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    Whilst these abominations were being done in Portugal, Buonaparte had proceeded to Italy to prosecute other parts of his one great design. He determined, in the first place, to shut the trade of Britain out of all the Italian ports, as he had now, in imagination, done in nearly all the other ports of Europe. Accordingly, at Milan, on the 17th of December, he issued his celebrated decree, which took its name from that city, as his Northern decrees had taken their name from Berlin. Henceforward the Berlin and Milan decrees acquired great notoriety. To counteract the ordinances of the Berlin decrees, which forbade any ship of any nation to be admitted into Continental ports without certificates of originthat is, without certificates showing that no part of their cargo was of British producevarious Orders in Council had been issued by Britain, permitting[549] all neutral vessels to trade to any country at peace with Great Britain, provided that they touched at a British port, and paid the British duties. Thus, neutrals were placed between Scylla and Charybdis. Ii they neglected to take out British certificates they were captured at sea by the British cruisers; if they did take them, they were confiscated on entering any Continental port where there were French agents. This led to an enormous system of bribery and fraud. The prohibited goods were still admitted by false papers, with respect to which the French officers, men of the highest rank, were well paid to shut their eyes. All the ports of Italy were now subjected to this system, and Buonaparte immediately seized a great number of American vessels, on the ground that they had complied with the British Orders in Council. It might be thought that America would so far resent this as to declare war on France, but Buonaparte calculated on the strength of American prejudices against Britain and for France at that time, that the United States would rather declare war against Britain, which, by its Orders in Council, brought them into this dilemma. The ports of the Pope alone now remained open, and these Buonaparte determined forthwith to shut. Of course, the commercial changes introduced by Mr. Huskisson and Mr. Robinson excited loud murmurs of dissatisfaction from the interests affected, especially the shipping interest. But the best answer to objectors was the continuously flourishing state of the country. At the opening of the Session in 1825, Lord Dudley and Ward, in moving the Address in answer to the King's Speech in the Upper House, observed:"Our present prosperity is a prosperity extending to all orders, all professions, and all districts, enhanced and invigorated by the flourishing state of all those arts which minister to human comfort, and those inventions by which man obtains a mastery over nature by the application of her own powers, and which, if one had ventured to foretell a few years ago, it would have appeared almost incredible." This happy state of things was the result of a legitimate expansion of trade. Manufacturers and merchants were at first guided by a spirit of sober calculation. The steady advance in the public securities, and in the value of property of all sorts, showed that the national wealth rested upon a solid basis. The extension of the currency kept pace with the development of trade and commerce, and the circulation of bankers' paper was enormously increased. But out of the national prosperity there arose a spirit of rash speculation and adventure, resulting in a monetary crisis. The issue of notes by country banks was under no restriction; no measures were taken to secure that their paper represented property, and could be redeemed if necessary. There were hundreds of bankers in the provinces who could issue any quantity of notes they pleased, and these passed as cash from hand to hand. The spirit of speculation and enterprise was stimulated to a feverish degree of excitement by the recognition of the states of Colombia, Mexico, and Buenos Ayres, formally announced in the King's Speech on the 3rd of February, which said that treaties of commerce had been made with those new states. The rich districts of South America being thus thrown open, there was a rush of capitalists and adventurers to work its inexhaustible mines. A number of companies was formed for the purpose, and the gains of some of them in a few months amounted to fifteen hundred per cent. The result was a mania of speculation, which seized upon all classes, pervaded all ranks, and threw the most sober and quiet members of society into a state of tumultuous excitement. Joint-stock companies almost innumerable were established, to accomplish all sorts of undertakings. There were thirty-three companies for making canals and docks, forty-eight for making railroads, forty-two for gas, twenty insurance companies, twenty-three banking companies, twelve navigation packet companies, five indigo and sugar companies, thirty-four metal companies, and many others. The amount of capital subscribed in these various companies, which numbered two hundred and seventy-six, was upwards of 174,000,000. In connection with South America there was the Anglo-Mexican Company, the Brazilian, the Colombian, Real de Monte, and the United Mexican. On the South American shares only ten pounds each had been paid, except the Real de Monte, on which 70 had been paid. We may judge of the extent to which gambling speculation was carried from the following statement of the market prices of the shares, in five of the principal mining companies[243], at two periods, December 10th, 1824, and January 11th, 1825:

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