, surpassed all the other nobles in splendor and profusion; and became in a little time fo intoxicated with pomp and often: tation, as brought upon him the envy and hatred of all ranks of his fellow-subjects. With a success never equalled by the great Richlieu himself, he lath trampled under foot the power and jealousy of all the princes of the blood ; the discontents of the army; the complaints of the hydra-headed clergy; and the resentments of all the collective bodies of men in the whole kingdom. Equally successful in extricating his country out of a most unfortunate war, as in framing a formidable confe. deracy of all the princes of the blood of Bourbon into one fa. mily-compact, and reconciling the jealousy and hatred that had long fubfifted between the courts of Vienna and Versailles, he now enjoys in full poffeffion, a power, with which he
would, would, like Louis XIV. insult all Europe, but that he is confcious the resources of his country are too much exhausted to support his boundless ambition in any expensive projects.'
In the postscript we are presented with a comparison between the last regent in France, and the present minister, not much in favour of either. We are also made acquainted with the appropriation to the king's private use for eight years, of the produce of 2 tax destined for the discharge of the na. tional debt. The author mentions two other instances of real appropriation; the last is a circumstance which has alarmed all the creditors of the state. The circumstance is fo well known that it is scarcely necessary to say it refers to the reduction of interest from five to two and an half per cent. without any alternative to the lender. A promise of a future letter to expatiate on the particulars of the national debt of France, concludes this performance.
We have thought it expedient to give a very particular attention to this publication. The alarm which was lately raised, from the hints thrown out in the course of parliamentary debate by a noble peer, whose private information has formerly been of important service to his country, renders every thing relative to the state or power of our rival nation, worthy of the most accurate discuffion. We have selected the most striking passages, and our animadversions have followed them respectively. Upon the whole, we are of opinion that this piece is the production of a masterly hand, but he seems to have inbibed notions too depressive of the French nation to be credited in their utmost extent. We therefore hope it will have no effect on those who are to provide for the security of this country; and that the ministry will not trust our defence to the weakness of our adversaries, but to the strength of our own arms.
III. Historical Extra&is relating to Laws, Cuftoms, Manners, Trade,
Literature, Ares, Sciences, and remarkable Transaktions, civil, military, and ecclefiaftical. Translated from the New Hiftory of France, begun by Abbot Velly, continued by M. Villaret, and now under further Continuation by M. Garnier, Profesor Regius.
8vo. Pr. 55. Owen. ONE volume only of this work is published ; but it ap
pears from the preface that a second is intended. The subject is divided into a great number of sections or chapters, each having prefixed an account of what is treated of in it. This miscellaneous collection cannot but afford great entertainment