Front Page Titles (by Subject) CASE II. - Four Tracts on Political and Commercial Subjects
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CASE II. - Josiah Tucker, Four Tracts on Political and Commercial Subjects 
Four Tracts on Political and Commercial Subjects, 2nd edition (Glocester: R. Raikes, 1774).
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ENGLAND has acquired Twenty Millions of Specie in the Way of general Industry, viz. By exciting the Ingenuity and Activity of its People, and giving them a free Scope without any Exclusion, Confinement, or Monopoly;—by annexing Burdens to Celibacy, and Honours and Privileges to the married State;—by constituting such Laws, as diffuse the Wealth of the Parents more equally among the Children, than the present Laws of Europe generally do;—by modelling the Taxes in such a Manner, that all Things hurtful to the Public Good shall be rendered proportionably dear, and placed beyond the Reach of the Multitude; whereas such Things as are necessary, or useful, shall be proportionably encouraged; and, in short, by every other conceivable Method, whereby the Drones of Society may be converted into Bees, and the Bees be prevented from degenerating back into Drones.
Therefore, as we are to suppose, that by such Means as these, the South-Britons have accumulated 20,000,000l. in Specie, while the North-Britons have no more than 2,000,000l.: The Question now is, Which of these two Nations can afford to raise Provisions, and sell their Manufactures on the cheapest Terms? “Supposing that both did their utmost to rival one another, and that Trade and Manufactures were left at Liberty to take their own Course, according as Cheapness or Interest directed them.”
Now, on the Side of the poorer Nation, it is alledged, That seeing it hath much less Money, and yet is equal in Size, Situation, and other natural Advantages, equal also in Numbers of People, and those equally willing to be diligent and industrious; it cannot be but that such a Country must have a manifest Advantage over the rich one in Point of its parsimonious Way of Living, low Wages, and consequently cheap Manufactures.
On the contrary, the rich Country hath the following Advantages which will more than counter-ballance any Disadvantage that may arise from the foregoing Articles, viz.
1st. As the richer Country hath acquired its superior Wealth by a general Application, and long Habits of Industry, it is therefore in actual Possession of an established Trade and Credit, large Correspondences, experienced Agents and Factors, commodious Shops, Work-Houses, Magazines, &c. also a great Variety of the best Tools and Implements in the various Kinds of Manufactures, and Engines for abridging Labour;—add to these good Roads, Canals, and other artificial Communications; Quays, Docks, Wharfs, and Piers; Numbers of Ships, good Pilots, and trained Sailors:—And in respect to Husbandry and Agriculture, it is likewise in Possession of good Enclosures, Drains, Waterings, artificial Graffes, great Stocks, and consequently the greater Plenty of Manures; also a great Variety of Plows, Harrows, &c. suited to the different Soils; and in short of every other superior Method of Husbandry arising from long Experience, various and expensive Trials. Whereas the poor Country has, for the most Part, all these Things to seek after and procure.—Therefore what the Poet observed to be true in a private Sense, is true also in a public and commercial one, viz.
2dly. The richer Country is not only in Possession of the Things already made and settled, but also of superior Skill and Knowledge (acquired by long Habit and Experience) for inventing and making of more. The Importance of this will appear the greater, when we consider, that no Man can pretend to set Bounds to the Progress that may yet be made both in Agriculture and Manufactures; for who can take upon him to affirm, that our Children cannot as far exceed us as we have exceeded our Gothic Forefathers? And is it not much more natural and reasonable to suppose, that we are rather at the Beginning only, and just got within the Threshold, than that we are arrived at the ne plus ultra of useful Discoveries? Now, if so, the poorer Country, however willing to learn, cannot be supposed to be capable of making the same Progress in Learning with the Rich, for want of equal Means of Instruction, equally good Models and Examples;—and therefore, tho’ both may be improving every Day, yet the practical Knowledge of the poorer in Agriculture and Manufactures will always be found to keep at a respectful Distance behind that of the richer Country.
3dly. The richer Country is not only more knowing, but is also more able than the other to make further Improvements, by laying out large Sums of Money in the Prosecution of the intended Plan. Whereas the poor Country has here again the Mortification to find, that the Res angusta domi is in many Cases an insuperable Bar to its Rise and Advancement: And this Circumstance deserves the more Regard as it is a known Fact and trite Observation, that very few great and extensive Projects were ever brought to bear at first setting out; and that a vast deal of Money must be sunk, and many Years be elapsed, before they are capable of making any Returns. In short, the Inhabitants of a poor Country, who, according to the vulgar Phrase, generally live from Hand to Mouth, dare not make such costly Experiments, or embark in such expensive and long-winded Undertakings, as the Inhabitants of a rich Country can attempt, and execute with Ease.
4thly. The higher Wages of the rich Country, and the greater Scope and Encouragement given for the Exertion of Genius, Industry, and Ambition, will naturally determine a great many Men of Spirit and Enterprize to forsake their own poor Country, and settle in the richer; so that the one will always drain the other of the Flower of its Inhabitants: Whereas there are not the same Temptations for the best Hands and Artists of a rich Country to forsake the best Pay, and settle in a poor one.—Though for Argument’s Sake, it was allowed at the Beginning, that the Numbers of People in these two adjoining States were just equal, yet certain it is, that the Thing itself could never have so happened,—the richer Country being always endowed with the attractive Quality of the Loadstone, and the poor one with the repelling: And therefore, seeing that the poorer Country must necessarily be the least peopled (if there is a free Intercourse between them) the Consequence would be, that in several Districts, and in many Instances, it would be impossible for certain Trades even to subsist; because the Scarcity and Poverty of the Inhabitants would not afford a sufficient Number of Customers to frequent the Shop, or to take off the Goods of the Manufacturer.
5thly. In the richer Country, where the Demands are great and constant, every Manufacture that requires various Processes, and is composed of different Parts, is accordingly divided and subdivided into separate and distinct Branches; whereby each Person becomes more expert, and also more expeditious in the particular Part assigned him. Whereas in a poor Country, the same Person is obliged by Necessity, and for the Sake of getting a bare Subsistence, to undertake such different Branches, as prevent him from excelling, or being expeditious in any. In such a Case, Is it not much cheaper to give 2s. 6d. a Day in the rich Country to the nimble and adroit Artist, than it is to give only 6d. in the poor one, to the tedious, aukward Bungler?
6thly. As the richer Country has the greater Number of rival Tradesmen, and those more quick and dexterous, the Goods of such a Country have not only the Advantages arising from Quickness and Dexterity, but also will be afforded much the cheaper on Account of the Emulation of so many Rivals and Competitors. Whereas in a poor Country, it is very easy for one rich, over-grown Tradesman to monopolize the whole Trade to himself, and consequently to set his own Price upon the Goods, as he knows that there are none who dare contend with him in Point of Fortune;—or, what is full as bad, the like Consequences will follow where the Numbers of the Wealthy are so few, that they can combine together whenever they will, to prey upon the Public.
7thly. and lastly. In the rich Country, the Superiority of the Capital, and the low Interest of Money, will insure the vending of all Goods on the cheapest Terms; because a Man of 2000l. Capital can certainly afford to give the best Wages to the best Workmen, and yet be able to sell the Produce or Manufacture of such Workmen at a much cheaper Rate than he who has only a Capital of 200l. For if the one gets only 10l. per Cent. per Ann. for his Money, that will bring him an Income of 200l. a Year; a Sum very sufficient to live with Credit and Reputation in the Rank of a Tradesman; and considerably more than double to what he would have received in the Way of common Interest, even if lent at 4l. and an Half per Cent. Whereas, the other with his poor Capital of 200l. must get a Profit of at least 20l. per Cent. in order to have an Income just above the Degree of a common Journeyman.—Not to mention, that Men of superior Capitals will always command the Market in buying the raw Materials at the best Hand; and command it also in another View, viz. by being able to give longer Credit to their Dealers and Customers.—So much as to the reasoning Part of this Subject: Let us now examine how stand the Facts.
And here it must be premised, that were a greater Quantity of Specie to enhance the Price of Provisions and Manufactures in the Manner usually supposed, the Consequence would be, that all Goods whatever would be so much the dearer in a rich Country, compared with a poor one, as there had been different Sets of People employed, and greater Wages paid in making them. For the Argument proceeds thus,—The more Labour, the more Wages;—the more Wages, the more Money;—the more Money paid for making them, the dearer the Goods must come to Market: And yet the Fact itself is quite the Reverse of this seemingly just Conclusion. For it may be laid down as a general Proposition, which very seldom fails, That operose or complicated Manufactures are cheapest in rich countries;—and raw Materials in poor ones: And therefore in Proportion as any Commodity approaches to one, or other of these Extremes, in that Proportion it will be found to be cheaper, or dearer in a rich, or a poor Country.
The raising of Corn, for Instance, employs a considerable Number of Hands, has various Processes, takes up a great deal of Time, and is attended with great Expence. If so, pray, Where is Corn the cheapest? Why, Corn is raised as cheap in England as in Scotland, if not cheaper. Moreover, tho’ Wages are very high in Hertfordshire, as being in the Neighbourhood of London, and the Lands dear, and far from being naturally good; yet the Price of good Wheat is certainly as cheap in Hertfordshire as in Wales, and sometimes much cheaper; tho’ the Wages in Wales are low, the Rents easy, and the Lands in many Places sufficiently rich and fertile, and the Land-Tax extremely light.
The raising Garden-Stuff, and all Sorts of Produce fit for the Kitchen is another Instance; for this likewise is an expensive and operose Affair, requiring great Skill and Judgment. But the Price of Garden Stuff is prodigiously sunk to what it was in former Times; and I much question, whether any Town of Note in Scotland can now vie with the common Markets of London in that Respect. Certain it is, that formerly, viz. about 100 Years ago, a Cabbage would have cost 3d. in London, when London was not near so rich as it is now, which at present may be bought for a Halfpenny. And were you to proceed on to Colliflowers, Asparagus, Broccoli, Melons, Cucumbers, and all Sorts of the choicer Wall Fruits, you would find the Disproportions still greater. But waving such Exotics, even the common Articles of Pease and Beans, Sallads, Onions, Carrots, Parsneps, and Turneps, are considerably cheaper than ever they were known to be in former Times; tho’ the Rent of Garden Grounds, and Wages of Journeymen Gardeners, are a great deal higher.
On the contrary, the raising both of small and large Cattle is a more simple Affair, and doth not employ near so many Hands, as the raising of Corn or Garden-Stuff: Therefore you will find that small and large Cattle are much cheaper in poor Countries than in rich ones; and that the Produce of such Cattle, for the same Reason, viz. Milk, Wool, and Hair, also the Flesh, Skins, Horns, and Hides, are cheaper likewise. As to Milk, this being made into Butter or Cheese by a short and single Process, and the Intervention of only one Female Servant, is indeed cheaper in the poorer Country. But were Butter and Cheese to have required a more intricate Operation, and to have taken up as much Time, and employed as many Hands in the manufacturing of them, as Wool, or Leather, it might be greatly questioned whether the richer Country would not have produced Butter and Cheese at a cheaper Rate than the poor one. And what countenances this Suspicion is, that in the Case of Wool, Hair, Horns, and Hides, when manufactured into Cloth, Hair Cloths, Hornery-Ware, and Leather, the richer Country hath generally the Advantage: Indeed, if there are some Exceptions, they are extremely few. And it is an indisputable Fact at this Day, that there are more Woollen Cloths, Stuffs, Serges, &c. more Horn Combs, Ink-Horns, Powder-Flasks, Lanthorns, &c. more Leather for Shoes and Boots, sent by the Manufacturers of England into Scotland, than by those of Scotland into England.
Wood, or Timber, is another Instance in Point: For Timber may be reckoned to be in a great Degree the spontaneous Production of Nature, and therefore Timber is always cheapest in a poor Country. But what shall we say of such Manufactures, of which Timber is only the raw Material? Are they cheaper also?—This, I am sure, is much to be doubted; especially in those Instances where the Manufacture is to pass through several Hands, before it is completed. Nay, were you to go into a Cabinet Maker’s Shop in London, and enquire even for common Articles, you would not find that the same Articles of equal Neatness and Goodness could be bought in Scotland much cheaper, if so cheap. Moreover, as to Ship-building, than which nothing creates so great a Consumption of Timber, Pray, how much cheaper is a Ship of any Burthen, viz. 3 or 400 Tons, built at Leith or Glasgow, than in the Yards bordering on the Thames? And are not Ships built at Sardam, in Holland, where the Necessaries of Life and Wages cannot be cheap, and where not a Stick of Timber grows, are not they built as cheap there as in most Countries whatever, even such Countries which have the raw Materials just at their Doors?
The like Observations might be made to extend to the building of large and sumptuous Houses, and purchasing all the Furniture proper for them; and to almost every other Article, where many Hands, much Labour and Expence, great Skill and Ingenuity, and a Variety of different Trades are required before the Thing in Question is completely finished. For in all these Cases, the rich, industrious Country has a manifest Advantage over the poor one. London, tho’ the dearest Place in the Kingdom to live at, is by far the cheapest for purchasing Houshold Goods.
After so much hath been said on the Subject, it would be needless to have Recourse to the Branch of Metals for further Illustrations, were it not that there is something so very striking in their Case, that it ought not to be omitted. Iron Ore, for Example, is dug in Lancashire, and frequently sent by Sea Carriage into the County of Argyle, there to be smelted, on Account of the great Plenty and Cheapness of Wood and Charcoal. Now, when it is thus brought into Pigs and Bars, the great Question is, What becomes of it? Do you find that any considerable Quantity remains in Scotland? Or is the far greater Part brought back again, in order to be sent into the manufacturing Counties of England?—The latter is indisputably the Case, notwithstanding the Expence of Re-carriage; notwithstanding also, that the Collieries in Scotland could supply as much Coal as even about Birmingham, or Sheffield, were Coal the only Article that was wanted. But for all that, Sheffield and Birmingham are in Possession of the Trade; and will ever keep it, unless it be their own Faults.
The Case of Sweden is still more extraordinary (and surely Sweden is a Country poor enough) for the Swedish Iron pays a large Duty to the Swedish Government before Exportation;—it is then burdened with Freight into England;—it pays a heavy Duty upon being landed here;—is then carried partly by Water, and partly by Land, into the manufacturing Counties;—is there fabricated,—re-carried again to the Sea-Side,—there shipped off, for Sweden,—pays a very heavy Duty, as English Manufactures;—and yet, almost every Article of such Manufactures, as hath passed thro’ two, three, or more Stages, before it was completed, is afforded so cheap at the Market of Stockholm, that the Swedes have lost Money in every Attempt they have made to rival them.
Judge now, therefore, what little Cause there is to fear that a poor Country can ever rival a rich one in the more operose, complicated, and expensive Branches of a Manufacture: Judge also, whether a rich Country can ever lose its Trade, while it retains its Industry; and consequently how absurd must every Project be for securing or encreasing this Trade, which doth not tend to secure, or encrease the Diligence and Frugality of the People.
A War, whether crowned with Victory, or branded with Defeats, can never prevent another Nation from being more industrious than you are; and if they are more industrious, they will sell cheaper; and consequently your former Customers will forsake your shop, and go to theirs; tho’ you covered the Ocean with Fleets, and the Land with Armies:—In short, the Soldier may make Waste, the Privateer, whether, successful or unsuccessful, will make Poor; but it is the eternal Law of Providence, that The Hand of the Diligent alone can make Rich.
This being the Case, it evidently follows, that as no trading Nation can ever be ruined but by itself, so more particularly the Improvements and Manufactures of Scotland can never be a Detriment to England; unless the English do voluntarily decline their Industry, and become profligate in their Morals. Indeed, when this comes to pass, it is of little Consequence by what Name that Nation is called, which runs away with their Trade; for some Country or other necessarily must. Whereas, were the English to reform their Manners, and encrease their Industry, the very Largeness of their Capitals, and their Vicinity to Scotland, might enable the English to assist the Scotch in various Ways, without prejudicing themselves, viz. By lending them Money at moderate Interest,—by embarking in Partnership with them in such Undertakings as require large Stocks and long Credits,—by supplying them with Models and Instructors,—exciting their Emulation, and directing their Operations with that Judgment and good Order which are only learnt by Use and Experience.
Nay, to pass from Particulars to Generals, we may lay it down as an universal Rule, subject to very few Exceptions, that as an industrious Nation can never be hurt by the encreasing Industry of its Neighbours; and as it is so wisely contrived by Divine Providence, that all People should have a strong Biass towards the Produce and Manufactures of others;—so it follows, that when this Biass is put under proper Regulations, the respective Industry of Nation and Nation enables them to be so much the better Customers, to improve in a friendly Intercourse, and to be a mutual Benefit to each other. A private Shopkeeper would certainly wish, that his Customers did improve in their Circumstances, rather than go behind-hand; because every such Improvement would probably redound to his Advantage. Where then can be the Wisdom in the public Shopkeeper, a trading People, to endeavour to make the neighbouring States and Nations, that are his Customers, so very poor as not to be able to trade with him?
The Conclusion of the whole is this: Heaps of Gold and Silver are not the true Riches of a Nation: Gold and Silver got in the Ways of Idleness are its certain Ruin; it is Wealth in Appearance but Poverty in Reality: Gold and Silver got by Industry, and spent in Idleness, will prove to be Destruction likewise: But Gold and Silver acquired by general Industry, and used with Sobriety, and according to good Morals, will promote still greater Industry, and go on, for any Thing that appears to the contrary, still accumulating; so that every Augmentation of such Money is a Proof of a preceding Increase of Industry: Whereas an Augmentation of Money by such Means as decrease Industry, is a national Curse—not a Blessing. And therefore, tho’ the Accounts of such a Nation may look fair to the Eyes of a Merchant or Tradesman, who (keeping their own Books by Pounds, Shillings, and Pence) suppose, that all must be right, when they see at the Foot of the Account, a large Balance of Pounds, Shillings, and Pence, in the Nation’s Favour; yet the able Statesman, and judicious Patriot, who are to keep the public Accounts by quite different Columns,—by Men, Women, and Children, employed, or not employed,—will regard this Tumour of Wealth as a dangerous Disease, not as a natural and healthy Growth. In one Word, the only possible Means of preventing a Rival Nation from running away with your Trade, is to prevent your own People from being more idle and vicious than they are; and by inspiring them with the contrary good Qualities: So that the only War, which can be attended with Success in that Respect, is a War against Vice and Idleness; a War, whose Forces must consist of—not Fleets and Armies,—but such judicious Taxes and wise Regulations, as shall turn the Passion of private Self-Love into the Channel of public Good. Indeed Fleets and Armies may be necessary, where the Merchant or Manufacturer are in Danger of being robbed or plundered in carrying their Goods to Market; but Fleets and Armies can never render those Goods the cheaper; and consequently cannot possibly encrease the Number of your Customers; supposing such Customers have the Liberty of trading where ever they please, and to the best Advantage. But if you should continue these Armaments, in order to stop up the Ports of other Nations, and deprive them of the Benefit of a free Trade, what will be the Consequence of this wise Manœuvre? Plainly this;—That while you are getting One Shilling, you are spending Ten; while you are employing a few in a Course of regular Industry, you are supporting Thousands in Habits of Idleness, and at the same Time involving the Nation in such immense Expences as must, if persisted in, inevitably prove its Ruin.—Grant, therefore, that during a War, a War crowned with uninterrupted Success (for no other can avail) grant, I say, that in some Articles you enjoy an Increase of Trade, at what Expence is this Increase obtained, and how long is it to last? Moreover, that Consequences will arise when the War is at an End, and other Ports are open? (for surely it cannot be intended that a trading Nation is to fight for ever,) and when Peace is made, what new Duties, what additional Taxes are to be imposed for defraying both Principal and Interest of the Charges of such a War?—How are they to be levied?—Who is to bear them?—And will you by this Means be better able to render your Goods cheaper at a foreign Market than heretofore?—A plain Answer to these Questions, would unravel the whole Matter, and bring Mankind to a right Use of their Senses.