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for on the ift of March, the south sea company CHAP. came to a resolution, to pay no part of the I. 68,000 l. to the king of Spain, without his com-lima ing to a juft accoụnt with them for all seizures, captures, and detentions of their ships, effects and merchandize, on the rupture in 1718, which amounted to 225,000 l. sterling, and the confiscation in 1725, to the value of 112,000 l. which, by the treaty of 1727, his Catholic majesty agreed to restore, though the company af. terwards, received but a very trivial compensation. : MR Keen, the British envoy at Madrid, hav. ing strongly solicited the payment of the 95,000 l. ftipulated by the late convention for an indempnification to the British merchants, received such an equivocating and evasive answer, as obviously demonstrated, that the Spanish ministry paid but a very sender regard to the convention, intending only to linger out a fruitless negociation, and still continue to retard those compul. fory measures, which they had so long expected the crown of Great Britain would have exerted, to vindicate its naval reputation, and procure by the force of arms, that satisfaction which was now found impossible to be obtained by the ef. fect of treaty.
C H A P.
CHAPTER II. From the proclamation of hostilities
by the court of Great BRITAIN against the SPANIARDS, to the expedition against Porto Bello.
PART TOTWITHSTANDING war was the
I. IV general cry throughout the British nation, o Sir Robert Walpole, who presided at the head of
the ministry, still persisted in those pacific measures, he had been always for maintaining. The national debt had received but an inconsiderable reduction since the treaty of Utrecht, and at this time, amounted to above forty-five millions; a prodigious sum ! after so long a peace: and by carrying on a war with Spain, the nation must necessarily be loaded with additional taxes, as also by stopping a trade with that kingdom, it would be deprived of the most beneficial branch of its commerce, and be thereby the more impove. rished. This was the tenacious argument of the ministry to prevent a rupture with the crown of Spain, which was highly commendatory so far as it tended to their own security, as the pacific system, however detrimental to trade, and injurious to the national honour, would afford the ministry leisure, and opportunity for a diminu
tion of this forty-five millions, such a surprizing CHAP. incumbrance on a nation, so long Julled in the II. bofom of tranquility. The ministry were very in fenfible, it was too cumbersome a load to sic easy on the neck of the people ; especially as it might be well apprehended, that the free revenue, had, for near twenty years, been a great deal more than sufficient for answering the annual expence, if the ministry had kept up no greater armies that were neceflary, paid no unnecessary pensions, nor fitted out any useless squadrons ; and that upon this calculation, for admitting, what was asserted in the close of the reign of queen Ann, that 350,000l. a year was sufficient for the support of all the guards and garrisons requisite at home, 120,000 l. sufficient for the ordinary of the navy, 500,000l. a year for the civil list, which was affirmed by a nobleman of great distinction to be sufficient for that purpose, if exempted from the deductions of useless or dangerous pensions; and if to these three sums, were added 520,000l. a year, for maintaining 10,000 seamen; and 300,000 l. a year, for defraying the expence of the office of ordnance, and for supporting the garrisons at Gibraltar, Port-Mahon, and in the plantations, the whole necessary annual expence of the nation would amount to no more than 1,790,000 l. to which might be added 210,000l. yearly for other contingent expences, to make up an even sum of two millions, which would have been the annual expence of the nation if disingaged from any foreign disputes. Towards discharging of this, there would have been more that a sufficiency. from the free revenue, that is, the revenue unmortgaged for the payment of any old debt ; for the land tax, at two shillings in the pound, is gene.
ve been ards dilcaged from
PART rally computed at a million a year, and the 1. malt tax, at 700,000l. a year, but as there
might be a difficiency in each of these annual
verified by their national proverb, “ Peace with CHAP. « England and war with the whole world :" II. For it is generally supposed, that the British nation consumes near two thirds of the exported produce of Spain; therefore the Spaniards are dependant for the greatest part of their trade, upon a friendly intercourse with England, which, for its woollen manufacture, tin, lead, corn and coals, receives in exchange from Spain, wine, wool, oil, soap, fruit, iron, indigo, cochineal and drugs. Though the profits of trade were so great in favour of the English, that on the ballance, their gains were fo extraordinary, it has been imagined the English and Dutch shared half the treasure of the plate fleet, annually imported from America ; yet the consumption of Spanish commodities in Great Britain, though inequivalent, was very profitable, 10,000 ton of Spanish wines, besides brandies being annually imported in the British dominions, which amount to the consumers to near 1,000,000l. sterling. Besides, England is the only market for the commodities of Spain, the French are too fruitful, the northern nations too poor, and the Dutch too frugal, to riot in such a luxurious produce. Thus a war between Great Britain and Spain would be equally detrimental to the commerce of both nations, and such a conjuncture must and always will contribute to the enriching of France at the expence of the powers at variance ; for during the last war, in four years' time, there was landed at Brest, six millions sterling of Spanish bullion, which France drew from its trade with Spain in the West Indies; and the great end Lewis XIV. aimed at, in setting a prince of the house of Bourbon on the Spanish throne, was to draw the riches of VOL. I.