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H U N T ’S

No. IV.



A r t . I. — W H A T C O N S T IT U T E S A M ERCH A N T.*
W h i l e the labor of the mechanic moulders or decays after him, the title
of merchant is sounded for ages. Cities may be swept to the outline of their
foundation; but, their merchants are kept in remembrance. Whole nations
will war to protect a single merchant: for he carries the honor of his coun­
try at the mast of his vessel. His success is the success of that country; and
his insolvency causes the firmest institutions of his own land to tremble.
The ocean seems to rejoice with the freight of his ships; the -winds lend him
their breath; the iron appears to have become magnetic for him ; his mere
cipher is known and respected thousands of miles aw ay; he has been call­
ed the steward of the -world’s stock; while the virtues of the earth are sup­
posed to guide and to sustain him.
Even the gentler part of his household have, in monarchies, shone with
a brilliancy that caused envy to arise in the heart of queens. Jane of France,
wife of Philip the Fair, while residing a few days at Bruges, was mortified
at the splendor of the merchants’ wives: “ I thought,” said she, “ I had
been the only queen h ere; but I find there are above six hundred queens in
this city!”
And who has not read of the Hanseatic league, whereby the merchant with­
stood the exaction of nobles, and rescued the sea from pirates? By industry
and fidelity, the merchants, under this league, could run their cables almost
round the world. Alas for them that they became warlike, and neglected the
peaceable pursuit of commerce. It destroyed them and their many ships; and
the time came when, to use the quaint language of the period, “ most of their
teeth were out, and the rest loose.” Yet in the history ofthe world, there is
not a more extraordinary example of what industry, with a strict union of in­
terests for effecting a great purpose, can do, than was performed by the man
of commerce under the league.
* A Lecture read before the Mercantile Library Association of New-York, by
C harles E dwards, Esq. and now first published in the Merchants’ Magazine, by re­

quest ofthe Board of Directors.
VOL. I. — NO. IV.



What constitutes a Merchant.

All nations take special knowledge of the law merchant; and the common
and statute law of more countries than one, leave the causes of merchants,
in many cases, to their own peculiar code. The custom of merchants is even
a part of the common law, of which judges must take notice; and if any
doubt arise about the custom, they may send for merchants to know it.
The Magna Charta of England, (as strong a sheet-anchor as our declara­
tion of Independence.) makes special provision for the safety of the strangermerchant. And it is not a little singular, that it should have found its way
there ; for Magna Charta is a mere interior treaty between a King and his
natural-born subjects. However, so it is : and this gives Montesquieu the
chance of saying that the English had made the protection of foreign mer­
chants one of the articles of their national liberty, and shows how much
they value those three great advantages, religion, liberty, and commerce.
And it does the heart good to recur to instances of mercantile character ;
and to observe upon proofs of the respect which countries have paid to the
The tact and generosity of an English merchant, Thomas Sutton, is said
to have materially aided in the defeat of the Spanish Armada, and thereby
saved British liberty from torture and thumb screws.
A fear of the power of merchants stopped Charles V. from establishing
the inquisition in Antwerp ; while a merchant of that city lent this king a
million of money, and, at an entertainment which he gave him, burnt the
bond in a fire of cinnamon—at that time a most costly spice.
A merchant of France raised an army at his own expense; and lent millions
to his country. A Georgian of low birth was able, by the quiet acts of com­
merce, to obtain an immense revenue, and to keep 6000 troops in his pay.
His doors were always open, he was beloved by his brother merchants, and
known for his deep and various learning.
Russia, with all her extent of land, was as nothing, until that half Goth,
Peter, surnamed by his countrymen the Great, promoted the advancement
of commerce. He gave his personal attention to the building of ships, train­
ing of seamen, opening of harbors, and the establishment of ports.
Our own country, though young in her commercial relations, can already
show what may be gained by the merchant. Girard has raised his own
monument; Irving has deemed the enterprise of a merchant a fitting theme;
while the furnace of the present time will bring out the Tefined gold of mer­
cantile character, and make it a subject for future history. Nor does it mat­
ter from what source a merchant gains his greatness.*
Cities subsist by the manufacture of such slight articles as ribands. Den­
mark, in ancient days, gained her mercantile riches merely through her sale
of herrings—all nations resorted to her, and brought precious commodities,
and gold and silver, in exchange for these common fish. It is wonderful, too
how a single article may, through the facilities of the merchant, increase in
the market, and almost sink or sustain the balance of trade between commer­
cial countries. In the year 1785, the import of cotton wool into England,
from America, was only 5 bags;in 1786, 6 bags; in 1789, 108 bags; while
in the years 1834 and 1835, the crops were, 1,254.328 bags. In the latter
year, England and Scotland together, consumed 18,348 bags a week. . The
quantity of cotton wool exported by this country during 1835, amounted to
370,194,184 . lbs., valued at the places of exportation at $16,435,746.
Since the year 1792, the increase in the exportation of this staple from the
United States, has been nearly 2,000 fold.

What constitutes a Merchant


W ith such power in commerce, and such examples before him, the young
"nan, who is looking towards merchandise for his future good, must natu­
rally desire to gain the title of Merchant. What, then, constitutes a Mer­
chant ? A word, nevertheless, here, upon the idea which persons at times
attach to the mercantile man. They lose sight of the broad space over which
he carries his thoughts and property, and fancy his intellect to be as confined
as his counting room. Taking one example, let us listen to the prejudices
of Dr. Johnson. “ At breakfast,” says his entertaining jackall, Boswell, “ I
asked, what is the reason that we are angry at a traders having opulence?”
“ Why, sir,” said Johnson, “ the reason is (though I don’t undertake to prove
there is a reason) we see no qualities in trade that should entitle a man to su­
periority. W e are not angry at a soldier’s getting riches, because we see
that he possesses qualities which we have not. If a man returns from a battle,
having lost one hand, and with the other full of gold, we feel that he deserves
the gold; but we cannot think that a fellow sitting all day at a desk is enti­
tled to get above us.” “ But,” responded Boswell, “ may we not suppose a
merchant to be a man of an enlarged mind, such as Addison in the Spec­
tator describes Sir Andrew Freeport to have been?” “ Why, sir,” retorted
Johnson, “ we may suppose any fictitious character. W e may suppose a
philosophical day laborer, who is happy in reflecting that, by his labor,
he contributes to the fertility of the earth and the support of his fellow crea­
tures ; but we find no such philosophical day laborer. A merchant may,
perhaps, be a man of an enlarged mind; but there is nothing in trade con­
nected with an enlarged mind.” Johnson is too well known at the present
day to require a comment upon remarks hazarded for effect. He who could
say that Americans ought to be thankful for anything allowed them “ short
o f hanging,” will not have much weight with my hearers.
There are, also, persons who would sacrifice the merchant for the agricul­
turist ; and consider the latter as all in all. However, gentlemen, the genius
of a country who looks to her fields alone, sits like a poor shepherdess upon
the mountains, who is content at seeing the waves of the surrounding ocean
fashioned into white lambs, and the billows rise like her cattle in anger. The
true genius will, with the glance of thought, see how that ocean is panting
for the productions of the earth. Such an one proves to be a Minerva, who
can and will cast aside her warlike emblems, to place the first vessel upon
the sea, and encourage every Jason of her country to steer fearlessly for the
golden fleece. The agriculturist bears no comparison to the merchant.
Those persons who have lived in or visited maritime cities, must, at once, ac­
knowledge this. The merchant can “ stand as one upon a rock, surrounded
by a wilderness of sea.” The farmer must have his rich pasture, a kind cli­
mate, and seed to sow. He has to wait for hay time and harvest: the mer­
chant casts his bread upon the waters at all seasons. There is as much dif­
ference between them as between an inventor and a mere working man. It
is true that Sully looked to the industry of the countryman as the only source
of wealth. “ Tillage and pasturage,” it was a favorite saying of his, “ are
the two breasts by which France is nourished, the real treasures of Peru.”
It is likewise true that Sully seriously checked national industry by not en­
couraging manufactures and commerce.
Trade has this power over agriculture: it increases the wealth of a nation
without the labor of producing or fabricating a single article. This is done
through fearlessly carrying the dead stock of the agriculturist and planter to
places where such stock is not produced. Trade is the foster mother of agri­

W hat constitutes a Merchant.


culture. The man of the country may feel himself a priest of nature: but
gentleness and a love of the beautiful are also found in a maritime city. Phi­
losophy can move around our wharves as well as repose under a tree. Nature
may be studied amongst us, (although she may be discovered with more dif­
ficulty ;) and I
“ -------- rather would entreat thy company,
To view the wonders of the world abroad,
Than, living dully sluggardized at home,
W ear yourself out in shapeless idleness.”

The only advantage the farmer possibly can possess, is in a selfish quiet of
mind— letting his thoughts merely
“ Hang on each leaf, and cling to every bough.”

But who is this being we are upholding ? My young friends are by this
time asking: how can I compass this character ? W hen will it be my lot to
rank as a merchant? Even now 1 can buy, and I can sell. Yet varied
excellence is not mine. W hat must I do to deserve the title? — W hat
constitutes a Merchant ?
Our merchant, then, possesses d e c i s i o n o f c h a r a c t e r . His mind may
be allowed to vibrate, for that the needle does; yet, like the needle, it will
still be constant. If a youth find his disposition vacillating: if he let “ I dare
not,” wait upon “ I would” — then we bid him not go where merchants most
do congregate; he must keep his foot from the floor of the Exchange, and not
let his ventures be squandered abroad. H e should move in a narrower sphere,
where his virtues may still be recognised, and his anxieties not be over­
stretched. Many a youth has made his fortune by determination of mind,
while more have marred their prospects from a want of it. No man can con­
duct a great and honorable traffic who has it not. He who is without deci­
sion of character, makes a bad debt and a doubtful bargain; and the motto
of the merchants for centuries has been, “ better a loss at sea, than a bad debt
on land.” His desire of rising will be checked by an idea of falling. Ho
fears the battle before the trumpet has sounded. He will be apt to say with
Sir Walter R aleigh:
“ Pain would I climb, but that I fear to fall

W hile we would answer with Elizabeth:
“ If thy heart fail thee, climb thou not at all.”

Such an one cannot succeed, but he will bring himself down to exclaim,
“ The thorns which I have reaped, are of the tree I planted. They have
torn me, and I bleed.”
He who has decision of character does not inquire whether an act be right.
H e feels it i s : and knowing, will pursue, and must attain the profitable end.
H e is prompt and firm; the billow stays him not— even in its stormiest
h o u r; nor can the wintry gulfs be barriers, for he has confidence without
obstinacy, and constancy of purpose under all circumstances. When the
friends of Pompey attempted to dissuade him from hazarding his life on a
tempestuous sea, in order to be at Rome on an important occasion, this man
of decision said: “ It is necessary for me to g o : it is not necessary for me to
And let our friend come to his labor with a c h e e r f u l d i s p o s i t i o n :
for it helps wonderfully in making a good bargain. A cheerful disposition,
says Hume, is worth ten thousand a year. With decision of character and

W hat constitutes a Merchant.


a cheerful disposition, our merchant will be enabled to ward off envy and
hatred; and we bid him not flatter himself that they will keep away, for,
as it has been prettily said, envy and hatred did not spare Fenelon.
There is, then, an A mbition belonging'to our merchant. I speak not of
that ambition which destroyed W oolsey: for that was the ambition of an
unbounded stomach—nor the ambition that weighed down Milton’s angels:
for it was mingled with envy—nor the ambition of Caesar: for it smacked of
dominion—but, the ambition which, as Bacon hath it, “ maketh men ac­
tive, earnest, full of alacrity, and stirring,”—in fine—a desire to accomplish a
name which shall rate like a ship of the first class f be sounded with hones­
ty in distant marts; give to his bill of exchange the currency of the world,
and tos his merchandise the highest price and the best consideration. This
is a laudable ambition: for it can only be obtained through years of active
intelligent business and unbending integrity. John Ludwig, a Saxon peasant,
was dismissed from school, when he was a child, after four years’ ineffectual
struggle to learn the ordinary rules of arithmetic. He had been, during the
time, beaten and scolded in vain. H e spent several subsequent years in
common labor, but, at length, some accidental circumstances excited his am­
bition; and he became expert in all the common rules, and mastered the
rule of three and fractions, by the help of an old school book, in the course
of one year. H e afterwards, without assistance, overcame geometry, and
raised himself, by the force of ambition rightly directed, from obscurity to
fame. Here we have a fair illustration of a laudable ambition.
The virtue of T ruth never leaves a merchant. A price current will,
with him, have the honesty of an oath, without the necessity of one : and a
deposition at the custom house is considered a solemn declaration. The
false entry and short measure are only known in the vocabulary of the knave
—they are not to be found in any mercantile compendium. Nor will I
grant my gentleman the benefit of the whitest lie that Mrs. Opie may have
It is needless to point out all the fruits of knowledge the merchant enjoys.
Still he must be a r i p e and good s c h o l a r . H e knows not from what
part of the world consignments may come; nor who may be his correspon­
dents. Yet he is ready with kno wledge to handle any peculiar article, and con­
verse with or write to every intelligent consignor, The Senate of his country
may, at a few hours warning, call upon him to attend and give information up­
on matters of national importance; a court of justice will want his experience;
the great Lord Mansfield—great must he be in the respect of the merchant,
for he built up the beautiful system of commercial law—was in the habit of
consulting with merchants when he had doubts in mercantile trials. In a re­
ported case, upon adjustment, he is made to say : “ as I expected the other
cause would be tried, I thought a good deal about the point, and endeavored
to get what assistance I could, by conversing with some gentlemen of experi­
ence in adjustments.” At the social board, our merchant has to meet the
well informed of other lands; a ship at the Narrows is in jeopardy, and he
has got to act and to advise in a moment of storm, and in a matter of wreck;
merchandize is injuring in the warehouse or in a dark hold, and his informa­
tion and action must check the ravage-—all this, and much more, must the
merchant meet, go through with, overcome, and bring to his own end, and to
the advantage of those who, in absence, relypipon him.
Nor would we have our young merchant lose his time upon so many works
of fancy, as I regret to say, fill up, not ornament, the shelves of the Mercantile


What constitutes a Merchant.

Association. Poetry, and Romance may be playthings, but never become
playmates. The novel-reader seldom turns out a follower of philosophy ;
nor is the lover of poetry often a man of business. I a maware of the fascina­
tion around romance, and how much the time of youth is the period of poesy.
A wizard, too, has produced works that have enchanted the old and the new
hemisphere; and though that wizard now sleeps beneath the ruins of Dryburgh Abbey, in Scotland, yet his spells remain. However, Knights of old
gained more by destroying or breaking through the enchantment, than in
going into fairy palaces. Bunyan’s pilgrim found difficulties in passing
worldly enticements, and getting to the top of the delectable mountains: but
when he had arrived there, prudence, piety, and charity, caused him plainly to
see the bright city in the distance.
It is a healthy reader we require. He must break the rock for the garnet,
dig deep for the gold, and sift it well when found; move up the hill to the
very source of the spring, and not he satisfied with the flower upon the sur­
face of the ground.
Nor let our subject for a moment fancy he can gain all he wants from out­
ward business; and even if he could, he would lose the enjoyment arising
from study. “ Who so valueth,” says an ancient author, “ the fruit he buyeth
of the stall woman in a market, as that which his own hand hath gathered
after great pains, and, it may be, peril encountered in the search?” ■ Nor
shall he say, “ I can learn of my employers;” for he is to understand that,
through books, he learns from many employers— he thus comes at the skil­
ful result of many masters. Nor will wholesome reading be otherwise than
beneficial. “ The same age,” says an historian, “ which produces great phi­
losophers and politicians, renowned generals and poets, usually abounds with
skilful weavers and ship chandlers. W e cannot reasonably expect that a
piece of woollen cloth will be wrought to perfection in a nation which is ig­
norant of astronomy, or where ethics are neglected.”
And then, for a r i t h m e t i c and f i g u r e s in general. Our merchant
not only knows that 2 and 2 make 4; but he has, in all honesty, to let his
accounts show it, notwithstanding Swift, in his wit, chooses to say, that in
the arithmetic of the custom house 2 and 2 do not make 4.
To keep good hooks (not merely honest ones) is a first virtue. They
form the only true balance by which to find the quantum of riches, the quan­
tity of business, and the amount of loss. There is no occasion, as in days
of old, to weigh the shekels of silver in cumbrous scales: for not only the
value of these, but dealings with all the world, may he compressed into a sheet
of ruled paper— into a smaller space than any mechanical screw could force
them; and yet, having a harmony more perfect than musical notes, and as
true, in results, as the ends of the Deity. Edgeworth calls arithmetic “ that
useful, essential branch of knowledge, without which neither the abstract
sciences nor practical arts can be taught.”
A readiness at figures produces confidence, and adds prudence to the moral
standard. It gave the good but unfortunate De Witt a higher character.
Perhaps no man ever applied algebra to all matters of trade so nicely as he
did. He had a pocket hook full of tables, and was ever ready to show how
his country could be furnished with money. After his death, one of the
persons appointed to scrutinize his books and papers, was asked what had
been found in them ; he replied, “ What could we have found ? Nothing hut
honesty and virtue.”
“ Merchants,” says Roger North, “ are infinitely curious in the fairness,

W hat constitutes a Merchant.


regularity, and justice of their books, which they esteem as authentic regis­
ters, concerning not only themselves, but all other persons that they have had
dealings with, or may derive interests thereupon ; and to such books appeals
are commonly made, for they are or ought to be the truth, whole truth, and
nothing but the truth, of all that is done and disposed in a method, videlicet,
by waste, journal, and leger, the most exquisite for repertory and use that the
wit of man, with utmost application, has been able to frame.”
Even the law, with all its severity, under certain circumstances, respects
and admits the books of a merchant as evidence of what may be owing to
him, provided he can first prove he keeps correct accounts. Great ends may
be obtained by a perseverance in figures.
And, as allied to this, we may speak of m e c h a n ic s an d g e o m e t r y .
The merchant’s mere wharf or pier cannot be laid without a practical
use of mechanics, depending upon geometrical principles; for he has to guard
against the pressure of earth and of water. But mathematics will require
his best attention. “ If a child be bird-witted,” says Lord Bacon, “ that is,
hath not the faculty of attention, the mathematics giveth a remedy thereunto ;
for in them, if the wit be caught away but for a moment, one is to begin
anew.” A knowledge of geometry will lead our boy-merchant to the science
of navigation, and then the course of his ships, the conduct of their captains,
and the correctness of the log book, may be tested; while the science of me­
chanics will tell him how to cut great bars of iron with the same ease he
would separate a willow wand, allow him to stamp sullen metal with as much
facility as he can impress his seal upon the letter of business, cause him to
draw ashore and launch again great ships as lightly as the ancient Briton
moved his coracle, and tell him how to lift coal and ore from the mines
without a stifling of his breath. The merchant must be mechanical. He
cannot possibly do without even the ordinary mechanical powers. He every
day requires the firm foot of the lever ; his crane is made of the wheel and the
axis; and, by the inclined plane, he causes an unbroken line for the trans­
mission of his goods over hill and valley. In truth, gentlemen, your true
merchant will seize upon the whole range of n a t u r a l and e x p e r i m e n t a l
ph ilo so ph y .
In Hydrostatics, which includes the hydrometer, he finds
that cup of Tantalus, the cyphon ; the diving bell, of which the world will
hear m ore; the beautiful action of pumps; and the water press, whereby a
single man can bring light goods into twenty times less compass than they
were originally — thus allowing a vessel to carry twenty times more pack­
ages than it could without the means of the water press. Then, there are
the laws of motion, and the steam engine; and who, in this land of a Fulton’s
labors, where the steam paddle was invented, where this mighty power, the
steam engine, every where “ wields its large limbs, and nodding shakes the
earth,” and where the noble steam boat — like a creature of freedom — moves
with the force of a leviathan, yet guided by a child’s strength — who will
dare to be ignorant of the parts and the usefulness of the steam engine?
And here, a word by the bye: how often have the most wonderful and
useful discoveries been accidental. Thus, the invention of the steam engine
is fairly claimed by Captain Thomas Savary. He was led to it by the fol­
lowing incident: Having drank a flask of Florentine wine at a tavern, and
thrown the flask on the fire, he perceived that the few drops left in it were
converted into steam; this induced him to snatch it from the fire, and plunge
its neck into a basin of water, which, by the atmospheric pressure, was driven
quickly into the bottle.

W hat constitutes a Merchant.


One fifth of the imported article termed tea, is said to be spurious. This,
our merchant detects, if he be a b o t a n i s t ; not one of those purblind
men, who seek a plant for its rarity,
-------- “ A fingering slave,
One that would peep and botanize.
Upon his mother’s grave

but he, who takes up the science as a philosopher and a philanthropist,
who finds tongues in trees, and goodness in every thing. There is some­
thing more than mere amusement in knowing plants. Their virtues art
many, and their usefulness great. They can restore us to health ; destroy
our natural enemies; lend to our dress their beautiful colors; and cheer us
by their essence. There are but few merchants who have not directly to do
with subjects of botany.
A merchant, too, will be a l i n g u i s t . If his tongue were restricted to one
language, his traffic would, very likely, be confined to one country—at least,
he must tread with fear where he is as a dumb man. The leaves of the world,
the beautiful leaves of the world are open to him, who can discourse in divers
tongues; while he who knows no more than his native language, finds the
book of nature no larger or better than a sybil’s scroll. There is a praise­
worthy pride in obtaining the power of commercial ideas in several living
languages; then arises the benefit accruing in a business point of view; and
lastly, the pleasure derived from other tongues. Other worlds of thought
come around the linguist. Not only the inhabitants of stranger lands, then
appear as in a glass, but their hopes, fears, desires, passions, minstrelsy, and
every mental enjoyment, are subject to his observation. W ho does not de­
sire to read Don Quixote in 'Spanish, and Moliere in French ? How much
must a German lose who cannot peruse and feel Shakspeare in an English
type; and perhaps that German is pitying me for not understanding his
Schiller in the original
The laws have the attention of our merchant: while mercantile law es­
pecially receives his homage and study. Nor is the learning of it at all un­
interesting. Its language is not, like the common law, made up of

Phrase which time has thrown away,
Uncouth words in disarray,
Trick’d in antique ruff and bonnet.”

It is the dialect of common sense — the ordinary speech of men of business.
The immense increase of suits in our courts, has been caused by questions upon
mercantile law. Let any one consider, for a moment, the vast and com­
plicated scheme of our foreign and domestic trade — let him reflect upon the
multitude of hands through which the several commodities pass — on the
thousand modes which are in operation for advancing the separate interests
of all concerned— on the amazing stimulus which luxury has given to com­
petition, and the countless schemes and speculations thence resulting; let him
endeavor to reckon up the various classes of men who derive, not subsistence
only, but opulence, from trade — the hosts of manufacturers, merchants, bro­
kers, partners, shipowners, wharfingers, carriers, bankers, money jobbers,
and insurers— and, lastly, the confusion arising from insolvency! And yet,
the system is simple and harmonious. Still, though simple and harmonious,
it is remarkable how much of law is contained in an ordinary mercantile
transaction. Let us take, for instance, the common case of an English house
directing their partner here to buy and ship a certain quantity of foreign pro­
duce. This agent employs a broker to effect the purchase, who makes a

W hat constitutes a Merchant.


bargain with the grower or manufacturer, on a specified day, at a particular
place, to be thence shipped to England. The seller gives the broker three
months credit for the price, and he draws a bill of exchange on his principal
for the amount, which is accepted by him, payable at the banker's abroad.
In order to provide funds for the payment of this bill when due, the partner
draws on the house in England in favor of the bank, by whom this second
bill is discounted, and the cash placed to the credit of the drawer, so as to
meet his acceptance. The second bill is then endorsed over by the bank to
a bill broker, who sells it for value, to be ultimately paid by the house in
England on account of the goods so purchased for them. Now this, stripped
of its machinery, is neither more nor less than a simple sale between A. and
B., of goods to be delivered on a day fixed, and paid for in three months time.
It is evident, however, that out of the transaction a great variety of legal con­
sequences may arise: for the goods may neither be of the quality nor quantity
contracted for — they may have been damaged in the carriage either by land
or water — they may have been altogether lost — the broker may have de­
viated from his authority in making the purchase — he may have become
insolvent before the three months expired— the firm in England also may be
insolvent either before or after the goods are shipped — and they may be
stopped in transitu — or after their arrival the wharfinger may have de­
tained them for his general balance — and questions of liability upon the bill
of exchange may arise. Here is an ordinary mercantile transaction, and yet
it involves the law of contracts: the liability of ship carriers; the legal con­
sequences between broker and principal; the law "of insurance; the provi­
sions of insol vent and bankrupt acts; the right of stopping goods while they
are on their way, or in transitu; and the law of bills of exchange.
Our merchant is not likely to be as ignorant as the lawyer, who knew so
little of quarantine as to consider the word a name for an island, and asked a
witness whereabouts it was situated; but I am compelled to say, that in my
professional career I have found men who called themselves merchants, some­
times very deficient in matters of mercantile law, although connected with
quarantine, and other things relating to hourly business. A little study
would have saved them in fees, given them confidence in their calling, and
added to the sphere of their usefulness, and their knowledge. There is hardly
a step the commercial man takes which has not a legal principle, custom, or
form, around it. The mere taking of a partner involves new consequences.
Persons would be more cautious in going into partnerships, if they were
aware of the additional legal responsibilities and duties they have then to
assume. The taking of a partner appears as pleasant and simple as the put­
ting of a silver string upon a well tried musical instrument, which sounded
very well before. It possibly gives an appearance of value; but this very
act may spoil the harmony and the music — discord, in both cases, though in
different ways, may be the result.
How common a thing is the act of insurance, and yet how few young
merchants can tell me about re-insurance, or double insurance, or warranty,
or changingthe ship, or barratry, or sea worthiness, or other common heads,
connected with this branch of mercantile law. I am inclined to fear our
young merchant might, if he were subject to be catechised,fall into almost as
great an error,in regard to points of insurance, as a late English judge is said
to have done in relation to a thing insured. It is told as a fact, and may tend
to lighten this part of my lecture — for law is proverbially dry. This judge
was trying an action on a policy of insurance, relating to certain merchanvol. i . — no. iv.


W hat constitutes a Merchant.

dise from Russia, well known under the term Russia duck. The cause
lasted the best part of a day. His honor the judge had allowed his mind to
dwell upon the bird, Russia ducks, and not the cloth of that name, Russia duck,
and when he summed up to the jury, he complained that the counsel on nei­
ther side had presented any evidence to show how Russia ducks could possibly
be damaged by sea water. W ith regard to mercantile law, I trust the day
will come, gentlemen, when there will be a court of merchants in this city, to
try commercial matters. The courts ofcommon law would be much relieved,
and the merchant rest satisfied. The members of such a court could sit at
stated periods, and act on oath, as do judges and juries in law courts ; parties,
their agents,and witnesses, should also be sworn before a magistrate to speak
the truth ; the persons litigating could be obliged to enter into bonds to abide
the decision of the court, and such decision be made a rule of court, and be
enforced by it. I say, I trust this will one day take place.
A knowledge of mercantile law is of great service to our merchant when
he resides abroad — where he may have, personally, to defend his own rights,
and plead his own cause. Speaking of Sir Dudley North, his entertaining
biographer says, “ I have heard one merchant say, that he had tried, in the
Turkish courts, above five hundred causes, and for the most part used no
dragomen or interpreters, as foreigners commonly do, but, in the language of
the country, spoke for himself.”
Every lad has a superficial knowledge of g e o g r a p h y ; this is not enough.
H e must be well versed^in t o p o g r a p h y and the r e s o u r c e s of co un ­
tr ies.
In this way he will have a certainty in the quantities of demand and
deficiency, and escape the loss arising from rash speculation. For example:
in the great English cotton speculation of 1825, the general but visionary
idea was. that the supply of cotton was no longer commensurate with the de­
mand, and the competition did not raise the price so high as to diminish the
consumption by the manufacturers in too great a degree, to enable them to
take off the quantity actually brought to market. There was, in truth, no
deficiency in the supply of cotton, but, on the contrary, a great superabun­
dance ; and even if there had been a deficiency, the excess to which the price
was carried must have checked consumption so much, as to occasion a serious
decline. The falling off in the export of cotton from this country in 1824,
seems to have been the source of the delusion. It was supposed that this
falling off was not accidental, but the consequence of the price of cotton ha­
ving been, for a series of years, inadequate to defray the expenses of its culti­
vation. The result showed that this calculation was most erroneous. And,
besides, in entering on the speculation, no attention was paid to Egypt and
Italy, countries from which only about 1,400,000 lbs. of cotton were obtains d
in 1824, but from which no less than 23,800,000 lbs. were obtained in 1825.
Now, if the merchant had kept a commercial eye over Egypt and Italy, and
upon the superabundance in America, he would have saved himself from ex­
penses, and probably ruin. Indeed, the man who knows his business, will
avoid action where many have already engaged. A commodity, unusually
high in the market, is likely to fall far below the cost of its production. The
merchant’s maxim is, “ Buy in the cheapest market, and sell in the dearest;”
and this is said to be the best rule for the trade of a whole nation.
The p r e j u d i c e s , too, of a c o u n t r y , must be studied. These prejudices
will have to be canvassed ere he embark in a speculation. Some years ago,
a number of English merchants joined together to speculate in butter, and,
in that way, to transport the finest milch cows to South America, where pas­

W hat constitutes a Merchant.


turage was luxuriant, but butter not known. The best farming men were
sent on, at a great expense, and the dairy maid was not forgotten. After
much labor and delay, butter, worthy of an English dairy, or even our own
Goshen, was produced — but the charming butter and the profit melted to­
gether ; there was no market for the article ; the natives kept to their old
prejudices, and still preferred to feed on nasty rancid oil. These speculators,
gentlemen, should have dealt in oil, and in that way might have put the but­
ter on their own bread. And our merchant’s knowledge of countries goes
beyond resources and prejudices. He watches the vices of the inhabitants,
for, as a friend has truly observed, more money is made through the vices
than by the virtues of a people. W e trace this in the profits upon the coarse
spirituous liquors of the South, the opium of India, and the more disgusting
tobacco of our own country. This last article, the “ favorite filth of every
savage lip,” took little more than half a dozen years to be common as far as
ships could carry it, while the cheering and refreshing coffee had nearly four
hundred years to make itself known in Europe. A late British publication
tells us that the discovery of coffee was, like the discovery of steam power,
the result of chance. An Arab, the Sheik Omar, fell under persecution in
his own country. He and his disciples fled to a mountain in the province of
Yanen, where, in the desert, all usual food failed him. A coffee berry grew
there wild, and the distressed refugee, as it was too hard for him to masticate,
tried its effects in boiling ; he drank the liquor, found himself revived, and
made it immortal.
Our merchant, in sooth, has a consummate knowledge of other lands — he
knows each plain and mountain, river and desert — their extent— their pro­
ductions. He ought almost to feel, at least to know, of the wind and the
storm that periodically drive over the land; for it is for him to calculate upon
the crops of the valley, the yielding of the flocks, and the extent of metals
upon the mountains, and the vintage half way down. Should he desire, for
instance, to trade with Holland, he will not forget her canals, or lose sight of
how and when merchandise comes through these veins of the country to the
yielding heart — the city of export. If he deal with China, he knows enough
to guard against the difficulties arising to all foreigners from despotism, pride,
prejudice, jealousy, and corruption. If Egypt claim his resources, he will
have to watch the Nile, for if the water cometh not, neither do the produc­
tions of the earth. Should the wheat crop fail in his own land, he ought to
know the resources of the European continent; and, perhaps, the following
information, which it is believed may be relied on, will be new, and of service.
It is remarkable, as showing present resources. On passing up the Vistula,
recently, an English merchant saw, at Dantzic, heaps of wheat on each side
of the river, five or six feet deep, of considerable breadth, and extending nearly
seven miles. It is preserved from the effects of the weather by a peculiar
kind of matting and sail cloth. Several thousand persons are constantly em­
ployed in turning this immense quantity of grain, and exist upon it — the
simple preparation of their meals being to boil the corn in the water of the
Vistula. They reside in straw huts, erected adjoining the scene of their em­
ployment. This astonishing superabundance of produce, consisting of nearly
600,000 quarters, has been brought from Galicia and Poland to its present
situation, for the purpose of being exported to foreign countries.
Allied to what we have last mentioned is H y d r o g r a p h y . Knowing the
latter, the merchant fearlessly binds himself by charter-party and insurance,
and sends forth his vessels with confidence. He will, then, not be plucking


What constitutes a Merchant.

the grass to know where sits the wind, nor be peering in maps for ports,, and
piers, and roads, for this he did in the days of his youthful mercantile educa­
tion. H e now knows the depth of water in each harbour, the place of the
sand bar, and the sunken rock. H e will send his schooner where he is certain
it can glide over the coral reef, and keep from narrow channels, and shoal
water, his wealthy Andrew.
The ordinances and regulations connected with the w e i g h t s , m e a s u r e s ,
an d c o in of a country, should also be familiar.
Science comes in aid of the
civil authority in such matters. Commercial countries have paid much at­
tention to them. Our own law, in 1834, directed the Treasury department
to have standards constructed for the several custom houses. These standards
are now in progress; indeed, it is said, that for six of the principal custom
houses they are finished. It is observed, in a late periodical, that when a
new system of weights and measures was first thought of, it was proposed by
the chief of one of the departments to entrust its execution to the director of
the mint, although it was, at the same time, well known, that of the latest
goldcoinage of the United States, scarcely two pieces can be found of similar
weight, or not differing by a quantity discernible in a broker’s balance.
The silver coinage is still more unequal, as all chemists, who have bem in
the habit of using the same pieces for weight, can testify. It may be desirable
to say that the matter of the standards is in competent hands.
And the t a r i f f s of trading countries must be studied. A knowledge of
them will make our merchant certain that a commodity is not prohibited, or
pressed down with a duty which would kill all profit. He should know the
tariff well enough to decide upon not sending an article to market, which
might perish while the collector of a port was waiting for instructions from
his superiors. Some years ago, a cargo of ice was taken to a British port.
It was a novel shipment, and the question was, whether the tariff touched it.
The matter was open to doubts, and a correspondence took place between the
officer of the port and the customs; but, alas, for the shipper. By the time
the question of duty or no duty was decided, the sun, which has nothing to do
with the custom house, save making an entry through the window, dissolved
the whole cargo.
There is, indeed, a double satisfaction in gainingperfectinformation of dis­
tant places and countries. The time may arrive when duty or pleasure will
take our young friend from home. He will move with confidence, for he
will walk with knowledge, while pleasure and enjoyment are his compa­
nions. He has, in the world, been but an artificial m an— now, to use a
noble passage from an obscure author, “ When he walks along the river
Amazon, when he rests his eye on the unrivalled Andes, when he measures
the long and watered savannahs, or contemplates, from a sudden promontory,
the distant, vast Pacific, and feels himself a freeman in this great theatre, and
commanding each ready produced fruit of this wilderness, and each progeny
of this stream — his exultation is not less than imperial. He is as gentle, too,
as he is great. His emotions of tenderness keep pace with his elevation of
sentiment, for he says, ‘ These were made by a good being, who. unsought
by me, placed me here to enjoy them.’ He becomes, at once, a child and a
king. His mind is in himself— is also in his God — and therefore he loves,
and therefore he soars.”
And with all this, our merchant adds a history of the c o m m e rce of t h e
w orld.
A subject, great as the world itself, and grasping all its trea­
sures, and all its permanent beauties. The commerce of the world embraces

W hat constitutes a Merchant.


the whole subject of the traffic and intercourse of nations, and shows how
mutual wants, occasioning the exchange of natural riches for the creations
of art, unite savage nations with civilized, and spread moral and social culti­
vation over the earth. This glorious commerce of the world has civilized
many a barbarous land, and it is, at this moment, burning the rank grass
upon the prairies, and felling the forests of our own America. The ocean is
an atlas for the commerce of the world, frozen gulfs become bridges for it,
Asiatic lakes smooth their surface for its treasures, steam is only one of its
mighty messengers, the whale of the deep gives up its life to add light to its
greatness, all earth, all water, and the very air itself, appear to be subservient
to the commerce of the world. And th s, all this, has been brought about by
the merchant. Surely the young man of commerce hath a rich heritage!
Of all the requisite qualifications of a merchant, and it is the last I shall men­
tion — h o n o r — may be accounted the most important. This is the qual­
ity which confers on observation, knowledge, and skill, an additional jewel.
Without honor, a man can no more be a merchant, than can another man be,
without zeal, an advocate, or without impartiality, a judge.
A merchant, in a storm at sea, will first throw overboard that which he
values least, and so let it be with him when a tempest on land is shaking his
credit. Let the goods and profits go first, let honor go last; nay, rather go
with that to the bottom, than let it go at all.
See how the Spaniards kept their faith, showing that their ancient honor
was not dead. The Spanish galleons, destined to supply Terra Firma, and
the kingdoms of Peru and Chili, with almost every article of necessary con­
sumption, used to touch first at Carthagena, and then at Porto Bello. In
the latter place a fair was opened, the wealth of America was exchanged
for the manufactures of Europe, and during its prescribed term of forty days,
the richest traffic on the face of the earth was begun and finished with un­
bounded confidence and honor, and the utmost simplicity of transaction No
bale of goods was ever opened, no chest of treasure examined; both were re­
ceived on the honor of the persons to whom they belonged, and only one in­
stance of fraud is recorded during the long period in which trade was carried
on with this liberal confidence. All the coined silver which was brought
from Peru to Porto Bello, in the year 1654, was found to be adulterated, and
to be mingled with a fifth part of base metal. The Spanish merchants,
clinging to their old Spanish honor, sustained the whole loss, and indemnified
the foreigners by whom they were employed. The fraud was detected, and
the treasurer of the revenue in Peru, the author of it, put to death.
See how an anglo-American merchant kept his honor. Dr. Franklin re­
lates the following anecdote of a Mr. Denham, with whom he once went a
passage to England. “ He had formerly,” he says, “ been in business at
Bristol; had failed, in debt to a number of people, compounded, and went to
America. There, by a close application Jo business, as a merchant, he ac­
quired a plentiful fortune in a few years. Returning to England, in the ship
with me, he invited his old creditors to an entertainment, at which he thanked
them for the easy compensation they had favored him with, and when they
expected nothing but the treat, every man, at the first remove, found under
his plate an order on a banker for the full amount of the unpaid remainder,
with interest.” Here the merchant had kept his honor beyond the day of
peril; it had aided him in the time of adversity, and prompted him to do jus­
tice in the period of second prosperity.
And the present, unfortunately, is a time when honor only seems left to the


W hat constitutes a Merchant.

merchant. In the midst of his harvest, in a time of universal prosperity,
while no war was checking- his imports or his exports, no earthquake de­
stroying the field of his exertions, or the eternal activity of nature, and no
sickness paralyzing the mind, the heart, or the head, of the merchant, there
has come a mildew, silently, but with its blackest hue, destroying not only
his old stock, his laid up winnowed grain, but prostrating and killing the
corn which was to give him and his family present bread, as well as be the
seed for future harvests.
When a minister of France was interfering in matters of merchandise,
and as he thought, beneficially for the man of commerce, and his country
generally, he applied to the merchants, asking them what he could do to ad­
vance their prospects and their interests. They had but three short words to
answer: they emphatically cried out, as with one voice— l e t us a l o n e !
Would to heaven that these plain words, let us alone, could have been sound­
ed like thunder in the ears of those who have, however laudable their mo­
tive, (for I stand not here as a politician.) however laudable their motive,
bowed down our merchants to the dust, and placed them, like the Israel­
ites, in a fiery furnace. But he who was able to help in times of old, will
not forget his true princes of the earth; and they will be delivered from
the fiery furnace while they walk with honor.
When Francis the First lost an important battle, he wrote word to his roy­
al mother that all was lost but honor; and so may the merchant now write
to his dearest friend. And yet, what is the loss ? The philosophical mind
will find it to be but the creature of the w orld; which the world gave, can
take away, and may give again. When Job heard of the loss of his sheep
and his oxen, he sustained the news with fortitude ; and it was only when he
heard of the fate of his children, that he rent his mantle and fell to the ground.
I say,nothing is lost, if honor be saved. With this star in his horoscope, he
who falls, falleth as a blessed m artyr; and, while the martyr, through his
trials, rises to a brighter sphere, an honest merchant will rise higher than
ever he did. He shall see the winter of his trials pass away, for his star of
honor, like a planet in the sky, shines brightest in the coldest night; the
spring shall bring new prospects; the summer must come again—for the
sun continues to shine in America, as well as in Asia and Europe; and though
the honey bee has made no improvement in her cell, nor built according to
circumstances, yet man can house himself in the log hut. while fortune
waits until his honor is tried; and being tried, they will shake hands once
more— while mildew, thank heaven, does not come every year. He, like his
harvest, will revive; the good men of the earth again gather around h im ;
for his character did not sink when his vessel went down : his name, “ which
never yet the breath of calumny hath tainted,” shall once more pass in the
market as freely as good tidings; and when the autumn, mellowing once
more his golden sheaves, bids him lie down in peace, his character will re­
main to show hat constitutes a merchant—in the. proud language of Milton, “ God and good men will not let it die for these good men will say of
him, “ in all times—under all circumstances—upon the crowded mart—in
the silent place of calculation—o’er the sea, and on the land, he had the vir­
tues and the talents that constitute a merchant. In the hour of his youth,
he had decision of character and tru th ; in the mid-day of prosperity, He was
honorable; in the night season of misfortune, he was a man of honor. When,
in the new day, he walked once more amongst us, we saw that upon his
breast o utshining the badge of chivalry; we saw still there the j ewel, honor. He

Moral Law o f Contracts.


did not prefer the friend who risked his money with him, and sacrifice the
widow and the orphan, although he did cause them to shed tears: but it was
only when he died, for then they dropped freely upon his grave, while
grateful feelings followed him to heaven.”
Gentlemen, young merchants— go forth with decision of character; truth;
a fair ambition; mathematical calculation; philosophy and scholarship—but,
above all, with honor, and my life upon it, you will succeed, be happy, and be
beloved; and I may, perhaps, have the satisfaction of knowing that my weak
words have found out for you some of those attributes which must help to
constitute each one ofyou a true merchant.


Moral Views o f Commerce, Society, and P olitics; twelve Discourses, ly
O rville D ew ey . New Y ork: 1838. D. Felt & Co.
G r e a t spirits are abroad in the world, who are silently but effectually
working an important reformation in opinions of religious belief and reli­
gious duties. The spirit of intellectual liberty is triumphing over preju­
dice, old fastidious forms, and narrow sectarian views; men are taught to
believe, that religion should not be confined to cloisters and temples, to be
sought out at particular times and seasons, but that its gentle spirit should
pervade the daily walks of life, and continually exercise, by its divine pre­
sence, a benign influence upon the actions and conduct of man with his fel­
low man. Pulpit discourses are no longer confined to doctrinal points and
doctrinal discussions, but now embrace morals, traffic, and politics, and there­
by the public mind is immediately addressed on its moral and religious duties
and dangers. Old prepossessions based upon error are uprooted, and the
goddess, of religion divested of her sable hood and stole, and austere counte­
nance, is clothed in the attractive garb and winning features of innocence.
.“ The gentle dove within her breast
Looks through her soft and serious eyes,
And on her forehead glimpses rest
Of glory from the skies!”

Foremost among the enlightened clergy of the present day, who in effect­
ing the changes to which we have alluded, are doing infinite service to the
cause of Christianity, are Channing, Emtnerson, Beecher, and the author of
the volume before us. Mr. Dewey has prefaced his discourses with some
clear and very forcible remarks on the propriety of his subjects for the pulpit;
he would not be supposed to forget that the pulpit has to deal with topics
and questions of duty, that go down into the depths of the human heart—
with faith, and repentance, and love, and self denial, and disinterestedness—
and that its principal business is thus to make the fountain pure. But reli­
gion has an outward form as well as an inward spirit. That form is the
whole lawful action of life. And to cut off half of that action from all pub­
lic and positive recognition— what is it but to consign it over to irreligion,
to unprincipled license, and worldly vanity % There is time enough in the
pulpit for all things. Nay, it wants variety. It is made dull by the re­
striction and reiteration of its topics. It would gain strength by a freer
and fuller grasp of its proper objects. The evil is, that sermons, pulpits,
priests—all the active agents that are laboring in the service of religion—


Moral Law o f Contracts.

are by the public judgment, as well as their own choice, severed from the
great mass of human actions and interests.
We shall at present confine our remarks and extracts to the first discourse,
“ On the moral law of contracts." After a few brief remarks on the nature
of his discourses, Mr. Dewey proceeds:
“ This country presents a spectacle of active, absorbing, and prosperous
business, which strikes the eye of every stranger, as its leading characteristic.
W e are said to be, and we are, a people, beyond all others, devoted to busi­
ness and accumulation. This, though it is often brought against us as a re­
proach, is really an inevitable result of our political condition. I trust that it
is but the first development, and that many bttter ones are to follow. It does,
however, spring from our institutions: and I hold, moreover, that it is
honorable to them. If half of us were slaves, that half could have nothing
to do with traffic. If half of us were in the condition of the peasantry of
Europe, the business transactions of that half would be restricted within a
narrow sphere, and would labor under a heavy pressure. But where liber­
ty is given to each one to act freely for himself, and by all lawful means to
better his condition, the consequence is inevitably what we see—an univer­
sal and unprecedented activity among all the classes of society, in all the de­
partments of human industry. The moral principles then, applicable to the
transaction of business, have strong claims upon our attention, and seem to
me very proper subjects of discussion in our pulpits.
“ There are moral questions too, as we very well know, which actually do
interest all reflecting and conscientious men who are engaged in trade.
They are very frequently discussed in conversation; and very different
grounds are taken by the disputants Some say that one principle is alto­
gether right; and others, that another and totally different one is the only
right principle. In such circumstances, it seems to me not only proper but
requisite, for those whose office it is to speak to men of their duties, that they
should take up the discussion of these as they would any other moral ques­
tions. Iam obliged to confess, that we are liable, scholastic and retired men
as we are, to give some ground to men of business, for anticipating that our
reasonings and conclusions will not be very practical or satisfactory. I can
only say, for myself, that I have, for some time, given patient and careful
attention to the moral principles of trade, and I have often conversed with
men of business that I might understand the practical bearings and difficul­
ties of the subject; that I have also read some of the books in which the mo­
rality of contracts is discussed; and although a clergyman, l shall venture,
with some confidence as well as modesty, to offer you my thoughts on the
points in question. I say the points in question ; and I have intimated that
there are points in debate, questions of conscience in business, which are
brought into the most serious controversy. I have even known conscien­
tious and sensible men, themselves engaged in trade, to go to the length
of asserting, not only that the principles of trade are immoral and unchris­
tian. but that no man can acquire a property in this commerce without sa­
crificing a good conscience; that no prosperous merchant can be a good
Christian. I certainly think that such casuists are w rong; but whether or
not they are so, the principles which bring them to a conclusion so extraor­
dinary, evidently demand investigation.
“ In preparing to examine this opinion, and indeed to discuss the whole
subject, it will not be improper to observe in the outset, that trade, in some
form, is the inevitable result of the human condition. Better, it has. been

Moral Law o f Contracts.


said on the supposition already stated—better that commerce should perish
than Christianity; but let it be considered whether commerce can perish.
Nothing can be more evident than that the earth was formed to be the thea­
tre of trade. Not only does the ocean facilitate commerce, but the diversity
of soils, climes, and products, requires it. So long as one district of country
produces cotton, and another corn ; so long as one man lives by ah ore-bed
which produces iron, and another, on pasture lands which grow wool, there
must be commerce. In addition to this, let it be considered that all human
industry inevitably tends to what is called 1the division of labor.’ The sa­
vage who roams through the wilderness, may possibly, in the lowest state of
barbarism, procure with his own hand all that suffices for his miserable ac­
commodation—the coat of skins that clothes, the food that sustains, and the
hut that shelters him. But the moment that society departs from that state,
there necessarily arise the different occupations of shepherd, agriculturist,
mechanic, and manufacturer, the products of whose industry are to be ex­
changed ; and this exchange is trade. If a single individual were to perform
all the operations necessary to produce a piece of cloth, and yet more, gar­
ment of that cloth, the process would be exceedingly slow and expensive.
Human intelligence necessarily avails itself of the facility, the dexterity, and
the advantage every way, which are to be obtained by a division of labor.
The very progress of society is indicated by the gradual and growing deve­
lopment of this tendency.”
It is a truth universally admitted, that there is a natural propensity in man
to trade. “ It is common to all men,” says Adam Smith, “ and to be found
in no other race of animals. No body ever saw a dog make a fair and deliber­
ate exchange of one bone for another, with another dog.” Trade then be­
ing admitted an inevitable part of humanity, Mr. Dewey next proceeds to exa­
mine the principles that are to regulate it—the moral law of contracts; and
the question is, whether in making contracts, it is right for one party to take
any advantage, or to make any use of his superior sagacity, information, or
power of any kind? He first inquires, how are we to settle this question?
“ Does the natural conscience declare them ? Is there any instinctive
prompting of conscience, that can properly decide each case as it arises in
the course of business ? Isthere any voice within, that says clearly and with
authority, “ thoushalt do thus, and so?” I think not. The cases are not
many, in any department of action, where conscience thus reveals itself.
But in business they are peculiarly rare, because the questions there, are un­
usually complicated. You offer to sell to your neighbor an article of mer­
chandise. You are entitled, of course — i. e. in ordinary circumstances —
to some advance upon what it cost you. But what this is, depends upon
many circumstances. Conscience will hardly mark down the just price in
your account book. Conscience, indeed, commands us to do right, but the
question is, what is right ? This is to be decided by views far more various
and comprehensive, than the simple sense of right and wrong.
“ The scriptures, like conscience, are a general directory. They do not
lay down any specific moral laws of trade. They command us to be upright
and honest; but they leave us to consider what particular actions are required
by those principles. They command us to do unto others as we would have .
them do to u s ; but still this is not specific. A man may unreasonably wikh
that another should sell him a piece of goods at half its value. Does it follow
that he himself ought to sell on those terms ? The truth is, that the golden
rule, like every other in scripture, is a general maxim. It simply requires
VOL. i. — no. iv.


Moral Law o f Contracts.

us to desire the welfare of others, as we would have them desire outs But
the specific actions answering to that rule, it leaves us to determine by a wise
discretion. The dictates of that discretion, under the governance of the moral
law, are the principles that we seek to discover.
“ Neither, on this subject, can I accept, without question, the teachings of the
common law ; because, I find, that its ablest expounders acknowledge that its
decisions are sometimes at variance with strict moral principle. I do not think
it follows from this, that the general principles of the common law are
wrong, or abet wrong. Nay, I conceive that they may approach as near to
rectitude as is possible in the circumstances, and yet necessarily involve some
practical injustice in their operation. This results, in fact, from their very
utility, their very perfection, as a body of laws. For it is requisite to their
utility, that they should be general, that they should be derived from prece­
dents and formed into rules; else, men will not know what to depend upon,
nor how to govern themselves; and there would neither be confidence, nor
order, nor society. But general rules must sometimes bear hard upon indi­
viduals: the very law which secures justice in a thousand cases, may, and
perhaps must, from the very nature of human affairs and relationships, do
injustice in one. Indeed, the law of chancery, or of equity, has been devised
on purpose to give relief. But even chancery has its rules which sometimes
press injuriously upon individual interests; and no human laws can attain to a
perfect and unerring administration of justice. For this perfect justice, how­
ever, we seek. We are asking what it is to do no wrong to our fellow man,
whether the law permits it or not. We are asking how we shall stand ac­
quitted, not merely at the bar of our country, but at the bar of conscience and
( f God.”
The language of legal writers upon this subject is next taken into consi­
deration. It is common with those writers to make a distinction between
moral and legal justice. Up to a certain extent the law protects a man in
doing w rong; beyond a certain extent it will not protect him. This distinc­
tion is founded on the policy of law, and the policy of trade. “ In law,” says
Pothier, “ a party will not be permitted to complain of slight offences, which
he, with whom a contract is made, has committed against good faith; other­
wise there would be too many contracts to be rescinded, which would open
the way to too much litigation, and would derangecommerce.” “ The com­
mon law,” says Chancellor Kent, “ affords to every one reasonable protec­
tion against fraud in dealing ; but it does not go the romantic length of giving
ndemn ity against the consequences of indolence and folly, or a careless in­
difference to the ordinary and accessible means of information.”
Legal expediency, our author very justly observes, is not to be so con­
strued as to warrant the supposition that it lends a sanction to what is wrong.
It may, from necessity, permit or protect fraud, but does not abet it. A man
is not to consider himself an honest man, simply because the law gives him
deliverance. For the law cannot take cognizance of the secret intentions,
nor of slight deviations from truth. If every man who says he has got a bad
bargain, and who thinks he has been cheated, could be heard in court, our
tribunals would be overwhelmed with business. No human tribunal can
descend to the minutiae of injustice. But the law does not sanction what it
does not undertake to prevent, any more than the infinite Providence sanc­
tions those abuses which arise from its great law of freedom.
Passing by several interesting preliminary observations, we come to the
most important topics of the discourse, embracing monopoly, usury, superior

Moral Law o f Contracts.


information, etc., of which we shall let Mr. Dewey speak for himself, pre­
mising that his deductions to us seem logical, and his conclusions irrefutable.
“ The next case, then, to be considered in the morals of business, is
monopoly. This may arise in two ways: intentionally, from combination on
the part of several traders, or a plan on the part of one ; and unintentionally,
where it falls out in the natural and unforced course of trade. It is from con­
founding these two cases together, perhaps, that a peculiar prejudice is felt in
the community against monopoly. That a man should set himself by dex­
terous management to get into his possession all the^orn in market, in order
to extort an enormous price for it, is felt to be oppressive and wrong. But
there is often a monopoly, to a greater or less degree, resulting from simple
scarcity ; and in this case, that enhancement of price which is so odious, is
perfectly inevitable. Nay, it may be even beneficial. For high prices lessen
consumption and may prevent famine. But at any rate, high prices in a
time of scarcity are inevitable. Even if all the corn, or all the coal, were in
the hands of one man, and he should sell the half of his stock to the whole­
sale dealers at a moderate rate, and hold the remainder at the same rate to
keep the price down, still, I say, the moment the article left his hands, the
law of scarcity would prevail and raise the price. Monopoly, therefore,
compels, and of course, justifies an enhanced price. The same principle
which applies to every other commodity, applies to that commodity called
money. And it is only from the habit of considering money' not as a com­
modity, but as a possession of some peculiar and magical value, that any pre­
judice can exist against what is called usurious interest; saving and excepting
when that interest goes beyond all bounds of reason and humanity. The
practice of usury has acquired a bad name from former and still occasional
abuses of it. But the principle must still be a just one, that money, in common
with every thing else, is worth what it will fetch.
“ This, I know, is denied. It is denied, especially, that money is, or is to
be regarded, like other commodities in trade. It is said that money is the
creature of the government; that the mint, when stamping it with the go­
vernment impress, stamps it with a peculiar character, and separates it en­
tirely from the general condition of a commodity. It is said, too, that the
common representative of money — that the bank note— that credit, in other
words— is exposed to such expansion and contraction, and management and
conspiracy, that it is peculiarly liable to be used for the injury of the neces­
sitous and unwary.
“ Let us separate this last allegation from our discussion for a moment, and
consider the question alone, as it affects the use of money in the form of bul­
lion. And I know of no better way of considering questions of this sort,
than to resolve them into their simple forms, by going back to the origin of
society, or taking for example, a small and isolated community. At least,
we come to the theory of the questions by this means, and can then consider
what modifications are required by more artificial and complicated interests.
“ Suppose then a community of an hundred families, cut off from the rest
of the world, engaged in the various callings of life, accustomed to barter,
but not accustomed to the use of money. Suppose, now, that a gold mine
were discovered. The metal is found to he very valuable for various pur­
poses ; and, like every thing else, it takes its value in the m arket; an ounce
of it is exchanged for so many bushels of corn or yards of cloth. But the
permanent and universal value of this metal, and its being so portable and
indestructible, would, ere long, very naturally bring it into use as a circu­


Moral Law o f Contracts.

lating medium; the farmer would know that if he sold corn for it, he could
buy cloth with it in another part of the district, and would be glad thus to b';
saved the trouble and expense of transporting the produce of his farm to the
distant manufactory. In this exchange, the lumps of gold of course would be
weighed, and it would be natural to stamp the weight upon each lump. But
another step would follow from all this. As there would be the trouble of
constantly weighing this circulating medium, and the danger of mistake and
deception, the commuuity would appoint a committee, or depute its govern­
ment, if it had one, to do this very thing; and the metal would be cast into
various quantities, bearing distinct denominations, to answer more fully .the
purposes of a convenient circulating medium. Here, then, we have a mint,
and here we have money. Nobody will deny that it was a commodity
when each man dug it from the earth, and exchanged it at his pleasure. But
the action of the government confers no peculiar character on it. The go­
vernment simply weighs the metal, and affixes, as it were, a label to i t ; i. e.
stamps it as coin, to tell what it is worth. It does not create this value, but
simply indicates it.
“ I am sensible that many questions may still be asked, but I have not space
here, if I had ability, to enter into them ; and besides, if this is just theory of
the value of the specie currency, it may itself suggest the necessary answers.
But the great practical difficulties arise from the use of a paper currency. If
the paper were strictly the representative of gold and silver — if the issue of
bank notes did not exceed the specie actually in vault, and thus were used
only for convenience, the same principles would apply as before. All other
paper does not represent money, but credit; i. e. it represents the presumed
ability of a man to pay what he promises; not his known and ascertained
property. And the question is, may credit be bought and sold in the market
like any commodity?
“ Let us again attempt to simplify the question. You want money, let us
suppose, and you go to a money lender, and ask for it. He says, ‘ I have not
the money, but I shall have it a month hence, and I will give my note, pay­
able at that time.’ This may answer the purpose with your creditor, and
the question now is, what interest shall you pay ? Shall credit take its place
in the market like money, or like a commodity? Shall we say that the go­
vernment has no business to interfere in this matter, with its usury laws,
obliging a man to sell his paper for seven per cent. ? Shall we say that all
this ought to be left to regulate itself, and that every man shall be left free to
act according to his pleasure?
“ I certainly feel some hesitation, from deference for the opinions of some able
men who are more studious in those matters than I am, about answering this
question in the affirmative. There are relations and hearings of that im­
mense and complicated subject, the monetary system, which I may not un­
derstand, and usury, perhaps, is connected with that system in ways that are
beyond my comprehension. But looking at the question now, in the light
of simple justice, separating all unlawful combination and conspiracy from
the case, and all deception and dishonesty, I cannot see why a man has not a
right to sell his credit for what another is willing to give for it. If a lawyer
has so elevated himself above his brethren, that his opinion is worth not
twenty but five hundred per cent, more than theirs, he takes that advance for
his counsel. W hy, then, shall not a merchant, who by the same laborious
means has acquired a fortune and a high commercial reputation, be allowed
a similar advantage ?

Moral Law o f Contracts.


“ We say, why should he not dispose of his credit, or in other words,
pledge his property at such prices as it will naturally bear? But the truth
is, that he cannot prevent this result, let him do what he will. He may sell
his paper at one half per cent, a month, but the moment it i» out of his hands,
it will rise to two or three per cent., if that be its real value. I say nothing
now about obedience to the usury law s; I do not touch the point of con­
science in that respect; but I believe that the laws themselves are both im­
politic and unjust; unjust, because they conflict with the real value of things;
and impolitic, because they never were, and never can be executed, and in
fact, because they only increase the rates of interest by increasing the risk.
“ But is there, then, no limit, it may be said, to the advantage which one
man may take of the necessities of another ? To ask this question in regard
to the lender of money, is but the same thing as to ask it in regard to the
man, in every other relationship of life. The duties of humanity, of philan­
thropy, of natural affection, can never be abrogated by any circumstances,
and the only question is, what line of conduct, in the case before us, is con­
formable to those duties. That question cannot, I think, be brought within
the co npass of any assignable rules, and must be left for every man seriously
to consider for himself. He is put upon his conscience in this respect, as he
is in every other case in life.”
It is a little singular that usury in every age should meet with the almost
universal detestation of mankind, when all men of wisdom and reflection
must admit the necessity of its existence, and acknowledge the value of its
use, however much they may deprecate the abuse of it. And after all, what
is usury but an exorbitant rate of interest ? Nor is that rate of interest always
exorbitant which is sometimes termed usury. The capitalist who loans
money in London at 6 per cent, per annum, is as justly chargeable with
usury as he who receives 15 per cent, per annum in our western states and ter­
ritories. “ Is a y this only,” says Lord Bacon, “ that usury is concessum
propter duritiem cordis: for since there must be borrowing and lending, and
men are so hard of heart as they will not lend freely, usury must be per­
mitted. Some others have made suspicious and cunning propositions of banks,
discovery of men’s estates, and other inventions; but few have spoken of usury
usefully. It is good to set before us the incommodities and commodities of
usury, that the good may be either weighed out, or culled out; and warily
to provide, that, while we make forth to that which is better, we meet not
with that which-is worse.”
The British Parliament have recently re-enacted a law virtually repealing
the usury laws on all money transactions other than on loans secured by real
estate, and the exception is doubtless made as a compromise with the lingering
prejudices yet existing in respect to usury.
We come now to the discussion of the last proposition in the discourse —
whether the use of superior information is allowable ?
“ But the hardest case to determine, is that on which the question is
raised, about the use of superior information. And perhaps this question
cannot be better stated than in the celebrated case put by Cicero.* A corn
merchant of Alexandria, he says, arrived at Rhodes in a time of great scarcity,
with a cargo of grain, and with knowledge that a number of other vessels la­
den with corn, had already sailed from Alexandria for Rhodes, and which he
had passed on the passage, was he bound in conscience to inform the buyers
* De Officiis, Lib. 3. Sec. 12—17.


Moral Law o f Contracts.

of that fact ? Cicero decides that he was. Several modern writers on law
dissent from his opinion — as Grotius, Puffendorf, and Pothier himself,
though with very careful qualifications.*
“ It appears to me, that the answer to Cicero’s question must depend on the
views which are taken of a contract. If a contract is a mere arbitrary con­
vention, if business is a game, a mere contest of men’s wits, if every man has
a right to make the best bargain he can, if society really has power to ordain
that such shall be laws of trade, then the decision will be one way. But if a
contract implies in its very nature the obligation of fair dealing and truth­
telling, then the decision will be the other way. The supposition is, that
the Alexandrine trader concealed a certain fact, for the sake of asking a price
which he knew would not have been given, had that fact been public. Now
what is implied in asking a price ? W hat does a man say, when he sets a
certain price on his merchandise 1 Does he, or does he not say, that the
price he asks is, in his opinion, the fair value of the article? I think he does.
If you did not so understand him, you would not trade with him. If you
observed a lurking sneer on his lip, such as there must be in his heart, when
he knows that he is taking you in, you would have nothing to do with him.
The very transaction, called a contract, implies that degree of good faith. If
this be true, if it is universally understood that he who asks a price, professes
in that very act to ask a just and fair price, and if, moreover, he has a letter in
his pocket assuring and satisfying him that it is not the just price ; then he is
guilty of falsehood. If the Alexandrine trader had asked a price, graduated
exactly by his opinion of the probability that other vessels would soon arrive,
and of the amount of the supply they would bring, his conduct would have
been fair and honest. But if he had concealed facts within his knowledge, for
the sake of asking an enormous price, or any price beyond what he knew to
be the fair value, he would be guilty of falsehood and dishonesty. And the
reason is, I repeat, that the very basis of a contract is mutual advantage; that
its very essence lies in a supposed equivalency; that he who sets a price is
understood to say as much as this, 11 think the article is worth it.’ And if
you allow a man to swerve from this truth and good faith at all, where will
you stop ? Suppose that the people of Rhodes had been suffering the horrors
of famine, and the Alexandrine merchant had taken advantage of their situa­
tion to exact from them all their disposable property as the price of life, and
had borne off that mass of treasure, all the while knowing that bountiful
supplies were at hand—what should we have said? We should have said
that his perfidy was equal to his cruelty—that he was both a pirate and a
villian. But if a man may be guilty of falsehood in one degree, what prin­
ciple is to prevent his being guilty of it in another? I know what may be
said on the other hand. The master of the Alexandrine ship, it may be said,
had outstripped the others, by superior sailing; and this superiority, in the
management of his ship, may have been the fruit of a whole life of industry
and ingenuity. He had also been on the alert, it may be supposed; had
watched the course of the markets while others slept, and had been ready
with his supply to meet the exigency which all others—even the Rhodians
themselves—had been too dull to foresee. Is he not entitled to some premium
for all this ? Nay, but for the prospect held out of such a reward, the Rho­
dians might have starved. And yet if he gives the information in question,
he loses the premium. No, the merchants of Rhodes say, ‘ we will wait till
* Traitc du Contract de Vente, Part II. ch. 2. Art. 3.

Moral Law o f Contracts,


tomorrow.’ But again; to-morrow comes; the vessels arrive; the market
is glutted; and the Alexandrine trader loses money on his voyage. Will
the merchants of Rhodes make it up to him, on account of his generosity in
giving them the information ? Not at all. 1W e buy at the market price,’
they say; ‘ we cannot afford any m ore; if we give more we are losers;’
and thus the Alexandrine by neglecting his own interests, and taking care
of other people, loses not only his voyage, but his whole fortune per­
haps, and becomes a bankrupt; and by becoming a bankrupt, he injures
those he is most bound to serve—his confiding friends and beggared family.
All this is a very good reason, to be sure, why the Alexandrine trader should
be rewarded for his exertions, but it is not any good reason, nor can there
ever be any good reason, why a man should tell a falsehood, why he should
make a false impression, why he should deceive his neighbor.
“ Do we then propose to reduce the wise and the ignorant, the sagacious
and the stupid, the attentive and the negligent, the active and the indolent, to
the same level ? Must the intelligent and the enterprising merchant raise
up his dull and careless neighbor, to his own point of view, before he may
deal with him? Certainly not. Let a wide field be opened, only provided
that the boundaries be truth and honesty. Let the widest field for activity
and freedom of action be spread, which these boundaries can enclose.
“ Indeed, a man must act in trade upon some opinion. That opinion must
be founded on some knowledge. And that knowledge he may properly
seek. Nay, and he may use it, to any extent, not implying deception or dis­
honesty. Nor are the cases frequent, in which commercial operations pos­
sess any such definite or extraordinary character, as admits of deception. It
does not often happen that any great advantage is, or can be taken, of com­
plete and unsuspecting ignorance. Men are wary. They will not make
questionable sales, when a packet ship from abroad is in the offing. They
are set to guard their own interests, and they do guard them. They must
assume some responsibilities in this w ay; they must take some risks. They
are liable to err in opinion, and they must take such chance as human im­
perfection ordains for them. Business, like every other scene of human life,
is a theatre for imperfection, for error, for effort, for opinion, and for their re­
sults. I do not see how it can possibly be otherwise, and therefore, I consider
it as appointed to be so. Undue advantage may be taken of this state of
things by the selfish, grasping, and unconscientious; right principles may
be wrested to the accomplishment of wrong ends; a system of commercial
morality may be good for the community, and yet may be abused by indivi­
duals ; all this is true, and yet the doctrine which applies every where else
must apply here — that abuse fairly argues nothing against use.
“ Let us see how the case would stand if it were otherwise; let us see what
the assumption on the part of the trading community, that no man should
ever act in any way on superior information, would amount to. ‘ We may
sleep,’ they would say, 1we need not take any pains to inform ourselves of the
state of the markets; we need not take a step from our own door. If our
neighbor comes to trade with us, he must first inform us of every thing af­
fecting the price of our goods. He makes himself very busy, and he shall
have his labor for his pains; for the rule now is, that indolence is to fate as
well as activity, and vigilance is to have no advantage over supineness and
sloth.’ Suppose, then, that the vigilant and active man is up betimes, and
goes down upon the wharf, or to the news room, and becomes apprized of
facts that affect the price of his goods, he must not go about selling till he has


Moral Law o f Contracts.

stepped into the shop of his indolent neighbor, and perhaps, of half a dozen
such, to inform them of the state of things; for, although he does not directly
trade with them, yet, by underselling or selling for more, in consequence of
superior information, he injures them just as much as if he did : i. e. he takes
profits out of the hands of the slothful, by acting on his superior knowledge.
But now enlarge the sphere of the comparison. There is no real difference
in the principle between a man’s going down to the wharf, and his going to
Europe, for information. And if, by superior activity, by building better
ships and better manning them, he is accustomed to get earlier advices of the
state of foreign markets, I see not, but as a general principle, a principle ad­
vantageous to commerce, and encouraging to human industry and ingenuity,
he must be allowed to avail himself of those advices. The law of general
expediency must be the law for the conscience. It is expedient that there
should be commerce or barter; nay, it is inevitable. It is expedient that
industry and attention should be rewarded, and that negligence and sloth
should suffer loss. It is expedient, therefore, that all that sagacity, power,
and information, which are the result of superior talent, energy, and inge­
nuity, should yield certain advantages to their possessor. These advantages
he may push beyond the bounds of reason and justice ; but we must not, on
that deterred from maintaining a principle which is right; a prin­
ciple which is expedient and necessary for the whole community.
“ And is not the same principle, in fact, adopted in every department of
human pursuit ? Two men engage in a certain branch of manufactures. The
one, by his attention and ingenuity, makes discoveries in his art, and thus
gains advantages over his indolent or dull neighbor. Is he obliged to impart
to him his superior information ? Two young men in the profession of the
law, are distinguished, the one for hard study, the other for idleness. They
are engaged in the same cause; and the one perceives that the other is ma­
king a false point in the case. Is he obliged to go over to his brother’s office,
and explain to him his error; or is it not proper, rather, that both himself
and his client should suffer for that error, when the cause comes to be argued
in open court ?
“ In fine, I hold that a distinction is to be made between general informa­
tion and definite knowledge. If a man knows that an article is worth more
than he buys it for, or less than he sells it for, he does not act with truth and
integrity. It is just as if he knew the article were more or less in quantity
than he alleges it to be. But if he acts on general information, open alike
to all, if he acts on mere opinion, in which he may he mistaken, if he has no
certain knowledge of the merchandise in question, but only a judgment, he
is entitled to the full benefit of that judgment; while he is liable, at the same
time, to the full injury of it, if it be mistaken.
“ But in regard to absolute certainty, how, I would ask, are we to distin­
guish between knowledge in regard to real value of an article, from know­
ledge in regard to the real quality of an article? If I sell merchandise in
which there is some secret defect, and do not expose that defect, I am held to
be a dishonest man. But what matters it to my conscience, whether the se­
cret defect lies in the article, or in the price? It comes to the same thing
with my fellow-dealer. If I were to sell moth-eaten cloths at four dollars
per yard more than they were worth — the defect known to me and not to
my neighbor — all the world would pronounce me a knave. But there is
another sort of moth, a secret in my own keeping', which may have as effec­
tually eaten out four dollars from every yard of that cloth, as if it had literally

Moral Laic o f Contracts.


cut the thread of the fabric. W hat difference now can it make to my neigh­
bor, whether advantage is taken of his ignorance in one way or another, in
regard to the quality or the price l The only material point is the value, and
that is equally affected in either case. This is the only conclusion to which
I find myself able, on much reflection, to arrive. Knowledge of prices is as
material to the value of merchandise, as knowledge of its qualities. The
knowledge, therefore, as it appears to me, should be common to all contract­
ing parties. I cannot think that a trader is to be like a fisher, disguising his
hook with bait; or like a slight-of-hand man, cheating men out of their senses
and money with a face of gravity; or like an Indian, shooting from behind
a bush, himself in no danger. Trade, traffic, contracts, bargains — all these
words imply parity, equivalency, common risk, mutual advantage. And he
who can arrange a commercial operation, by which he is certain to realize
great profits and to inflict great losses, is a taker of merchandise, but can
hardly be said to be a trader in it.
“ I am sensible that this is the nice and difficult point in the whole discus­
sion. But, I put it to the calm reflection, and to the consciences of my hearers,
whether they would not feel easier in their business, if all use of superior and
certain knowledge were entirely excluded from it. Long as this use has ob­
tained, and warmly as it is sometimes defended, yet I ask, if the moral senti­
ments of the trading community itself would not be relieved by giving it up 1
This, if it be true, is certainly a weighty consideration. I admit, indeed, as I
have before done, that no vague sentiment is to settle the question. But when
I find that there is even in vague sentiment something like a hook, that holds
the mind in suspense, or will not let the mind be satisfied with departure from
it, that circumstance deserves, I think, to arrest attention. I will frankly
confess, that my own mind has been in this very situation. I did not see, at
one time, how the case of general information and opinion, which it is lawful
to use, could be separated from the case of particular knowledge. But I now
entertain a different, and a more decided opinion. And the consideration,
with me, which has changed uneasiness into doubt, and doubt into anew, and,
as I think, corrected judgment, is that which I have last stated — it is the con­
sideration, that is to say, of the very nature o f a contract. A contract does
not imply equal powers, equal general information, equal shrewdness in the
contracting parties; but it does imply, as it appears to me, equal actual
knowledge. My neighbor may think himself superior to me in all other
respects, and he may tell me so, and yet I will trade with him; we still stand
upon ground that I am willing to consider equal. But let him tell me that
he knows something touching the manufacture, quality, condition, or relations
of the article to be sold, which I do not know, and which affects the value of
the article; and I stop upon the threshold; we cannot traffic ; there may be
a game of hazard which he and I consent to play, but there is an end of all
trading. If this be true, then the condition of a regular and lawful contract
is, that there be no secrets in it; no secrets, either in the kind or quality of the
merchandise, or in the breast or in the pocket of the dealer. Let them all
be swept away — let them be swept out, all secrets from all hiding places,
from all coverts of subterfuge and chicanery — and this, at least, I arn certain
of, that business would occasion fewer wounds of conscience to all honorable
and virtuous communities.”
In a future number, we purpose reviewing the discourse, entitled, “ The
Moral end of Business,” which is treated like all of Mr. Dewey’s subjects of
discourse, in a bold, able, and original manner. Originality is one of the
VOL. i . — n o . iv.


History o f Navigation.

chief characteristics of our author’s style; he wisely leaves the narrow and
beaten track of most theological writers, who confine themselves to formal
rules and scriptural metaphors, and summons to his aid, with a fine poetical
taste, whatever is apposite, by way of illustration or ornament, in the visible
creation. Thus by the power of genius, subjects, which in themselves seem
dry and forbidding to the many, are made to arrest the attention of the most
indifferent. It is not in our province to speak of the peculiar religious
opinions or belief of any writer whose works may fall under our notice; and
in commending the discourses under consideration, we have sought only to
pay a sincere though humble tribute to genius and talent.

A r t . III.—H IS T O R Y OF N A V IG A TIO N .
A mong the various branches of science, which, by the gradual develop­
ment of human knowledge and ingenuity, have been brought to any degree
of perfection, that of N avigation is one of the most ancient.
The poets refer the origin of this art to Neptune, some to Bacchus, others
to Hercules and Jason, and others, again, to Janus, who is said to have built
the first ship. Some contend, that the first hint was taken from the flight of
the kite; and others derive it from accident.
The Scriptures would seem to attribute its introduction to God himself, in
furnishing a first specimen of its uses, in the ark constructed by Noah, under
his direction—while profane history ascribes it to /Eginetes, to the Phoe­
nicians, the Tyrians, and the ancient inhabitants of Britain.
The Phoenicians, especially those of their capital city, Tyre, are generally
represented as the first navigators; being urged to seek a foreign commerce
by the narrowness and poverty of the slip of ground they occupied along the
coast, as well as by the possession of two or three good ports, and by their
natural genius for traffic. Lebanon, and the other neighboring mountains,
furnished them with excellent wood for ship-building, and in a short time
they became masters of a numerous fleet. From constantly hazarding new
navigations, and entering upon new trades, they soon arrived at an incredible
degree of opulence ; their country became very populous, so much so as to
enable them, at an early period, to send forth colonies to the surrounding
coasts. A principal of these was Carthage, which, keeping up a Phoenician
spirit of commerce, in time, not only equalled Tyre itself, but greatly sur­
passed i t ; sending its merchant fleets, not only throughout the Mediterranean,
but even through Hercules’ Pillars—now the straits of Gibraltar—alongthe
western coasts of Europe and Africa, and even, as some authors would
lead us to believe, to America itself.
Tyre, whose immense riches and power are represented in such lofty
terms, both by sacred and profane authors, being destroyed by Alexan­
der the Great, its navigation and commerce were transferred, by the conquer­
or, to Alexandria, a new city, admirably situated for those purposes, and pro­
posed to be the capital of the E mpire of A sia, the establishment of which
Alexander then meditated. Thus arose the navigation of the Egyptians,
afterwards so famed, under the patronage of the Ptolemies, that even Tyre
and Carthage were almost forgotten.
Egypt being reduced to a Roman province, after the battle of Actium, its

History o f Navigation.


trade and navigation fell into the hands of Augustus. At this time, Alexandria
was only inferior to Rom e: and the magazines of the metropolis of the
world were wholly supplied with merchandise from the capital of Egypt. But
at length Alexandria itself underwent, in a degree, the fate of Tyre and Car­
thage. Surprised by the Saracens, who, in spite of the Emperor Heraclius,
overspread the northern coasts of Africa, her merchants were driven to fo­
reign fields of enterprise, and she sank into comparative insignificance and
obscurity. She has ever since been in a declining state, though even at the
present day, in possession of a considerable part of the commerce of the
Christian merchants trading to the Levant.
The nations of Roman Britain, and the tribes of Caledonia and Ireland,
had inherited, from their earliest ancestors, many of the ruder arts of navi­
gation. Their vessels were large open boats, framed of light timbers, ribbed
with hurdles, and lined with hides. These were furnished with masts and
sails, the latter being formed of hides, while the tackle was of thongs The
sails used even among the Yeneti, so late as the days of Caesar, were also of
hide. They were never furled, but only bound to the mast. But these
slight sea-boats and their furniture, were soon changed, by the provincials,
for the more substantial vessels, and more artificial sails of the Romans.
The fall of Rome, and its empire, drew along with, not only the decline
of learning and the polite arts, but that of navigation also ; the barbarians,
into whose hands it fell, contenting themselves with the spoils of the indus­
try of their predecessors. No sooner, however, were the more brave among
those nations well settled in their new provinces—some in Gaul, as the
Franks; others in Spain, as the G oths; and others in Italy, as the Lom­
bards—than they began to learn the advantages of navigation and commerce,
and the methods of excelling in them, from the people they had subdued;
and this, with so much success, that in a little time, some of them became
able to give new lessons, and set on foot new institutions for its advantage.
It is thus that the invention and use of banks, book-keeping, exchanges, &c.,
is usually attributed to the Lombards.
It is not certain which of the European nations, after the settlement of
their new masters, first betook themselves to navigation and commerce. Some
think it was the French ; though the Italians seem to have the best claim to
it, and are generally considered as the restorers of these, as well as of the
polite arts, which had been banished with them, from the time the empire
was torn asunder.
The people of Italy, particularly those of Venice and
Genoa, have the glory of this restoration; and it is to the advantage of their
situations for navigation and commerce, that they, in a great measure, owe
this glory.
A great number of marshy islands, in the upper part of the Adriatic, se­
parated from one another by narrow channels only, but those well screened,
and almost inaccessible, became, at an early period, the residence of a few fish­
ermen, who supported themselves by a small trade in fish and salt, found in
some of these islands. Thither the Veneti, a people inhabiting that part of
Italy along the coasts of the Gulf, opposite, retired, when Alaric, king of the
Goths, and afterwards Attila, king of the Huns, ravaged Italy. Little ima­
gining that this was to be their fixed residence, these new settlers did not think
of composing any body politic ; and each of the numerous islands of this A r­
chipelago continued, a long time, under its separate masters, and each made
a distinct commonwealth. When, however, unexpectedly as it were to
themselves, their commerce had become considerable enough to give jeal-


History o f Navigation.

lousy to their neighbors, they began to think of uniting in, one body. This
union, first begun in the sixth century, but not completed till the eighth, laid
the sure foundation of the future grandeur of the state of Venice. From this
time, her fleets of merchant vessels were sent to all parts of the Mediterranean;
and particularly to Cairo, a new city, built by the Saracens on the eastern
bank of the Nile, where they secured the spices and other choice produce of
the Indies. Venice continued thus to flourish and increase, in her com­
merce, her navigation, and her conquests, till the league of Cambray, in
1508, when a number of jealous princes conspired to her ruin. This was
the more easily effected, from the diminution of her East India commerce, of
which the Portuguese had secured to themselves one part, and the French
another. Genoa, which had given herself to navigation at the same time
with Venice, and with equal success, was long a dangerous rival, disputing
with her the empire of the sea, and sharing with her the trade of Egypt, and
other parts, both in the east and west.
Jealousy soon began to be excited between them ; and the two republics
coming to blows, there was almost a continual war for three centuries, before
the superiority of either was determined. Towards the end of the fourteenth
century, the battle of Chioza ended the strife ; the Genoese, who, till then,
had usually the advantage, having lost all, the Venetians themselves, almost
reduced to despair, at one happy blow, secured to themselves, beyond all ex­
pectation, the empire of the sea, and the dominion in commerce.
About the same time that navigation was revived in the southern parts of
Europe, a new society of merchants was formed in the north, which carried
commerce to the greatest perfection of which it was capable, previous to the
discovery of the East and West Indies; and formed a new scheme of laws, for
its better regulation. This society constitutes the famous “ League of the
Hanse Towns,” commonly supposed to have begun about 1164.
In examining the reasons why commerce has passed, successively, from
the Venetians, Genoese, and Hanse Towns, to the Portuguese and Spaniards,
and from these again, to the English and Dutch : it may be established as a
maxim, that the relation or union between commerce and navigation is so
intimate, that the fall of the one inevitably draws after it that of the other;
and that they will always flourish or decay together.
The art of navigation has been considerably improved, in modern times,
both in regard to the form of the vessels, and the methods of working them.
The use of rowers is now entirely superseded, by the improvements made
in the formation of the sails, rigging, &c., by which ships not only sail much
faster than formerly, but are managed with the greatest facility. It is also
probable, that the ancients were neither so well skilled in finding the latitude,
nor in steering their vessels, in places of difficult navigation, as the moderns.
But the greatest advantage which the moderns have over the ancients, is in
the Mariner’s Compass, by which they can find their way with as great fa­
cility in the midst of an immeasurable ocean, as the ancients could have done,
by creeping along the coast, and never venturing beyond the sight of land.
Some, indeed, contend, that this is not a modern invention, but that the an­
cients were acquainted with it. They say, that it was impracticable for
Solomon to have sent ships to Ophir, Tarshish, and Parvaim, without this
useful instrument. They insist, that it was impossible for the ancients to have
been acquainted with the attractive virtues of the magnet, and yet be ignorant
of its polarity. Nay, they affirm that this property of the magnet is plainly

History o f Navigation.


mentioned in the book of Job, where the loadstone is mentioned by the name
of topaz, or the stone that turns itself.
However this may be, it is certain that the Romans, who conquered Ju­
dea, were ignorant of the polarity of the needle; and it is very improbable,
that such a useful invention, if once it had been commonly known to any na­
tion, would have been forgotten, or should have been entirely concealed from
so shrewd a people as the Romans, and those so much interested in its
Among those who think that the mariner’s compass is a modern invention,
it has been much disputed who was the inventor.
Some give the honor of
it to Flavio Gioia, of Amalfi, in Campania, in the fourteenth century; while
others say, that it came from the east, and was earlier known in Europe.
But, at whatever time it was invented, it is certain, that the mariner’s com­
pass was not commonly used in navigation before 1410, at which time the
science was considerably improved, under the auspices of Henry, duke of
Visco, brother to the king of Portugal. In 1485, Roderic and Joseph,
physicans to king John II. of Portugal, together with one Martin, of Bo­
hemia, a native of the island of Fayal, and pupil of Regismontanus, calcu­
lated tables of the sun’s declination, for the use of sailors, and recommended
the Astrolabe, for taking observations at sea. Of the instructions of Martin,
Christopher Columbus is said to have availed himself, and to have improved
the Spaniards in the knowledge of navigation.
The discovery of the Variation of the Needle, is claimed by Columbus, and
by Sebastion Cabot. Columbus certainly observed this, without having
heard of it from any person, on the 14th September, 1492: and it is probable
that Cabot might have observed it about the same time. There was no varia­
tion, at that time, at the Azores, where some geographers have thought proper
to place the first meridian. The use of the Cross-staff now began to be in­
troduced among sailors. This ancient instrument is described by John
Werner, of Nuremberg, in his annotations on the first book of Ptolemy’s
Geography, printed in 1514, and recommends it for observing the distance
between the moon and some star, in order to determine the longitude.
At this time, the art of navigation was very imperfect, on account of the
inaccuracies of the Plane Chart, which was the only one then known, and
which, by its erroneous principle, must have geatly misled the mariner, es­
pecially in voyages far distant from the equator. Its precepts were pro­
bably at first only set down on the Sea Charts, as is the custom at this day :
but at length there were two Spanish treatises published, in 1545; one by
Peter de Medina, the other by Martin Cortes, which contained a complete
system of the art as far as it was then known. These seem to be the oldest
writers who fully handled the a r t; for Medina, in his dedication to Philip,
prince of Spain, laments that so many ships daily perished at sea, because
there were neither teachers of the art, nor books by which it might be learn­
ed; and Cortes, in his dedication, boasts to the Emperor, that he was the first
who had reduced navigation into a compendium, valuing himself much on
what he had performed. Medina defended the plane chart; but was op­
posed by Cortes, who showed its errors, and endeavored to account for the
variation of the compass, by supposing the needle to be influenced by a
magnetic pole, (which he called the point attractive,) different from the
pole of the world.
Medina’s book was soon translated into Italian, French, and Flemish, and
served for a long time as a guide to foreign navigators. Cortes, however,


History o f Navigation.

was the favorite author of the English, and was translated in 1561 ; while
Medina’s work was entirely neglected, though translated within a short time
of the other. At that time, the system of navigation, consisted of the follow­
ing particulars: an account of the Ptolemaic hypothesis, and the circles of
the sphere; of the rotundity of the earth; the latitudes and longitudes of
places, climates, &c., and eclipses of the sun and moon; a calendar ; the me­
thod of finding the prime, epact, moon’s age, and the tides; a description of
the compass; tables of the sun’s declination, for four years, in order to find
the latitude from the sun’s meridian altitude; of the course of the sun and
moon ; of time and its divisions; the method of finding the hour of the day
or n ig h t; and lastly, a description of the sea chart, on which to discover the
place of the ship, a small table was made use of, which showed, upon an
alteration of one degree of the latitude, how many leagues were run in each
rhomb, together with the departure from the meridian. Cortes gave a de­
scription of some instruments, such as one to find the place and declination
of the sun and moon; certain dials; the astrolabe and cross staff; with a
complex machine to show the hour and latitude at once.
About the same time, were made proposals for finding the longitude, by
observations on the moon. In 1530, Gemma Frisius advised the keeping
of the time by means of small clocks or watches, then, as he says, newly in­
vented ; he also contrived a new sort of cross-staff, and an instrument called
the nautical quadrant.
In 1537, Peter Nunez, or Nonius, published a book in the Portuguese
language, to explain a difficulty in navigation, proposed to him by the com­
mander, Don Alphonso de Suza. In this, he exposes the errors of the plane
chart, and gives the solution of several curious astronomical problems;
among which is that of determining the latitude from two observations of the
sun’s altitude, the intermediate azimuth being given. He observed, that
though the rhombs are spiral lines, yet the direct course of a ship will al­
ways be in the arc of a great circle, whereby the angle with the meridians
will continually change ; all that the steersman can here do, for preserving
the original rhomb, is to correct these deviations, as soon as they appear sen­
sible. But thus the ship will, in reality, describe a course without the rhomb
line intended; and, therefore, his calculations for finding the latitude, where
any rhomb line crosses the several meridians, will be, in some measure, er­
roneous. He also invented a method of dividing a quadrant, by means of
concentric circles, which after being much improved by Dr. Halley, is used
at present, and is called a nonius.
In 1577, William Bowrie published a treatise, in which, by considering
the irregularities of the moon’s motion, he shows the errors in finding her
age by the epact, and in determining the hour, from observing on what point
of the compass the sun and moon appeared. He also advises, in sailing
in high latitudes, to keep the reckoning by the globe, as there, the
plane chart is most erroneous. He despairs of ever being able to find the
longitude, unless the variation of the compass should he occasioned by some
such attractive point as Cortes had imagined— which, however, he doubts—
hut as he has shown how to find the variation, at all times, he advises to
keep an account of the observations, as useful for finding the place of the
ship. The advice was followed by Simon Stevin, in a treatise published at
Leyden, in 1599; the substance of which was printed at London, the same
year, by Edward Wright, with the title of “ the haven finding art."
In this ancient tract is described the method of ascertaining the rate of a

History o f Navigation.


ship’s sailing, by the Log, which was so called, from the piece of wood, or
log which floats in the water, while the time is reckoned during which the ,
line that is fastened to it is veering out. The author of this contrivance is
not know n; nor was it taken notice of, till 1607, in an East India voyage,
published by Purchas; but from that time it became famous, and was men­
tioned by almost all writers on navigation, in every country. It still conti­
nues to be used, as at first, though many attempts have been made to improve
it, and contrivances proposed, to supply its place ; many of which have suc­
ceeded in smooth water, but have proved useless in a stormy sea.
In 1581, Michael Coignet, a native of Antwerp, published a treatise in
which he animadverted on Medina, and showed that as the rhombs are
spirals, making endless revolutions about the poles, numerous errors must
arise from their being represented by straight lines on sea charts. Though
he hoped to find a remedy for these errors, he was of opinion that the propo­
sals of Nonius were scarcely practicable, and therefore in a great measure
useless. In treating of the sun’s declination, he took notice of the gradual
decrease in the obliquity of the ecliptic; also gave a description of the cross­
staff! with three transverse pieces, which he said was then in common use
among sailors. Some nautical instruments, now all laid aside, also were in­
vented by him.
The same year the discovery of the dipping needle was made by Robert
Forman. In his publication on this subject, he maintains, in opposition to
Cortes, that the variation of the compass was caused by some point on the
surface of the earth, and not in the heavens; and considerable improvements,
in the construction of the compass itself, were made by him. To this work
of Forman’s, is always prefixed a discourse on the variation of the magnetic
needle, by William Burrough, in which he shows how to determine the va­
riation in many different ways Many errors, in the practice of navigation
at that time, are pointed out by h im ; and he speaks in very severe terms of
those who had written on the subject.
In 1585, an excellent compendium on navigation was published by Roderic Zamorano, which contributed greatly towards the improvement of the
art, particularly in sea charts. Globes of an improved kind, and of a much
larger size than those formerly used, were now constructed, and many im­
provements made in various instruments. The plane chart however con- tinued still to be used, though its errors were frequently complained of.
Methods of removing these errors were much sought after; and Gerard
Mercator seems to be the first who achieved this in a manner to answer the
purposes of seamen. His method was to represent the parallels both of lat­
itude and longitude, by straight lines, but gradually to augment the former
as they approached the pole. Thus the rhombs, which otherwise ought to
he curves, were now also extended into straight lines; and thus a straight line
drawn between any two places marked on the chart, would make an angle
with the meridians, expressing the rhomb leading from the one to the other.
But though, in 1569, Mercator published an universal map constructed in
this manner, it does not appear that he was acquainted with the principles on
which this proceeded ; and it is now generally believed that the true princi­
ples on which the construction of what is called Mercator’s chart depends,
were first discovered by Edward W right, an Englishman.
Mr. W right supposes, but without sufficient grounds, that this enlargement
of the degrees of latitude was known and mentioned by Ptolemy, and that the
same thing had also been spoken of by Cortes. The expression of Ptolemy,


History o f Navigation.

alluded to, relate indeed to the proportion between the distances of the paral­
lels and meridians; but instead of proposing any gradual enlargement of the
parallels of latitude, in a general chart, he speaks only of particular maps;
and advises not to confine a system of such maps to one and the same scale,
but to plan them out by a different measure, as occasion might require; only
with this precaution, that the degrees of longitude in each should bear some
proportion to those of latitude; and this proportion is to be deduced from that
which the magnitude of the respective parallels bears to a great circle of the
sphere. He adds, that in particular maps, if this proportion be observed with
regard to the middle parallel, the inconvenience will not be great, though
the meridians should be straight lines, parallel to each other. By this, he
only means, that the maps should, in some measure, represent the figures
of the countries for which they are drawn. In this sense, Mercator, who
drew maps for Ptolemy’s tables, understood him ; thinking it, however, an
improvement not to regulate the meridian by one parallel, but by two; one
distant from the northern, the other from the southern extremity of the map,
by a fourth part of the whole depth; by which means, in his maps, though
the meridians are straight lines, yet they are generally drawn inclining to
each other towards the poles. W ith regard to Cortes, he speaks only of the
number of degrees of latitude, and not of the extent of them. He even gives
directions that they should all be laid down by equal measurement, on a scale
of leagues adapted to the map.
For some time after the appearance of Mercator’s map, it was not rightly
understood ; and was even thought to be entirely useless, if not detrimental.
However, about 1592, its utility began to be perceived; and seven years af­
ter, Mr. W right printed his famous treatise, entitled, '"The correction o f cer­
tain errors in Navigation,” in which he fully explained the reason of ex­
tending the lengths of the parallels of latitude, and the uses of it in navigation.
In 1610, a second edition of this work was published, with improvements.
An excellent method was proposed of determining the magnitude of the earth.
H e also published a description of an instrument which he called the Sea­
rings ; and by which the variation of the compass, the altitude of the sun,
and the time of the day, may be readily determined at once in any place, pro­
vided the latitude be known. He showed also how to correct the errors
arising from the eccentricity of the eye, in observing with the cross-staff;
made a total amendment in the tables of the declinations, and of the sun and
stars, from his own observations, with a six feet quadrant, in the years 1594,
95, 96, and 97 ; and constructed a sea quadrant to take altitudes by a fore
or back observation, with a contrivance, also, for readily finding the latitude
by the height of the pole star, when not on the meridian. To this edition
was subjoined a translation of Zamorano’s Compendium before mentioned,
in which he corrected some mistakes in the original, adding a large table of
the variations of the compass, observed in different parts of the world, to show
that it was not occasioned by any magnetic pole.
These improvements soon became generally known. In 1608, a treatise,
entitled “ Hypomnemata Mathematica,” was published by Simon Stevin, for
the use of Prince Maurice. In the part relating to navigation, the author
having treated of sailing on a great circle, and shown how to draw the
rhombs on a globe mechanically, sets down W right’s two tables of latitude
and of rhombs, in order to describe these lines more accurately — pretending
even to have discovered an error in W right’s table. But all Stevin’s ob-

History o f Navigation.


jections were fully answered by the author himself, who showed that they
arose from the imperfect way of calculating made use of by the former.
In 1624, the learned Wellebrord Snell, professor of mathematics at Ley­
den, published a treatise of navigation on W right’s plan, but somewhat ob­
scurely ; and as he did not particularly mention all the discoveries of Wright,
the latter was thought by some to have taken the hint of all his discoveries
from Snell. This supposition, however, was long ago refuted; and Wright
enjoys the honor of the discoveries so justly his due,
Mr. Wright having shown how to find the place of a ship on his chart,
observed, that the same might be discovered more accurately by calculation;
but considering, as he says, that the latitudes, and especially the courses at
sea, could not be determined so precisely, he did not set down particular ex­
amples, since the mariner maybe allowed to save himself this trouble, andonly
mark out upon his chart the ship’s way, after the manner then usually prac
tised. However, in 1614, Raphe Haudson, among his nautical questions,
subjoined to a translation of Pittiscus’s Trigonometry, solved very distinctly
every case of navigation, by applying arithmetical calculations to W right’s
table of latitudes, or of meridional parts, as it has since been called.
Though the method discovered by W right, for finding the change of
longitude by a ship sailing on a rhomb, is the proper way of performing it,
Hrudson proposes two ways of approximation to it without the assistance of
W right’s division of the meridian line. The first was computed by the
arithmetical mean between the cosines of both latitudes; the other by the
same mean between the secants, as an alternate, when W right’s book was
not at hand — though this latter is wider from the truth than the former.
By the same calculations also, he showed how much each of these compendiums deviates from the truth, and also how widely the computations on the
erroneous principles of the plane chart differ from all of them. The method
generally used by navigators at the present day, is commonly called middle
latitude sailing; which, though it errs more than that by the arithmetical
mean between the two cosines, is preferred, on account of its being less operose; yet in high latitudes it is more eligible to use that of the arithmetical
mean between the logarithmic cosines, equivalent to the geometrical mean
between the cosines themselves; a method since proposed by Mr. John
Bissat. The computation by the middle latitude will always fall short of
the true change of longitude; but that by the arithmetical mean falls short
in latitudes above 45°, and exceeds in lesser latitudes. However, none of
these methods will differ much from the truth, when the change of latitude
is small, as in a day’s work.
About this time logarithms were invented by John Napier, baron of
Merchiston, in Scotland, and proved of the utmost service to the art of navi
gation. They were first applied by Edward Gunter in 1620. He con­
structed a table of arti ficial sines and tangents to every minute of the quad rant.
These were applied according to W right’s table of meridional parts, and
have been found extremely useful in other branches of the mathematics.
H e contrived also a most excellent ruler, commonly called Gunter’s scale,
on which were inscribed the logarithmic lines for numbers, and for sines
and tangents of arches. The sector likewise was greatly improved by him
for the same purposes; he showed also how to take a back observation by
the cross staff, whereby the error arising from the eccentricity of the eye is
Another instrument, of his own invention, is described by him, called the
vol. i. — no . iv.


History o f Navigation.

cross-bow, for taking altitudes of the sun and stars, with some contrivance for
the more ready collecting the altitude from the observation. The disco­
veries concerning the logarithms were carried to France in 1624, by Ed­
mund Wingate, who published two small tracts in that year at Paris. In
one of these he taught the use of Gunter’s scale ; and in the other, of the ta­
bles of artificial sines and tangents, as modelled to Napier’s last form, erro­
neously attributed by Wingate to Briggs.
Gunter’s ruler was projected into a circular arch by the Rev. William
Oughtred in 1633, and its uses fully shown in a pamphlet entitled, “ The cir­
cles o f Proportion
where, in an appendix, are well handled several im­
portant points in navigation. It has also been made in the form of a sliding
The logarithmic tables were first applied to the different cases of sailing
by Thomas Addison, in his treatise entitled, “Arithmetical Navigation,”
printed in 16^5, in which he gives two traverse tables, with their uses; the
one to quarter points of the compass, the other to degrees.
Henry Gellibrand published in 1635, his discovery of the changes of the
variation of the compass, in a small quarto pamphlet, entitled, “A Discourse
Mathematical, on the Variation o f the Magnetical Needle.” This extra­
ordinary phenomenon he found out by comparing the observations made at
different times, near the same place, by Mr. Burrough, Mr. Gunter, and him­
self— all persons of great skill and experience in these matters. This dis­
covery was soon known abroad; for F. Athanasius Kircher, in his treatise
entitled “M agnesf first printed at Rome, in 1641, informs us, that he had
been told it by John Greaves; and then gives a letter of the famous Macinus
Mersennus, containing a very distinct account of it.
As altitudes of the sun are taken at sea, by observing his elevation, or al­
titude, above the visible horizon, to obtain from thence the sun’s true altitude
with correctness, W right thought it necessary, that the dip of the horizon
below the observer’s eye, should be brought into account, which cannot be
calculated without knowing the magnitude of the earth. Hence he vvas in­
duced to propose the different methods for finding this; but complains that the
most effectual was not in his power to execute; and, therefore, contented him­
self with a rude attempt, in some measure sufficient for his purpose. The
dimensions of the earth, deduced by him, corresponded so well with the usual
divisions of the log line, that as he did not write an express treatise on navi­
gation, but only for correcting such errors as prevailed in general practice,
the log line did not come under his notice.
Mr. Richard Norwood, however, put in execution the method recom­
mended by Mr. W right as the most perfect for measuring the magnitude of
the earth, with the true length of the degrees of a great circle upon it; and,
in 1635, heactually measured the distance between London and York : from
which, and the summer solstitial altitudes of the sun, observed on the meri­
dian at both places, he found a degree, on a great circle of the earth, to con­
tain 367,196 English feet, equal to 57,300 French fathoms or toises; which
is very exact, as appears from many measures that have been made since
that time. Mr. Norwood gave a full account of this, in his treatise, called
the Seaman's Practice, published in 1637, in which he shows the reason why
Snell had failed in his attempt. He also points out the various uses of his
discovery, particularly for correcting the errors hitherto committed in the di­
visions of the log line. These necessary amendments, however, were little
attended to by navigators, whose obstinacy, in adhering to established errors,

History o f Navigation.


has been complained of by the best writers on navigation; but, at length, they
found their way into practice, and few navigators of reputation now use the
old measure of forty-two feet to a knot. In that treatise, Mr. Norwood also
describes his own excellent method of setting down and perfecting a sea
reckoning, by using a traverse table; which method he had followed, and
taught for many years. He also shows how to rectify the course by the va­
riation of the compass; also, how to discover currents, and to make proper al­
lowance for them. This treatise, and one on trigonometry, were frequently
reprinted, as the principal books used in teaching scientifically the art of
No alterations were made in the Seaman’s Practice till the twelfth edition,
in 1676, when the following paragraph was inserted in a smaller character:
“ About 1762, M. Picart published an account in French, concerning the
measure of the earth, a brief account of which may be seen in the Philos.
Trans. No. 112; wherein he concludes one degree to contain 365.184 Eng­
lish feet, nearly agreeing with Mr. Norwood’s experiment;” and this ad­
vertisement is continued, in the subsequent editions, as late as 1732. About
1645, Mr. Bond published, in Norwood’s Epitome, a very great improve­
ment in W right’s method, by a property in his meridian line, whereby its
divisions are more scientifically assigned than the author himself was able
to effect; which was from this theorem, that these divisions are analogous to
the excesses of the logarithmic tangents of half the respective latitudes, aug­
mented by 45° above the logarithm of the radius. This he afterwards ex­
plained more fully, in the edition of Gunter’s works, printed in 1653; where,
after observing that the logarithmic tangents, from 45° upwards, increase in
the same manner that the secants added together do, if every half degree be
accounted as a whole degree of Mercator’s meridional line; his rule for com­
puting the meridional parts belonging to any two latitudes, supposed on the
same side of the equator, is as follows: “ Take the logarithmic tangent, reject­
ing the radius of half each latitude, augmented by 45°; divide the difference
of those numbers by the logarithmic tangent of 5° 30', the radius being like­
wise rejected; and the quotient will be the meridional parts required, ex­
pressed in degrees.” This rule is the immediate consequence of the general
theorem, that the degrees of latitude bear to one degree (or 60 minutes, which
in W right’s table stand for the meridional parts of one degree) the same pro­
portion as the logarithmic tangent of half any latitude augmented by 45°,
and the radius neglected to the like tangent of half a degree, augmented by
45°, with the radius also rejected.
The demonstration of this general theorem was still wanting, till supplied
by Mr. James Gregory, of Aberdeen, in his Exercitationes Geometric®,
printed at London, in 1668; and afterwards more concisely demonstrated,
together with a scientific determination of the divisor, by Dr. Hailey, in the
Philos. Trans, for 1695, from the consideration of the spirals into which the
rhombs are transformed, in the stereographic projection of the sphere upon
the plane of the equinoctial; and which is rendered still more simple by Mr.
Roger Cotes, in his Logometeria. first published in the Philos. Trans, for
1714. It is added in Gunter’s book, that if one twentieth of this division,
which does not sensibly differ from the logarithmic tangent of 45° 1’ 30” less
radius, be used, the quotient will exhibit the meridional parts expressed in
leagues; and this is the divisor mentioned in Norwood’s Epitome. In the
same manner the meridional parts will be found in minutes, if the same loga­
rithmic tangent of 45° V 30" less radius be taken, that is, the number used


History o f Navigation.

by others being- 12,633, when the logarithmic tables consist of eight places
of figures.
Mr. Bond, in his Seaman’s Kalendar, declared that he had discovered the
longitude by having found out the true theory of the magnetic variation; and
to gain credit for his assertion, he foretold, that in London, in 1657, there
would be no variation of the compass, and from that time it would gradually
increase the other w ay; which happened accordingly. He also published
a table of the variation, in the Philos. Trans., for forty-nine years to come.
He thus acquired such reputation, that his treatise, entitled, The Longitude
Found, was published in 1676, by the special command of Charles II., and
approved by many celebrated mathematicians.
It was not long, however, before it met with opposition; and, in 1678, ano­
ther treatise, entitled, The Longitude not Found, made its appearance; and
as Mr. Bond's hypothesis did not, in any manner, answer the author’s san­
guine expectations, the affair was undertaken by Dr. Halley. The result*
of his speculations was, that the magnetic needle is influenced by four poles I
but this wonderful phenomenon seems, hitherto, to have eluded all our re­
searches. In 1700, Dr. Halley published a general map, with curve lines
expressing the paths where the magnetic needle had the same variation;
which was received with universal applause. But as the positions of these
curves vary, from time to time, they should frequently be corrected by skilful
persons; which was accordingly done in 1744 and 1756, by Mr. William
Mountaine and Mr. James Dodson, F. R. S.
After the true principles of the art were settled by W right, Bond, and Nor­
wood, the authors on navigation became so numerous, that it would be a dif­
ficult matter to enumerate them ; and everything relative to it was settled
with an accuracy, not only unknown to former ages, but which would have
been reckoned utterly impossible. The earth being found to be a spheroid,
and not a perfect sphere, with the shortest diameter passing through the poles,
a tract was published in 1741, by the Rev. Dr. Patrick Murdoch, wherein
he accommodated W right’s sailing to such a figure: and Mr. Colin McLaurin, the same year, in the Philos. Trans, gave a rule for determining the me­
ridional parts of a spheriod; which is treated of more fully in his treatise of
Fluxions, printed at Edinburgh in 1742.
Among the later discoveries in this science, that of finding the longitude at
sea, by Lunar Observations, and by Time-keepers, is the principal. The
science is indebted to Dr. Maskelyne for putting the first of these methods into
practice, as well as for many other improvements ; and also to Mr. Harrison
for the remarkable discovery of the longitude by the second method. The
subject of nautical science has been so much canvassed and studied, by men of
learning and ingenuity, in all nations, that there seems to be little room for
further improvements; and the art of navigation appears to be nearly brought
to the greatest degree of perfection of which it is capable.

Mercantile Law.


A r t . IV.—P O PU L A R P R IN C IP L E S R E L A T IN G TO T H E
S uccess in mercantile life, is founded mainly upon integrity, industry, and
perseverance. It does not require that wealth, connexions, or rank, should
smile upon the young aspirant. The large fortunes and the high influence
which we see bestowed upon the distinguished merchants of our city, have, in
few instances, arisen from the advantage of early wealth, or the countenance
of great connexions. But these fortunate and prosperous men are generally
to be traced to some obscure post in early life; to some country school which
has sent forth its pupils equipped with some arithmetic, some grammar,
some geography, but no rhetoric, logic, or philosophy, into the more labori­
ous posts of our towns and villages. There the beginner has learned first
to endure labor and bear privations — to acquire in this way habits of selfdenial and hardy perseverance ; and there has made honesty and good faith
virtues not difficult to practice. They have learned also in this manner,
from necessity, habits of economy; and when calhd upon to act for others,
their virtues have shone out, they have attracted confidence, been favored
with credit, have had a scope thus opened for their enterprise and capacity,
and by persevering energy and prudence, have finally established the for­
tunes of princes— clothed themselves in purple, and built for themselves
palaces. Such examples are shining upon us here from every quarter,
and serve at the same time to guide and cheer on those who are following in
the same course of usefulness.
In the progress of a person thus commencing, without wealth, and unsup­
ported by rank, the first condition of his life will be, to bestow his services in
the business of some other. He is his clerk; then becomes more confided
in, and acquires more experience, and becomes a supercargo, an agent,
or a factor, acting for the behalf of another, and in his absence, but upon
his instructions and upon his authority and credit. He is now properly an
agent. He advances still farther in knowledge ofbusiness, and in the confi­
dence of those who witness his conduct, and is associated with some person
needing his qualities, as a co-partner; and after having fully satisfied his own
desires for extended business, and become earnest for the rest which years
renders grateful, and wealth renders attainable, he himself calls in and pa­
tronises some young man as clerk, or partner. And in all the stages of his
course, he finds it necessary at times either to call upon some friendto stand as
his surety, or is called upon by some other to discharge this friendly office.
It is thus that the relations growing out of agency, co-partnership, and sure­
tyship, present themselves, of extensive application and general interest.
They are, therefore, selected as topics upon which useful and popular instruc­
tion may be given: topics which may enable us to present some views of
law, and of the principles of justice, which may not be wearisome, and which
will enable me perhaps to fix myself in the recollections of my audience,
as having been a useful as well as well-intentioned counsellor.
The great extent of these relations, and of the principles of law applicable
to them, will prevent a very minute exposition of detail; but will afford the
* A lecture read before the Mercantile Library Association of New York, by
Daniel Lord, Jun., Esq., on the 27th of January, 1835, and politely furnished by the
author for publication in our Magazine.


Mercantile Late.

opportunity of exhibiting very many interesting principles; and in every in­
stance. it will be our endeavor, rather to consider the principle upon which
our law is founded, than to seek to give the numerous nice distinctions and
exceptions to which all general rules are subject, which render the law a
distinct profession and science,- and call forth the utmost displays of learning
and sagacity.
In the course of the Merchant, as above alluded to, the starting point is
the situation of a clerk and agent: with the discussion of the principles ap­
plicable to that relation, we therefore commence.
The duties of a clerk are so generally under the immediate direction
and conduct of his principal, that they need no explanation in the law:
his acts are, in fact, almost absolutely the personal acts of the principal
A n Agent is one who acts on the behalf and by the authority o f another.
A nd his acts are deemed those o f this other person, who is called his prin­
cipal. Our purpose is chiefly to consider those agents, who are not acting
under the very eye and in the personal presence of the principal; for such a
state can give rise to few relations: but to those who act for others not present,
and who therefore represent their principal's interest; who may err, to their
own detriment; who may do acts embarrassing or injurious to their em­
ployer ; or who may be the means, however innocently, of contracting nugato­
ry arrangements with others, relying on their good faith, through a want of
authority or other peculiarity of their situation.
The first particular to be considered is, that the agent acts in behalf o f
another. If while agent he acts upon his own behalf, either without the scope
of the business in which he is engaged as agent, or acts in his own name,
and professedly for his own benefit, neither he nor the persons with whom
he deals, can have any connexion with the principal. Obviously here the
agent cannot claim his principal’s protection, or his adoption of such an act.
Nor can the stranger dealing with him, who does not intentionally contract
with a principal not presented to him as a party, and who therefore can
only be supposed to rely upon the actual contracting man, make any claim
in justice upon the principal. In such a case the prin-cipai has been left out
of sight altogether, and can only come into view at his own choice.
But can he at his choice come in to such a transaction, and make himself
a party and claim the benefit ? In some cases he may. If in such a depart­
ure from his agency, the agent has employed the funds of the principal,
either property or credit, the principal has a right to say, “ you could not ho­
nestly employ these funds but in my service: you cannot pretend against me,
that you intended a dishonest misappplication of them : although you have
gone out of your duty, so that I am under no obligation to sanction what
you have done, yet I choose to do it, and unless you confess yourself a dis­
honest man, you cannot object to it.” This argument is sound in law : and
in such a case the agent exposes himself, if the adventure is a losing one, to
bear the loss, and if a gain ing one, to lose the profit. And as he has violated his
duty, he can make no just complaint, nor receive any honest sympathy.
In the event also of an agent who has given to his principal the disposi­
tion of all his time or services, whatever he does, may be claimed by this
principal, who has a right to say, that the time and services were his, and
that the fruits they have yielded shall fall into his lap. This, however, is a
case of very different merit on the part of the agent: and if he has not neglected
his principal’s affairs, the latter would be using his rights at least harshly, to

Popular suggestions o f the Law o f Agency.


refuse to his agent the benefits of such an affair. The law, however, wisely
considering the temptation afforded to such neglect, if it allowed the agent
under such circumstances to use his time for himself, gives the option to the
principal, and leaves the agent at his discretion.
In accordance with the same wise caution, the law will not permit the
agent to act as party and agent in the same transaction. If one be authori­
zed to purchase or sell goods for another, and the agent himself has the goods
to sell, or desires to purchase, he may not do it. The party giving the or­
der may refuse to accept the goods if the agent sells his own to him ; or pro­
bably he may accept the goods, and refuse to be bound by the price charged,
but may question its justice. If the agent attempts to buy the goods he had
on sale for his principal, without the express consent of the latter, after
full knowledge, the latter may, at his election, either hold him to the bar­
gain as purchaser, or refuse it, and hold him to account for any greater price or
value which has been or can be obtained for it at the same time. It may
be asked, what injury is done to the principal, provided the agent in selling,
sells his own goods of the kind required and at a fair price; or, if in purcha­
sing his principal’s goods, he gives him as much as can be had. Perhaps in
a given case there may be no injury; but it is evident, that the agent hav­
ing his own goods to sell, will make few endeavors to buy for his principal
at the best terms: nor will he, if desiring to purchase, and permitted to do so,
be very anxious to find a better purchaser. Although in instances there
might be no injury, yet as a general principle, it would be improper
to allow the possibility of the agent finding his interest in conflict with
his duty. The law willingly takes away the temptation: by a general
rule it puts the agent, in such case, as in the other above stated, wholly
at the principal’s mercy, leaving it to the latter to claim the bargain if
a good one, and to turn the bargain upon the agent if a bad one. These
are the wholesome principles of the common law, and show the purity of
its ethics and the wisdom of its policy.
The agent acting in behalf of another must in his transactions disclose his
character as agent. This is an obligation towards him with whom he deals.
If this be not done, such other person has a right to hold him as the actual
party, leaving him to the indemnity and protection of his principal. The
stranger has also the right, on discovering such undisclosed principal, to
resort directly to him. Here the stranger has the option, at the agent’s dis­
advantage. The agent is bound, because he suffered the stranger to suppose
him the actual party ; the principal is bound, because the agent was author­
ized to bind him, because he expected to be bound, and because he is entitled
to the benefit of the contract, and because the not disclosing was the omission
of a man selected by himself.
In such a case, as it is above observed, the principal has a right to claim
the benefit of the transaction, directly and openly, in his own name, if he
chooses so to do. And if the stranger would have any advantage by treating
the contract made as the contract of the agent, this advantage is secured to
him. Any rights of set-off^ or otherwise, against the agent if he were prin­
cipal, are secured to the stranger against the principal thus intervening.
The ordinary mode of effecting policies of marine insurance, is to some ex­
tent an instance of this rule. The policy is usually in the agent’s own name,
without the disclosure of the principal, and often without the disclosure of
his being agent. The principal, however, can always claim the contract.
And, as the insurance contract always rests upon interest in the subject to be


Mercantile haw.

afterwards disclosed, it is not here true, as in ordinary cases, that a set-off
against the agent will be allowed against the undisclosed principal.
In sealed instruments, however, if an agent does disclose his agency,
but nevertheless puts his own hand and seal, and does not sign the name of
his principal, he is responsible himself, and stands the contracting party.
The reason seems to be, that, unless the sealed instrument be sealed with the
principal’s seal, and in his name, it cannot be treated in the law as his deed ;
and, if not the principal’s deed, as it is the deed of some one, it is, of course,
the agent’s deed.
And an agent may, although disclosing his agency, use language import­
ing personal obligation on his own part, and if he does, the obligation ad­
heres to him. His being agent obviously does not supersede or render im­
possible the binding of himself, if he is so careless or complaisant as to do so.
And, in relation to negotiable paper, an agent, acting within the scope of
his agency, may, even to his principal, be liable, if he signs his name with­
out qualification. As if an agent here, remitting the proceeds of a sale to his
principal in New Orleans, should draw a bill on the purchaser in favor of
the principal, such agent would be liable on it, unless, in the very advice of
the sale and remittance, he expressly disavows the liability. Otherwise, his
principal is put off his guard. He receives paper containing the form of a
personal obligation from one in whom he has confidence; he treats it as se­
cure, and makes his arrangements accordingly. The agent in such case
must not withdraw from the position in which he has placed himself, that of
the responsible party. In unsealed writings, the personal liability of the
agent depends often upon the mode of his signature. If he signs his own
name, without qualification, it affords strong, although not conclusive reason,
to charge him as one contracting personally; if he adds the word “ agent"
still,unless the name of the principal appear on the face of the paper, he may
often be charged personally; for he ought, where he does not intend to bind
himself, to give the responsible name of him who is bound. And in all cases,
and however he signs, if he acts without authority, he is personally liable on
the contract. The agent should always, in the signature, express both the
principal’s name and his own.
Thus much for the position, that the agent must act on the behalf and in
the name of his principal.
The next part of our description of an agent is, that he must act by the
authority of his principal. Without this authority, he cannot require the
principal to protect him in his acts; nor does he give, ordinarily, the respon­
sibility of his principal to those dealing with him on the faith of his being so
authorized. For it is by no means true, in general, that the circumstance
of a man’s depending upon the faith that the agent is authorized, gives him
any title to compel the principal to adopt the act. This title is given only
when such reliance is caused by the carelessness or fault of the principal in
clothing the agent with the appearance of authority not possessed.
In considering the authority of an agent, we may first inquire how it is
granted; next, ask what rules are to be applied in construing and understand­
ing it; and lastly, observe how it is revoked.
It is very frequently created by an instrument called a letter of attorney,
under the hand and seal of the principal. This formal (or, as the law terms
it, solemn) mode of granting authority is necessary, when a bond, deed, re­
lease, or other instrument, to w’hich a seal is essential, is to be executed; it is
not necessary in other cases. It is necessary in these cases, because the ob­
ligation created by a sealed instrument is of a character so grave, so incon­

Popular suggestions o f the Law o f Agenc,



trovertible and so entirely binding the party, that the use of the solemn form
of authorizing the agent is requisite to show the principal’s assent to the high
obligation : and it is also necessary from a technical rule of the common
law, that no instrument under seal, executed out of the personal presence of
the party, can be treated as a deed, unless the instrument conferring the au­
thority have been executed with the same formality as would be required of
theprincipal, if he were personally acting. Witnesses to the sealing, although
sometimes convenient, especially where the party executing cannot write,
are never essential. In most instances, therefore, authority to transact busi­
ness of the largest extent may be conferred by there verbal communication, or
by simple letters: and the immense mass of commercial agency of Europe
is transacted upon the authority of letters merely. Authority by oral com­
munication is equally valid as that by writing not under seal. But although
these modes be equally effectual as to validity, they differ greatly as to ad­
vantage. The written authority can be more exactly perpetuated, not de­
pending upon the intelligence, the memory, or the integrity of witnesses, but
resting upon that singular phenomenon, the peculiar identity of hand writing.
It can also be more conveniently exhibited to the examination of those who
are to rely on i t ; it can also be deposited in the hands of some common de­
pository to serve the convenience of all who deal on the faith of it, however
numerous, and for the protection of the agent himself. For be it remembered,
the agent is always responsible, that he is authorized to do such acts as he
professes to execute.
Indeed in the universal usage at the present day, to make writing the means
of conferring commercial authority, except by parties in the same place, one
would probably be justified in refusing the act of an agent, not sanctioned by
the writing of his principal.
Agents or attorneys at law, are considered as appointed by a record:
They are empowered, and their authority viewed, upon principles peculiar to
themselves: although entitled by virtue ofhis mere declaration in couit that
he is an attorney, to receive sums however great, to discharge dtbts, to modify
engagements, and in the most serious manner to affect the estates and persons
of those he professes to represent, the attorney at law may act without autho­
rity under seal, without letter, and indeed without authority at a ll; and his
acts will be not only binding but generally conclusive. The Courts assume
his authority to be perfect, and should it not be, the parties are left to take
their redress against him. This in theory seems exceedingly dangerous;
yet in practice has produced little ground of complaint. It is founded on the
confidence which Courts place in their own officers. They have a right to
exclude attorneys in the first instance from that office ; only admit them, up­
on taking oaths of fidelity; they hold over them a summary jurisdiction and
inquisitorial authority ; may compel them by close imprisonment to answer
interrogatories accusing themselves; may without jury deprive them of their
profession and means of support, and commit them to close prison for diso­
bedience and mal-practice, and this without the right of a review of their de­
cree upon them. It is a matter, therefore, not a little serious, for one thus
circumstanced to perpetrate a fraud on the C ourt: and these circumstances
with the fact that these attorneys are bound by day and by night to keep
watch on one another, are for the most part men of liberal education, render
the possession of this great power of representing others, in the hands of at­
torneys at law, quite harmless: it renders proceedings in courts more easy



Mercantile haw.

and simple, and most effectual to be relied on as a protection in the termi­
nation of a controversy.
But authority may be conferred on agents, by other acts than expressions
by word, writing', or letter of attorney. Permitting a man to act as agent,
and repeatedly adopting such acts, gives the public a right to suppose him
clothed with authority : such acts, if the person be not authorized, tend to
mislead into a false reliance upon the conduct thus permitted, and would afford
the means of great injustice and fraud, unless an agency were implied. An
agency may under such circumstances be implied ; and that against most
positive proof that it was not conferred nor intended to be ; and to an extent
beyond what ordinarily can be found granted. Of course this authority will
only be inferred in favor of persons in good faith, relying upon such conduct,
and not knowing that it is unauthorized. In cases of this kind, the question
is, what had those who dealt with the supposed agent, a right reasonably to
presume from the acts of the supposed principal, and to such extent, however
wide, the authority is inferred. Such inferred authority may sometimes
arise from acts not intended with ill design and only careless; and it is a ne­
cessary caution to all likely to have others assume to act for them, that they
should be most careful in sanctioning acts at the time apparently insignifi­
cant or to their advantage, as they may be mere combustibles forming the
first part of the magazine to burst on them in ruin.
Authority may sometimes also be acquired from mere circumstances of
necessity. The master of a ship, for example, has no direct authority from
the owner of ship or cargo, except merely to navigate the former or convey
the latter with his best skill and caution. But disaster may befall him, his
ship get into distress and be driven for refuge into some port where he has
no funds nor means of refitting his shattered barque or damaged cargo. In
such cases the law will permit him, in consequence of the mere necessity of
the case, to sell the cargo in whole or in part, as necessity may require, and to
pledge his ship at high interest to raise all such money as he may need. In
case, he cannot by any such means refit his adventure, he may sell the
wrecked ship and cargo, and his acts in good faith, and without other autho­
rity than mere necessity, are justified both as to himself and to those who deal
with him.
Sometimes also goods may be ordered to be shipped from one country by
a merchant in another, and on their arrival may so far deviate in quality,
price, or terms of sale, as not to answer the commission given. W hat in
such case is to be done ? The shipmaster cannot retain them : the consig­
nee by accepting them in silence, may be charged with a waving of his ob­
jection to the deviation from his order, and if not taken care of they may
perish. It may be, too, that although the goods come clearly differing
from the merchant’s intentions or expectations, yet the orders may be sus­
ceptible of doubt and difficulty in their construction, and it becomes very de­
sirable to make the loss and eventual stake of controversy as small as
possible. Under such circumstances, if the merchant to whom the goods
are sent, immediately declines receiving them, as not being conformable to
order, and declares that he accepts them only for their preservation, he may
do it in safety, and becomes agent by necessity. He may, as such agent, have
every measure adopted for the proper preservation of the property: if perisha­
ble, he may sell it, using honest and fair diligence in so doing, and his acts will
be deemed those of an agent merely, the agent of him whom it shall finally
be found to concern. The acts authorized in such case are, however, only

Popular suggestions o f the Law o f Agency.


such as the necessity of the case requires ; if the party go beyond this limit,
he will be chargeable with the property. The principle of these cases is ob­
vious. It is not in terms, that necessity knows no law, but it is that the ne­
cessity makes a la w : and property will not be left to be ruined merely because
it is without a formal protector. In such cases, the property itself becomes
chargeable for all the necessary expenditures, and may be held as a pledge
for them.
A frequent instance of this kind of agency arises in the case of the aban­
donment to insurers of goods insured: if the insurer accepts the goods, he be­
comes liable for the claim, however ill supported, unless fraudulent; and if
the merchant, after abandonment, acts as owner of the goods, he is deemed
to waive his claim for the loss founded on the abandonment. In this situa­
tion, he may take all necessary measures for the preservation of the property,
may sell it, if perishable, and probably may, in other cases, giving notice to
the insurers of the time and place of sale, and causing that to be public.
Generally, therefore, property in an unprotected position may be taken
care of, and its safety provided for, without prejudice to an y rights in relation
to i t ; and the persons doing these acts, form the class of agents by necessity,
and their conduct is more favorably and liberally to be regarded.
Authority committed to an agent cannot ordinarily be delegated by him,
without express assent of the principal. Where one man is authorized to act
for another, he is presumed to be trusted from a confidence in his personal
qualities of integrity, skill, and responsibility. If he can turn over the prin­
cipal’s business to another, it is clear that the principal could make slight de­
pendence upon his own judgment in the selection of his agents. All ar­
rangements might thus be defeated. It cannot, therefore, be done without an
authority expressly to appoint substitutes or delegates. This rule, however,
does not apply to subordinates of the agent, not authorized to complete busi­
ness without his supervision and personal interference Some agencies too,
from the course of business, imply a power of delegation; such is often the
case of supercargoes, trading to places where the business of buying and
selling cargoes is by law, or known usage, confined to merchants of the
Authority, in whatever mode conferred on agents, may sometimes be dis­
cretionary, and sometimes not; and this character of authority is of the highest
consequence, as well to the agent as to the principal and strangers.
If the authority give no discretion to the agent, the act to be done must be
performed as soon as practicable, at whatever consequences. If goods be
consigned to be sold on arrival, the agent must sell on the first opportunity,
and cannot wait for a change of market, whatever knowledge of the market
he may possess, whatever be his desire to promote his principal’s interest,
whatever be the prospect of certain loss in obeying orders, whatever certainty
there may be that his principal has not understood or expected the state of
things which has occurred. If he alleges his good faith and pureinten ions,
his knowledge and skill, the answer is at once, that nothing was trusted to
good faith or intentions, for no discretion was granted. The order was plain,
the principal could not complain if it were complied with, and the risk is not the
agent’s; he must therefore comply. By saying, however, that he must sell
at the first opportunity, it is not meant that he must close with the first offer, be
it what it m ay; this would defeat the very purpose of agency at all. But it
is meant, that the agent must not, in such case, attempt to wait any change
of times, but must make the sale without delay, and at the best price, and on


Mercantile Law.

the best terms he can then do. And so of all other cases where no latitude is
given: For a deviation from orders there is no excuse. The principle is
general, and founded upon the absolute right which the principal has over
his own affairs, and then that those he employs are to interfere with this con­
trol only when he himself permits it.
Widely different, however, is the situation of an agent, having discretionary
authority. His acts are always justified, if done in good faith, however un­
fortunate the result of his judgment may be. The exercise of good faith, of
course, requires reasonable diligence; for the want of ordinary diligence, such
as men of common prudence in general bestow in their own affairs, is. in an
agent, equivalent to a want of good faith. He is paid for care, skill, and ex­
ertions, and he is bound to exhibit them, but if he does, the consequences are
not at his door. No man can command success, although every man can
command his own best endeavors. In dealing too with an agent having
discretion, strangers are altogether freed from any other inquiries as to the
agent’s conduct, in the exercise of that discretion, than as to his good faith.
The construction to be given to the authority of an agent, next demands
our notice.
Construction is the true understanding of what the author of an instrument
or communication means. His language may be obscure, or contradictory;
it may be defective or ambiguous. It now becomes a painful duty of the
agent to ascertain the true meaning of his principal in his orders; if he mis­
take it, he subjects himself to the unpleasantness of disappointing his princi­
pal, of becoming subject to claims on his part for damages, if not to actual
liabilities. Those also who deal with the agent, need to know if the autho­
rity warrants the agent’s act, otherwise it may be disavowed by the principal,
and all their dependence on the agent’s acts rendered illusive.
If there be an ambiguity, fairly appearing to have been designedly such,
probably any possible construction which it could admit would be sanctioned,
for the law so abhors deceit and treachery, that it will at all possible times
prevent their success, and disappoint the injury they contemplate. But such
an ambiguity is not often to be expected.
The rules of construction material to be noticed are these: the general
scope and object of the commission are to be taken into view, and such
meaning given as the expressions will bear, most consonant with such
general purpose. All expressions are to be understood in their usual and
ordinary meaning in the branch of business to which the agency relates.
No authority is to be implied, except by fair and necessary inference ; the
authority is to be taken strictly, that is, not to contain more than it most
clearly imnlies; both because a man is not presumed to give more control
over his affairs than his language necessarily imports, and because erring by
a strict construction, the agent is on the safe side, and is not exposed to exceed
his power.
But, where a man is the general agent of another, and his acts are held
out to the world as of one having a general control of the affairs of his prin­
cipal. or of some branch of them then the question of construction never
arises. The agent is a duplicate principal as to strangers. The public are
governed by the ostensible general authority, and no private limitations or
restrictions, either in the instrument conferring the authority, or in subse­
quent orders, affect strangers in their dealing with the agent. Plainly, from
the nature of the case, they cannot be known to, nor suspected by, those who
look to general conduct for evidence of the agency. In the cases of general

Popular suggestions o f the Law o f Agency.

, 333

agency, then, the only question upon this subject that can arise is, whether
the act done by the agent was within the ordinary range of the business en­
trusted to the agent; if it was, the principal is bound; otherwise, not.
Factors, to whom goods are consigned for sale on account of their
principal, are agents whose authority is partly limited, and partly of a discre­
tionary character. His authority is only to sell; he therefore cannot pledge
the goods, either for his own debt or that of his principal; he cannot exchange
them by way of barter or traffic, and in all respects his power is strictly limit­
ed to a sale, and sale only. But, in making the sale, he has authority of a
discretionary character, so far as the validity of the contract of sale is regard­
ed. Therefore, if in the sale he deviates from orders, by selling at an under
price, by giving a credit beyond his orders, by warranting the article with­
out authority, his contract is valid, and the principal is bound; his property
is sold, and his liability fixed. But for all this deviation or transgression of
orders, the agent is responsible to his principal.
The application of this principle to the contracts of factors has often given
rise to cases of great hardship : strangers dealing with factors having property
in their possession with every mark and indication of ownership, have lent
money or assumed responsibilities in reliance on the pledge of the goods in
the factor’s hands; and after a lapse of time, and a full settlement of accounts
with the factor, and after he has become insolvent, and failed to account to his
principal for his property, the latter discovers that it has been pledged to a
stranger, and claims it of him. In vain does the stranger allege that he act­
ed in good faith, and that he was ignorant of any violation of theagent’s duty;
the law answers for the principal, and declares, that, not having authority to
pledge, the transfer by way of pledge was void. In vain does he allege that
the money raised by the pledge was applied by the agent to the principal’s
use; the law answers, the agent had no more right to borrow money for the
principal than he had to pledge the goods; and the principal, therefore, is
not bound to the stranger, who can look only to the agent. In vain does the
stranger allege that the agent was entrusted with the ostensible ownership,
and that he had the possession and control of the property, and that the prin­
cipal, by his incautious confidence in the agent, has enabled him to obtain
credit on i t ; and that of two innocent persons to suffer by the fault of another,
he ought to suffer most who has been the means of the loss; the law has
another denial to give, in its principle, that in dealing for personal property,
your only guaranty for a title is the personal responsibility of him with
whom you deal; and that no apparent ownershsp, nor any degree of good
faith and vigilance in a party acquiring personal chattels by contract, will
give a title where the party attempting to give it had none to give — a prin­
ciple of the common law, founded at an early period, before the common
law had begun to listen to the appeals of commercial expediency, and origi­
nating in the desire of preventing the owner of property taken by violence
or fraud from losing it by artful or numerous transfers from the delinquent,
and rendering it necessary upon every transfer, that the parties should know
each other well, or should make careful inquiries as to the title.
But, within a few years, statutes have been passed in this state and in E ng­
land, protecting persons who in good faith shall have made advances upon
property in the hands of factors for sale, and relieving this branch of the
commercial law from the severe and inequitable rules founded upon the cir­
cumstances of an antiquated state of society; and, while the statute has thus
exposed the principal to the misconduct of his own agent, in this, as in other


Mercantile Law.

cases, it has. as an equivalent, protected him from the fraudulent misconduct
of his agent, by making such misconduct a criminal offence, and by menacing
the agent with the threat of a penitentiary.
Having considered the authority of an agent, his mode of acting, and the
principles governing it, most of the duties of an agent have been touched upon.
It may be added, in general terms, that the agent is bound to comply with his
orders, to use his best diligence and judgment in conforming to them, if re­
stricted, and in accomplishing his principals designs, if discretionary, and
to keep him constantly instructed of his proceedings. The latter duty, of
keeping up correspondence, is not only part of reasonable diligence towards
his principal, for the consequences of a want of which the agent must suffer,
but it is important for the agent’s protection in the case of accidental breaches
of orders; it puts his principal under the necessity of making his complaints
immediately, when the injury may often be remedied, or of being deemed
to have abandoned all cause of complaint.
The agent, however, we will suppose, has deviated from orders, has acted
without authority, and has communicated the matter to his principal. Now
is presented the doctrine of ratification and adoption.
Ratification is the sanctioning of an act done contrary to the agent’s autho­
rity, and adoption is the taking the contract or act made or done out of the
sphere of the agency, or, in other words, without authority. They are both
acts of the principal, which do not, like original contracts, depend upon any
new consideration or transaction for their validity. They result from the
agent’s assuming to act in the behalf of the principal. W hen the latter as­
sents to it, by this assent he consents to admit that the agent was authorized,
and by the admission he becomes liable and entitled under the contract, ac­
knowledges himself party to it, and frees the agent from all complaint.
Ratification is either express or implied. W hen the party in whose behalf
an agent undertakes to act, in terms expresses his assent to the act, or directly
and in terms claims the benefit of the act, this is an express ratification or
adoption. W hen upon being apprized of the agent’s conduct, and having the
opportunity to disavow it, the principal keeps silence or speaks equivocally,
the ratification is implied ; he is presumed to assent, although in fact the very
silence or equivocal communication was intended to avoid a ratification. The
principle of this seems to be, that as the agent acts professedly for the principal,
and without a view to bis own advantage, as the latter has the right by ex­
press assent to take the benefit of any favorable result in the matter, it is but
fair that he should make his choice at once, and be deemed to have chosen
that alternative which will not expose the agent to a claim, unless he ex­
presses the contrary. Having the advantage of the choice, it is but right to
hold him to the immediate exercise of it, and to deem him to have chosen the
part which leads to no complaint nor litigation. It is also to be supposed
that by as early notice as possible, the agent may take measures to avoid the
ill consequences of a deviation from his authority, and if the principal does
not, as far as he can, give the agent this opportunity, he ought not to hold him
responsible for consequences which might in whole or in part have been
avoided or remedied. If these be the principles of implying a ratification,
the question may well be asked, suppose a palpable violation of orders, with­
out a possibility of benefit to the principal or of remedying the condition of the
agent, would silence be a ratification? This question implies so much fault
and imprudence on the agent’s part, that it may well be left in doubt, in order

Popular suggestions of the Law o f Agency.


that no one may have reason to believe in his impunity who shall place him­
self in such a position.
The assent or dissent of the principal must be entire; if he assents in part,
he cannot reject the residue — his assent is to the whole conduct.
To all ratifications, it is essential that an honest communication have been
made by the agent; it implies a full knowledge by the principal of what he
is supposed to assent to. Nothing, therefore, is to be gained by half disclo­
sures, by partial or distorted statements, in order to entrap a principal into a
sanction of the agent’s misconduct. Unless the agent have fairly apprized
him of the matter, the ratification is ineffectual, and the agent will have the
wretched satisfaction, that having failed in his duty, and used deceit to
get it pardoned, the pardon wants the necessary force to give him any ex­
The compensation to the agent, although the very life of his activity, de­
mands but little illustration. W here agreed upon, the agreement of course
governs; where not, the agent is entitled to a reasonable compensation for
his services. This is to be ascertained, according to the usage of the business
in which the agency is employed, and may be a commission, salary, or esti­
mated allowance, for the value of the particular service rendered, and its
amount is to be assessed, in case of disagreement between the agent and prin­
cipal, by their peers, a jury.
A deviation from orders does not of course forfeit all claims to compensation.
The principal is entitled to indemnity against the misconduct of the agent,
but the latter still is entitled to his stated compensation. It is not a principle
of the law to facilitate forfeitures, or for a small damage to inflict a severe
loss; forfeitures are always avoided by the law, they are never implied ; even
when stipulated, they are often relieved from : and when actually arising
upon positive stipulations, which cannot be evaded by construction, nor passed
by without execution, yet the slightest circumstance recognising the forfeited
right as still existing, will be held a waiver or relinquishment of the for­
Neither will every fault justify the termination, by the principal, of the
agency for a stated period. To justify such a termination, (a dismissal of the
agent from a service for a stipulated period,) there must be some fault going
to the very basis of the relation of the agency ; a mere instance of neglect, a
violation of orders through inadvertence or accident, although it would sub­
ject the agent to make good the loss, would not justify a withdrawal of the
agency; but acts evincive of dishonesty, detection in the more permanent
vices, such as gambling and drunkenness, a plain rebellion and resistance of
orders, showing a determined insubordination, would justify the termination
of an agency. Of course, in speaking of an agency to be terminated, is
meant one not engaged for at the mutual pleasure of the parties, but for some
definite specified period.
Connected with the agent’s compensation, is his right of lien for the balance
due him, as well for what he may have paid or for what he has assumed, as for
the balance of his commissions; and this lien he has, not only upon the pro­
perty and effects connected with the transaction upon which the advances, li­
ability, or commissions accrued, but he has a general lien for all that is due
to him as agent, on all the property and effects of his principal which shall
be in or come to his hands as agent.
This right, however, does not extend to protect debts which the agent con­
tracted with his principal in the general course of commerce, and not arising


Mercantile Laic.

out of the agency ; nor does it apply to property which has come to the hands
of the agent otherwise than in the course of his ageney; the agent may not,
by pretence of a purchase or by any deceitful representation, obtain his prin­
cipal’s property, and hold it for his balance; he cannot buy up his principal’s
notes, and hold his property as security, or set them off against his claims.
The law gives the lien only in consequence of the confidential character of
the relation between principal and agent, and of the importance of giving it
every protection and encouragement.
There is another subject connected with the agent’s lien needing notice;
it is the principal's right to reclaim his goods and their proceeds on the
agent’s failure. It often happens that an agent, selling goods for his princi­
pal, takes the note or other securities from the purchaser in his own name;
that he sells the goods of divers persons in minute portions to the same pur­
chaser, and. takes one note or security for the whole; and upon the agent’s
insolvency, he is pressed by urgent creditors to apply the securities thus ob­
tained to secure his own debts, and not to return them to his principal. Can
the principal in such cases trace the securities? It is clear, in all such cases,
that the agent, knowing his principal’s rights, has attempted to apply his
property to pay his own debts. As to him. it is a clear fraud and violation
of authority, and between them void. What, then, is the situation of him to
whom such securities are thus passed, against right and without authority ?
Has he received them upon an old debt, as the best security he can get ? if
so, he cannot retain them ; he must be remitted to his old debt, and give back
his securities, and he and the principal must both stand in the situation in
which they stood before the agent’s fraud. Has he taken the securities from
the agent upon making a new advance upon the faith of the securities ? if so,
he may retain them, not because the agent had the power to pledge them,
but because it is for the public good that advances in good faith upon nego­
tiable paper shall be protected, and, out of regard to public policy,
the person thus situated is protected. But has he taken the securities with a
knowledge that they did not belong to the agent, or after they had become
due? then he cannot hold them. Taking them with knowledge that they
were not honestly at the agent’s disposal, he is a party in the agent’s fraud,
and can derive in law no advantage from it. Taking them after they are
due, they are no longer protected by the policy which stands around the title
of negotiable paper; the exigencies of commerce do not require the circula­
tion of notes or securities which are dishonored, which have not been paid
when due; and, no commercial policy intervening, the taker of the securi­
ties can only protect himself under the right of him who passed them, and
if the latter could give none, the taker could have none.
The rule, therefore, is, that upon the failure of an agent, all the effects
of the principal, in his hands or in the hands of persons to whom he has
passed them, may be reclaimed by the principal; excepting, only, negotiable
securities, put in circulation before they fall due, to persons taking them in
perfect innocency of fraud, and making an actual advance of property on the
faith of getting the securities.
An agent cannot offset his own debt to a stranger against one the latter
owes his principal; this is sometimes attempted, on the plausible idea, that,
as the agent might receive money from the principal’s debtor, and pay the
same money to the same person in satisfaction of his own debt, therefore the
offset, which merely does the same thing without the formal exchange of
dollars twice upon the counter, is equally available. It is not so, however;

Popular suggestions o f the Law o f Agency.


no such offset is permitted. It is, in fact, a taking of the principal’s property
and paying the agent’s debt with it, and that in the knowledge of both parties
to the transaction. Nor is it protected as a payment would be. Payments
are always protected when made to a party entitled to receive, and money is
not permitted to be traced, nor title to it impaired, by defects of title in previous
parties who have had it in hand. And to bring a transaction within this
principle, the payment must be actually and honestly made; if this is done,
the debt paid is extinguished, the money in the hands of the agent cannot be
restrained from circulation, and he may therefore apply it to the purpose he
thinks fit. And if this is done to his own creditor, without collusion on the
part of the latter, he may hold i t ; but under no other circumstances.
It remains to consider how the relation of agency terminates.
Death of the principal terminates the authority of the agent at once. And
his acts done after the moment of the death, are void, although the death
were not and could not be known to the agent, or to the party with whom he
is treating. This principle operates sometimes severely, where the contract
is made, and money paid on it, with an agent, without the smallest ground to
know or possibility of suspecting the previous death. Such, however,
is the well established la w : The reason seems to be, that the acts of the agent
are only effectual as acts of the principal; and it is absurd to treat any thing
as the act of a principal which has been done after his death.
This principle is very important to be taken into view, when a pow'er of
attorney to transfer a ship, or stock, or other property, is relied upon as a se­
curity ; death still revokes it, and the security is gone, and the property must
be distributed among the general effects of the principal: and if a party will
rely upon such an instrument as security, no court of law or equity can help
his inadvertence. He has relied upon a security which has in its nature
an infirmity, and he must not complain that it is not a different thing. Very
heavy and extensive transactions are daily conducted in this city, upon such
The death of the creditor would in such a case also have the same effect.
The best mode to obviate such a difficulty, is to let the security always
contain an effectual transfer ofthe property ; if the parties wish the transfer
not to be known, it may be kept secret, and it will still be valid as between
the parties and their representatives. If it be not valid as to other creditors,
perhaps, still, it is not less valid than a secret power of attorney.
Another mode of obviating the difficulty is to insert in the power of at­
torney, or similar instrument intended as a security, a covenant by the party
grantingit with the one named as attorney, as a trustee for himself and those
who should deal with him on the faith of the instrument, binding his execu­
tors to ratify such acts as should be done after his death in his name before
notice of the death; it is supposed that such a covenant might receive a spe­
cific execution in a court of equity to protect the parties relying on it. Still
it is but an inconvenient expedient.
An agency may also be terminated by an express revocation. This is
done by a letter either sealed or unsealed, (sealed powers of attorney, how­
ever, being supposed to require a letter of revocation to be under seal,) deli­
vered to the agent. His acts thenceforth are nugatory, and he becomes re­
sponsible to those who deal with him as agent, for his unauthorized acts :
and in some circumstances his presuming so to act might amount to legal
swindling. Unless the agency have been a general agency, public notice of
the revocation cannot be required of the principal, as the condition of his being
V O L . X .---- N O . IV .


Mercantile Law.

freed from liability for the agent’s acts. Parties, therefore, dealing w'th an
agent, always run some risk of the authority having been revoked, in which
case, they have not the act of the principal. This may be prevented by pro­
viding in the letter of attorney that it shall continue until a letter of revoca­
tion is lodged with a certain person, or until advertisement in the newspaper
in some particular place. A general agency requires notice of revocation
to be published, and also a particular notice to be given to all who have dealt
with the agent, unless some satisfactory proof can be shown of such persons
knowing the revocation.
As an agency is revocable in its very nature, an agreement not to revoke
it, or the insertion of the words “ attorney irrevocable,” or the like, do not pre­
vent the revocation as between the parties; such agreements may avail to
expose the revoking party to damages for breaking his contract, but do not con­
fer upon agency that which is contrary to its nature, namely, impossibility of
Such is a brief and popular view of the principles of the law relating to
agents; the extent of its application, however, would be wrongly conceived
from the simplicity of its principles.
When we contemplate the vastness of modern commerce, the immense
capitals in the hands of individuals frequently infirm through years or sick­
ness, or overburdened with innumerable cares, we need scarcely ask, how
could all this commerce be conducted without agents. A merchant could
trade not only with only one country and in only one place, but he could
conduct only one adventure. That adventure, too, must be such as is adapted
not merely to his energy of mind but to his strength or weakness of body.
Without agency then, how is Sampson without his locks ! How would
commerce resemble Napoleon standing upon his solitary rock, without his
armies, and dying of a cancer in the h eart! It is by this bringing into aid
and subordination, the powers of others, by bringing in the young to exert
their youthful powers, the vigorous men of middle life to traverse the seas, to
range the forests, to course the deserts, that modern commerce touches at
once the extremes of longitude, and subdues alike the Equator and the Poles;
She crosses the oceans, tracks the African deserts, and conquers the plains of
How important, then, that the principles of this co-operation should be
fixed by the rules of law, and, still more important, protected by the higher,
deeper, and more absolute sanctions of moral principle and religious obli­
gation ! The law can only fix rules for that which the eye of man can dis­
cover and the hand of man avenge. But it cannot reach the unsuspected
neglect, the silent, the secret embezzlement, the mysterious sinking at sea,
nor the final evasion and escape of the faithless agent into unknown regions.
These, and thousands of other consequences of the faithlessness of those who
render but an eye service, are to be avoided only by a deep sense of religious
obligation, and a continual cultivation of moral principles among the young;
by a cherishing, also, on the part of those more advanced in years and in
honors, of those institutions, which furnish to the young interesting occupa­
tion useful knowledge, and a proper sense of their own duties. It is by
holding up to them the encouraging prospect of the advantages of truth,
good faith, probity, and diligence here, with the more considerable, the
immeasurable consequences hereafter, that commerce is from time to time
to derive her conquering legions of faithful, persevering, and useful agents.

Salvage, etc.


A rt . V. — M E R C A N T IL E LA W CASES.
[We are indebted to P. W . Chandler, Esq., the editor of the Law Reporter, for the
following condensed account of a case of great interest, recently decided in Boston.]

T he ship Nathaniel Hooper sailed from Havana, in the island of Cuba,
in June, 1838, with a cargo of sugars, to be carried to St. Petersburgh via
Boston. In the course of the voyage, about the 8th of July, 1838, she struck
on the South Shoal, so called, of Nantucket Island, and was there left by the
master and crew, after an unsuccessful jettison of part of the cargo, about one
thousand boxes of sugar. She was left by her captain, and in this situation
being discovered by the brig Olive Chamberlain, a mate and part of the crew
thereof were placed on board. The ship had suffered by striking on the
shoal, and leaked badly. She was put on the course for Boston, and after­
wards fell in with a fishing schooner, the Climax, from which the assistance
of an additional crew was obtained, and the ship then reached Boston about
the 11th of July, and before the master himself arrived, who came round by
She was immediately libelled for salvage, and the cause was heard by
Judge Davis, of the District Court of the United States. The evidence in
the case was very voluminous, making nearly one thousand folio pages, and
eight days were occupied in reading it. The counsel were Messrs. Mason,
C. G. Loving, Betton, Choate, Bartlett, and Brigham, for the salvors; and
C. P. and B. R. Curtis, Blair, and Parsons, for the respondents.
Judge D avis made a decree, giving to the salvors one half of the nett
proceeds, reserving some points, made by the owners and insurers, arising
out of the alleged misconduct and perjury of a portion of the salvors, as bear­
ing upon another part of the case, and to be decided when the question of the
division of the salvage was considered. The opinion was quite brief. The
judge decided that the Nathaniel Hooper, though not derelict when the mas­
ter and crew first left her, because they left with the purpose of return, yet
became derelict when the master and crew afterwards gave up the pursuit of
her, in the belief that she had sunk. And, being thus a case of derelict, he
felt bound by recent decisions to apply the rule of one half, as he considered
this rule now so firmly established as to leave the court almost without a dis­
cretion in the matter, unless there were manifest reasons for reducing the sal­
vage, of extraordinary force, which reasons he could not clearly perceive in
this case. From this decree the owners and insurers claimed an appeal.
But the parties subsequently agreed among themselves upon the amount of
salvage, and the decree of the District Court was modified accordingly, to the
effect that the whole sum to be awarded as salvage of the ship and cargo
should be $25,000, and that a further sum of $2,000 should be charged on the
funds in court for fees of the libellants’ counsel, whereof the sum of $1,000


Mercantile Law.

was to be paid to the counsel of the libellants in the original libel, and a like
sum of $ 1,000 was to be paid to the counsel of the libellants in the supplemental
libel.* The costs of the cause to be charged on the funds in court.
There were several distinct claims arising in the case, and not included
in the genera' adjustment between the parties, which were argued at differ­
ent times before the Circuit Court of the United States on appeal, Judge Sto­
ry presiding, and which we will now present in as condensed a form as
The claim we will first consider, is that of the owners of the ship, for
freight to be paid to them on the remainder of the cargo not exhausted by
the claim for salvage, upon the ground of the ordinary lien belonging to the
owners of the ship.
Before considering the claim it will be necessary to advert to such facts
in the case as are indispensable to raise the questions of the law propounded
in the arguments at the bar.
Nicholson Broughton was the owner of three quarters of the ship, and
John Bogardus, the master, was owner of the remaining fourth part In
the month of June, 1838, the ship being at Havana in the island of Cuba,
took on board a cargo of sugars shipped by George Knight & Co., to be
carried to St. Petersburgh via Boston, (the object of stopping at Boston being
merely to obtain a clean bill of health.) part of the sugars being shipped for a
specific freight, and a part on half profits. By the bills of lading, a part of the
sugars (about one third) were consigned and deliverable to Messrs. Cramer
Brothers, at St. Petersburgh, or assigns, and the other two third parts to
the order of Messrs. Holford & Co. of London, or assigns. But the whole
cargo was to be forwarded to Messrs. Cramer Brothers, at St. Petersburgh,
who were to sell the same, and hold the proceeds of two thirds to ex­
tinguish the claims of Messrs. Holford & Co. on the same.
After the admiralty proceedings in rem were had against the ship and
cargo for salvage, the cargo was unlivered; a survey thereof was directed
by the order of the court, and the surveyor having reported that a large
part thereof was in a perishable condition, it was ordered by the court, that
all the damaged sugars should be sold; and they were accordingly sold on
the 17th of July, by the Marshal of the district. On the 17th of July, upon
the claim and petition ofthe owners of the ship, she was ordered to be deli­
vered up to them upon stipulation to pay the salvage. The ship being so
delivered up, and Broughton, who had procured insurance on the freight
and half profits, havingabandoned his right thereto to the underwriters, they
refused to accept the abandonment, but authorized him to go on and repair
the ship. Messrs. Bates & Co., to whom the ship was consigned at Boston,
for entry and despatch, (meaning for the purpose of obtaining a clean bill of
health,) were the agents of Messrs. Cramer Brothers, in many commercial
transactions, but were not their general agents. They had procured insu­
rance on the one third part of the cargo consigned to Messrs. Cramer, from
certain insurance companies in Boston, and on the 10th of July abandoned
the same to those companies, who accepted the same, and within sixty days
afterwards paid a total loss thereon.
On the 30th of July, the ship being fully repaired, Broughton, with the
consent of the underwriters, gave notice to Messrs. Bates & Co., of Boston,
* In the case of the ship Ewbank, decided in 1834 in this court, there were ten coun­
sellors engaged, and they were allowed, by consent of parties, $5,000.

Salvage, etc.


that the ship was repaired and in readiness to receive the eargo of sugars
to be carried forward to St. Petersburgh. Messrs. Bates & Co. replied by
stating that they had no knowledge of the cargo of sugars, and had taken no
cognizance thereof except under the direction of the Marshal. On the 7th
of August, Messrs. Broughton and Bogardus severally filed in the District
Court the claim on petition for freight, upon which the present controversy
turns, in which the foregoing facts are in substance stated. On the 8th of
August, the libellants petitioned for an appraisement and sale of the residue
of the cargo unsold, (the same being in the custody of the court.) upon which
an order was passed on the 9th of October, by the court, to sell so much
thereof as should be sufficient to pay the duties and charges due thereon, and
it was accordingly sold by the Marshal on the 24th of October. On the 10th
of August, Broughton addressed letters to the Suffolk Insurance Company
and to the Columbian Insurance Company, and to William S. Skinner,
agent for certain foreign underwriters, of a similar purport to his letter of the
30th of July to Messrs. Bates & Co. At this time the companies had not
accepted the abandonment made to them respectively. On the 7th of Sep­
tember, one half of the ship was sold by the owners, and the other half on
the 16th of the same month. It is a fact also stated in the case, that Brough­
ton was the owner of the brig General Glover, which arrived in Boston on
the 27th of July, which was a good coppered vessel, and could have car­
ried on the cargo to St. Petersburgh, the harbor of which port closes with
ice in October or November, and opens again in April or May of every
But to proceed with the historical facts. On the 2nd of November, the
Suffolk Insurance Company, the Columbian Insurance Company, and
the Tremont Insurance Company, of Boston, to whom the one third of
the sugars had been abandoned, and the abandonment had been accepted,
and the loss paid as above mentioned, applied by claim and petition, to
have the same appraised and delivered to them upon stipulation, which was
accordingly granted by the court, no objection appearing to have been made
thereto by any of the parties in interest, before the court. On the 26th of
February, 1839, Messrs. Bates & Co. addressed a letter to Broughton for the
owners of the ship, stating, that they had received advices from Messrs. Holford & Co. of London, to have the sound remaining sugars shipped to St Pe­
tersburg without delay, asking him to decide either to send them forward, or
not, so that application might be made to the court accordingly for a delivery
on appraisement for that purpose; to which Broughton replied on the 1st of
March, declining to have any thing farther done on his part in the busi­
ness. On the same day, Messrs. Bates & Co. made application to the
court for a delivery to them of the residue of the sugars in the custo­
dy of the court, belonging to Messrs. Holford & Co. and the underwriters on
their account, which application was refused by the court; and the sugars
still remained in the custody of the court.
On the 15th of the same month, the insurance companies, which had un­
derwritten upon the cargo, and Messrs. Bates & Co., for Holford & Co., in­
tervened, and made claim thereto, and answer to the libels, in order to contest
the claim to salvage. The final decree of the district court in the premises,
was made on the 11th of May, 1839, from which the present appeal was
The answer to the claim for freight contests the general claim to freight,
and insists, that if any whatever is due, it ought to contribute to the jettison as


Mercantile Law.

a general average, and ought to contribute towards the salvage, the latter
having been apportioned by the decree on ship and cargo only.
Such are the most material facts in the case, which are somewhat compli­
cated, but all of which have been deemed important to be brought to the view
of the reader, in order to understand the decision of the court.
The question of freight was argued by Choate and Riley, for the claimants,
and by Blair, Parsons, and B. R. Curtis, for the respondents, under two
1. Whether a full freight was due upon any, and if any, upon what part
of the cargo.
2. If a full freight was not due, whether a pro rata freight was due upon
any, and if upon any, upon what part of the cargo.
Mr. Justice S tory look time to consider, and at a subsequent day delivered
his opinion at great length, in which he decided the following points:
1. That the full freight of the sugars, of which there was a jettison, for the
voyage, was to be allowed as part of the general average to be borne by the
ship and cargo, and the freight (pro rata) saved.
2. That no freight was due upon the sugars sold at Boston, on account of
damage and their perishable nature; nor upon the sugars sold to pay duties;
nor upon the sugars applied to pay the salvage.
3. That full freight was not due for the voyage upon the sugars delivered
to the underwriters, because the ship had been sold before they were delivered
to them in bail by the court; and taking all the circumstances, the case was
to be treated as one in which both the owners of the ship and of this part of
the cargo had reluctantly acquiesced in waiving any further prosecution of
the voyage, as to that part of the cargo.
4. That full freight was not due for the voyage for the sugars in the cus­
tody of the court, because neither party was in any default on account thereof,
the detention being occasioned by the common calamity, and the proceedings
for salvage ; and the owners thereof never having been in a condition to re­
ship them.
5. But a pro rata freight was due upon the sugars delivered to the under­
writers, and upon those detained in the custody of the court, for the voyage
from Havana to Boston, upon the ground that there had been a mutual dis­
pensation by both parties of any further prosecution of the voyage.
6. That no claim for half profits was admissible, as the cargo never ar­
rived at St. Petersburgh, and non constat, that it ever would have arrived
there, or if it had arrived, would have yielded any profit, the whole matter of
profit resting in contingency.
7. That the freight earned pro rata for the voyage ought to contribute to
the salvage with the ship and cargo.
8. In general, freight for the entire voyage can only be earned by a due
performance of the voyage. The only acknowledged exception is where
there is no default or inability of the carrier ship to perform the voyage, and
the ship owner is ready to forward them, but there is a default on the part of
the owner of the cargo, as he waived a farther prosecution of the voyage.
9. Freight, pro rata itineris, is not ordinarily due, unless there has been a
voluntary acceptance of the cargo at an intermediate port; and not an ac­
ceptance from mere necessity, occasioned by an overwhelming calamity or
superior force.
10. The doctrines of prize courts in the administration of prize law as to

Salvage, etc.


freight, are not generally applicable to cases of mere civil commercial adven­
tures, or cases of civil salvage.
11. The capture of a neutral ship and cargo, if afterwards restitution is de­
creed, does not dissolve the contract of affreightment; but at most only sus pends
it during the prize proceedings.
12. A mere unlivery of the cargo during the voyage, occasioned by prize
proceedings, or by an overwhelming calamity, does not absolve the carrier
ship from the obligation to carry the goods to the port of destination.
13. In case of prize proceedings, if a neutral ship carrying a neutral cargo,
in no default, would earn her full freight, she must wait, and be ready to take
the cargo on to the port of destination, when restored; otherwise at most, (it
seems,) a pro rata freight only would be due.
14. Courts of admiralty have full jurisdiction, as incidental to cases of prize,
and salvage, and other proceedings in rem, to decree freight to the ship
owner in proper cases.
15. Where proceedings in rem are had in the admiralty for salvage, nei­
ther party is bound to obtain a delivery of the ship and cargo on bail; and it
is no matter of default on either side to wait for the regular termination of the
salvage proceedings.
16. In suits for salvage, courts of admiralty will not ordinarily, without the
consent of the salvors, deliver either ship or cargo on stipulation to the claim­
ants, where, from the circumstances of the case, it is apparent to the court,
that a proportion, and not a specific or gross sum, ought to be allowed as
17. If the cargo is liable to deteriorate or perish, or the ship to be injured
by the delay incident to the salvage proceedings, the proper course is to apply
to the court for a sale thereof. It is not a matter of right, of either party, to
have a delivery on bail in such cases.
The next claim in this case which we will consider, is that of John
Dyer, Jun.
One of the salvor vessels, it will be recollected, was the brig Olive Cham­
berlain, of which Samuel C. Hunt was owner, and Zacheus Holmes was
master. Salvage was awarded to the master and owner of the brig, and a
claim was intervened by Dyer for a moiety of the salvage decreed to Hunt,
upon the ground that he was joint owner of the brig with Hunt, for the
voyage, under a charter-party, executed by Hunt on the one part, and Hunt
and Dyer on the other part. He also claimed salvage as joint owner of the
cargo for the voyage with Hunt.
It appeared that the master sailed the brig under a verbal contract with
Hunt, similar to a contract, reduced to writing, which had been made be­
tween him and Hunt in the next preceding voyage, and of which the fol­
lowing is a copy :
Boston, January 10, 1838.
It is agreed between S. C. Hunt and Zacheus Holmes, that the said Za­
cheus Holmes shall receive from S. C. Hunt, the sum of seven hundred and
fifty dollars, being one half the charter for said brig for a voyage from Boston
to Havana and back, with the demurrage for sailing, victualling, and man­
ning the brig Olive Chamberlain, together with half cabin freight, and all
passage money, after deducting half port charges in Boston, as is customary.
S amuel C. H unt .
The brig went on the voyage, and took on board at Havana a return cargo


Mercantile Law.

for Boston, on the joint account of Hunt and D yer; and the salvage was
earned on the return voyage. The master testified, that his contract to sail,
and victual, and man the brig, was wholly with Hunt, and he looked to him
alone for pay, and that he acted for Hunt and Dyer only as to the cargo. The
return cargo was purchased with funds sent out on the outward voyage.
Upon this state of facts, Betton, of counsel for Dyer, made two points:
1. That Dyer was, under the charter party, joint owner of the brig for the
voyage, and entitled to share in the salvage.
2. If not, that he was joint owner of the cargo, and was entitled to sal­
vage for that in common with Hunt.
Choate argued the case for Hunt.
Mr. Justice S tory , in his opinion, made the following points:
1. Where a charter party contains covenants, that the general owner shall
equip, victual, man and sail the ship during the voyage, and carry the out­
ward and homeward cargoes to their proper destination, and the cabin and
some part of the ship are retained by the owner—the general owner remains
owner for the voyage, although the cargoes were on joint account of him­
self and a co-charterer.
2. Where the master agrees for a specific sum, half of a stipulated freight,
to victual, man, and navigate the ship on certain voyages under the direction
of the owner, the master is not owner or a part owner for the voyage.
3. The shipper of cargo is not entitled to salvage earned in the voyage,
unless the stoppage and deviation was authorized by him. Under other cir­
cumstances, his only remedy for any loss occasioned by the stoppage and
deviation is against the master and owner.
4. The judge commented on the grounds on which salvage is allowed to
the owner of the ship, and the distinction between his case and that of the
shipper of the cargo; and came to the conclusion that Dyer was not entitled
to any share in the salvage.
In concluding this report, it may be remarked for the benefit of that class
of speculators who are in the habit of buying up the claims of claimants of
salvage, that Judge Story directed the clerk to take no notice whatever of
any assignments, but to pay over the money in all cases to the persons to
whom it was awarded, or those to whom they or their counsel requested it to
be paid. His honor remarked, that seamen, of all men, were the most im­
posed upon, and their landlords and others would often contrive to cheat them
not only out of their money, but also, and more easily, of any claims they
might have for future remuneration. He did not know but the people who
had obtained assignments in this case were honest enough, but his experience
in like cases, and his knowledge of the character of seamen, made him dis­
trust every thing of the kind, and induced him to make the rule inflexible,
that money must be paid to the claimants themselves, or to responsible mem­
bers of the bar for them, or to the persons they directed at the time the money
was decreed.
It was whispered in the bar, that many of these claims had been bought
up for a mere song, and the clerk said he had received notice of three assign­
ments that morning, one of them without any date.

Consuls and Seamen.


[For the following interesting decisions, relative to the unwarrantable practice of ar­
resting and imprisoning seamen, by our Consuls, in foreign ports, we are indebted to
Judge Hopkinson, of the United States Circuit Court ]

T he question of the power of our consuls to arrest our seamen by the local
police officers in foreign ports, and put them into prisons under the control of
those officers, on the complaint of the captain, for some breach of discipline
on board of the ship, has come several times-before the district court of
Pennsylvania, and finally, on appeal, before the circuit court of that district.
The following are short abstracts of the opinions of those courts:
In the case of Wilson and others vs. the Mary, decided in 1838, reported
in Oil pin’s Reports, 32, Judge Hopkinson said:
“ The practice of imprisoning disobedient and refractory seamen in foreign
jails, is one of doubtful legality. It is certainly to be justified only by a strong
case of necessity. It is not among the ordinary means of discipline put into
the hand of the master. I am inclined to think there should be danger in
keeping the offender on board, or some great crime committed, where this
extreme measure is resorted to. It should be usid as one of saftty rather
than discipline, and never applied as a punishment for past misconduct. The
powers given to the master to preserve the discipline of the ship, and compel
obedience to his authority, are so strong and full, that they can si ldom fail of
their effect: they should be clearly insufficient btfore we should allow the
exercise of a power which may so easily be made the instrument of cruelty
and oppression, and may be so terrible in its consequences. A confinement in
an unwholesome jail, in a hot and pestilential climate, may be followed by
death or some disabling disease. I would rather altogether deny a power
which can be so seldom necessary, than trust it in hands in which it is so
likely to be abused, an l so difficult to be regulated. The master may, with­
out the aid of foreign police officers and dungeons in which he cannot control,
even if kindly disposed, the treatment of his men, take measures of great
strength, to enforce the discipline of his ship. He may the re confine a re­
fractory sailor; he may stop his provisions; he may inflict reasonable per­
sonal correction, according to the enoimity of the off nee and the obstinacy
of the offinder; and. if he be incorrigibly disobedient and mutinous he may
discharge him, and. withal, he incurs a forfeiture of his wages. A film and
judicious exercise of these powers can hardly fail of reducing the most per­
verse to obedience.”
In the same case, the judge said:
“ I will take this occasion to notice an error which, I fear, has frequently,
as in this instance, misled our masters of vessels. They seem to believe that
they may do any thing, provided they can obtain the assent of the consul for
it; which assent consuls are apt to give with very little consideration. When
a master, on her return, is called upon to answer for his conduct, he thinks it
is enough to produce a consular certificate, approving his proceedings, or to
say he consulted the consul or acted on his advice. This is altogether a mis­
take. It is certainly a very prudent precaution to consult the consul in any
difficulty, and, if the case were fairly and fully stated to him. it would afford
a strong protection on the question of a malicious or wrongful intention ; but
it can give no justification or legal sanction to an illegal act, nor deprive
those who have been injured of their legal rights and remedies.”
VOL. i. — n o . iv.


Mercantile Law.

In the case of Magee and others vs. the Moss, reported in Gilpin, 219, de­
cided in 1831, Judge Hopkinson said:
“ I have declared that I will not countenance the practice of thrusting our
seamen into foreign jails by the captain, through the influence he may have
with our consuls, or the officers in a foreign port. It is always a severe pu­
nishment, and in some climates dangerous to health and life. The punish­
ment which the law authorizes a master to inflict on board of his vessel, by
personal correction, by confinement and other privations, are generally suf­
ficient for all the purposes of discipline. It should only be in a case of some
pressing necessity, of some danger to the vessel, or her master, or crew, that
the men should be imprisoned on shore.”
The case of Johnson and others, in the Coriolanus, was decided in the
same court in March, 1839. It was on a claim for wages by a seamen. The
captain had imprisoned a man at Rio Janeiro for alleged misconduct, and
offered the certificate of the consul to justify the proceedings, and prove the
offence. The ship came away, and the man was left in prison. In speaking
of this part of the case, Judge H o p k i n s o n said, that “ he had no doubt that
this proceeding on the part of the captain was altogether illegal and unjusti­
fiable. That he had repeatedly expressed his disapprobation, in strong terms,
of the practice of putting our seamen into foreign jails and dungeons at the
mercy of the police officers, for offences by no means requiring this severe
and extreme remedy.
“ For ordinary misconduct or insubordination, the law gave the master of a
vessel power sufficient to enforce obedience and maintain discipline on board his
vessel—that it is only in cases of extraordinary violence, such as was dangerous
to the vessel or those on board of her, that a mariner should be taken on shore,
and thrown into a prison; every act of passion or insubordination is called
mutiny, and the offender is hurried off to an, unwholesome confinement, of­
ten in a dangerous climate. In the case before him, the Judge said the man
had been many months on board the vessel without incurring any punish­
ment— he had a quarrel with the mate, in which it is uncertain which of
them was most in fault; and the second day after it, when it was supposed to
have gone over, and no misconduct had occurred in the meantime, a boat
was sent to the ship with a police officer, and the man was carried off to a
prison, without a hearing or any examination of the charge, except such as
the captain chose to give to the consul.
“ The judge said he would take this occasion to repeat what he had more
than once said before, and to correct an error into which captains continue to
fall. They seem to think that if they can get the order and consent of the
consul for their proceedings, it will be a full justification for them when
they come home. Fie wished them to understand that he would judge for
himself, after hearing both parties and their evidence, of the legality and
necessity of these summary incarcerations; and the part the consul may
have taken in them would have but little weight with him. He said he had
never known an instance in which a consul had refused the application of
a captain to imprison a seaman, furnishing him with a certificate, duly orna­
mented with his official seal, vouching for the offence of the victim, of
which, generally, he knew nothing but from the representations of the cap­
tain or officers of the vessel. The judge said that he never suffered their
certificates to be read—that they were weaker than ex parte depositions. He
then made some remarks that may be worthy the attention of our go­
vernment. He said our consuls, unfortunately, are merchants depending

Seamen's Wages.


entirely upon the profits of their commercial business for their living, espe­
cially upon consignments from the United States—that it is therefore of pri­
mary importance to them to have the good will of the masters of vessels, that
they may make a good report of them to their owners. He said that an
American gentleman of high intelligence, who has travelled much, and
known many of our consuls, has, in the book he has published, expressed
his regret that they are not supported by salaries from the public treasury.
As they now are, these important appointments are placed exclusively in the
hands of merchants, who, he says, ‘ are under strong inducements to make
their offices subservient to their commercial business.’ ”
An appeal from the decision of the District Judge was taken to the Cir­
cuit Court, and there argued at length on several points decided below. The
judgment given below was affirmed on every point. Judge B a l d w i n said
that ‘ he agreed with the opinion of the District Court on all the points, and
especially on the subject of imprisoning seamen by the authority of a con­
sul. Seamen should be imprisoned in foreign ports only in a clear case of
extreme necessity. He would probably have gone farther in this case than
the District Judge had done; and would have given the mariner not only
his wages for the whole voyage, but some compensation or allowance for the
seamen ’s wages .
An important and interesting case recently came before, and was decided
by, the magistrates in Liverpool. It is published at length in Gore’s
Advertiser. The following abstract, may be relied upon for its faithfulness
and fidelity.
The commander of the ship Dauntless appeared before Mr. Hall yester­
day, to show cause why he refused to pay a certain sum claimed by George
Wilson, one of the hands on board the above vessel, on her recent voyage
from New Orleans to this port. George Wilson stated that he shipped on
board the Dauntless, at New Orleans, on the 13th of February, for Liverpool,
at sixteen dollars per month. Mr. Morecroft, solicitor, who appeared for
the captain and owners of the Dauntless, said the full balance of wages, at the
rate specified, had been tendered to the complainant, but he refused to accept
it. Mr. Davenport, who appeared for the complainant, said, “ No, certainly
not. The only question in dispute is relative to this promissory note (pro­
duced.” ) Mr. Morecroft—“ W e are willing to pay the three guineas real­
ly due, but we do not acknowledge that note. The owners will not pay it.”
It was intimated that the present case would decide several other claims.
Mr. Davenport read the note, which was to the effect that the captain promis­
ed to pay the sum of £2, in consideration of the holder (of the note) endeavor­
ing to take the vessel to England instead of to America. The complainant
was called upon to explain the meaning of the note. He stated that the ship
having lurched over, they were compelled to stave a number of their watercasks in order to right her. They had then only 130 gallons of water left,
and they ought to have procured more. In consideration, however, of their
going forward on short allowance, the captain gave each of the men a pro­
missory note. Mr. Hall said this was a misfortune that might occur to every
individual, and which affected all onboard equally. To Mr. Davenport—
“ Have you any thing to show that this case is different from those which
have been heretofore decided respecting this point ?” Mr. Davenport—“ The
fact is, sir, they were about to put into Bermuda for fresh water, when the cap­


Mercantile Law.

tain, in consideration ofthe time and expense that would be saved by proce' ding
on the voyage, gave each man a promissory note for two pounds. Mr. H all:
“ i f a man died on board a vessel, the men might with as much justice expect
that, if the captain did not choose to put into some port for a fresh hand, he
would pay them for dividing that man’s labor amongst them.” Mr. Morecroft Said, the captain was compelled to give those notes, for the men took the
vessel from him, and determined to carry her into Bermuda. Yet they had,
by calculation, two pints of water per man for thirty-six days. They had,
b "sides, the chance of rain, and after rain had fallen, they had actua ly an
allowance offour pints per day, per man. They had plenty of water when
they arrived in port. The captain was called, and he proved the above state­
ments. Mr. Hall refused to allow the promissory note, and the balmce of
wages was ordered to be paid. As the sum due, £3 3s. 6d. had been tender­
ed Mr. H ill would not allow the costs.”
Mr. Hall very properly refused to admit the validity of the promissory
note, as it was not only illegal, but would, if recognizable by law, be a pre­
cedent of injurious tendency. In fact, it would be an encouragement to sea­
men to take advantage of the necessity produced by distress at sea, and make
their own terms with the masters of vessels, to navigate them how and where
they ph ased, or unless the masters complied with their terms, to refuse to take
the vessels to the ports to which such masters were bound to proceed. In
this case, it is evident, an advantage was taken of the master by the sailors,
through means of the necessity they believed him to be under to take in fresh
water. He — conceiving that he could make his voyage to England with­
out a fresh supply, and anxious for the sake of his employers and for that of
the owners ofthe cargo and the underwriters— wished to proceed; he there­
fore rtfus- d to put into Bermuda, thereby avoiding great delay. They ac­
tually take the command of the vessel from him, as appears from the above
report of the trial, and then, and not till then, he complies with the terms they
choose to impose upon him. Now, instead of the captain being bound by
the agreement so'entered into, we are of opinion that theconductof the crew,
or of any portion of the crew, in this transaction, taking for granted that it oc­
curred as d scribed in the report, is amenable to the mutiny law. It was
proved that there was an abundant supply of water to last out the voyage of
the vessi 1 to her destination, and besides they had the chance of rain, and ac­
tually had rain water that doubled the supply. Be that, however, as it may,
the magistrate acted perfectly right in disallowing the claim.

Bottomry, as many of our readers are aware, is. as defined by Blackstone,
Com. book 11 to 33, a mortgage of the ship. The owner or captain of a
ship is authorized to borrow money, either to fit her out so as to enable her
to proceed on her voyage, or to purchase a cargo for the voyage, pledging
the keel or bottom of the ship in security for payment. In bottomry con­
tracts it is stipulated, that if the ship be lost in the course of the voyage, the
lender shall lose his whole money, but if the ship arrive in safety at her des­
tination, the lender then is entitled to get back his principal, and the interest
agreed upon, however much that interest may exceed the legal rate. This
is the law of England.
A decision was lately made in the H igh Court of England, by Judge
Lushington, of the highest importance as respects the relations of British
shipping to the rest of the world, and particularly to commercial men in the



United States. It was a question as to the validity of a bottomry bond, exe­
cuted at Philadelphia, by the master of the Biitish ship Vibtlia. The ves­
sel sailed from England in April, 1836, for Honduras, where she took in
mahogany and other produce, and sailed from Balize in August, 1837.
Having run foul of other vessels, she returned to Balize for repairs, and re­
commenced her voyage in October. Meeting with tempestuous weather,
from which the ship suffered much damage, the master was compelled to
make for Philadelphia, with six feet of water in the hold. Here, being
without funds, he placed himself under the direction of the acting Bri’ish con­
sul, (Mr. Vaughton,) and the agent for Lloyd’s, (Mr. Jordan ) who introdu­
ced him to an American merchant, (Mr. Stephen Baldwin.) The vessel
was surveyed and the cargo landed ; the est'mate of the cost of repairs was
about 7,033 dollars; but, on subsequent examination, more extensive repairs
were found necessary. Unsuccessful attempts having been made to raise
money, even on bottomry, successive sales of the cargo were resorted to,,
amounting in the whole to about 15,000 dollars, the total expense of the
repairs being 17,038 dollars. The proceeds of the sales were disbursed by
Baldwin, with the sanction of the master. The whole proceeds of the
cargo being insufficient to meet the repairs, Mr. Baldwin became responsi­
ble for the balance, and on the 31st January, 1838, took a bottomry bond
for the amount advanced by him, being 3,060 dollars, bearinga maritime in­
terest of 15 per cent. From the opinion of the Court, it is to be gathered
that when Mr. Bildwin began to make advances, there was no distinct evi­
dence of an original understanding or contract between him and the master
that his final balance was to be secured by a bottomry bond ; but that he
probably made his advances, trusting to the general lien which the law of
this country gives in such cases, and not at all to the personal credit of the
master or owner, and subsequently took the bottomry bond. The master, in
his affidavit in the cause, deposed, that he executed the bond under compul­
sion. This suggestion was distinctly repudiated, and the judgment of Dr.
Lushington was pronounced in favor of the bond.
This decision is important as recognising and proceeding upon the follow­
ing principle. It is well known to legal and commercial persons, that, by the
law of England, the party who repairs, or makes advances to repair a fo­
reign ship, has no lien, on the ship itself, without an express agreement to the
effect; whereas, by the law of most maritime nations, and especially by that
of the United States, such a party has a lien on such a ship, without any
agreement. In this case it was considered, in the first place, that, where
the question of fact, whether the money was advanced on personal credit or
not, the fact of a lien existing by the law of the foreign country, is an ingre­
dient and an important circumstance in ascertaining the true nature of the
transaction; and that it is important to bear that law in mind, because it
shows a state of things which renders bottomry more probable, furnishing a
strong presumption in favor of bottomry and against personal credit. For
why should a merchant, without some such consideration, abandon the lien
his own law affords him, and trust to the credit of an owner in a foreign
country, of whom he knows nothing 1 In the second place, it was held,
that it is competent to the foreign merchant, without any express agree­
ment at all for the bottomry bond, to make advances on the security
of the ship, that is, on the faith of a lien given by the law of his own coun­
try, and that it is not necessary to have a bottomry bond till the ship is about
to sail. The question is, not whether all the advances were originally, and


Mercantile Law.

from the beginning to the end, with a view to a future bottomry bond, but
whether any part of the advances or the responsibility was on personal credit.
If the money was advanced on personal credit, or if the foreign merchant
made himself responsible, looking to personal credit only, in that case the
law of lien will never entitle him to convert that which was originally a
transaction of personal credit into one of bottomry. It is a totally different
thing, to convert a transaction from its primary character of personal credit
into bottomry, and to take a bottomry bond where the money was at first ad­
vanced on the security of a lien, or right of lien, on the ship.
Although the decision at once commends itself in point of principle, and
although there had been cases both in England and in this country nearly
approaching to it, none is recollected, in which so decisive an effect has been
given to the law of the country of the foreign lender; and the recognition of
the entire situation of such a foreign lender, by a British court, when it
is directly the reverse of that of a British creditor, is a fresh instance of the
cosmopolitan character of maritime jurisprudence.

A case was recently decided in the Supreme Court of New York, which
may serve as a caution to men holding official situations, that trivial careless­
ness or neglect may sometimes be attended with serious consequences. Wm.
P. Hallett, Esq., was sued for the recovery of a judgment which had been
obtained against a Mr. Charles Morris, and the amount of which had not
been recovered in consequence of Mr. Hallett’s having overlooked, in exa­
mining the records of the Supreme Court, a previous judgment against Mor­
ris for $15,000 or $16,000. The amount for which Mr. Hallett was now
sued was nearly $4,000, and before the case had been submitted to the jury
it was made out so clear that his counsel, in his behalf, consented to the pay­
ment of it, with costs.

For the following important decision, in the Court of King’s Bench, E ng­
land, we are indebted to the politeness of John L. Dimock, Esq. President of
the W arren Insurance Company, Boston. In the case of Mr. Sigourney, o f
Boston, v. Jones, Lloyd, tj- Co. The opinion of the Court was given, for the
recovery of the amount of a bill of exchange, which had been previously
paid to Samuel Williams by the defendants. The facts were : Sigourney
consigned a cargo of flour to Jones, Lloyd, & Co., who accepted bills for the
amount, drawn by the master. These hills were endorsed by the master, to
Mr. Sigourney, and by him to Mr. Williams, in this form : “ Pay to W il­
liams, or order, fo r my use." Jones, Lloyd, & Co. discounted the bills, and
paid the amount to Mr. Williams, less the discount; and, before the maturity
of the bills, Mr. Williams became bankrupt.
The Court confirmed the verdict of a former trial, in favor of the defend­
ants, which had been reserved for a question of la w ; and decided, that the
endorsment was such, that the defendants had no authority to pay the bills,
except fo r the use of the plaintiff; but as they had discounted them for ac­
commodation of Mr. Williams, they must be held liable to the plaintiff in
this suit. If the restriction had been conveyed in a private letter to Williams,
and he had endorsed, without any notice of it to another, he only would have
been liable. If he had waited till the maturity of the bill, and received the
money, he only would have been liable; but this species of restriction is
useful, and must Be maintained to prevent failing men from raising money

R ig h t o f securing Duties at the Home Port.


on such bills to the prejudice of the first endorser. — This bill was discount­
ed, and the money applied, not fo r the use o f the plaint i f f but for the use of
C l a s s i f i c a t i o n of G oods . — The case in the United States District

Court, (Maryland District,) Albers
Co. v. W illiam Frick, Collector of
the port of Baltimore, and decided before Judges Taney and Heath, was an
action for the recovery of forty-one per cent., ad valorem duty, paid on se­
venty dozen worsted shawls, imported by the plaintiffs from Bremen, which
they had paid to the collector, with protest against their being classed as
woollen goods, or goods of which wool is a component part, but that they
were free of duty. Several gentlemen, conversant with the article, were ex­
amined, who stated that the goods in question were composed entirely of
worsted yarn, which differed from what is termed woollen yarn, it being
spun from only the longest fibres of wool, which is separated by hackling
and combing, while yarn is spun from carded wool, without such separation.
It was also shown, that, as these goods had been imported in separate shawls,
they did not come under the denomination of worsted stuff goods, which they
would be called had they been imported in pieces of thirty or forty yards,
when they would be admitted free of duty. The plaintiffs prayed the court
to instruct the jury, that, if they believed the shawls to be worsted, they
should render a verdict for the plaintiffs, as worsted had been decided by
Judge Thompson, of New York, and the decision sustained by the supreme
court, not to be liable to duty. After some remarks from the district attor­
ney, the court instructed the jury, and a verdict was rendered for the plain­
tiffs, $550.

Case and Opinion o f the District Attorney of South Florida, upon the right
o f a party to secure the duties upon his merchandise at his home port,
when the vessel is lost upon the Florida reefs :
C a s e . — The American ship Tennessee, on her late voyage from Bor­
deaux to New Orleans, on the 16th of April last, ran upon the Florida reefs,
and was brought into the port of Key West by the wreckers, and condemn­
ed and sold as unworthy of repair, and broken up. The cargo of wines,
cordials, and brandy, were saved, and, with the ship, libelled for salvage, and
all sold to pay the same, except an invoice of 18,420 gallons of brandy.
This remains in the public store with the duties thereon unpaid, but there is
no other charge thereon, and the ship Tennessee cannot, of course, take it on
to New Orleans. On this account, the collector of Key West says the duties
on the brandy must be paid, or secured at this port, before he can deliver it
to the owner, who resides at New Orleans. The owner contends, that he
has the right to secure the duties at New Orleans, and to obtain a certificate
of that fact from the collector there, upon which the collector here is bound
to deliver him his brandy.
O p i n i o n . — The collector of Key West, I suppose, relies upon the gene­
ral collection act of 1799, section 60, which says, that vessels arriving in
distress, in the United States, at ports to which they are not bound, may be
unloaded free of duty, and repair, and take on to the ports of destination their
cargoes. Under this section of the act, it is necessary that the merchandise
proceed in the same vessel. But suppose that is impossible, as in the
case of the Tennessee, cannot the merchandise go on in another vessel, or be


Mercantile Law.

restored to the owner in any case, unless he pays or secures the duties at
Iv y West i It could not be done before the act of 1828, but, in my opinion,
it can now be done under that act.
In the organization of the court at Key West, the act of May 23, 1828,
contained various provisions upon wrecking, payment of salvage, and secu­
ring of duties at the port of the United States where the owner resided. It
required the judge to reside at Key West, the only place of any considerable
commerce in the large collection district from St. Augustine to St. Marks, and
that commerce growing out of the wrecking business,— all wrecking vessels
were to be licensed by him, and no vessel was to employ any person who
had bargained with a vessel in distress on the reef, — all goods obtained on
the reefs were to be brought to some port of entry in the United States, and,
as Key West is the only port for hundreds of miles contiguous to the reefs,
the same would be, and of course are, always brought into this port for adju­
dication and salvage. The third section enacts, that the judge shall, when
it can be done, decree payment of salvage in kind, without sale, and that the
property saved shall be divided before it is taken out of the custody of the re­
venue officer. This section evidently embraces property saved, which is
subject to duties, for if it be our own produce it goes not into the custody of
the revenue officers. The act then says, that, upon the property remaining
after the payment in kind, the duties may be secured in any port in the Uni­
ted States where the owner resides. It appears to me that the owner can do
this, even if the salvage were paid in cash, or by sale, for it would come
within the spirit and intention of the act.
Before congress passed this act, there was no court at Key West. By a
territorial law, a notary and a jury, sometimes, perhaps, under the influence
of the wrecking interest, or arbitrators, awarded large salvages, and sales
were made, and sacrifices followed, on account of the paucity of purchasers.
The whole coast was then uninhabited, as it is now, with the exception of
two little islands and Key West. Complaints were made that captains acted
in bad faith, were sometimes corrupted, and sometimes taken advantage of.
If the duties were to be secured here, there were but few to be sureties, and
they must be paid a commission, and have collateral security from strangers.
To limit the power of the judge, to prevent sales by the master, and to enable
the owner to secure the duties in the home port, at any time within nine
months, congress passed the act of May 23, 1828. It settled three principles.
It first enacts, that the judge shall, where it can be done, decree payment
of salvage in kind. “ It shall be his duty, unless the salvage decree shall
have been adjusted without recourse to vessel and cargo, to direct such pro­
portion of salvage to be paid to the salvors in kind ”
Seconlly, that the salvors shall pay the duties, if any, on the part allotted
to them. “ It shall be divided, accordingly, under the inspection of the offi­
cers of the court, before it shall have been taken out of the custody of the re­
venue officers.”
The act provides, that if the cargo be incapable of division, or of a perish­
able nature, a sile shall be made. As the part allotted for salvage remains
in the custody of the collector, the salvors must of course pay duties before
they can obtain it.
Thirdly, that the owner may secure the duties, if any, at any port in the
United States where he resides. On this point the fifth section is very ex­
“ Section 5. And be it further enacted, that the property remaining, after

Fraud on the Revenue.


separating the portion adjudged to the salvors, shall not be removed from
such store as may be used for public purposes, nor disposed of in any other
way, for nine months, unless by the order of the owners, or their authorized
agents; and that the duties accruing upon such property may be secured at
any port in the United States where the owners may reside.”
Were the Tennessee repaired, this part of the act would be unnecessary.
It would not apply to the case. The act of 1799 would apply. I have no
doubt that it was the intention of Congress to permit the owner of cargo
after the loss of his vessel, or any vessel, on the Florida Keys, in which he'
had made his shipment, to secure the duties on the cargo remaining after
satisfaction of salvage, in any way, in the place of his home and his friends,
and thereupon to receive it at Key West, from the custody of the revenue offi­
cers. My opinion is, that the owner of this brandy can bond it at New
Orleans, and upon the fact duly certified to the collector at Key West, the
brandy must be restored to him.
The collector of Key West is of a different opinion, and the Solicitor of
the Treasury is written to for his decision.
C H A R L E S W A L K E R , Att’y U. S.
K ey West, July 18, 1839.

A case was tried in the United States District Court at Boston, in July last,
in which the United States had seized one hundred and fourteen pieces of
broad cloth, which were claimed by James Bottomly, Jun., late of New
York, but now out of the country.
The goods were seized in the auction store of Whitwell & Seaver,in Boston.
The case, on the part of the government, was supported principally by cir­
cumstantial evidence. They set up that James Bottomly, Jun., a native of
Yorkshire, and a great importer of woollens in New York in 1837-8,made
a fraudulent arrangement with one James Campbell, late a deputy collector
in the custom house in that city, by which Bottomly was enabled to defraud
the revenue to a large amount. That he made twenty-one false and fraudu­
lent entries before any suspicion of his honesty was entertained. That by an
arrangement with Campbell, packages of the highest cost were invariably se­
lected for examination; that these were always correctly invoiced, and thus the
remaining packages, which would be incorrectly invoiced, would pass detec­
tion. That Bottomly never made entries with any deputy collector except
Campbell, and when the latter was absent, he always delayed making his en­
tries until his return. That in March 1838, Bottomly made certain entries of
goods imported in the Roscoe; that the suspicions of another deputy collector
being excited, he communicated them to the collector, and the whole were
seized. That Bottomly had been indicted in New York, had forfeited his
bail, and left the country.
There was considerable evidence in the case, and very slow progress was
made in the trial, which occupied several days. After the evidence on the
part of the government was in, Judge Davis decided that it was sufficient to
show a probable cause of seizure, and to put the claimant to his proof that the
goods were correctly entered. Accordingly, he introduced a few witnesses,
but the jury decided that the goods were forfeited.
The case was managed by Sprague and Gray, of Boston, and Miller, of
New York, for the claimant, and by Mills, district attorney, and Fletcher and
Bartlett, for the United States.
VOL. I . --- NO. IV.


Mercantile Biography.



B oston could justly boast of many intelligent, enterprising, and opulent
merchants, more than a century ago. From the first settlement of that place,
indeed, long the chief mart of trade for all New England, a number of the
citizens were interested in foreign commerce andnavigation. Almost all E u ­
ropean goods and products, and a large portion of the growth of the West
Indies, imported into the four Northern Colonies, were entered at the port of
Boston. H er merchants, therefore, were numerous, and generally opulent.
One of the most eminent, during the middle of the last century — from 1735
to 1764 — was T homas H ancock, the uncle and patron of the celebrated
patriot, John Hancock, the president of the continental congress in 1775,
1776, and 1777, many years governor of the commonwealth of Massachu­
setts, and one of the most disinterested, devoted friends of American liberty, in
that critical period, as well as for several years before the revolution began.
T homas H ancock was a son of the Rev. John Hancock, of Lexington,
near Boston, and was born in 1703. Though he did not receive a collegiate
education, his learned and pious father was careful to have him well in­
structed in his youth, and to give him good advice for the regulation and con­
duct of life. His father was highly respected for his learning, influence, and
grave demeanor, and was generally called in his later years Bishop Hancock.
Thomas was so well educated, that he knew the value of learning, and was
ever ready to contribute to schools, to teachers of youth, and to the general
interests of literature.
Thomas was early placed in the store of M r.------ Henchman, of Boston,
an eminent stationer. But in a short time he expressed the opinion, that the
business was too limited and too small to give him employment, and he ma­
nifested a desire to enter more largely into trade. His means were not suffi­
cient to enable him to do this at once; but he soon accumulated property by
his industry, his active and persevering, though safe and reasonable enterprises.
H e was remarkably attentive and diligent in business, and soon acquired a
large estate, and became one of the first merchants in New England. His
habits of business, however, did not wholly engross his time ; he was active
and useful as a citizen, as a member of society, and of the christian church.
H e was never charged with oppressing the poor, or of withholding charity
where it was proper to give. The pursuit and possession of wealth, unhap­
pily, often hardens the kindly and sympathetic feelings of humanity, and
leads to luxury, pride, and narrowness of spirit. It had not this effect on Mr.
Hancock. He was not only strictly moral and upright; he was generous,
forbearing, and accommodating towards those dependent on him, or indebted
to him. The poor found in him a real friend— he never turned them away
empty from his door. His character was also that of a public-spirited man.
He gave liberally towards all works of charity, and to institutions for the relief
of the destitute and unfortunate. To the ministers of the gospel he was re­
markably hospitable, friendly, and liberal.*
■ * Thomas Hancock and Thomas Russell were liberal donors to the ancient church in
Brattle street.

Thomas Russell.


His nephew, John Hancock, was patronized by him, and enabled to engage
early in mercantile pursuits, with a prospect of great success. This distin­
guished patriot was indebted to the uncle for his ability to come forward in
life with a reputation and influence, which mere learning and virtue would not
have imparted to his character, and placed in a situation to render extensive
benefit to the cause of civil liberty. The uncle died in 1764, and gave great
part of his estate to his protege and relative, and this added to the influence of
the latter, already great indeed, arising from his courteous and popular man­
ners, and his known attachment to the constitutional liberty of the colonies.
Thomas Hancock left about twenty-five hundred pounds sterling, for public
uses. One thousand to Harvard college for founding a professorship of the He­
brew, and other Oriental languages; a large sum to be appropriated for
spreading the knowledge of Christianity among the native tribes; and six
hundred pounds for founding a hospital for the insane. He also intended to
have added to his donations in behalf of the university, particularly for in­
creasing the library. His nephew and heir generously gave a large amount
afterwards for that particular object, and was very desirous of fulfilling all the
liberal purposes of his deceased relative. The governors of the college were
so sensible of the great value of the gifts of the elder Hancock, that they pro­
cured a full-length portrait of him, painted by the celebrated Copley, and
placed it in the hall of the public library belonging to the institution. In all
the relations of life, Mr. Hancock was useful, faithful, and exemplary. Pro­
bity was a prominent trait in his character, in all his intercourse and dealings
with his fellow-men. “ He never fell short of his engagements or promises;
and his benevolence prompted him often to exceed them.” For the young
merchant such a character is worthy of all imitation.

T homas R ussell , Esq. was one of the most eminent merchants in Boston,
in the latter part of the last century. He died in 1796, at the age of fifty-six.
He was a native of Charlestown, near Boston ; and of one of the most respect­
able families in Massachusetts from the first settlement of the colony. Mr.
Russell was engaged in mercantile pursuits before the war of the Revolution.
He very early gave his attention to trade; for long before that period, it was
the path to wealth and eminence, owing, probably, to their good moral edu­
cation, and .the virtuous example of their seniors; they were alike industrious,
frugal, and honest. The merchants of that age were not avaricious, or selfish,
or oppressive. Success attended their enterprises; for navigation and foreign
commerce were then pursued only by a sufficient portion of the community
to render the enterprise profitable
The style of living was the opposite of all extravagance ; so that those who
made money became opulent, instead of expending as fast or faster than they
acquired. The merchants would now generally be in more easy circumstan­
ces at the age of fifty or sixty, if they were more frugal in their manner of
living. Dr. Franklin used to say, that economy was as necessary as indus­
try and enterprise. Solomon gave the same opinion nearly three thousand
years ago.
At the age of sixteen, young Russell discovered a disposition to be a mer­
chant, and was placed in the counting room of a Mr. Green, of Boston, one
of the most eminent of that profession. Mr. Green was not only an intelligent
merchant, but a man of strict probity, of exemplary morals, frugal, diligent,


Mercantile Biography.

and methodical. He attended personally to business; and in his regular vir­
tuous family, a young man was sure to have inducement to whatever was
praiseworthy and virtuous. The clerk or apprentice, at that period, usually
made one of the family of his master.
Before he was twenty, Mr. Russell visited Quebec, and there received a
consignment, which proved very profitable to him. A few years after, in
1761, he made a voyage to the West Indies, when there was war between
England and France. He was taken by the French, and lost all his property.
But this event brought him into acquaintance with an individual, able and dis­
posed to give him employment. Mr. Russell had with him some letters of
recommendation; and his own manners, activity, intelligence, and faith­
fulness, made him friends after a short intercourse. He also visited England.
After this period, Mr. Russell transacted business chiefly in Boston, but
had property and a store also in his native town. And when Charlestown
was burnt by the British in June, 1775, he lost a large part of his property.
In 1776, he made his permanent residence in Boston; and prosecuted the
business of a merchant, as far as the difficulty and hazard of the times would
permit. On the return of peace, he engaged more extensively in foreign
commerce. He was one of the first in the United States who engaged in the
Russian trade; he sent a large ship to that country as early as 1786; and the
voyage proving profitable, he sent two others the next year. For several
years, he was more extensively interested in this trade than any in Boston or
its vicinity; and indeed, in any other part of the country. But he did not con­
fine his commercial enterprise to Russia. H e had some vessels in the East
India trade, as early as any merchant in Boston: but several ships were pre­
viously sent to that distant country from Salem.
Mr. Russell was a delegate from Boston in the Convention of Massachu­
setts, for adopting the Federal Constitution in 1788 : and he had a good share
of influence in commending it to others. He showed the probable benefit it
would afford to foreign commerce. He had high expectations of its auspi­
cious effects on the prosperity of the United States ; and his predictions of the
impulse the general government would give to the interests of navigation
and trade, by establishing uniform laws and regulations throughout the
States. In 1794, when the treaty was made with England by Washington,
through the agency of Judge Jay, Mr. Russell was decidedly in favor of that
measure, as well a*of the general policy of that wise and prudent statesman.
There was a great clamor raised against the treaty, even before its provi­
sions were fully known. Strong prejudices were thus formed against it,
which the patriotic character of Washington, and the great confidence the
people had in his disinterested virtue, could scarcely remove or withstand.
Mr. Russell advocated the treaty, when not ten others in Boston dared open­
ly to vindicate it.
Mr. Russell was benevolent, liberal, and public spirited, in a degree equal­
led by very few of his contemporaries, or of those who have lived since his
time. Mr. Russell was one of the contributors to the monument on Beacon
Hill, (now taken down,) which bore an insciption of the great events of the
He bestowed a due portion of attention to business; but found much time
for the calls of charitable and religious societies. He was a member of all,
and president of most, of the important and useful associations then existing.
H e was President of the Boston Chamber of Commerce; of the Humane
Society of Massachusetts; of the Agricultural Society; of the Congregational

Commercial Regulations and Treaties.


Charitable Society, designed for the relief of the destitute widows of deceased
clergymen, who had Jett no estate; and of the Society for propagating the
Gospel among the Indians and others in North America. To the funds of
all these societies he contributed very liberally, and to three of them in quite
large sums. He presided in these societies with great promptness and pro­
priety. He was also president of the United States Branch Bank in Boston,
and of a society for assisting and giving advice to immigrants, many of whom
were destitute, and needed directions and employment.
Mr. Russell received a good common education, though not a stu­
dent in a college, having early decided to be a iherchant. But one of his
brothers was educated at Harvard College, and was an eminent physician ;
he received an honorary degree of M. D. from the university of Aberdeen.
Mr. Russell had a just estimation of the value of learning; and gave all his
sons (three) a college education.
Mr. Russell was often a member of the State Legislature for Boston ; and
one or two years had a seat at the Council Board, but declined a re-election,
on account of other numerous avocations. He was a valuable member of
the Congregational Church in Brattle Square. He never neglected his duty
in attending the services of the Lord’s house and day. He labored diligent­
ly six days, but devoted the seventh strictly to the worship of God, and the
hearing of his holy word. He could not be justly called rigid or bigotted ; his
religious views were what are usually called liberal. Nor was he, on the
other hand content with the profession or forms of religion: but appeared to
be a sincere and conscientious Christian. He was a liberal donor to the
church of which he was a member: and at his death a respectful notice was
taken ofhis character by his minister—and an eulogy was delivered also at
his funeral by Dr. JohnWarren, at the united request of the societies, of which
he was the respectable and respected President. His memory was honored
for his great moral worth, his varied usefulness, his well-regulated conduct,
his meritorious self-discipline and self-government.






The following regulations in relation to the bonded ports of M ^ico, are official, and
in pursuance of a law passed April, 1837, and which went into effect on the 25th of
June, 1839.
Art. 1. O n B o n d e d P o r t s .—Two bonded ports will be established for the time being
in the republic; one on the Gulf of Mexico, and the other on the southern coast; the first
will be situated at Vera Cruz, and the second at San Bias, but the warehouses of the
last one shal lbe located in the village of Jacolcotan, the height of which above the le­
vel of the sea affords many advantages for the preservation of goods, and a compara
tively mild cimate.
Art. 2. The government will order the necessary warehouses to be held ready at
Vera Cruz and built at Jacolcotan in the term of six months, and when this shall be
done, they will appoint the day to date from which the present decree will begin to be
carried into effect on both seas.
A rt. 3. Should there be found afterwards in other ports, whose locality may beproper and well adapted for the purpose, the necessary requisites of buildings capable to
serve as warehouses, safety for them, and every thing else, (all of which shall be proved
by means of scientific surveys,) they shall be declared bonded ports, if the interests of
the republic should require it.
Art. 4. All manufactures, produce, and goods, kept in the bonded warehouses, whe­
ther they be national or foreign property, shall be under the safeguard of the law s; and
the property of foreigners existing in the deposit shall never be violated even by repri­


Commercial Regulations and Treaties.

sals in case of war, or for any other motive which may oppose the protecting laws in
relation to Mexican property.
Art. 5. All goods placed in the bonded warehouses can remain there for the term of
one year; but on the expiration of this period, their owners or consignees must necessa­
rily take them out in the space of eight days, for if these elapse without the exporta­
tion being effected, the goods shall be offered at a public sale, and sold to the highest
bidder by the collector ; and after having deducted the storage on them, and the duties
prescribed by the general tariff law concerning maritime custom houses, the remain­
ing sum shall be delivered to the owner or consignee.
Art. 6. The amount of storage for bonded goods shall be half per cent, if their per­
manency in them be less than four months; one per cent if it be less than eight
months, and one and a half per cent if it should reach eight months. The periods are
to be dated from the day in which use is made of the permission given for
the deposit in the warehouses; and the prices of the goods shall be the basis
for the liquidation of the per centage of storage in this form. Respecting those
which are subjected to nomenclature, there shall be added to the share it may
assign them twice as much and a third part more of the same share; and the sum of
this, and the addition made, will give the quantum upon which liquidation of the per
centage of storage must be drawn. As relates to the goods which are paid for accord­
ing to the invoice, there shall be deducted the said per centage from the value of the
same invoice, and moreover, the difference resulting from their quality, according to
the forty-second article of the general tariff law of the 11th of last March.
Art. 7. The sums accruing from the storage of goods, shall be necessarily laid out
for the payment of the officers, clerks, and servants of the warehouses, for expenses pe­
culiar to them, for the repair and melioration of the same, or for the building of others
when they may not be found sufficient for the purpose; for replacing, meliorating, and
building quays ; and for the works which may be necessary for the safety of the port,
and the convenience of its operations in loading and unloading.
Art. 8. In order that the provisions of the preceding article may be exactly fulfilled,
the produce of storage shall be kept in a separate coffer having three keys; one for the
collector, another for the accomptant, and the other one for the political authority residing
at the port. The collector and accomptant shall be reponsible for the faithful and com­
plete introduction into the coffer of the mentioned produce, and shall give daily notice
to said political authority of the sums which may have been collected on account of
storage, that he may have been present with his key to witness the introduction of the
precited sums into the coffer, or appoint for that purpose some person of his trust.
Art. 9. The respective commissary shall make a monthly balance of the sums exist­
ing in the coffer; and if he should find any deficiency in them, he shall exact on the
spot the restoration of them, and likewise, the responsibility of the guilty functionary
or functionaries.
Art. 10. The government is at liberty to enter immediately into a contract for the
more pressing works, provided estimates, public offers, and all other formalities which
the case requires, have been previously complied with.
Art. 11. O n the a d m is s io n o f g o o d s in to th e B o n d e d W a re h o u s e s .—From the day ap­
pointed by governmfcit, all manufactures, produce, and goods, which may be presented
for the purpose, shall be admitted into the bonded warehouses, whether they be import­
ed in national or foreign vessels belonging to any power not then at war with the
Mexican nation.
Art. 12. All manufactures, produce, and goods, which are free of duty, shall be ex­
empted from the grant made in the preceding article, likewise those prohibited accord­
ing to the laws extant at the tim e; and also all goods capable of combustion, even
without coming in contact with fire.
Art. 13. The consignee of the cargo shall ask by writing, before unloading the ves­
sel, a permission from the collector to introduce the goods they may design into ware­
houses, accompanied with an invoice of them describing the marks of each bale ; the
number of these, which shall be expressed in writing and ciphers ; the pieces con­
tained in each bale, classifying in writing and ciphers the number, weight or measure
in width and length, belonging to the kind of merchandise in question.
Art. 14. The petition shall necessarily contain, besides a clear clause of obligation
on the part of the consignee to satisfy in due time the storage and importation duties
accruing on the goods, in accordance with the tariff law extant on the day of the arri­
val of the vessel at the port.
Art. 15. The collector will compare the invoice of petition with the private invoices
of the cargo; and if he finds them, and the petition likewise, in accordance with the
provisions of the preceding articles, he will sign his permission beneath the invoice of
the same petition, which shall be referred to the commander of the custom-house offi­

Bonded Ports o f Mexico.


cers, after having marked on the private invoices, the goods which are to be deposited.
Art. 16. When said commander will have received the permission for deposit, he
shall order the unloading of the vessel, and the proper separation to be made on the
wharf of the goods, according to the invoice of petition and permission for deposit,
which may have to go to the bonded warehouses.
Art. 17. All goods having to be conducted to the bonded warehouses, shall be car­
ried to them directly from the wharf, guarded by an escort composed of the custom­
house officers, which their commander may select for this purpose, with the advice of
the collector, who is at liberty to appoint an officer of the custom-house. Said officers
on accompanying the goods shall take with them the permission for deposit, and shall
deliver both to the storekeeper, who after being satisfied of the bales, numbers and
marks being in order, shall sign a receipt for them to the conductors, and give notice
of it to the collector, that he may cause the examination of the goods to be made.
Art. 18. The examination shall be immediately effected, in accordance with the 45th
article of the general tariff law of the 11th inst., and every thing being right, the per­
mission for deposit will be considered as fulfilled, entering it on the books and giving
notice of it to the accomptant’s office, that the same operation be effected there.
Art. 19. If it should result fiom the examination that any of the provisions of the
tariff law extant at the time of importation has been violated, it will be acted upon ac­
cording to the same law.
Art. 20. After the examination being effected, all the bales shall be sealed with a
seal belongingto the custom house, and another to the consignee. These seals shall
be placed so as to prevent opening any bale without before breaking it. The custom
house seal, shall express the year and the custom-house to which it should belong.
These seals are to be destroyed every year, and new ones made, differing from the
Art. 21. All officers who shall allow, or do not take notice of the goods destined to
the bonded warehouses, being carried to them without the proper escort or without the
permission in writing from the collector, shall suffer, as abettors of the fraud, the
punishment pointed out by the decree of 17th February last, in its 56th, 57th, and 58th
articles, according to the importance of the crime, and if the exportation of the goods
be made without the observance of said formalities by the owners or consignees, or by
one or more of the officers bribed by the first for this purpose, the goods shall be for­
feited, and the owners or consignees shall pay a fine of twenty per cent, on the value of
the same goods, according to the current price of the market in which they may have
been imported.
Art. 22. R e g u la tio n s f o r B o n d e d W a re h o u se s .—All bonded warehouses shall be as
near as possible to the ports, separated from other inhabited buildings, and far from
manufactories and workshops in which fire is used. They are to be built so as to
prevent robberies and damages of any kind, being at the same time airy and perfectly
safe according to known principles.
Art. 23. All goods bonded shall be stored so as to facilitate the removal of any bale
in order that the owners may dispose of them when it suits them.
Art. 24. All liquids and provisions shall be put in separate warehouses; and care
shall be taken to do the same with regard to all other goods known under the denomi­
nation of a b a r ro te s .
Art. 25. Whilst goods shall remain in the warehouses, its owners will be at liberty
to show and even to sell them. In this second case, notice of it must be given to the
collector, signed by the seller and the purchaser. Importers of goods shall be respon­
sible for all storage or any other duties established by the tariff law for maritime cus­
tom-house, extant at the time of their importation, unless this obligation be transferred
by an agreement of both the seller and the purchaser to the latter, the collector remain­
ing at liberty to accept the new security if it be entirely satisfactory to him ; but if this
is not the case, the responsibility of the importer shall continue to be obligatory.
Art. 26. If any advantages should result from that operation, they nowise can serve
to lengthen the established term of one year, which nevertheless will be dated from the
day of fulfilment at the warehouse of the permission for deposit.
'Art. 27. All lists of introduction or removal of goods from the bonded warehouses
shall be drawn with the same formalities, and after the same method followed at a
judge’s office, in regard to prisoners.
Art. 28. Register books concerning bonded warehouses shall be kept at the accomp­
tant’s office, making out the introduction of goods into them, from the fulfilled permis­
sions for deposits; and their removal, from the justificated documents of the same.
Art. 29. Bonded warehouse; shall be opened and shut up at the same hours with the
custom-house, its doors shall have four keys, one of which will be for the collector,
another for the accomptant, another for the chief store keeper, and the remaining one


Commercial Regulations and Treaties.

for the second storekeeper. Both chiefofficers of the custom-houses shall attend alter­
nately the bonded warehouses all the time their duty may permit them, and in absence
of both there shall be present at the warehouse a subordinate officer of their trust which
they may appoint for the purpose.
Art. 30. O n th e r e m o v a l o f d e p o s ite d G o o d s .—The removal of deposited goods may
be effected whenever the owner or consignee asks for it by means of a formal petition,
in which the date and number of the petition he made for deposit is to be mentioned.
The collector will order that document to be put with the rest, and will write on it his
permission for the removal, returning it to the warehouse that it may be effected. If only
a part of the goods contained in the petition and permission for deposit is to be taken
out of the warehouse, the store keeper will mark it on the same document, returning it
afterwards to the accomptant’s office.
Art. 31. Before the removal of goods, a new examination shall be made of the bales
not examined at the time of deposit; and the same is to be done even with regard to
goods already examined, if the collector or surveyor of the custom-house should deem it
proper. The second examination shall be made with the same formalities practised on
depositing goods.
Art. 3*2. Before the removal of goods, storage is to be paid, and the importation duties
settled or security given for them, according to the terms prescribed by the general tariff
for maritime custom-houses, and by the law of the 11th of December, 1833.
Art. 33. The periods for the settlement of importation duties are to be dated from the
day of the removal of goods from the bonded warehouses.
Art. 34. After security has been given for payment of duties, the owner of goods
remains at liberty either to have them carried wherever he may choose into the repub­
lic, with the proper permit; or to export them abroad.
Art. 35. If at the time ot taking out goods they should be found entirely damaged by
unavoidable accident, which is to be proved by an examination made before the owner,
by the collector, accomptant, surveyors, and the commander of custom-house officers,
then the importation duties on them shall not be exacted, and only the storage must be
paid, and they shall be either entirely destroyed and thrown into the sea at a great
distance from the coast or burnt.
Art. 36. If any part of those goods should prove to be in a good condition, the sur­
veyors in the presence and with the advice of the collector, the accomptant, and the
commander of the custom-house officers, shall fix the average damage on the whole of
them, exacting the proper importation duties, according to the result.
Art. 37. All goods fraudulently drawn out of the warehouse by the owner or con­
signee, shall be forfeited if they should be seized; and if this be not the case, their value
shall be exacted at the rate of the current market price. If it should be the owner or
consignee who extracts the goods or attempts to do it, by scaling the warehouse, break­
ing its doors, making use of master-keys, or opening them with the proper ones at
any hour different from those appointed for the public service of the same warehouse,
he shall suffer, besides the penalty of forfeiture, a fine of triple the value of the goods
according to the current market price, and three years imprisonment. The non exhibi­
tion of the fine shall be punished by increasing the time of imprisonment at the rate of
six months for each thousand dollars.
Art. 38. Any violation of the warehouse by employing some of the means mention­
ed in the preceding article, to extract from it goods belonging to another, shall be
punished according to the penalties established by law for the crime of robbery of the
public treasures, breaking or opening its coffers.
Art. 39. If it should be proved that any officer has contributed or connived at the per­
petration of the crimes mentioned in the preceding articles, he shall be judged and pun­
ished as if he were a domestic robber, false to the trust reposed in him, and as if he had
opened or broke open the coffers, and shall be held responsible for compensation of da­
mages to the persons concerned, and to the public treasure.
Art. 40. No compensation will be made at the warehouse, for the waste or wear of
goods deposited in it.

The S t a a t s C o u r a n t , published at the Hague, July 30th, contains a royal ordinance
promulgating the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between the Netherlands and
the United States of America.
The United States of America and his Majesty the King of the Netherlands, anxious
to regulate the commerce and navigation carried on between the two countries in their
respective vessels, have, for that purpose, named plenipotentiaries; that is to say, the
President of the United States has appointed John Forsyth, Secretary of State of the

Commercial Regulations and Treaties.


said United States, and his Majesty the King of the Netherlands has appointed Jonkheer Evert Marius Adrian Martini, member of the Body of Nobles of the Province of
North Brabant, Knight of the order of the Netherlands Lion, and his Charge d’A f­
faires in the United States, who having exchanged their respective full powers, found
in good and due form, have agreed to the following articles:
Art. 1. Goods and merchandise, whatever their origin may be, imported into, or ex­
ported from, the ports of the United States, from or to the ports of the Netherlands in
Europe, in vessels of the Netherlands, shall pay no higher or other duties than shall be
levied on the like goods and merchandise as imported or exported in national vessels.
And reciprocally, goods and merchandise, whatever their origin may be, imported into
or exported from the ports of the Netherlands in Europe, from or to the ports of the
United States, in vessels of the said States, shall pay no higher or other duties than
shall be levied on the like goods and merchandise so imported or exported in national
vessels. The bounties, drawbacks, or other in vors of this nature, which may be granted
in the states of either of the contracting parses on goods imported or exported in na­
tional vessels, shall also, and in like manner, be granted on goods directly exported or
imported in vessels of the other country to and from the pons of the two countries, it
being understood that in the latter, as in the preceding case, the goods shall have been
loaded in the ports from which such vessels shall have been cleared.
Art. 2. Neither party shall impose upon the vessels of the other, whether carrying
cargoes between the United States, and the ports of the Netherlands in Europe, or ar­
riving in ballast from any other country, any duties of tonnage, harbor dues, light­
houses, salvage, pilotage, quarantine, or port charge of any kind or denomination, which
shall not be imposed in like cases on national vessels.
Art. 3. It is further agreed between the two contracting parties, that the Consuls and
Vice Consuls of the United States, in the ports of the Netherlands in Europe, and recip­
rocally, the Consuls and Vice Consuls of the Netherlands in the ports of the said States,
shall continue to enjoy all privileges, protection, and assistance, as may be usual and
necessary for the duly exercising of their functions, in respect also of the deserters from
the vessels, whether public or private, of their countries.
Art. 4. The contracting parties agree to consider and treat as vessels of the United
States and of the Netherlands, all such as, being furnished by the competent authorities
with a passport or sea letter, shall, under the then existing laws and regulations, be re­
cognised as national vessels by the countries to which they respectively belong.
Art. 5. In the case of shipwreck or damage at sea, each party shall grant to the ves­
sels, whether public or private, of the other, the same assistance and protection which
would be afforded to its own vessels in like cases.
Art. 6. The present treaty shall be in force for the term often years, commencing six
weeks after the exchange of the ratifications, and further, until the end of twelve months
after either of the contracting parties shall have given to the other notice of its inten­
tion—each of the contracting parties reserving to itself the right of giving such notice
to the other after the expiration of the term often years; and it is hereby mutually agreed,
that in case of such notice, this treaty, and all the provisions thereof, shall, at the end of
the said twelve months, altogether cease and determinate.
Art. 7. The present treaty shall be ratified, ai d the ratifications shall be exchanged
at Washington, within six months of itsdate, or sooner if practicable.
In witness whereof, the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed the same, and have
affixed thereto the seal of their arms.
Done, in duplicate, at the city of Washington, this nineteenth day of January, in the
year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-nine
(L. S.)
(L. S.)

The following Decree is, by order of the Brazilian Government, published for the in­
formation of all whom it may concern:
Decree raising the duties on Wines and Liquors, of foreign produce, imported into
Brazil, and directing the entry of Liquids and Wheat Flour during the financial year
of 1839 to 1840:
The Regent, in the name of the Emperor Don Pedro II., by virtue of the authority
conferred on the Government, by the twentieth Article of the Law, of the twentieth of
October, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight, number sixty, decrees as fol­
lows :
Art. 1. During the financial year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-nine to one
thousand eight hundred and forty, all the Wines imported into Brazil, and all Liquors
VOL. I . --- NO. IV.


Commercial Regulations and Treaties.

of foreign produce, shall pay at the custom-house a duty of fifty per centum, including
therein all charges to which such articles were subjected until the present time, with
the exception of those of storage.
Section additional. All Wines and Liquors being the produce of countries with which
Brazil has existing treaties, are exempted from the foregoing provisions.
Art. 2. The entry of Liquids in general, and of Wheat Flour of foreign produce,
shall be made according to the prices fixed by a weekly valuation, to be made at each
Custom-house, by a committee composed of capable persons, of whom the Collector of
the respective Custom-house shall be one.
Candido Baptista de Oliveira, of the Council of His Imperial Majesty, Minister
and Secretary of State for the Foreign Affairs, and charged by interim of Finances,
and the Presidency of the Tribunal of the National Public Treasury, will so under­
stand its provisions, and cause them to be executed, issuing for that purpose the neces­
sary orders.
Palace of Rio de Janeiro, 6th May, 1839, 18th year of the Independence and of the
P e d r o de A r a u jo L i m a .
C a n d id o B a p tis ta de O liv e ir a .

New York, 12th September, 1839.
D io n iz io de A zeved o P eca n h a ,

Consul General.

D e p a r tm e n t o f F o r e ig n A ffa ir s , P a r i s , J u l y 2 1 th ,
T o the C o n su l G e n e ra l o f F r a n c e , N e w Y o r k :


Sir:—The great inconvenience experienced by the Sanitary and Police depart­
ments, from the neglect in the port of Havre of the law relative to passports without in­
dividual bills of health, with which the passengers in the New York packets ought to
be provided, has compelled the Minister of Agriculture and Commerce to issue the
strictest orders on the subject, in conformity with which he has directed the Health
Officer of Havre henceforth to require a bill of health from each passenger arriving
from North America; and to ensure the execution of the measure, he has farther
1st.—To place in quarantine every packet arriving from New York, which shall have
on board any passenger unpi’ovided with a bill of health.
2nd.—To summon the captain before the court, to answer for the infringement of the
19th article of Ordinance of the 16th of August, 1822, passed in conformity with the
law of the 3d of March, 1822, relative to the Sanitary Police.
You are aware, sir, that according to the terms of the seventh article of the above
ordinance, vessels are subject to a q u a r a n tin e of greater or less duration, according to
the state of health on board. The penalty against the captain is determined by the 13th
article of the law of the 3d of March, 1822, which runs thus :
u Whoever shall violate the quarantine laws, or the general or local regulations or
ordinances of the competent authorities, shall be subjected to imprisonment from three
to five days, and to a fine not less than five nor exceeding fifty francs.”
As the Minister of Agriculture and Commerce thinks that it would be too severe to
require the immediate application of a measure which has not hitherto been enforced,
he has decided, in order that the captains of the American packets may be duly fore­
warned, that the above quarantine regulations shall not take place till the 1st of Septem­
ber next, (1839.)
You will please, sir, give the necessary notification of this to the merchants of NewYork. The minister of the interior will give similar orders to the authorities of Havre,
relative to the passports which you have not certified.
The Consul General of France, D e L a f o r e s t .

There probably was never since the existence of the world an exercise of despotic
power, displayed in the promotion of a m o r a l object, comparable to that recently exhi­
bited by the Emperor of China, in the suppression of the trade in opium within his
dominion. It has been long contraband, but ordinary acts of government were not
sufficient for its suppression. The Emperor has at last tried the last resort of despotic
action in China, the giving of the Imperial Seal to his highest officer, Linn, and hold­
ing him responsible for the issue. The consequence has been, that the amount of opium
given up to the government was no less than 20,283 chests, valued at £3,000,000 ster­
ling, or near $15,000,000.




D a i l y c o m p a riso n o f the p r o g r e s s o f the stea m s h ip s G r e a t W e ste rn a n d B r i t i s h Q u e e n ,
ic ith e x tr a c ts f r o m th e p u b lish e d o fficia l r e p o r ts a f te r th e g r e a t r a ce a c ro ss the A tla n tic ,
c o m m e n c in g a t 2 p . m . A u g u s t ls £ , 1839, a t w h ic h tim e the Q u e e n w a s f o u r o r fiv e
m ile s a s te r n o f the W e s te r n ; f i r s t p u b lis h e d in th e B r i s t o l M i r r o r , o f A u g u s t 2 1 , 1839.

Aug. 1.
Aug. 2.
Aug. 3.



Aug. 1. Seven p . m ., tops of British
Glueen’s paddle boxes just in sight.
Aug. 2. At noon British Glueen’s smoke
bore SW ^W about 25 miles; gain on
reported distance 15 miles.
Aug. 3. British Glueen’s smoke boreW.
by N. Distance 30 or 40 miles. Gain
by reported distance 20 miles.
Aug. 4. At 4 p . m . lost sight of smoke.
Gained by reported distance 21 miles.
Aug. 5. Gain by reported distance 24
Lat. 42 28
Lon. 54 32
Aug. 6.
Lat. 44 40
Lon. 49 40
Aug. 7. Gain by distance reported 20
Lat. 46 35
Lon. 44 32
Aug. 8. Gain by distance reported 29
Lat. 48 26
Lon. 38 56
Aug. 9.
Lat. 49 55
Lon. 33 20
Aug. 10. Gain by reported distance 7
Lat. 51 11
Lon. 27 15
Aug. 11. Gain by reported distance 8
Lat. 51 30
Lon. 20 42

Aug. 4. Sweet, wholesome breeze, lat.
41 06, Ion. 60 33. Distance run,239 miles.
Aug. 5. Ship getting lighter and more
lively, smooth sea, 14 revolutions, run­
ning off cheerily, lat. 41 17, Ion. 55 39.
Run 330 miles.
Aug. 6. Glueen dancing merrily over the
seas, lat. 41 58, Ion. 53 00. Distance
run, 220 miles.
Aug. 7. The Glueen leaped over the bil­
lows with infinite grace, lat. 43 21, Ion.
46 38. Distance run, 224 miles.
Aug. 8. Charming morning; going ahead
with all imaginable dignity, lat. 44 06,
Ion. 40 47. Distance run, 224 miles.
Aug. 9. Engines on this day, an incom­
parable mass of machinery, work with
great ease and exactitude, lat. 44 48, Ion.
36 14. Distance run, 202 miles.
Aug. 10. Mild and cheerful morning,
gentle breezes—Glueen dancing over the
waves light as a fox, lat. 45 57, Ion. 30
53. Distance run, 237 miles.
Aug. 11. Running with noiseless rapidity,
engines running at a tremendous rate.
The Glueen careers over the mighty wa­
ters in all the plenitude of majesty, lat.
47 15, Ion. 25 25. Run 233 miles.
Aug. 12. Going with inconceivable stea­ Aug. 12. By published lat. and Ion. equal
diness, lat. 48 32, Ion. 19 15. Distance
distance run.
Lat. 51 35
Lon. 14 3
run, 232 miles.
Aug. 13. The Glueen, as she approaches Aug. 13. By difference of lat. and Ion.
her dominions, quickens her step, al­
distance run in favor of the Great Wes­
Lat. 51 5
ways solicitous to show her subjects she
Lon. 7 22
is mistress of the seas, lat. 49 30, Ion.
12 28. Distance run, 255 miles.
Aug. 14. Light tortoise shell clouds, lat. Aug. 14. Great Western anchored in
49 34, Ion. 5 25. Distance run, 277 miles.
Kingroad at 5 30 a . m ., after running 190
Thirteen days and nineteen hours to Ports­
miles, and against a whole ebb from
Lundy, and thereby going 18 miles
more, or 212 miles in 174 hours, or near­
ly 12 knots per hour.
The difference in time of starting and arriving, allowing half an hour for the Great
Western’s start before the Gueen, was 27 hours. The reported speed of the Glueen, for
the last day’s run, was at the rate of 11J knots per hour. The difference of longitude



between Spithead and Kingroad is 1U degrees, or 57 miles; (in time, five hours.)
The total gain of the Western has, consequently, been 22 hours in time, or, according
to the Queen’s rate of going, (H i knots per hour,) 253 nautical miles. The Great Wes­
tern was at sea 297 hours: her gain, therefore, on the Queen, has been very nearly
6-7ths of a nautical mile per hour.
The Alton Telegraph calculates as follows the list of steamboats lost or consider­
ably injured on the western waters during the year 1838:
Whole number eighty ; of which there were
Blown up................................................................... 8
Collapsed................................................................... 6
Burst steam pipe........................................................ 2
B u rn t........................................................................ 2
Snagged..................................................................... 37
Sunk........................................................................... 17
Collision..................................................................... 2
Of these, 13 were lost on the Ohio, 50 on the Lower Mississippi, 5 on the Upper Mis­
sissippi, 2 on the Missouri, 2 on the Illinois, 1 on the Arkansas, 1 on the Red River, 1
in the Gulf of Mexico, and 3 in other places.

Messrs. Fenney &Co., of Baltimore, have recently patented an improved Camboose.
It is so constructed as to be adapted to the purposes of cooking, and to the distillation
of fresh from salt water at the same time, and is said by those who have seen it in use,
to answer admirably both these objects. The invention of a cheap and expeditious
method of extracting fresh water from salt, has long been a desideratum to mariners,
which is now most happily supplied, and we doubt not the article will be brought into
general use. The Editor of the Baltimore Post, who witnessed its operations, says,
that nothing could be more satisfactory than the quantity of fresh water obtained in a
very short time. It distilled at the rate of two gallons per hour, with a slow fire : thus,
during the space of twelve hours, twenty-four gallons could be obtained with only a
moderate fire ; and, in case of necessity, a much larger quantity could be distilled by
increasing the fire. The stove is perfectly simple, and consumes no more fuel than
ordinary cooking stoves. A vessel having one of these cambooses, can dispense with
the great number of water casks they are obliged to carry, and thus have more room
for freight. The water is perfectly fresh, and seafaring men pronounced it infinitely
better than can be obtained at sea after one or two weeks.


1, 1839.

A dopted, b y th e U n d e r w r ite r s o f B o s to n , M a r c h
v e s s e l s o n t im e .

R is k s o n T i m e o n V essels o f T w o H u n d r e d T o n s , a n d u p w a r d s .

On Vessels valued at 75 to GOdollars per to n ,........................ 5J per cent per annum.


60 to 50



50 to 40
............................................ 6J
40 to 30
............................................ 8
Under 30 ..
.. at a proportionate increase of premium.
If north of latitude fifty degrees, and east of longitude two degrees, between the first
of October and the first of March, one per cent additional premium to be paid.
R is k s o n V essels o f s m a lle r s iz e s , u s u a lly e m p lo y e d i n the W est I n d ia tr a d e , a n d o n
sh o rt v o y a g e s .

[If engaged in more favorable employment than the W est India trade, or on short
voyages, the insurers may place them under the rates for vessels of 200 tons and up­
wards, instead of the following:]
On Vessels valued at 75 to 60 dollars per to n ,................ 6 to 8 per cent per annum.
60 to 50
................................... 8 to 9
50 to 40
........................ 9 to 10
40 to 30
................................... 10 to 11



On Vessels valued at 30 to 20 dollars per ton .................11 to 12 per cent, per annum.
Under 20
........................ 12 and upwards
To add two per cent., if in the West India Islands or Seas, or in the Gulf of Mexico,
between the 15th July and the 15-h October.

O c t. 15 to J u l y 15 to
J u l y 15. O c t. 15.

From Atlantic ports to south side of Cuba, or from,............................
to north side of Cuba, or from,............................
to Porto Rico, Hayti, and Windward Islands,
or fro m ................................................................................
If partial loss on less than the whole invoice, £ per cent, to be added.
Double premium on deck load, with 10 per cent, average, &c.
If several passages insured together, rates for the passages to be added together.
Company to retain 10 per cent, of return premium on short property.

O u tw a r d , r is k s .

N o v . 1 U F eb . 1 to A u g . 1 to
F eb . 1. A u g . 1.
N o v . 1.

2 to 21
To Belgium, Holland, and Germany, or North Sea........ 11 t>2
H to 2
11 to 2
To ports in the Mediterranean not east of Sicily & Malta
To ..

11 to 2
l i to H
l i to i f
11 to ll
l i to 11
If to 2


to 2i
to 2i
to 2i
to 2i



F eb . 1 tf• O ct. 1 ifO c t. 1.
F eb . 1.

l i to 11
l i to If I f to 2
To Great Britain, France, and Ireland, (not in the Mediterranean,) l i to 1! l i to 11
l i to li l i to I f
To a port in the Mediterranean not east of Sicily and M alta........ l i
l i w. ad.
To ..
................. H to 11 Ii to I f
If in the North Sea, between 1st October and 1st March, 1 per cent, to be added.
£ per cent to be added for each port used in the Mediterranean more than one.
£ per cent to be added, if partial loss allowed on less than the whole invoice.
£ per cent, may be deducted from the above rates, on cotton.
H o m e w a r d R is k s .

To Atlantic ports from ports in the North Sea, l£; add £ for sailing between October 1
and March 1.
from Great Britain and Ireland, general cargoes, l£.
from Great Britain and Ireland, dry goods, average on each package,
1£; hardware, If.
from Havre, dry goods, average on each package, l£.
from South of Europe, not in the Mediterranean, l£ to 1£.
from ports in the Mediterranean, not beyond Sicily, l£ ; add £ for
each port used more than one.
from ports in the Mediterranean, beyond Sicily, l£ ; add £ for each
port used more than one.



If to ports in Gu'.f of Mexico, 4 per cent, to be added.
Partial loss on sheet iron, iron wire, brazier’s rods, iron hoops, and tin plates, excepted

F ro m , the U n ite d S ta te s .

To the Pacific, not north of Lima, If. Add 4 for each port used more than one.
out and home, 3. Same additions.
To the Pacific, north of Lima, 2j. Same additions.
out and home, 5. Same additions.
Voyages to the Pacific, on time, 5 per cent, per annum on vessels; 4J per annum on
To Sumatra, and back to United States, pepper voyages, 4 percent.
To Java, Singapore, or Padang, one p o r t, If. Add 4 for each port more than one.
To Bay of Bengal, 1J. Add 4 for each port more than one.
To Canton or M anilla; to e ith e r , 14. Add 4 if to both; add 4 if against the monsoon.
Prom ports in India, China, or the Pacific, to the United States, same rates home­
ward as outward.
From such ports to Europe, same rates as to United States; to add 1 per cent., if in
the North Sea between 1st October and 1st March.
For touching at Cape Good Hope, 4 per cent, to be added.
For voyages on time, beyond Cape Good Hope, 4 per cent, per annum.
From Batavia'to or from Canton or Manilla, 4 per cent. Add 4 if against the mon­
From Canton to or from Manilla, 4 to |.
H alf per cent to be added for each passage in the China Seas against the monsoon.
If partial loss allowed on less than the whole invoice, 4 per cent, to be added.
Ten per cent, of return premium on short property to be retained, not exceeding one
half per cent.
The northeast or unfavorable monsoon in the China seas, for the outward passage,
is from 1st October to 1st April.
The southwest or unfavorable monsoon, returning, is from April 1 to October 1.
The North Sea, as referred to in this Tariff, shall be considered as comprehending
all places north of Lat. 50 north, and east of Long. 2 east.

R is k s b etw een th e U n ite d S ta l e s a n d E a s t C o a st o f S o u th A m e r ic a .

From Atlantic ports to or from ports in Brazil, except Rio Grande, 14; add 4 for each
port more than one.
.. "
to or from Rio Grande and La Plata, 2 per cent to either; add 4
if to both.
If partial loss allowed on less than whole invoice, 4 per cent to be added.
Company to retain 10 per cent o f return premium on short property.
R is k s b etw een E u r o p e a n d E a s t C o a st o f S o u th A m e r ic a .

From Brazil to or from a port in the Mediterranean or south of Europe, 14 per cent,
to or from a port in the North Sea, 1 | per cent,
to or from a port in the Baltic, 2 per cent.
If from Rio Grande and La Plata, add 4 percent.
I f partial loss allowed on less than the whole invoice, 4 per cent, to be added.
Company to retain ten per cent, o f return premium on short property.

Sailing prior to September 1st, 14 per cent.

from 1st September to 10th, inclusive, If percent,
from- 11th September to 20th, inclusive, 2 per cent,
from 21st September to 30th, inclusive, 2 4 per cent,
from 1st October to 10th, inclusive, 3 per cent,
from 11th October to 20th, inclusive, 3f per cent,
from 21st October to 31st, inclusive, 44 per cent,
after 31st October, 5 per cent.
I f to ports in the Gulf of Mexico, 4 per cent, to be added.
I f partial loss on less than the whole invoice, 4 per cent, to be added.
I f short property, 10 per cent, o f return premium to be retained.




\ o v . 1 to A p r il 1 to A u g . 1 to
A p r il 1. A u g . 1. N o v . 1.

To or from ports in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Vine-

i to f

To or from New York City and places on North R iver.. |
To or from ports in Delaware and Chesapeake B ays---- l

i to J


J to i 1 to
i t o t i to
to H 1 to j f to
to If 1 to l£ l i to
to If H to 1} 2 to



F r o m the a b o ve r a te s m a y be d e d u c te d :

On cotton, metals, and salted provisions in casks, to or from ports in the Gulf of
Mexico, one quarter per cent., and on the same articles to or from ports in the United
States, north of Florida, one eighth per cent.
On manufactured tobacco, from Virginia, one eighth per cent, maybe deducted.
On deck loads, double premium to be charged, with condition not to be liable for par­
tial loss under ten per cent., and not to be liable for damage by wet or exposure.
If there be any lime on board, as cargo or freight, fifty per cent, to be added to the pre­
mium for the passage.
If partial loss be allowed on less than the whole invoice, one quarter per cent, to be
added on risks to or from the Gulf of Mexico, and one eighth per cent, on risks north of
In case of over insurance, ten per cent, of the return premium to be retained by the in­
When several passages are insured in the same policy, the rates for each passage to
be added together.
Specie may be insured at two thirds the rates on merchandise.

P r i o r to A f te r
A u g . 1. A u g . 1.

2 per ct.



per ct.

2i “
From Cuba to London or Liverpool................................................. l i “
f per cent, to be added if the vessel touches at a port in the United States for any
purpose whatever.
i per cent, to be added if partial loss allowed on less than the whole invoice.
From the Baltic to Cuba, see rates above.
From European ports without the Baltic, same rates as outward risks, with same ad­
ditions for being in the West Indies in hurricane season.

If there be any lime on board, on cargo or on freight, fifty per cent, to be added to the
premium for the passage.
If any goods are shipped and insured as on deck, not less than double premium to be
charged, with condition not to be liable for damage by wet or exposure, nor for partial
loss under ten per cent.
The northeast or unfavorable monsoon in the China seas, for outward passages to
China, is from the first day of October to the first day of April.
The southwest or unfavorable monsoon, for homeward passages, is from the first day
of April to the first day of October.
The hurricane months, in the West India latitudes, are from the fifteenth day of July
to the fifteenth day of October, and said latitudes shall be considered as being within
the parallels of 10 degrees and 28 degrees of north latitude, and 58 degrees and 86 degrees
of west longitude.
The North Sea, as expressed for additional premiums for winter months, (viz.: from
the first day of October to the first day of March,) is considered north of latitude 50 de­
grees north, and east of longitude 2 degrees east.



If average be allowed on less than the whole invoice, \ per cent, is to be added on
voyages to or from foreign ports, and ports in the Gulf of Mexico, and £ per cent, is to
be added on coastwise risks north of Florida.
In all cases of over insurance, ten per cent, of the return premium is to be retained by
the insurers, not exceeding £ per cent., on the amount of short property.
Premiums on vessels and freights not to be less than those on cargoes of general mer­
chandise for same voyages.
Specie, excepting to port or ports beyond the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn, to be
insured as the parties may agree: provided, that it shall never be at a greater reduction
than one third from the rates herein fixed for merchandise on the same passage.
Specie, to port or ports beyond the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn, to be consi­
dered the same as merchandise.
When several passages are included in the same policy, the rates for each passage
are to be added together.
If insurance be made from foreign ports to port or ports of discharge, or final port of
discharge, in the United States, the coastwise premium to be added for each port used,
more than one, in the United States.
W ith regard to risks not provided for in this tariff, it is agreed, that the parties are
to make contracts at discretion : but it is expected that the companies will require rates
equivalent to those named in this tariff on risks of like value, acting in good faith, and
not taking one risk for a lower rate in consideration of receiving the tariff rates on
F r o m a n d a f te r th e fir s t d a y o f M a rc h , 1839.
All credits shall commence on the commencement of the risk, or as near that com­
mencement as can be ascertained at the time of taking the risk.
All premium notes shall be considered as due on the expiration of the credit express­
ed in the note, unless the risk shall not have terminated, in which case it shall be sixty
•days after the termination of the risk ; and, if not then paid, interest shall be exacted
from that time till paid.

Westlndies, Spanish Main, Gulf of Mexico, Honduras..


F ro m .


4 •

T o and
fro m .

18 ms.

W est Coast of America....................................................
W est Indies, Europe, and back, 10 months.
Brazils, Europe, and back, 12 months,
West Coast of America, China, and back,
18 months, ) Or four months after
North West Coast of America, China, and back, 18 “
North West Coast of America, and China,
18 11
; termination of the risk.
W hale fishery, to the Pacific, 18 months, or 2 months afterthetermination of the risk.
W hale fishery, to the Atlantic, 14 months.
On time, two months after the termination of the risk.
Premiums of twenty dollars and under, cash, without discount of interest.

It appears by the monthly report of this corporation, for August, that eighteen per­
sons have effected an insurance on their lives. Of whom four are residents of the city
of New York, and fourteen residents out of the city. They are thus classified—Mer­
chants and Brokers, 7; Students and Clerks, 4; Mechanics, 2 ; Lawyer, 1; Engineer,
1 ; Manufacturers, 3. Of these there are insured for one year and over, 6—seven
years and over, 10—for life, 2. Two were insured for $10,000 and under, ten for
$5,000 and under, and six for $1,000 and under.

Commercial Statistics.



S t a t i s t i c a l V ie w o f th e C o m m erce o f the U n ite d S ta t e s , e x h ib itin g th e v a lu e o f im p o r ts
f r o m , a n d e x p o rts to , each f o r e i g n c o u n tr y , d u r i n g th e y e a r e n d in g o n the 30/A S e p ­
tem ber, 1838; f r o m officia l d o c u m e n ts i n the T r e a s u r y D e p a r tm e n t, R e g i s te r ’s O ffice ,
M a y 13, 1839.

V a lu e o f
I m p o r ts .


D o m e stic
P rodu ce.


N etherlands.......................................... 1.180,89" 2,555,979
239,928 1,340,90:
44,191,851 43,893,888
594,665 l,6-!5,203
1,635,843 2,080.631

2,847,358 2,625.802
16,823,112 13,0^9,649
948,685 1,433,765
310 050
C uba................. ; ................................ 11 694 812
206 864
306 2 4
32 746
*9 174
944 2‘18

Spain, on the Mediterranean........ . . .

VOL I . — NO IV.


F o r e ig n
P roduce.


T o ta l.

86 033

665,843 3,291,645
976 967 14,066,616
283,135 1,716,900

93 214
4,721,433 1,45-1:325
' 30 164
67 97 >
4 535
96 941
141 357

2 i 2 , .17
7u 063
9,. 37
4'9 803


125 740






Commercial Statistics.

V a lu e o f
I m p o rts .


Morocco, and Barbary States.............
H ayti.....................................................
Central America....................................
Argentine Republic..............................
Cisplatine Republic..................... . . . . .
C hili......................................................
South America, generally....................
China............................ .......................
Europe, generally..................................
Asia, generally..................................
Africa, generally..................................
West Indies, generally........................
South Seas and Sandwich Islands___
North Atlantic Ocean..........................
Uncertain places...................................

D o m e stic
P rodu ce.


F o r e ig n
P rodu ce.


165,718 1,023.818



T o ta l.

219.062 1.247,880
1,123,191 2,164,097
562:237 2,657,194
322,692 1,370.264
861,021 1,516,602
7(5,i 59



T o tal.......................................... 113,717,404! 96,033,821 12,452,795408,486,616


C o n d e n sed S ta te m e n t o f th e n u m b er a n d f l a s s o f V essels b u ilt, a n d th e T o n n a g e th e r e o f , i n
ea ch sta te , a n d t e r r i t o r y o f th e U n ite d S ta te s , f o r th e y e a r e n d in g S ep te m b e r 30/A, 1838,
f r o m o ffic ia l d o c u m e n ts i n th e T r e a s u r y D e p a r tm e n t, R e g i s t e r ’s O ffice, A p r i l 2, 1839.


S h ip s.

B r ig s .

M aine..........................
New Hampshire.........
Rhode Island...............
New Y ork...................
New Jersey.................
D elaw are....................
M aryland....................
District of Columbia. ..
V irginia.......................
North Carolina...........
South Carolina...........
M ichigan....................









S c h ’rs.

S lo o p s.














S te a m ­
b o a ts.








T o n s S h th s .

1 2B5




1,377 39
958 65






113,135 44


Commercial Statistics.

S ta te m e n t e x h ib itin g a c o n d en sed v ie w o f th e T o n n a g e o f th e s e v e r a l d is tr i c ts o f the U n i­
te d S t a t e s , in Ions a n d n in e ty - fifth s , on th e 30Ih S e p tem b er, 1838; f r o m o fficia l d o cu ­
m e n ts i n th e R e g i s te r 's Office, A p r i l 2,1839.


Fassamaquoddy, M ain e ___
Frenchman’s Bay, “
<! . . . .
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Newburyport, Massachusetts
New Bedford,
Providence, Rhode Island. . . .
Middletown, Connecticut---New London,
New Haven,
Vermont, Vermont
Champlain, New York ___
Sackett’s Harbor, “
Buffalo Creek, “
Sag Harbor,
New York,
Cape Vincent, “
Perth Amboy, N. Jersey . . . .
Little Egg Harbor “
Great Egg Harbor “
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania..
Presque Isle,
"Wilmington, Delaware
Baltimore, Maryland

R e g is te r e d
to n n a g e



16,850 11
10,640 66
2,068 32
21,901 19
2,753 14
135,415 34
11,052 76
2,414 28
73,627 47
4,456 09
5,120 29
26,658 15
10,225 75
13.134 70
6,892 08
1.274 85
22.272 02
3,911 65
992 57

11,109 07
169,922 32
1,060 59

42,266 21
25,083 77

T o t a l to n ­
E n r o lle d
a n d licen sed n a g e o f ea ch \
to n n a g e .
d is tric t.

25 926
4 323


16 913
16 347


Commercial Statistics.



R e g is te r e d
to n n a g e .


479 85
Snow Hill,




334 22
214 86
............... ..... .........
Cherry Stone,
Wilmington, North Carolina................... -

CO r 4
7,992 53
1 871 01
1,198 13
2 138 66
920 88


9,284 49
Si Mary’s *



404 24
922 73

8,203 22
39,593 08
807 55
K ev

W est



T o ta l.................................................

719 42
1,191 56

T o t a l to n ­
E n r o lle d
a n d lic e n sed n a g e o f ea ch
d is tr ic t.
to n n a g e .

4 533


3,849 77
4.034 65
3^265 47
1,886 62
2,779 47
1,409 04
2 572 35
4'4:il 73
5,840 60
1,264 84
1,020 73
1 216 04
13,836 87
2,733 64
1,264 84
7,384 17
100 59
1,047 62
408 10
9,495 72
1 467 42
10 376 36
2,806 91
5,481 36
7,734 00
9 373 00
8^651 52
1,196 04
7,904 09
64.833 03
2 152 61
l'l81 36
1,507 79
1 014 19
305 34

13,227 53
16;. 83 18
7,833 38
4,533 31
2,461 03
8,655 82
10,644 29
16,263 32
4,860 09
5,147 26
962 81
5,201 79
4,064 68
4,034 65
3,265 47
1,947 66
10,772 05
3,280 05
3^70 48
6',570 44
6,761 53
1,264 84
1,410 15
2,371 86
24 527 47
3,897 33
1,264 84
16,663 66
100 59
1,451 86
1,330 83
9,495 72
1,467 42
10,376 36
2,806 91
5,481 36
7,734 00
9,373 00
8,651 52
1 196 04
16,107 31
104,426 11
2 930 21
1,181 36
2,227 26
2,205 75
305 34

822,591 86 1,173,047 891 1,995,639 80


A correspondent of the New York Evening Post inquires, if the capitalists in our city,
who have been recently seduced by the temptation of the United States post notes at
one and a half per cent interest per month, have not made themselves liable to the penal­
ties of our usury laws. The Revised Statutes define usury to be taking more than
seven per cent per annum, for interest or forbearance, &c. The law “ to prevent usury,”
passed in 1837—declares (Sec. 6)—that any person who shall “ directly or indirectly”
receive more than seven per cent per annum, &c., shall be deemed guilty of a “ misde­
meanor,” and be punishable by “ fine and imprisonment.”

Commercial Statistics.

s. s









1789 TO 1833.

I m p o r ts .
F o r e ig n .


1,37 1,072
5 ‘ 13,099
1,9561 4
3 046,016
1,226 603
1,484 015

T o t a l.

e 2


C j^

641,646 13,585
481,534 24.039
930,023 54,643
1)226,159 407,669
1,340 701 789.167
1,633.081 842.803
2,008,603 834 090
2,392.489 1,483.322
2.548,170 1,357,230
1.924,431 1,263,406
2,157,649 1,135,717
1,404,547 754,479
1.193,822 249 314
9,151.9 9
2,174.11,9 638,002
2,291,284 1,142,356
2,904,165 1,442,461
3,006,430 1,337,128
1,061,643 449,852
1,021,680 84-,238
1,396.942 450,617
1,0H2,S64 345,267
2,196,147 404,692
493,243 316,502
4,151,273 125,071
3,372 070 565.051
2,(92,415 510,623
2,386.815 404,243
1,938,272 281.602
1,062,065 485.150
3,850.394' 4,070 842 963,348 227]487
4,536,796 4,792 486 1,334,098 136,941
5,030.228! 4.946,179 1,225,846 265,179
4,863,233 4,551,442 1,174,188 252,078
4,501,304 4,751,815 1.339,043 259,884
4,010.748 4,928,569 1,294,054 196.319
4.516,406 4,405,708 1,470,607 218,081
4.334,422 5,629.694 1,549.883 224.168
4,804,465! 4,804,135 1,612,967 271.394
3,791,482 4.523.866 1,312.231 225,175
4,308,647! 4,826,577 1,470,154 147,304
4,499,918 4,629,303 1,069,064 194,443
4,062,467, 5,437,057 870,906 113.400
4,168 245! 4,647,483 673,141 82,041
3,925,234] 5,647,153 960,240 30,454
3,675.475] 7.131.867 1,487,947 41,679
3,789,917! 7,857.033
4,524,575! 5,701,869
* Ending September 30.

f steam ships which will ply to the different points on th
3; the aggregate horse power of which will be eighteen t
of fifty-eight thousand two hundred and sixty tons. T1
Inglish and French governments.

Commercial Statistics.


I m p o rts .
D o m e stic.

F o r e ig n .


23,1 95
96 970

4,62 i,687
2,9 j 3,493

T o ta l.




3,321 ,(336
6 113,451
132 749
3,079,209 1,078,490
2 7,025
6, 92,040 1,106,814
3,966,228 1 577,142 |

D r a w b a c k s on
fo r e ig n m er­
c h a n d is e .

Y ea rs.


D u tie s o n f o ­
r e ig n
m er­
c h a n d is e im ­
p o r te d .



R e g i s te r e d
to n n a g e .

33,239 00
32,515 00
23,997 72
26,130 13
31,767 28
36,278 26
40,936 41
43,657 58
46,858 68
41,838 47
44.850 92
31,943 87
37,832 24
33,614 11
37,674 19
34,015 29
23,503 05
29,485 28
36,699 29
45,339 78
28,744 71
32,720 86
25,968 68
22,514 47
31,152 40
26.059 66
27,569 23
23,534 03
16,147 54
16,797 58
12,216 06
8,960 93
11,139 86
10,759 39
10,572 80
13,724 29
14,239 58
15,627 08
14,505 79
10,061 43
12,400 13
13,784 79
17,038 30
18,966 70
19,737 62
16,501 37
8,299 64
7,405 82


This is a weekly publication of 16 large octavo pages, published at Philadelphia by
Samuel Hazard, well and favorably known as the editor of the Pennsylvania Register.
Thirteen numbers have already appeared, and they contain a number of important
official documents, and statistical tables on a variety of subjects. The tables which
appeared in our August and September numbers, exhibiting at a glance the commerce
of New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, were compiled by Mr, Hazard for
that work, where they were originally published.

Mercantile Miscellanies.





W e learn with pleasure that the Board of Directors of this Institution, are rapidly
completing their arrangements for the delivery of Lectures upon various scientific and
literary subjects the ensuing winter.
Lectures have now become deservedly popular in this country. They afford both
amusement and instruction, and are well adapted to the wants of a commercial com­
munity. The hours devoted to business by the merchant frequently unfit his mind for
the investigation of many subjects, of which it is important he should possess some
knowledge. Lectures are eminently calculated to remedy this difficulty ; men of sci­
ence and general learning are thus permitted to unlock their minds for the general be­
nefit of the community, and the man of business feels a relaxation at the time he is re­
ceiving instruction of the most valuable nature.
Boston is perhaps in advance of any other city of the union, in regard to the popu­
larity of lectures. It is not uncommon to have four different lecture rooms crowded up­
on the same evening. Judging, however, from the past, we are disposed to believe that
New York will become a strong rival to our sister city the coming season. This me­
thod of communicating knowledge should be general, in consequence of its tendency to
elevate the moral and intellectual character of the community.
Having seen the list of lecturers engaged by the Association, we may safely say,
that the ensuing courses of lectures will be of a brilliant character, and give additional
reputation to tins valuable institution.
Mr. William Wood, one of the earliest and most zealous friends of the Mercantile
Library Association of this city, has recently presented to the institution an excellent
portrait of Mr. James Maury, framed with a part of the wreck of the longboat of the
ship Republic. Mr. Maury is an old merchant, (being now ninety-three years of age,)
and was formerly United States Consul at Liverpool.


P r e s id e n t .


Isaac Barton,
Samuel C. Morton,
Charles S. Wood,
Jacob B. Lancaster,
Robert F. Walsh,
Jason L. Fennimore,

Joseph Patterson,
John Maynard,
James M. Mulford,
Levi Knowles, Jr.,
Joseph C. Grubb,
Joseph Pleasants.

J o h n F a usset, T rea su rer.
J am es C o x , L ib r a r ia n .


B y T . G. B ra d fo rd .

This work is so largely devoted to commercial topics, and is in its general nature
souseful to merchants, that a notice of it may be regarded as coming directly within
the scope of our work. It is, moreover, a production that may fairly claim our atten­
tion, regarded only as furnishing evidence of the advanced state of the book-making
art in this country, and of the taste for geographical knowledge, evinced by the demand
which has brought such an atlas before the public. That we do not by any means
overrate the superiority of this work, may be shown by the fact, that it has been recent­
ly adopted by the Secretary of the Navy of the United States, as one of the works to
be furnished to our public ships ; and moreover, we see by a late London periodical of
high character, that in that capital of luxurious typography, this work extorts admira­
tion, not only for its great literary and scientific value, but for the elegance, beauty, and
perfection of its maps, paper, and print.
The work embraces about forty maps, on a large scale; one is devoted to each state,
and every town appears to be given. There are, also, maps of the Canadas, of North
America, an excellent map of Texas, and a very fine one of the West Indies. There are
172 large imperial folio pages of illustrations, letter press, geographical, historical, and


Mercantile Miscellanies.

commercial. This portion of the work does infinite credit to the diligence, accuracy,
and ability of the editor.
• W e cannot but deem the work one that claims the patronage of the public— for to
merchants, students, &c., it must be invaluable. It is, moreover, so liberally got up,
that we feel desirous of seeing it supported by a corresponding liberality on the part of
the community.

The yards and buildings of this establishment cover six acres of ground. It employs
two hundred and twenty-five workmen, who, with their families, occupy sixty dwelling
houses. The raw materials used, per annum, are, glass, 600 tons ; red lead,, 700,000
pounds ; pearlash, 450,000 pounds ; Salt Petre, 70,000 pounds. They consume 1100
cords of pine wood, 700 cords of oak wood, and 100,000, bushels of bituminous coal.
Seventy tons of hay and straw are used for packing the glass. The amount of glass­
ware manufactured, is $ 300,000 per annum ; said to be superior to any other manufac­
tured in America, and equal to any in Europe. By the application of heated air from the
steam engine, to pans containing sea water, they manufacture about 3000 bushels of
salt, per annum ; and all the ashes is leached, and the ley converted to potash. It is
said that the mere saving to the company, by this species of economy, which is carried
through every department, is sufficient to pay a handsome dividend on the stock.

O p e r a tiv e s a r e p a i d i n

France...........................................5s. 6d. per week of 72 hours.
Switzerland................................... 5s. 5d.
A u stria......................................... 4s. Od.
T yrol............................................. 3s. 9d.
Saxony...................*.................. 3s. 6d.
Bona, on the Rhine.......................2s. 6d.
The average wages being a fraction under 4s. per week. The average wages paid
to hands similarly employed in England, but for fewer hours, being 12s. a week.

A correspondent of the New York Courier and Enquirer states, that a merchant
lately shipped onboard of a f o r e i g n vessel 31 tons of wood as per inspection measure­
ment, or 42 tons freight measure per sworn inspector. On the margin of the bill of la­
ding tons 68| was marked by the consignee of the vessel. This measurement was ob­
jected to by the shipper, and the answer he received was, that the measurement not
being written in the body of the bill of lading, of course if objected to by the consignees,
the goods could be remeasured at the port of landing. The consignees write that nei­
ther the captain northe owners would allow a remeasurement, nor could they be forced
by law, and state that the shipper here ought to have sent out a protest by the vessel.
F ora want of which document, the shipper loses more than $200.

W e understand that strenuous exertions are being made by the Royal Patriotic Society
of Havana, to introduce the cultivation of the F ic u s E la s tic a into the island of Cuba, the
soil and climate of which is supposed to be peculiarly suited to this species of industry.
Caoutchouc, or Gum Elastic, is the product of a numerous variety of trees and shrubs ;
but the best qualities hitherto known, are extracted from the C a s tilla E l a s t i c a and F ic u s
E la s lic a .
The multifarious uses to which this subtsance is at present applied, render
it an object of great consequence; and we cannot but applaud the enterprising spirit
manifested by the “ faithful Habaneros,” and the giant strides made by them in the
development of the resources of the island. W hat a contrast there is between this colo­
ny and the mother country!