Page images

time rival, since their unhealthy or rigorous climate, or greater remoteness, or full pre-occupation by the aboriginal inhabitants, are either of them causes adequate to check the rapid progress of their European population.*

I may further remark, that there is a very important branch of maritime industry, which the most able writers have urged on government, and on the public, as an untried mean of providing the best class of naval defenders. The more sanguine advocates for the establishment of national fisheries in the British seas, maintain, that, among many other most beneficial effects, it would "prevent the necessity of naval impress :" but those whose expectations are more moderate, enumerate, among its various advantages, a “provision made for unfailing nurseries of seamen for our navy.”+ The possible enlargement of the British fisheries may

be learnt from the actual extent of those carried on by the Dutch upon our coasts, at

• As for the colonies which, according to the suggestion of my fast Letter, Great Britain might still form, danger from them would be remote indeed ; and we may rather suppose, that, should the love of war unhappily continue to those future ages, the nations springing up at the ends of the earth would be rivals to each other than to us.

+ See for this, and the following quotations on this subject, the Quarterly Review, No. 18, article 1, entitled, “ Tracts on the British Fisheries."


the time when the industry of that people was at its height. “ The total number of shipping engaged in, and connected with, the herring fishery, amounted to 6400 vessels, giving employment, on the water alone, to 112,000 maș riners and fishermen."-" The late Admiral Rodney, dining at Carlton House, congratulated the Prince of Wales, on seeing a plate of what he thought British cured herrings on the table, adding, that, if his Royal Highness's example was followed by the upper ranks only, it would be the means of adding 20,000 hardy seamen to the navy. The Prince observed, that he had paid him an unmerited compliment, the herrings not having been cured by British hands :- But,' (continued his Royal Highness,) . henceforth I shall order a plate of British herrings, to be purchased at any expense, to appear as a standing dish at this table :-we shall call it a Rodney; and, under that designation, what true patriot will not follow my example??

The degree in which the simple permission of the free use of salt might increase the fisheries of Great Britain, appears from its effect in the Isle of Mann. Without “

any premiums other than the free use of salt,” they had, in 1798, fishing vessels “ employing upwards of year."*

3000 seamen, which were then equal to the number of men and boys employed in the whole of the buss fishery of Scotland, supported by bounties exceeding £20,000 a

By encouraging the fisheries,” (adds the writer who cites these various facts,) "every sea-port town, every little village on the coast, and on the banks of the creeks and inlets, would become a nursery of seamen." He shows that the supply of fish is inexhaustible, and the home and foreign markets for salted fish almost unlimited; and ably argues, that no measure is so calculated to support our naval power, as that of giving every possible assistance and encouragement to the home fisheries.

These several considerations appear to me sufficiently to refute the supposition, that a refusal of general colonial service, and that loss of the colonies which is its assumed consequence, would necessarily diminish the maritime industry and wealth of Great Britain, and with them her means of naval defence. I must, however, again remind the objector, that I consider those previous suppositions groundless; since it is morally certain, that, before the colonies would have to seek defenders, of what he may term the scrupulous or methodistical caste, their specific defence will have become (perhaps, indeed, has already become**) consistent with Christian duty. :

* Letter to the Right Hon. C. Abbott, from R. Fraser, Esq. who was appointed by the Treasury to inquire into the state of the fisheries in the Isle of Mann.-Quarterly Review, ubi supra.

* Here my friends of the Peace Society may perhaps observe;“ You evidently incline to the opinion, that it is not the duty of Christians, at present, to serve in the colonies, or, at least, in some of them. It follows, therefore, that you also consider it the present duty of a Christian government to adopt a measure which would be thought inconsistent with national prosperity or security, by not em. ploying troops in those colonies.” I answer, Not so; the duty of a Christian government, is, to adopt a defensive and equitable system in those colonies, which might obviate all scruple on its own part, or on that of its conscientious subjects.

[blocks in formation]

The third objection (respecting national defence) farther

considered.-Conquest in order to security, a plea of ambition.--The heptarchy.-Aids to other States not habitually needful to our safety-should be specific.--- Foreign wars, for the purpose of discipline, not a sure or necessary mean of defence.Proved by facts.-Regular armies invented for other ends.--Militiadanger from it to the State, not an admissible argument.

[ocr errors]

I have adverted to the third of the objections enumerated, (namely, that," without a regular army, our nation could not have defended itself,") only so far as it respects the supposed connexion between a regular army, the preservation of our colonies, and our means of naval defence. It remains to consider other more direct and imposing forms of this objection.

The argument, when advanced in its boldest shape, includes, notwithstanding its defensive aspect, a plea - for that aggrandizement of territory and wealth by arms, which, I have contended, is so seldom justifiable: only with

« PreviousContinue »