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Tutte le invenzioni le più benemerite del genere umano, e che hanno svillupato l'ingegno
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communicazione delle idee, dei bisogni, dei sentimenti, e riducano il genere uinano a massa.






“ Though immediately and primarily written for the merchants, this Commercial Dictionary will be of use to every man of business or of curiosity. There is no man who is not in some degree a merchant ; who has not something to buy and something to sell, and who does not therefore want such instructions as may teach himn the true value of possessions or commodities. The descriptions of the productions of the earth and water which this volume contains, may be equally pleasing and useful to the speculatist with any other Natural History. The descriptions of ports and cities may instruct the geographer as well as if they were found in books appropriated only to his own science ; and the doctrines of funds, insurances, currency, mo. nopolies, exchanges, and duties, is so necessary to the politician, that without it he can be of no use either in the council or the senate, nor can speak or think justly either on war or trade.

“We, therefore, hope that we shall not repent the labour of compiling this work, nor flatter ourselves unreasonably, in predicting a favourable reception to a book which no condition of life can render useless, which may contribute to the advantage of all that make or receive laws, of all that buy or sell, of all that wish to keep or improve their possessions, of all that desire to be rich, and all that desire to be wise."

JOHNSON, Preface to Roll's Dict.




The last edition of this work that underwent a complete revision was published in 1834. Since that epoch several considerable impressions have been exhausted; the more important changes in the commercial laws and regulations of this and other countries, and in the channels of commercial intercourse, that took place in the interval, having been specified in successive Supplements. These, however, notwithstanding the limited plan on which they were compiled, had become rather voluminous ; and the changes made in our commercial policy by the Tariff Act of 1842, and the late acts for regulating the corn and colonial trades, &c., were so very important, and affected so many articles and interests, that it would have been difficult to notice them and the other subjects that required to be brought under the reader's eye in a new Supplement, without extending it to something like the size of the original work, which would thus have been rendered clumsy, costly, and inconvenient. Under these circumstances, we had no choice, except to abandon the work altogether, or to undertake the laborious task of its reconstruction. Having determined upon the latter, we have endeavoured to make it a Digest and Repertory of the most useful and authentic information respecting the past and present state of the commerce of this and most other countries, including the means and devices resorted to for facilitating commercial operations, and the laws and regulations under which they have been carried on. The various details are brought down to the latest period; and such additional subjects and statements have been introduced as had been overlooked in the former editions, or have since come into existence or grown of importance. We have tried to effect these improvements without adding, very materially, to the size of the work, by subjecting it to an unsparing retrenchment, and rejecting whatever was superseded by late changes, or appeared to be unnecessary.

It must, however, be admitted of works of this description, that they are less susceptible than most others of being improved in successive editions. An error in a bygone statement may, of course, be detected and rectified; but few comparatively of those who refer to a Commercial Dictionary care for historical notices or theoretical discussions. The practical details belonging to the present moment are the prime objects of interest with most men of business ; and the same difficulties recur in attempting to give an account of commerce and commercial legislation in 1842 and 1843 that had to be encountered in describing their state in 1832 and 1833. The subject is not stationary but progressive, and variable in the extreme. The information, too, to which we have been compelled to resort, has been often very deficient; and when more abundant, it has not unfrequently been obscure, contradictory, and but little to be depended upon. And even though it had been of a less ques

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tionable description, the all but endless variety of subjects we have had to notice, and the perpetual and often unmarked changes to which most of them are subject, prevent our flattering ourselves with the notion that we have been much more successful on this than on former occasions in avoiding mistakes. We have, however, resorted to every means within our reach by which accuracy was likely to be attained ; and can honestly affirm that, in attempting to render our work worthy of the public confidence, we have shrunk from no labour nor grudged any reasonable expense.

Except in one or two instances, we have seen no reason to modify any general principle laid down in the previous editions. The freedom of industry and of trade appears to us, speaking generally, to be the only sound foundation on which the commercial legislation of any country can safely or permanently rest. But we are not of the number of those who think that this is a principle to which there can be no exception, and that it is to be enforced at all times, without regard to existing interests, or to the peculiar situation of the branches of industry to which it may be proposed to be applied. There are, in truth, no absolute principles; that is, there are no principles that can be safely and advantageously carried out to their full extent, at all hazards and under all circumstances, either in Commercial Economy or any thing else. In conducting national affairs, the interests, and even the unreasonable prejudices, of great classes must be consulted ; and governments should frequently, or, perhaps, we might say, generally, adopt that line of conduct which may seem to be on the whole best fitted to conciliate and promote the varying interests of those for whom they legislate, in preference to that which may be more in accordance with principle. A policy of this sort, while it is consistent with the effectual reform of every abuse, makes all changes be carefully considered, and cautiously introduced ; and provides for the permanent advantage of the community with as little immediate injury as possible to individuals.

It is not, therefore, as many appear to suppose, enough to prove that a rule or regulation is wrong, that it interferes with the absolute freedom of industry or of trade. Such interference may be justifiable or unjustifiable, according to the peculiar exigencies of the case. The decisions of men of sense are not to be guided, on topics of this sort, by clamour, or by a cuckoo-cry in favour of any general principle, however well-established, but by a comprehensive investigation of what is under the circumstances the wisest and best course of policy to be adopted. Who can doubt that the regulations with respect to the truck system, the exclusion of females from mines, and the employment of young people in factories, though interfering to a considerable extent with the freedom of industry, are highly judicious, and necessary for the protection of the largest and not least important portion of society ?

It may be doubted whether the commercial code of any country was ever so much liberalised and improved in the same space of time as ours has been between the important reforms begun by Mr. Huskisson in 1825, and those effected by Sir Robert Peel in 1842. The more ardent reformers allege, indeed, that these were not sufficiently extensive, that they were introduced slowly and with greater diffidence than necessary, and that many abuses are still unredressed. But those who reflect on the difficulty, in an extremely artificial state of society, of correctly appreciating the remote influence of any considerable change, and the impossibility of retracing any false step, will probably be disposed to applaud the prudence manifested in effecting these reforms. The progress already made has, however, paved the way for farther advances ; and the reforms that still remain to be undertaken may now be


attempted with comparatively little risk. The greater number of these are, we believe, pointed out in this work; and we have endeavoured to show how they may be best introduced, and the advantages which may be fairly anticipated from their being carried into effect.

Some of the most important subjects of which we have had to treat are, unfortunately, much mixed up with party politics, and the agitation of the day. But our pages, we trust, are not polluted by any factious or partisan taint. We have endeavoured to treat the subjects in question in the spirit of lookers on who have no wish to participate in the game, and not in that of the players, who may, perhaps, have staked their all on the result; and are not conscious of having been biassed by political or personal predilections.

We firmly adhere to the opinion we have endeavoured to establish in the former editions of this work and elsewhere, that it would be sound policy to permit the importation of foreign corn at all times, under a moderate fixed duty accompanied by a corresponding drawback. A duty of this sort would not interpose any serious obstacle to our getting supplies of foreign corn when necessary; at the same time that it would tend to prevent any sudden shock being given to agriculture by the opening of the ports to free importation, and would countervail the peculiar burdens the agriculturists at present sustain, or which, at all events, they would most certainly have to sustain, were the ports open to importation without any duty. It appears to us that justice to all parties — to the manufacturers and merchants on the one hand, and to the agriculturists on the other, requires that some such method of settling this derata quæstio should be attempted. It has been truly said, that what a mercantile country like Great Britain most requires is the adoption of “ a decided and unflinching course of commercial policy.” This is necessary to give those engaged in agricultural and commercial pursuits that feeling of security which lies at the bottom of all steady, vigorous, and prolonged exertion; and to make all classes bring their industry and capital into full activity. Unluckily, however, the most formidable obstacles appear to stand in the way of our entering upon such a course ; and so long as one great class claim every thing, and another great class will concede nothing, our policy can inspire but little confidence. But we would fain hope that both parties, or at least that the more reasonable and considerate portions of both, may become sensible of the many pernicious consequences which cannot fail to result from prolonging the agitation with respect to the corn laws; and that these laws may be finally settled so as to reconcile and secure the just rights and interests of all classes. Unfounded anticipations of advantage on the one hand, and unfounded anticipations of loss on the other, are the only real obstacles to some such arrangement being effected ; and it will be much to be deplored should the great interests of the empire be sacrificed to such delusions, and to the sinister designs of those who represent them as real, and exaggerate their magnitude.

We have thought it necessary to say thus much; for, though our work, being a Commercial Dictionary, might be supposed to be beyond the sphere of politics, we have been reluctantly compelled, on various occasions, in consequence of the way in which commercial and political questions are now mixed up, to engage in what may be called political discussion. And when such has been the case, we have not scrupled freely to state our opinions, and to censure such principles, laws, or regulations, as we believe to be injurious. But we have not done this wantonly, or without briefly stating the grounds on which we have presumed to found our conclusions. We have, a lso, as on former occasions, taken care to separate the theoretical and historical from the practical and legal parts of the

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