Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

up; and here he quited a Mamaluke soldier, who had kept him company during the whole of the journey, and to whose courage and fidelity Europe, Philip le Bon, and Mr Johnes of Hafod, are principally indebted for the preservation of the first esquire-carver.

• I bade adieu' he fays ' to my Mameluke. This good man, whofe name was Mohammed, had done me innumerable fervices. He was very charitable, and never refufed alms when afked in the name of God. It was through charity he had been fo kind to me; and I muft confefs that, without'his affiftance, I could not have performed my journey without incurring the greateft; danger; and that, had it not been for his kindnefs, I mould often have been expofed to cold and hunger, and much' embarrafled with my horfe.

• On taking leave of him, I was defirous of (hewing my gratitude; but he would never accept of any thing except a piece of our fine European cloth to cover his head, which feemed to pleafe him much. He told me all the occafions that had come to his knowledge, on which, if it had not been for him, I mould have run rifles of being affaffinated, and warned me to be very circumfpect in my connexions with the Saracens, for that there were among them fome as wicked as the Franks. I write this to recal to my reader's memory, that the perfon who, from his love to God, did me fo many and elfential kinduelTes, was a man not of our faith.' p. 196, J 97.

For the rest of the journey, he travelled with the family of the leader of the caravan, without any occurrence more remarkable than those we have already noticed ;—arrived at Constantinople, and passed through Germany to the court of Philip le Bon. Here his narrative concludes; nor does the carver vouchsafe to inform us of the changes which time had made in the appetite of that great prince ;—whether veal was now more pleasing to him than lamb,—if his favourite morsels were still in request,—if animal succulence were as grateful to him as before the departure of the carver,—or if this semi-sanguineous partiality had given way to a taste for cinereous and terrefied meats. All these things the first esquire-carver might have said ;—none of them he does say; nor does Mr Johnes of Hafod supply, by any antiquarian conjectures of his own, the distressing silence of the original. Saving such omissions, there is something pleasant in the narrative of this arch-divider of fowls. He is an honest, brave, liberal man; and tells his singular story with great brevity and plainness. We are obliged to Mr Johnes for the amusement he has afforded us; and we hope he will persevere in his gentlemanlike, honourable, and useful occupations.

Art.

Art. VII. Considerations upon the Trade with India; and the Policy of continuing the Company's Monopoly. 4to. pp. 160. Lon<don. 1807.

T)ractical men usually object less to the principles of philoso* phers, than to their application of those principles. A just hypothesis has a wonderful property of being acceptable to man.? kind so long as it remains quiescent; and it is only when the ma* chine begins to work, that it experiences the difficulties of resistance and collision. Strange, that general rules should be conceived to have any other use, than that of being applicable to particular cases!

At the same time, it is notorious, that there may be a philosOr phical, as well as a popular bigotry. Philosophers are apt to rnake too little account of those limitations under which alone general rules can be adapted to the various and innumerable exigencies of conduct. The minute specialties which distinguish every thing from its like, and which are properly overlooked in forming generic propositions, ought to be most scrupulously kept in view when those propositions come to be acted upon in lifej Hence, perhaps, it arises, that minds accustomed to classify and generalize, are not always the fittest for turning to use their own observations. Besides this, the habit of surveying things in the gross, is apt to be allied with a certain fearlessness of consequence^, and a disposition to hold cheap the risks to which all changes are liable from unforeseen circumstances. Chance and change, indeed, are as closely associated in nature, as in the sayings of the wise; nor ought we to stifle that instinctive love to whatever is, that animal horror of innovation, which seems bestowed upon ps, as a most suitable accompaniment for our limited capacity of .foresight.

Whoever considers, that the old mercantile theory is now, in ^peculation, completely exploded, and then reflects how small an effect, comparatively speaking, so great a change of doctrine has produced on the conduct of the commercial world, will allow, that the attachment of practical men to philosophical principles, is, in a great measure, of the Platonic kind. Whoever recollects, on the other side, that so sagacious and cautious a reformer as Hume, was more than inclined to number pur whole system of banks and paper-credit, among the wretched devices of the theory ji;st mentioned, f. and to recommend the abolition of this system,

will

f EfTays on Money—Balance of Trade—Public Credit.

will allow, that the wisest philosopher may build on too narrow a foundation of general principles.

How, then, are we to draw the line between popular and philosophical bigotry? If a practical rule be required for the pur pose, a very simple one seems to result from the very state of the case. We should say to the men of practice and the men of philosophy, Mine vos, vos hinc, mutatis disceditepartibus. Let them, acting in the spirit of the golden rule of morals, respectively change places. We do not mean, in point of facti —that would be a most melancholy exchange for the men of business ;—but in imagination.. When the question for example, is, how far a particular part of our commercial policy is to be governed by any given principle which is admitted to be of general application in political economy, let the practical merchant, whose prejudices may require a departure in the specific instance from the general rule, begin with fixing his eyes rather on the authority of the rule than on its liability to exceptions; and reason rather downwards from the principle to its consequences, than upwards from the consequences against the principle. Let him act the part of wit rather than of judgment, if we are truly told, that the former consists in discovering likenesses, and the latter in finding out differences. Thus, will he debar his passions from the exercise of their favourite calling,—that of running away with his reason. On the same occasion, let the philosopher candidly examine, whether the case before him may not successfully claim the rare honour, of being governed by a separate jurisdiction of its own. Let him endeavour to discover in it,—not indeed points to which a sophistical advocate may attach c the thread of his verbosity,'—but grounds on which philosophical scepticism may make something of a fair stand. Let him then reconsider his general principle, and observe whether it has not been commonly laid down with too much latitude, and reasoned from with too little discrimination. Finally, let him add to his account an item, of what may be called unspecified sundries,—an allowance for the general hazard which attends all change, as such. Thus will he prevent the occurrence of a phenomenon peculiar to men of his profession,—that of having his reason run away with his passions and natural impressions.

The practical rule which we have just delivered, seems to us so simple and excellent, that we feel quite certain of its being approved by all, and adopted by none. A bold attempt, however, to act in the spirit of it, is in our intention on the present occasion, when we are to consider the important question of the monopoly of the East India Company. Steadily keeping in view the great doctrines of commercial freedom, to which our attachment is pretty well known, and from which, indeed, nothing short of

Y4 ' an an immediate and large share of the patronage of the Honourable Company in question could alienate us, it is our object to consider, whether any thing more is to be said for the continuance of this monopoly, than would satisfy a sturdy participator in its profits, or a mere rhetorical prize-fighter, who loves the wrongside better than the right. By pursuing this course, we hope to give our readers a fairer view of the real merits of some of the questions involved in this controversy, than, amidst the scramble for gain, they will easily obtain from the interested advocates for either party,—or possibly from both put together. At the same time, we will avoid, as far as we possibly can, indulging ourselves in the delivery of any very definite opinion on the subject, but le.rve the reader to solve our sceptical doubts as sceptically as he pleases.

The work which affords us the opportunity of acting a part so sublimely philosophical, though probably not the best to which the progress of this dispute will give birth in favour of an open trade, is quite powerful enough to affect the monopolists with some portion of alarm. It is a fierce, animated, and ingenious, rather than a very masterly, attack on the East India Company.' It bespeaks in the author a very competent acquaintance With Adam Smith, and a pretty extensive, though in some points, apparently, an inaccurate knowledge of the details of East Indian affairs. The last particular, however, we beg to confess, that we mention, if not doubtingly, yet with a proper consciousness of our own very inadequate reading on the subject. The conoscenti have, as we understand, agitated a question which strikes us as supremely unimportant, Whether the author is or is not a nabob? If a writer states truly, and reasons rightly, it seems to be a very idle inquiry, whether he is the importer or the mere retailer of the wares which he offers to the public. At the same time, we can perceive no harm in our suggesting it to be probable, that it is only the latter of these two characters which can with justice be ascribed to this gentleman. To torture the reader with proofs in favour of this idea, would be a culpable waste of letter-press, especially as some of these may collaterally appear in the sequel of our criticism. The only one we shall here notice, is somewhat amusing. The single passage in the book which bespeaks any thing like a claim on the part of the author, to the credit of a personal acquaintance with the East Indies, is the following.

'It is believed, that many articles of the firft neceffity might be cultivated in our Indian territories. For in fiance, I am pofitively allured, and indred partly Inon) the fad, that hemp of an excellent quality, and to ;iny extent, might be raifed in India, and might be brought to Europe,' &c. &c. p. 53.

- •- - 'When

When a writer is eager, by a sort of lialf hint like this, to awaken a vague suspicion of his speaking from personal observation, it seems reasonable to conclude, that if he could have preferred a less ambiguous title to the reputation of originality, he would hardly have forfeited his claim by laches. After this, we may almost venture, in a similar spirit of important obscurity, to say, that we believe, 'and indeed partly know the fact,' that our author has never crossed the Line.

This is one of those penmen who would write worse if they had a better temper; and who remind us of a torrent that is the more mischievous for rolling along with it a charge of mud and stones. Never was there a publication which breathed less of that honied adulation for which the East is renowned, than that which is now before us; and for this reason, among others, we can scarcely believe that it could possibly have proceeded from the polite pen of an Anglo-Orientalist. At least, on such a supposition, the author has certainly thrown away very little gratitude on his worthy patrons in Leadenhall Street. We doubt indeed, greatly, whether ' the Honourable the East India Company Bahadur,'—; whose fame extends over the whole earth,'—* the wise as Solomon, rich as Croesus, generous as Hatim, invincible as Secunder,' and every thing as every body,—have received so much blunt language from all the Rajahs and Princes ' Bahadur' whom they have deposed or created, as are here compressed into a thin quarto, by an author who, for any thing that appears., may be a mere trader on the capital of his wits. 'Malignity,'—' corporation of jobbers, £ abominable spirit of monopoly ; ' these, and many others of the same cast, are the titles of ceremony with which he usually salutes the masters of India; to say nothing of the masked battery of irony, which occasionally opens upon those personages with such discharges as 'patriotic souls !'—' enlightened gentlemen!' &c. &c. The writer strongly reprobates the abusive and dictatorial language held by the Directors in their 'Third Report.' If the charge be just, (and, not having had access to the paper in question, we are compelled to take the fact upon trust,) we rejoice that the Directors have been disturbed in their monopoly of abuse, by an interloping competitor who really bids fair to beat them out of that market.

In delivering a few observations on this complicated question, we will adopt the usual partition of it; which we find to be also adopted by the author of these considerations. This divides the commercial from the political department of the subject. The Company trade with India; and they rule it. The division, however, between the two departments, is not, in all respects, absolutely marked; yet we know not that a better could have been 'found;

« AnteriorContinuar »