« 上一頁繼續 »
merce gathered every production from the East and the West; tea, sugar, and coffee, from the plantations of China and Hindostan ; masts from American forests ; furs from Hudson's Bay; men from Africa.
With the expansion of commerce, the forms of business were changing. Of old, no dealers in credit existed between the merchant and the producer. The Greeks and Romans were hard-money men; their language has no word for bank-notes or currency; with them there was no stock-market, no brokers' board, no negotiable scrip of kingdom or commonwealth. Public expenses were borne by direct taxes, or by loans from rich citizens, soon to be cancelled, and never funded. The expansion of commerce gave birth to immense masses of floating credits ; larger sums than the whole revenue of an ancient state were transferred from continent to continent by bills of ex. change; and, when the mercantile system grew strong enough to originate wars, it also gained power to subject national credit to the floating credits of commerce.
Every commercial state of the earlier world had been but a town with its territory; the Phænican, Greek, and Italian republics, each was a city government, retaining its municipal character with the enlargement of its jurisdiction and the diffusion of its colonies. The great European maritime powers were vast monarchies, grasping at continents for their plantations. In the tropical isles of America and the East, they made their gardens for the fruits of the torrid zone; the Cordilleras and the Andes supplied their mints with bullion; the most inviting points on the coasts of Africa and Asia were selected as commercial stations; and the temperate regions of America were to be filled with agriculturists, whose swarming increase-such was the universal metropolitan aspiration
should lead to the infinite consumption of European goods.
That the mercantile system should be applied by each nation to its own colonies, was universally tolerated by the political morality of that day. Thus each metropolis was at war with the present interests and natural rights of its colonies; and, as the European colonial system was established on every continent; as the single colonies were, each by itself, too feeble for resistance; colonial oppression was destined to endure as long, at least, as the union of the oppressors. But the commercial jealousies of Europe extended, from the first, to European colonies; and the home relations of the states of the Old World to each other were finally surpassed in importance by the transatlantic conflicts with which they were identified. The mercantile system, being founded in error and injustice, was doomed not only itself to expire, but, by overthrowing the mighty fabric of the colonial system, to emancipate commerce, and open a boundless career to human hope.
That colonial system all Western Europe had contri1419. buted to build. Even before the discovery of America, 1484. Portugal had reached Madeira and the Azores, the Cape Verd Islands and Congo; within six years after the discovery of Hayti, the intrepid Vasco de Gama, following where no European, where none but Africans from Carthage, had preceded, turned the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived at Mozambique; and, passing the Arabian peninsula, landed at Callicut, and made an establishment at Cochin.
Within a few short years, the brilliant temerity of Portugal achieved establishments on Western and Eastern Africa, in Arabia and Persia, in Hindostan and the Eastern isles, and in Brazil. The intense application of the system of monopoly, combined with the despotism of the sovereign and the priesthood, precipitated the decay of Portuguese commerce in advance of the decay of the mercantile system ; and the Moors, the Persians, Holland, and Spain, dismantled Portugal of her possessions at so early a period, that she was never involved, as a leading party, in the early wars of North America.
Far different were the relations of Spain with our colonial history. The world had been divided by Pope Alexander VI. between Portugal and Spain: to the former the East had been allotted ; and, therefore, Spain never reached the Asiatic world except by travelling west, and obedient to the Roman see, never claimed possession of any territory in Asia beyond the Philippine Isles. But in America there grew up a Spanish world safe against conquest, from its boundless extent, yet doubly momentous to our fathers, from its vicinity and its commercial system. Occupying Florida on our south, Spain was easily involved in controversy with England on the subject of reciprocal territorial encroachments; and, carefully excluding foreigners from all participation in her colonial trade, she could
not but arouse the cupidity of English commerce, bent on extending itself, if necessary, by force. Yet the colonial maxims, in conformity with which Spain had spread its. hierarchy, its missions, its garrisons, and its inquisition, over islands and half a continent, were recognized by England; and both powers were, by their legislation, pledged to the system of colonial monopoly.
Holland had emerged into existence as the advocate and example of maritime freedom, and had, moreover, been. ejected from the continent of North America. Yet, as a land power, it needed the alliance of England as a barrier against France; and the aristocratic republic, now itself possessing precious spice islands in the Indian Seas, cherished also the maxim of monopoly.
But the two powers, of which the ambition was most actively interested in the colonial system, were France and England, both stern advocates of colonial monopoly, and both jealous competitors for new acquisitions. ..
The political condition of France rendered her commercial advancement possible. “ Louis XIV., on coming of age, entering parliament with a whip in his hand, is the emblem of absolute monarchy.” The feudal system, that great antagonist to free industry, was subdued ; the struggle between monarchy and the aristocracy of blood was over; and the people of France,-aided by Louis XIV., who detested aristocracy, and left as a legacy to his posterity his advice to a continuance of that hatred,-emerged into existence, one day to assert its power. While absolute monarchy was the period of transition from hereditary privilege to equality ; while the memory of republican virtues was kept alive by the poetry of Corneille, and the vices of courts were rebuked in the fictions of Fenelon,--the policy of France gave dignity to the class of citizens. In the magistracy, as in the church, they could reach high employments; the meanest burgher could have audience of the king; and the members of the royal council were, almost without exception, selected from the ignoble. Colbert and Louvois were not of the high nobility. Thus the great middling class was constantly increasing in importance; and the energies of France, if not employed in arms for aggrandizement, began to be husbanded for commerce and the arts.
Even before the days of Colbert, the colonial rivalry
with England had begun. When Queen Elizabeth gave a charter to a first not very successful English EastIndia Company, France, under Richelieu, struggled also, though vainly, to share the great commerce with Asia. The same year in which England took possession of Barbadoes, Frenchmen occupied the half of St. Christopher's. Did England add half St. Christopher's, Nevis, and at last, Jamaica,-France gained Martinique and Guadaloupe, with smaller islets, founded a colony at Cayenne, and, by the aid of buccaneers, took possession of the west of Hayti. England, by its devices of tariffs and prohibitions, and by the royal assent to the Act of Naviga1664- tion, sought to call into action every power of pro1667. duction, hardly a year before Colbert hoped, in like manner, by artificial legislation, to foster the manufactures and finances of France, and to insure to that kingdom spacious seaports, canals, colonies, and a navy. The English East-India Company had but just revived, under
. Charles II., when France also gave privileges to an 1004. East-India commercial corporation ; and, if the folly of that corporation in planting on the island of Madagascar, where there was nothing to sell or to buy, effected jew its decline, still the banner of the Bourbons reached 1075. Malabar and Coromandel. The fourth African Company, with the Stuarts for stockholders, and the slave. 7674- trade for its object, soon found a rival in the Senegal 1679. Company; and, just at the time when the French king was most zealous for the conversion of the Hugueen nots, he established a Guinea Company to trade from
85. Sierra Leone to the Cape of Good Hope. France was, through Colbert and Seignelay, become a great naval power, and had given her colonial system an extent even vaster than that of the British. So eager was she in her rivalry on the ocean, so menacing was the competition of her workshops in every article of ingenious manufacture, that the spirit of monopoly set its brand upon language, and men's consciences became so far debauched as to call England and France natural enemies.
Memory fostered the national antipathy : France had not forgotten English invasions of her soil, English victories over her sons.
France adhered to the old religion, and the revocation of the edict of Nantz made it a Catholic empire, England succeeded in a Protestant revolution, which made political
power a monopoly of the Anglican Church, disfranchised all Catholics, and even subjected them, in Ireland, to a legal despotism.
In England, freedom of mind made its way through a series of aristocratic and plebeian sects, each of which found its support in the Bible ; and the progress was so gradual, and under such variety of forms, both among the people and among philosophers, that the civil institutions were not endangered, even when freedom degenerated into scepticism or infidelity. In France, freedom of mind was introduced by philosophy, and, making its way, at one bound, to the absolute scepticism of pure reason, rejected every prejudice, and menaced the institutions of church and of state with an overthrow.
In England, philosophy existed as an empirical science; men measured and weighed the outward world, and constructed the prevailing systems of morals and metaphysics on observation and the senses. In France, the philosophic mind, under the guidance of Descartes, of Fenelon, of Leibnitz,-who belongs to the French world,
of Malebranche, assumed a character alike spiritual and universal.
Still more opposite were the governments. In France, feudal monarchy had been quelled by a military monarchy; in England, it had yielded to a parliamentary monarchy, in which government rested on property. France sustained the principle of legitimacy ; England had selected its own sovereign, and to dispute his claims involved not only a question of national law, but of English independence.
To these causes of animosity, springing from the rivalry in manufactures and in commercial stations, from contrasts in religion, philosophy, opinion, and government, there was added a struggle for territory in North America. Not only in the West Indies, in the East Indies, in Africa, were France and England neighbours,— over far the largest part of our country Louis XIV. claimed to be the sovereign; and the prelude to the overthrow of the European colonial system, which was sure to be also the overthrow of the mercantile system, was destined to be the mighty struggle for the central regions of our republic.
The first permanent efforts of French enterprise, in colonizing America, preceded any permanent English