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Primed For RICHARD PHILLIPS, No. 0, New Bbidor-stiest,
By whom Communications (Post-paid) are thankfully received.
For the Monthly Magazine. oasE&VATio«s on the Pbesest State of
THE critical nature of the present period renders it indispensable that the various pares of the. empire should have their interests so consolidated and identified, that universal satisfaction and concord may be the consequence* To effect this, no scheme is more likely tlmti that which, by ascertaining the various rights of the different parts of the community, enables the supreme authorities to apportion to all the proper share of these burthens which the exigencies of the times require.
Generosity, the distinguishing characteristic of the British people, .spurns at the narrow policy of sacrificing the best interests of one part of the empire to that of any other. Partial calamity, therefore, must have been unknown, or the general spirit of the nation would have long since called loudly for, justice; and her cries would have been rendered still more piercing by the paramount suggestions of interest,
Amidst the general pressure of the war, the West India proprietors, have suffered in a degree nhich the public would scarcely have credited, had nut the facts been authenticated by unquestionable documents. Formerly they received the fair reward of industry, and of personal sacrifices: n't present, they are not merely deprived of such requital, but are absolutely losing what they may have already realized, or becoming so deeply involved as to be obliged to surrender their properties to creditors, who, in turn, must yield to similar evils. Such a state of a great empire cannot long exist without partial ruin and general loss. To obviate both of these events must be the wish of every lover of bis country; but before they can be obvi-j sred they must be known. The author of these observations undertakes that task, from a solicitude to benefit his feU 1 >w citizens, by placing facts within their grasp, which, from beyig widely scatter*
Monthly Mao. No. 202,
ed and separated from each other, might have otherwise been withheld frou; '.ad puh!ic eye.
The misfortunes of the sugar-planter are generally known from some able tract* that have, been given to the world, by gentlemen fully competent to treat of such subjects. The cotton-planter has, however, had no advocate, -tliough by no means exempted from the general calamities. To point out particularly bis sufferings and their causes, is the chief object of these pages. In order to have precise notions on the subject, it is necessary to ascertain as cleat ly as circumstances permit, the real relations of the mother country and her cojonies. The principles are, of necessity, general.
A slight sketch will be afterwards given of the former and the present state of. the cotton colonies; of the cau-.es of the existing pressure; and of those means of alleviation which seem most feasible and practicable.
Politicians have so long agreed as to the general principle of the relations of the parent state and her colonies, that it may seetn almost superfluous to enter upon it in this place. .The motives, in which the most vehement dissent! .n ori. giuated, have long been at rest; but if ever again called into action, there is little doubt of their resuming their influence on the discussions of those who look no farther than to the object of immediate interest. It will, therefore, be well to take ;> few of the most important and obvious points into consideration, before a decided opinion is formed.
One party contends tint colonies are mere dependencies ; the other, that f hey are integral parts of the empire. The latter opinion seems so congenial to every feeling of the human heart, (hat it is dilricult to discover how liberal men could have been brought to oppose it with the zeal and pertinacity that have been displayed.
The arguments in its favour may he considered of three classes: natural, analogical, and political.
Colonics are well known to be establishments remote from the seal of empire, that have been originally founded by (he nation to which they are attached, as by some other", from which the possession has been obtained by conquest or by cession.
The colonies, owing their existence to the possessing power, must be considered integral pans of tlie empire; for in quitting their native shores, neither the first adventurers nor their successors relinquished (heir birth-right: they merely transferred their habitations; being still subject to the laws of that country which gave them birth: they could not hate sacrificed any privileges, because no crime was imputed by law; they suffered the penalties of every crime committed ;ibroad, and succeeded to estate-; and honours in the same way as il at home. In short, they remained within the pale of their country's Inns, except in those instances in which local circumstances rendered it impossible'. The regulations of each province ot a state are adopted to some peculiarities which do not exist elsewhere: yet the negregale of these provinces constitute the empire.
It cannot he urged .that a temporary relinquishment of privilege may take place; for it involves the gross absurdity of surrendering a power to be resumed at pleasure, while no specific contract to that effect was ever made. The very act of surrendering the advantnges of any society, disqualifies a man for the functions of a citizen. His political existence having ceased, he cannot perform poliiicnl acts. The whole community alone can enable him to resume his rank among them: the moral difficulty in this case is very analogous to the physical impossibility of a dead man's returning to lite by his own act.
No laws, however, have ever been enacted to disfranchise the British colonists ot their birth-rights: they are in the same situation with their countrymen on the high seas; alike removed from the immediate supcrintendance of the government, but equally entitled to protection.
The application of this doctrine to the original colonies, or those which owe their existence to the state in actual possession, is unquestionable. It is worthy or enquiry, how far they extend to captured colonies. This may be also determined on broad principles, dependent on tliose already set forth. In such
colonies as have formed no engagements, the arrangement depends on the optionof the conquerors, regulated however by the eternal principles of justice. In those that hare capitulated on the express condition of enjoying the priviliges of their conquerors, tiie case becomes one of right, not of choice: those who surrender on such terms are entitled to all the advantages and immunities of their fellow colonists.
The analogical arguments in farour ot this side of the question, may be found in the history ol every state in Europe. Our own country furnishes some sinking examples. The very essence of every political compact, is the reciprocity of advantage conferred and received by tacit part of the united body. It is therefore required only under ordinary circumstances, that each should govern and defend it-elf; when critical emergencies arise, all must concur in contributing succour, and each must contribute in the best and most efficient manner that its means permit. In Great Britain and Iieland, the manufacturing towns are the fruitful resources of the recruiting service; the sea-ports man our navy: yet it cannot be contended that these places alone defend the empire. The oilier parts do their duty by paying' taxes, and promoting other objects of national importance, which indirectly conduce to the same point. The application of this position is sufficiently obvious.
It is worthy of recollection, that thpre is no political compact in which the different members contribute in the same way, or in the same proportion. This is very remarkable in the well-known instance of the States of Holland, where Guelderland, the first of the provinces in point of rank, paid 5 per cent, of the whole taxes, and Holland, the second, 5K per cent. This is certainly anomalous; but it confirms the general position, that each part of the empire furnishes the strste with means, in poportion to iis ability. It will hereafter be shewn that the Wpst Indies do more than their duty in this respect; which authorises them to expect and to enjoy protection in ordinary cases, and favour, when their interests are opposed to those of foreigners.
The political considerations which
have been alluded to arc so numerous,
that it will be sufficient to mention a few
of the most striking. The West India
colonies defray the whole of their civil establishments; and in most, if not all of them, a considerable surplus remains in the public fund for imperial uses.
1 lie sole expences, then, which Great Britain incurs for her colonies, is confined to small, salaries of some of the public officers, (who are moreover amply paid by the colonies themselves) and to that of their military and naval establishments.
Political writers have generalty computed the value of the several parts of an empire hy the number of men that they furnish, and the support they afford to the public revenue.. To these points the examination of the value of tli«j West Indies is now reduced. Their constitution precludes an increase of the while population; it is therefore impossible to raise troops for general service' from that class of inhabitants. Several fciack regiments, however, have been raised, some at tl>e sole expenceof the colonies in which they were formed. These men form a very respectable military force. In addition to this, there is no part of the empire in which the militia duty falls so generally as in the West Indies. These local troops are self-supported, and perform with fidelity all their duties. In most of the colonies, n gratuitous allowance is made to the British troops <hat are stationed there; so that the aid, in point of men, though not so complete aa in some places, is far beyond some others. Let us examine the test, in its other hearings:—the West India colonists contribute to the public revenue in an infinitely larger proportion than any otherclaiSofBritishsubjects. In 1804-5,* the value of the imports from the British West Indies was above seventeen million of pounds sterling, which yielded above five millions of direct public revenue. By various indirect means, Mr. Lowef computes that an equal sum finds its way into the Treasury ; making a total of ten millions of pounds of annual revenue to the state in general.
Besides the enormous revenue drawn from the produce of the colonies, large sums are paid by those West India proprietors resident in Britain, who contribute in a three-fold form to the state: 1. By the colonial taxes; 2. By those on produce; and, 3. By those on revenue in Britain. Mr. Brougham, in his
valuable work on Colonial Policy,* estimates the revenue of West India proprietor* subject to taxation in this country at several millions. It may be dnEcuJt to ascertain the precise amount, but it may he fairly estimated from the net average of four years,f at about two millions, which contributes in the same way as any other revenue in this country. If this he the case, under the present previous system, how much greater would it be in more propitious times. The) resources of those already in Britain would he augmented, and others would reside here, who at present are deterred by the difficulties they have to encounter.
Nor is this the whole advantage in point of revenue. Goods to the amount ot sixj millions of pounds are annually ^exported to the colonies; most of which articles are taxed in some form or other.
From these facts, it is clear that the West India colonies answer the great criterion of political utility, and ought therefore to enjoy those benefits to which they have such powerful claims.
Although there has been a pretty minute detail of those points which have been selected hy politicians, and the importance of which i> unquestionable, there are some others of great moment, as promoting national objects in an eminent degree.
The quantity of industry called forth hy any pursuit, and the real wealth produced by it, form the best criterion of its value. Mr. Bosanqtiet§ has well shewn that the value of thajniports from, and exports to, the West India colonies, far exceeds that of any trade we have. The monopoly Acts secure all the advantages to the mother country, by excluding every rival. The demand for British produce, the want of which cannot be dispensed with, is so enormous as to call forth directly and indirectly the energies of every part of the empire. An immense number of men are employed by the manufacturers, who are thus supported: British merchants, ship-owner-,insurance brokers, and others, are actually maintained by the West India colonies.
The materials for some very important manufactures are furnished hy them, above one-third of the whole of the
• Vol. 1.
§ Letter to W. Manning, esq. p. 41. Sec. on the Colonies.