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There is no knowledge of more frequent use than that of duties and impost, whether customs paid at the ports, or excises levied upon the manufacturer. Much of the prosperity of a trading nation depends upon duties properly apportioned; so that what is necessary may continue cheap, and what is of use only to luxury may, in some measure, atone to the publick for the mischief done to individuals. Duties may often be so regulated as to become useful even to those that pay them; and they may be, likewise, so unequally imposed as to discourage honesty, and depress industry, and give temptation to fraud and unlawful practices.
To teach all this is the design of the Commercial Dictionary; which, though immediately and primarily written for the merchants, will be of use to every man of business or curiosity. There is no man who is not, in some degree, a merchant, who has not something to buy and something to sell, and who does not, therefore, want such instructions as may teach him the true value of possessions or commodities.
The descriptions of the productions of the earth and water, which this volume will contain, may be equally pleasing and useful to the speculatist with any other natural history; and the accounts of various manufactures will constitute no contemptible body of experimental philosophy. The descriptions of ports and cities may instruct the geographer, as well as if they were found in books appropriated only to his own science; and the doctrines of funds, insurances, currency, monopolies, exchanges, and duties, is so necessary to the politician, that without it he can be of no use either in the council or the senate, nor can speak or think justly either on war or trade.
We, therefore, hope that we shall not repent the labour of compiling this work; nor flatter ourselves unreasonably, in predicting a favourable reception to a book which no condition of life can render useless, which may contribute to the advantage of all that make or receive laws, of all that
PREFACE TO ROLT'S DICTIONARY.
buy or sell, of all that wish to keep or improve their possessions, of all that desire to be rich, and all that desire to be wise ".
a Of this preface, Mr. Boswell informs us that Dr. Johnson said he never saw Rolt, and never read the book. "The booksellers wanted a preface to a dictionary of trade and commerce. I knew very well what such a dictionary should be, and I wrote a preface accordingly." This may be believed; but the book is a most wretched farrago of articles plundered without acknowledgment, or judgment, which, indeed, was the case with most of Rolt's compilations.
TO THE TRANSLATION OF
FATHER LOBO'S VOYAGE TO ABYSSINIA 1.
THE following relation is so curious and entertaining, and the dissertations that accompany it so judicious and instructive, that the translator is confident his attempt stands in need of no apology, whatever censures may fall on the performance.
The Portuguese traveller, contrary to the general vein of his countrymen, has amused his reader with no romantick absurdities or incredible fictions: whatever he relates, whether true or not, is at least probable; and he who tells nothing exceeding the bounds of probability, has a right to demand that they should believe him who cannot contradict him.
He appears, by his modest and unaffected narration, to have described things as he saw them, to have copied nature from the life, and to have consulted his senses, not his imagination. He meets with no basilisks that destroy
b This translation was Johnson's first literary production, and was published in 1735, with London on the title page, though, according to Boswell, it was printed at Birmingham. In the preface and dedication, the elegant structure of the sentences, and the harmony of their cadence, are such as characterize his maturer works. Here we may adopt the words of Mr. Murphy, and affirm that "we see the infant Hercules." In the merely translated parts, no vestige of the translator's own style appears. For Burke's opinion on the work, see Boswell's Life of Johnson, i. ; and for Johnson's own, see Boswell, iii. In Murphy's Essay on the Life and Genius of Dr. Johnson, there is a compendious account of the benevolent travels of the Portuguese missionary, who may fairly be called the precursor of Bruce. Independent of its intrinsic merits, this translation is interesting as illustrative of Johnson's early fondness for voyages and travels; the perusal of which, refreshed Gray when weary of heavier labours, and were pronounced by Warburton to constitute an important part of a philosopher's library.
with their eyes; his crocodiles devour their prey without tears; and his cataracts fall from the rock without deafening the neighbouring inhabitants.
The reader will here find no regions cursed with irremediable barrenness, or blest with spontaneous fecundity; no perpetual gloom or unceasing sunshine; nor are the nations here described either devoid of all sense of humanity, or consummate in all private and social virtues: here are no Hottentots without religion, polity, or articulate language; no Chinese perfectly polite, and completely skilled in all sciences: he will discover what will always be discovered by a diligent and impartial inquirer, that wherever human nature is to be found, there is a mixture of vice and virtue, a contest of passion and reason; and that the Creator doth not appear partial in his distributions, but has balanced in most countries their particular inconveniencies by particular favours.
In his account of the mission, where his veracity is most to be suspected, he neither exaggerates overmuch the merits of the Jesuits, if we consider the partial regard paid by the Portuguese to their countrymen, by the Jesuits to their society, and by the papists to their church; nor aggravates the vices of the Abyssinians; but if the reader will not be satisfied with a popish account of a popish mission, he may have recourse to the history of the church of Abyssinia, written by Dr. Geddes, in which he will find the actions and sufferings of the missionaries placed in a different light, though the same in which Mr. Le Grand, with all his zeal for the Roman church, appears to have seen them.
This learned dissertator, however valuable for his industry and erudition, is yet more to be esteemed for having dared so freely, in the midst of France, to declare his disapprobation of the patriarch Oviedo's sanguinary zeal, who was continually importuning the Portuguese to beat up their drums for missionaries who might preach the gospel with swords in their hands, and propagate, by desolation and slaughter, the true worship of the God of peace.
It is not easy to forbear reflecting with how little reason these men profess themselves the followers of JESUS, who left this great characteristick to his disciples, that they should be known by loving one another, by universal and unbounded charity and benevolence.
Let us suppose an inhabitant of some remote and superiour region, yet unskilled in the ways of men, having read and considered the precepts of the gospel, and the example of our Saviour, to come down in search of the true church. If he would not inquire after it among the cruel, the insolent, and the oppressive; among those who are continually grasping at dominion over souls as well as bodies; among those who are employed in procuring to themselves impunity for the most enormous villanies, and studying methods of destroying their fellow-creatures, not for their crimes, but their errours; if he would not expect to meet benevolence engage in massacres, or to find mercy in a court of inquisition,-he would not look for the true church in the church of Rome.
Mr. Le Grand has given, in one dissertation, an example of great moderation, in deviating from the temper of his religion; but, in the others, has left proofs, that learning and honesty are often too weak to oppose prejudice. He has made no scruple of preferring the testimony of father Du Bernat to the writings of all the Portuguese jesuits, to whom he allows great zeal, but little learning, without giving any other reason than that his favourite was a Frenchman. This is writing only to Frenchmen and to papists: a protestant would be desirous to know, why he must imagine that father Du Bernat had a cooler head or more knowledge, and why one man, whose account is singular, is not more likely to be mistaken than many agreeing in the same account.
If the Portuguese were biassed by any particular views, another bias equally powerful may have deflected the Frenchman from the truth; for they evidently write with contrary designs: the Portuguese, to make their mission seem more necessary, endeavoured to place, in the strong