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[401]

A part of the creditors of England had been incorpo-

Chap XXIV}
rated into a company, with the exclusive trade to the South Seas. But as Spain, having acquired the American coast in those seas, possessed a monopoly of its commerce, the grant was nugatory and worthless, unless the monopoly of Spain could be successfully invaded; and, for this end, the benefit of the assiento treaty was assigned to the South Sea company.

In 1719, the capital of the company was increased by new subscriptions of national debts; and, in the next year, it was proposed to incorporate into its stock all the national debt of England. The system resembled that of Law; but the latter was connected with a bank of issue, and became a war against specie. In England, there was no attempt, directly or indirectly, to exile specie, no increase of the circulating medium, but only an increase of stocks. The parties implicated suffered from fraud and folly; the stockjobbers—they who had parted with their certificates of the national debt for stock in the company—they who, hurried away by a blind avidity, had engaged in other ‘bubbles’—were ruined; but the country was not impoverished.

Enough of the South Sea company survived the overthrow of hopes which had no foundation but in fraud or delusion, to execute the contract for negroes, and to covet an illicit commerce with Spanish America. Cupidity grew the more earnest from having been baffled; and, at last, ‘ambition, avarice, distress, dis-

Coxes, Life of H. Wal pole
appointment, and all the complicated vices that tend to render the mind of man uneasy, filled all places and all hearts in the English nation.’ Dreams of the conquest of Florida, with the possession of the Bahama Channel,—of the conquest of Mexico and Peru, with

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