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ITS TRADE, COMMERCE, AND MANUFACTURES. THE present fourishing condition of London has arisen,
from a variety of happy incidents; thus we may bring into the scale, that it is the metropolis of the land of rational liberty; that the integrity of its merchants has induced uni. versal commerce; that its police is exemplary; and that its charitable institutions are unbounded. Its prerogatives, enfranchisements, immunities, charters, and liberties, are also encouragements to those kinds of speculation, which give to London a decided precedence in universal traffic.
To commerce and manufacture may justly be attributed the stability of empire, and the opulence of individuals; they encourage an universal spirit of industry, remove local prejudices, and elevate the mind to magnanimity and wisdom. Whatever seems necessary for sensual or intellec. . tual gratifications; for the ease, convenience, or elegance, of life; are primarily, or mediately, communicated by commerce. And, in proportion as this has been encouraged or depressed by different states, their progress in arts, manufactures, and science, is correctly marked; and by them the virtues of their princes, and the vigour of their laws. Nothing more amply demonstrates the truth of this remark VOL. II. No, 27.
than the prosperity of the British empire, which is peculiarly indebted to commerce,-for its improvement in knowledge and the polite arts—for its riches and grandeur-for the glory of its arms—and, in short, for the great bulk of all its solid comforts and conveniencies.
We have in various parts of the preceding history noticed the early progress of commerce in London, the gradations of which have been as extraordinary as they have been rapid; and though it may astonish our readers, yet when it is understood, that nearly 100,0001. is the weekly sum of the customs on the universal extent of foreign commerce, their wonder will cease, and they will find that this increase has been the gradual result of national perseverance, industry, and spirit, applied to an unbounded pursuit of successful navigation, trade, commerce, and manufacture; all centering in the grand mart of the world, where the Temple of Freedom is hallowed---where protection is extended alike to alien and native---and where equal law secures the property of the nobleman and the peasant *.
* It may not here be amiss, to give the reader, from a late ingenious publication, some idea of the immense enhanced value of many manufactures, from their first raw or unimproved material, to their produce at a market, “ One hundred pounds,” says this author, “ laid out in wool, and that wool manufactured into goods for the Turkey market, and raw silk brought home in return, and manufactured here, will increase that one hundred pounds to five thousand pounds—which quanrity of silk manufactures being sent to New Spain, would return ten thousand pounds—which vast improvement of the first hundred pounds, becomes, in a few years, dispersed among all orders and degrees, from the prince to the peasant. Thus, again, a parcel of iron-stone, which, when first taken from its natural bed, was not worth five shillings, when made into iron and steel, and thence into various manufactures for foreign markets, may probably bring home to the amount of ten thousand pounds. Steel may be made near three hundred times dearer than standard gold, weight for weight-for, six of the finest steel wire springs, for watch pendulums, shall weigh but one grain ; and, when applied by our best artists, they shall be worth 78. 6d. each, or 21. 58. for the six, or two hundred and seventy-two pences; whereas one grain of gold is but worth two-pence. Again, twenty acres of fine flax, when manufactured into the dearest and most proper goods for foreign
The consequence of this rational and enviable quality is, that here the manufactures, as well as the produce of the several British provinces are amassed for sale, as well for the circulation of domestic commerce, as the exportation to foreign countries.
To the port of London, ships from all parts arrive, and several branches of trade are by law peculiarly confined to this city. This is the centre of the East India trade; here the Greenland trade is delivered; here the Italian silk trade is confined in its importation, and here only; and in London the African company import a considerable portion of their gold. London is the great hive of the British trade, whence it again circulates to every part of the empire; and regenerates within itself an unbounded source of opulence.
It may appear curious to the inquisitive, when they compare
the rental of the houses and lands in England, in the four last centuries, and find that their whole amount did not exceed five millions of money: it will greatly add to their astonishment, when they are informed, that by the spirited exertions of the citizens of London, seconded by the mercantile interest of the principal places of trade in the country; who were wise enough to follow the example, that the rental of England is now, nearly thirty millions per annun, or probably more! A benefit which the nobility, gentry, and land-holders begin to be sensible of, by the increase of the fee-simple of their lands.
We cannot repress the sentiments of one of the most intelligent, as well as liberal-minded men, on this occasion :
“ We have in England a numerous and an illustrious no. bility and gentry, and it is true also, that not so many of markets, may, in return thereof, bring from thence what may be worth ten thousand pounds: for one ounce of the finest Flanders thread has been sold in London for four pounds; and such an ounce made in Flanders into the finest lace, may be here sold for forty pounds; which is above ten times the price of standard gold, weight for weight. This fine thread is spun by little children, whose feeling is nicer than that of grown-up people, whereby they are capable of spinning such a thread, which is smaller than the finest hair; and one ounce of it is said to reach in length sixteen thousand yards. Vol. II, No. 28.
those families have raised themselves by the sword as in other nations, though we have not been destitute of military heroes. But trade and learning have been the two prineipal channels by which our gentlemen have raised their fortunes and splendor to the prodigious height we now behold them, as so many of our noble and wealthy families are sprung from trade, so it is true that many of the younger branches of our gentry, and even of nobility itself, have descended again into the spring from whence they flowed, and have become tradesmen : whence it is that, as we said above, our tradesmen in England, especially in London, are not as in other countries, always of the meanest of the people, nor is trade in this kingdom a mean employment; it is, on the contrary, the readiest way for men to raise their fortunes and families, and therefore it is a field for men of figure and distinction to enter upon *.”
Here, however, we cannot avoid a few strictures, upon those persons who affect to
that trade is beneath the consideration of nobility. It is certainly true, that the liberal sciences, the clerical and legal functions, the army and the navy, have furnished many distinguished objects for nobi. lity; but as titles do not confer estates, let it be added, that the victories obtained, the estates improved, and other contingencies, were all by means of the spirit so prevalent in the trading part of the community ; because, had not the army and navy been victualicd and clothed; had not the necessary taxes been raised ; had not the loans been forthcoming from their inexhaustable purses, no victories might have been gained, no promotions might have ensued.
Let it be granted, that by prowess or any other means, nobility and other honours had been gained, and adequate estates to support their various titles; how common is it for a shop-keeper, by industrious and prudent pursuits, to leave to his family an unincumbered estate of 50,000l.? whilst those who despise the circumstances of the citizen, boast an ancestry, who have reduced the family estate into necessity and pecuniary disease. * Postlethwaite's Dictionary of Commerce.