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Opinions as to the Strength of Nations.--Reflections.
The real Power of England, during King William's Reign.—The State of the Nation.—The Losses of her Trade from King William's Wars.—Her Commerce revives.—Complaints of Decline, amidst her Prosperity. - Reflections,
HEORISTS are not agreed, in respect
to those circumstances, which form the strength of nations, either actual, or comparative. One considers the power of a people“ to consist in their numbers and wealth.” Another insists, " that the force of every community most essentially depends on the capacity, valour, and union of the leading characters of the state.” And a third, adopting partly the sentiments of both, contends, “ that though numbers and riches are highly important, and the resources of war may decide ą contest, where other advantages are equal; yet the resources of war, in hands that cannot employ them, are of little avail, since manners are as effential, as either people or wealth.” · It is not the purpose of this Estimate to amufe the fancy with uninstructive definitions, or to bewilder the judgment with verbal disputations, which are as unmeaning as they are unprofitable. The
glories of the war of 1756 have cast a continued ridicule on the far-famed Estimator of the manners and principles of those times. Recent struggles have thrown equal ridicule on other calculators of an analogous spirit. And we may find reason in the end to conclude, that the qualities of the mind, either vigorous or effeminate, have undergone, in this island, no unhappy change, whatever alteration there certainly is in the labour of the hands of our people, from the epoch of the Revolution to the present moment.
But, from general remark, let us descend to minute investigations, with regard to the progressive numbers of the people, to the extent of their industry, and to the successive amount of their traffic and accumulations ; because cur resources arose then, as they arise now, from the land and labour of this island alone.
The insult offered by France to the sovereignty of England, by giving an asylum to an abdicated monarch, and by disputing the right of a highminded people to regulate their own affairs, forced King William into an eight years war with that potent country, which he personally hated, and with which he ardently wished to quarrel. He had therefore no inclination to weigh in very scrupulous scales the wealth of his subjects against the greater opulence of their rivals, who were in those days more industrious, and were further advanced in the practice of manufacture, and knowledge
of traffic. Yet, the desire of that warlike mo. narch being seconded by the zeal of his people, whose resources were not then equal to their bravery, he was enabled to engage in an arduous dispute for the most honourable end. Happy! had hostilities ended, as soon as the independence of the nation was vindicated from infult, and when the interests of the people required the cessation of warfare.
We may form a sufficient judgment of the strength of England, at that æra, from the following detail :
The number of fighting men, according to the calculation of Gregory King, as cited with approbation by Davenant, was 1,308,000; yet the one-fourth of the people formed the men fit for war, whatever may have been the real popula. tion of England, during the reign of King William.
The yearly income of the nation from its land and labour amounted, if we may credit the statement of Gregory King, to
£:43,500,000 The yearly expence of the people for their necessary subsistence
The yearly accumulation of profit £1,800,000
The value of the whole kingdom, according to Gregory King; £.650,000,000*; which, forming the capital whence income arose; was no proper fund for taxation.
Davenant states, from various conječtures and calculations, the circulating money at £.18,500,000 to while there yet existed in the nation no papermoney, and little circulation ; which, by facilitating the easy transfer of property, is so favourable to the levying of taxes.
King James's annual income amounted only to £.2,061,856. 75. 91d. ; which was a greater revenue than any of his predecessors had ever enjoyed.
Of this there remained in the exchequer, on the 5th of November, 1688, £.80,138 $; which
* See Gregory King's Polit. Obferv. in MSS. Harl. Brit. Muf. No. 1,898.
+ Gregory King having stated the filver coin at eight million and a half in 1688, and the gold coin at three million, Mr. Robert Harley thereupon remarked, “ That the mint accounts would make us believe there is more gold coin than three million; but both accounts together would make a good eftimate."--MSS. Harl. Brit. Muf. 1,898. The circulating coin may therefore be taken at eleven million and a half during King William's reign. It was one of the tenets of Doctor Price, to maintain, that we had more coins in circu. lation, during those times than at present.
| Hift. of Debts, p. 6—7.
§ For the accurate informations, which these sheets convey from a transcript of the Exchequer-books in King William and Queen Anne's reigns, the public owe an additional obligation, and the compiler a kindness, to the liberal communication of Mr. Aftle.