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Progress of the Nation page 15


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The streets of Edinburgh were as much infested as these of London by a roystering set of dare-devils, who, elated with drink, wrenched off knockers, gave chase to sober citizens, and came into combat with the city guard. By day they sought immunity from the consequences of then- nocturnal orgies by the heälthy games of golf, curling, bowling, penny-stane, and the like.

Till after the union with England, which opened up a new and wide field of enterprise, the Scotch gentlemen who were younger brothers, sought employment in the continental armies; and Gustavus Adolphtis, in the Thirty Years' 'War, had no less than four lieutenants-general, twenty colonels, and a vast number of inferior officers, from Scotland. After the union the Scotch aristocracy began to educate their younger sons for commerce and the national service. As Scotland had no poor-law, the number of mendicants during this period was enormous. Fletcher, about the time of the union, calculated the beggars at two hundred thousand, and that at no time had they been less than one hundred thousand. Many of these are said to have been of gipsy blood, and to have threatened and seized by violence where they could not obtain their wishes otherwise; but the old gaber- lunziemen and the blue-gownsmen - the Edie Ochiltrees of the eighteenth century - were a privileged race, who brought the news of the country, carried letters and messages, and who had always a welcome and a warm place in the ingle. The manners and customs of the Highlanders seem comprised in their chivalrous following of their chiefs in war, their hunting, herding cattle, and their acting as drovers in the low countries.

Ships, Commerce, Colonies and Manufactures

Notwithstanding the almost constant wars of this period, our shipping, commerce, colonies, and manufactures made considerable progress. The governments went on fighting and spending; the people, as far as such drains and disturbances would let them, working and accumulating. At the commencement of this period the amount of shipping employed in our commerce was altogether 244,788 tons, being 144,264 tons English, and 100,524 foreign; in 1701 the amount of shipping employed was 337,328 tons, of which alone 293,703 were English. In 1702, the end of William's reign, the number of English mercantile vessels were about 3281, employing 27,196 seamen. The royal navy, at the end of William's reign, amounted to about 159,000 tons, employing about 50,000 sailors, so that the seamen of England must have amounted at that period to nearly 80,000.

At the end of the reign of Anne the shipping employed in commerce amounted to 448,000 tons, of which only 26,573 tons-Were foreign; so that the English mercantile shipping had increased, in little more than twelve years, 127,800 tons. At the end of the reign of George I. our mercantile shipping was only 456,000 tons, the foreign being 23,651 tons; so that the increase for the time was but slight. The royal navy had also greatly decreased under George I. At the end of the reign of George II., the total amount of our commercial shipping was 573,978 tons, including 112,737 foreign. Thus, whilst the total shipping at the commencement of this period (in 1688) was only 244,788 tons, at the end of it (in 1760) the total was 573,978 tons, or a nett increase, in seventy-two years, of 329,190 tons, the increase being much larger than the total amount of tonnage possessed at the commencement of the period, the amount of foreign shipping remaining very nearly the same - in fact, only 12,000 tons more. The royal navy, which at the commencement of the period,, was; reckoned at 101,892. tons, at the end of it was 321,104 tons, showing up increase of 219,212 tons; and, at the rate of men employed at the commencement, the number now employed in both our commercial. and national navy could not be fewer than 160,000 men.

The growth of our commerce during this seventy-two years is shown by the amount of our exports. In 1697 - that is, nine years after the Revolution - the amount of exports was only £3,§25,907,; but in the three next years of peace they rose to £6,709,881. War reduced these again to little more than £5,000,000, and. at the end of tue reign of Anne, during peace, they rose to £$,000,000. At the end of the reign of George I. the war had so much checked our commerce, that the exports scarcely amounted to that sum, the average of the, years - 1726, 1727\\ and 1728 - being only £7,891,739. By the end of the reign of George II., however (1760), they had risen to £14,693,270. Having by this period driven the fleets of France and Spain from the ocean, we rather extended our commerce than injured it. Thus, during this seventy-two years, our annual exports had increased from about three millions and a half annually to more than fourteen millions and a half annually, or a yearly difference of upwards of eleven millions - a substantial growth.

One great cause of this progress was the growth of our colonies. They began now to demand a considerable quantity of our manufactures and other articles of domestic comfort and influence to supply us with a number of items of raw material. Towards the end of the reign of.George I. our American colonies, besides the number of convicts that we sent thither, especially to Virginia and Maryland, attracted a considerable emigration of free persons, particularly to Pennsylvania, in consequence of the freedom of its constitution, as founded by Penn, and the freedom for the exercise of religion.

New York, Jersey, and the New England states traded in the same commodities; they also built a considerable number of ships, and manufactured, especially in Massachusetts, coarse linens and woollens, iron, hats, rum, besides drying great quantities of fish for Spain, Portugal, and the Mediterranean markets. They employed 40,000 tons of shipping, and 600,000 seamen. New England furnished the finest masts in the world for the navy; Virginia and Maryland furnished 50,000 hogsheads of tobacco, annually valued at £370,000; employing 24,000 tons of shipping. From these colonies we received also great quantities of skins, wool, furs, flax, &q. Carolina had become a great rice-growing country. By the year 1733 it had nearly superseded the supply of that article from Italy in Spain and Portugal; in 1749 it exported nearly 100,000 barrels of rice; and seven years afterwards, besides its rice, it sent to England 200,000 pounds of indigo, rendering us independent of France for that article; and at the end of the present period its export of indigo had doubled that quantity, besides a large exportation of pitch, sassafras, Brazil wood, skins, Indian corn, and other articles.

In 1732 the new colony of Georgia was founded by general Oglethorpe, and became a silk-growing country, exporting, by the end of this period, an interval of only eight years, 10,000 pounds of raw silk annually.

The rapid growth of the commerce of the American colonies excited an intense jealousy in our West Indian islands, which claimed a monopoly of supply of sugar, rum, molasses, and other articles to all the English possessions. The Americans trading with the French, Dutch, Spaniards, &c., took these articles in return; but the West Indian proprietors prevailed with the British government, in 1733, to impose a duty on the import of any produce of foreign plantations into the American colonies, besides granting a drawback on the re-exportation of West Indian sugar from Great Britain. This was one of the first pieces of legislation of which the American colonies had a just right to complain. At this period our West Indies produced about 85,000 hogsheads of Bugar, or 1,200,000 cwt. About three hundred sail were employed in the trade with these islands, and about 4,500 sailors: the value of British manufactures exported thither being about £240,000 annually, but our imports from Jamaica alone averaged at that time £539,492. Besides rum, sugar, and molasses, we received from the West Indies cotton, indigo, ginger, pimento, cocoa, coffee, &c.

During this period a vast empire was beginning to unfold itself in the East Indies, destined to produce a vast trade, and pour a perfect mine of wealth into this country. The victories of Clive, Eyre Coote, &c., were telling sensibly on our commerce. During the early part of this period this effect was slow, and our exports to India and China up to 1741 did not average more than £148,000 per annum in value. Bullion, however, was exported to pay expenses and to purchase tea to an annual amount of upwards oif half a million. Towards the end of this period, however, our exports to India and China amounted annually to more than half a million; but the necessity for the export of bullion had sunk to an annual demand for less than £100,000. The amount of tea imported from China during this period rose from about 140,000 pounds annually to nearly 3,000,000 pounds annually.

The progress of our manufactures was equally satisfactory. At the commencement of this period that great innovator and benefactor, the steam-engine, was produced. The idea thrown out by the marquis of Worcester, in his " Century of Inventions," in 1683, had been neglected as mere wild theory till Savary, in 1698, constructed a steam-engine for draining mines. This received successive improvements from Newman and Cawley, and still further ones from Brindley in 1756, and Watt extended these at the end of this period, though this mighty agent has received many improvements since. Navigable canals, also, date their introduction by the duke of Bridgewater, under the management of Brindley, from the latter end of this period, 1758. Other great men, Arkwright, Compton, Hargrave, &c., were now busily at work in developing machinery, and applying steam to it, which has revolutionised the system of manufacture throughout the world. In 1754 the Society of Arts and Manufactures was established, showing a strong desire in the public to encourage the development of them, though the great discoveries in mechanics, as all other things, are almost always the result of the solitary and persevering efforts of genius.

One great article of manufacture and export, however, down to this period, continued to be that of our woollens. To guard this manufacture many acts had been passed at different times, prohibiting the exportation, of the raw material. Immediately after the Revolution a fresh act of this kind was passed, and such was the jealousy even of the Irish and of our American colonies weaving woollen cloths, that, in 1689, an act was passed, prohibiting the exportation of wool or woollen goods from Ireland or our plantations to any country except England. Having taken measures thus to confine as much as possible the profit of the woollen manufacture to England, the next year, which saw ail protecting duties taken off corn, saw also leave given for the exportation of woollen cloths, duty-free from England to any part of the world. Sir William Davenant estimates the value of the yearly growth of wool in England at this time at about £2,000,000, and the value of its woollen manufactures at £8,000,000. He calculates that one-fourth of this amount was exported. At the commencement of this period our writers boasted that we had completely triumphed over the Dutch in the perfection of our manufactured cloths, and, instead of getting our supply of the finest articles from them, made them ourselves. In 1738 Mr. John Kay invented the present mode of casting the shuttle by what is called a "picking-peg" by which means the weaver was enabled to weave cloths of any width, and throw off twice the quantity in the same time. In 1758 the Leeds Cloth Hall was erected, and, about twenty years afterwards, a hall for white cloths.

The silk trade, now grown so great m England, as to be unrivalled for extent and the beauty of the fabrics produced, received a great impulse by the erection of a silk-mill at Derby, in 1719, by John Lombe and his brothers. Lombe had smuggled himself into a silk-mill in Italy, as a destitute workman, and had then copied all the machinery. To prevent the operation of this new silk factory in England, which was worked by a water-wheel on the river Derwent, had 97,746 wheels, movements, and individual parts, and employed three hundred persons, the king of Sardinia prohibited the exportation of the raw material, and thus, for a time, checked the progress of the manufacture, Parliament voted Sir Thomas Lombe £14,000 as a compensation for loss of profits thus occasioned, on condition that the patent, which he had obtained for fourteen years, should expire, and the right to use the machinery should be thrown open to the public. By the middle of this period our silk manufactures were declared superior to those of Italy, and the tradesmen of Naples recommended their silk stockings as English ones. In 1.755 great improvements were introduced by Mr. Jedediah Strutt in the stocking-loom of Lee.

As the woollen manufactures of Ireland had received a check from the selfishness of the English manufacturers, it was sought to compensate the protestants of Ulster by encouraging the linen manufacture there, which the English did not value so much as their woollen. A board was established in Dublin in 1711, and one also in Scotland in 1727, to superintend the trade, and bounties and premiums on exportation were offered. Under these favourable circumstances the trade rapidly grew, both in Ireland and Scotland. In 1750 seven and a half million yards of linen were annually woven in Scotland alone.

The lace manufacture was still prosecuted merely; by hand, and chiefly in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, and' in the west of England. No lace was produced from machinery in this country before 1768.

In the manufacture of iron a most material discovery of smelting the ore by the use of pit-coal was made. The forests of England were so much reduced by the consumption of wood in the iron fireplaces, that it was contemplated removing the business to our American colonies. This necessity was obviated by the discovery by lord Dudley of a mode of manufacturing bar-iron With coal instead of wood. This discovery had been patented" in 1619, yet, singularly, had been neglected; but in 1740 the principle was applied at Colebrooke Dale, and iron thus made tough or brittle, as was wished. Iron works, now not confined to one spot by the necessity of wood, sprung üp at various places in England and Wales, and the great works at Rötherham were established in 1750, and the great Carron works in Scotland in 1760. The quantity of pig-iron made in 1740 was calculated at 17,000 tons, and the number of people employed at the end of this period is supposed to be little short of 300,000.

The production of copper during this period was so plentiful, that, though the great mines in Anglesea were not yet discovered, full liberty was given to export} it, except to France. From 1736 to 1745 the mines of Cornwall alone produced about 700 tons annually, and the annual amount was constantly increasing. A manufactory of brass - the secret of which mixture was introduced from Germany, in 1649 - was established in Birmingham, in 1748; and, at the end of this period, the number of persons employed in making articles of copper and brass was, probably, not less than 50,000. The manufacture of tinned iron commenced in Wales about 1730, and in 1740 further improvements were made in this process. Similar improvements were making in the refinement of metals, in the manufacture of silver plate, called Sheffield plate. English watches acquired great reputation, but afterwards fell into considerable disrepute from the employment of inferior foreign works. Printing types, which we had before imported from Holland, were first made, in the reign of queen Anne, in this country, by Caslon, an engraver of gun-locks and barrels. In 1725 William Ged, a Scotchman, discovered the art of Stereotyping, but did not introduce ft without strong opposition from the working printers. Great strides were made in the paper manufacture. In 1690 we first made white paper, and in 1713 it is calculated that 300,000 reams of all kinds of paper were made in England. An excise duty was first laid on paper in 1711. Our best china and earthenware were still imported, and, both in style and quality, our own pottery was very inferior, for; Wedge wood had not yet introduced his wonderful improvements. Defoe introduced pantiles at his manufactory at Tilbury, before which time we imported them from Holland. The war with France compelled us to encourage the manufacture of glass; in 1697 the excise duty, imposed three years before, was repealed, but in 1746 duties were imposed on the articles used in its manufacture, and additional duties on its exportation. The manufacture of crown glass was not introduced till after this period.

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Pictures for Progress of the Nation page 15

Old House of Peers
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Old East India House
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Medal of the Seven Bishops
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William III
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Whitefield preaching
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Convocation house, St. Pauls
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Addisons walk at Oxford
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The residence of Richardson
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Alexander Pope
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St. Pauls cathedral
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Harpsichord
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Tomb of Sir Christopher Wren
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St. Pauls cathedral
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Greenwich hospital
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William Hogarth
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Coins
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Costumes
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Ladies
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Gentlemens
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London street
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