« IndietroContinua »
France; nor do I know how this practice, which is justly complained of as pernicious to our trade, and threatening the ruin of our country, can be prevented but by a constant and regular particularization of every cargo carried to France.
I admit, sir, that some cargoes which are imported cannot be particularly registered; such is the gold with which we are daily supplied by our commerce with the Portuguese, in opposition to their laws, and which our merchants are, therefore, under the necessity of concealing.
It is not, indeed, easy to foresee all the inconveniencies that may arise from new regulations of commerce; but the difficulty is not so great as has been represented, nor can I conceive why all our consultations on trade should be without effect. Gentlemen may obtain some knowledge of commerce from their own observation, which they may enlarge by an unconfined and indifferent conversation with traders of various classes, and by inquiries into the different branches of commerce; inquiries, sir, which are generally neglected by those whose employments confine their attention to particular parts of commerce, or whose application to business hinders them from attending to any opinions but those which their own personal experience enables them to form.
From these informations impartially collected, and diligently compared, a man not engaged in the profession of a merchant may form general principles, and draw consequences, more certain, and more extensive in their relations, than those which are struck out only from the observation of one subdivided species of commerce.
A member of this house, sir, thus enlightened by inquiry, and whose judgment is not diverted from its natural rectitude by the impulse of any private consideration, may judge of any commercial debate with less danger of errour or partiality than the merchants, of whom, nevertheless, I have the highest esteem, and whose knowledge, or probity, I do not intend to depreciate, when I declare my fears that they may sometimes confound general maxims of trade with the opinions of particular branches,
and sometimes mistake their own gain for the interest of the publick.
The interest of the merchants ought, indeed, always to be considered in this house ; but then it ought to be regarded only in subordination to that of the whole community, a subordination which the gentleman who spoke last seems to have forgotten. He may, perhaps, not intend long to retain his senatorial character, and, therefore, delivered his opinion only as a merchant.
He has distinguished between the conduct of experienced and unskilful insurers, with how much justice I shall not determine. I am afraid that a vigorous inquiry would discover, that neither age nor youth has been able to resist strong temptations to some practices, which neither law nor justice can support, and that those, whose experience has made them cautious, have not been always equally honest.
But this is a subject upon which I am not inclined to dwell, and only mention as the reason which convinces me of the propriety of the bill before us.
Sir WILLIAM YONGE spoke to this effect:-Sir, there appears no probability that the different opinions which have been formed of this bill will be reconciled by this debate; vor, indeed, is there any reason for wondering at this contrariety of sentiments.
The several clauses of the bill have relations and consequences so different, that scarce any one man can approve them all; and in our present deliberation, an objection to a particular clause is considered as an argument against the whole bill.
It is, therefore, necessary, to prevent an unprofitable expense
of time, to resolve the house into a committee, in which the bill may be considered by single clauses, and that part which cannot be defended may be rejected, and that only retained which deserves our approbation. In the committee, when we have considered the first clause, and heard the objections against it, we may mend it; or, if it cannot be amended, reject or postpone it, and so proceed through the whole bill with much greater expedition, and
at the same time, with a more diligent view of every clause, than while we are obliged to take the whole at once into our consideration.
I shall, for my part, approve some clauses, and make objections to others; but think it proper to reserve my objections, and the reasons of my approbation, for the committee into which we ought to go on this occasion.
[The bill was referred to a committee, but not forty members staying in the house, it was dropped.]
HOUSE OF COMMONS, MARCH 2, 1740-1.
DEBATE ON THE BILL FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT AND IN
CREASE OF SEAMEN.
The bill was ordered to be read the second time, and to be
printed for the use of the members, that it might be
thoroughly examined and understood. On the forty-fourth day, the second reading of the bill
was postponed to the fiftieth ; but the grand motion
being debated on that day, nothing else was heard. On the fifty-first it was again put off; but On the fifty-sixth day, being read a second time, it was,
after some opposition, referred to a committee of the
whole house, to sit five days after. In the meanwhile, On the fifty-seventh, it was ordered that the proper officers
do lay before this house an account of what persons were authorized, by virtue of the act in the 4th of queen Anne, for “ the encouragement and increase of seamen, and for the better and speedier manning her fleet;" to conduct seamen or seafaring men taken upon privy searches made by applications to justices; and what number of seamen or seafaring men were re
turned ; also, the charge attending the same. On the sixty-first day, moved that the said account
should be read; which being done, the house resolved itself into a grand committee on the present bill; and the first clause being read, proposing the blanks to be
filled thus: that every volunteer seamen, after five years' service, be entitled to six pounds per year, during life.
Sir John BARNARD rose, and spoke as follows :-Sir, as it is our duty to provide laws, by which all frauds and oppressions may be punished, when they are detected, we are no less obliged to obviate such practices as shall make punishments necessary; nor are we only to facilitate the detection, but take away, as far as it is possible, the opportunities of guilt. It is to no purpose that punishments are threatened, if they can be evaded, or that rewards are offered, if they may by any mean artifices be withheld.
For this reason, sir, I think it necessary to observe, that the intent of this clause, the most favourable and alluring clause in the bill, may lose its effect by a practice not uncommon, by which any man, however inclined to serve his country, may be defrauded of the right of a volunteer.
Many men have voluntarily applied to the officers of ships of war, and after having been rejected by them as unfit for the service, have been dragged on board within a few days, perhaps within a few hours afterwards, to undergo all the hardships, without the merit, of volunteers.
When any man, sir, has been rejected by the sea officers, he ought to have a certificate given him, which shall be an exemption from an impress, that if any other commander shall judge more favourably of his qualifications, he may always have the privilege of a volunteer, and be entitled to the reward which he deserved, by his readiness to enter the service.
If such provisions are not made, this hateful practice, a practice, sir, common and notorious, and very discouraging to such as would enter the service of the publick, may so far prevail, that no man shall be able to denominate himself a volunteer, or claim the reward proposed by the bill.
Admiral WAGER spoke next, to the following effect :Sir, it is not common for men to receive injuries without applying for redress, when it may certainly be obtained. If any proceedings like those which are now complained of, had been mentioned at the board of admiralty, they
had been immediately censured and redressed; but as no such accusations were offered, I think it may probably be concluded, that no such crimes have been committed.
For what purpose oppressions of this kind should be practised, it is not easy to conceive; for the officers are not at all rewarded for impressing sailors. As, therefore, it is not probable that any man acts wickedly or cruelly without temptation : as I have never heard any such injury complained of by those that suffered it, I cannot but imagine, that it is one of those reports which arise from mistake, or are forged by malice, to injure the officers, and obstruct the service.
Lord BALTIMORE rose next, and spoke to the following effect :That the practice now complained of, sir, is very frequent, and, whatever may be the temptation to it, such as every day produces some instances of, I have reasons for asserting with great confidence. I have, within these few days, as I was accidentally upon the river, informed myself of two watermen ignominiously dragged by force into the service to which they had voluntarily offered themselves a few days before. The reasons of such oppression, it is the business of those gentlemen to inquire, whom his majesty intrusts with the care of his fleet; but to interrupt the course of wickedness, to hinder it from frustrating the rewards offered by the publick, is the province of the representatives of the people. And I hope, sir, some proviso will be made in this case.
Admiral NORRIS rose and said Sir, if any such practices had been frequent, to what can it be imputed, that those who employ their lives in maritime business should be strangers to them? Why have no complaints been made by those that have been injured? Or why should officers
expose themselves to the hazard of censure without advantage? I cannot discover why these hardships should be inflicted, nor how they could have been concealed, and, therefore, think the officers of the navy may be cleared from the imputation, without farther inquiry.
Sir John BARNARD spoke again, to the following purpose :-Sir, it is in vain that objections are made, if