LICIWPVP modities, return cargoes that would be profitable after trans shipment in England, thus compelling them to come home in ballast or to go in ballast to England and get a cargo there; and it increased the risks of commerce by making so many North Atlantic voyages needful. Thus colonial traffic very largely into English hands., After a time a complicated and often altered system of drawbacks lessened the duties on foreign wares imported into England and then re-shipped to foreign or colonial ports. The provisions of this system constantly gave offence to the English manufacturer and consumer; but of course they benefited the English merchant as well as the colonial con sumer. In fact, they were framed to encourage England's export trade. And it may be noted that every other pro vision in the Navigation Acts which chanced to favor the colonist was devised not for his sake but for that of some English interest. Nevertheless the 'mercantile system' out lined by the Acts was not in any degree inspired by a spirit of hostility to the colonies. It was more liberal than the contemporaneous policies of other colonizing nations. It was not comparable for harshness to the policy which virtually prohibited the Irish from trading anywhere and anyhow. It was intended to hamper 'the colonies no more than a proper care for the welfare of the kingdom was supposed to require. It did not deny their right to administer their strictly local affairs — only their right to do anything that might lessen the possible benefits of colonial trade to England and to Englishmen at home.
In spite of its accepted name the 'mercantile system' never crystallized into a genuine system of colonial adminis tration and control. But it defined the broad lines upon which colonial affairs should be supervised; and, such as it was, it remained in force until 1763, often modified in detail, never changed in its essential character. After 1763, when the Peace of Paris confirmed the English in the possession of Canada, the home government tried to inaugurate for the colonies a system of trade and revenue combined. But until
then the desire to raise a revenue by taxation played no part in the mother-country's treatment of its dependencies. Wanting to regulate their commerce for its own benefit, England was willing, theoretically at least, to pay the price of providing for their defence; and actually it did bear the cost of protecting them upon the sea and in foreign ports except in so far as it was helped at times by their own priva teers. The general design was the same that the West India Company had conceived although the methods employed were not identical. Naturally, the results were in many ways similar. Chief among them, if judged by the eventual out come, was the consciousness, growing ever keener in America, that the interests of the colonies and those of the mother country widely diverged.
Colonial governors being sworn to enforce the Navigation Acts, it was their duty to appoint naval officers to make entries of incoming and outgoing vessels and to see to the proper execution of the bonds by which colonial merchants pledged themselves to send their cargoes only where they might lawfully go. Collecors of dues exac i e colonies, e din b they, or the deputies whom they were pe to do their work, might be suspended by a governor for inefficiency. During the days of the Stuart kings, however, the home government made no vigorous, systematic effort thus to administer the Acts in the colonies.
Besides his commission the governor of a royal or pro prietary province received a set of formal instructions mark ing out the course he was to follow. Governor Nicolls's commission still exists, and so do the instructions he received, in common with his fellow-commissioners, in regard to their duties in New England. His instructions as the duke's rep resentative in New York are lost, but various references to them reveal their tenor. And it is plain that, tempted by his wish to win New Netherland without the use of soldiers' methods, he ignored in ratifying the Articles of Surrender