Page images
PDF
EPUB

more extensive, and, of course, more worthy of general attention and consideration. -What has been the cause, the great primary cause, of all this scandalous plunder? What is it that has rendered necessary the Dock Establishment, with all its cares and all its immense expences? Simply this: the taxes upon West India productions. In order to collect these taxes, the government was obliged to take the goods out of the hands of their proprietor, who, if left himself in possession of them, would have wanted no one to assist; nothing but the common law of the land, to assist him in the guarding of them. Wheat and other grain, scarcely less valuable in price, compared with the weight, than sugar and coffee, and still more necessary to man's subsistence, lie very quietly in places which a thief might, at any time, force in a moment. In frail buildings often at the distance of a mile from any inhabited dwelling. It is very seldom, compared to the number of barns and mills, that we hear of a theft in these commodities. And what is their protec. tion? The knowledge, that they are under the guardianship of the proprietor. If they, too, were subjected to a transfer of possession, like that which takes place in the case of sugar, we should see exactly the same plundering going on with respect to them. By this transfer property loses its sacredness; it does not belong unto him who has it. To know this is quite sufficient to dissipate the idea of proprietorship, and to let loose a disposition to plunder. In vain do you impose oaths, form checks, set watches ten deep; nothing will, or can, psevent goods, in this situation, from being stolen. The Dock Company have, doubtless, done much; but, I defy even their walls, the very existeace of which constitutes so damning a proof of prevalent dishonesty; I defy even their walls, and I would defy ramparts and cannons, if they had them, to prevent thieving, as long as it is known, that he who has the possession is not the proprietor, or, which is the same thing, the agent chosen by the proprietor. It is a pleasing reflection, that crimes have been diminished; that hordes of the vilest of thieves have been broken up; that there will exist less temptation; that eight thousand less persons will leave their honest and productive labour in the country to go and share in the plunder upon the Thames; but, in a greater or less degree, as long as the tax exists, and is collected in such a way, so long will it continue to engender idleness

and thieving, and to spread its baleful influence over the land. The moment the lock is put upon the hold of the ship, at Gravesend, that moment the contents change their nature. The government becomes the possessor of them; and the unreflecting and unmoralized mind will, in spite of all you can do, regard them as an object of plunder. It is no longer an affair between man and man. From depredations

of this sort; from becoming familiar with taking what is not their own in any situation, men naturally lose the horror of taking the property of their neighbour; and hence it is, and must be, the case, that a nation, in proportion as taxation, in the custom-house way, prevails, will be dishonest.-And, after all, who is it that finally suffer for this thieving? The consumers of West India produce; those who finally pay the taxes upon it. The planters occasionally suffer, because the thieving must fall partially; but it is those who consume that suffer in the end; and, when we sit down to the use of sugar or coffee, we may always say, that we are contributing towards the support of thieves; that, in earning the money to buy our breakfast, we have been labouring towards the maintenance of eight thousand thieves in London. And, if we can now say, that our earnings no longer go to the support of this horde of thieves, badged and unbadged, we cannot help remembering, that

the

expences of the Dock Establishment must fall upon our breakfasts; though, it must, on all hands, be confessed, that it is better to pay for the prevention, than for the encouragement, of theft.In this view of the matter, without being dazzled by its stupendous mercantile exhibitions, and reserving, to their fall extent, all my opinions, relating to the inutility of com-' merce, as a source of national wealth or strength, I cannot help expressing my pleasure at the establishment of the West India Dock system, and my hopes that it will proceed with uninterrupted success, in spite of the out-cries of eight thousand thieves and their interested abcttors. Botley, 26th January, 1809. COBBETT'S

COMPLETE COLLECTION OF

State Trials:

To be completed in Thirty-Six Monthly
Parts, forming Twelve large Volumes in
Royal Octavo,

The SECOND PART of the above Work will be published on Wednesday, the 1st day of February.

WEST INDIA DOCKS.

AT A GENERAL COURT OF PROPRIETORS OF THE WEST-INDIA DOCK COMPANY, HELD AT THEIR HOUSE IN BILLITER-SQUARE, ON FRI

pose so desirable. The obstacles that must occur in combating numerous and powerful classes of opponents determined by DAY THE 6TH OF JANUARY, 1809, THOMAS prejudice, or stimulated by interest, could HUGHAN, ESQ. IN THE CHAIR: THE CHAIR-only be surmounted by that union of zeal,

MAN READ TO THE MEETING A REPORT FROM A COMMITTEE OF DIRECTORS, ON THE GENERAL CONDUCT OF THE COMPANY'S CONCERNS, TO THE END OF THE YEAR 1808; WHICH WAS ORDERED TO BE PRINTED FOR THE USE OF

THE PROPRIETORS.

REPORT.-The Committee of Review, in compliance with the Resolution of the Court of Directors of the 20th December last, directing that they should " Report to the "Court the present state of business at the "Docks, and such circumstances respecting "the Company's Concerns during the last "Season, as may appear to them to require "observation," present the following Report. THE season just elapsed having been one of peculiar difficulty in the conduct of the Company's concerns, and in which the efficacy and resources of the Establishment have been called into action, and put to the test, it is matter of singular gratification to your Committee to be enabled to state, that the exertions of your officers and servants have been successful in the discharge of their duty; and that the business of the year, in all its various departments, although impeded by circumstances embarrassing and unprecedented, has been completed at a period unusually early. To the details which are necessarily connected with this (the more immediate) object of your Committee, they premise a few remarks, founded upon those facts and incontrovertible principles to which your Establishment owes both its origin and its utility. However unwilling some persons may be to awaken the recollection, yet it can not be generally forgotten, what were the excessive delays, increasing difficulties, and glaring abuses, which not many years ago obstructed, in an especial manner, the West-India Trade at this port, and called aloud for a remedy.. The records exist which prove the enormity of the evil, progressively affecting the credit of the port, the safe collection of the revenue, and the property of individuals connected with the trade, in times otherwise prosperous, and seriously contributing to degrade and corrupt the morals of the people. To these causes your Establishment owes its origin; an effectual reform could only be sought in a great and costly effort. The individuals who formed and who composed the Company, undertook, at very considerable risk, to make the effort requisite for a pur

perseverance, and ability, which were on this occasion combined, and being sanctioned by a provident policy in the legislatale, (fortunately for the commercial prosperity of London,) proved successful. These opponents although silenced were not reconciled. To the origin and character of the Establishment itself, as opposed to individual and petty exactions,

may

be traced the source of much of that

spirit of discontent and hostility which it has since encountered, and which has pursued its object, by misrepresentations, most gross, and yet too frequently credited;" but it is a rigid enquiry into their conduct, and an impartial investigation of their principles and proceedings, that will furnish to the Company the surest means of vindicating themselves, and demonstrating, that they have, in all liberal construction, accomplished the good purposes of the undertaking, and fulfilled their engagements to the public. By the general view of its merits and demerits, and not by its adaptation to any one particular occurrence, ought every public Establishment in fairness to be tried; but your Committee are confident that the Company need not shrink from a more minute scrutiny, and enquiry, how far its provisions and regulations are already compatible with the separate and distinct interests of different bodies connected with the WestIndia trade; although they may and will on the test of experiment, and by sugges tions of those most interested, be ultimately still farther perfected. The security afforded to property, and the prevention of frauds, are purposes which your institution is universally admitted to have attained, and in these objects, the interests of the public revenue, of the importers and proprietors of goods, and of the ship owners, are all intimately blended, and most essentially promoted; and yet these topics, of the highest importance to the state, and to individuals, (when clamour is to be excited against your system), are seldom adverted to, and although it would be no difficult task to prove that the duty saved to the revenue, and the property preserved to individuals, by these means, amounts annually to many hundred thousand pounds, yet your Committee abstain from a superfluous illustration of a fact so generally acknowledged, and proceed to details which are

No. of Ships,

Year.

1803

--

1804

--

--

--

363-
354
421

477

1805
1806
1807 - .
1808-598

--

--

--

Finished Landing.

14 Jan. 1804
29 Dec. 1804

22 Jan. 1806

2 Feb. 1807

- 503 - 24 Dec. 1807
593 completed
3.Dec. 1808

by which it will appear, that such has been
the increase of the West-India trade, that
65 ships have been unloaded this season in
addition to the greatest number ever before
received, and 174 ships more than the
average number of the preceding five years.
In the period between the beginning of
July and the beginning of December, a
space of five months, when circumstances
of the greatest difficulty occurred, up-
wards of 460 ships were unloaded, exclu-

more connected with some late discussions concerning the conduct of your Establishment. If the Warehousing System be productive of great practical benefit both to internal and foreign commerce, it must not be overlooked, that so far as the WestIndia trade is concerned, it could not have been carried into effect, without some Establishment equivalent to that which thus originated. It is well known that during many years of his administration, the advantages that might result from that system both to the revenue and to the trade, had presented themselves to the comprehensive mind of that able minister, the late Mr. Pitt, and that he only suspended its adoption, until some adequate improvement should be made in the Port of London, under which it might be safely carried into effect. Your Establishment had hard-sive of smaller vessels and craft, with carly begun its operation before the provi- goes consisting of 159,804 hhds. and trs. sions of that system were enacted by the of Sugar.-26,917 puns. and hhds., Rum. legislature, the advantages of which, great -31,675 hhds. and trs., 125,480 bags, as they are, have been necessarily attended Coffee.-10,855 bales, 487 pockets, &c. by some additional delay and embarras- Cotton.-35 casks, 2732 bags, Pimento.--ment to business, which the Company has 351 casks, 2,411 bags, Ginger.-822 casks, endeavoured to meet with promptitude, and 7,228 bags, Cocoa.-1,797 casks, Wine. with the requisite additions to their Estab-Making a total of 11,342 bales, 137,851 lishment. The benefits accruing to the West-India body generally, and the degree of accommodation and dispatch afforded by the Company, your Committee conceive will be best illustrated by a few concise statements, as they are desirous that on disputed points an appeal may be made solely to the evidence of facts. They will here premise, that whatever advantages it shall appear have been obtained for the trade, are secured to it without any additional expence being incurred; the Company on its formation having undertaken for the term of their charter, to provide all the accommodation which the Dock System affords, and to perform all the services and labour necessary to ships and goods at importation, for the charges then current at the port, although such charges had been previously and almost annually advancing. -In order to shew how far the means and resources of the Company have been properly applied, and the dispatch given to ships, your Committee will first call the attention of the Court to an account, shewing the number of ships employed in the West-India trade which have been discharged in the Docks in the last six years, with the dates at which the business of each season appears to have been respectively completed.

bags, 221,401 casks, and from the 10th Oct. to the 28th Nov. 150 ships were entirely unloaded at the quays. This being the precise period when it was stated to the lords of the treasury, that owing to the negligence of the directors, only 8 or 9 ships were at that time unloaded weekly, and proceeding on that calculation, that 108 ships then in the docks would necessarily be delayed some months, (we must presume not less than three), and on such, and other equally unfounded pretexts, was grounded an application for an infringement of the Company's privileges. Whereas the fact is, that these 108 ships, with the addition of others subsequently admitted, were unloaded in the month of November, such only excepted as were delayed by causes not dependant on the Company.-The general state of the business performed by the Company during the last year will stand thus:-593 ships have been unloaded, and 106 smaller vessels and craft;-of the above number of 598 ships, 593 were completed upon the 3d Dec. 1808. Thus so early as the close of the month of November, the great body of shipping in the West-India trade were completely cleared of their cargoes; an instance of dispatch singular and unexampled, and evidently proving the su

case directed by narrow views of present profit, in contradistinction to those more essential objects. With the laws and regulations of the revenue departments it is necessary that the Company should cooperate, and sometimes it has been accused of disappointments, and delays, originating solely in that connexion. But in respect to that part of the system, over which your Directors have controul, they are ready at all times to adopt suggestions for improvement, whenever they shall be found upon attentive consideration to be compatible with the great objects of the institution.-The principles by which the Court of Directors have uniformly governed their conduct, have been those of sound discretion in the application of the funds of the Company, a liberal construction, and performance, of its engagements with the public, and a scrupulous impartiality in the administration of business.-How far these objects have been faithfully pursued, and successfully accomplished, may best be evinced: as to the first by the prosperous state of your finances; as to the second by the details furnished by, and the facts connected with this report; and, as to the last, it may fairly be denianded whether one single instance of deviation can be produced.

periority of your Establishment, particu- the interests of the revenue, and the aclarly under the embarrassing circumstan-commodation of the trade, and not in any ces of an extraordinary accumulation of produce on hand, occasioned by an almost total stagnation of export: if these advantages be contrasted with the delays, impediments, losses, and abuses, which must have arisen under the former system, their value will be incalculable.-During the utmost pressure, and under peculiar circumstances of the season, the Company did undertake to provide at its own expence, and beyond its exclusive means, an extraordinary provision of warehouse room, but it did not become necessary to resort to it, beyond an accommodation for 5747 casks and 4137 boxes, and 511 barrels of prize or foreign sugar, and thus may the dispatch given to the shipping in such a season, afford the best proof of the adequacy of the Company's resources to the general exigencies of the trade; but it may be proper to add the following statement of the quantity of goods actually lodged within your warehouses at one time, exclusive of the articles on the quays: 102,647 hhds. and trs., 11,612 chests and brls. of Sugar.-14,681 puns. and hhds., Rum. -38,239 hhds. and trs., 190,408 bags, Coffee.-1,411 bales, 164 pockets, &c., Cotton.-24 casks, 3,168 bags, Piemento.-201 casks, 1,006 bags, Ginger.1,100.casks, 13,257 bags, Cocoa.-1,786 casks, Wine.-Making a total of 11,612 chests, &c. 1,575 bales, 207,839 bags, 158,678 casks. Let this statement be compared with all the accommodation existing at the port, for the housing of West-India produce, previous to the formation of the docks, which according to the best computation in respect to the article of Sugar only, was not capable of containing beyond one third of the quantity, which has been actually deposited in your warehouses.-The system of providing distinctly for the shipping of goods to the West-Indies, and the security afforded thereby both to the ships and goods, belongs peculiarly to your Establishment; and, to a system so recent and dependant upon corresponding regulations of the revenue boards, it cannot reasonably be reproached that it is yet susceptible of improvement; sufficient however has appeared to shew that this part of your Establishment, is one, which must eventually prove of essential benefit to the West-India trade of the port.-The regulations of the Company have all been framed in strict consistency with its solid and permanent interests, by a constant and primary regard to the security of property,

ENGLAND.King's Speech (by Commission) at the opening of the Session of Parliament, on the 19th January, 1809.

MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN, We are commanded by his Majesty to acquaint you, that he has assembled you together in the firm persuasion that you will concur with him in opinion that the only way of obtaining a safe and honourable peace, is by a vigorous prosecution of the war.His Majesty has ordered to be laid before you the Copy of the Overtures made to him by France and Russia, from Erfurth, together with the Correspondence which ensued, and the Declaration of his Majesty's sentiments on that occasion.-His Majesty trusts you will participate in his feelings on rejecting overtures of peace, the preliminary condition of which was, to abandon the people of Spain in the struggle they are now making for their independence.-His Majesty has commanded us to express to you the satisfaction he felt at the brilliant commencement of the campaign which restored his ancient ally, but he had reason to regret the manner in which it was terminated by a Convention,

of several parts of which he had found it necessary to express his disapprobation. His Majesty has lately renewed the assurances of support to the Spanish government, in support of their national independence, which he voluntarily gave at the commencement of the struggle they are now making, and which he has no doubt will terminate triumphantly, should they persevere in support of their legitimate Sovereign, and should the nation be true to themselves. The assurances his majesty has given to the Spanish government, have been reduced to a Treaty of friendship and alliance, which will be laid before you as soon as the ratifications have been exchanged. His Majesty trusts you will enable him to continue his support of the king of Sweden in the struggle he is making, be having concurred with his Majesty in rejecting any overtures from the enemy, which had as a preliminary condition, the sacrifice of the Spanish nation.

GENTLEMEN OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, His Majesty has ordered to be laid before you the estimates for the public service, and trusts you will provide him the means of carrying on the war with vigour.-His Majesty has the pleasure of assuring you that notwithstanding the exertions of the enemy to diminish our resources, the revenue continues to flourish to an extent the most satisfactory, and his Majesty believes that the contest may be carried on without any great or immediate addition to the burthens of his people.

MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN, His Majesty congratulates you on the complete success of the plan for establishing a Local Militia-And his Majesty trusts you will take such steps for the increase of the regular army as may enable him to pursue the campaign with vigour, without weakening the means of defence at home.

SPANISH REVOLUTION.-Proclamation issued

in Mexico, 16th Sept. 1808. INHABITANTS of Mexico, of all classes and conditions! Necessity is not subject to common laws. The city has seized the person of his excellency the Viceroy, His removal has been imperiously demanded by reasons of utility and general convenience. In the course of last night, the Royal Acuerdo, the most illustrious seignor, the Archbishop, and the other authorities, were convoked. They have submitted to the urgency of affairs; and the said Viceroy being divested, of his authority, it has devolved, conformably to

the royal order of the 30th Oct. 1808, upon field marshal D. Pedro Gariby, until the dispatches brought by the Providence shall have been opened. He is actually in possession of the supreme authority. Be calm and tranquil; you are now governed by an accredited chief, with whose prudence you are acquainted. Confide in the vigilance of the Royal Acuerdo; all will turn out to your advantage. Impatience can only serve to divide men's minds, and to occasion mischiefs which may perhaps be irremediable. The said provisional chief, the Royal Acuerdo, and the other concurring authorities, give you every assurance that can be wished for. By com. mand of his excellency, the President, with the Royal Acuerdo, the most illustrious seignor Archbishop, and the other Authorities.-FRANCISCO XIMENEZ. Dispatch from the General in chief of the Army of Catalonia, to the Minister at War, 27th Nov. 1808.

The

Most excellent seignor-According to the intention, of which I apprised your excellency in my dispatch of the 29th ult. the general attack took place yesterday on all the posts occupied by the enemy without the limits of Barcelona, from all of which he was immediately dislodged, and compelled to take refuge under the guns of the fortress, with the exception of the advantageous position of St. Pedro Martir which is the most commanding. communication with this post being completely cut off, in consequence of our line being advanced to Hospitalet, Esplugas, Sarria, Gracia, and Horta, as your excellency will perceive from the plan which I have the honour to send you, I, upon this ground, summoned the commandant to surrender. He refused compliance, and I immediately gave orders for an attack; but at half past 12 o'clock this day he surrendered himself and his garrison prisoners of war, consisting of 104 privates and two officers. We found in the place four 4-pounders and one 2-pounder, with magazines of ammunition and stores., At the same time a firing was commenced from the right and centre of our line, and the enemy were repulsed as far as the walls of Barcelona, from which it will not now be an easy task for them to advance again. I now (four in the afternoon) forward this to your excellency in the mean time by a special messenger, for the satisfaction of his Majesty, until, by receiving the statements of the generals and commanders of columns, I shall be enabled to transmit to your excellency the details of the operations of

« PreviousContinue »